Friday, February 6, 2009

Connor Joseph Barrett... a 3+ month old, 15+ pound little man, will become my godson in the next couple of months. I am so honored to play this special role in his life, thankful that he will (and already does) play one in mine, and excited for all that is to come in his awesome and beautiful world! What a love!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

counting people

No moment is more humbling--i think--than having a real, simple conversation with a person who has been living on the street for several years. Except maybe him telling you that God will take care of him.

From noon yesterday, Jan. 27th, to noon today, my coworkers and I, in addition to a lot of volunteers and workers from other organizations, spread throughout the city of New Orleans in an effort to count the total number of people here who are homeless. I am so thankful for experiences like this--despite my kicking and whining about having to work 'til 8:30 and wake up at 5--as they show me the raw humanness behind my work, something the computer screen somehow doesn't always seem to convey.

I got to speak with two homeless couples, see inidividuals lined up in their sleeping bags under the "Be A Star" exhibit on the main public library window, and just TALK with people about their experiences. It's unbelievable how something that simple can 1.) make me so nervous (it's just scary to walk up to someone & say "i'm doing a survey on homelessness; have a minute?", even if you can tell (s)he is homeless!) and 2.) reveal something in my heart that can easily get lost. Something that's hard to describe in terms of a feeling, but it's something to do with REAL human connection, of re-realizing (I constantly need to do this) that we're more alike than we are different, that my judgments are wrong more often than not, that it's just absolutely amazing to talk to someone who just got out of jail (for a reason i don't know), who very real-ly shares that he likes to stay by himself (outside when it's clear & in a dumpster when it rains (an already emptied dumpster, of course, b/c one time he did accidentally get in a full one and found himself in the air about to be dumped)) b/c he gets real annoyed with people easily & just doesn't want to be around them (there was an implication that he gets violent when he gets annoyed, but i don't have "verification" of that).

I feel like I overuse the word "real" on a pretty regular basis. Do you get what I mean when I use that word? It's something like the heart thing I just described I think. When you can just feel that there are no preconceived notions or judgments or something. When there's a lot of eye contact definitely. When you just feel on the same page with someone. I like real people, homeless and non.

Abrupt ending stops here.

Monday, December 22, 2008

two beatings one culprit

two stories of physical beatings arrived at my work doorstep today. three days before christmas.

one was about one of our clients--one who i know, who seems to be an honest, kind, gentle spirit--who was going home around 7pm on Friday night and, 3 blocks from his house, 3 men beat him up (he had several stitches above his left eyebrow & said he had a concussion), stole his voicebox (he had throat cancer and uses one of those machine thingys to talk, and now can't), stole $6, stole his bike, stole, from what i can tell, at least some of his dignity. he was totally out of it, and wants to leave his apartment, is what he wrote down for me.

the second was from a random woman from south dakota--i'm not sure how she got my contact info.--who moved down here 3 weeks ago & has been living w/ her boyfriend's family. sat. night (perhaps also at 7pm, perhaps not), she was also beaten her boyfriend. she has a 12-year old daughter and a 10-year old son and broke down crying during one of her conversations because she just doesn't know what the hell to do. i think we found a place that can donate presents--one of her biggest concerns--and we're working on a place to stay (she only has money for one more night after tonight); she is nervous b/c being from south dakota, she and her children aren't used to being around drug addicts and other scary situations that she is rightfully afraid of encountering at the shelters where she'll likely end up.

i consistently notice that lots of the violence i've witnessed/heard about is rooted in desperation...for money, for love, for respect. i guess that's just one more argument for the whole "abundance for all" thing...abundance not of quantity, but of quality. if we treat other people better so that they get their fill, so to speak, maybe we all won't be so desperate. it just hurts my heart what people have to go through.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Loooong overdue pictures!!!!

Fun in Atlanta with munchkins...Ella is SUCH a good big cousin, Jackson is now a big boy, officially, Maia is just a big kid & definitely plays baby dolls with Ella (and by herself...freaking adorable!), and well, Connor gives 'em all a run for their 13+ pounds! My sisters, well, are still ridiculous. And two of my favorite people in the world! It's so awesome to "pick up where we left off"...especially when we haven't had skizzy time w/ just us since a LONG time ago!

I was definitely determined to get a REAL good picture...can you tell by my consistent smile, and # of pictures??? I guess it makes up for all of the times I have (and continue to) be pretty damn ridiculous in pictures.

Not too bad, for 1a.m., eh? :)

Next, a new visitor for Pep-tup!

That's right...Lucy is definitely visiting for an indefinite while...she was kinda over living in Atlanta, wanted to have some quality time with her aunt & cousin, & thought she had a lot to offer the city of NOLA. We agree.

The girls sunbathing...a common occurrence when it's not negative 12!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

i rediscovered this quotation yesterday and am so inspired by it.

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company...a church...a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you...we are in charge of our Attitudes.
-Charles R. Swindoll

Friday, December 5, 2008

reason #4,387 i love kids

somehow ella ended up at lunch w/ miss usa the other day (yes, this is 10 months after she had dinner with cinderella in disney world for her 4th birthday, and 1 month after having her 2nd trip to disney world); in response to the lovely lady's offer of her autograph, my awesome godchild says,
"i don't want you to write on my picture."
definitely one of my favorite stories ever.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


So the past half-hour or so has been pretty busy, partly because there has been a client waiting to speak with me while i juggle a phone call & the computer guy who's here to fix my computer. the client, whom we'll call Mr. Smith sits patiently in our "lobby" area (which is really just a couple chairs by our printer & mini-fridge)...and I'm getting stressed thinking, "oh no, what's wrong with his house? why isn't his case manager visiting him regularly? uh oh uh oh uh oh."

Once I finished my phone call & spoke with computer man, I went & sat down with Mr. Smith. Our conversation went something like this:

me: hi, mr. smith. how can i help you today?
smith: well, i was just stopping by to say hello.
m: well's nice to see you. how are you?
s (said over a 10/15 minute period, but summed up here for convenience):'s difficult adjusting to being in one place.
m: yeah, that's different than how you had been living for a while, huh?
s: yeah. i'm about to head to the social security office to apply for disability b/c i have NO income (which i knew), then i'm gonna head to wal-mart (def. a good 40 min. walk at least..he can't buy bus tokens b/c of no income) to see about a job. i've been making pralines (pulls out sandwich bags of indiv. pralines) & selling them outside of the grocery store for $1.50 each.
m: oh wow, that's great!
s: i am not supposed to be in this situation...before katrina, from june-august, i had a good job, got promoted & everything.
me (tearing up a little): oh, where were you working?
s: for crystal catering company...i got promoted from a regular worker making $8 an hour to assistant manager making $12 an hour (face lights up). i worked 82 hours during the junior olympics at the convention center, and i made more in overtime than in a regular 2-weeks' pay. i bought all my furniture just from working overtime. then when katrina came, i still had my coffee table & head-board in boxes.
m: oh wow.
s: yeah, i feel like satan just jumped on my head & was riding me around, but my case manager came & took him off. (pulls out a notebook & hands it to me) this is what i've been working on, (and i read his paper which says "Long-Term Goals," and he emphasizes that he has a 5-year plan; his goals include "establishing a better place in society" (i.e. job security) & surrounding himself with better "associates," being more social, visiting his 6 daughters more (he joked that that's why he's gray :)), etc.).
m: wow, this is great...did your case manager help you with this?
s: (totally clear-headed, with it, not "off his rocker" like some clients) no, i did it myself. she came & documented all of it on monday, but i came up with this plan myself.
m: oh wow, that's wonderful!
s: (digs in his bag & hands me a praline-filled sandwich bag)
m: oh gosh, i wish i could buy one, but i don't have any cash (honestly)
s: that's okay, you don't have to pay me
m: no, i'm not going to take this from you...let me see what i have (which turns out to be $.35, which i give him)
s: well, you really don't have to pay me, but if you insist. i was gonna give it to you anyway.

Wow, wow, wow. My job is really administrative & I don't have much client contact, so I really just cherish moments like these...they make what i do so much more human, more real. I am so thankful for Mr. Smith's stopping by, and for all i'm blessed with in my life, a good solid job, wonderful friendships & an awesome family, a good car, an amazingly cute (& snuggly!) dog, a roof over my head, a heater, my education, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
Wow, wow, wow. Definite bottle moment.