Monday, November 30, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
I've mentioned in previous writings about losing my home in 2006 and eventually renting an old farmhouse out in the country. But I haven't mentioned that there was a seven month period in between the two. During that time, I was as close to homeless as you can be without literally sleeping in the woods. Brace yourself for some more twists and turns on this winding road life seems to be. Follow closely now!
When I saw that I was not going to be able to save my home, I started thinking (not necessarily clearly or logically, but thinking) about what I wanted to do. I had already lost my mother, my boyfriend, my car, and my mind. And now I was losing my home too. So the way I saw it, I had nothing left to lose. I didn't particularly like the housecleaning business at the time and didn't mind losing that too. I had always wanted to just get out there on the road and just go and explore and see what else was out there. I decided that this was my cue to go!
So I started looking around for a camper to travel with. I had managed to buy another vehicle and it had a trailer hitch. But I knew I could only pull a very small camper, that meant it had to be a pop up! And I didn't have very much money either. So it had to be lightweight and cheap! Well, one day I saw one on ebay for $1500 and I placed a bid on it. After placing my bid, I laid down to take a nap. When I woke back up, I checked email and had one from ebay. Having already been outbid on several campers, I assumed this was another outbid notice. But, much to my surprise, it was a YOU WON notice! I sat there in disbelief that I had actually purchased this camper!!! AND that I had to drive across three states to pick it up!!!! I paid for the camper via paypal, emailed with the seller and got directions to his home and that weekend I headed out for my journey to pick up my new little home on wheels.
When I got to Indiana to pick it up, the guy opened it up to show it to me and, even though it was about 20 years old, it looked brand new inside...like it had never been used. Then he told me the story about how he got it. It turned out that he worked for the city landfill and one day he was filling in at a dump site for another employee when this man came in pulling this camper. The man got out and said he and his wife had been fighting over the camper for months and he just wanted to get rid of it so she'd leave him alone about it. So my seller asked if he could have it, and the guy said sure, he didn't care. So the seller in Indiana posted it on Ebay, and a soon-to-be homeless person in North Carolina bought it. That would be me.
OK. Fast forward a few weeks. There is a website called Freecycle.org where people give things away or if there's something you need, you can post it and someone may have it to give. One day, a woman named Leslie posted that she needed some plastic nursery pots. I happened to have a gazillion of them because I had been learning to propagate plants. But I knew I was losing my home and wouldn't need them so I gave them to Leslie. After that, we kinda sorta stayed in touch. We exchanged occasional emails to catch up and we went to a couple movies together. But we didn't get what I'd call close. Now put Leslie on the back burner for a minute.
After I bought the camper and some supplies and kept the lights on in the house while I was still there, I realized I no longer had enough money to go out on the road. (Like I said, I wasn't thinking very clearly or logically. Just running scared.) So I decided I'd keep my housecleaning business going for a while and park the camper at a campground and live there until I had enough money to go. Unfortunately, because of the depression, I wasn't able to work enough to make any extra money. Only enough to survive. So for about four months, I lived in the camper which I had to move from one campground to another every couple weeks because that's only how long they'd let you stay. It was kind of tough but kind of neat at the same time. I liked being in those campgrounds out in the country. It's what made be realize I'd like to live in the country.
Now back to Leslie. One day we were chatting on the phone and I told her I just didn't know what to do. I felt really stuck because every dime I made went to pay for campground rental, gas and food. I wasn't making any progress. Much to my surprise, she suddenly blurted out "Why don't you park your camper in our yard and live in it so you won't have to pay campground rent?" I was shocked! Remember, we really weren't that close and didn't really know each other that well. I had given her some flower pots, that's all. And here she was offering to let a stranger live in her yard? I said "Are you sure?" and she said she'd clear it with her husband and call me back. He approved and for the next three months, I lived in her yard in my little pop up. And that's how I was able to save up some money.
Not done yet. Keep following me. Enter Hank! Way back in the summer, when I first lost my house and first started living in the camper, I did a cleaning job for Hank. He owns rental properties and had called me to clean an empty house for him. I hadn't thought any more about him. Well, it was the end of November and it was getting too cold for me to live in the camper. The last night I stayed in it, it got down to 54 degrees INSIDE the camper with the heat on. I promptly checked into a Motel 6 the next day. (They're pet friendly. I had my dog living in that camper with me. I wasn't about to get rid of him.) Well, a couple days after I checked into the hotel, Hank called me. He left me a message reminding me who he was and said that he was wondering if I was still living in the camper. He said it was getting too cold to live in a camper and if I needed a place to stay, he had an old house I could rent on a week to week basis. The house was going to be torn down but I could stay in it till it was time for the demolition. I was VERY grateful and I ended up staying in that old house through June when I moved into the farmhouse. It's still incredible to me that he remembered me after all those months and cared. Again, someone cared about another human being who was struggling.
Just like my story about when my ABS went out on my car, there's no way I could have orchestrated all these events. The guy who was fighting with his wife about the camper, the landfill employee who didn't show up for work that day, the ebay seller who filled in for him and got the camper, Leslie, Hank. All of them are on my angel list. And when I'm feeling kind of like nobody cares, I have to look back over my life at those people who helped me when I needed it most. And interestingly, they were ALL strangers or at least people I didn't know well. Wait, I forgot somebody. The nagging wife who made her husband give a way the camper! Who knows what might have happened to me without her? LOL!
All good things come to those who believe. Believe in the good. Look for the good. Comments or questions welcome.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Tonight I want to share a story about an "angel" who came to my rescue last summer. It's one of those stories that has so many unexpected twists that you couldn't possibly orchestrate it yourself. You know there has to be "someone" out there making it all happen.
I drive a 1991 Jeep Cherokee, a car which I am totally in love with. I used to get a new car every three years back in my material girl days. But, fortunately, as I've written about before, I had a breakdown and am no longer able to work my ass off like I used to. Or maybe I should say that I have better sense than to work my ass off like I used to. Anyway, when my 2003 Ford Explorer was repoed, I ended up with this old Jeep. I found it on cars.com and it was love at first sight. It's the kind with the fake wood panelling on the sides and it looks like a little Wagoneer. (I guess that's TMI, huh? ) Last summer the ABS went out on my beloved Jeep. For those who don't know, ABS is the Anti-lock Braking System. Not something you want to be without. I drove the car to my mechanic and he said it was a job that HAD to be done by a dealership. So off I went to the dealership. I left the car there and got a rental car. The next day the guy from the dealership called me and said "How much do you like this car?" I said "Well, I really loved it up till just now." And he proceeded to tell me that the repair job would cost $2,000 which is more than the car is even worth. I told him I'd get back to him.
OK. Follow closely now because here's where a twist comes in. I have a weight issue and have lost 75 pounds on Nutrisystem. In the past, before Nutrisystem, I would have gone straight to McDonalds after getting news that my car was gonna cost $2,000 to fix. I was living hand to mouth and didn't know how in the world I'd come up with that money. BUT I didn't drown my sorrows with food!!!! I took the news very calmly and stayed on my program. I've lived long enough to know that things like this always work themselves out somehow if we'll just let them. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I've always had what I needed when I needed it but I often didn't know where the hell it was gonna come from. So I didn't panic and I didn't go on a food binge. I am somewhat active on the Nutrisystem discussion boards and that night I posted a thread where I patted myself on the back for not going off program when I got the bad news. I just stated briefly that I had found out it was going to cost $2,000 to fix my car, that the ABS had gone out on it, and that I didn't know what I was going to do.
Enter Mark. Mark is another member who participates on the discussion forums. I had never had any direct contact with him at all and had no idea what he did for a living. He replied to my thread telling me to send him my VIN number from my car and he'd check on it for me. He thought he remembered there being a recall on the ABS for my Jeep. Of course, I figured he was full of shit but I emailed him that my car was 17 years old and I was sure any recall would be long out of date. He emailed back and told me what he did for a living and that sometimes recalls had lifetime warranties on them. It turns out that he, to keep the explanation short, is a big wig over a large number of car dealerships. So I emailed him my VIN number and he looked it up and, sure enough, the ABS for my 17-yr-old car WAS a recall item and it DID have a lifetime warranty on it. The job only ended up costing me $500 plus the cost of the rental car! I would never have known anything about the recall if Mark hadn't helped me. And Mark wouldn't have known I needed help if I hadn't behaved myself foodwise and then posted a brag post about it. AND Mark had no real reason to help me out either. There was no benefit in it for him at all. Well, at least he hasn't asked for any favors yet! LOL!
To add another little twist to the story, even the $500 I had to spend was a challenge. But my landlord let me use my rent money to pay for it and then they divided that month's rent over the next few months and let me pay them back.
There is no way in the world I could have orchestrated a scenario like that if I had tried to figure out what to do about my predicament. I probably would have just tried to get a credit card to pay for it. That's about as creative my little pea brain can get. Instead, a man who was a total stranger who lived several states away looked something up for me and gave me some information that saved me $1,500. And the people who expected my rent did without their rent money that month so I could pay the part I did have to pay.
You will always always always have what you need when you need it. That's a good thing. Look for the good! :)
PS For the record, I have since gotten to know Mark a little via the discussion boards and, he's a good guy but he can also be a real shithead sometimes. So, apparently, "good" doesn't have to come through perfect people. :D
Please click "comment" below and share your "good" story.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Here's a couple of examples that I've experienced in my own life. I remember one hot summer day I decided to treat myself to some ice cream before going on to my next job. I went to a place that served the particular kind of ice cream I like. It is "hard serve" ice cream. Back when I was a kid, (now I sound old) there was only one kind of ice cream. And it was hard. Then they came out with "soft serve", which I always felt was nothing more than a thick milkshake. :) Anyway, I particularly like this ice cream because I like to "chew" it. As I sat there in my car in the drive thru window, I saw the girl making what appeared to be a milkshake. I assumed she was making it for someone else. But then she handed it to me and, with a big proud smile on her face, she said "I couldn't get the lid to fit so I whirled your ice cream in the milkshake machine for a minute." Being the bitch that I typically tended to be back then, I first got really annoyed at her stupidy. But I wasn't in the mood for a conflict so I took the ice cream and drove off. While I ate my whirled up ice cream, I thought about the girl. From her perspective, she felt like she was doing a really good job serving me by making sure that lid fit on the cup. From my perspective, I wanted "chewy" ice cream and she made it NOT chewy by whirling it. She was trying to do a good job at her job. She was doing what she believed to be giving me good service. You can't fault her for that. So I had to see good in her where at first I didn't.
Another example was a time when I called in a take out order at an Italian restaurant. I was on my way home from work and just wanted to pop in, pick up my food and go home. But when I got to the restaurant, I was told to have a seat and my order would be up soon. About 20 minutes passed and finally a very matronly, motherly looking Italian woman came out with, again, a big proud smile, and the bag with my food in it. "I waited till you got here", she said, "because I wanted your food to be NICE AND HOT for you!" Again, perspective. Having the food be nice and hot was her priority. Having it be fast was mine. But, like the ice cream girl, she honestly believed she was doing a good job for me. The intention was good. Focus on the good.
Monday, November 9, 2009
In 1999, I bought a house from some elderly people. I had an inspection done and all seemed well. But the weekend I was moving in, I kept smelling gas coming from the furnace closet. I had the gas company come check it out and it turned out there was a cracked heat exchanger in the furnace. It was leaking carbon monoxide into the house. Or is it carbon dioxide? Anyway, the gas company condemned the furnace and cut off the gas supply. A quick call to my realtor revealed that the fine print in the inspection report stated that the inspection did not include a mechanical inspection of the furnace and suggested the buyer (that would be me) get a separate inspection done for that. So I had no recourse. And no furnace. This was in July so I didn't need heat anyway yet.
I got some prices from several heating and air companies for replacing the furnace. It was going to cost several thousand dollars! I had spent my last dime buying the house. (Lesson learned: NEVER do that!) So that winter, the only heat I had in the house was space heaters. They did pretty good at heating the house but I worried about fire hazards. And they weren't particularly energy efficient either.
The following spring, I got a phone call from one of the heating and air guys I had gotten a price from seven months earlier. His name was Lion (short for Lionel. Cool, huh?) I had forgotten all about him. But, apparently, he didn't forget about me. He was calling to tell me that he had a furnace for me. I told him I still didn't have any money but he explained further. A friend of his was putting a new system in his house and the old furnace he was pulling out was exactly like the one I had (except it didn't have a cracked heat exchanger). The furnace was only about 7 years old and still under warranty. He said he would GIVE me the furnace and let me just pay for the duct work and the labor for putting it in. Still, I had almost no money to pay for anything. So he asked me if I would clean his office in exchange for the labor and I could pay him just $200 for the ducts they'd have to install. THAT I could do!
For six months, I cleaned Lion's office to pay him back for the labor. And that's how I finally got a furnace for my house. Lion would always blush whenever I would tell anybody the story when he was around. Or sometimes he'd leave the room saying he had something to do or that he needed a cigarette. But I still loved telling the story because it said a lot about what kind of person he was. In a world of "every man for himself", Lion thought about someone he knew of that needed help. For him to remember me at all was incredible. And he could have probably sold that furnace and gotten some money out of it. But money wasn't his top priority. He cared. About someone he didn't even know. I wish there were more Lions around. And I want to be more like him too.
I WAS going to tell a couple of stories tonight but I think I'll save the others for another night. Don't want to be a blog hog. :D
Sunday, November 8, 2009
The first angel I am aware of showed up really late one night. I had gone to a nightclub with a friend and we got blitzed. She picked up some guy and left with him and there I was with no way home. (That was back in the good old days when you could pick up a guy in a bar and spend a little time with him and not have to worry about dieing from it.) Anyway, after the club closed, I proceeded to walk home, or should I say stagger home, at about 2 am. As I walked down the street alone in the dark, this guy pulled up and offered me a ride and told me how much he liked, well, you know. I got scared and started running. Thinking back, I probably ran half a mile. But, when you're drunk and you suddenly get a rush of oxygen to your brain, what happens???? You pass out! I think that was the first time I ever made a bargain with God. I promised God that if He would get me home safe, I'd never drink again. After picking up my bent up glasses off the pavement, I stood up and proceeded to walk towards home again. Then another car stopped. It was a beat up old car and driving it was a huge man who smelled horrible and his car was totally trashed. For some reason though, I got in with him. He told me he had just gotten off work and thought I looked like I needed help. I remember noticing a very worn Bible sitting in his dash board. I don't remember talking any more but he got me safely home and I never saw him again. This guy definitely wasn't a sterotypical pretty blonde girl with a long flowing dress and white wings. But I know he was an angel. I never thought an angel could stink that bad!
I have lots of other angel stories but I'll save them for later posts. (A great way to get you to come back to my blog, huh???) I just feel like there will always be help there for us when we need it. And we never know where it's gonna come from or in what form. I guess it's up to us to keep our eyes open. Angels are everywhere. Good is everywhere.
I'd love to hear other people's angel stories. If there's anyone out there reading my blog that has had an "angel experience" please leave a comment or email me the story at firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, November 6, 2009
By the way, did you hear about the turkey recall???? Somebody forgot to butter the balls! :D
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
One thing I've thought about is how I used to go around saying "It seems like every time I start getting my life together, something goes wrong." But the flip side of that is true as well. Every time something goes wrong, it always works out somehow and then my life is good again. I guess it's just a choice we make as to how we're gonna look at it. The old glass half full, half empty thing.
Another good thing is that life is constantly changing. So, if you don't like your life right now, stick around, cuz it's gonna change! Today I saw this great video about a guy down in Texas that does art on dirty cars. He makes all these awesome pictures on his car windshield, only to have the rain wash them away. His said it's OK with him because that gives him the opportunity to create a new picture. Kinda like life. Check it out. http://www.stayfunny.com/video/dirty-car-artist
Maybe today was a good day after all.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
There was another way that I saw how true it is that what we focus our attention on is what happens in our lives. I really really really wanted to meet Willie Nelson. I thought about it a LOT in the weeks before the show. I even rehearsed in my mind what I would say to him when I met him. Of course, I forgot to say it, but still. I talked a lot about meeting Willie and it went through my mind quite frequently as I went through my day. The thing is though, it wasn't something I just conjured up and didn't really have any passion for. I REALLY was serious about meeting him and I "knew" in my heart that I would. It wasn't that I was forcing those thoughts to run through my mind. I didn't write any affirmations about it or repeat it out loud like an exercise. It was just something I wanted so much that I couldn't stop thinking or talking about it. And, sure enough, it happened. I wanted it passionately, and I believed it would happen, and I focused my attention on it and, it happened! Hmmm. I might need to patent that formula! :D