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Until I had to live in a shelter myself, I would look at those who lived in them and wonder what happened in their lives that put them there? That would never be me, I thought.
Usually when you hear word SHELTER, at least for me, I envisioned and related those places to types of people that I thought lived there. People taking food from garbage cans, dirty, grimy people begging for money, bodies covered with paper bags while lying on park benches. Others sleeping in subways, walking streets pushing shopping carts filled with what seemed to me to be nothing more than garbage. Not realizing that to person pushing cart, contents often held their entire life. How does that saying go? One man’s gold is another man’s garbage? No truer saying was ever penned.
I learned from this experience just because you live and maybe even sleep in street does not necessarily mean that you are dirty or grimy for that matter. You just do not have a descent place to call home. The average person is just a paycheck from being homeless anyway aren’t they? At least that is what I was told most of my life.
Immediately, and I mean as soon as I put my hand on doorknob to open doors to “Place”, I began to see just how wrong my perception of homeless and shelters really were.
“How did I allow myself to get here?” I asked myself, as I led my children inside. I was neither dirty nor grimy. I did not beg others for money. My body was never covered with paper bags to shield evening wind from my person, nor did I push a cart filled with what appeared to be garbage. I was just homeless. I became one of very people that I grew up loathing. I was one of THEM now. I was a homeless person.
Life was always and continues to be for me BEST teacher with exams that are powerfully honest.
I am also reminded during my stay at “Place”, during shower time, when my children would play and eagerly jump into shower to wash their little bodies, I stood in shadows as an overseer ensuring no harm came to my little life sources. Nonetheless, after they had gone to bed, I too stood in shower. However, I was not bathing this time, I was crying. I knew that in order for my children to continue with their “positive perception” of “Place”, I had to put on my game face each and every morning and behave as though my stay there was as delightful as eating an ice cream cone on a Sunday morning.
Each night, while everyone was asleep, in darkness, standing barefoot in corner of a rusty shower stall, I cried. I stuffed my washcloth deep into my mouth to muffle my cries. I would repeat this late night ritual for duration of my stay at “place”.
My children never knew.
The real answer to how I stay motivated and encouraged is due to my perception of life. The way I perceive life is indicative to way that I respond to life’s challenges. During my stay at “Place” life so affirmatively atoned me in an earth shattering way. Today, when faced with a situation, a task, or a problem that initially appears to be too much for me to handle, I am reminded of my stay at “Place”.
Today, I ALWAYS ensure that I have a job, I ALWAYS ensure that I have my OWN apartment. I ALWAYS try to exude a “rock-of-Gibraltar” persona when dealing with life’s ups and downs. I have to. Otherwise, “place” will be my alternative.
I came to conclusion that if a person can live on streets and survive off of remnants found in pit of a garbage can. If they can, make gold from discarded junk and generate heat to warm their bodies from plastic and paper bags on a day-to-day basis, my life and trials and tribulations that I must endure is like taking candy from a baby. My perception allows me to believe this.
How you view a situation dictates outcome. Perception is everything. Whether you want to believe it or not, and everything is perception.
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