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Dec 21 2011

In November, 2011, I joined BlogHer.com and haven’t looked back. What fun to be a member of a blogging community that shares life, love and bad things, too! This post by “Dorid,” written last January really stopped me in my tracks. What heartfelt advice. And…how nice to have a list in case something happens and heads are not clear. Just get out this post and start plodding ahead…

BlogHer.com’s “Dorid”

How to Prepare for Homelessness

I’m no stranger to homelessness. Sadly, so many people are too familiar with it these days. Battered women, families who’ve lost their income, men who’ve lost their jobs of 25 years and have searched until their unemployment has run out to no avail.  The economy and the social situation in this country seem tailor made to result in homelessness.

In my case, it’s merely red tape.  I’ve been out of work as a result of chronic illness (Lupus) for years, and rely on my social security and housing grants to make ends meet, but this month I was faced with a clash between the apartment complex and the Housing Authority that threatened to leave me without shelter.  As I went about making arrangements to be homeless, I realized that there were a number of things that could be done to minimize the impact of homelessness and make it more likely to be a temporary rather than chronic situation.  For some, homelessness becomes a trap.  I wasn’t about to let it become a trap for me and my family.

 How to Prepare for Homelessness

1. Sort through all your papers. Know what’s really important: ID, legal records, school records, social security and insurance information top the list. There are also some publication-ready critiques I have taken out of my file cabinet (which is now empty) and into a small carry-file.

2. Sort through any possessions that have sentimental value. This one is harder for me. The last time I was without shelter, I at least had my car. Last time I was without shelter was when the girls and I moved from Buffalo to Florida in ’03. Our car broke down a few weeks before the move, and we had to sort everything into three suitcases. I’m afraid we could be there again.

3. Figure out how much you can reasonably carry. There’s a reason you see so many homeless with shopping carts. When I had a van, I was able to keep things like the TV, dishes, and small appliances. If I’m out on New Years Day, I won’t have room for any of those things.

4. Which brings me to the next must: Maximize your carrying space. Rolling suitcases, small shopping/laundry carts and the like increase what you can save. It also makes it more tiring to carry and drag around.

5. Know where the motels, shelters, soup kitchens and food pantries are, and what you need to have/ do to get in. If you’re looking for a shelter, call in advance to find out when they start to line up and if you need some sort of referral to get in. Also make sure that you know what ages and genders they take. Some places only take families, some only children, some only men, and so on. Try to plan around breaking up families… that part might be hard.

6. Have transportation. Get a monthly bus pass. Some agencies will provide them for the homeless. Sometimes, however, any money you get should go toward transportation. Having mobility means having choices.

7. Don’t LOOK homeless. Looking homeless is looking vulnerable. If you look like you’re shopping (or on vacation) by staying clean and fairly well dressed, you’re less likely to be harassed or robbed, and it’ll be easier to impress prospective landlords.

8. Put your money in a roof. Most landlords want to see you pay no more than 1/3 of your income in rent. Let’s face it: Hotels cost a lot more than that, and so do most apartment homes in decent neighborhoods… at least if you’re on Social Security. That doesn’t mean YOU have to agree to that. I’ve paid 1/2 of my monthly income in rent before, and more than that on a few occasions. The thing is, if a landlord lets you in with that little income, he’s more likely to be a slum lord type. If you’re well-dressed and well-spoken, however, you can sometimes convince some of the nicer places to allow you to rent despite the risk.

9. Prepare to be homeless longer than you think. Stupid people think that being homeless means you live cheaper. Unfortunately that’s not true. Hotels on cold nights when you can’t get a place, or buying a tent or the like: those get expensive. Only people who have no income will lie under a bridge in below freezing weather. The rest of us spend most of our income keeping our kids warm and bathed. A sleazy hotel with the basics costs about $200- $250/week, almost twice the rent for a studio here. Saving money when you’re homeless is a lot tougher than most people think.

10.
Join a gym. OK, this sounds counter-intuitive. Some gyms have free short term memberships. Some insurance has free memberships included. Being a gym member means free hot showers and bathrooms.

11. Find a home for your animals. Pets don’t do well on the road, although most homeless I know take better care of their dogs than they do themselves. Cats, birds, and other pets don’t do as well on the streets as dogs might, and shelters don’t take animals. Long term stay hotels may or may not take pets. Best to look forward if you’re at risk for homelessness and find a good place for your pet in advance.

12. Find something to do besides sit on the street corner with a sign. (That will just get you arrested anyway). Volunteer. After all, you’ve got no where else to go, and doing something good for others will keep your mind off your own plight. It’s also important to keep relationships with individuals. Humans are social animals, and being homeless can be isolating.

13. Pack mostly what you need NOW. That means you don’t need to be using up valuable space in your cart or suitcase for that cute little swimsuit if it’s January. You can worry about finding another cute little swimsuit in summer.

14. Keep your cell phone on. Communication is almost as important as shelter. You’re going to find home searches a lot easier with a working phone. If you’re looking for work, having a phone is vital. Go to a cheaper plan, or go to one of those local carriers if you have to, but keep the lines of communication open.

15. Remember to pack your self esteem. Being homeless can happen to anyone, especially in this economy. And yes, it’s going to be crushing and painful and stressful and ugly. But if you go into it feeling defeated than you’re beaten, and it’ll be harder to get back up. Remember, you do NOT deserve this, and you’re worth better. Keeping that in mind will help you get through this, and will be invaluable when it comes to negotiating homeless services or acquiring a new home.


Dorid’s post is so poignant and direct. When hardship happens, direct is good, because many decisions have to be made quickly.

Dorid regularly posts at her blog, The Radula. I love her sharp wit, displayed in even the name of her blog. A radula, she explains with the illustrated panache of National Geographic, “…is a rasping, flexible tongue-like organ in the mouth of gastropods.”

 

To donate to Dorid use:

DONATE VIA PAYPAL

Please note: PayPal now disallows the use of the “donate” button except for registered NFPs with tax exempt status. Please select the “Personal” tab, then select “Gift” and use the email address doridoidae@gmail.com

Thank you!

 



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Dec 15 2011

Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, EBTs, have replaced
the Food Stamp vouchers that were used for years.

When someone close to you dies and passes over, the biggest shock is that the world still goes on. As you sit on a park bench, numbly trying to collect yourself and make sense of things, there are children gaily playing on sunny days where everyone is the world is happy…except you.

And when my family’s income shifted and then became non existent, I was amazed how similar feelings of being on the sidelines kept me separate from the flow of what everyone else was doing. Once again, there were pretty summer days and children playing while friends seemed to be doing the most frivolous things. Life was going on, whether or not we knew what we were eating for our next meal.

For example, while we were so hungry and wondering what to do to move forward, we interacted with people actually worried about matching new china to drapes at their ski cabin in Vail, Colorado. While I was trying to make $400 in food stamps last a month to feed a family, I had to listen politely to friends telling me their vacation plans. I really felt like I was on the outside looking in and it was a very isolating feeling.

Living on the amount of food that Food Stamps provide
is very difficult. In 2008, we were on Food Stamps and
believe me, it was a big challenge to stay healthy.

And so, things are better now, but I have not forgotten where we were not so long ago. That’s why, I want to share with you who might be facing similar hardships, or who may desire a better nutritional life while living on a fixed income. I find that many of the skills people had in times past have been forgotten and rather than reinventing the wheel, you are welcome to rely on what my family learned. We could have lived much better with more bang for the buck if we had known, what I am going to share with you, from the get-go.

By the way, we did not learn all of this by ourselves.  Much of it was taught by two friends who understood our situation, perhaps better than we did at the time. These two devoted “angels” came over every Sunday and brought food and cooked it for us so we learned to eat nutrient dense food in order to eat less and enrich our bodies more. The methods were so effective, we didn’t stop once things eased up financially. Now, we have been following the tenets of the Weston A. Price diet for three years, feeling really good and spending MUCH less than we used to on food.

Here’s a shocker! These poor children from the Depression
had less food than you do, but were probably better nourished
than you are. We all need to eat from the Way-Back Machine!

Because of our two friends we learned to include more probiotics, that is more living culture of microorganisms in our food to help us digest and use the nutrients in our nutrient dense food. Did you know that the key to health is the number and kinds of microorganisms in your gut? Each of us should have about three pounds of microorganisms in our intestines to help us digest our food. Most of us don’t have anywhere close to that. So, we suffer with non-nutritive food and an inability to properly digest resulting in modern day malnourishment.

To be healthy, active and wholly engaged in life like
these two requires functional digestive tracts
full of microorganisms.

But, hey! Don’t take my word for it.  Did you know there are whole web sites devoted to the study of the micro-flora of the intestines? Yeah! it’s true. They even have a BLOG.  Go here to see and read this:

“The growing awareness that the functional integrity and microbial residents of the intestinal tract may play a mediating role in both skin inflammation and emotional behavior has shed further light on yet another dimension to the relationship between dermatology and mental health.”  

So, if I had to make a list of what to do for the paycheck
challenged, what would it be? Well, thinking about it
tonight, I would say:

1. If you are still drinking tap water, I would stop it and drink only filtered, reverse osmosis water with 40,000 Volts! minerals added.

2. With the money I had, I would buy a gallon of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar and a quart of unfilterd raw honey. I would go to Patricia’s Bragg’s website and read up on what to do with both of them in Ms. Bragg’s book Apple Cider Vinegar Miracle Health System.

3. I would buy only organic potatoes, organic corn and organic pasta for my starches. Avoid non-organic potatoes, corn and wheat like the plague.

4. Buy organic cabbage and make natural, probiotic laden sauerkraut from the recipe found in the cookbook Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.

5. I would buy good organic whole grain bread. Without an organic bakery or making organic bread at home, I would look for Ezekiel Bread, made from organic sprouted wheat. It is often found in the freezer section.

6. Buy raw milk and make kefir and yogurt, once again to increase the number of probiotics in the gut. Instructions for making kefir from raw milk can be found on the Your Family Cow web site.

7. Buy small organic, grass fed cuts of beef and organic free range chicken and turkey and make soup with organic vegetables, frozen if necessary in winter and good water, see Step #1.

8. I would buy organic coconut oil from Tropical Traditions and take one tablespoon everyday as a natural antibiotic to help with a compromised immune system that sometimes comes from financial stress. Now is the time to stay healthy to be able to dig your way out. Also, it is better to cook with coconut oil, rather than olive oil or butter, because coconut oil has healthier properties at high temperatures.

9. I would avoid canned food, opting for frozen to stay away from food that has been in contact with metal for prolonged periods of time.  This is especially true with tomatoes. Eat tomatoes that have been canned in glass, not metal, even if the cans have been coated.

10. I would stop eating ALL restaurant food. Unless the restaurant is organic and provably so, I wouldn’t eat there. Prolonged food storage requires additives and I believe those chemicals are not good for us. Many prepared foods actually contained neuro-excito toxins that over stimulate our brains to think food tastes good when it really doesn’t. That is how MSG functions and why it is found in so many prepared foodstuffs. And besides! Think of how expensive restaurant food is compared to buying the ingredients and making your own.

So, that’s the list. If you are interested in improving
your health and fattening your wallet, just do a few of
these at a time. Any change will be for the better with
the favorable results quickly noticeable

 

See what you think and let me know if this interests you!

 

NaBloPoMo 2011



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