Will Work for Bus Money

Hi friends. I hope you all had a relaxing or fun-filled weekend, whichever would have appealed to you more! I had no intention of writing tonight, but on the drive home from my Grandpa’s house, I had some inspiration. And not just inspiration, but real questions.

Mason and I were at a stoplight in the right lane around 8:30 pm, and there was a man standing on the corner. He seemed to be in his late thirties, had a backpack, and held up a cardboard sign that read “Homeless, please help. Need bus money. Will work.”. My first thought was “Oh, please God do not let Mason knock on the window” because that is the new thing with him these days. Then, I was quickly uncomfortable because even though the man wasn’t looking at me, he knew I was there.

I had six singles in my wallet, and I could feel them burning a hole in my purse. I nearly rolled the window down and waved the man over, but a few things stopped me. The main thing that kept me from giving money to the man is fear. In my head, I pictured what could potentially happen. I was afraid that if I rolled the window down, the man may somehow get into my car or steal my bag, or pull a gun on me or Mason. How sad is it that we live in a society where we don’t help our neighbors because of fear? Rather than having faith in humanity, we default to all of the horrible things that could happen, especially in light of all of the violence we hear about lately (which, for what it’s worth, I am not sure has actually gotten worse or if it’s just more publicized in the media).

So of course Mason knocks on the window and I hiss “Don’t knock on the truck windows, Mason”! He asks why. I say “Sometimes people want to be left alone,” and then I sigh and say, “actually, that man is looking for some help.”. Mason dropped the subject pretty quickly because the light turned green and we drove away, the sun setting behind us. It was getting dark, it would have been dangerous to help the man… right? Right?

I had similar dilemmas while working on the corner of Wisconsin Ave and Water St downtown. There were so many men and women looking for money every single day. There were very few days where someone did not stop me to ask for change for the bus or food or no reason at all. Some held signs and stayed in one place, and some literally followed you until you told them that sorry, I don’t have any cash, but God bless and have a great day. Anytime I discussed this with anyone, they usually had the response of, “They were probably going to use the money for drugs or booze anyway, and if they stand there every day they are going to hit you up all the time and tell other homeless people that you give money when asked”. This may be very true. But how would I know that? Wouldn’t the right thing to do be to help anyone if you are able? Wouldn’t you have faith that a blessing would come your way if you help others, regardless of what the stranger uses the money for? As far as people who stand out on the streets every day begging, and the dilemma of helping them once means helping them again, I have no answer for this. At what point is it foolish to hand out money to homeless people, or anyone asking for help?

I know that I can’t help everyone, and I am only one person, but what IS expected of me, as a Christian and honestly, as a decent human being (because to be honest, Christianity has nothing to do with it, on a basic level this is about helping those around us)? I have considered so many answers to my questions, none of which I feel particularly certain or strongly of, such as: always offer help if it’s a woman asking, if the person states that they will work for money, or if the individual is standing there with kid(s). I feel so terrible anytime I don’t offer money if there is change in my wallet. I think about it for the rest of the day and feel (for lack of a better word) so sad. It’s a constant battle between looking out for myself, and considering the following verse:

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40

So, friends, what do YOU think? Please, please sound off in the comments! I welcome all opinions because I am very conflicted and am interested in hearing everyone’s views!

xo

 don't just stand there

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“I’m only here for a while,

But patience is not my style,

And I’m so tired that I got to go.”

I first heard the song by Stone Sour 10 years ago while listening to the radio at my first job with someone very dear to me at the time. His demeanor seemed to fall while the song was playing, as if it brought back unpleasant memories. When the song had ended, I asked if something was wrong.

“After a friend took his life last year, I listened to this song over and over and over again, on repeat, curled up in a ball on my bed. I have never felt so hopeless.”

There could have been no possible way for me to understand exactly how he felt, or the depth of a darkness he now knew. I had known a few individuals in my life up until that point whose lives had been affected by a loved one who took their own life, but no one near or dear to me. I calmly shook my head and tried to understand the sadness he must feel each time the song played, or any time he was near something that reminded him of his friend. I tried, but it was similar to how someone feels when they are at a funeral and are not sure what to say- if anything at all.

My sister ended her life last August. I feel a sense of closure from the grief and despair. I have had time to grieve, to weep uncontrollably, to wonder why, to curse at God, to question why I did not check in on Sarah more often. I have battled guilt- an emotion that does not seem to accompany the griever when a life is taken by an unexpected tragedy or old age. No, that grief is of a different sort. Grief that goes hand in hand with guilt is a pain I do not wish on anyone, and I am very grateful for the many times those close to me have helped me excuse my guilt. But am I excused? I am not so sure.

Sarah’s situation was at least twofold. While she was currently being treated for a mental illness, she additionally became violent with the law in an incident towards the end of her life. This incident came hours after a threatened suicide attempt, when police arrived at her home. It was very clear that she needed to be admitted into the hands of those experienced in caring for the mentally ill, and this initiative was not taken by our law enforcement. In Milwaukee County, there are certain policies in place that allow state facilities to discharge individuals back to their homes- regardless of what their situation may be- while they are still in danger of taking their own lives. I have done research on the laws in the city of Milwaukee, and have even been contacted by a few social workers in the process. There are many gray areas as you can expect, chief among them being “we cannot hold an adult against their will.” How then, are we to force help upon someone who does not want to be help? I admit I do not have that answer, or even an idea of how we could arrive at a solution to that dilemma, but here is what I do know: the fight against suicide starts with us. 

At this point you may be asking what my point is. Well, it’s quite simple, really. If you have even the slightest hint that a loved one may be going through a depression, acknowledge the problem. Be kind. Be persistent. NEVER dismiss a suicidal act or word as a cry for attention or an empty threatAssure your loved one that they are never alone. I understand that my experience may differ from that of other individuals who have had a loved one end their own life, but I am speaking from my own experience. Sarah desperately needed help, and I knew it. I did nothing about it and brushed all of her issues under the rug because I thought she was being selfish when she would start drama at family gatherings, or that she was being inconsiderate when she would go for months without contacting anyone in our family. She needed someone to come to her. I had for so long dismissed her problems because she preferred to act as if nothing in the world bothered her, that she was not afraid of anything or anyone, when in reality she needed someone to just be there for her. To love her when she was the most unlovable, and to hold her hand when she was pushing you away. 

Along the same vein, everyone you meet is fighting a war you know nothing about. I have always liked to think of myself as a genuinely friendly person, but it is very much intentional now. Never underestimate the power of a smile or a kind “Hello, are you enjoying your day so far?”. What I am asking you to do is take notice of other people’s feelings. Pay attention. Be kind. Reach out. Your words may be exactly what someone is needing to hear. How could you possibly know if a stranger you’ve met or an acquaintance has been talked back down from the ledge? You couldn’t, so treat everyone with gentleness, respect, and kindness. I promise, you will not regret it. 

Each year, 700 individuals die from suicide, and an additional 5,500 are hospitalized due to self-inflicted injuries. That is just in Wisconsin.

Per year in the United States, 42,773 people take their own life. 117 per day. I am not excused. WE are not excused.

If you are interested in joining a growing force of people in our community in the fight against suicide, please contact me! The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Wisconsin chapter is holding its annual “Out of the Darkness” walk in Humboldt Park on October 2nd. When you walk in the Out of the Darkness Walks, you join the effort with hundreds of thousands of people to raise awareness and funds that allow the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to invest in new research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors of suicide loss.

 *The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has advanced its efforts aimed at bringing awareness to the nation, and in this instance Milwaukee, as well as much-needed help to those suffering from a mental illness or a past suicide attempt. In Wisconsin, 50% of all people who ended their life had a known mental illness. The AFSP focuses on eliminating the loss of life from suicide by: delivering innovative prevention programs, educating the public about risk factors and warning signs, raising funds for suicide research and programs, and reaching out to those individuals who have lost someone to suicide.*

Sources:

https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/injury-prevention/suicideprevention.htm
http://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/
http://afsp.org/chapter/afsp-wisconsin/

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If We Were Meant to Stay in One Place, We’d Have Roots Instead of Feet.

A little bird tells me that it has been 4 months since I had filled their news feed with a fresh post (or two!). I acknowledged this, and explained that I have been adjusting to a new, but familiar, normal. I felt like I was floating in some sort of limbo-land 4 months ago, and that is not to say that I may not occasionally feel that way at times, but recent events solidify my belief that things truly do happen for a reason, and rarely make sense as they happen. Some exciting things have happened when I least expected them to, and I would love to tell you all about it!

In the midst of collecting unemployment checks each week and applying for jobs I didn’t want simply so that I could say I was actively looking for work, something sort of perfect happened. You see, I had this thought in my head last October that I wanted to enroll in classes. I wanted to do it for me, but I also wanted to do it for the improvement it would make in my job situation. The university I selected was not exactly cheap, but it was the only one in the area that offered degrees fully online if I so chose, and additionally offered them live, so I could either attend in person or log in from home or work and watch the class as it was happening. Becoming a student at Lakeland University was going to be a financial sacrifice (among the other sacrifices one makes to pursue higher education as a working parent), but it was one I was willing to make.

Fast forward to mid-April and I (still jobless of course, and not exactly hating every moment 😉) stumbled across a job ad for an Administrative Assistant position at the Lakleland University campus in Milwaukee. I had to blink a few times to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. How great would it be if I were to secure a position at a university where I was a current student? Pretty opportune, if you ask me.

Well, that’s exactly what happened! I started working at Lakeland in May, and I am loving it. I am gaining exposure to the world of higher-ed, and have the opportunity to work alongside the working-professional instructors, academic advisers, and admissions each day. I get to see the workings of a university from the inside out, and familiarize myself with the technology and administration aspects. And all the while, I am receiving tuition remission. If I need to get to class, I walk down the hall. If I need assistance, my adviser is 2 offices down. In addition to being a family-oriented institution that caters to the working adult student, I have a work-life-school balance that I could have only dreamed of in my previous position. I am not saying this to boast, but to prove to everyone (especially myself! Because let me tell you, did I ever doubt it before) that an event that completely crushed me was a blessing in disguise. I pursued my goal of continuing education, and life caught up to meet me. I am not super woman, and perhaps life knew that better than I.

In other news, Jeremy and I are apparently creating our very own baseball team- we are expecting another boy in early December! I am 17 weeks along. Upon first digesting the thought of starting. All. Over. with a brand-new snuggle bug (because let’s be real.. we literally just ditched the last of the overnight pull-ups 3 months ago), I must admit I was suddenly all “Wait. What just happened?! This is not exactly the ideal time to be adding members to our little group, what with a new job and classes and all!”. But let me tell you. I am so excited! All I can think about is the snuggling and the warmth and the baby-love smell, and the rolls. Oh, the rolls.

And while we are on the subject of babies, I am not sure I can accurately describe how precious Mason is to me, and I cannot help but be thrilled that I am having another boy. The thoughtfulness, curiosity, and kindness with which Mason navigates his daily life make me so proud. If my next son is the same way, I will practically burst. Little girls are wonderful as well I am sure, but what makes boys so great from my experience is in the protectiveness Mason shows towards his Mama, his sensitivity towards others and their feelings, and his unabashed attitude towards all that is important to him in his short life thus far. It is so innocent and humbling to me, and if he can keep those values into adulthood, what a great man he will be.

This means I have 23 weeks to fit in one more semester of school, dig up the onesies and booties (!!!) from their hiding place in storage, and enjoy our family in the moment, because life will certainly be changing for the better soon… Again!

Enjoy the rest of this sunny weekend! xo

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Conflicted

Happy Friday, Beautiful People.

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Third Ward, MKE.

 Mason had a sleepover with his Munka and Bumpa last night. When Jeremy got home from work he, Charmaine, and I stopped at Gille’s Custard Stand and ordered all the fried things. We spent the night playing Betrayal at House on the Hill  with Jason. We have all recently gotten into playing unique board games, such as Tokaido, Oddville, and Exploding Kittens. It’s very possible that these games could be played all night long if you let it happen. It is quite imperative that I get back on something that even slightly resembles a sleep schedule, because while I used to think that 9pm was late, I can’t make myself go to sleep before midnight lately. Of course, Mason still wakes up at the same time every morning, therefore I am tired all. The. Time. Even without a full time job, there do not seem to be enough hours in the day for everything I want to accomplish. Sigh.

I headed to the Third Ward this morning for coffee and retail therapy (ahemm…Anthropologie). I continue to go back and forth on the job front; on one hand, I miss all of the social aspects that go along with a full time job: the coworkers who quickly become friends, the nights out, the camaraderie. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying this unplanned time off. I am very thankful for all of the extra time I am spending with Mason, and learning more about who I am as an individual, but there are good days and there are bad days, as with anything in life. Sometimes, I can’t believe how much work consumed me, and other days I sit in my living room with cold coffee wishing I could bash my head against a wall and scream at the top of my lungs because Mason doesn’t know how to talk or play at a decibel any lower than elephant stampede. As with everything else I contemplate publicly in this blog, I don’t want to sugar coat it. I am not a very good stay-at-home-mom. I don’t have that kind of patience. I’m too antsy and energetic. I am a worker. I need the self-gratification that success in the workplace brings. I am hoping that when classes begin in 2 weeks, I will have a similar satisfaction.

I have submitted my resume to a few different companies with job openings that fit what I would be looking for, but every time I end up sitting back and questioning if I would even be happy in that position. You guys, I am genuinely going insane. I actually googled “Should I be a doctor” because I had a physical earlier this week and my doctor is so upbeat and happy, and her attitude is contagious. Of course, after reading one article I quickly came back down to Earth. HELL NO, I don’t want to be a doctor. I like to help people, but it takes a certain kind of heart to DEDICATE their lives to helping people. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that I don’t think I am capable of that. Again, just being honest.

So what am I capable of? I like to create and be a leader and communicate and be the center of attention. I think I would shrivel up and die if I was put behind a desk for 8 hours a day. What can I do that would make me happy? Not sure that the answer will be easily found. I would love nothing more than to open an antique shop (it has been my dream for years), but it is simply not feasible in this stage of life to do so. Or perhaps it’s that I simply lack the faith it takes to make it a reality. I suppose that is something that no one but myself can decide.

Well, here we are at the end of another work week. I hope you all have a splendid Friday night!

xo

To run or to drink coffee?!

Cheers to the Freakin’ Weekend!

In keeping with my goals for this year, I decided to check out a new place this morning (52 List Project goal!) while Mason is in preschool: Colectivo on Prospect Avenue on the East side of Milwaukee. When I crave coffee I typically stop at Colectivo on KK Avenue, but this place is very cozy as well.

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SEE?! 🙂

Yesterday Jeremy and I got fitted for new running shoes. It’s now or never (another 52 List Project goal). After trying on many different stability styles (I tend to overpronate quite badly when running or even walking), I settled on Nike Air Zoom Odyssey’s (here). I went down into the basement this morning to start my training on the treadmill, but it is folded up in a corner of the utility room (which illustrates pretty accurately how often we have used it) and no matter how hard I pulled I could not get it to fold down. So I unlaced my new kicks and got coffee instead. Pretty even if you ask me 😉

I am going to be using the Couch to 5K app to train. I am not the type of person who can just get out there and gauge my endurance on my own- I need direction. I have used this app before while we were living in Greendale, and got about halfway through it before the weather became bitterly cold and I was honestly too big of a wuss to run in it. I feel that this is the perfect time to start- when it is cold yet mild, and Spring will be here before we know it.

In other news, I was a bit conflicted the last few days. I spent the better portion of Wednesday and Thursday afternoon perfecting my resume and applying for all the administrative jobs I could find that remotely interested me, but my heart wasn’t in it. It’s not that I don’t miss the workforce because I do, but I am very nervous about making the wrong decision when it comes to my next job. I don’t want to job-hop. I want to be stable and work somewhere I can be valued and use my individual talents to the best of my ability. Somewhere that I can grow to love the way I loved Iron Block. It sounds dramatic, but it’s true. I have so much to give and I don’t want to waste it. Now that I understand how much a job can truly mean to me, I am going to find it hard to top it. Sigh. Stream of consciousness…

I hope everyone has a fantastic day!

xo

Sunshine = Mood Booster

Happy Hump Day! It is a huge mood booster to see the sun shining so brightly!

This is going to seem like it is coming from way out in left field, but I do have a point. It has been snowing on and off in Milwaukee for the past few days. Jeremy has been working very late and hasn’t had a chance to shovel the sidewalks or driveway (we live in a corner house so we have a larger sidewalk responsibility than our neighbors). My sister Angela stopped over yesterday around 11 am to pick up Mason from preschool with me. We had lunch and then Mason took a nap.

She left to go pick up her boyfriend Kurt around 1 pm, and brought him back to my house because I was making soup for everyone (my sisters and boyfriends usually come over for dinner once a week, sometimes more. I love having a house full of people). Kurt had just clocked a ton of overtime as well, but he took it upon himself to grab a shovel out of my garage and take care of the sidewalks and driveway. He did not have to do that, the same way he does not have to help me with dishes or take out the garbage. But he does those things because I truly believe he cares for my sister deeply, and her family is now important to him because we are important to her.

My point is that all I want for both of my little sisters is happiness. Kurt is such a good man, and I’m glad he came into Angela’s life. Love you, Kurt!

In other news, Mason had been asking me for the past 4 weeks to come to chapel with him. His school begins their day on Wednesdays with a fun service in their church. I had been telling him that I would go into work an hour later one of these weeks so that I could sit with him, but I always forgot and by the time we arrived at his school, I told him that I promised I would make it happen the next week; that I was sorry. Shame on me.

Being that I no longer have to rush to work on Wednesdays, I was able to go to chapel with him today. He was thrilled. He sat next to me and said “I love going to chapel with you, Mommy.”. I wanted to die of cuteness overload. I felt so bad that I had not kept my word in the past. Hearing his little voice singing along to the songs was the sweetest thing I ever heard.

Well, I am off to pick Mason up from preschool. Have a wonderful Wednesday, friends!

xo

Transitioning

Good Morning and Happy Tuesday!

I must have a faulty phone. I slept right through the alarm that would have woken me to get Mason ready for school. One would not think that such a small person would be such an enormous monster in the morning. He is worse of a morning person than me (ok, not really.)!  Anyway, I opened one eye and peeked at the time. 7:39 am.

Shit.

So, knowing how insanely difficult it is to get this little boy out of bed, I had to make a game out of it. I burst into his room and said, “Oh, no! We are so late today. Let’s see how fast you can go potty, brush your teeth, and put your uniform on! And….. go!”. He was not impressed.

Double Shit.

We managed to make it to St. John’s by 8:02 am. Poor kid. Stupid faulty phone (though if for some reason the phone is not faulty and it’s more of a user error *wink wink*, I may need to consider purchasing an ACTUAL alarm clock; one that is so loud that I can’t possibly sleep through it. Work had my internal body clock down to a science. I am all out of whack now.). I am grateful that Jeremy and I paid for Mason’s tuition in advance because even though I am technically a stay-at-home-mom now, he quickly missed the camaraderie of his fellow littles on the days I kept him home with me. I don’t know if we would have been able to send him had we not already taken care of the financial aspect. See, there it is! The bright side.

Jer and I took on some projects over the weekend. The handle that adjusts the water temperature in our bathtub wasn’t turning as far as it should, and so upon futzing with it, Jer managed to also discover that there were some broken pipes, and other parts that would need to be replaced. Our resident handyman, Dave (Grandpa/Father-in-law extraordinaire), was quick to assist Jer in replacing all of the faulty parts, though it ended up taking the entire weekend because as I am learning, home projects are always more involved than they seem. The only time they needed me was to choose a new showerhead and hardware, which made me happy because I get way too excited when it comes to replacing older things in our home with more modern, sleeker pieces.

While that was happening, Mason spent a good portion of the weekend with Aiden, and I hauled boxes containing my Etsy and Ebay inventory from the basement to my upstairs office. More and more I am seeing how my full time career literally ruled my life: the items were still neatly packed into the boxes they were in when we moved from Greendale, which was a year and a half ago. A year and a half since I put any time or effort into my antiques.

What a shame.

The lighting was perfect on Saturday, so I was able to get good listing photos of all of the items. It felt so amazing to be productive! Being that Mason is at preschool for 3 hours 3 days out of the week, I will dedicate those hours to curating my shops, and this blog (which I currently view as more of an online journal for the world to see.. lucky you! 😉

This brings me to another thought: when I first started this blog, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to make out of it. It really is a place for me to air out my thoughts and epiphany’s, but I want to create more of a structured theme to it as well.

What do people want to read? What interests them? What keeps them engaged? How can I grow my readership? I want more than anything to bring a smile to people’s faces with my writing. I have toyed with the idea of tying a theme to each of the days that I write, for example: Tuesday’s Thoughts (perhaps something I learned or reflected on that week). Some other ideas I had were to post a weekly list of links to things that I found funny/interesting/chic online that week. I wanted to dedicate a weekly post to listing the things that made me smile that week (Saturdays?).

I am turning to you for other ideas! What would YOU like to read?

xo