Validation and the Long, Hard Journey – Validation and the Homeless Experience, Part 3

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The one thing about journeys is that they are filled with hard, painful but necessary lessons. This is why so many of us turn to epic fantasies like The Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series, the Hero’s Journey/Quest. In order to gain something of great, profound value, we must lose something along the way.

My real life journey from Michigan to Washington with the goal to return to Pennsylvania is really no different than that of the Hero’s Journey/Quest. I have traveled a great distance with more to go in order to gain wisdom, insight, and to restore myself. The reward is more personal – a better, stronger, and more compassionate, more successful me. However, to gain those things, one more needs to be shattered and broken once more and to see what one has to lose. More than one lesson in life is necessary, and I’m starting to believe that we go through life thinking we know everything we need to know, never budging, never changing.

The thing is we need to keep learning. One of the lessons that’s come to me since being here in Washington is forgiveness. For a long time, I chewed over situations and conversations in my head, reliving them, doing things differently or continuing them when they needed to just be let go and to die. I knew then I needed to let go and thus tried, but I wasn’t as successful about it as I wanted to be. The problem was I had allowed others to rule over me, to shatter me, and to break me of my wild, fighting spirit. I allowed them to try and mold me into the things I am not and into doing things that were against my nature and my upbringing. (For those of you who aren’t aware, I was raised in a Christian household. One of my uncles was a preacher, but I’ve long since converted to Paganism/Wicca.) In by allowing others to rule me as I did, I allowed them to be disrespectful of me, and thus, in turn, disrespected myself. I rebelled against myself, which led to a lot of internal conflict. Holding a grudge is so easy. Learning to forgive is not, it’s quite hard, it’s realizing that no one is perfect, least of all you. Forgiving myself for the lack of respect and dignity I owed myself is only one part of the lesson for forgiveness. Forgiving others is what remains, and I affirm to myself every single day at least once a day that not only am I capable of forgiveness, but that I will forgive myself and others. World peace begins from within, not without.

The second, painful, but yet necessary lesson is about validation and letting go of hero worship.

You see, for the longest time, or for at least as long as I’ve known this person and joined her on her transition from writing fanfiction to original fiction, I thought she would become a published author before me. Truly, I was in awe of her and her ability to weave an intriguing story. I still am because she’s good so I thought she’d become the published author before me, even after her failures at finding an agent and a change in plans. I followed her journey because I believed. I didn’t want her to give up because I believed.

Last night, I discovered this ran a little deeper than I thought. I wanted, craved her validation about my writing abilities. I was good. I knew that I was, but I fell into the very trap I’ve warned beginning authors about: I compared my stories to hers, and, well, I wasn’t quite so confident. Original material for me has always left me on shaky ground. I worry about it being entertaining, engaging, and interesting enough. To have her say to me she wants to read my stories, to read them and say “That’s an awesome piece, great job!” or “Congratulations on publishing! I knew you could do it” would have been truly divine for me. After all, I hero worshipped her for doing what authors traditionally did at a time when I still hung back and daydreamed of my success. Even after I self-published Portal to Gaming, I craved her validation about my abilities.

Now . . . well, please note the past tense. Private exchanges with my fellow writer have been disappointing at best. Until last night, I didn’t even truly comprehend why these exchanges disappointed me.

A recent conversation with my best friend brought all of this out and into the light. She’d purchased a copy of Russell Brand’s “Revolution” and quoted a particular segment to me, words most people don’t want to hear.

From his book:

“Aren’t we all, in one way or another, trying to find a solution to the problem of reality? If I get this job, this girl, this guy, these shoes. If I pass this exam, eat this pizza, drink this booze, go on this holiday. Learn karate, learn yoga. If West Ham stay up, if my dick stays up, if I get more likes on Facebook, more fancy cookbooks, a better kitchen, cure this itchin’, if she stops bitching.
Isn’t there always some kind of condition to contentment? Isn’t it always placed in the future, wrapped up in some object, either physical or ideological? I know for me it is, and as an addict that always leads me to excess and then to trouble.
Do you feel like that? Are you looking for something? It’s not just me, is it? Do you sometimes feel afraid, self-conscious, lonely, not good enough? I mean, you’re reading this, so you must want to change something.”

These are powerful words, ones that put me into tears. They felt like some powerful God punched me in the stomach, but the conversation wasn’t over. After all, I knew I was feeling lonely, self-conscious, and vulnerable. I was considering doing something I knew was reckless, stupid, and detrimental to my emotional, mental, and spiritual health. Kami’s words drew the realization out even further, how people like Russ, me, and her try to fill those empty voids within us with food, money, or something shiny. Her words reminded me of how she and I have both attached ourselves to people we hope can somehow lift us, make us feel better about ourselves, to validate the things that we’re doing because we’re somehow trying to prove to them that we’re worth that validation. Last night was truly powerful for me because I reached a break-through on an issue I didn’t know existed in my heart and in my soul.

I do not need this person’s validations about my abilities as a writer. I put my work directly out there for the public to purchase and to enjoy, just like I always have when it comes to my stories, and I can be proud of myself for that. It’s taken me 2384 miles and a month and a half in a homeless shelter to realize that. It may seem silly to some, but this is only one part of the journey. There’s more to come.

So . . . I’m shedding my hero worship of this person, and I’m no longer looking to her for validation about my story-telling skills. She’s a sweet person, I’m sure. I truly do wish her the best on all of her endeavors. I just need to let go and move on, move forward with my life and my writing career. I thank her for this lesson, painful and heartbreaking as it is.

And this is more of a reflection of me than anything else. I’m no different from the rest of the world. I want to feel like I belong somewhere, in someone’s arms, and to hear that, yes, I’m an excellent writer; yes, I’m worthy of love, respect, and affection; and, yes, that I am a success for having taken some of the biggest chances and risks of my life.

However, no amount of words from others will convince me if I don’t believe in myself. That’s also part of the hero’s journey, overcoming these moments of doubt and darkness. The way is, as the old time writers would say, fraught with them, and it does bother me that I fell into the same trap I spoke out against. It’s just proof that I am only human, after all.

Now some might see this as me passive-aggressively calling this fellow writer out for not being supportive. I say think what you will. I no longer want nor need this person’s validation about me as a person or me as a writer. Being homeless is putting a lot of things into perspective for me. Despite the tears and aggravations and hard lessons I’ve experienced, this has been more positive than what anyone could truly imagine.

So to everyone who reads this: Congratulations. 🙂 Congratulations to you for every small step you’ve taken in a positive direction. Congratulations to you for every chance you’ve taken, every tear you’ve shed, every bubble of laughter that’s come from you, even when things have looked dark and bleak and not panned out the way you wanted. You have learned some valuable lessons no one can ever take away from you. Be proud of yourself and believe in yourself for everything you’ve accomplished. If all I’ve done is to make your day a little brighter, then I have accomplished something truly amazing indeed.

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The time has come. Rumors are spreading like wildfire. Loki and his monstrous wolf son, Fenris, have escaped from their prisons. The doom of Asgard, Ragnarök, is at hand.

Loki and Fenris never show.

Days go by, turning into weeks. Winter blooms into spring, bright and cheerful. Odin stands vigil with Heimdall, waiting for the arrival of the God of Mischief, his children, and the hordes of Jötunheim, aware that something isn’t right.

Something’s altered the course of Fate and drastically so.

With his son Thor and two warriors, Odin sets off to discover if the rumors are true and what’s changed to bring Spring after three years of winter.

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For Zeus, it’s good to be the divine ruler of Olympus. He has a beautiful wife, wealth, and an abundance of food. As far as he’s aware, there are no others like him and his fellow Gods in the world.

Until Hermes announces there are trespassers – a man, woman, and the largest black wolf he’s ever seen – in the sacred groves of Olympus. Whoever they are, they’re not mortals, and they’re stealing food.

Curious and angered, Zeus sets out with Artemis and Athena to bring the trespassing thieves to justice.

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Loki is hungry. For centuries, he and his family have little to nothing to eat, bound away in their prisons, and now they’ve broken free.

They’ve also done the unthinkable. They’ve abandoned their fates, their roles in Ragnarök, the end of the Gods and the world, but they’ve not done so lightly. His wife, his devoted Sigyn, has revealed to him a secret and is in need of nourishment. In the lands of warmth and plenty they’ve stumbled into, he intends to see her nurtured into health and start all over again.

Worlds are about to collide with irrevocable changes.

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Available on Amazon Kindle for $2.99
http://www.amazon.com/King-Queen-Wands-Elise-Rasha-ebook/dp/B00PM9R6SS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416520610&sr=8-1&keywords=the+king+and+queen+of+wands

The Homeless Experience, Part 2

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Being homeless is a humbling and growing experience. Days are spent finding a place to get out of the cold – while it isn’t Michigan cold, it’s still nippy around here – as well as seeking work. I go to WorkSource, use their computers to hop onto Snagajob.com and find what I can actually do in terms of work. I have no college degree as of yet. I’m also not really much of an office person or factory worker. I enjoy retail work with an emphasis more on food service. It’s been a month, I’ve had a few leads with a couple of interviews with nothing panning out just yet, but the fight isn’t over yet. I’m not giving up. Despite some of my anti-social tendencies, I do like to interact with people. I love to hear their stories.

Days are also spent at two of the libraries, checking Greyhound and craigslist, and letting family and friends know that I’m all right – most of my family is still in Michigan. Most of my friends are in Michigan. My mother, stepdad, and brother are in Tulsa. My sister will be joining them soon. I’m still heading for Philadelphia. Facebook is one of the best ways I keep in contact, especially when I’m not sure I’ll have my cell phone from one month to the next. I also used the computers to type up The King and Queen of Wands for publication.

At night, when I return, I eat dinner which is provided for me by the shelter and go someplace a little quieter than the rest of the house so I can write. And I listen to the stories. I watch mothers struggle with their young children. I stay with women who are overcoming addictions and coping with health conditions.

I talk to my mother a little more than what I used to, which is strange because we lived together for so long. It’s funny how distance can actually repair a relationship. It may never be what it used to be and it may take my mother a while to get used to the idea that I need to trust my intuition.

There’s also something else, and this is reposted from facebook:

Here is an ugly, ugly truth about homelessness in Washington.
It’s caused by people coming here to seek work. I should know. I’m one of them. Washington has the highest minimum wage in the United States right now. THE HIGHEST at $9.32/hour. That isn’t including what Seattle has mandated for minimum wage, which is $15/hour. People are coming here, living on the streets, bouncing from shelter to shelter (because they’re NOT permanent; some allow a person to stay no more than 90 days in ONE year), and the housing authorities are overwhelmed. In Bremerton, in Kitsap County where I currently live, the housing authority had to stop taking applications. There’s a 4-5 YEAR waiting list for many places. The first place I applied to for low income told me their waiting list was nine months. Most people in the shelters can’t wait nine months or 4-5 years.
And it isn’t just single people like me who are needing a permanent place to stay. It’s FAMILIES trying to survive. It’s single parents escaping bad situations and trying to protect their children.
I listen to the stories the women in the shelter tell, about how they’re trying to find a place to stay, and what they’ve gone through in their lives. Many of them will have to find another shelter to stay in until they can find a place to stay. Many of them can’t stay with family because they either don’t have family in the area (like me) or it’s unhealthy for them to be with family.
So it’s time. It’s time for a great many things, my friends. It’s time to understand that economics is playing a very huge part in the plight of the poor and the homeless. It’s time to see that corporate greed is destroying this country.
It’s time to raise the minimum wage. After all, the more money people have to spend beyond the basic necessities of food, shelter, and clothing, the more money the corporations will continue to make. Continue to oppress the poor and the homeless, continue to make it impossible for them to get by, and the economy will not survive.
I have been very humbled by everything I’ve learned. I will also not be silenced on this matter.
I have done nearly all I can while here in Washington, and it’s time for me to move on to the next place. I’m only one person, but I have a voice. I will fight for these people, though. I don’t care what mistakes they’ve made in their lives. They are PEOPLE, first and foremost, and every life is worth fighting for.
I stand by raising the minimum wage. I stand for getting people off the streets, out of shelters, and into HOMES and with jobs that can not only support them but to help them thrive.
Raising the minimum wage is only the start, though, and I encourage people to get out there, to do something, be it donating food, money, or time. You never know what a difference you can make in someone’s life until you see that smile, that look of relief that says more and gives more than anything hoarding money could ever do.

And, yes, my homelessness has been a positive experience while at the same time a crash-and-burn/you-really-need-to-learn-this experience. I researched where the highest minimum wages are at in the United States, and it’s all in Washington. For about two and a half weeks, until I received my food assistance, I went to the Salvation Army for lunch. I overheard a woman on her phone telling a bill collector she doesn’t receive unemployment. She’s been unemployed since 2011, and she goes to the Salvation Army for two of her meals Monday through Friday.

These are the stories the world needs to hear, and I know there are people out there trying to get people to hear them. I want people to hear them. I want the blinders to come off. I recently told my grandmother the world is what we make it. She told me that the world isn’t what we make it, that it’s a dangerous place to live in anymore. Like we don’t have a say in how dangerous this world becomes. Mind you, I love my grandmother. She’s one of the sweetest, most loving people I’ve ever met, but she’s at a point where she doesn’t believe the world can change. She choses to see the danger. She listens to the horrors about human trafficking and can only speak about it. By her own words, she proves my words true – the world is what we make of it.

So I will say it. The world is a dangerous place, but it’s also very beautiful and filled with kindness. I have met nothing but kindness from the residents of Bremerton, from some of the shop owners, and they help to ease the hardships that I’m facing. There’s also nothing more dangerous than apathy and unwillingness to bring about the necessary and painful changes that are so desperately needed. I no longer want the apathy in my life. I want to do something, and I have the skills with writing. I’m willing to bring about these very painful changes.

I will write more about the homeless experience. Because it’s a very real problem, one that needs to end like childhood and world hunger. It’s time to wake up. I know this sounds very preachy, but it’s something that a lot of people are turning a blind eye to. If we don’t act now, if we don’t do something, it really will be too late.

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Finally, I would like to announce that The King and Queen of Wands went live on Friday. There were a few hiccups (like me forgetting to save the cover in the cover creator), but it’s now available on Amazon Kindle for $2.99. Portal to Gaming is also available for $3.99.

The cover, once more, was done by my lovely and talented younger sister, Kyla, and I love everything she’s done for me. Thank you, Kyla, for the hardwork and beautiful cover designs.

The Homeless Experience, Part 1

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So the other day I posted to facebook that I am homeless and staying in a shelter. It was something I figured would happen upon moving out to Washington. I didn’t have much money, an expired driver’s license, and nothing lined up for work or a place to live. I also have no family in Washington – I have two very casual acquaintances in the entire state and really not a lot of support from either one for a variety of reasons. It was a very risky venture on my part, and I admit that I was very naive about a lot of things.

It’s one that’s also been paying off. While I will not say which shelter I’m staying at – this is out of respect for the people who run the shelter and for the safety of the women who are also staying there – I will say this. My life hasn’t nearly been as difficult or as fraught with hardships as I used to believe. There are so many women, so many people who have never had a safe haven their entire lives. I’m very fortunate that, until I moved out here, I had a place to sleep, food on the table, and clothes on my back. I’d been surrounded by the love of family my entire life. And that isn’t a bad thing because some of the women who are in the shelters haven’t had that. They’ve never had that kind of stability, that kind of home environment, and, while mine wasn’t always the greatest (told my counselor when I was 16 I thought my dad was manic-depressive because of his up-and-down mood swings), I now know my life could have been a lot worse than what it was.

I am still seeking work in Bremerton, where I’m currently staying, where I’ve been for the last month. The goal now is to something that will pay halfway decent, be it seasonal or something a little more long term and will give a lot of hours. I need to save up what I can to move to Philadelphia, be it after the holidays, when my 90 bed nights are up, or even six months from now. This hasn’t been a wasted trip. I wouldn’t change a thing about my life and where my path has taken me. I feel much closer to my Gods now because I listened to them on what they wanted me to do, where they wanted me to go, and I’ll keep doing what I can to hear them, to listen to them, and to do what they need me, what I need to do.

There’s a lot that I can’t do right now – be out after a certain time of night, can’t work any midnight/overnight shifts, drink, be wild (not that I would, anyway) – but the pay offs on a lot are still there. I’m homeless but not out of hope or happiness. I have a deeper respect for what others go through. I’ve been blessed with a lot of kindness from others in situations like me. I feel like I’m growing stronger every day I’m out here, and I look forward to the next adventure each day brings. It usually means finding a computer to seek work and a place to rent either as a month-to-month contract or a six month contract, but there’s always something new.

I only have one thing I’d ask of anyone who reads this journal. If you see a homeless person, offer that soul something, be it a meal, a blanket, a ride, a place to stay for the night, or just a friendly ear, and fight for change for them. You truly don’t know what a single act of kindness can do for someone. It creates an ever lasting beauty, and it will be remembered.

Portal to Gaming and The King and Queen of Wands

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I’m pleased to announce that, by the end of this week, The King and Queen of Wands will be available for purchase on Amazon Kindle. Price will be announced on the publication date.

About The King and Queen of Wands
The Gods of Asgard are on edge. Rumor has it Loki and his son Fenris have broken free from their bonds, the final precursor to Ragnarök. They’ve prepared for this moment. They’re ready to face their deaths valiantly and with honor.

Only Loki never shows.

Instead, spring, beautiful spring starts make its appearance for the first time in years, and the mortals are slowly forgetting what was to befall them. For Odin, this is a sign something has happen to alter the course of fate. Loki’s desired vengeance and justice for some time. He isn’t one to let go of a grudge, and the Allfather wants to know why.

For Zeus, King of Olympus, life is good. The lands he inhabits are abundant with people and food, and he and his fellow Olympians are secure.

Until Hermes announces there are trespassers stealing food in their sacred groves. Worse yet, the Messenger claims a large black wolf accompanies them. Determined to bring the thieves to justice and to slay the wolf, Zeus sets out with two of his daughters to capture them.

Loki is hungry. For centuries, the Gods of Asgard hid him away, bound to a rock with the entrails of his son Vail and a serpent hanging over his head. His wife Sigyn endured his torment with him, and they’ve finally broken free. But his wife’s told him something that’s made him rethink his desire for vengeance and destruction upon his former allies. With his wife and son, he flees to find food and freedom.

Worlds are about to collide, and tragedy will strike. The Gods of Asgard and Olympus will never be the same again.

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The King and Queen of Wands is a Tarot-inspired story and a prequel of sorts for Portal to Gaming.

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About Portal to Gaming:

Nineteen-year-old Fen Willows lives an idyllic life. Both of his parents are universally renowned alien archaeologists, pioneers of the field. He studies alien archaeology and plans to follow in the footsteps of his parents, used to have a boyfriend, and enjoys spending his free time hanging around with his best friends, Daniel and Wolfgang Evans.

The idyllic life, however, is not for Fen. Earth is too boring, too bright, too shining for him, but war with the Salmorians keeps him from joining his parents as they travel to ancient civilization sites. Bored and on the heels of a painful break-up, he takes to the virtual reality simulators of Portal to Gaming, one of the leading companies in entertainment and information technology, and where he feels most at home.

There, his world is turned upside down by a stranger determined to fight him for reasons unknown. No one else sees the stranger, and Fen is left to defend his sanity on the issue.

After the confrontation, strange phenomena start to follow Fen around – moments where he stands in his gaming world and moments where destruction is raining down around him.

Unbeknownst to Fen, the war with the Salmorians runs deeper. His parents harbor secrets, ones that can change the course of the war, and his life, forever.

Portal to Gaming is available on Amazon Kindle for $3.99.

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Upcoming holiday season:

Portal to Gaming 
will go on sale one more time, just in time for the holiday season. Price and run time will be announced next week.

Portal to Gaming

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Fen Willows is the nineteen-year-old son and only child of Farold and Victorie Amie Willows, two universally renowned alien archaeologists, top authorities and pioneers in the field. Fen lives an idyllic life in a shining future where, over the centuries and two more brutal world wars, mankind has achieved tolerance and expanded to the stars. He goes to college, following in his parents’ footsteps to become an alien archaeologist, and, in his free time, hangs out with his best friends, Daniel and Wolfgang Evans.

The idyllic life is not for Fen. Unlike most others his age, he longs for travel and excitement, like what his parents have. however, war with an alien race known as the Salmorians keeps him on Earth while his parents continue to travel to dig sites and aid the military in information and weapon advancements. On the heels of a painful break-up, Fen takes to the simulators of Portal to Gaming, the biggest name in information technology and entertainment.

There, Fen’s life is turned upside down by three simple words.

“Draw your sword.”

A stranger confronts him after a quest with his friends. Strange phenomena happen around him, things that he knows if he tells anyone, they’ll keep him from Portal to Gaming longer and extend the days of his boredom.

Unbeknownst to Fen, doorways are opening up, and his parents are at the heart of the chaos, and his gaming adventures have been more than what they seem. Farold and Victorie Amie have secrets of their own, ones that can alter the course of the war and his life.

Forever.

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Portal to Gaming is a science-fiction/fantasy blend of a novella with a surprise twist. Available on Amazon Kindle for $3.99

http://www.amazon.com/Portal-Gaming-Arch-Fantasy-Book-ebook/dp/B00MQ68JNQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415482521&sr=8-1&keywords=portal+to+gaming