Sketches, social commentary

Unexpected gifts from my homeless friends

perceptions towards homelessness

 

I’ve been sitting on this sketch for a few weeks now, waiting for the right time to share it with you. Paul, one of the two authors at Two Voices One Transmission asked me to create a sketch based on descriptions of several characters in this blog post. His interactions with his “favorite neighbors,” who were either homeless, or on the discarded fringes of society, resonated with me. I don’t know how well I responded to the challenge, but I certainly enjoyed creating these sketches. This also provided an opportunity to reflect on my evolving perspective towards homeless friends.

Last week I wrote about life lessons I learned while hiking the Appalachian Trail. (If you’d like to read it, you can visit here.) I spoke at length about the hardships (and perks) of living as a homeless hiker. But the thing is, I wasn’t really “homeless.” If things became too difficult, I knew my patient wife would be waiting with open arms. There were only a handful of nights (out of 166) that I struggled to find a place to sleep at night. I lost an unhealthy amount of weight, but access to food was rarely the issue. And while the typical long-distance hiker looks (and smells) like a feral creature, there was no shortage of “hiker-friendly” towns and homes that welcomed us, some even celebrated the fact that we were walking the woods for a really long time.

My homeless friends don’t have the luxury of a support system. No friends and family back home to send encouragement or care packages. They don’t have credit cards in their pack that they can pull out when the urge to dip into town for a hot meal and a shower becomes overwhelming. Rather than being celebrated for enduring a challenging existence, the homeless often face ostracism and attacks. A life like this doesn’t strike me as fun, or inspirational. And it certainly isn’t glorious.

But this isn’t always a recipe for despair.

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Hiking, Self Care, Travel

Life lessons I learned hiking the Appalachian Trail as a homeless hiker

Appalachian Trail hiker learns life lessons as homeless hiker

 

Homelessness is often equated with despair, and misery, and hopelessness. But maybe there is another side to this issue. Maybe, as crazy as it sounds, choosing to leave the comforts of home can be a liberating adventure.

An unusual group of people, including perpetual travelers, digital nomads, and long-distance hikers, often make the conscious decision to become “homeless.” This means giving up certainty about where they are going to sleep each night. Far from family and friends. Going to a favorite restaurant to order the usual isn’t an option. The job that provides regular income is long gone. They see these challenges, and rather than follow the logical path, decide to plunge into the unknown.

I became one of these intentionally “homeless” people last year. I wanted (needed?) to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. For nearly 6 months, I lived off what I carried on my back and the generosity of others, many of whom I had never met before. In this new world, shaving was discouraged, every day was casual Friday, and the only rush-hour was a frenzied race to reach the All-You-Can-Eat before they switched to dinner prices. It was glorious.

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Blogging

Make Facebook great again with Facebook Groups

I’m rarely ahead of the curve, particularly when it comes to social media. However, when Mark Zuckerberg shared his 10-year plan for Facebook, it didn’t sound like science fiction. I was nodding along. Excited even. He wants to transform Facebook Groups into a meaningful platform for connecting people with shared values. The word “community” was used a lot.

In real life, I’m a pathologically introverted person. In Facebook Groups, the anxiety and inhibitions tied to social interaction diminish. I’m able to connect with people I never would have met otherwise. New people with fascinating stories, some of whom are nearly are crazy as I am. It’s miraculous when you stop to think about it.

 

Facebook Groups is not a new thing.

Approximately 1 billion people have tried FB groups. However, according to Zuckerberg, only 10% are in what he calls “meaningful” groups. The other 90% rely primary on personal newsfeeds to stay connected with friends and family. After discovering the magic of several “meaningful” Facebook Groups, my personal newsfeed feels like the muggle version of social media. I can still get my social media fix, but it’s unlikely to help me summon my Patronus when the Death Eaters come calling.

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(almost) funny, Hiking

Celebrate International Yoga Day AND Hike Naked Day #multitasking

Hike Naked Day

June 21 marks the first day of summer. Words like scorching, sweating, sweltering, and sunburn are part of our daily conversations. It’s time to get away, preferably someplace quiet and cool. Maybe a short hike through the woods to a secluded spot. You’re not picky, but a nearby waterfall spilling into a refreshing pool would be nice.   

 

If you’re heading outdoors to get away from the craziness and chaos and heat, you might be in for a surprise. June 21 is International Yoga Day AND Hike Naked Day.

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Guest Post, social commentary

Where have all the good men gone?

wonder woman quotes

Movies inspired by Marvel and DC Comics characters create a series of 2.5-hour immersions into worlds of fantasy. Through our 3-D glasses, we connect with Iron Man. When he shrugs off explosions to thwart the evil intentions of the villain de jour, we feel the jolt. Even when we don the cape of the tragically flawed (but well-intentioned) Batman, we feel the exhilarating rush of having just enough superhuman ability to win the day. For 2.5hrs (not including trailers), the answer to the “where have all the good men gone” question is satisfyingly obvious.

 

WE are the “good men;” and we’re going wherever we’re needed most.  

 

DC Comics just turned this “where have all the good men gone question” on its head in a wonderfully satisfying twist with the release of Wonder Woman. I would love to extol the virtues of a woman who transcends the stereotypical damsel in distress, is a compassionate yet powerful role model, and manages to captivate us with charisma rather than witty one-liners. Instead, I have to turn the soapbox over to Steelcharmer. He won’t give us exclusive access to his lunch with President Trump next week if I don’t share his letter about the dangers of movies like Wonder Woman first.

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