“When we fulfill our function, which is to truly love ourselves and share love with others, then true happiness sets in.”
― Gabrielle Bernstein
I started this blog a couple of years ago to chronicle the myriad of powerful thoughts and feelings that came with facing elements of my past… facing my then “homeless” and mentally “ill” father. Life has propelled me in so many different directions after this blog gained international attention. From the speaking engagements, to sitting on panels, to showcasing my photographs, and attempting to write a book proposal… it felt oddly unnatural to be doing all of that at the time. I wasn’t trying to gain any fame or attention from this — I just wanted to help my Dad. And I wanted to honor the relationships and words of the people who so graciously shared and opened their hearts to me — the people who I know are still living on the streets today.
The sensationalism that came with sharing my story was overwhelming. And over the past years, I found myself diving deeper and deeper into my shell. I was consciously trying to drown out the noise… trying to regain my own spiritual and emotional balance. It is important to take care of yourself, especially if you want to be able to take care of others. So here I am. I am focusing on cultivating my home, my little world, and thinking about the words in my heart that I long to share.
This blog was born from my suffering, from a place of deep pain and years of hurt that bubbled into more than I could have ever imagined. Somehow, sharing some of my darkest experiences has brought life and light into the hearts and minds of others. I feel like this blog is only one part of the story, and I have been wrestling with where and how to move forward and beyond. I have more to give, more to share, more insight that is built on a foundation of love and regrowth that I think could be helpful… the question is whether it’s appropriate for me to share it here?
This is the Homeless Paradise. But what I have to give goes beyond the hopelessness of our circumstances, it is about building and cultivating a home. I’m not talking just about a physical space to call your own, I’m talking about the home in your heart — the feeling of self-worth and serenity that comes with truly living and breathing in your own skin. For those of you who have been following this blog, you know of the trials and some of the childhood experiences that shaped my past. These experiences, as painful and confusing as they were, did not limit me from striving for better in my own life. I have always said that my truest desire in life was to have a family, to have a home. It took time, patience, selflessness, and couples therapy (yes, therapy) to build the life that we have. So, where am I going with all of this?
I’m thinking about continuing the story, but peeling away the layers and sharing nuggets of wisdom that I’ve stored in my heart… I once read somewhere that when you’ve reached your goal in life, you don’t just bask in your success and go merrily along… no, you turn around and help others to reach theirs. My family isn’t perfect, I’m not a perfect wife, I’m not a perfect mother, but I am grateful for the family I do have and the home that I do have. My greatest accomplishment in life thus far is knowing that I’ve broken the cycle of abuse and dysfunction; my soul is free to create the life I’ve always wanted and needed as a child. I have become the parent I needed as a child, and have created the home I yearned for.
When the dust has finally settled and you emerge, what do we do? When the pain has finally faded to a dullness that you’re not quite ready to ignore, but don’t want to prolong, how do you move forward? Ultimately, when you’ve been given a second chance at living your life the way you want to, how do you pick up the pieces? It takes time and conscious redirection of negative energy into positive. Maybe this is the wrong place to share these thoughts and feelings, but I felt compelled to reach out to you all. You have “followed” my journey all these years, and you know how hard it has been… I’d like to share the light now. Let me know if it’s something you think would help.