Crossing Bridges: An Outreach Community

A few years ago, at brunch with friends, my husband and I raised the question, “If you could throw a bunch of money at a problem, what would you fix?”

Answers varied: cancer, education, healthcare… and conversation flowed around the topics, what would we change, how would we do it, what challenges would we face… then one idea took hold of the whole table.

Homelessness. We would fix, cure, and solve homelessness.

After parting ways with our friends, James and I couldn’t stop talking about the concept of eradicating homelessness. Was it even possible? How could we do it?

The easy first answer is to give everyone a home.

Since we first started talking about this, I’ve read numerous articles and studies showing that, in fact, providing a place for the homeless to stay is, in fact, the best way to solve a very expensive problem.

But we want to do more than just provide people with a place to stay.

We want to provide people with a community, a place they can safely leave their belongings, a place they can feel safe sleeping: a place they can actually call home.

We envision a large piece of land, with dorms, cabins, and a central community center (basically college meets summer camp). Families would be able to stay together, people would have an address to list so they could get a license, apply for jobs, register for classes. They’d have regular access to showers, women wouldn’t have to worry about getting pads and tampons every month.

Everyone would have access to job training if they wanted it, daycare and transportation to school and work would be provided.

Basically three rules: nothing illegal, no violence, and help out when you can.

Most people who are homeless just need a hand, a safe place to be while they get their footing back. The end goal for each person is that they find their way back home.

I was thinking about this one day while watching my son play with a train set, that this could be a bridge back for so many people, and I was put in mind of a song my husband wrote, and so “Crossing Bridges” was born.

We’re still in the planning stages, there’s a lot to take into consideration with getting something like this up and running, but it is definitely a huge dream of mine to make this happen.

Defining Passion

Elizabeth Gilbert is one of my favorite writers, and a huge source of inspiration to me a writer (and human being).

In anticipation of launching The Signature of All Things, Liz (who I’m sure will forgive the familiarity), has been holding a giveaway. Each month, she poses a question to her dear readers and picks the answer she likes the best.

September’s question “What is your defining passion?” As this has been long been a question I’ve tried to answer, I felt compelled to share my answer here.

“The idea of a passion of one’s life has haunted me for years. I got my bachelors degree because I knew I should and because I do like to learn. But now some eight years removed from graduation, I’m beginning to see that the “passion” I had for my studies wasn’t that intense, and it certainly hasn’t lasted.

“This may be due in part to the fact that English/Latin majors have limited career options if they’re going to live in New Hampshire and be the major breadwinner for their family, or maybe because while I love reading and writing (and dissecting grammar) I prefer to do it on my own time.

“So what now? I’m passionate about my husband and our son, and about keeping them healthy, happy, and safe. I’m very mama bear when it comes to my little family, and I’m overjoyed that my husband gets to pursue his passion for music. I love that we’re striving to teach our son (who just threw a diaper at me) that chasing after your dreams is both important and possible, but where is my passion?

“Liz, I can’t tell you how I’ve struggled with this idea since I was trying to apply to colleges in 1998: I can write, paint, take pictures, sing, make cool cakes. care incredibly for others, beg for money for fundraisers, and sell the crap out of raffle tickets.

“I make the phone calls no one else wants to, and I deal with the upset and frustrating customers when no one else wants to; although those last two are due more to my belief that “the buck stops here” than anything else.  

“I care about women’s rights, gay rights, the environment, and so much more.

“Am I a Jane-of-All Passions? Can that be a thing? I’m 32 years old and still haven’t found the thing that’s just for me, the thing that I won’t just be pretty good at, but the thing that I’ll be amazing at and love so deeply that I can’t not do it.

“I know I haven’t really answered your question, so let’s go with the thing I’m most passionate about right now is diving into another one of your books. Your writings have touched my heart & my mind. and I thank you for being a huge inspiration to me, by just being you!”

A version of this essay was previously posted on the blog “On Life and Other Adventures.”

On an Adventure

When my husband and I started dating, we promised each other that we would always pursue our dreams and passions. We didn’t want to become that stereotypical couple whose lives revolve solely around their children or dead-end jobs that exist only to pay the bills.

We’ve done a fairly good job at this. As a working musician, my husband also gets to be a stay-at-home-dad, which means that he gets to chase his dreams and set an amazing example for our son.

I’m still trying to make my professional life match up with my dreams of helping the world, but I do find time to volunteer for charities like Relay for Life and Reverb.

But most importantly we find ways to have our adventures. Sometimes it’s a random day trip as a family when we follow the road to see where it takes us, sometimes it’s a live music or theater event, and sometimes it’s exploring our neighborhood.

No matter the adventure, I love making these special memories with my little family.

A version of this essay was previously posted on the blog “On Life and Other Adventures.”

A Voter’s Journey: 2012

I did not vote in the 2008 election.  I tried, but I’d been out of state all day and it took far longer than planned to get home. By the time I got to my polling place, they’d closed.  

I missed it by 10 minutes.  At that time I was sort of relieved. Even on my way to the polls, I hadn’t made up my mind.  I didn’t like McCain, and I really, really didn’t want Sarah Palin a heartbeat away from the presidency, but I wasn’t sure that Obama was the way to go, he hadn’t convinced me.

Looking back on it now, the only reason I can come up with for my vague ambivalence was the product of the previous two elections. I’d been a firm believer that W was the wrong choice both times, and I hadn’t really cared who besides him sat in the Oval Office. “Anyone’s better than Bush” became the only rallying cry I really heard, and at that time I didn’t understand how important and relevant elections were.

And now, in less than 24 hours, polls begin to open across the country, and I am proud to say that I know who I will be voting for; and I am pleased to say that I am voting FOR a candidate rather than against one.  

 I have seen the passion President Obama has for our country and our citizens.  I have seen some wonderful legislation passed that has started to take us in the right direction again.  I have seen the faith that he has in our business people.  And I have seen him finally end a war that we never should have been in.  Has he been perfect? No.  But it is impossible to have any person, especially a president, be perfect.

For those of you who might be undecided, and those of you who will not be voting for our President, please consider your choice.

You can choose a man who believes that all Americans deserve an equal opportunity to become great or a man who thinks you should be stuck in the life you’re born into.

You can choose a man who loves Americans and will strive to make government work for them, or a man who cares only about the top 1% and would privatize as many government programs as possible, including FEMA.

You can choose a man who believes that we all have the right to decide with our families and our doctors what medical care is right for us, or a man who has refused to take a stand against those in his party who have “misspoken” about women’s health issues.

You can choose a man who has an open mind and believes that it is not his job to keep rights from a minority, or a man who would instill his spiritual beliefs as law on people who are not of his faith.

To me, the choice is clear.  Please get out and vote tomorrow.  Let your voice be heard, and please remember, our children deserve to grow up in a world where they are free to make their own choices about their own bodies and lives.

A version of this essay was previously posted on the blog “On Life and Other Adventures.”