Sunday, January 1, 2017

One of My Biggest & More Important New Year's Resolutions

On the 10th of December, 2016, I was on the way to Adventure Park in Maryland to zip line with Boy Scout Troop 33 from Takoma Park, Maryland. Though, I live in DC, I would never change the pack and troop that my boys not only go to but one in which I help lead as well. I take great pride and these families are my families. They are very near and dear to my heart, and are, well, family to me.

Me in my kids' tree house-- isn't it so perfect for this post? 
Picture this:

My Co Leader driving with me in the passenger seat. 5 boys in the back. Maybe one or two quiet ones. But they are aglow with chatter in the back. They have zero clue that there are two adults in the front because they are super stoked. There is some serious intense excitement for the outing we are about to go on. I mean, come on, it's ziplining! I was excited and I am in my 30's. These are 10 year old boys. They were stoked!

So,  my co leader and I were talking. And I don't even know how we stumbled on the topic but it came up how I was very proud that I made the 100 book review mark (and where that goal came from, I will never have a true clue, honestly). But I had mentioned that my grandmother must be eating and throwing popcorn while laughing mercilessly at me because I used to hate to read on demand and doing reports on them. It was something I dreaded doing for school. But this was different.

In the universal divine timing in my life, maybe the reviews was a way for me to find my voice through reading so many different kinds of books/reading different style of writing voices. Finding out what I liked and didn't like. What story telling ideas versus testimonials, versus everything you can think of, I liked and disliked. I really feel it was divine timing to be able to guide me.

It's like the stars knew the plans before I did.

Including the conversation with C, my co leader. I will refer to him as C to protect his name. Although, if you know my den,  you will easily figure it out.

In that something different was the thinking that maybe I should be writing that book I haven't wanted to write but my Professor from college, Paul Ortiz, really wanted me to write. (I even called him today to let him know I was going to be doing this!) C asked what kind of book. I took three very deep breathes in because it was very hard to say what kind. I have never told anyone and honestly debated in my brain answering the question but because I am always honest, I said it (with no regrets). One of the books that he wanted me to write was about my story. I said extremely vaguely, "my story. I have had a very hard upbringing." And I left it there. I don't know why, but it was hard for me. I have not really told anyone in the Washington DC area that part of my story because I wanted to be judged on who I was as a person and not something that I had no control over.... and that was my story from childhood.

 He, Paul, said I definitely had a very powerful and inspirational story to tell. He hasn't been the only one. Since it is something that is very close to my heart and something that would be difficult to go through to be able to write it, it has been something I have debated doing for (close to 10) years! I always thought that "how can my story change the world?" and "would it be worth it to put my story out there and in turn not know how those around me would be thinking of me?" In all honestly. I don't think the story will make anyone think any differently of me. (And maybe that thought is naive of me). All in all, I think that it is more internal.

This is all even after I have been a leader in organisations in helping foster kids. In helping to talk to foster children to go to college and how important it was. No one planted the seed for me and I wanted to be able to change that. Doubt is always an artificial but very real demon that seems to cover the spirit of actuality and realness. It prevents us from revealing who we truly are. I am 100% myself-- telling this story will not change an ounce of who I am because at the end of the day I am an off-the-cuff kind of person. Ask me and you will know the answer. But no one has ever asked me if I was in foster care or about my child hood so it never came up.

 I want to be me. 
Not defined. 
The positive happy life changing me who loves the world and people deeply. 

You see. I grew up in foster care. We aren't talking a few years. No. Because when I do hard, I go all the way... (insert "laugh-until-you-cry" emoji here...) We are talking an entire childhood.

There is some things and so much that needs to be said and gone through, and not all of it will make the book. I have absolutely zero shame in what I have been through (and it's been a lot) because it made me the person I am today. However, it takes a different element when it is out for public consumption. We all know society isn't the nicest.

However, all the experiences, many of which I would never wish on anyone, even an enemy, have made me the strong person who believes in miracles, true love, and loving everyone as family. There is always a bright side to the coin and I choose that.

BUT if my story can change the lives of those that will come after me............. than isn't it all worth it? 

I mean, I was part of CYC (California Youth Connection) that helped extend the law in California for those foster children who were moving onto college to be able to stay in foster care for a few more years after turning 18. They would have until they were 21. However, the bill that I helped advocate for, didn't pass until well after I aged out of the system. I was proud of this because I was able to help my brother who was behind me by quite a few years not be kicked out the day he turned 18 or finished high school. It was a relief for me that he didn't have to experience the homelessness that I did the day after I graduated high school. Thankfully, I ended up having a friend help take me in which was such a blessing but they were not in the best situation themselves. So I remember calling up a radio station in desperation to ask for help. A listener heard and met me once a month for the three months and gave me $50. From that, I divided it up for my lunches for the entire month. McDonalds got my money that summer and the dollar menu was my friend. I still had to go to the food bank. I still had to do my part to show this family, that I still love dearly, that I was doing my part. They were so freaking amazing. I slept on the floor of my friend's bedroom and it was a blessing.

And all this, that you are reading... doesn't even begin to touch it. Not one bit.

Yet, I still have felt that my story wasn't worth telling. But maybe it is. And maybe this blog, the book reviews, the conversation that I had with C, a glimpse of all these things coming together, are all signs if you will, that this is something I need to do.

It isn't going to be easy. But if it changes the world, it is definitely worth it to me.

C mentioned "Faking it Til You Make It" and that it really is something that you can't wait for the right confidence to come along to be able to do something or get something done. I never thought about it that way. I have always wanted to be sure that I was fully aware and had the confidence (that the odds were in my favour) to be able to do something, anything. Plus, I don't have a non transparent bone in my body. It is hard for me to be able to hold my tongue back. I will say how I feel. To me, I am not a fake person and don't fake anything easily. Ever.

The most priceless piece of advise that C gave me, which he may think is worth a penny, but is worth gold to me, is not to wait for the confidence to do something. Sometimes you have to build it as you go. That is powerful stuff right there. And even I am writing this I am getting a little teary eyed because I can think of all the times I waited to do something because I didn't just jump right in and get things done and lived my dreams. I have many dreams. But this is one, writing the book, for some reason, I am really feeling like I need to do.

C, thank you!! You won't realise how powerful and meaningful those few words are to me. Not just on the front of the book. But in life.

When you are given a sign.... roll like a snowball and go with it....

So, I will start writing my book....

Where it will go, I don't know but there is no time like the present and I am going to jump ship and do it! Here is to one of my many goals for 2017... May the force be with me and with you!

I will leave you with this song that explains a little more about me and what drives me...

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