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Ernesto and the Holidays

A thirty something latino man with dark wavy hair and a trimmed mustache sits alone at a table with a small, spiral note pad. He meticulously goes through some notes and scribbles down fresh revelations as they come to him.

He’s dressed in a nice pair of jeans, a crisp, blue button-down shirt and wears practical, dark, laced up shoes. He grabs his phone from his back pocket and dials. When someone on the other line answers, he speaks: 

Hello? Yes, mmm…yyy… nn…nnname is Eeeeeer…nnnnnest…to. I’m cccc… calling abbbb…bout ttthhh… tttthhh..the  aaaa… aaa… ppp… part… mmm… ent.

 He’s boisterous and I try to avoid glancing over because I know other people in the dining area are staring at him. Ernesto sits directly across from me, so it’s difficult not to listen in on his conversation as the volume of his voice increases when the person on the other end of the line is having a hard time understanding him.

I’mmm… ccc… cccalling aaa..about… th..th… the aaa…appp…part.. mmm…ment.”

Challenges

Anyone who has lived in Los Angeles knows how difficult it is to find an apartment in and around the city. It’s a monumental task for most of us; not only to find an apartment, but to find something affordable is challenging.

Los Angeles homelessness is surging with nearly 60,000 people in LA county alone. A whopping 47% of unsheltered homelessness individuals are found in the state of California, the highest in the country.*

  * courtesy of Los Angeles Almanac.

Tears well up in my eyes. I don’t know why I’m so emotional; maybe it’s because before me is someone struggling and there isn’t much I can do. So I do the only thing I can think of that may be of some help; I pray for him.  

I’m perplexed as to why I was so moved, but sometimes strangers can wake us up to the wider scope of our lives; showing us things about ourselves that are in need of attention or encouraging us in another area; venturing forth into new territory.

Giving

I reflect upon this, the state of our country and the world. In a time of great division where many are suffering, this is when in our rawness and vulnerability we need each other the most. One way we can create unity is through giving.

Studies have shown when one gives, one receives even more in return.

 Here are some benefits to giving:

 

  • A feeling of happiness and release of depression.

  • Helps in alleviating stress.

  • Improves sense of self and self-worth.

  • Improves one’s energy.

  • Gives one a sense of purpose.

During the holiday season, it can be a challenging time for many, so I did something different.

This year, instead of giving gifts, I’ve asked friends if they’d be willing for us to contribute to a charity or non-profit we both feel passionate about and they loved the idea. 

Charities/Non-Profits

These two websites below offer a list of charities and non-profits to choose from throughout the United States.

https://www.charities.org

https://greatnonprofits.org/categories/view/homeless-and-housing

 

Here are a few non-profits and charities I’ve donated to and who are doing wonderful work around the world.

Save the Children

http://www.savethechildren.org

  • Save the Children helps children around the world with health, education and protection.

Oxfam

https://www.oxfamamerica.org

  • Oxfam has a wide range of services, including ending poverty, gender inequality, local disaster response, and climate change.

Care

https://www.care.org

  • Care helps in the elimination of poverty and advocates social justice.

There are many charities and non-profits within the US and around the world. If you find one that resonates with what you’re passionate about, see if you can offer help and brighten someone’s holiday.

Volunteering

Another option is to volunteer at a local shelter, mission, or soup kitchen. Most people who work in these facilities welcome any help or acts of kindness. Not only are you extending a hand to someone in need, but it can also help one feel more aligned and inclusive within their community.

Connecting

If you’re feeling isolated or alone, reach out to a friend or family member and spend quality time with them.

More and more people are yearning for quality experiences versus material items during the holidays.

Spending time with a dear friend can uplift one’s spirit and also help gain perspective on areas that may seem overwhelming. It can also provide comfort and hope.

Peace and Good Will to All

May we fill our hearts with kindness, love, and compassion during this holiday season, and as this decade draws to a close, let us come together in peace.

 

Peace and blessings, 

Stacy

 

P.S. Thank you to my family, friends, and clients. You have all added to my life in wondrous ways and I am grateful!

 

 

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A Poem to My 110 Year Old Self

Studies have shown that writing down thoughts and inspirations of gratitude is one of the most powerful ways to make us feel happier and to create more meaningful and joyful experiences in our lives. By expression gratitude on a regular basis, the impact can last for months and deepen one’s own well being.

A few months ago, I was part of a wonderful class; a community of writers from around the world. We had weekly assignments where we would critique, inspire and empower each other. Our last assignment was to imagine ourselves living to the ripe age of 110. Knowing that we were nearing the end of our life, we were to write an encomium –
an expression of high praise for the life we had lived.

We were not only sharing our life, (as well as what we imagined our future life would look like and be) but we were also expressing gratitude for all the experiences; the many colors of joy, sorrow, elation and anguish because all of our experiences have their lessons to teach us. Give it a try and notice where you feel more joyful in your life and subsequently, more at peace.

 

I chose to write my encomium in the form of a poem. Enjoy!

 

Firefly they call you 

Lighting up the night

Your tender belly illuminating your flight

What a majestic tapestry you are weaving

Of a well lived life.

Shine on, sweet one. Shine bright.

As you grew more curious, the seeker that you are

You reach high through the treetops to the glittering stars

And when the turmoil within your family seemed too great to bear

I gently murmured to your aching wounds –

Take heart, dear one. Take care.

The chaos of the world grew louder 

At times, you were distraught

But you kept listening, hearing my voice

You, a Phoenix rising

Continued to soar.

Fly on, free spirit. Fly on.

Meeting your beloved mate 

Under a canopy of stars deep in the African night

A love so profound you knew to wait

This man now your husband, your Chief 

And you his Queen, his wife.

Love on, brave one. Love on.

Passionately working side by side with your beloved

Building bridges beyond borders

Your conviction and joy unbound

An ambassador of peace; your mission discovering and creating 

Compassion for common ground. 

Lead on, gentle one. Lead on.

As your tapestry of light flourishes

A splendor of colors and deep, sumptuous hues

Your weaving strands connecting others

Their light shining with you.

You raise your voice for others

Standing with them in unity; their time long overdue

Honoring them with your actions and words

You stand for their truth.

Stay strong, dear one. Stay strong and true.

And even when doubt would cloud your mind

You remembered the riches of being alive

Were the experiences that cannot be changed

With the passing of time.

 

The thoughtful conversations with your father, hours on end

Mom tending to her garden and your child’s first grin.

Gentle kisses from your lover under a shooting star 

And cool summer raindrops caressing your warm skin —

Yes, these are the moments you will remember by far.

Remember, kind one. Remember and rejoice on.

Your love ones now encircle you

With heartfelt messages and tearful farewells

Your eyes fixated towards the heavens

You know it’s your time

You know this all too well.

For your grand life is before you

Luminous and dazzling

A blazing fire in the evening night

It comforts and soothes, it radiates and glows

As you say your last goodbye


And as your tapestry continues to unfold,

Its fiery embers float towards the infinite sky

I stroke your silvery, long mane of hair

Whispering sweetly in your ear 

One last time.

 

Thank you dear love, for this glorious tapestry of your life.

Thank you dear love, for shining so bright.

Peace, love and blessings,
Stacy