Last Christmas.


christmas 3Decorated hall at the shelter (pic could be a year old)

Last Christmas, I was fortunate enough to be in a role, where I had the entire Christmas break off. I decided to do something different. I volunteered at Caring at Christmas; a local organization, which houses about 80 homeless people from December 24th – Jan 1st, on a 24/7 basis. They have access to free food all day, manicures, haircuts, board games, pool, clothing, television, massage, dentists, doctor visits, chiropodist, the works. During the year, a smaller numbers are offered a bed, and food for the night. Rules stipulate, they must leave the next morning. Caring at Christmas is also open to others during the day. Anyone is welcomed to stop in, and help themselves to anything on offer.

During induction, we were made aware, that anyone at anytime can be homeless. Some of the people who frequent the shelter, once served in the armed services, held good jobs. You might be talking to a former engineer, teacher, civil servant etc. Chances are, we might be the only ones who bothered to sit, and have a chat with them all year. The Christmas season is the only time the majority of guests had a warm place to sleep, and food all day.

As much as I wanted to, a recent back injury prevented me from being at the shelter every day. I went as often as I could though. What an AMAZING experience! I didn’t know what to expect, but realized very shortly, how grateful I was to be able to do this. Naturally, I wanted to commit the experience, and the people whose paths crossed mine, to memory. Permit me to introduce you to a few of the people I met (names have been changed).

On my first shift, I met John. A fellow islander, he eagerly entertained me with card tricks. He told me how he had spent time in prison. His mom was suffering from terminal cancer. In a matter of fact way, he recounted the struggles he faced. I was impressed with his commitment to just keep going. I also spent time with John and Richard, who invited me to play several rounds of table tennis. John was very matter of fact in giving me hints, and tips on ball movement, paddle handling. The fact that I hadn’t played since I was a teenager? None issue.

Terry moved to Bristol a few years ago from London. He was well dressed, and well spoken. By all accounts, life was good in London. What led to the move, I didn’t know, and didn’t ask. He wasn’t interested in participating in the games, or activities. Terry was content to sit, and observe. He complained about not getting enough sleep at night. Apparently, some of the other guests stayed up all night! He had no choice though, he needed to eat.

Sandra had just moved to Britain from Spain. She was staying in a rundown hotel. One of my duties was to keep the clothes table tidy, and assists the guests with any items they needed. She had one request; a towel. Apparently, the ones at the hotel were flimsy, and not always clean. I gave her two. Wished that I could give more. The look on her face when she received the one item she asked, for will always stay with me.

Graham, he lived in a small town outside Bristol. He was nursing a broken ankle. His monthly benefit money wouldn’t come in until January. Every single day, he walked 5 hours to the shelter, because if he didn’t, he wouldn’t eat. He didn’t have money for bus fare. I struck up a quick rapport with him. Graham is tenacious. Carrying on, doing what needs to be done.

Sam was only interested in putting puzzle pieces together. We spent hours chatting over a 1000 piece. He didn’t share much about himself. So we kept to neutral, everyday topics. Time, naturally flew by. His thing was puzzles. No games, no television. Nothing. Just puzzles. And the company, of anyone who wanted to help him put them together.

Keith was a total character. A man with more than 5 City & Guilds qualifications to his name. We shared a mutual interest in pottery. Keith was the resident scrabble champion. He continually boasted about this to anyone within ear shot. One day, I put the word out, that I would challenge him. The next day, another player joined us. Come to find out, Keith had a habit of making up his own words. I came in second. I won’t forget this fellow. Keith, you’ve made an impression. May God bless you!

I could go on and on. Sometimes, I think my life is hard. The struggles, too great. I want to give up. Just like you. Then I volunteered last Christmas. I will not forget this experience, for as long as I walk the earth. I realised, I have more than I can possibly need. Before hand, I had asked some of my friends to donate unwanted clothing, and other donations. The second I place them on the table, hands came out of nowhere and swiped them away. One man’s trash is indeed another man’s treasure. Thank you to Leanne B and Sylvia K. for coming through in time, and those who promised to do so later.

I will be back this year.
Until the next post,

Juan

#lookforthegood#


#lookforthegood#

I am not one for making New Year’s resolutions. For a host of reasons. I figured, if there are improvements to be made; I can work on them, at any given time, throughout the year. While strolling through the park on New Year’s Day, I decided that 2015, will be the year, I start looking for the good. In people, and more so, in my own life. As often as I can. Every day. There are several projects, which, true to my nature, I am juggling at once. So, I hope I can keep at this, and turn it into a lifelong habit.

I have to remind myself to look for the good in everyone, often. I recognize this will be the most challenging bit of the exercise. Generally, (except for family, friends, and work) I dont look for anything. I mean, how often do we need to? We go about our daily lives, not a thought for the other person. We interact, and move on. Let me hasten to add, my friends and family, would tell you, I don’t automatically look for the bad. However, I know; I need to do a much better job, of seeking out the positive attributes in everyone, especially, when it would be so much easier to see otherwise.

As for the things in my own life; at the end of every day, I write short notes, about the things I experienced, the people who helped, etc, and place them in a jar. The photo above is the actual one I use. I started with white for January. Eventually, I will need to get a much larger, nicer model.

With so many grim images and stories, of terrible things happening in the world, I want to find another way to escape its brutality. One that is often very difficult to accept. The past few years have been rough. I am sure it is for the next person. This exercise, will offer peace and comfort, when I look around, and find dimness.

If I am blessed to be alive next year, I will open it on Jan 1st, and be reminded of all the wonderful things, and people, which made up 2015. It’s been a wonderful exercise, thus far. I find myself looking forward to writing the notes every day. WHY didn’t I do this sooner? I had to resist the temptation, to reread the slips of paper. Even though I just added them. I am sure, at some point I will, as the lure will be too great. It’s a good problem to have, isn’t it? 🙂

I will update you on this project throughout the year. Wish me well.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

You’re Welcome!


I found the pin below on Pinterest today. I thought I would share an answer per day on Facebook, but then, life inevitably gets in the way. It will be tackled in the near future. But fir now, I will use it for my journal entries. I hope to revisit this page in a few years. See how my outlook, and perspective have changed. The topics can also be used for journal entries. Enjoy. Some ideas are too good not to share. 85189bc557b63b856d043eebd450872c Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

A Prelude.To His Kiss.


He pulled me gently towards him. Instinctively. I buried my face in his chest. A rich, alluring scent flirted with my senses. Obsession. By CK. He dwarfed me. By almost a foot. I felt protected. Cradled in his warm embrace. Finally we drew back. We needed to breathe. Independently. Our hands remained loosely wrapped around each other. My eyes travelled upwards. And clashed with his heated gaze. A gamut of indescribable emotions assaulted me. My pulse quickened. Could he feel my heart doing somersaults in my chest? My eyes. I’ve been told. Are very expressive. Right now. I hope that’s the case. I hope he saw how much I love him. How much I appreciate his kindness. The gentle way he responds to my needs. I’m overwhelmed by my feelings for him. Our gazes lock.Time is suspended. To my dismay, my throat constricts. And tears moistened my lashes. In an effort to keep them at bay, I blinked rapidly. And cleared my throat. I failed. Miserably. A traitorous tear trickled down my cheek. Followed by another. Causing a cloud of worry to flitter across his features. He was trying to understand.

An eternity passed. Finally, I opened my mouth to give a cheeky explanation. Then snapped it shut. Because a look of pure joy lit up his face. He knew. And I knew. He knew. Without breaking eye contact. He lightly caressed my cheek. And used his thumb, to gently brush my tears away. Undone by his touch. All I could do was give a weak smile. He returned it. His gaze became heated again. I felt a familiar weakness beginning to build in my stomach. I knew what was coming. The corners of his mouth drew slightly upward.  His hands framed my face. And brought it closer to his. I couldn’t resist. Did not want to. I looked down for a second. That’s when I felt warm lips touch my forehead. And my nose. Then nothing. I looked up. Quickly. For I missed the contact. Our eyes found one another again. I smiled. Our breaths mingled. A sigh escaped me. At least I thought it was mine. It was the last thing I remembered. Right before I closed my eyes. And raised my lips to meet his. They met. Gentle, and tentative at first. Then became more fevered. The weak feeling intensified. Then I remembered. Just like the first. “It’s” in his kiss.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

1 yr l8tr


A year ago today, I returned to the blogging world. What a literary adventure!We are here. First, some housekeeping. As of today, chindeepinlife have been viewed 912 times. I blogged 24 times.There are 29 comments. Not too shabby. Roll on next year. The freedom of self expression continues. Please know your views and comments are welcomed. And encouraged. Always. Furthermore, do you have a topic/issue you would like me to address? Want to write a guest post? In box me at jstarr2600@aol.co.uk. Come along for the ride.

So, here is my year. In a paragraph. Since March, I travelled back to the USA. Returned to my homeland (SVG), after more than a decade. Visited New York, Boston, Ireland, Italy,Tenerife, and other parts of the UK for the first time. I filed for and received USA permanent residency for my mother. I visited the birthplace of JFK. I was awarded my MSc in Psychology degree. Published my first anthology of poems. You can read a sample, purchase, or win a free copy here Bookbuzzr. One of my pieces,”Too Little Too Late was selected and included in Outskirtspress Fandemoniun Volume 1. For the first time in my life, I lost my wallet. Fortunately, everything was returned. I marched in a worldwide event to celebrate International Women’s Day. I was humbled to write a piece in celebration of it, aptly titled Meet Us on the Bridge. Received my UK residency permit. And oh yeah, I dated. After more than 8 yrs. One day it will happen for me. This mysterious, and elusive enigma. Called love.

Back to finding my voice.I started this blog to keep in touch with friends and family.It has evolved.Taken on a life of its own.Really.Being able to share some of my experiences, has enabled me to see the bigger picture.I am eternally grateful. I wish to thank those who return faithfully. Time after time. The ones following by email. The kind comments. The friends who mentioned me in their blogs. I appreciate every contribution. Every acknowledgement. Word of encouragement. Act of kindness. Help. And thought.

For my next post, I will share something of a very personal nature. A lifetime burden. One I can no longer carry. I have to get rid of it. If I hope to be truly free. To find any real happiness in this life. It’s the beginning of a healing process, that is decades late. A revelation which will surprise those who know me best. I am ready. Of course I could give a hint.But I prefer you to conjure up your own ideas. Some will never guess. However, I can no longer hide behind smiles. Or the stiff upper lip. Not when it comes to this.

Until the next post, let me finish with the quote from my first post: “Life is a ticket to the greatest show on earth”

Best,

Juan