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Saturday, July 26, 2008

well looky here

So I had a revelation.
It's about 8:30 and I need to be at church by 9 for our cleanup so I'll make it quick.
Last night I just fell into a bout of tears. I have a natural tendency to stop myself from crying so it came out sort of akwardly. With me biting my lip till it was creased with my teeth marks. Then I fell asleep.
I woke up this morning and I felt such a peace. I feel renewed.
Part of it came from my further reading of Debbie Ford's book (see previous posts). I'm in this chapter called healing the split and she talks about the emotions in our life that show us we are hurting inside and inevitably hurting those around us. Those emotions are Guardedness, greed, arrogance, intolerance, self-absorption, stubborness and deciet. Then for each of those emotions she gave a spiritual antidote. Like for guardedness she gave vulnerability.
Well the one that really spoke to me was 'being of service' which she describes as the antidote for self-absorption. Quite honestly it can be the antidote for anything.
Here's a little of what she said"
Being of service requires us to release our expectations and attatchment to what our contribution should look like and just allow ourselves to be used for the good of a greater whole. When our narcissistic impluses are balanced by our deeper desire to contribute to others, we become willing to make a higer choice--if not for ourselves, then for the sake of those we would serve. We're willing to feel the discomfort of not getting a personal need met when we see that our sacrifice serve the needs of many. Being of service demands that we surrender our individual desires in favor of what is good for the collective whole. ...Serving others is a divine gift that lifts us out of the painful cycle of being our worst enemy, because in serving others, we get to belong and be a contributing member of the collective heart.

I just feel like something clicked in me. Like those are finally the words that shape these indescribable feelings that have been circulating in my heart and mind. It also helps me make a very important decision that I've been struggling with. I feel like I can better understand all of our purposes and presence in this earth. It is to serve each other. Yes the world is a crappy place, with big big problems. But we have big big solutions because we can serve. Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve (Martin Luther King, Jr.) Yes.
There are big questions and big answers and the bridge in between the both of them is called life.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Are you unpoopular? Do you pop out at parties?

This week has been incredibly emotionally draining. I can home today and took a much needed bubble bath and then procedeed to crash on my little air mattress. I'm even too tired to let out the much needed obligatory end of the week cry.
One of the things we learn as site coordinators is to set boundaries. One of those boundaries is with ourself, meaning we don't take our clients emotional life home with us and we realize our limitations in helping them.
Right now we're dealing with an exhausting and difficult client. Today some more information came out which further complicates the issue. I leave for DC on Monday so it's hard thinking about leaving our SDs with this person but hopefully we've prepared them. And I know they're able to handle anything.
At lunch I got a call from a potentially new client. He sounded so sweet on the phone. While he was telling me his story, I could feel my heart going out to him. It was a weird feeling because I don't want to get too emotionally invested but I just don't want to shut off my human capacity to care for another person. How do I do this? is the question that comes to mind. Can you do both without hurting the other person or yourself?
I don't know why I'm so committed to service. You'd think that the more I did it, the more I would become endeared to it. Yet the opposite has happened. I find myself exhausted, cynical and apathetic. It's a weekly struggle to maintain the idealism and hope which brings meaning to my work and hope to the people I work with.
This break will be much needed and much appreciated. It'll be so fun to be sorrounded by the people that I've only been able to communicate with through e-mail. I'll also be able to see a couple of UF peeps which will make me the happiest person in the world.
If I was honest with myself and willing to share my vulnerabilities I would have to admit that I am quite lonely at times. Even though I tend to have a lot things to do and a lot of places to go, not having someone to share it with is hard. And at the end of the day when I'm so consumed with the emotions I've had through the day, it's just weird not having someone to open up to with that.
Tomorrow morning I'm participating in a kitchen clean-up at my church. It'll be fun. I'm excited to serve my new church and give back in some way. Plus I get to hang out with some more of the awesome peeps at my church. And there's free lunch, which I swear is not the reason I'm doing this...

So unless something profound happens over the weekend I won't start up with writing on the blog until I get back into the office on the 6th. Then I'll share all my juicy details with you and pictures! Until then stay classy!

Quote: I have long since come to believe that people never mean half of what they say, and that it is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions.Dorothy Day.

Quote (2):I believe that we must reach our brother, never toning down our fundamental oppositions, but meeting him when he asks to be met, with a reason for the faith that is in us, as well as with a loving sympathy for them as brothers.Dorothy Day.

Quote (3): Ah come on, Adrian, it's true. I was nobody. But that don't matter either, you know? 'Cause I was thinkin', it really don't matter if I lose this fight. It really don't matter if this guy opens my head, either. 'Cause all I wanna do is go the distance. Nobody's ever gone the distance with Creed, and if I can go that distance, you see, and that bell rings and I'm still standin', I'm gonna know for the first time in my life, see, that I weren't just another bum from the neighborhood. Rocky

Thursday, July 24, 2008

...since sliced bread

This morning was a pleasant surprise. The heatwave has finally started to break and it was nice and breezy. Last night we had an intense thunderstorm and it was still incredibly dreary this morning. And just to add icing to the cake, as I was walking, a huge truck plowed it's way through a puddle which splashed right in my face and drenched my right side.

Somedays it's just a good day and you know it's going to be a good day.

Other days you have to fight like hell for it, this was one of those days.

It seems like our little office is moving beyond the storming phase of group development. We had a lot of laughs and even a terrifying run in with one of our 20 legged bugs. Client base was slow but we were still able to get some projects done.

I'm excited because I was walking home I saw some tents set up and a sign for a farmers market. sweet! There is one near me on Thursdays as well but I can never make it. I'm incredibly exciting about being able to do some quality produce shopping on the way home. They have ears of corn, leeks and whoopie pies!

As I passed by the museum of art this afternoon, I stopped to enjoy one of my favorite pastimes: watching tourists run up the rocky steps and then proceed to jump around in a cirlce with thier hands in the air. Trust me folks, this never gets old. But just as I was passing I started to get a sharp discomfort in my right leg. I guess sitting indian style for 8 hours and then leaping out for a four mile walk isn't bowling over well for my legs. Plus my right leg is shorter than my left and tends to get pretty sore . Since this was my last opportunity for a break I decided to climb up the stairs and find a place to sit on top. It was such a gorgeous site. I stopped and just decided to meditate and take it all in.

I needed that, that break, to bring me back to myself. I tend to rush and I feel like in ways I'm beginning to rush this experience. I'm running, and once you start running you never stop. I find myself getting really wrapped up in what's next. I'm here. I should enjoy the present.

Once I got closer to my home, my leg really started to ache so I'm taking it easy. I guess this is a pretty long walk. If my head doesn't get it, my body will sure reinforce the fact. We always tend to get the lessons we need to learn.

If you click on the picture it gets bigger!
Song: Run, Baby, Run
Quote: Keep it simple, stupid. My highschool yearbook teacher, yeah I have great self-esteem now.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I'm reading Debbie Ford's 'Why Good People do Bad Things: How to Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy.' While I don't agree with every point she makes, I have been discovering some new insights into my own motives as well as the motives of others. It's an interesting analysis of what drives us to do things that go against our highers self and our knowledge of what is right. Even more importantly it shows us that in the terrible actions of those around us their is a world of hurt. Here's an excerpt:

"Desperately seeking to belong, we tried tirelessly to turn ourselves into anything we thought would be desirable to our families, friends, classmates, or other external influences that we wanted to be a part of. Without a second thought, we gave up our light, we gave up our innocence, we gave up our deepest truth, and we covered up our authentic expression. In a fight to hold on to the love that we needed, we withdrew from that which is most sacred; we ventured outside our authentic desires, and we tried to acheive the impossible: to fit in, to be approved of, to be accepted, and to be loved by those we deemed worthy of our love and affection. Voila the successful birth of our false self. Our shame and fear convince us to wear an infinite number of masks to hide behind. Because we lack the understanding that not only we but our dear friends and family all possess inner demons, we deny those parts of ourselves and begin the tireless process of creating personas--costumes so to speak--to conceal all of who we really are. ..The problem with this, of course, is that eventually we lose sight of not just of our darkness but our light as well." pg 87

Today I had my first phone meeting with my boss. We talk once a week, at least for the first few months. Not only do we go over what's going on in the office and address any concerns, but Delese works with me to define goals for the year and work towards them. Professional development really. I have a lot of respect for her and I feel I can tell her anything which is great. After our phone call I had a much clearer idea of where to go and what do and am more energized to tackle some of our big things. We have a strategic planning meeting coming up. It's a two day affair but after that we will have a better idea of what our specific goals are in terms of volunteers, client services, community partnerships and infrastructure. Oy vey! I have a couple of more days in the office and then I'll be off. Goal for the week: finish to-do list!

Quote: When you're living in poverty, any path you take in life it seems like you're not going to make it. That's why the violence is all like it is. People don't live for tomorrow. They live for today.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I can't stand the rain.

Today was just what I needed. Or I should say that tonight is what I needed.
I went to a small group with some people from my church.
It's so important for me to have a strong spiritual community. Working day to day on things, it is easy for me to get wrapped up in the small things and let the problems of the world overwhelm me and my inability to address them. The time I take to reconnect with a power larger than me, a purpose and a plan larger than me, gives me peace. It allows me to recognize that there are many things beyond me, as well as many things within my reach.
Worry would be the word of the week. I have been worrying if the work I will do in this year will have any realy noticeable affect. I began to think that maybe the problems were too deep and too systemic to be solved or even adequately addressed. I began to believe that maybe this is how things will always be and I should just do what I can but stop trying to change things.
Tonight I was reminded that I must never give up the fight.
Our study is on when faith meets culture. We watched a small video of a church which I believe was in Canada. It is a modern church but after doing a little history they found out that the land their church was on had been stolen from Native American tribes when settlers first came to the land. On top of that, children from the tribes were taken from thier families and put into these reform schools run by missionaries. In the schools the children were mentally, physically and emotionally abused and this occured for many generations. Even though the modern church had no immediate involvement in the actions that had taken place, they took it upon themselves to restore the relationship with the Native American people. To give back, in a way, what had been taken back those many years ago.
We then had a discussion about what it means today to reach beyond racial and ethnic lines to restore unity and appreciate differences. This spiraled off into a discussion about gentrification and more specifically Penntrification. Basically, recent Penn grads are deciding to stay in the university city/west philly community. Some, like a couple at my church, intentionally move into a community that is diverse or made up of mixed incomes in an effort to go beyond themselves and form relationships. However, as more Penn grads move into the same neigborhood, prices and taxes start to rise which inevitably forces those with low or fixed income out of the nieghborhoods. The difficulty is how did you build a relationship with someone who sees you as a threat to their well being. It was a really interesting discussion.
It just caused me to put everything into perspective. I once read somewhere that people who worried are self-centered. It does look like a blanket accusation but the message is that there are things beyond us is in greater hands. I keep thinking about how to get the whole city of Philadelphia out of poverty. I can't do that (yet) but I can help one person. I can do something and I must learn to value that something I can do.
I believe that we can all change the world and it begins with one life.
Usually your own.

Really Happy News: My mom sent me the most wonderful card. I love these things called quotable cards. The funny things is my mom doesn't know that but she sent me one. It really made my day. The quote is "life isn't about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself." She also put my new insurance cards in there, cause she's such a mom. An amazing one.
Here is a snipit of her card which now sits proudly on my counter:
I'm glad tht you like your job, it sounds exciting! You are such a brave young lady to strike out with your feet on the ground. Oh! The snow is going to be beautiful. I love the snow. Please remember I'm here for you, don't feel like you can't talk to me about anything.
I called her and thanked her and then was granted a lecture on choosing doctors and making sure I undersand my insurance benefits. I do treasure those moments, however annoying they seem to be.

Song: You gotta be by Des'ree

Quote: A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves. Amelia Earhart

doodle doodle

Random things from my mornign of reading the newspaper and some spiritual things

Article in the slow movement towards housing

The presence of the homeless in the famous Rittenhouse area at least gets people talking.

If we are not related to ourselves in wholeness, is it any surprise that we cannot perceive the wholeness of the world? […]
Because the source of human conflict, social injustice, and exploitation is in the human psyche, we must begin there to transform society. We investigate the mind, the human psyche, not as an end in itself, as a self-centered activity, but as an act of compassion for the whole human race. We must move deep to the source of decay in society so that the new structures and social systems we design will have a sufficiently healthy root system that they will have an opportunity to flourish. […]
Vimala Thakar, From "Spirituality and Social Action: A Holistic Approach"

Monday, July 21, 2008

round and round and round we go...

The historic boat houses that I see as I'm walking over Spring Garden bridge in the morning. You can see the Philadelphia Zoo balloon at the top.
The skyline on the other side of the bridge. Picture doesn't do it justice, it's gorgeous!
Coming up to the art museum.
The art museum and the rocky steps.
Logan Circle/ pool of the people

So, as promised, here are some pictures of some of the things I see as I'm walking to and from work. I was mildly productive at work today. I've been researching departments, professors and pretty much everything ever at Temple to try and see where we can make some contacts and get students in and the like. I had a great walk home. I stopped at Logan Circle. It was packed with people using the fountain as a swimming pool. It was really fun to watch. Every fountain gets used as a swimming pool. It's a way of life. I was trying to finish reading my book, the need for roots, before I had to return it. To no avail. Because it was on special loan, I couldn't renew it but I'll just check it out again sometime and try to get through it. I picked up three new books: (1) why good people do bad things: how to stop being your worst own enemy (2)Your America: Democracy's local heroes and (3)On my own: the art of being a woman alone. That last book made me feel like I've entered some weird unchatered chapter in my life. But they sound good.

As I'm walking home on the walnut bridge. There's the museum and the 30th street station.

My hood.
Song: Father and Daughter by Paul Simon
Quote: These black people at any rate, when nobody came to massacre them, or reduce them to slavery, knew how to live happily on their land. Contact with us is making them lose the art. That ought to make us, of all colonized peoples, think they hadn't after all more to teach us then to learn from us.
The need for roots.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

It's great to be a Florida Gator!

I have been really missing my sweet home of Gainesville and everything UF and all the wonderful people there. Yet I have yet to have a few days pass here where I have not run into a Gator or a Gator Fan and I thank God for it.

Today in church I met Catarina who (1) is a librarian's assistant at Temple University and (2) went to school with a bunch of Gator fans so could share my enthusiasm.

Then I ran into another couple of cool cats, one of them who had spent a couple of nights in Gainesville and the other who works for a Non-profit financial consulting firm in Center City (awesome!!). We talked about issues in Philadelphia communities and bike routes and they invited me to a small group which I'm really excited about.

Then as I was leaving I ran into a few more folks down stairs one guy was from clearwater and the lady exclaimed 'oh the University of Florida' when I mentioned I was from Gainesville.

THEN as I was walking home I ran into a girl wearing a Florida shirt who had just graduated from May and just recently moved up here.

Yes my friends, this is trully the Gator Nation.

It isn't even like stuff like that happens once in a while, it happens like everyday. I. just. love. the Florida Gators.

Church this morning was really uplifiting, it even brought me to tears a couple of times. Our pastor talked about our spiritual mountains and valleys and our need for roots and dependency on God. If I had one regret this past year it was that when things really got tough, I let go of my faith, lost my roots and lost sight in all the promises of God especially in Jeremiah 29:11-13. "For I know the thoughts I think toward you, thoughts of peace and not of evil. To give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and go and pray to me and I will listen to you. And you will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart." It's given me a new lens with which to see this past week and everything.
I believe that God takes away some material things in our life to bring us back to our ourselves and what is important. When we feel like we have nothing left we are forced to look within ourselves and there we find all that we need. Maybe people find different things, I found God and my faith and peace. I found wholeness.

SO I have a full day ahead of me. I need to finish reading a book that is due tomorrow. It's really long but it's been good so far. I'm off.

Song: Gator Love http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwI-VPkKBmc
Go Gators! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9FcrQrjdNw

Quote: Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit. Jeremiah 17:5-8

Saturday, July 19, 2008

big white vegetable thing

So I thought I bought two onions but I actually bought two rutabagas. I went to go cut it up and sautee when I quickly realized it was not infact an onion.
I ate a piece of it and it kinda tasted like potatoes so I tried to think of some things I've done with potatoes. I ended up putting it in a pan with oil in the oven t 350. They softened and were really tasty. I mixed it with these concotion of beef cubes, garlic, noodles and red peppers. Tasted reeallly good. I thoroughly enjoy cooking and it's kinda fun to mix random things together.
Fun, that is, until my stomach started exploding within itself. That's when I figured I should probably look online and find out what that mysterious vegetable was.
I googled "big white vegetable things" and kept searching till I finally idenitified it. I'm not sure if it's the main cause of my discomfort. I mean I do tend to get sick everytime I eat beef cause I just don't eat it that much anymore, but who knows.
It was really good and totally worth it.

I'm reading a couple of books right now, one of them is the devil wears prada. I love the movie and found the book for a dollar at a philly friends of the library book sale. It's so much like what I'm going through now, except my devil is north philly. It's the place that's toughening me up and making me pull out my hair. So I guess you could call me time here 'the devil carries a 40.'
But it's all good.

Hopefully my stomach will quiet down so I can get some sleep and be ready for church in the morning. Time will tell...


So I've been ranting about Aldi's, the very cheap grocery store near my subway stop. I decided to do a little research on it just to see what I was getting myself into it and found out that's it not that bad.
Most of their low prices result from cost cutting so the saving can be passed on to the consumer.
They're based in Germany and their stores can be found all over the world. One of their owners is the 13th richest man in the world and the richest man in Germany.
I also looked up what consumers thought of their food and have heard mostly good things.
I feel like as long as I'm getting fresh produce, I should be fine. I do wonder where all the fruits and vegetables on the produce truck come from though. hmm...

growing lillies

After reading over my recent posts, I feel like I've been complaining too much. Even worse, I feel like I'm spending too much time focusing on the small things. I guess we all fall victim to that mind trap occasionaly.

Thoughts are like weeds and flowers. Whatever you tend to and feed will outgrow your garden. I've been focusing too much on the weeds: the negative thoughts and their beginning to overpower all the other wonderful things in my life.

For example, the awesome, amazing and lifesaving produce truck that I love. I just bought a squash, 3 green peppers, 3 red peppers, 5 cloves of fresh garlic, two onions and a bunch of leeks for five dollars. I am so happy. And I was able to go to the grocery store and pick up some much needed things so I can actually make a meal out of all that stuff.

I'm going to take it easy now and do some cleaning. Tend to your flowers!

Song: Life for Rent by Dido

Quote: I never complain. the produce truck guy.

Friday, July 18, 2008

boom chicka wawa

My daily cumulative eight mile walks are really starting to poop me out.
It must've been 98 degrees outside today when I was coming home. Plus the heat from all the cars and busses. In addition I walk facing the west when I go home so the sun just beats down on me. I got really fainty and had to stop for a break. I would've definetely taken the subway home but I forgot my wallet, so I had no tokens or money. I tried to hum sungs on my way home to make the time go by faster but to no avail. I crashed when I came home, but I had to go back out because (1) I had left behind a box of cereal at the grocery store when I went shopping yesterday and (2) I needed to take advantage of the buy one get one free (bogo) Arizona Ice Tea at CVS.
I had a busy morning at work organzing and cleaning up the office. It looks great now. Shawn was out the whole morning but came in in the afternoon for a meeting we were supposed to have with one of our community partners. Unfortunately, she was a no show but we were able to reschedule for next week.
On Friday's all of the Site Coordinators for NSP as well as the VISTA's send out weekly reports. We include our highs, lows and insights. It's so much fun hearing from all of the other offices. We always send encouraging e-mails and everyone's reports tend to be funny as well as helpful. I can't wait to meet all of them. We leave for DC New Hire Training on the 28th, sweeeet. We've already gotten the agenda's and have been told they've planned some really exciting outings. I'm also excited about being able to eat three times a day. I can't wait.
I was reading the newspaper online this morning and stumbled across this article http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20080718_Parkway_improvements_to_include_park_updates.html
Basically it details Philadelphia's plan to improve the Ben Frankling Parkway/Museum of Art area. They will be spending about 17. 1 million on this project. All they're really doing is making the place more appealing to tourists. I guess that's great for the economy and in someway that will benefit all Philadelphians. But it just seems like a huge and unnecessary amount of money to spend on something that already looks beautiful when there are so many poor and delapitated communities bordering Philly's tourist friendly spots. I mean I'm all for cultural expenditures and since I cross the Parkway every morning, I understand the desperate need for pedestrian friendly walkways, but there are so many people in need in Philadelphia. So many agencies that are having to cut their much needed services in low-income communities. They're could definetely be a better way to spend this money. I don't normally get upset. I can't even remember the last time I got really upset. But when I read that article I just got....upset. I was annoyed. A great expectations report distributed in December of '07 showed that one out of every four Philadelphians lives in poverty.
I walk through this Parkway every day right into a community that isn't even included on maps given out to tourists. It's like nobody cares enough to do something significant. It's a shame. They have all this money and power and they're using it to create prettier gardens and put more trashcans out. Are you for real?
They're even planning to build a new park where public housing used to be. Wouldn't it make more sense to rebuild appropriate public housing when you have a waiting period that's 10 years long and shelters that are unfit for human occupation. Maybe I don' t know much about all of this, but from what I see everyday, things like this just don't make sense.

I'm going to prepare for my weekend of rest by laying back and watching the only DVD I managed to bring with me "Friends with Money." I love that movie. It's just laugh out loud funny to me, even after seeing it around 50 times.
Good night.
P.S. I'm on the website...http://www.nspnet.org/offices/philly_n.htm

Song: Heat Wave by Linda Ronstadt

Quote: A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Albert Einstein.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Today was an emotional juicer. It just squezzed everything out of me.
I didn't even bother trying to walk home, one because there is a stagnant heat wave here in Philadelphia and two because I don't think I could've made it home without crying.
It was a busy day, we had a rush of clients. I worked with my first client, helping him to learn some interview skills through a mock interview. Then we went searching for listings on craigslist and made some calls and sent resumes out. It was a challenge. We consistently stress the parnterships aspect of our organization and we try hard to not fall into working for our clients by filling out applications for them or doing all the legwork. At the end of the day our clients should feel like they've accomplished something, not me. He kept coming up with reasons why he couldn't type or look things up. It just seemed like a lack of confidence the same kind I used to see in my students when I was teaching them English. It's important to challenge and support without pushing people into a situation that will overpower them. For the most part, we were able to make progress. He got two interviews which was awesome.
We've also been trying to get glasses for him and were able to get some from LensCrafters. At some point in our meeting he started wearing my glasses which was fine. He apologized and put them back. But then after he left I couldn't find them. There are many possible explanations. I could've easily misplaced them or he could've taken them by accident. But I couldn't help thinking that he might have taken them. I felt ashamed for thinking that because I didn't want to stereotype him and he was a great guy, but that was my initial gut feeling.
I tend to be overlycritical, I know it's a bias I have. I don't trust easily and it's easy for me to think the worst.
It just brings up the question in my mind, what if a client does steal from me or lie to me after I put so much energy into helping them. It happens. The best way to go about it is to be understanding, to know that we are all such complex beings that cannot be labeled either bad or good. I remember an excerpt from 'eat pray love' by elizabeth gilbert (seriously, such a great book.) She decides to collect a huge sum of money to give to a new friend in Bali so the woman can build a house. But the woman prolongs the building of the house for so long and even starts to ask for more money. Elizabeth gets very upset but her boyfriend, a long time resident of Bali, reminds her that the people of Bali are very differently. They don't mean to steal and cheat but it has become a part of who they need to be. They don't see it as bad, but as a means for survival.
Here in America, people are robbed of so much for so long. So much that should be a given. The need for survival can become so intense and look like some very cruel things.
I'm not condoning stealing or any other malicious act. By all means, people should be punished in equal measure to the crimes they commit. But I can sympathize and I can understand.
But still, while I have had many great times here in Philly there have been many not so great times. Many experiences that have jilted my faith in the goodness of every human being. Experiences that have made me understand why mom insists so much on me getting mace. Experiences that make me want to quit right now and go home or somewhere easier or safer.
I can see the good in everything but I can also call a spade a spade and now that some times things just aren't great. Sometimes they outright suck.
I don't know why I can't stop crying or why it hurst so much. I think I feel the hurt of the world through the people I work with and it overwhelms me. And I feel so alone, so far away.
I don't want to leave this blog on a sad note.
Today I was able to finally meet another of the national office staff. It's funny when I first started a month ago, I thought I was the underdog. I hadn't had much NSP experience and other things and I couldn't see how I had managed to get this job.
Today I learned that there was a lot of buzz around me and the experiences I'm coming in with. It's true, I'm so grateful for my experiences at UF cause they lend so much to this job. And I was the first new Site cooridnator hired and there was a lot of excitement when I accepted the position. I tend to get insecure about those things but shouldn't we enjoy the good things (without letting it go to our heads). I guess the bad things just become easier to believe(Pretty Woman).
I will spend the night resting. I am very tired physically and emotionally but hopefully this is toughning me up for the bigger hurdles to come.

Song: You Learn by Alanis Morissette

Quote: I am going to tell you this: there are no 'rotten apples.' There are only people who disagree with your point of view on things, people who construct a different model of the world. I am going to tell you this: no persons do anything inappropriate given their model of the world.
Neale Donald Walsch (and presumably God)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I can't believe it's already ten. The days move by so fast.
It was sloooooow in the office today. As you can tell by this being my second entry.
I was actually looking forward to getting out of there because there was a talk at the library that I've been waiting for. Don Russell writes a weekly column on beer for the Philadelhia Daily News and he just recently wrote a book "Joe Sixpack's Philly Beer Guide: A Reporter's Notes on the Best Beer Drinking City in America." It was really good and it was a much needed addition to my day. His talk made me appreciate this city even more with all of its wonderful charm.
Also, I love hearing other people's stories about what they love and how they impact the world through their passions. If you have the opportunity to enjoy the life you've been given rather than barely getting by, you are blessed.
Doing what I do, even for the few weeks I've been doing it, can easily harden my heart. I constantly have to find ways to get out of myself, enjoy life without the sting of guilt and make the most of the opportunities I've been given. It brings me back to my self.
I've been really good money wise but every once a while I have to give myself a treat. I have been craving fresh vegetables and fruits. They don't sell either at Aldi's and I've been getting home to late for the produce truck. And before my paycheck on Monday I couldn't afford any anywhere else. Well I went into starbucks to wait for the talk to begin and read and just my luck they were giving away free samples of some fruit drink they sell. Oh the bananas and mangoes ( I think, def. bananas in there) it was so good. Across the street is a Whole Food that sells local vegetables. I went over to their buffet and just gathered a small assortment of vegetables and little pieces of tofu and stuff. I tried to keep under 5 bux and I did. It was soo good. I love asparagus and it was so refreshing to bite into a piece of cool asparagus. I still have all the tastes on my tongue. It's wonderful when you can eat something that causes an explosion of flavors and last with you until the night.
Tomorrow we have two members of the National Staff coming to the office. They'll actually be heading to the West Philly office to meet with some potential donors from Wachovia. Our sites in Philadelphia are getting a 15, ooo grant from them! So I'll have to wear something nice, and I'll probably take the subway so I don't overwhelm everyone with my sweaty 4 mile must.
It was wonderful, today I came home and it really felt like that, home. It was familiar and nice and I was really thankful for it all.
I'm so tired!

feeling the heat

Months ago I use to read about the impending economic doom with little emotional attachment. It was black and white on the paper, but it wasn't necessarily apart of my life. I didn't feel the pressure of rising food prices because I ate out all the time. I hardly understood the affordable housing crisis because I felt my apartment was pretty cheap. I kept thinking the world was fine because I was fine, the people around me were fine. Now I live in a very different world.

When I walk to work I move through communities that are very different from each other. There is clear segregation in the city and each group seems to be completely ambivalent to the issues or needs of the other. The one good thing from this economic pressure though is that the gap between these groups is getting smaller. Now that everyone is feeling financial pressure or becoming overwhelmed with the thought of losing thier home or counting pennies at the food counter, the stigmas and perceptions that built the bridge between the communities is being crossed. No longer is there the stigma of "those people and their problems." Everyone is beginning to see how easy it is to lose your grounding and have your life turned upside down.

In Philadelphia, their are 120-130 people a day going into eviction court on the verge of homelessness. There is definitely a clear tension in the air. Crime is increasing in Philadelphia. Senseless crime if there is any such thing is crime that has sense. But I walk down the streets and people openly talk about their fear of losing their homes, and their are stressed mothers yelling at their children or men fighting with each other.

I don't have a choice to be detached anymore, and now I wonder if it was a curse or a luxury. When I begin my job, I hesitated over the idea of living at the poverty level, but now I know I could not do my job well without it. We cannot fully give unless we have felt the coldness of need.

no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die...

May I, composed like them
Of Eros and dust
,Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I am lying on my air mattress, with a pillow propped up behind my head attempting not to move. I am incredibly nauseated, but for the most wonderful reason.
My boss Delese came into town along with our new development associate and communications associate. They're here for VISTA training. Site Coordinators use to be VISTAs but now we're National Direct members. Anyway Delese came in and took us all out to dinner. We ate in the Rittenhouse Square district at this great restaurant. I had the most delectable burger and fries. Problem is, all I've been eating for the past month is like noodles and appelsause and triscuts and hummus. And if you are what you eat, tomorrow I'm going to wake up as a 30cent frozen burrito because that's what I eat for lunch everyday. I think I ate too much or I'm not used too so much food. I feel so sick.
But dinner was fun, and I really enjoy the company of the people I work with. I'm learning to be less self-concious and not become so obssessed with my akward moments or social blunders. In fact, now instead of saying akward turtle I take a cue from Leadershape and say "How fascinating!" It's done wonders for me. Wonderful is a state of mind.
Today was Alex's last day and I was simply sad. Now Sean and I are officially in charge. I already have two meetings this week. Today was really cool because I went to this session downtown on the housing crisis in Philadelphia. I learned about the history of affordable housing in the city and what the administration has been doing. Simply put, it's a hot mess. I wish I could move so I could get the statistics from my note book, but I know I'll have many more times to elaborate on them later.
Today I got the most wonderful e-mails from a former boss and former professor. Normally I write this kinda personal stuff in my journal but it really touched me and I'd like to share some of it:

As I taught you, I always felt that you were both compassionate
and productively other-centered.
Your work in Phily, coupled with the always positive
approach you take in Life,... will encourage and serve
to enhance those you 'touch, to be-and-do more for
themselves. Although difficult at times,... this invest-
ment in humanity will pay deep and long dividends as
you move through the World. I am honored to know you.

I have the most wonderful people in my life and I couldn't be more thankful. Words like these inspire me to work so hard. Sometimes the best way to see yourself is through someone else's eyes.

Song: In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel

Quote: Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours. Swedish Proverb.

Monday, July 14, 2008

love takes no less than everything

There was a lot in today.
I walked to work today which would've been more enjoyable if it wasn't raining. Nevertheless, it was awesome. It's about a four mile walk eachy way. Probably longer because I tend to take detours so I can see cool stuff. I have a good internal compass of the city so I didn't have to worry about getting lost. Plus I work on Broad which is one of the main streets. I think I've found out why I love walking so much besides the fact that it saves me $15 a week. My love language is quality time (http://www.fivelovelanguages.com/) and walking gives me quality time with my new city. I was able to watch parents taking their kids to school, walk through some charming neighborhoods and find out about wonderful little hole in the wall places. Plus I get to walk through the heart of the museum district and pass by the infamous steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum where Rocky ran. It's wonderful.
This morning we had a meeting with a clinical pysch professor for LaSalle who wanted to coordinate a service learning program with us and the students in his career counseling class. At first I was really not impressed with this class. We do work a lot on the development of student leaders but we are client focused resource center. I mean he was just talking about this project like our clients were lab rats that his students could use all of their assessment tools on. But I resisted building a pyschological block and after hearing him out as well as explaining more thoroughly who we are and what we will expect from our students I got really excited. It's a great opportunity for our clients because they will have someone working with them who has more expertise in looking for jobs. There are definite tweaks to be made but it could be a good relationship.
I felt pretty bad afterwards because one of our summer directors who had scheduled the meeting was meeting with a client and I think he really wanted to be apart of that meeting. When Alex leaves, Shawn and I will be thier supervisors. It's my first management type thing and awkward because one of our SD's is actually older than me. Our boss is setting up some teambuilders for us and I've even been given some best practices on supervising so things should be fine.
Two of the training areas for today where what to do with clients who are in crisis or have mental health issues and housing resources in the Philadelphia area. Both incredibly frustrating and at time depressing areas.
Some of our clients actually put themselves in crisis centers or mental health centers because it's better than their living situations. In some cases they treat it like a vacation. It does horrors for thier insurance though. Since they tend to go back and forth with being in centers and not and usually only stay for a short period of time, if they are in a real crisis their insurance companies are reluctant to pay out for them. Although it sounds irresponsible, the living situations of some are clients makes it easy to see why someone would check themselves into a center so they could get a warm place to live, a therapist to talk to and three meals a day. Yet it says a lot about our country.
Our clients are incredibly intelligent and resourceful and know the system well. Yet in their attempt to meet their basic needs, such as shelter and sustenance, they overlook the long-term consequences that make it difficult for them down the road.
Housing. One.big.headache. The lack of afforable housing in this city should be causing some sort of downright uprising.
Their are basically two types of programs, federal or government and private.
Section 8 housing in Philadelphia has a waiting list of 60,000 people and has been closed for years. The Philadelphia Housing Authority which also provides public housing has about a 10 year waiting list. Philly is trying to build new housing but ofcourse faces opposition from those NIMBY (not in my backyard) folks. Some of the affordable housing places look really nice which uspets some people who feel that they're two nice for poor people. Okay.
Another interesting thing is that there are some people who are fortunate to get into these programs who, for some reason or another, decide they want to get out. The problem is they've lived with public housing costs for so long that they don't understand market value. The purpose of public housing is to make housing costs fit into your budget. I believe nationally, housing isn't supposed to take up more than 30% of your budget. For example, one person had a five bedroom apartment for only $95 a month and wanted to leave because of a bad landlord. It's understandle that after being in that system for so long, the person wouldn't have a realistic idea of how much an apartment should be.
Another issue is that people tend to get comfortable in public housing and don't attempt to save their extra income to get out. So there is most likely a slow turnover that results in the long wait lists. I don't know.

Anyway that was the day. I had a great walk home. I got really excited when I got home and saw I got my paycheck. I thought I would be happier. But I realize I have everything I need. I'm well fed, I get to work, I got clothes, I have a roof over my head. What more could I need. I think this is the first time that I've received money and haven't felt the urge to spend it.
However, I did really want a candy bar and gathered all of my change to go to CVS and get one. But on my way there I thought, with this dollar I could by three grapefruits at the produce truck. So it became this battle, candy bar or grapefruits. As I was walking to the produce truck, I was relieved. It was closed and I had the best candy bar ever.

Song: If not now by Tracy Chapman

Quote: I feel like a tiny bird with a big song. Jerry Van Amerongen

interesting link to an interesting article

In the morning before work officialy starts I read through online newspapers. Not real ones because I'm allergic to newspaper ink. I found this in the editorial of the New York Times. I know I've heard of this book before but anyways, I'm thinking about contacting him to see if they need some help developing school libraries. I've been supporting this Rwandan library project and it has gotten me even more interested in working with international libraries. Anway, linkage:


Work is going good, interesting meeting that I'll write about later, when I'm off the clock.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

My pastor referenced this in church this morning. Philadelphia's own "Punk Rock Mommy" passed away on the 9th and she wrote this in her blog. Encouraging words meant to be remembered:

"My journey in this world was difficult and painful but important in my spiritual growth. I learned that we have to be happy despite our circumstances. We can’t say I will be happy when…. No sweeties be happy now because today is all you have.
I learned that all the small stuff is very small and not worth your time and attention. Gossip and resentments,worrying about things that never happen, fearing the unknown. Let it go my lovelies, breath and just be good to each other. I realized not long after my diagnosis that life is too short to spend it hurting people and holding onto the anger we have for those around us. I am no doormat, but I just let go of all that hard core resentment. God forgives us through the blood of His Son. He forgives those who hurt us as well."


love is a verb

Writing out a to-do list and prioritizing things for the week is going to be my new Sunday thing. And there are two lists (which will probably be combined) Work things and me things.
Last week was just a little stressful come Friday because I didn't get to everything I wanted to and I do not bring work home. But I figured out why this morning.
So I have this organizing prioritizing system that I've had since I wa seven, so like 15 years, and I used to have to think about it but I have just become so set in my ways. But it is so impractical and it is making me so frustrated and I really have to find a new one but I'm so used to it and I'm a really rigid person when it comes to change.
So my system is based on a Vanessa Williams song that was my all time favorite song when I was a kid "Save the best for last."
So every since I was around seven I've always organized things by doing the thing I most wanted to do last. So if I was eating I would eat the thing I most wanted to eat last. Or if I was doing homework I would do the homework I most wanted to do last. If I was really excited about seeing a group of people I would wait to see the person I most wanted to see last. If I had really big news I would wait to tell the person I most cared about last. etc. etc.
Needless to say it isn't working anymore.
Especially with people, this past year I've learned that people tend to think you don't care about them or you don't like them if there not the first to know. Or in some cases there are so many people to tell that I completely forget the person I care about the most. It's just not effective.

But this past week at work I kept finding myself pushing off things which I really needed and wanted to do. The irony is I love everything in my job so much so I keep putting everything off. I tend to do things I don't care to do and are also not important. It's been frustrating. And I usually don't get anything done because I keep trying to organize things based on this system and it just doesn't work anymore.
While the delayed gratification has taught me some important lessons, I have to let it go. It just doesn't make sense anymore. And why shouldn't I be allowed to eat the thing I most want to eat first. Or see the person I most care about first, or do things I really love when I want to do them. I think I may now start getting more organized and also stop forgetting really important things.

I really enjoy Sunday mornings. We had such a wonderful sermon at church this morning. Our pastor used the movie Juno (totally spoiled the ending) to illustrate unconditional love. I had already written this in my journal so I'll just quote myself here:
"We love because we were first loved not because someone is lovable. God puts us in need so that we can give. I shouldn't be so consumed with my own problems but instead should be focused on the needs in the world. This is an opportunity to learn how to give."

Song: Save the best for last by Vanessa Williams

Quote: If you understood everything I said or did, you would be me. Miles Davis

Saturday, July 12, 2008

So I was journaling about this past week and I got to thinking. Being poor and poverty are two different things.
I don't know if I said that right. I mean I don't have much money, and I guess technically my income puts me at the poverty level but from the work I've already been doing with clients I know the situation I'm in is nothing like poverty.
Poverty is more than just not having money. It's systemic. It's a whole host of issues and way of thinking, perception of reality and life.
I know that for me, one day I will I have money again. But for those in poverty, it just really never ends. It creates an identity for that person that they live with forever.
Poverty is very different than not having money.
Being in poverty is very different than not having money.

Something pretty cool happened today.
In many ways I stradde two differnt communities and I'm constantly being faced with that. For example when I walk from work I move from North Philly, which is known for it's crime and poverty, right into the heart of the city where the monuments and museums and tourist friendly destinations are. Then I go into the Rittenhouse are with its fancy shops and restaurants, then University City with all of the academia and then my neighborhood with it's little charm. But still I live on one of the busiest streets in Philly and north of me there is subsidized housing and south of me is coffee shops and boutiques. Yet each one has a distinctive community. Anyways on my way to Aldi's I was stopped by this old man. He looked at me and started yelling keep your head up, look ahead, everything is going to be all right. It was very sweet.

All the world is a football field and everyone is a cheerleader.
BTdubs at this very moment I am cooking my first homemade meal in my new apartment. It's kinda of random but I am very excited.

It's a wonderful dy in the neighborhood

I was really excited about today. This is why people that work love the weekends.
I woke up and I was like, I have this whole day to myself and I can do whatever I want.

First I had to do some grocery shopping which was fun considering I have ten dollars to my name. So I went to Aldi's which I mentioned in previous posts for it's low prices, off-brands and possible contribution to obesity and poor health in America. Well, whatever I no longer see them as cheap but as affordable. I was able to get a bunch of food.
It's always packed in their and everybody shops there.
It's an interesting set-up because (1) they charge you for bags and (2) they don't bag anything for you. They just give you a bag after you pay for it and then direct you to a table where you bag everything yourself.
After I took my stuff back home I went to the flea market down the street at historic clark park. They have them once a month and it's great. I wish I could've taken pictures but batteries dead. There were some Amish sellers out there and I remember someone telling me about these whoopie pies they sell. Well they had them for a dollar. So I rushed back home and got the dollar I was saving to wash my clothes and devoured the best tasting thing on the face of the earth. It was worth not being able to have anything to wear this week.
After that I walked into center city. Walking is my new favorite form of transportation, I see all of these amazing treasures that I would never see if I was on the subway.
I was heading to urban outfitters because they're supposed to be hiring. In addition I'm a recovering shopaholic and window shopping is kinda like my nicotine patch.
I walked around a bit but I was getting hungry and tired so I came home, took a much deserved shower and am now relaxing.
Oh but this is funny, I did stop at Penn's ridiculous bookstore and I was reading this book entitled 'the 10 women you'll be before 35'. I'm apparently in the Dollerless Diva stage. It gave me some great wisdom and I'm looking forward to the lessons I'll learn this year.

BTdubs. I woke up this morning with bites all over my arm and legs. So I guess whatever the house centipedes were eating has multiplied. Awesome.

Song: Material Girl by Madonna

Quote: He who knows how to be poor knows everything. Jules Michelet.

Quote (2): A wise man should have money in his head but not in his heart. Jonathon Swift.

Friday, July 11, 2008

woe is not me

my family has a website that launched today. It's pretty cool.
http://www.gunninformer.com/index.html On the home page my mom is the second one from the right. The short one with the bow in her hair.

I walked home today and I really enjoyed it, it took about an hour and thirty minutes but granted I stopped at a a few places to check them out and I took a detour in Penn's bookstore which is the largest unnecessary thing I've ever seen.
So I read this book, automatic millionaire, and I can't seem to think the same way. It's kinda frustrating but I guess in a good way. Like there's this lady that always eats in the lunchroom at the same time we do and she always gets an ice tea and everytime I see her I think of how that drink, mulitiplied over a week, and then a year could be invested.
And it's like with everything. Like it cost me 1.30 to take the subway to work each way. Now I didn't think that was bad. But then my brain started calculating and a week worth of tokens is over $14 and a month is like over $50 and that is just if I go back and forth to work. I mean it doesn't seem like a lot of money but when you break down my salary I make about 390 each paycheck after taxes. My rent is like 375 and so my first paycheck is pretty much gone and then my next paycheck I have gas, electricity, credit card and food.
I know I will be able to manage, I don't want any outside help but that I means I should cut where I can, which is why I walked. I choose some safe roads and I feel more connected to the city. I see people and places and I feel really good.
For the most part things will be fine.
Alex and Shawn both bike to work which I would love to do but I get really freaked out by cars and the road so I think I'll just stik to my walking.
So that was my day, some things excluded.
Oh and so the ethiopian restaurant/coffee shop that I mentioned earlier was buzzing when I got home today. Lemmings.
They were playing live music and since we share a wall, my apartment was playing live music. But it's all good.

Song: Too Late to learn by Amanda Droste

Quote: Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. Look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true. Think only of the best, work only for the best and expect only the best. Forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future. Give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others. Live in the faith that the whole world is on your side so long as you are true to the best that is in you! Christian D. Larson

working for the weekend

The weekend is fast approaching, ten minutes to be exact. (the blogger time is wrong)
I always get kinda weepy at the weekend. I really like structure, especially the structure of coming to work everyday and seeing everyone, and even though I've been doing some pretty cool things on the weekend, it's just unstructured and it just makes me feel uneasy. But I defintely need the me time.
Alex leaves next week, my boss is coming into town as well as two people from the National Office and client meetings so it will be busy.
I cannot wait till our training in DC. We got our agenda's today and it looks really awesome. We do a lot of things that I've done in other conferences and organizations like diversity training and icebreakers(deep sigh) but still I can already tell my coworkers are going to be so much fun to work with this year, even if they are scattered across the Northeast. Plus they've planned a lot of excursions in DC and I love that city. Plus food. I'm really hungry all the time. I have to ration out all of my food because quite franlkly, I'm poor.
I used to say that ironically withouth a real understanding of it, now I know.
But I've definetely have learned the difference between what I want and need. Also buy holding off my typical inpulse buys I find I'm enjoying them so much more when I actually do receive them.
oh conference call, catch you later.
I ran across this awesome treasure on our NSP wiki page.
The wiki page is a great resource. Basically it's in an online clearinghouse of all the information and stuff going on at all of the NSP offices as well as the national office. It's a great way to share best practices and keep track of what's going on in the organization so it can be used in the future.
We also have this great system that keeps track of all of the notes on our clients so we can provide them a seamless delivery of services and expertise despite the constant changes in the office.
Anyway I found this which is advice from one class of SC's to the next.
http://wiki.nspnet.org/images/a/a7/From_one_class_to_another.ppt#256,1,VISTA WISDOM ?

Song: Two Coins by Dispatch

Quote: You do not have to be everything to everyone. Former SC

mmm food

I thought I'd share info about this quaint and really amazing Ethiopian restaurant down the block from me. This way I can keep an archive on how and what to order when I go in there and get something rather than just eating a hummus plate while I use their free internet.



Thursday, July 10, 2008

calling all angels

Today was the first of many emotional days.
We learned about our clients who have long histories with the office. For confidentiality reasons I don't think it's right to share details, although over the life of the blog I'll probably explore many generalizations in society based on those details. Without going into their stories, I can say that hearing what our clients deal with brought me to tears. I was fine for like four stories but then it just weighed on my heart and I had to really control myself.
Their stories.
They were exhausting to hear about and even more exhausting to write about. Alex was sharing with us one person's story right before he came in. I had seen him before, but this time I saw him. I saw his story in his eye's, the way he talked, the way he sighed.
This is poverty. Not only financial poverty, but spiritual as well.
Alex noted that there are many times when clients come in in a state of crisis. They say they are ready to give up and want to take their own lives. We're trained to work with them in this situation and know where to direct them for the medical attention they need, but hearing there stories I can sympathize with their despair.
Later on that day as I was waiting for the David Maraniss talk at the library, I tried to finish my reading of 'the call of service.' I just made it to the chapter on 'what they mean to us' and it was a perfect place to be and it brought clarity to the emotions I had begun to feel. It also gave me a new lens with which to see my job. One of the more wonderful things that Alex, explored in her story was how these clients come to see us as their family. Or just simply, someone in this world to trust and also care about. This world can be a really hard, unfair and brutal place, and I don't know why? But I feel we have been given the keys to each other's happiness, relief and joy.
Today we also talked about volunteer management. We have a serious shortage of student volunteers and today we strategized ideas on working with the administrators, professors and students to bring more volunteers into the office. It's the other side of my job, preparing and developing our volunteer base. This is as much an opportunity for our volunteers as it is for our clients, and we have an obligation to guide the development of our students while they engage in this service.
It reminds me of this parable, which for the life of me I cannot remember. Basically it's about this village that is at the base of a waterfall. One day bodies start coming down the waterfall and over time the villagers become pretty adept at sorting the bodies and handling them. And then they become pretty prideful about it, but during this entire time no one goes to the top of the waterfall to see where the bodies are coming from.
In our work I feel we are similar to the villagers at the base of the waterfall. We combat the effects of poverty on our clients by helping them resources that can bring them a better quality of life. But in our job we must also prepare leaders to send to the top of the waterfall to eliminate poverty and the need for our services at all. I not only believe we can eliminate poverty, I believe we have to.

So yeah, that was my day
I went to go here david maraniss talk about his new book rome 1960 about the 1960 olympics. I really want to read it, it was such a wonderful talk. Ofcourse it relit my love for the olympics and why I find it to be such a fascinating event in our world culture. When I read it, I'll share some of the inspiring stories. Now I'm off to get some good rest.

Song: Call all Angels by Jane Siberry

Quote: Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

west philadelphia born and raised

I just went for a walk around my neighborhood.

I really love it here, and everyday I discover something new. It's so quaint and wonderful and diverse. To give a little background there are basically five different sections of Philly. Center City which is downton, West Philly, South Philly, North Philly and the Northeast. Within those areas there are neigbhorhoods and areas. Every area has a distinct culture and community. I live in West Philly. Specifically I live in University City which is the area around Penn and Drexel and more specifically I live in the Spruce Hill community. West Philly is made up of thes beautiful 19th century victorian homes, many of which have been turned into apartments. West Philly is known for being a place full of community activists and artists. It's really eclectic and has a great atmosphere.

It also has a great collection of international cuisine. Next time I'm out I'll take more pictures because it is really pretty. Here are some pictures from this coffee shop which I just found out as I was walking by, plays free live music at night. I'll have to stop by sometime.

The houses are a lot like these, but some of them are really colorful, and others have huge gardens out front.

That's one of the many Ethiopian restaurants in town.

So cute!

More to come...

Song: Same Big Sky by Melissa Greener

Quote: When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us. Helen Keller
Hunger affects those that live in the suburbs as well:


There is so much that can be done in our society to make a difference, we have to be the leaders we are waiting for.

The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Luke 10:2

I get by with a little help from my friends

Work has been getting steadily busier.
I was just meeting with the IT guy for our building because two of our dinasour computers are unable to load our new wireless chips so we can get them connected to the internet. I have a conference call with my boss in about an hour so I have to prepare some notes/questions for that.

Yesterday was pretty fast paced as well. We didn't see as many clients in our office like Monday but there was a lot of training and we had a Local Advisory Board meeting at 5:30.

Yesterday we learned about our commuity partners and how to work with difficult clients. Our community partners are social service organizations within the community that we work with to either get clients into the office or refer our clients to.

One of the cooler organizations that we work with is Vote for Homes. They are an advocacy organization that work on issues that affect the homeless population in Philadelphia. They have these meeting once a month that some pretty big hitters in the Philadelphia social service world show up to. There is one next week and I'm hoping to go just to make some connections and learn about the work they do.

In learning about our commuity partners, Alex also gave us some tips on organizations that do some pretty sketchy things or are just unethical in the way they work with community members. An example would be Aramark. Aramark is a huge company that provides food services for universities and sporting complexes. They also are known for not promoting minorities, have unreliable work schedules that make their employees unsure of what they will be making week to week and keep their employees time just below full-time to avoid giving them benefits. Pretty sketchy.

After that we learned about working with difficult and challenging clients and about clients that are banned from the office. Clients are banned from the office if they exhibit behavior that is aggresive or endangers volunteers and us. We have every client sign a rights and responsibilites form so they are aware of what is acceptable and what is not and there are usually significant warnings before a client is told that they may not come back.

Our Local Advisory Board (LAB) meeting was at 5:30. The LAB works as our board of directors. It's made up of people from the community who advise our organization. Currently we only have three members on our board and only one of them came, so we have some challenges in building up the board. However, Hillary Aisenstein the director of the Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development, is quite awesome. I loved meeting with her because she gave us some great ideas, knows a ton of people in the city and connects us with them and really knows her stuff.
We were talking about our challenges in getting Temple volunteers in the office and she keyed us in on the new Gen Ed requirements at Temple that integrate service-learning into all of their subject areas. It's a great way for us to sell our opportunity to professors and administrators. One of our other challenges with getting Temple volunteers is that Temple is a commuter school so it's difficult to entice students to stay in North Philadelphia a little bit longer to do anything. But I've been researching at Temple and they have some great living learning communities that I think we might be able to work with. All in all it was a good meeting.

Heading home I was just dead tired though. Ok so I get on the Broad Subway line which is 14th street and then transfer to the Market cause I live past 30th. Well I got on the Broad, transfered to Market and it wasn't until we got to 2nd street that I realized I was going in the completely wrong direction. Needless to say I knocked out when I got home.

Well, toodles for now.

Song: I get by with a little help from my friends by the Beatles

Quote: Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth. Benjamin Disraeli

Monday, July 7, 2008

purifying the mind

So today was great.
We finally reopened to our clients so we had a steady stream throughout the day.
I even got to shadow as Kristin worked with a new client on her resume and looking for jobs. I took a lot of mental notes. I thought working with clients would make me the most stressed. I mean this person's well being is in my hands, but I felt really at ease. I had to leave early though because me and shawn had a meeting with kevin to talk about the other organizations is the building and talk with him more about what we do.
So the building we are in is so awesome.
It began during the civil rights era in response to the lack ofeconomic resources and job training for African-Americans. They now have about a hundred sites worldwide. The building we are in is compromised of many services geared towards preparing people for the workforce. But they also have literacy programs and educational programs and the mayor's office of community services is located on the fifth floor. As I continue to learn more about more of the programs I'll try to highlight them here.
Here's a website which includes more details http://www.philaoic.org/aboutus.htm.

Today we learned more about the history of our North Philly office, as well as our partnership with Temple. One of the challenges we face is recruitment of volunteers and then keeping them involved and on board. We're going to be brainstorming some ideas for Temple. We lost our student organization status so it makes it more difficult for us to get on campus. Fortunately we were able to set up an appt. with a professor from LaSalle who wants to send all of his service learning students to our site, how awesome.

Tomorrow we have a conference call with my boss Delese so I'm preparing some notes for that.

I'm ready to get things rollin' but now I know more than ever that I have to pace myself.
In our discussion of previous site coordinators, we learned about some that experienced serious burnout. Let's hope that isn't my fate. Let me just make a pledge to myself to keep my life in balance, take breaks when I need to and ultimately take care of myself.
burrito time!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

things that go bump in the night

I have these 20 legged bugs that live in my apartment.

I know there could be worse things in the world but anything with that many legs is just disgusting.

So I just found my fourth one by the sink. They're are soo fast and so gross and I had to learn about what they are, what they do and what harm, if any, they caused.

They are called house centipedes. They like cool, dark, moist places. They arrived here in Pennsylvania around the 1800s and exist in other places in the Northeast.

The good news is that they are the most beneficial of all house pests. They eat roaches, bedbugs, spiders, etc. However, just as I suspected, they bite. Most websites said that they're fangs were not strong enough to break human skin but if they do it's similar to a bee sting. Plus they're venom can cause serious allergic reactions.

Well this is fun.

When I moved in there was a huge can of roach spray on the corner. I took that as a sign of adventures to come.

I'm not so grossed out by them anymore and I'm fine with letting them hang around if they're going to eat roaches. Or maybe the mouse will eat them, the venom will kill the mouse and then all my pest problems will be solved.

Here's a picture of one I found in the fireplace. I didn't mean to kill it, I don't like killing things. But I was trying to count it's legs ( I know, I'm weird) and it got caught in the tile.

Now I've got a huge case of the heeby jeebies.
The most wonderful thing just happened. And I so confused by it, so grateful and wondering what I can to do to repay such a kind gesture.
So Ainsley is a friend of my uncles and was reminded by everyone to get in contact with him as soon as I got up here. And I did but I have this sinking suspicion that my uncle did some behind the scene work and asked Ainsely to help me out because he knew I would never ever ask. So Ainsley took to me to Target today so I could pick up some stuff and I just thought he was being nice and giving me a ride but he ended up buying me all this stuff for my apartment. He was really sneaky about it and it wasn't until he dropped me off at my apartment, opened his trunk and gave me all this stuff and I was like OMG. I was so happy because I did really need a lot of those things.
I feel so grateful. And I hope that I showed him I was open. Sometimes I can put up this wall of 'don't help me I can do it myself' and I don't let people know what I really need and it frustrates them. But I don't want to be a burden.
There are a lot of emotions, I journaled about them but for the most part I'm just really thankful. It was such a wonderful and kind gesture.

So that's been the most active part of my day. I did some cleaning around here and got stuff semi organized. I look forward to getting furniture and feeling more at home, but everything in its own time.
I'm very very grateful, and so happy.

Song: (This song doesn't really relate to the post except that it makes me really energetic, and I dance to it a lot) Leave a light on by Belinda Carlisle http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgNwS52-Iy4

Quote: (Don't have one but this video makes me laugh so hard I cry)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Na70-2wv79A

Saturday, July 5, 2008

food prices, welfare and nutrition

So I've still been working on my research of the rise in food prices, the effects on those on food stamps and the feasibility of nutritious meals. I found these really interesting articles.

'Food costs likely to boost obsesity in poor.'
This article reiterates what I had said about Aldi's and also includes some interesting statistics.

'Soaring use of food stamps, anothers sign of lean times.'

'When ends don't meet.'

I found all of these articleso on the Greater Philadelphia Coalition against Hunger website, here:

Still looking into some more resources. Keep you updated.

Friday, July 4, 2008

ordinary people

Synopsis of my fourth of July:
All you can eat ice cream festival

Shaking hands with the Mayor while also annoying his secret service

VIP seats at the John Legend concert

Reminding this nice old man of his daughter who died three months ago

Getting rained on ALL night

Rushing home in the rain and through the smelly subways and dirty streets before the city became a madhouse

Realizing I'm not a college student anymore, I'm a single girl in the city.

Okay so it was a pretty good day, excpet for the night. I really had to remember that I'm all alone and as much as I wanted to stay and watch the fireworks it was a much better idea to try to get home before they started because people were getting drunker and crazier and sketchier. Fortunately, I live in University City (Penn's made up name for the area they inhabit that they so desperately want to be distinguished from the rest of West Philly) so there were plenty of night police on every corner.

So yeah after eating enough ice cream to make me physically sick I went over to Ben Franklin Pkwy to find seats for the parade. I also wanted to catch the John Legend concert so I went all the way to the front and ofcourse everything was blocked off with heavy security. All of us could see that in front of the stage there was a ton of seating but we were told by the guards that it was VIP. Then all of these shfancy people started showing up with VIP tickets and were lead in. Oh how I wanted to be VIP. You couldn't see anything on the outside of the fence. But I just kept thinking, maybe they'll give away extra tickets at some point. About 45 mins after the thought and right before the parade started a woman walked up to me and said "Do you want tickets to the concert?" Psshh, do you even have to ask, then she pulled out a whole stack and handed out like 20. I got to go seat right in front so that was awesome.
Before the concert and parade Mayor Nutter came out and just started shaking people's hands. I was uberexcited cause I've been reading so much about him and it was cool to finally see him. But of course right after he shook my hand I dropped my ticket right between his feet. He nicely picked it up and handed it back to me but I got some pretty annoyed looks from his secret service and some other guy. Akward turtle.

The concert was awesome and I had great seats. The story with the man and daughter thing is too lenghty, sad and elaborate to put here but he was really nice and let me sit under his umbrella after it started raining.

At times it was just weird being by myself. I didn't mind but it would've been cool to have someone to share that day with. Plus the city can be really unnerving when you're a girl all by yourself as I've already learned.

So it was a good day but I remember now why I have never cared much for large cities and I look forward to just taking it easy at home tomorrow.

Another cool thing is that I know this city so well now that I can give people directions. That's pretty awesome. I'm off for some much needed sleep time. Here are some pictures from the concert and of city hall at night which is my favorite building in Philly.

Song: Ordinary People by John Legend
Quote: The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you you love, well that's just fabulous. Carrie from Sex and the City

we are family

At my high school graduation our salutatorian gave a speech on family. He talked about the family that we are a part of biologically or otherwise, and then the family we choose. I went to a small high school (130 kids) and we def. considered ourselves a family. Well I sent out my weekly report yesterday over the list-serv and I got all of these wonderful e-mails from my coworkers saying "welcome to the NSP family" which really gave me this warm fuzzy feeling. Just hearing the way that both Alex ans Shawn talk about the organization makes me excited because they are very closeknit, there is a lot of support and it is very much a family feel.

Then when I got home I got a couple phone calls from the other part of my family, the biological one. It's always great to hear from them (thank you guys). Every since my mom got sick I've had to learn to let people care. Both my aunt and uncle kept saying how they knew things were hard but they would get better. My instant reaction is too always say that I'm perfectly fine which I've learned has always thrown people off. But I do believe I'm fine. Maybe not in this moment but overall I see ahead and I know that this moment is only a part of a larger moment. They are working together for some great good. I trust the process and I trust God and I know that things will work out well (Jeremiah 29:11). I don't worry, I'm fine.

For me worry is indicative of a self-abosrbed attitude. Maybe not for others but when I find myself getting worried or anxious that's when I know I'm spending too much time focusing on myself. I'm focusing on what I can do or what I can't without ultimately realizing that most things are out of my control. I can do what I can and then I must just be patient and have faith.

Jamie, a great counselor and in many ways a great friend, reminded me months ago that I have to learn to listen and trust my inner voice and truth. And from that I've learned that when I focus on my inner voice and truth I am constantly at peace because that inner truth knows that nothing, good or bad, can last forever. That "all things work together for good" and I am in really good hands.

So I am very happy to be a part of this new family and the adventures we will have together. Here's a link to some pictures taken at the NSP Jubilee to honor the AmeriCorps site coordinators this past June. Some of them we'll be leaving, but I'll meet some of them at our training at the end of the month. The pictures were taken at the Lodal Ranch which is this gorgeous place where I get to do part of my training and have other fun. http://tbrunswick.smugmug.com/gallery/5318130_oG4nt#324747583_4pmYn
Enjoy, Happy Fourth!

Song: Hands by Jewel

Quote: I look at the Augustem, and I think that perhaps my life hs not actually been so chaotic, after all. It is merely this world that is chaotic, bringing changes to us all that nobody could have anticipated. The Augusteum warns me not to get attached to any obsolete ideas about who I am, what I repersent, whom I belong to, or what function I may have once intended to serve. Yesterday I might have been a glarious monument to somebody, true enough-but tomorrow I could be a fireworks depository. Even in the Eternal City, says the silent Augusteum, one must always be prepared for riotous and endless waves of transformation. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Thursday, July 3, 2008

That was exactly how I felt when I left the office today.
But the day didn't start off that way. The morning was really slow. Alex broke out in some horrible rash and also had some trouble downloading the training stuff for the day, so I leafed through some manuals and oriented myself with some of the organizations in Philly that we work with.
After lunch Alex went over the training stuff and I learned the NSP approach to working with clients. Our work is a lot like that of a social worker and our training materials and approach to client services were designed by social workers. It's pretty intense. But I love our approach because it's strength based( meaning we work with the clients to focus thier energy's on what they do well and teach them how to utilize it) and we work on building relationships with our clients which is pretty awesome. But of course that meant I went through a lot of training today on boundaries; how to make them and why they're important.
I'm horrible with boundaries but just looking through my training stuff, this job is going to absorb my life, energy and time and if I don't have those boundaries it can only equal an unhealthy relationship with the people I'm working with and myself.
But oh boundaries.
I also had to do my weekly report. That's cool because all the site coordinators and summer directors send one out so you can see what's going on with the other offices and get to know who other people are.

Okay so what got me pumped was today I was all the way downstairs when I realized I had left my tupperware in the fridge and they throw everything out on Friday and it's the only one I got. So I rushed back up there and ran into Kevin. Who's sort of our landlord. I don't know if I mentioned this but we are in one of the largest and most respected social services building in the city. Meaning there are a lot of organizations in the building doing things like us, namely "helping people help themselves." For example on one of the floors there is a charter school for young peope who have dropped out of school but want to go back and get their diploma. The program works with them and provides other support systems. They have also have AmeriCorps workers down there which is pretty cool. Anyway I ran into Kevin and started telling him more about the organization and it's great because there are so many opportunities in this relationship. Like he's been trying to figure out how to get Temple volunteers in the building (the students we work with) and we're looking for new members of our board and he might have some connections. Anyway me Alex and Shawn are going to meet with him on Monday so he can let us know who else is in the building. So Pumped.

In other good news some other things in my life are finally working out. The girl who was going to sublease my apartment before she fell off the place of the earth finally got back to me. Sadly her mother had died and she's in Africa and she had sent the rent but sent it to the wrong address so it came back to her. My landlord has been on my case and I really didn't know what to do so I'm happy that will finally resolve itself, somewhat.

Tomorrow is the fourth. Philly has been celebrating since last Saturday but tomorrow there's going to be all sorts of stuff like all you can eat ice cream , a parade, free John Legend concert and ofcourse fireworks. I'm excited.
Yesterday night I got really homesick. It wasn't abrupt but yesterday as I finished unpacking my box I just got a little sad. But I think I know what it is. I mean I go to work, come home, run errands, cook/eat dinner and then crash. Then I wake up and do it again. I gotta get out more and really enjoy and love this city. So today after work I came to the Green Line Cafe which is just a couple streets over from me. It's nice to be out of the apartment. I think next weekend I'll go to the Jersey Shore and visit Jess.

OKay, so ofcourse I'll keep you updated but tata for now.

Oh wait I almost forgot. So I might have to go on food stamps so I was doing some research and I found this article about a challnege to Philadelphia residents to live as if they're on food stamps to bring awareness of the challenges facing families on food stamps right now, might be interesting. Check it out.

Now bye.

Song: Green by Sister Hazel

Quote: From what we get, we can make a living; what we give however makes a life.Arthur Ashe