Reliving desperation and admiration

I interviewed with a BBC Radio show today. (It won’t air until next week. I’ll let you know when.) The topic for the host started out as basically, people being almost addicted to their cell phones. Then by chance during an internet search she came across my story.

If you somehow aren’t aware yet, I first joined Twitter and social media in 2009 while I was homeless. What started out as me not knowing a thing about Twitter or how to even use it, quickly grew to experiences that I’d have never dreamed of ever having! I could use computers at the library during the day, but other than that, I mostly tweeted by SMS/text message from my phone. My phone was my life — my dire connection to the world in my times of need. I could call someone, text or email by SMS. I didn’t have a smartphone. Just a simple, basic phone. A dumb phone. In fact, that’s the type of phone I use now.

I had unlimited texting so I could post messages to Twitter as much as I wanted, anytime I wanted, all day and all night. Whenever I had a need to say something. Which, back then, was quite a lot! I posted about my activities, shared thoughts or information on jobs or things I heard about, and wrote volumes of tweets from my emotions.

Fear, anxiety, and prayers dominated many of my tweets. I shared a number of hopes and wishes, too. There were many nights I lied on the ground, afraid and paranoid that someone would come up to me in the night. Is someone watching? Is someone here? Who is here watching me? Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affected me severely. There I was alone, but I couldn’t tell because my mind conjured up invisible people who might have been lurking.

I kept my “security blanket” tightly in hand all night. My phone was my connection to the world. Anytime I needed to say something, to vent, to express my fears, somebody was able to hear me. I couldn’t get their replies until I went to the computers at the library the next day, but they were there. Somebody cared. Another person suffered the same plight of PTSD once. I’m really not alone.

The tweets from my phone led to development of virtual and real-life relationships with people and businesses. Through my sincerity and openness of my life, stigma changed to acceptance, understanding, and kindness. I got to see God’s love in action, and emotion. These people — my social media followers — said that I changed them for the better. What I saw is how they changed me.

Sharing my story online and in real life at speaking engagements has helped me to open up. I am still shy and very socially awkward, but I am much more open with my emotions. Having constant access to my phone and being able to tweet by text has been extremely therapeutic.

I still tweet Clint Eastwood style — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sometimes I feel that I share too much. But I need to get things out. Sometimes I need to vent. In a way, being able to tweet and vent my emotions is more than emotionally therapeutic. It can also be protective against bad thoughts so I don’t try to self-injure. I haven’t done any cutting in however many years. It doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes still have those thoughts about doing it. So I greatly appreciate the kindness and compassion from all of you, my followers. A small gift, a kind word, a hug. It means the world to me! God’s love in action, indeed.

I discussed all of these areas and more on the BBC Radio show. (Again, I will share the link to the broadcast after it airs.) Talking about these things have so much effect on me emotionally! Ever since then my thoughts have been on all of my followers and how you have affected me, the place you have in my heart. I am reliving the desperation of my past and the admiration and love for the compassion I have received. Thank you all so much!

PS: Side note to Joan of Real Time Paradigm, my blogging teacher at NextDoor:  I clicked “Publish”! 😜

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Missing you.

I have been neglecting this blog and all of my readers, and I am sorry for that. I really have been thinking of you! Actually, for quite some time I was locked out of my account due to a new phone and 2-Step Authentication. I had backup codes but couldn’t find them. Finally I emailed WordPress with the details and proof of my identity and got things fixed. So I’m back! You don’t know how good it feels to have access to this blog again! Besides sharing interesting things and tidbits about my life, my Klout and EmpireKred scores have been suffering. LOL.

A lot has obviously happened since the last I posted. I am tired and won’t go in to everything now. I would like to say, however, that I remember how it was to be homeless. My heart goes out to those facing that situation. I help how I can, when I can, but it is not enough. I sometimes stand out among people on the CTA because I will smile and interact with homeless people riding the transit with me. There are times when others might move to another section of the bus or actually unboard the bus to wait for the next one on the same route–simply because the homeless individual was social. That being even when the homeless person did NOT have a traumatic scent. Just because of…being nice. 😦

 

Can a day be any better?!

I have been very tired and took a lazy, sleepy morning, finally leaving home at lunchtime. I immediately recognized the sure sign that despite my late start, it was a great day! As soon as I got outside I saw a @Ramon_DeLeon Domino’s delivery being made to a home across the street. (Obviously a sign from God, as the sun shone down on the pizza delivery besides.) I smiled. BIG. I wanted to post a picture to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram…(you know the drill), but sadly, quite sadly, my phone has been uncharged because the USB charger cord broke. Ramon has been so awesome to help offer food to the homeless and those who live in the shelter at @DebsPlaceChi with me, I can’t help but think of him and smile when I see a pizza delivery. So before heading to the bus stop, I walked to @OfficeDepot by my home in Lakeview, Chicago. I went straight back to look at the phone chargers and price them out. And maybe do some dreaming. I checked out the clearance sale section too. I’m a smart woman and refuse to leave a store (especially a “toy store” like Office Depot) without checking all sales. Naturally, I wrote a mental wish list of everything I’d love to have. Anyway, I decided to test my luck. I spoke to the Office Depot store manager. I wish I paid better attention to his nametag! I explained my situation, being unemployed, living at a nearby shelter, and in desperate need of a new charger cord for my phone. I offered to trade gift cards for multiple stores or make any arrangement possible to get one. He gave me a new one, no cost or anything. He said that he had an extra. I damn near jumped and gave the man a hug and a kiss on the cheek! LOL! I sincerely cannot thank this manager enough! Honestly, the same goes for @Ramon_DeLeon. I have been moody sometimes and not blogging as I was, I’ve been slower to mention how greatly I — how greatly WE at Deborah’s Place / Marah’s — appreciate his kindness in delivering pizzas to us. So surely, seeing the Domino’s delivery near my home today was a sign that the day could only be better? That the world is filled with the kindness of others. We just have to ask. I admit, that is something that I am still working on. I have always tried to be very independent and hate to ask for help. While homeless, I began to learn new social skills. One of which, includes asking for help. I am still learning this one. It is okay to ask help. I don’t like to get something for nothing. I feel the gratitude and pay from my heart, if nothing else. I appreciate what my followers and others have done to help myself and others. Many a time, someone’s generosity has brought tears to my eyes. Thank you, @Ramon_DeLeon, the manager at @OfficeDepot in Lakeview, Chicago, @mafiahairdreser, @Superdawg, and so many others for all your kindness and help. ❤ My phone service is still temporarily suspended because I couldn't pay the monthly bill, but having the new charging cord is a fresh start to getting it back on! I can now charge the phone, use my contacts and calendar to schedule appointments, and use email and make free phone calls on wifi. I am happy!!!!!!!

Watch “Everybody Should be Treated the Same” on YouTube

What would you do?

I’ve had a lot of questions in life. One of the most troublesome was when I became homeless. I had no idea what to expect or what to do. In time, I learned more and found help, again and again. Of course, learning is never ending. Though I am homeless no more, I am still learning about homelessness. I see people on the street, I may talk to, and may offer to try and help them how I can. What if one of the homeless people I met was you?

On April 7, 2011, I was that homeless person. I interviewed with a case manager with Deborah’s Place and was accepted in to their permanant housing program.

Here I receive support services with my housing, and with no time limits. Permanent housing is just that–I can stay forever or for as long as I like.

For my birthday on December 18th, I’m asking my friends and family for a special gift: help me raise $250 for Deborah’s Place–but in under one day that goal was met! I have faith that we can raise more yet! It is still one week to my birthday. Due to reaching my initial goal so quickly, I believe the challenge should raised. Let’s make the NEW GOAL $500.00!

Without this Deborah’s Place, I would be homeless and living on the streets. They help myself and others giving us housing and free services while we work to acheive self-sufficiency. With no income, my rent is free. We residents at Deborah’s Place love it here. We know the reality: if not for this awesome organization, we would be homeless living on the streets again.

Please consider giving to my Birthday Wish, and together we can help end homelessness. If you can’t give now, I’d really appreciate if you’d share this link http://wishes.causes.com/wishes/494455 with your friends, family, and co-workers.

Thanks so much,

AnnMarie Walsh, @padschicago

Trick or Treating at #RamonWOW

Ramon_DeLeon is so awesome! He has been so good to me from the time we first met on Twitter while I was homeless and ever since. I remember the first time I was able to give him a hug. It was at a screening of the documentary I was in, Twittamentary, and fundraiser for my current place of housing with Deborah’s Place. Anyway, I’ve no income. Pizza has always been special, and exciting treat for me. I don’t know if Ramon understands the depth of my gratitude for helping me in my time of need like he does. I owe him so many more hugs! Ramon has been so amazing to even supply pizzas for dinner at my shelter or at Deborah’s Place for everyone! Words can’t describe how happy Ramon makes everyone! This Halloween I was hungry for junk food. I have no money, no costume, and no candy. But it suddenly occurred to me that I could still “trick or treat” and I tweeted Ramon a simple request: an order of lavacakes and parmesan bites. Finally I had chocolate for Halloween!! This Halloween was complete. So thank you, Ramon DeLeon. You have made the inner child in me happy. 🙂

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Watch “Meet my new homeless friend Paul Jenkins” on YouTube

Mom of 12 year old in Chicago needs help

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Meet Lisha. She is homeless in Chicago with a daughter who is 12 years old. She is in desperate need of help with clothes, food, hygiene, obtaining employment, housing, to name a few. Her daughter also needs school supplies. She will accept any offer off employment. I talked to her about possibly being a vendor of Street Wise magazine to help a little with expenses and with her approval showed her to the Street Wise offices where she met office staff. I happy to say that she will attend an orientation soon. She has been sober from drugs for six months and obtains regular treatment. If you can help this mother and child in ANY form possible, please contact me! She has a mailing address available for her to use, as well as an email address. I will be happy to give this information to anyone who can help! Thank you so much!

UPDATE 12pm Aug 8, 2012:

Holy #RamonWOW! @Ramon_DeLeon of Domino’s in Chicago has offered pizza for this homeless family! Awesome and thank you, Ramon! Who else will step up to help?!

UPDATE 1:15pm Aug 9, 2012:

I have an offer of school supplies and bus fare by @trohner1 and @Ramon_DeLeon! She doesn’t know yet–I am at the @StreetWise_Chi office while Lisha attends Vendor Orientation. 

StreetWise Vendor Orientation

 

UPDATE 2:20pm Aug 9, 2012:

Awesome! @mafiahairdreser willl give a back-to-school haircut!!

 

Backpack Envy

I still feel like a homeless person. I have no money and no income with an SSDI case pending. Once a person is forced to live on the streets and in shelters, you never forget that life. There is compassion and a comradery for others experiencing homelessness. And you never forget. Many times, when I could, I have given food and water, and pulled a homeless person in from the rain for a cup of coffee–this including while I was homeless myself.

I have been #NoLongerHomeless since April 7, 2011. I am now living at Marah’s, a permanent housing program of Deborah’s Place. This organization gives shelter and housing to homeless women. In my location there are thirty of us residing. Without this having been offered to me, I would be on the street not knowing where my life was headed. And I still don’t forget. My mind is now wired to think about homelessness issues. To this day not only do I offer to help and feed the homeless if I can, but I still think like a homeless person. I truly suffer “backpack envy” when I see a really awesome backpack that would have been a great for me when I was homeless. Believe me, I was known around town for my backpacks! I would pack whatever I could inside. My pack was actually weighed a few times. Its heaviest known weight was about 72 pounds. I walked everywhere from town to town carrying that thing on my back. Often times I would have an extra bag for any foods I could get. Sometimes I carried yet another bag–a sleeping bag or blankets. Without trying in my walk tonight I found several places where I might set up camp at night if I was still homeless. Some places were occupied. Its an automatic thought to think like i am still homeless–like backpack envy–because, I will never forget. My brain is too hard wired now on the subject of homelessness. I wish I could do more to help.
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