As life moves on and the past grows more distant, I have found it easier to let go of my experiences recounted in this blog of homelessness and chronic ill health. It has been difficult to update this blog the last couple years – I needed distance from these stories in order to continue to move forward and heal. Over the last several months, I have found my thoughts turning once again towards memories of living in a tent for so long, of how difficult the journey was, and of how much I grew and healed while living in those woods.
I seem to be at a great healing nexus in my life once more, one which is bringing together my past, present, and future. It is exciting and also difficult at times, as I bridge these aspects of my life, integrating myself into a greater whole. To understand this, I must recount some of the events since my last post in 2016.
It is hard to know where to begin, so I shall start in the middle. For about a year, I have been working hard in school to apply for nationally awarded scholarships. This is a long and arduous process for some of them, such as the Truman Scholarship, in which you must write numerous personal essays and analyze your life through their lens of a candidate who seeks to go into a career in public service. I also applied for the Udall Scholarship, an only somewhat less rigorous process. Both of these scholarships asked me to look deeply into myself, my background and experiences, and come to understand what motivates me in my career and life choices.
What I found was a strong woman who has been through many life changing experiences, however it was not my time homeless or disabled that defined me – rather its the life I have been building ever since moving to Colorado. A life filled with love and passion for experiences around me.
I discovered that I want to work in public service after I graduate and even spent last summer working for a government agency in Washington, DC. While I was in DC, I found that my passions for natural resource policy and social justice are leading me now to law school. It has only been in the last 6 months that law school appeared on my horizon, but it has really taken root in me and is surprising I had never seen how clearly it is a part of who I am. However, it is understandable because my experiences of having to fight for my disability benefits the first several years I was ill had left me with a sour taste for the law that could only pass after I had healed sufficiently from that fight to be able to see life with a new perspective.
Last April, an instructor who has been a mentor to me as asked if I had ever considered going into law. I actually laughed loudly – it was an absurd idea! But a part of me paused to listen and I asked her, “Why law?” In that moment, my life direction changed. A week later, I knew that my calling in life, the drive inside me that had pulled me out of the tent seven years earlier and kept me alive through that ordeal, it was to become a staunch advocate for the environment and social justice needs of disempowered communities. I often say: studying law was something so obvious once I saw it, like the nose on my face, but just as hard to see unless someone pointed it out to me.
This last weekend I received my score for the LSAT, the national exam required for admittance to law school, and am beginning my applications to law programs. Though the idea to study law was a seed planted only six months ago, it grew quickly in the fertile soil I had worked hard to build in recent years. I am daily filled with joy and excitement for having found this deeper sense of purpose, and watching it bloom into all aspects of my life.
Which is where the healing is once again taking place – in seeing my future build in front of me, learning to believe with every part of my being that this is where my inner calling has been guiding me since around 2007 when I first began to hear the faint whispers deep in my heart of something I needed to be doing in life – I then find myself looking back at the road I have taken to get here and can see how each step was needed, no matter how difficult or undesired, and I am finding a new level of acceptance for all the hardships and pain along the way. By accepting, not fighting against, the path that created the person I am today, I am healing in ways that allow me to walk back through those memories and heal.
I am here today, writing this update, because I came back to my blog to read through the posts I wrote years ago. To remember where I have been, so as to gain more insight into where I am going.
Small, additional updates: I became a Truman Scholarship Finalist and a Udall Honorable Mention – both of which are achievements you add to your resume, though I was not awarded the monetary scholarship. However, I did become a NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Scholar and HUGELY recommend anyone apply in their sophomore year of college if they have a love for the ocean. You can read more about my experiences as a NOAA Hollings Scholar on the blog I wrote last summer as part of my internship project: Life as a NOAA Intern
I will graduate from CSU next May and am going right into law school – though it is still unknown which school. I’ve struggled the last 1.5 years with health issues unrelated to my disability, but I have a good support system that is helping me to navigate this aspect of my healing, yet it is far from easy. I found love again for almost a year, but as is the case with many relationships, it eventually became obvious that despite a great deal of commonality, there were a few too many large differences to overcome.
Updates on Zain’s adventure – he graduated from CSU last May and I am very proud of his accomplishment. He’s setting up his own business making craft jewelry and specialty tools in the Denver area. His partner who was with us in pictures from my last post when we were dressed up for Halloween, she passed away recently from complications with her disability. It has been a hard road for him as her caretaker the last two years, but he has shown again his strength and deepness of love while caring for her as her health continued to decline. Zain and I continue to be family and see each other regularly for coffee or lunch.
And that’s it for this update!
Never give up, dear readers, on your dreams. They may be hard to follow and faint to hear calling, but if you stay open to possibility and true to yourself, they will find you.
Big hugs to all who have read my posts over the years and to new readers who find their way here. I know many find my site who are homeless or have chemical sensitivities, people looking for answers to help them in their own situation. You are not alone. It often feels that way when in the thick of it, but there are a surprising number of us who share these experiences and you are not alone.