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  • Writer's picturecocodensmore

Never miss the chance to give away $20. Just $20. Don’t forget that, OK?

August 27, 2023

I’m in seminary. For fuck’s sake. I’m in seminary.

What a wild ride I’m on this time.

Why am I in seminary? That’s the burning question. Why is the sex-positive, sexually active (when appropriate opportunities present), “mature BBW” who is ME going to seminary? And isn’t it interesting I list the sex stuff with the seminary stuff because somehow, I think that’s the dichotomy of my life, and it embarrasses me almost as much as it amazes me? It makes me cringe immediately followed by the wry smile I sport every time I think about how I’m living a life that no one could have anticipated, least of all me.

My life is a series of serendipitous contradictions. But mostly, my life is full of adventures. It amazes me how many of my dreams have become reality. Truly, it does. And I don’t understand how that’s all come to be except for I apparently know how to manifest my dreams. Which is the weirdest thing to realize, since I don’t see myself as powerful and goal directed. But I am.

The first time this happened, when I ended up living a life that I’d dreamed of but didn’t believe I’d attain, was in my 20s. I thought about how nice it would be not to have a permanent job and instead be a temp, going from assignment to assignment, not having to be a part of any one organization. I thought that would be the greatest adventure, to experience work in all different organizations and settings.

Within a few years, I ended up doing contract work on system conversion and implementation projects. That work allowed me to travel all over the US and live in some pretty exotic places. Well, Honolulu was the only exotic place. But I’ve had the opportunity to live in cities I never would have imagined, and I have developed friendships all over the country. Not all of my jobs have been contract, but a great number of them. And even when I was permanent with software companies, I would work on projects that had a beginning, middle, and end, after which I would transition to a new project. The very nature of my career involved moving from one project to another, so the challenges were always new and varied. I loved my work. I loved everything about it.

Even throughout the years of my greatest career success, I suffered mightily from depression. Many times, I wondered if I should throw in the towel and apply for disability and step back from the business world. Not because I didn’t enjoy my work, but because the pain and tumult inside of me made it difficult to sustain normalcy. Regardless of my personal struggles, when I revealed to a coworker how deeply I suffered from mental health issues, they were always surprised. I wasn’t faking it so much as always making certain to put my best face forward. And I was very successful at that. Until I wasn’t.

In 2017, I was completely derailed by a bipolar breakdown. And nothing has been the same since. I failed at a series of jobs, and it became clear I was simply unable to sustain work in my field any longer. I applied for disability never believing I’d get it. I spent a year without an income, and I absolutely don’t know how I did it. I really don’t. My old boss put me on a stipend to do tech writing for his practice management system. That paid my rent. I had food stamps and Medicaid. My mom sent me $300 a month and paid my phone bill. And that was it. For a year.

The miraculous thing was how often I’d go to the mailbox and find a card from a friend with $100 in it. And the time former colleagues banded together and paid my rent. And all the times I’d go to the grocery store with friends, and when we’d get to the register, they’d pay. It’s the only time in my life I’ve ever run out of food. And that is truly the most frightening thing I’ve ever ever experienced. Ever. I’ve written about it, but it’s even still terrifying to remember. The thing is, I made it. I made it by the grace of God – but mostly because of people who love me and care about me and recognized my circumstances and decided to help. And that’s the miracle.

Five years ago, I received my first disability check. It was large, it was a year’s retro payment. I know it was five years ago because I went to Indianapolis on Greyhound, and pictures from that trip showed up yesterday on FaceBook memories. I remember that trip like yesterday. I remember the young man with the kitten outside of the bead store. I gave him money for cat food. I remember the Uber driver I became friends with. We went to breakfast the next day. I gave him $250 for work he needed done on his car.

My motto has always been and will always be to pay it forward. Because I lived a year without an income. An entire year. And I made it. You may think $20 doesn’t mean much, but there was a time I didn’t have enough money to buy a can opener. A can opener. A can opener! And I put that information out into the world, and within days I’d gotten three can openers in the mail. Three can openers. The miracle of the can openers!

So let me just tell you, giving $20 to the right person or the right cause DOES make a difference. A tremendous difference. So, when the opportunity presents, never miss the chance to give away $20. Just $20. Don’t forget that, OK? Enough $20 strung together can sustain someone without an income for a year. Don’t forget that, OK?

Well, I am in seminary, and I have a shit ton of reading to do. And an assignment. So, I’ll stop here today. Now rereading this, it’s pretty predictable I’d end up in seminary. If you know who I am and what I stand for, of course I’d end up studying theology. Looking back, it wasn't just predictable, it was inevitable.

I’ve experienced miracles beyond imagining in my life. Were those miracles of God? Well, she certainly had a hand it them! But mostly, they’re the miracles of being a human being in this wonderful world and loving and extending myself to people who love and extend themselves right back. That’s the miracle. Don’t forget that, OK?

I Persevere. And life goes on.

November 2017, my studio apartment in the Henry Clay, Louisville Kentucky



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