Documentation

Guides, Lifestyle

Y’know those workouts we all skipped during quarantine? Well… they’ve come back to haunt me in the form of household administrative tasks. My spouse was among the hundreds of thousands who lost their jobs in 2020, and this has unfortunately created a need for a massive paper trail for each individual on this journey. My prior homelessness has granted me what I feel to be a rather unique skill set — one of which deals specifically with documentation. So I decided to create what I hope is a helpful crash-course with reference to current events. If it helps you, please let me know.

Journaling for Personal Success

In my early adulthood, one of the best pieces of advice I was given was, “When things happen, write it down.” This led to me journaling as things occur in our lives, be they finances, promises made by entities outside the home [such as the housing authority, or social workers] or events both good and bad. For example, my spouse was “fired” several months ago, but things went down in a bit of a weird way. We sought all the help we could find. I kept detailed notes the whole way through. Then, a few weeks ago, we needed some paperwork from the company he’d been at for the housing office, so I phoned to request it. Moments into the conversation, the gentleman to whom I was speaking informed me that my husband’s “firing” hadn’t exactly been in agreement with the company policies… my husband has been rehired, and is already back on the job. This wouldn’t have been possible without my notes.

Pro tip: this works for illnesses and hospitalizations, too. In fact, many people keep track of their daily eating / drinking habits.

Household / Event Journaling Tips

This isn’t so much a “how-to” guide for journaling as a whole. There are so many different journaling styles and methods out there, but today’s focus is strictly on putting together notes on current events / life events. Here are a few pointers:

  • Write as neatly as possible.
  • Always include the phone number[s] and other contact details for anyone spoken to at least once in your journal.
  • Include dates documentation regarding the circumstances was received.
  • Always include the date things are occurring.
  • Always include the name[s] of anyone you speak to regarding the situation.
  • Write concisely. Use names or label-identifiers such as “my supervisor” rather than pronouns [he, they].

Writing Concisely

Basically, you need to write down everything, but you don’t need to write down everything. This doesn’t have to be a lengthy narrative including the gossip from that one caller you just can’t get off the phone. This is more general. Include important quotes from a call if needed, but they honestly probably won’t be. For example in my journal on the 22nd:

Ms. Kiersson* called needing confirmation that Drew no longer receives unemployment. Drew has been locked out of the DES website since his benefits ended; we are unsure why.

My personal bullet journal.
*name changed for privacy.

My notes on the 22nd led to these notes on the 23rd:

Find unemployment paperwork and email to Ms. Kiersson*.

Was unable to find any direct confirmation of Drew’s unemployment benefits ending. I emailed Kiersson* a copy of the Wage Transcript & Monetary Determination page from DES and let her know Drew is in the process of requesting direct confirmation from them.

My personal bullet journal.
*name changed for privacy.

At the end of these notes, or in the margins nearby, I will have a running to-do list for that day. I also keep notes throughout the day about my work so that I can gradually build something akin to a schedule more organically {if you’ll stick around, I talk about organic scheduling at the end of this post}.

Digital Documentation

For digital documentation, I personally use Google products, but you should use whatever you prefer. Whatever you do, though, please be consistent. If you use Gmail, I highly recommend creating a folder within Gmail specifically for specific organizations, senders, etc. Take care never to delete until it’s officially no longer necessary. Most mobile phones can also scan documents if you don’t want paper copies.

Organic Agenda

I couldn’t end this post without at least briefly discussing organic agendas. I found that I burn out quickly with a typical “hard and fast” scheduling technique where a set amount of time is committed to each task. But not all of us can just throw out the day planner forever; the world would stop. In granting myself a bit of time to study and explore what I wanted in life, I learned that I have 3 types of tasks: habit, flow and future. Habits are items that are repeated daily in my journal [studying a language]. Flow tasks that come up throughout the day or week [tidying a room of the home]. Future is scheduled days or weeks in advance. I set rules for my habits and flow, limiting the number of tasks I’m “allowed” to focus on in a day. This keeps me consistent while allowing for rest and plenty of free time.

Thank you for reading; I hope you found this helpful.

Fresh

Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Wow… 2020 was a doozy, am I right? A lot happened last year. I wasn’t really in a mindset to provide value in a blog format, so I did what I knew to do and that was to offer y’all a place to find some resources. It was weird, I’m sure. Shortly after this posts, I will edit the resources pages a bit [and add a couple more links back into the blog], before leaving them be for now. We need to get back to this blog’s intended purpose, which I’ll go over some below.

Intention

When I first started Re.Habit Crafted back in 2015, I was homeless. Inspired by ideas I was seeing about breaking bad habits and resetting better ones, I felt it was almost like recycling — or rather, upcycling a life. For example, eating isn’t a bad habit, but over-eating is. So we must do away with overeating, and reconstruct our eating habits. I’d hoped Re.Habit Crafted could be a log of my personal journey with “re-habiting” my life, as well as an inspiration and guide to others who found themselves in similar positions.

My Experience / Qualifications

  • I am a domestic adoptee, adopted at birth. I’ve never met any biological family. I am a moderator at a support server specifically for adoptees.
  • I struggled as a teen to find work; this struggle led me down a frustrating path, which ended in my deciding to create my own business[es]. Which… honestly, haven’t always worked.
  • My spouse served 4 years in the United States Navy; I’m a military spouse, now Veteran’s spouse.
  • In 2012, my husband and I became homeless. We survived 2 years in varying degrees of homelessness and joblessness, which has granted me further skill sets within household administration, research and writing talents.

What to Expect Going Forward

Because of my life experiences, it is important to me that this blog be a beacon to others. To teach and to learn with them as we all navigate changing and building lifestyles, personal growth, or even crises. To add value to others, and to share intentional and meaningful processes to succeed or find answers to whatever we’re looking for.

What About Arts & Crafts?

I am a creative artist and craftsperson. That will never end — speaking of which, you can find my work right here, or you can donate here; and I have a shop here. There was a time when I was a craft-blogger, and we had so much fun. I was so happy to share that with y’all. But this is a new chapter, and I hope you’ll stick with me. There will still be the occasional creative / crafts / arts post, but more along the lines of the blog’s intentions.

Thank you for reading and for being here today. Please share this post with friends and family.

Visiting the Pantry

Food, Homeless, Lifestyle

This page may be helpful to anyone requiring food pantry services, however, I’d like to preface with a reminder that my city, Winston-Salem boasts many food pantries and clothing closets free to those in need. I’ve compiled a calendar containing several of the pantries in the area.

Who Uses Food Pantries?

Food pantries are for those in need of food sustenance they cannot acquire by some other legal method. In the US, food pantries are often considered “supplemental” to an individual’s / family’s income-provided groceries OR as a secondary supplement to food stamps. The list of pantry-goers and food stamp beneficiaries ranges widely from the homeless job seeker to the hardworking individual who’s barely scraping by despite working long hours.

What should I bring to the pantry?

Bring your current…

  • …state issued ID and military / Veteran ID / discharge paperwork [Form DD-214] if applicable.
  • …up to 4 recent pay stubs or other proof of income – keep supervisor / hiring manager name / phone number handy just in case [please don’t worry, you shouldn’t need it].
  • …utility / rent bill OR your lease [proof of address].
  • social security numbers for the whole household.
  • wheeled cart, bags or boxes to get your pantry items home.
  • …a good book, some busywork or a portable phone charger in case you have to wait awhile.

Do I need a special card / ID to gain access to a food pantry? 

Pantries that require a card ask that you fill out paperwork during your first visit there and you usually get the card before you leave with your food that day. Be sure to keep these safe.

Some pantries do require a bit of upfront paperwork. A couple of noteworthy ones local to me are Crisis Control Ministries and Sunnyside Ministries. Please note that per their website, Sunnyside offers full food and some financial services ONLY to zip codes 27107 and 27127 in Winston-Salem, NC. Please see this webpage for more information on services and assistance they offer.

What if I’ve no way to get to the pantry & cannot afford public transit?

I recommend…

  • start with WSTA – according to their website, they do at times allow individuals one free ride in a day. You should offer to pay whatever you can, though. [During COVID-19, WSTA is providing free service; please thank your driver. Drivers are also providing masks to anyone who has forgotten theirs.]
    • Speak to the drivers, they don’t bite. You may be able to work something out for one day to go to one pantry — if this is possible, make it count by visiting the most generous pantry you’ve found.
  • if WSTA won’t help, reach out to Goodwill Industries to inform them of your circumstances. If you’re active duty military, a veteran, or dependent of either, be sure to mention that.
  • current / active duty military call Military One Source to request their advisement [veterans could do this as well, but keep in mind they are strictly a resource liaison].
  • veterans should call their VA sponsor to ask about a duty driver or someone affiliated with the VA to help them to and from pantries.
  • anyone else should call Forsyth County DSS or ask 211 for their advisement.

As always if you’re aware of any updates or edits to this page, please feel free to email me.

Important Documents Packet

Homeless, Lifestyle, Military Family, Uncategorized

Everyone needs proper documentation to prove their identification — particularly during an emergency, or when applying for assistance. If you’ve lost your government-issued documents, there are links near the end of this post – I hope they help to replace them.

I recommend every family have a packet containing important documents. Military spouses often purchase extra copies of everything and put one in a safe place such as a safe deposit box or with a trusted friend / family member. My important documents folder has actually saved us a couple times. I recommend that if you’re in a family, one individual be in charge of the folder system. Each individual should have their own personal folder, but there is one keeper of all the documents. This keeper should have all the originals and guard them at [almost] all costs.

What do I need in my packet?
  • Birth certificates for every household member.
  • Marriage certificate – get it notarized.
  • Passports.
  • Social Security Cards.
  • Driver’s Licenses or State IDs.
  • Military / Military Spouse IDs / CAC Cards.
  • Proof of ownership of any high-dollar item [land, vehicle, house, boat, granny’s pearl earrings that are “too valuable to wear”].
  • Personal banking info IF you have no way of logging onto the internet to check on it [such as a smartphone].
  • If possible, notarized copies of any Identification. I would also recommend having access to up to $50 in the event that you find you need a copy notarized. It cost something like $25 to get a copy of my birth certificate notarized in 2009.
  • Military discharge forms, such as form DD-214 and any other forms pertinent to your service.
  • Medical forms — especially for military / prior military. Veterans should visit their local VA center for information on obtaining their records.
  • Copy of any prescriptions or the contact information for the medical professional who prescribed them.
  • ID or punch cards for your local food pantry.
  • Tickets for your local public transit, or the cash to acquire them or gas for your vehicle.
  • Gift cards to get your family through a couple meals.
  • Pet info including service animal identification [I’d fold a bandana with “SERVICE ANIMAL” or “DO NOT PET” etc. on it into the packet].
  • Powers of Attorney.

When we were homeless, I kept all our papers in a clear sheet protector which then fit perfectly into a bubble envelope.

What if I’ve lost my documents?
How can I prove my identity as a homeless individual without any proof of identification or address?

Start by checking to see if you have a bank account, the card or checks for it, and a method of accessing it. I recommend having at least online access to your account{s} because even homeless, you can log in, and phone or chat with your banking establishment to try to access and utilize your account. If this is not possible, let’s find a way around that:

  1. Panhandle – in NC, people can acquire a free panhandler ID which allows one to panhandle. The instruction here is “get cash”.
  2. Use a portion of funds received from panhandling to acquire a prepaid card with something like Western Union [be aware of any fees associated with the card you choose].
  3. Hop onto GoFundMe and Facebook. Inform your friends and followers of your circumstances. Make certain they are aware you are missing important identifying documentation and that you are attempting to replace them to improve upon your circumstances. As folks add cash to your prepaid card, you can then use that money to replace your IDs using the information provided earlier in this article.

Meanwhile, I would speak to EVERY service organization you can. I would open with that. “Hi. I’m homeless [and a veteran – if applicable] and I have no personal identification. Can you help, or connect me with someone who can?” Food pantries, Goodwill, Salvation Army, Red Cross, every charitable organization you find, shelters, hospitals… if no one is helping, find a church or a library and tell them. If that doesn’t work, take a day to rest and let the anger build. Then boldly go forth to the office of the mayor; I wish you all the best in your campaign.

Thank you for reading!

FP

100 Days

Lifestyle, Personal

Starting in late August, my 100 days began…

Y’all: “100 days of what exactly?”
Me: “Uhm… yes.”

It’s not exactly ‘defined’, and that’s been part of it’s importance thus far. So I thought I’d share a glimpse behind the scenes.

Life is encouraged to be fast paced. We all try to appear busy… but the problem there is that ‘busy’ isn’t as attractive as we may have been led to believe. And in the end, we may find that the achievement is less enthralling than the pursuit of it. Or we make the other mistake of rushing to add as much as possible [to our schedules, work loads, skill sets] in hopes that quantity will maximize quality. In attempts to appease and impress others, or perhaps live up to some lofty standard that, if we’re honest, is a bit loftier than we’d prefer. Some of us use our talents to create a smokescreen in efforts to deflect societal and peer pressures.

So I took a mental step back from everything I was doing in a day. I wanted to take time to give each item some critical focus — especially art, which I’m practicing in my bullet journal. Some things will go away forever. Others will be identified as fun hobbies. And still others will hold a place within my mission.

Essentially — I guess it’s 100 days to honestly explore my own lifestyle and values. It’s been enlightening thus far, and I encourage everyone to go on a similar adventure.

Thanks for reading!

Signature

The Big Excuse

Lifestyle, Uncategorized

It seems each time I walk into a Barnes & Noble, I discover a dose of perspective. A couple weekends back, we visited our local store briefly to pick up birthday gifts for each of us; with mine in April and Drew’s in June, we usually end up doing our bulk-birthday shopping somewhere in the middle. Once Drew made our purchase, I spent a little time walking around the store.

Have you ever picked something ultra-specific and tried to find it while casually perusing the shelves? This is a regular thing for me — perhaps it’s an interest in whether or not I can find the thing, or maybe I’m just trying to kill time; it’s a game. My choice on

Document 20_2.jpg
Really BIG Special Snowflake Rabbit Hole.

this occasion was related to my Threadless shop — yet, I didn’t look for books about Threadless itself, graphics design or even art.

Took me a minute, but I soon realized I’d fallen down the Special Snowflake Rabbit Hole. Again. [And it’s a really BIG hole…]

It starts with wishing for back when people held our hands through everything. Back when our lessons all came in pre-packaged, pre planned curriculums which none of us liked, but overly romanticize because — let’s face it — special snowflake or not, adulting is hard.

Instead of practicing or working harder, we search incessantly for tutorials, permission, and time killers to distract from the thing for which we’ve already a solution. The thing we know that if we just sit down and get to it, we’ll get it right. If not now, then eventually [unless of course, we find we’re headed in the wrong direction]. We look for an easy way out — quick riches, faster learning and less time, work and money put into each.

What if we changed all of that, though? So I feel we should cover this bit:

If you’re feeling insecure about whatever you’re doing, consider taking a course or chatting with someone else who’s already involved or doing something similar. But guys — hear me on this — pay for the class [unless you’ve some benefit which grants you free courses; if you’re military / veteran or a military / veteran spouse, definitely start looking into that.]

If you’re stalling… QUIT THAT SHIT and GO GET YOURS. It may be time to invest further. Or maybe even bite a few dollars by donating. Extend yourself and your services or products just a little to help others in exchange for increased visibility.

Or… you could offer your own input, opinions, and experiences for free by commenting or continuing this discussion below. You don’t get paid, but I’ve a pretty good response rate and will do my best to make you feel heard.

FP

Dear Materialism…

Lifestyle

Do you love stuff? I love stuff.

Let me clarify: I don’t consider myself a materialist; however, far too often, I equate my ‘stuff‘ to ‘home‘. There is a sense of falsified security in the collection of an over-abundance. It’s time to break out of that comfort zone and step into a new (to me) reality.

I bought into the idea that my memories won’t be preserved if I give up a teddy bear I haven’t played with in over a decade. I’ve imagined the horrors of visiting loved ones demanding to see the birthday card they wrote me 15 years ago — because the faded cardstock will most assuredly prove our love.

So Long Farewell
Buyer’s remorse is rarely a problem for me. It’s allowing enjoyable things to overstay their welcome in my life. No more and never again… My time is too valuable to keep things I can no longer truly use…

Even those of sentimental value.

My struggle is not to remember the beautiful things I’ve beheld, but rather the desperation with which I cling to moments which have passed and the people with whom they were shared. But time changes us all; and the most selfish thing one can do to another is deny them their growth.

That said…

Dear materialism. Goodbye.

 

FP

Picture This

Lifestyle

Readers may have seen Avril and I by now. That’s us in the photo above. And if you scour Facebook and Instagram, you may find us doing a wide variety of “silly” things together, though I haven’t seen her in a few years.

I’m such a great friend, I’ll put myself in imminent danger of being stuck in a Wal*Mart cart for the sake of Kodak moments filled with laughter. Or screams. Depending on how fast Drew pushes the cart.

U

Photo Credit: Avril

In May 2012, we happened across a lone shopping cart far from the store it came from. We were so cracked up by it being in this random place, I hopped in for a few photos. Upon exiting the cart, I left my purse behind. We still laugh about that day. Fortunately, Drew is a gifted runner; he retrieved the purse, untouched.

 

 

U

Snapped in late November, 2011. Freshly dusted with flour from dancing while baking pizza.

We’ve many moments like this — times when things just made us laugh so hard that we had to get a picture. Technology has provided such amazing tools allowing us to relive special times in our lives.

It’s so easy to just put the camera button on repeat… click, click, click, click, click… but how much of the beauty we behold are our naked, camera-lenseless eyes missing for the sake of savouring it forever? How often do we exclaim that the photos “simply do not do the illustrious allure [of the subject] justice”?

So go ahead. Snap your photo. But hurry. Because moments are brief. Time is valuable. And if you’re truly afraid of missing out on the memory, maybe the camera shouldn’t be a factor. Hold the moment while you have it to hold.

U

May 2012, I visited Drew in Virginia as I was living with family in Georgia for several months after we were evicted in February 2012. I took this photo as I sat on the bus watching Norfolk recede into the distance. I didn’t hold my husband again until August 2012.

In love.
LaLa ~_<3

FP

About Need

Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Above photo by Miguel A. Amutio via Unsplash / Flickr.

Dear Reader:

It’s an odd feeling when I realize that I dislike a word. And it feels even weirder when it’s a brief, 4-letter, almost non-descript article within our daily vernacular. But extreme distaste is what I feel whenever the word “need” enters a sentence…It’s bothered me for awhile now, and I’ve only recently discovered this.

I’ll never forget the first moment ‘need‘ truly bugged me. I was standing next to Drew listening to a friend when it happened. Our friend was discussing a lack of job opportunities locally with Drew. Then, with an awkward sort of snicker, he joked, “Now, there may not be many jobs available, but if you need money, I can tell you what to do.”
Brightening a little, Drew asked what it was.
“What you do is, you get your wife pregnant, and then you get to deduct the kids from your taxes…”
I wish I could tell you that was the last time someone suggested this to us…
I want kids someday. But not because I got a magical tax break which should never be my source of bill paying income or the grocery budget.

One day, our phone was shut off. We could no longer afford it. “You need a phone…” our families and friends complained. When we eventually got another, we were reminded just how rarely they call. When we call others just to chat, the discussion turns sour topics; we’re often rebuffed, lectured, and generally made to feel insignificant. I love having a phone… but so few use it as a phone to talk anymore — do we even understand how conversation works?

Then our truck was repossessed. My friends argued that we needed a vehicle. “How will Drew get to work?” they worried. They seemed to have forgotten my husband has two strong legs with which to walk. And that he legitimately enjoys use of them, but only with an end goal in sight. I’d prefer to have a vehicle. But I’m ecstatic not to have to pay for gas or the insurance bill each month.

Useful things are everywhere. But not for everyone. See, I wish that I could tell you that you don’t actually need all the things you say that I do. Instead, I wish you could see the glaring importance of all we’ve so painfully lost.

With so much love, LaLa.

FP

Freefall

Lifestyle

Above photo of Drew Weiller taken in June 2011, during the deployment of the USS Monterey, CG-61. 

This week, I’ve been working alongside Drew to fill out the Form DD-293. It’s rehashed so much of our past and will likely headline some of our future. I don’t know that one could call a nightmare ‘calm’… but that’s where we are now. In the deep, shark infested waters. What they don’t know is, we’re predators, too. And they’re in my crosshairs.

How does poverty happen? What causes homelessness? What kind of monster drives our veterans to the safety of the woods and families to the unforgiving pavement outside your local city bus depot? The answer is manifold. There is no single response to these queries, nor is there a ‘quick and easy’ solution. I won’t attempt to list the reasons people are impoverished, but there’s a pastor by the name of Hugh Hollowell in Raleigh, NC who endeavored an example of the process — I like his style. He’s come the closest I’ve heard to getting it right.

There’s almost always a chain of emotionally charged events leading up to one tragic moment. Before that moment, you’re full speed ahead. You work desperately, challenging everything as you bluster forward, ever believing you’ll be victorious — though you likely don’t know what ‘victorious’ even means yet… You may not even know what you’re fighting. So maybe you battle the wrong demons in your struggle. Distraction is a beast and a bully.

I’ve a copy of a Navy “Record of Counseling,” otherwise known as a “counseling chit which was issued my husband in early 2012. There are indiscrepancies, lies, and even a rather questionable reference to me — and it’s considered a legal document. During his time in the military, Drew often felt ostracized by his division. It wasn’t until he was officially discharged that we realized just how badly they’d wanted him out. We did what we could where we were to help ourselves… but inevitably, we became homeless, jobless… and because someone had it out for him, a mistake which should have resulted in a slap on the wrist turned into a General Under Honorable discharge with an RE-4 and HKA…General Under Honorable discharges:

  • lose ALL their benefits…
  • …sometimes even their GI Bill [college money]
  • are branded pariahs
  • often have more difficulty finding jobs than newly released convicts

RE-4 is a re-entry code which tells potential future recruiters what level of re-entry this individual is recommended for should he or she wish to return to any branch of the military. A level 4 is the worst and translates to “we really hate this guy and he’s just not military material, the worthless piece of $#!%…”

HKA is the separation code, which in this case translates to, “discreditable incidents, civilian or military”.

And that’s how it happened. That’s how we became homeless. We had no savings. I didn’t have a job. We were living in military housing… until he called me on the phone and said those horrific words.

“I’m out.”
The rest of the conversation, slurred snippets…
“…45 days restriction… 1/2 pay… times 2…” [translation: he was restricted aboard ship for 45 days, 2 months of which he received only half his pay.]
“…severance package… bring me my… from home… Babe? You there? Laura…??”

The world blurred back into clarity as my heart somehow came back online. I robotically gathered his requests and tossed them in the back seat of the truck. I painted on a lipstick smile I hoped would shit the pants of anyone who dared cross me further.

So you see how it happens.

Lose job. Lose home. And if you’re not careful, lose yourself. Because it’s not this easy-going responsibility-less walk in the park. It’s waking up tomorrow knowing you don’t have responsibilities because they were stripped from you. And God help you if you found your identity in that job [men, I’m looking at you, in particular].

It’s stupid simple how quickly and easily one can become homeless. Not so much for getting back to ‘normal’.

We were lucky. We were new minimalists — and in the months prior to the discharge and our subsequent move, we began the lengthy process of de-sensitizing our relationships with material goods, making jettisoning things a little gentler… but make no mistake, circumstances like these are never, ever easy.

It’s the slowest, most petrifying freefall one may experience. All you can do… is dive. And pray you’ll still be standing when you land.