One of the fun aspects of writing this newsletter is I never know what responses each one will bring. There are always unanticipated surprises. Prompted by last week's message regarding overcoming adversity that leads to opportunity, MJ surprised me with her rather amazing story.
MJ emailed, "My life took a left turn when I lost almost all of my savings in the housing bubble in 2009. For the second time in my life (first was when I was 20 and just married), I was back in a tiny apartment, but it cost a lot more these days and especially in Orange County (California).
"My rent had increased $300 a month over the last six months making my rent for under 800 sq ft, $1600 a month. I decided that even though I loved being 'Ballet Shuttle' for my granddaughters for three years, I could no longer stand to see my bank account go negative each month.
"I had to find a place to live that I could afford. With the help of my wonderful neighbors, I pared down and put what was left in storage and I am off seeking an adventure.
"I have made and kept friends from grade school and from my travels. Without them, I would not be living rent free for the next three to six months. Without rent, I pray that I can afford to go on a pilgrimage to Italy with my longtime Florida pastor (I lived in Florida 27 Years) as well as cruise around the Hawaiian Islands with my girlfriend since the 5th grade. She and I turn 70 this summer.
"My pastor's mom is leaving Arizona and going back to south Florida. This pastor is the one leading the pilgrimage. He said, 'Live with mom rent free and then you can afford the Italy trip.'
"So I am driving across country to visit friends and family. By the time I get to south Florida, I hope to know where I am to live. Being a self-imposed homeless person and with absolutely wonderful family and friends, I know God will show me where I can be of help and love everyday.
"I realized that I need very little of what George Carlin called 'Stuff' and I should have gotten rid of all my 'Stuff' and started totally anew."
Note from Tom: At the end of today's newsletter, there is a link to a hilarious 5-minute George Carlin YouTube video on "Stuff."
MJ continued, "I don't know if a man is in the cards but I am determined to live my life to the fullest and be joyful. I have more than my share of health challenges and it taught me to share hope with friends and whomever God puts in my path that are now experiencing their own health issues.
"In south Florida, one can rent the same size place overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway or the ocean. I am not pigeonholing myself into going back to south Florida, where I have friends and my brother. But it's a big pull.
"I have been a faithful reader of your newsletters since early 2000, when I was living in south Florida, and then in Orange County where I came to meet you at your previous deli location. My only regret is not coming to your new deli location to see you once again and to the Meet and Greet gatherings, but I will be in Orange County again when I visit my granddaughters. From my three years of driving them to ballet lessons (ballet shuttle), we have built a great relationship together that I pray will last the rest of our lives.
"I left Orange County February 1, so I have not let much grass grow under my feet. I only wish I wrote well enough to write a diary of my travels. I will cherish every moment and will keep a constant vigil for what God has for me daily.
"Currently, I am in Tucson. So far on my journey I have been given the rare opportunity to tour a new Mormon Temple, attend the world's largest GEM show multiple times and a gourd festival, and much more."
Tom responded to MJ: Wow. I had no idea you were pursuing a new dream. You do write well enough to keep a journal. Besides, how well a person writes doesn't matter in journaling. Why not join the blog website, wordpress.com (free) and write a blog? I am sure some of our Champs would enjoy following your brave adventure. MJ said she had been thinking about writing a blog and will pursue that. She added, "I have prayed about where I am to live for the past three years; it seems that God is opening many doors for me! I will let you know where my travels take me."
Five minute George Carlin you tube video on stuff: