Gems 4.68

I hope you’re having a beautiful day. ♡
Here’s another light-filled ¤ Gem ¤

Gems 4.68

“This past Saturday my wife, Rebecca, was taking my son Jonah and a few friends put-put golfing for his birthday party. On the way there he saw a man with a sign asking for help. Jonah, feeling concerned for the man, immediately asked Rebecca to do something. She could read between the lines that it didn’t feel right to him that he’d be off celebrating with his friends while this man seemed unsupported…”  -Ariel Nessel.  Continued here:  Jonah’s Birthday Wish by Ariel Nessel, on ServiceSpace.org

☼ Happy Birthday Jonah! ☼ Thank you for sharing from your heart on your birthday and, no doubt, every day. You are a very cool kid and an inspiration. ^_^ ♥.

under1000skies
☼ A “Giftivism” Initiative ☼
We are photographers,
writers, artists & advocates
serving and connecting
homeless creatives.

Gems 3.50

I hope you’re having a beautiful day. ♡
Here’s another light-filled ¤ Gem ¤

BJ's Clouds2

 Journey Notes

Special thanks to Mike Downs for contributing today’s photo.  The theme for June will be “silence,” “listening,” “stillness,” and “sacred space.”   If you have a favorite quote about any or all of those, please let us know!

Your Creativity

As always, we would love to feature your creative visions.  If you would like to contribute photos, art work, short poems/stories, quotes, time, etc., please see our “About Us” page for details.  When we show each other what we find beautiful, we get a glimpse into each others’ hearts.  .

May you find joy every day of your journey through life,

♡. under1000skies

☼ A “Giftivism” Initiative ☼
 We are photographers,
writers, artists & advocates
serving and connecting
homeless creatives.

 

Straight Speaking

 

Straight Speaking Cochise

I hope you’re having a beautiful day. ♡

I confess there was another reason for halting the daily photos for under1000skies. I struggle with panic disorder and agoraphobia. Since we began three years ago, I have yet to go to the city and personally hand an artist pack to any homeless person. I am good at organization and get many things done online but until I was able to do the work I was asking my volunteers to do I felt like a fraud. I believe this is what I need to do next — the next-right thing. I need to find a way to become personally face-to-face involved. When I learned about the ministroke and damage to emotion and language centers of my brain, I believed that having a label and a physical reason and starting point for everything that’s wrong with my brain was a cure in and of itself.. I believed naming it and knowing it’s source would make it lose it’s power over me. This seemed to work for a while but I’m back to the same implosion of space, finding it difficult to push beyond boundaries again. I thought I should tell you this because you’ve been generous with your support, and with providing beautiful quotes and photographs, and this only added to my guilt of being unable to do what is the absolute heart of this service: to meet these artists, these men and women who are currently between homes, to speak to them and ask them personally what they find beautiful, and to tell them about my dream of connecting creative souls like them around the world through photography and the Internet. Until I can do that I’m just propping up other peoples’ good work — or at least that’s how it feels to me. Thank you for listening. 💕.

Niki Flow

♡. under1000skies
We are photographers,
writers, artists & advocates
serving and connecting
homeless creatives.

Gems 3.7

I hope you’re having a beautiful day. ♡
Here’s another light-filled ¤ Gem ¤

thunder-road-bruce-springsteen-photographer-unknown

Photographer unknown. (If you know, please leave a comment so we can credit this beautiful photo!)  “Thunder Road” by Bruce Springsteen

 Journey Notes

The theme for the month of January is “journey.”  If you have a favorite quote or poem about “journey,” or the journey of life,  please leave a comment!

Today I’d like to thank Nicole and Lisa, our volunteers in Denver, Colorado, for agreeing to hand out artist packs.  Thank you both so much!  We couldn’t do this without your help.

This is a letter that goes with the artist packs which our volunteers give to homeless creatives:

dear-creative-soul-page-1

dear-creative-soul-page-2

Just a quick note.  None of our artists or photographers so far are currently homeless.  Until we get this up and running, we depend on the contributions of everyone who cares about creativity and homelessness.  People have been so generous and we are so grateful!

In the years to come, we hope to feature creations every day from homeless artists and photographers.  Our new website (coming later this year) will have a forum where folks can talk every day to each other about their projects and inspirations.

When we link to others who love beauty, who are passionate about the things we love — even for a few minutes a day — we don’t feel so alone.

May you find joy every day on your journey,

♡. under1000skies
We are photographers,
writers, artists & advocates
serving and connecting
homeless creatives.

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TGIF 6: Big News under1000skies

I hope you’re having a beautiful day. ♡
Here’s what’s happening this week on ¤ under1000skies ¤

This week we featured three photos from Alisa Reagan

and one from Niki Flow

oqsa3873

Thank you for donating your beautiful photos! ♡

 

clu

NEWS

We have purchased under1000skies.com and under1000skies.org!

During 2017, we will be working to build both websites and have them up and running as soon as possible.  As you may have read, thanks to Bay Area Web Designers, we received a free year of hosting for our Domestic Violence advocacy and survivor site, Moonsongs.net which will go live by the end of March.  This will be a sister site to under100oskies.org.  Very often, women and children who are victims of domestic violence and other violent crimes become homeless.

 

 

One of our photographers and volunteer coordinator, Niki Flow, spent years with her youngest son homeless.  Niki lost her home and the contents of her home due to DV and stalking.   Most of that time, she and her son did not spend on the street but in DV shelters, with friends and family.  Domestic violence was also the cause of the death of her youngest son, Samuel Christopher.  Since then, Niki and her two older sons, Benjamin and Joseph, have been passionate about helping those who are homeless and who have been through trauma become — not just survivors — but a strong, connected tribe of thrivers.

 

under1000skies-org-mousepad

We’ll be using the Under1000skies.com site for our new store (coming soon!), and 100 percent of the profits from our products sold there will go to buy artist packs.  We’ll be selling things like cards, stationary and mouse pads using Niki Flow’s heart-people drawings, like the one above.  The under1000skies.org site is where we’ll have our artist gallery and daily photos.

 

 

clu

TGIF:  What It Really Means

T.his G.orgeous (Planner) I.s F.ree!

00000001-the-handmade-home-journal-free-2017

This weeks TGIF is a cool #freebiefriday thanks to Liz Stevens Art.  She tweeted this today:

Thanks to for this gorgeous FREE printable planner that I’ve been using for 3 years

The Handmade Home 2017 Planner

I can’t wait to print this and start using it. Such a beautiful gift to the world! *cheering wildly* Thanks so much Ashley and Liz!! ♥

 

clu

What Do You Find Joyful? Beautiful?

The theme for the month of December is “joy.”  If you have a favorite quote about “joy,”  please leave a comment!  As always, we would love to feature your creative visions.  When we show each other what we find beautiful, we get a glimpse into each others’ hearts.

May you find joy every day.

♡. under1000skies

Social Cleansing of the Homeless

Today we shipped our first artist packs! I’m so excited.  May this be the first step of many in uniting creatives all over the world.

step-one

This is how the idea for under1000skies was born.  This is reposted from my Niki Flow blog, written November 14, 2014.

 

It Begins with Me

An Invitation

homelessness-look-away

Yesterday I found a post from Laurence O’Bryan on Twitter with a link to a blog called, “Social Cleansing of the Homeless,”  by Christopher Taylor.  “Social cleansing” was an unfamiliar phrase, and it made me feel uneasy.  After I read the article, I felt far worse than uneasy. I was horrified.   I “tweeted” in response (writing that still makes me feel silly) and he “tweeted” back.  The result was an invitation to start this blog.

Niki Flow ‏@jazztizz Nov 13
@LPOBryan This is heartbreaking. I was homeless for a short time. Would love a a tweet storm about ideas 4helping w/what we have where we R

Laurence O’Bryan ‏@LPOBryan Nov 14
@jazztizz can you do a blog post and then we spread the word?

Niki Flow ‏@jazztizz Nov 14
@LPOBryan Yes I would be happy to do that. I’ll tag you when it’s finished.

I hope I do this very complex subject justice.


Flourishing Evil

The only thing required for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing. 

-Edmund Burke

My environment as a child never lacked any of the basic needs.  We had lean times, but I slept in a bed at night. I was sheltered from weather.  At 14, I ran away and learned a little about what it means to be homeless — but only a little.  I was more uncomfortable than I had ever been in my life, but help was everywhere.  After a week, I returned home.

Twenty or so years later, I learned about homelessness again.  I lived in DV shelters with my son for a short time.  When that was no longer an option, I decided we would go anywhere rather than home, ashamed, to family.  I’ll never forget the night my son and I walked around shops to stay warm in an affluent town near where I worked.  When it got late, my son fell asleep on the bench in the pizzeria, and we stayed until it closed.  When we stood outside that shop, when all the lights in that town dimmed and the merchants went home, I felt utterly terrified.  The deepest part of the night had just begun.

Our story had a happy ending.  I looked at my son’s sleepy face, swallowed my pride and asked for help.  I got it. I was lucky to have a good job, and I soon found a home with rooms to rent.  My housemate was a co-worker, and we became lifelong friends.  I began to make choices toward health.  By the time another 20 or so years passed, I was a different person. I had a new, loving husband and a home of our own.  Our life was full of blessings.


Doing Nothing    

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. Gandhi

I worked in the city, and I could never pass a homeless man or woman without wanting to help. I kept bills and change in my pockets and dropped those in a cup or an outstretched hand as much as I could.  One day a complete stranger stopped me and scolded me for “aiding their addiction.”

“If you give them money, they’ll spend it all on booze or drugs,” he said.  Contempt made his voice sharp, his gestures cutting. I walked away. I couldn’t form any words in the storm of emotions I felt.  That man spoke about homeless people as if they were some sort of sub-species and all exactly the same.  I knew he was as wrong as a person could possibly be, but I allowed his shaming to make me doubt what I knew. As we so often do, I replayed the encounter with the angry stranger over and over in my mind. I did that for years.  I thought of so many things I could have said, with wisdom and articulation, in that moment.

  • How do you know?  Were you ever homeless?
  • Your generalization only displays your ignorance.
  • Enjoying that label?  Good.  Now go back to sleep.
  • Have you ever slept on the ground in the cold, for days at a time? 
  • Do you have any idea how much pain being outside on hard surfaces causes to anyone, even young people, after just a few days?
  • Did it ever occur to you that drinking and drugs is the only way “these” people have to escape pain, to just get through one more day?
  • Do you honestly think these men and women were dropped here from Homeless Planet and are some sort of plague on our world?
  • Don’t you know that everything you have can be taken in a moment? That this could be any one of us?

All that anguish in my thoughts did nothing but ruin my day.  After that encounter, I felt powerless to help, deeply ashamed and uncomfortable by the homeless people around me.  So I did nothing, and pretended not to see. I could pretend all I wanted.   My soul saw and felt everything.


Doing Something

Do what you can with what you have where you are. – Eleanor Roosevelt

Maslow called Eleanor Roosevelt one of the few self-actualized people in history.  When I learned in Psych 101 what that means, I decided I wanted to be self-actualized too.  I could never quite manage the bottom tier of the pyramid, but that didn’t stop me from trying to climb.

I became very sick seven years ago.  I worked on what I could control and on the most urgent needs in my life. Slowly, I returned to health, and from then on I looked at life differently.  Life was far more precious, and small things mattered less.  It was a very slow process with lots of falls.  There was only incremental progress, but it was there.  A year after I got sick, instead of waiting to die, I decided I wanted to live.  A month or so later a teacher appeared.  I found new and beautiful friends, mentors and guides who expected nothing from me but to keep trying, be kind to myself and to pay it forward.

Today my life is full of blessings.  When my sacred self is in the driver’s seat (rather than my ego), I’m truly grateful for it all. I recently watched a beautiful video with Julio Olalla called Amor la Vida (Love Life).  II loved when he spoke about the beloved quote by Socrates, about how the wisest of us know we have no clue.

“The interesting and fascinating thing with having no clue,” he said, laughing, “is then you fall in love with questions.”

That feeling of powerlessness I felt all those years ago persisted throughout my life.  I’m beginning to learn that that feeling of powerlessness is a lie.  I certainly have the power, right now, to help.  I can do “small things with great love.” Learning is a daily privilege, and I am clueless, still.  So, I “fall in love with questions…” and the question today is this:  What can I do where I am with what I have, right now, to help the homeless?  I don’t have answers yet, but I have a few ideas.  I plan to figure it out, then do it.

I cannot look away any more.

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