So today I was up in LA as one of 3 volunteers asked by my coaching certification school, to help out with a kickoff event for Covenant House. For those of you, like me, who may have heard of CH, but don't know who they are or what they do… Covenant House has been helping young people who have experienced homelessness, runaway situations and trafficking. You can Google it. CH has helped millions of young people in this country and in the world lead better lives. Needless to say, with all of my efforts lately in trying to shake things up with how we can better help our youth, by providing them with more wellness options, mental and emotional health education, etc. this was, again, the universe speaking to me.
For those of you who know me really well, I've always had a passion for helping young people, ever since I was a young 'un myself. I wanted to be a school teacher when I was in 3rd grade. I've always thought that children have an innocence and naturalness about them, that is just a beautiful gift. However, our society, our parenting (or lack thereof), our negative influences in life, over time, can really mess things up for these beautiful creatures.
So when this opportunity came up to help these young souls, I couldn't resist. From meeting the staff and seeing their dedication to these young adults, to meeting some of the young people themselves, I can't tell you how heart happy the experience made me feel. Because each of these kids are so unique in their own ways, and have such beautiful souls, that many kids way more fortunate than them, don't necessarily exhibit. There's something to be said when one's hit rock bottom. There is a natural progression of showing appreciation, gratitude, compassion, and empathy to those that come into their lives who can actually help them towards a life they might not otherwise have.
I am so excited that my coaching school is donating their integrative wellness education to these young people because it's going to transform their lives tremendously. I can't wait to see the results of this project. I've always thought that education was the main answer to helping our homeless. And the education I'm talking about here is not science or math, it's life skills and how to navigate life so that you can live comfortably and happily. We can provide all the meals and shelter for them, but without learning, there is no progress.
Being back in LA, and just driving through and seeing the streets of LA with so many homeless people still, triggered another set of feelings that I hadn't felt in a few years. This was one that brought back memories of my own aunt Grace. Grace was only 51 years old when I found her, just 4 years ago, homeless and living in a women's shelter in LA, after almost losing touch with her for 25+ years. She was disgraced from my family decades ago for something that she did that was unforgivable from several members' perspective. This was not my perspective, as I believe that parents should take accountability first for their children, before they can expect their children to. But regardless, Grace was left to fend for herself. The good news was that she had a college degree, and always held a job. When my aunt Grace and my grandmother first immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan, Grace was what one would call an 'entitled' pre-teen. In Taiwan, she was the daughter of a Government diplomat and lived in a home with live in maids, cooks and chauffeurs. In the U.S., she and my grandmother had to start their lives all over, with just the money Grace's father left them when he passed.
After finding her, Grace got to meet my kids for the first time, visit with her mother of almost 100 years old at the time (my grandmother) after almost 30 years of losing contact with each other (I know, right?!! Can you even imaging not knowing where or what your daughter was doing for 30 years?!!). She also got to spend one brief Christmas with us where she, even though she was homeless, gave each of my kids a small gift she gathered up from the shelter, because she still saw them as her grand niece and nephews.
Grace had suffered multiple strokes, was in poor health, and as a result of not taking good care of herself, lost her job and her apartment. She passed away the following year.
So again, I urge you, every one of you, to learn how to make amends with your family members, learn about mental and emotional health, learn how to build strong, healthy relationships, and don't give up on one another. If you're a parent, please keep in mind that you are your child's mentor, teacher, leader, role model, and not the other way around. Do the right thing for yourself and for them. And if you don't know how, find out how. Our world is more abundant now than ever with resources. Get a coach. Read books. Work on yourself. Every one has baggage. It's time to get your sh** together. I've been getting my sh** together for the last 30 years, and am still getting it together. It's not a 'you have it' or 'you don't' deal. It's a work in progress. It's a journey called life. And it's what's going to make you experience happiness and a deserving place in this crazy world we live in.