Fahrvergnügen: The Story of Fiona

IMG_1575.JPG(Fiona – January 2017 – Daytona, FL)

Fiona, the 2008 VW Passat Komfort 2.0T, came in to my life in March of 2012 from the trade of my 2006 VW Jetta 2.5T.

She was subtle.  Sleek.  Sexy.  Unassuming.

She was, to me, trick.

I love the brand.  I’m a full on VW Kool-Aid drinker.

I’m not gonna lie.

German engineering got me like…. #fahrvergnügn ❤

Those that embrace german engineering will understand this love affair and I need not explain further.

If you need an explanation you either don’t know me, don’t know the beauty of german engineering or both…

At this time, feel free to move along and abandon this post…

Unless of course…you love me and my style of writing…in which case….

….grab a snazzy glass of red, sit back and read away…Thank you for your support 🙂

***WARNING***

I’m about to get emotional because something inconceivable has recently happened (insert broken hearted emoji here)

I loved my Passat in a very unhealthy way.

It’s true.

And I admit it.

She represented so many things to me:

  1. Success:  I paid her off on time and within terms
  2. Freedom: She took me places; moved me countless times (whether I was prepared or not)
  3. Saved me: She was a vessel to remove me from unhealthy situations and relationships
  4. Ownership: She was paid off this year in May 2017 and still beautiful and pristine;  and true to the Dave Ramsey model, we had another few years together at least…me saving money and driving a car that made me happy…

Until…..

…a drunk driver made a decision for me while I was sleeping, snug as a bug with my sweetie, in the early morning hours of 19 August 2017.

I rolled over.

It was 4ish A.M.

“Why is your light still on?” I said to him.

He grunted.

The light went out.

I felt him looking for my foot.

He asked me where it was.

Did I answer?

I can’t remember.

But the crash!

That awful, crunching, shrieking sound of metal and then screetching tires….

I thought to myself… “WOW!!! That sounded terrible, I hope whoever that is, that they are ok”.

Sleepy.

Drifting.

Floating.

And then the doorbell rang….and rang again….and again….

I sat straight up in bed.

Was it my imagination???

Am I hearing things?

NO!!!!

There it is again!  The doorbell.

Being pushed…..incessantly!

Urgently!!!

The clock.

4:21 am….

….nothing good ever happens at 4:21 am.

My heart is racing…

…and the dog and the man are snoring like all get out….

HELLO!!!!  WAKE THE EFF UP!!!

I push him.

“Baby, someone is at the door!  Something is wrong!”

Now there is pounding on the door along with the doorbell being rung.

Home invasion???

Hey!  That ish happens here in Florida…I’m playing it safe….

…pulling out the gun box…and trying to wake up the man…

Load the gun…

Recon…

There are people standing around Fiona…

…and my man says…babe….we have a problem and the neighbors are trying to get your attention.

On this night, someone took my life, my livelihood and my finances in his hands…

He decided to drive drunk.

And that decision caused damage.

Financial damage.

Not only did he make a decision to take his own life in his hands, he jeopardized the property of others and the safety of those who were also out on the road at the same time.

He must have been in a terrible place emotionally.  That makes me so sad.

His choice to drive intoxicated destroyed federal property and totaled my car.

Thankfully, as far as I know, no one was physically injured or killed.

This is a true blessing!

God is GOOD!!!

It took a couple of hours before the police showed up.

It was agonizing.

My mind was racing, playing over worst case scenarios.  Looking at my now seriously banged up VW.

Shattered glass littering my driveway.

My beautiful, lush green hedges, taken out from the root and now displaying a big gaping hole.

My mind just keeps reminding me that I’ve just lost my ability to earn a living (up until that moment I was a full time Uber driver waiting for my new position to start at a local company) for the next two weeks before my new job was to start.

I was forced in to an unpaid four week vacation.

I was sick to my stomach to be back in a car payment.

And I was emotional at losing my Fiona.

My trusty steed.

My VW.

My Fahrvergnügn ❤

My freedom.

I felt anger.  Fear. Anxiety. Sadness.

Anger, again…..and again….and again.

Frustration.  Disappointment.

And then ultimately, acceptance.

Me and the man were able to get in front of the process, get prepared and ultimately, I purchased a reliable and solid replacement.

Stay tuned, because I’ll do a blog on the new whip…when the time is right.

Back to the night in question….

My neighbors were nothing short of AMAZING!

They hung out with us for several hours; not only waiting for the police to arrive to give their testimony, but long after the police left.  A few went out in search of the truck that hit my car (the neighbor 3 doors down actually witnessed the hit and run but because it was so dark and there was no way to read the plate) to see if perhaps he abandoned the vehicle in a nearby plaza or church parking lot.

No such luck.

It was a painful weekend, hoping and praying that the person who did this would come forward and take accountability so the financial outlay was as minimal as possible to me and also wishing upon all wishes that my car was repairable.

She was towed out on Monday to the appraiser….

….and official word of being totaled was delivered a couple days later on Wednesday.

My insurance company was fantastic.  I encourage you to let Esurance quote you next time you are up for renewal.  They are a division of Allstate.  Totally reputable and they took damn good care of me!

The settlement was offered and 80% was immediately deposited in to my account.

I sent loss paperwork and remainder was released.

This all took place in less then two weeks.

And with the help of family, I purchased another car.

It’s not a VW…I couldn’t afford one this time….

…but the new girl, she’s a trusty whip and I’m hoping that she will be low maintenance and be with me a long time.

The one amazing thing I can take away from this whole experience is this….

…a car is just a car.

It doesn’t care if I’m happy or sad.

Healthy or sick.

Late for work or stuck in traffic.

The car is unfeeling.

It’s a tool.

A vessel to get me from point A to point B.

As long as I do the maintenance, the car should perform.  Occasionally, it will require additional work.

But all it is, all it ever will be, is a tool.

It’s not status.  It’s not love.  It’s not my identity.

It’s four wheels on a rolling chassis.

I just pray that every night, when I get home from work and park her in my driveway, every vehicle that drives by is operated by a sober and alert driver.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask 🙂

***Disclaimer***

Please, if you have been drinking, feel like you have had too much to drink, know you have had too much to drink or question your ability to get home safely after being out and drinking….

USE UBER!!!

I repeat….

USE UBER!!!

It will be so much safer for EVERYONE!

Until next time….

Love, Jeni ❤

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Coming Out of Pain


Pain.

It’s physical and emotional. Usually at the same time.

And especially at the beginning.

Depending on the cause of pain, the physical component can fade, but the emotional part can continue on for what seems like an eternity. 

Pain

It does not discriminate. It doesn’t care about timing. It comes in all forms like:

  1. Death – the loss of a loved one
  2. Break-ups – the end of a long term relationship, a marriage, or even a job
  3. Physical – broken bones, cuts and scrapes, illness (chronic or terminal) or allergies
  4. Emotional – depression, anxiety, anger
  5. Finances (or lack thereof)

Pain. 

It’s solitary, yet can cast a wide net and affect others around you.

While you can share how your pain feels to you, no one can literally feel the pain you are feeling in the way that you feel it. That doesn’t mean people can’t or don’t feel compassion though. At least for little while. 

But, pain can be isolating, especially when it hangs on. And when it hangs on, sometimes, there are people that don’t have the ability to stay in your life and weather the storm with you and watch while you try to navigate the bumpy road of getting back to life. Back to finding joy and happiness again.

During my season of pain I lost a few friends. Relationships I would have banked to stand the test of time, last forever, all that good stuff. 

That wasn’t the case, and it’s totally okay. 

I feel sadness that the relationships, dissolved, but I also understand at the same time that we are all built with different coping skills. Not everyone has the tolerance to watch people they care about fall apart and not be able to do anything about it, because the silly, little humans we are think we can actually fix people when they are broken and in the darkest of places.

And when we can’t fix the people we love, that helplessness creeps in and it’s a terrible feeling. Rather then feeling like a stoodge because we can’t fix something or someone, we disconnect and seek the butterflies and unicorns that bring joy in our lives so we don’t have to watch the sorrow and pain in someone else’s life.

During my journey of coming out of pain I have learned that forgiveness breaks the chains that keep you captive, love is the constant that heals and hope is always in front of me, even when I can’t see it.  I have been truly blessed to have some ridiculously amazing and supportive people in my life that just wouldn’t give up on me no matter how hard I tried to push them away.


If you are struggling today. If you are thinking of doing something that will be permanent. If you need someone to talk to. Please, reach out to me. Reach out to someone you trust. Lean on your faith and remember that the darkness is temporary. 

And most importantly, that you are loved ❤️

Until next time…

Love, Jeni

I Am Your Uber Driver: Feedback From the Cockpit

Welcome to my awesome VW Passat! Come on in. Make yourself comfortable. If you need anything, please let me know. I strive for you to have the best Uber experience ever. In fact, I have to brag for just a second, I have a 5 star rating and I’m incredibly proud of that.

I love my Uber job. I love that I get to talk to people. To hear their story. Because you just don’t know who will be getting in your car and where they are from, what they do or what they have experienced. 

Like the pair of business travelers I picked up from the airport a couple weeks ago. They were Doctors from Philidelphia, here in Jacksonville for a conference. Turns out, they know my cousins’ creperie, Beaumonde, in South Philly and have eaten there many times. It’s one of their fave places to go. Sweet! We really do live on a small planet. 

Or Andreya, an amazing lady who just published her book and is now available on Amazon. I had the privilege of picking her up twice from her job. The second time she was so happy to see me, it was like meeting an old friend. She reported that she had found a church she’s just in love with, as well as getting some positive feedback from her superiors at work regarding her performance to date. It was awesome to catch up with her and hear such joyful and positive news ❤

Then there’s Alejandro. An elderly Cuban immigrant, a retired mailman, who snowbirds here six months out of the year and lives in Queens, NY the other half. A sweet gentleman, whose never driven and is in the end stages of emphysema and being treated at the Mayo Clinic out at the beaches. He enjoys his family, all things history, traveling and music. But it’s hard for him to get out and socialize these days and he’s lonely. I just wanted to hug him and tell him all would be fine. I pray for him.

And then there are the guests who are…challenging. Like the Ukrainian woman with two small children who screamed at them in her native language and then screamed at me multiple times because I wasn’t driving fast enough (she was panicked that they would miss their flight) to her liking. I assured her, calmly, that I wasn’t going to break the law or risk my job, however, I would get her to the airport on time for her flight. Once we arrived and I started unloading her luggage, she came around the back of the car and apologized (I still gave her a 2 star rating) to me. 

Then there’s the time I picked up these two young ladies who wanted to go to the beach. It was late in the afternoon on a Sunday and they stunk to high heaven of some potent Mary Jane…

…that’s pot, marijuana, grass, chiba or whatever else you want to call it.

These young ladies were a complete, reeking, train wreck, eating pork rinds in my car and making a mess. At one point, I was asked to detour to Dairy Queen, for more munchies, but they had no idea which direction it was, so that ate up extra time. Once we found the DQ, one of the two apologized for her purse being “loud” (millennial slang for pot odor I’m guessing) and proceeded to spray my car down with some nasty Febreze….without even asking me first. I was about ready to go postal by this point. On top of that, the next fare I had stacked, cancelled, so I lost out on that money. I just wanted these rude girls out of my car. After all that nonsense, diverting to take them to DQ, and losing a fare, they didn’t even tip me.

Lame.

I work hard to earn my money. I keep my car impeccably clean and smelling good. My cup holders are filled with sweet mints. I have chargers available, as well as hand sanitizer and tissues if you need them. I ask your preferences for climate and music. All to make your ride more enjoyable.   This is not the norm for Uber drivers. Many don’t give a flip what their cars look or even smell like. Trust me, I’ve been in them.  I use Uber too.

And some drivers, they are downright rude. Not cool. 

So let me share some tips from the cockpit, a drivers perspective. 

Uber drivers are:

Private, for hire, self-employed drivers. We are sub contractors for Uber. They 1099 us. That means I have to estimate my taxes so I’m not in trouble at the end of the year when I file.  Surprisingly, a lot of my guests don’t realize I’m not directly employed by Uber. 

It takes $$$

It actually costs money to work for Uber. We use more gas, put above average mileage on our cars, and do maintenance more frequently. Because of this, tips are greatly appreciated. After all, we are providing a service, just like a public taxi does. And when you take a taxi, you usually tip (I would hope) your driver.

Be My Guest

We actually want you to get in our car, feel comfortable and relaxed, but we also want you to treat said car with the same respect you would treat your own. So please, if you are going to bring food or drink in to our vehicles, clean up after yourself. Report spills immediately. I promise, I won’t get mad. In fact, I will be grateful that you told me, so I can clean up before my next guest climbs on board. 
Finding You & Wait Times

If your address is obscure, or you’re at a large plaza, mall or a restaurant, please send us a text describing your actual location and/or the business name. It helps us find you quicker instead of us driving around like stupid little bugs all over your smartphone screen. 

When your driver arrives to pick you up, please be ready. Don’t have us waiting for you. You are notified how long it will take for your car to arrive and again when we have arrived. Making us wait is just plain rude. It takes time away from us to service another fare, especially if we have a fare stacked and waiting. I’m pretty generous and will give a 5 minute wait window. 

If you have asked us to wait, remember, it takes away from other fares. This is an excellent example of an appropriate tipping situation.

This is My Job

We aren’t your friends showing up to give you a ride to the mall for five bucks in gas money. We are Owner Operators, trying to make a living and pay our bills, or put our kids through college, maybe pay off debt or medical bills, even save for a dream vacation. 

Rating System and Feedback

Please, use the rating system. Leave feedback. Share your experience.  It’s all good. I work hard to provide exceptional service and I’m super proud of my 5 star rating and customer testimonials!

At the end of the day, we are human beings providing a service. We are trying to make a living while YOU are out living.

Btw, we commend you for being smart and using Uber to go out on the town and drink your face off! You are not only smart to not get behind the wheel, but you’re being safe too. Plus, if you’re lucky, you get to have an enjoyable ride experience in a sweet looking Passat!

I hope that if you ever come to Jacksonville, Florida I will have the honor of being your Uber driver…..

….just make sure you got cash on hand to tip your drivers.  I promise you, they will be so grateful you did. Thanks!

Until then…

Love, Jeni ❤

Rock Climbing: Facing My Fear of Heights (or midget trying to scale a wall 😬)

(27 January 2017 – The Edge Rock Gym – Jax FL)

So, when one of your besties says, “Hey, let’s go rock climbing Friday night, I hear it’s an awesome full body workout!”, two very distinct and different voices scream out it my cave woman brain….

The first voice, also known as the Personal Trainer voice, immediately responds with the following:

“FUCK YEAH! Workout? Fitness? Pulling my body weight up a wall? I am IN THERE like swimwear!!!”

Then the second voice, also known as the Wimpy Pants voice, in a teeny mouse like way says:

“Umm, excuse me, there is NO WAY I’m climbing anything!? Did you forget we are scared of heights? Need I remind you of Rebel Race 2013? That giant wall? The one that, once you got to the top and it was wobbling all over the place with 30 lunatic monkeys scaling up and over it like it was an anthill, but you completely froze at the top and your friend had to literally climb back up to talk you down!? Yeah. That one! No way are we willingly going rock climbing!”

Clearly, the Personal Trainer voice won and while I’m certainly not cured of my fear of heights, I think I’ve made a good start at facing the obstacles that can often prevent me from experiencing and enjoying fun things in life, like indoor rock climbing with my friend.

I’m grateful that Melissa is a part of my life.  Her love of physical challenges and adrenaline rushes help to push me to face my fears and challenge myself…that’s a good thing.

On this first night of rock climbing, she kept attacking this one climb and eventually made it to the top.  I was really proud of her (and a teeny bit jelly because I was too scared to get all the way to the top), but I did manage to make it 3/4 of the way on a straight climb, and for that I’m really proud of myself.  This experience was a major accomplishment for me considering that when I walked in the door to the gym I was pretty sure I wouldn’t make it two feet up that intimidating wall!

(L. She made it!  R. I almost made it!)

The next day I was so completely sore (gravity and body weight will always win) from pulling myself up those walls for two hours, my hands were blistered up and I had a huge smile on my face.  A truly great experience!

We will return another day to climb again and I will have another chance to face my fears, punch them in the face and keep trying to reach the top, because I won’t quit until I do.

I hope you all have a friend in your life like Melissa, who inspires you the way she inspires me ❤

Until next time…

Love, Jeni

 

Happy Mail

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Have you ever received “Happy Mail”?

Come on.  You know what I’m talking about…

You walk out to the mailbox (the real one, outside your front door; not the one on your computer or smartphone), open the door and pull out real, honest to Abe, mail delivered by a man  or woman driving that little white truck that says US Postal service on it?

These days, it’s probably just bills that come every month like clockwork and weekly supermarket coupon circulars, but every now and then, you get something that’s unexpected and makes you feel good, feel loved……

…you get a piece of Happy Mail.  Now that’s what I’m talking about!

How lucky am I that I was the recipient of such a treasure just last week?

I’m going to say pretty darn lucky… because I can.

It’s no coinkydink that said piece of Happy Mail is directly linked to my new obsession (thanks to the sender of my Happy Mail BTW) known as the Happy Planner by Create 365.

Side Bar:  If you don’t have a Happy Planner, STOP reading this blog immediately, get in the car, go directly to Michaels or Hobby Lobby, buy one, throw in some fun sticker books, a crap load of super crafty, whimsical and colorful washi tape along with a bunch of neon and sparkle gel pens, then return home and continue reading this blog before you dive in to your new obsession….you can thank (or curse me) later 😀

My fave sticker in my Happy Mail from Tamaria (check out her amazing blog here) says “You deserve all the good things” and it immediately went in to my Happy Planner, smack dab in the middle of 12 January and then I built out around it.  The week ended up looking…

HAPPY 😀

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This week, 16 January, starts with the “Life is so good” sticker and so far the page is beginning to look colorful and joyful.

It’s like my Happy Planner is a paper Instagram that I get to decorate with my to do’s and daydreams, chores and friend dates, pictures, races and workouts.  I also track my miles that will be combined with my teammates miles as we march forward to make 2017 miles in 2017 together as Team #fabfocusedfour

It’s safe to say that I spend about an hour each day involved in my planner.  Longer on weekends.  Me and Melissa take trips to Michaels together to get supplies and talk about crafty ways to decorate our planners (I got Melissa a Happy Planner for Christmas) and then I FaceTime with Tamaria to share my score with her and jokingly blame her and Melissa for turning me in to a Happy Planner crafting fiend…

…and I so love them for it ❤

When I’m not near my Happy Planner, I’m thinking about it, envisioning the colors or prints of washi tape I might choose, the tasks that I will write down for each day, or the goals I want to accomplish for the week.

So, what tasks do I have this week?

Well, one of them is sending some Happy Mail to my amazing friend Tamaria….

….the good ol’fashioned way 😉

Until next time.

Love, Jeni ❤

 

 

 

Good Riddance 2016: Year in Review

buhbye-2016

I’m not sad to see 2016 end.

If I could push it off a cliff I would.  I’m just so ready for 2016 to die.

But, while I’m waiting, I may as well share my year in review.

My intentions for 2016 to be a great year were solid!  Until January 2nd…

January – April

After returning from an inspiring holiday trip to Virginia to spend time with my amazing and beautiful friend for the holiday season (check out her awesome blog here) I returned home to Florida with my big girl panties pulled up and ready to kick ass.  It was a short lived effort.  I couldn’t duck from the hits coming.  I was miserable where I was living, working at a job that I didn’t like, not making enough money, unable to keep up with and pay my bills, repair my constantly breaking car or eat healthy.  Every decision I made blew up in my face.  I sunk deeper in to despair and darkness.

I turned away from my faith, my God and my church.  If I wasn’t working, I was sleeping.  I stopped working out.  Shut out my friends and family one by one.  Until finally, I decided I was going to end my life.

For a month I researched what seemed to be effective ways to kill myself that would be as painless as possible with little to no mess.  I planned it right down to a specific date.  I was ready to close my eyes and go to sleep permanently.

But there was an Angel.

And dontcha know, she just wouldn’t quit.

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(Me and Shirley, June 2016, at JP Boot Camp, Georgia)

She would constantly send me text messages containing passages from the Bible.  Or an “I love you”.  Sometimes a song.  She was always asking me to come to church with her.  This woman, she fought for me when I gave up on myself.

The week that I was planning to end my life (the same week of Easter), my Angel messaged me.  She asked me if I would join her at church for Easter service.  I told her yes; even though I knew that if everything went as planned, I wouldn’t be making that date.  I could not see what was coming or be remotely prepared for it, but it was monumental, and I’m pretty sure, calculated by the Big Guy, to occur at  very specific moment.

It was life changing.

I can’t share it just yet, but I promise I will…it’s a really good story!

So, here I am, just a couple of days before Easter and I’m realizing that I can’t go through with my plan now.  I owe it to myself to see where this new information will take me.  And now, I had a date to honor.  I was going to Church with my friend on one of the holiest days of the year, Easter, and hope that God would forgive me and take me back in to his fold.

As we stood side by side during services my Angel raised her hand behind me and prayed over me.  I could hear the faintest of whispers coming from her lips, and while I knew she was praying for me, I couldn’t make out her pleas.  I may not have heard her words, but I sure could feel the energy and love emitting from her body, surrounding me and I began to sob as I silently asked God to forgive me.  To take me back.  To make he his.  I asked to be saved from the pain and the burden that weighed me down.  That was the moment that I knew I had to leave Bradenton.  Take one more chance.  Another risk.

Start over.  One last time.

At the end of March, I packed my things and moved to Jacksonville.  No place to live.  No job.

Scary.  As.  Shit.

April – October

I landed in Jacksonville on a Saturday afternoon and for a month stayed with a friend.  Two days after arriving I went to a job fair and landed an interview with a company I was familiar with.  It was hard, manual labor in a warehouse, but I didn’t care.  I just needed a job where I didn’t have to think.  Ironically, I interviewed on my birthday and was hired on the spot.

Now, living in Florida and working in a warehouse…yeah, it’s hotter then Hades.  I didn’t care.  It was physical and mindless.  I liked that.  At the end of the day, I clocked out and left it all behind.  I made some great friends there and I still see them regularly.

Now, my Angel wouldn’t have me living in a huge city where I didn’t know someone, so she connected me to her nephews wife, Melissa.  She is an awesome person and we hit it off right away.  We joke about the first time we met; how we were set up on a “blind friend date”!  Best ever!  She teaches me how to nurture my crafty side and encourages me to have fun with it and make her do kettle bell swings, burpees and push ups.  We both love a lot of the same things and she keeps me grounded.  I smile when I think of her, she’s another Angel ❤

I digress…

With a little help from my favorite Aunt, I rented a room in the city of Jacksonville.  I was super excited because I felt like I was finally getting back on my feet.  Making a little bit of money.  Getting my bills paid.  Renting a space of my own.  A stepping stone to eventually moving in to my own place.  I really liked the lady who was renting the room too.

I rented some bedroom furniture and moved in with her in the middle of May.  Things would be great…for about a hot minute.

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(Tippy on the steps of the “crazy” house)

A couple weeks after moving in to the “crazy” house I took a new job at the double the salary.  No more hot warehouse and 12 hours of standing on my feet packing boxes.  I would be back in my old niche as an Office Manager able to bring Tippy to work every day.  Bonus.  However, the sense of stability wouldn’t last long because it turns out that the Owner can’t keep an Office Manager longer then two months because he thinks it perfectly acceptable to threaten their job when he doesn’t get his way.  I think he was colluding with land lady!

About the same time I switched jobs the lady of the house started showing that she wasn’t as nice as she portrayed herself to be prior to my moving in.  The situation was so bad and so unwelcoming, that I was spending weekends at Melissa’s and eventually had to hire an attorney to get out of my lease early.  Best money I’ve spent in long time.

I found a beautiful town home in the Mandarin neighborhood of Jacksonville, signed the lease and was ready to take occupancy in August.  I moved in to a 2/2.5, 1200+ square foot home with just a couple of things, but I didn’t care.  I was going to make it work.  Figure it out.  It was a long time coming to finally arrive in a place to call home and establish roots.

October – December

I left a superbly crappy living situation, an equally shitty job and began to settle in to my new home and a new (temporary) job with the local school district.  I loved being with the kids, but the pay wasn’t there, nor was the job.  As I began searching, yet again, for a job with better pay, we were about to get our asses kicked by Hurricane Matthew.  I’m sure you’ve heard about it?  Big, giant hurricane, killed a bunch of people from Haiti all the way up the coast to the Carolinas?  Yeah, that little thing.

I’ve seen shows about hurricanes, or watched the news from New York when they were happening in Florida, but this would be my first exposure to one and it I was legit, scared out of my mind.  I decided to evacuate to Lake Mary and be with my framily.  While I was there I started to think about all the jobs that would come available to help with the aftermath of the disaster.  I knew I wanted to help those affected by the hurricane so I started searching right away.

When I returned home three days post Matthew, I was so sad to see my community just completely beat up from the storm.  I can’t explain how dreary it all looked.  The magnitude of loss people were facing.

And as God always provides just when the time is right, I landed in my current job working for an all female owned and operated restoration and reconstruction company.

Although I’m in the office most days, I have been able to help, console and counsel people who have suffered significant loss because of the Hurricane.  Not to mention, that I love the ladies I work with and our pets come to work every day.  That’s three chiwahwahs and a super cool cat that I swear was once a human.  It’s good.  Really good.

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(Tippy and Sherlock, working hard)

For Thanksgiving, I got to celebrate with my amazing friend, Tamaria, in Virginia.  I love this girl.  She’s the salt of the earth.  We talked.  Did a 5k on Thanksgiving morning (she wrote about it here) and then enjoyed a super yummy and healthy dinner.  After, she tried to educate me on Black Friday.  I still don’t get it, but I had a great time!  And I got to make her laugh, which is always a bonus.  I miss her terribly, but she’s a short flight away and we will see each other very soon.  We gots mad plans for 2017!

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(Me and the Amazing Tamaria just before the Prince William Turkey Trot 5k)

After returning from Thanksgiving I would be facing a big challenge.  Running my first Half Marathon.  A goal that’s been on my list for two years now.

Did I have enough training?  Hell no.  That got interrupted by that pesky Matthew and long  7 day work weeks.

But I was determined to lace up my Brooks and get that bitch done!

It wasn’t pretty, but I accomplished my goal and I am damn proud of myself!  I couldn’t have done it without Melissa.  She cheered me on through motivational text messages after she completed her 5k and she was there at the finish with hugs and congratulations.  Me and her, we got some runs planned for 2017!  It’s going to be epic!

(Me and Melissa just before the Half start and me after the race with my medal)

And here we are, December 31st, 2016.  On the precipice of another New Year.  It’s time to evict 2016.

It’s time to move forward and focus on goals and growth.  No looking back.  Eye on the prize.

I’m waiting for you 2017.

Until next time…

Love, Jeni ❤

 

Smoke, soot & cookies…not what you think.

I work for a local restoration and reconstruction company not far from where I live in Jacksonville.  For the most part, I spend my days in the office as a Customer Service Liaison…

…liaison-ing 😀

Until today, I had never been to an initial loss site visit.  I’ve been on job sites that were already in progress, but was not prepared for what I saw and experienced today.

A fire loss.

We arrived at a beautiful home in the cute, historic-ish neighborhood of San Marco.  From the outside, it didn’t seem like the damage would be wide spread.  After all, we were briefed that the loss was minimal smoke and fire damage in a few parts of the house.

This was not the case and what I saw filled me with so much sadness I could barely stand it.

With respirators on we went in to the house to document damage and contents.  Tagging items that could possibly be saved and others that were so damaged but had sentimental meaning to the Homeowner.

My job was to take pictures of each damaged room.  In this case, it was all rooms.  Fifteen to be exact, not including exterior.

It took me almost two hours to take all the pictures, and as those two hours passed, immersed among the residual smoke, fire and soot damage, seeing the loss of memories created over the course of more than 30 years, I became not only physically ill, but heartsick too.  Knowing the feeling of loss.  Understanding the finality of it.  That you cannot replace what is gone.

The Bible tells us we shouldn’t be drawn in to attachment of material “things”.  The reality is, the memory of your wedding day in a 24 x 12 frame, most likely  holds an attachment to your heart and soul.  As it should.  Now, it’s gone forever.

Along with melted kitchen appliances, computers, books, furniture, clothes, mattresses, linens, shoes, jewelry, musical instruments, carpets, pet toys, and the list goes on.

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(stock photo found on Google; not actual job site)

Even though I was wearing my respirator, booties and gloves, it was not enough to keep the smell of smoke from permeating not only my hair and clothes, but also in to my eyes and lungs.  Leaving me with an excruciating headache and mild nausea.  I wanted to get out of there.  To flee from the bleakness of the situation.

And then I saw the Homeowner, slowly and methodically going through items in the Master Bedroom.  Trying to find something, anything, salvageable that pertains to his life. Moving things from one side of the room to the other.  I quietly offered my apologies and moved along to finish my pictures and giving him his privacy among the remains of his belongings.

This was a total loss.  The house will need to be gutted; demoed to the studs.  Rebuilt.  So that this family can return and fill their home with new memories as they honor the ones that were created before this devastating loss.

We wrapped up and were on our way to another location.  A mold remediation job.  I have had the pleasure of assisting this family for many weeks on the phone, through two unrelated losses.  I was really looking forward to meeting her.

When we arrived she invited us in.  Her home was welcoming and warm.  The smell of homemade cookies baking in the oven.  Heaven.  Heaven compared from where we had just come from.

The stark contrast of brightness and cookies and blackness and soot that still remained in our memory and on our clothes was not lost on us.

We conducted our business.  Signed paperwork and left with a full, warm tin of homemade, gluten-free peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies made with love and gratitude.

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They were incredibly delish!  We housed almost half of the tin before we even got back to the office!  Hey, no judgement!  Besides, we shared with everyone 😉

For the remainder of the day I sat at my desk with the smell of smoke jammed up my nose and looking forward to coming home to get out of my clothes and wash the sadness and smell of loss out them.  To literally undress the memory from my brain and my body.

I ask you dear readers, please pray for this family that has lost everything so close to Christmas.  Pray for those who are struggling right now.  The homeless.  The poor.  The disadvantaged.  The lonely.  Pray for your neighbor, and even for your enemies.

Because in just a blink of an eye, it can all be taken away.  It is all so incredibly temporary.

Be kind.  Show love.  Be genuine.  Give of your time.  I promise, you won’t be sorry.

Until next time…

Love, Jeni ❤