Monday, March 26, 2012

Day - 189 The Frustrated Homelessrob

When you end up on the streets is it easy to become frustrated. The "why me" question is always the first thing you wake up to and the last thing you thing before you fall asleep, at least it is for me. After time, the frustration wanders away and comfort and acceptance settles in. This is easy for most people who understand homelessness to understand.

Frustration during my struggle out of homelessness has been my biggest fault. I get mad about it. Always, on my way up I tend to do OK. However, lack of progression to stability gets to me hard. Aggravation gets the best of me. I'm at that point now. Things have gotten better, but there is still so much more work to do. I've already fallen a trillion times. I've already lost my entire life. If I can't have the life I want, then whats the point?
Street living is painful, but at least I do not have to be constantly reminded of how much more I suck at being a human (this is me, personally). Trust me when I say falling into homelessness is far easier than the fight to get out of homelessness.

I fall into homelessness time and time again because of this. I get frustrated about the new way things are going. Then I start thinking about how to take advantage of the moment, which usually offers a very quick solution to go back into the streets. Then.... I act!

There is nothing wrong with these feelings, because these feelings are part of what causes homelessness in the first place. Thinking like this is OK, but only if you can recognize it and do something about it (something I have yet to learned how to do). It took me a very long time to realize what I was doing to myself. After all, there is no book about how to recognize these feelings in relation to this topic, or at least not that I know of.

I've seen this frustration and anger come out of me a lot since I have been off the streets and working. It seems to be pouring out of me. Things are not going right. This is not how my old life was. This is not how I want to spend the rest of my life. This is not the direction I wanted to go.

I tend to completely ignore the fact that with out all of that I'd be on the streets with nothing. I'm grateful about the distance I have come, and the people who have helped me get there, but a fool about it at times. I'm not frustrated and angry about about coming off the streets. I'm frustrated and angry about how I'm still feel like a loser.

So, I'm gonna make this time different. There will be no going back to the streets - not for any reason! I've made my mind up about that. The attitude about the way I make it up must fully change. This might be the hardest thing I have ever done. I never have a problem telling people about my short falls - I have plenty of them, trust me! I have a hard time telling people about the short falls I have that I do not fully understand within myself. How have I managed to wind up here so many times and allow my aggravation and frustration to get the best of me so much?

I'm gonna take the advise that was given to me today by my friend, Dave. Dave told me that lately he has seen my aggravation and even though he can't fully understand where I'm coming from about it, he says that I'm allowing it to devour me from the inside out. Dave says the thing I need to do now is relax! It is kind of funny in a way. I don't want to relax at all! I want to move on and bust my butt to get ahead. I thought about this for some time today. I came to two conclusions:

1: working hard to get out of this mess or "striking while the iron is hot" (in my case) is OK. However, I have to stop letting the stresses of coming up out of homelessness get to me. I simply have to calm down and let things take their course for now. Then fix the things I have a hard time dealing with later when it is easier for me.

2: Dave is right!

This is all new stuff for me. I'm sure not everyone will understand, Heck, I don't even understand it. All I know is that I've been here before and what I did before did not work for me. This time I have to do something different. I have to change me, now! I'm the problem!

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Day - 188 10,000 Homeless Blog Hits And Counting!

It has now been 188 days and just over 10,000 blog hits. Time for a Homelessrob update.

We'll I suppose I should start with the things I have done:

1. Got a roof over my head and a job!
2. Produced an ebook!  and
3. Did a live talk radio show!
4. Made the Tampa Times!
5. Built a Facebook of almost 300 of the most coolest people I could ever know, from nothing!
6. Have had my blog used more than a few times over in support of the homeless cause!
7. Have become someone who has been called an inspiration (not bragging, I have to say that because it's true and it says/means a lot to me. I'm proud of myself for that).
And I few other things I have not talked to much about. Still, in the works!

Now for the things I have not done:
1. In the past 188 days, I have in no way, shape, or form come anywhere close to obtaining my  goal (kids, house, car). Nothing!

So, what can I take away from this?

 A few things!

I have broken stereotypes. How could I not have? Trust me, I don't do things in category one listed 1 through 7 because I'm a lazy bum, with no drive, and wants to live on the streets taking free handouts. If you ever assumed that about me you where wrong. If you assume that about any homeless person before you know them you are also wrong - because I am that homeless guy.

Somehow, nothing I have set out to do has gone right for me. My plan has failed.

Currently, I'm living in a home with no lights in my room, sleeping on the floor, walking 8 miles a day to and from work, and will soon be paying $350 a month for rent.

Ebook promotion is hard work and a whole new ball game that I was not prepared for. If I want to do anything with that at all, I'm gonna have to break my butt hard for it. That is something I might as well never done. However I'll keep it for now and look at it later.

My job is going ok. However, it is in sales. There is no promise that from one week to another I'll make any steady money.

I had an idea to make a product at the start of this blog (part of my master plan) but have made no progress on that. I might re-look at doing that soon. I might have better luck this time.

So the end result is simple, so far:
I seem to be able to do big things for the homeless cause and others but at the same time have no ability to do anything for myself, odd.

Now, I'm not crying here - I'm just stating the simple facts to date. I'm not too much better off today than I was 188 days ago. I've simply done something for the homeless cause. I'm busting homelessness in the face like I said I wanted to do (that feels good).

I'm grateful for how much I have done in 188 days. I'm grateful for my friends and family who care about me, but still, I'm not happy that I can't seem to progress in a way that is gonna get me out of this mess and to a place where I will be within  reach of my goal. I don't even know how this is going to be possible!

Now, this is just a quick update. I still have a few tricks up my sleeve and some more work to do. I'm not done yet. At the very least, I still have hope to make something happen. I still have some fight in me. I still hope to come up with something. I'm still gonna shake this homeless tree until my arms fall off. This is no time for my old habits. This is no time for me to say "game over, settle into this life". No, things are not good for me but I still have a chance to make things better. I have to focus on that now. How do I take what I have going now and end this mess I got myself into, once and for all?

Today was a good day for me. I broke 10,000 blog hits and made the paper (a big paper). It should be a good day for me. On the homeless cause I feel great. In my own personal struggle of homelessness I feel like trash. That's probably because I have no right to be happy about anything now.

In light of this post (and for my new followers, sorry I don't have a happier post for you to read today) I do have remind you all that this blog is simply a story. It always has been, nothing more. I do this for you to be entertained. That's all I every wanted to do here, entertain you. Homelessness is an ugly thing and today, so am I. I hope to entertain you more from here on out, but please understand... this story might not end on a happy note!

Next post I'll have some good stuff going on..... I promise!

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Day - 173 The Homeless Moment of Truth

So here I am. I've been here before. This moment is not new to me. This is the moment when people watch me and wait. The moment that homeless haters wait for. This is the moment when people give up on the homeless. I've been waiting for this because I've seen it before.

This is the point when people will ask "so... you choose to be homeless???" This is the most hated question (in my opinion) on the topic. "So you choose to be homeless"???

People ask this question with fingers ready to point. If I say "yes" they win, and the circle of homeless stereotypes continues. If I say "no" then I have to explain that and watch while people pick my answer apart and try to figure out a way to call me a "lazy bum". How do I know this? I've seen it time and time again. Not at me, but at others. So yeah, this is my moment! People will point their fingers at me and judge me with no understanding. The time has come!

Luckily, I've thought about this post a lot. I have figured out a way to explain (kind of). I can only hope that people will understand this scatter-brained notion of mine.

Ask me "Homelessrob, do you choose" to be homeless?

Answer: "yes"...... and "no"!

Let me explain:
The "yes" first:

I've been here before, meaning that over the last couple of  years that I've been fighting my own personal homelessness, there have been times when I've found myself with a roof over my head and a job. This is where I am now. This is where I have found myself a few times in the past. I usually get here the same way via help. However,  at least once I did it on my own (with a little help). I've been off the streets now for about a month and a half holding down my job for the exact same amount of time (I got them both on the same day).

Now, to a lot of people, this is "problem solved". However, for me it's a little more complicated than that. For me, it was never about just getting off the streets. It's about moving ahead and my ability to do that. This is why I have my goal (kids, house, car). If I stay where I am now, I'm stuck. I'm living a life that is not me. I have to be moving ahead. Where I am now is defiantly a step in the right direction and a true blessing, but my ability to move ahead is the real question. I cannot allow myself to get stuck. I cannot allow myself the ability to say "I'm homeless with a roof over my head" which is where I am now. This is the same place where many homeless people are left after they make it off the streets (I'll explain that later).

This is the moment when, in the past, I started to question everything, and this what I say to myself (in this order):
" OK, I'm off the streets and with a job, this is great!"

"OK,  I'm getting by but it's by the skin of my teeth so I'll have to figure out a way to either minimize my life style or make more money. I have to move ahead!"

"OK, I'm doing everything I can right now but I'm still in a rut. I'm not moving ahead. I'm finding it hard to put myself in a position where I can move ahead and on into a life of security where I'm actually living a life that represents my age (33)."
"OK, I'm homeless with a roof over my head."

"Homelessrob, if you minimize any more you will be on the streets again!"

"This is not working. I can't find away to get ahead!"

"Maybe if I move I will find what I'm looking for somewhere else..."

"I'm not new to the streets..."

"I might as well hit the road because this is getting me nowhere fast. I'm wasting my time and I want my life back."

"I should save some money and move. I'll be on the streets, but that's easy now and at least I'll have some money."

"I should go with that plan and just consider this a stepping stone that I hope will get me to somewhere better."

"Start planning on where I want to go and how I'm gonna deal with street life once I get there."


It's easy for me to do this. There has never been anyone around to ask me about it. Why? Because once the "problem is solved" no one is ever around.

I do have to say that I think a lot of homeless people do this. It is a very easy thought process. For me, I did not know I was thinking like this for a long time. I had to go through it a few times. This is the one thing I'm looking to change now. If I do nothing else, I must change this portion of my brain. Now is the time for that. I have to accept that this has been my thinking pattern over the past few years and this has got to stop. Now.

This process of thinking goes well with homelessness. Homelessness is NOT a black and white problem. Homelessness is full of color and different dynamics and this process is one of them. This is a very large reason why people fall onto the streets over and over again. An inability to recognize this is also one of the many tricks that homelessness offers. We can't fight what we can't see. I see it now!

So, this is why I say "yes". At times I have chosen to render the streets as my home. The above is why!

Now the "no"!

NO, because if I was never homeless in the first place I would never have these thoughts. I did not choose it. It found me and made its move on me!

Now I know many people will go right to the "why" here!

Because you asked "why" I'll tell you. Does it matter? Honestly, if you don't know, it happens to people for a whole variety of reasons. I don't know what to say, but I have some ideas.

I'll just give you a list of reasons!
Starting with the most common (for the black and white thinkers).
"alcoholism" (once more, you do not have to be homeless to be an alcoholic or on drugs)

And now a few reasons that are understandable though not so commonly thought of.

"human trafficking" (I'm just now finding out that in fact, this is a very large problem in way of homelessness)
"immigration" (I've seen a lot of that. In fact, I have seen entire cities where half the homeless population was due to immigration)
"property damage" Yes, a tornado tore down your home and no one would take you in. This sort of thing happens every year, somewhere in America. Look into it.
"bad investments" Yes, I'm saying you lost all your money in the market. This also happens all the time. Look into it.
"loss of job" They say the avarage person is between two to three paychecks away from being homeless. I know some people do not want to say that the recession is an acceptable reason for homelessness, but I tend to think that loss of jobs is.
"relationships" This is more common than people think and it seems to me to be directed mostly toward women. I have seen a few times where a long term relationship that want south rendered a woman on the streets.
"youth" that speaks for itself. I could probably gather more than several reasons a youth would find comfort in the streets or somehow wind up there.

I don't know if I told you this story. It's actually my friend DD's story and you would hear him talking about it in the video I posted a few blog posts back. I asked him "what is the shortest amount of time you have spent getting someone off the streets?.

He replied, "3 hours".

Then told me:
The homeless person in this case was a mentally challenged kid. His mother, who had raised him his whole life, died. In an attempt to support himself he failed! Soon after his mother's death he was on the streets. The reason that it was so easy for DD to help him was because the kid had all his paperwork and documents together and found luck in someone willing to help him. How quickly this story could have turned into....... 10 years later.... "hey, look at that crazy, lazy homeless guy on the streets, he chooses to be here".

I was talking to a friend not too long ago. She was having problems and was a few weeks away from having nowhere to go. I think she said she was having problems with a crazy landlord (another story I have heard a few times). She said to me, "Homelessrob, I have over 800 Facebook friends and no one will help me". Yes, I hear this ALL the time. My, my, how fast people will turn away from you even before you are homeless.

An old woman told me almost the exact same story. The only difference was that she was older. However, she was confused about how people could treat her like they never knew her after she had spent all her life helping out others in her home town.

Stories like this are all over the place. People fall into homelessness for a lot of different reasons. More than I could probably tell you.

So ask me again-
"Homelessrob, so you choose to be homeless???"

Yes, in an tempt to fix my life starting from nothing I have a few times chosen to hit the streets. However, my better answer is still "no" because if it had never happened in the first place, hitting the streets would never have been an option. Homelessness made it so, not me!

I'm grateful that I figured this out within myself now because now that I know, I can make changes.

Right now I have no intentions of packing my bags and seeking about a new life on the streets with hopes of finding a better life in which I have an ability to move forward.

I'll just keep working on what I'm doing now and hope someday these doors will open.

I will say one last thing. This blog has done a lot for me. Every day I hop on and do work to help with this homeless cause and it seems like every day my fight on it moves ahead. Every day I seem to get stronger and stronger. I think having at least one thing in my life that is moving ahead helps me.

My followers and friends have given me that. This blog might just be the thing that keeps me from making another bad move.


Look, this is my brain on homelessness! O NO!!!

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Letter From Deputy Donaldson

This is cool! I'll post it here.


Stories like these just continue coming ....

Robert Rashford is one of my more successful students of homeless recovery. He currently lives at our first residential rehab project on Old Memorial Hwy. He since has been hired by our private sector partner, Mobile Auto Glass Repair, moving up to a sales position at one of their carwash locations. On one of his first days of pitching auto glass repair he transacted five commercial sales which by all accounts is a substantial day in the sales arena, says his new employer Rob Arnold.

What's more, Robert is one heck of a social engineer in the blogosphere world where tens of hundreds and I think even thousands of online followers as far away as Australia read and comment about his experiences on the streets as a recovering homeless man. His blog is a personal journal giving tips on street survival combined with anecdotal yet intriguing stories capturing the unvarnished reality of homeless plight.

Many from his cyber audience have encouraged him to write about these struggles and his successes to help others understand the hidden side of homelessness. He just finished writing the eBook version about this journey recently self-published on Since the release of his eBook titled: Yelling into the wind, he was featured as a guest on BlogTalkRadio this past Saturday morning to talk about his book.

When our homeless candidates receive help from our Homeless Initiative we only ask in return that they become a foot solider for the same brand of homeless recovery that helped them get off the streets. Robert fulfills this obligation to duty almost as a daily ritual. Through his blogosphere network he his has connected me to many professionals and homeless devotees in establishing a nonprofit organization and website.  Through the reach of his blog audience he has been contacted by the St Pete Times spending a day with him out on the street; and if that wasn't enough an award winning producer contacted him about a possible HBO documentary.

I would like to think that the Sheriff's Office has played a small hand in this success even though Robert has the innate motivation that very well would have produced these results on his own. At the very least, helping him with a residence and a full-time job certainly helped nurture these attributes that were always present.

Like I have always said: It's not about blankets and boxed lunches -- It's about, rehousing -- rehabilitation and a little redemption.

It's yet another compelling story of success and another proof-positive indicator that we are on the right track.

Thanks for all your support!!

p.s. This is the link to the blogtalkradio segment featuring Robert.

Deputy Steven Donaldson
Badge# 4153
Homeless Initiative
7202 N Gunn Hwy
Tampa, Fl 33625

LOL, I like it! I don't actually have that many followers. However, I believe I have been read that many times I'm sure.

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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Day - 167 Hobenessrob and The Butterfly Effect

I busted my radio cherry last night, LOL!

I was on the "Butterflyeffect radio show". I was a nervous mess. People said I did well. I want to tell myself that I did well, but I don't think I really did. It was really hard for me to get my points across. I'm not a public speaker after all. Altogether I think I did semi OK, but clearly need to learn how to talk better. Short, sweet and simple should be my motto going into any sort of talk (Oh, and smile a lot too. I hear smiling a lot helps even if you are on a phone).

Will there be more talks? I do not know! At this point in my life I'm inclined to believe that depends on my ability to get any of my other anti-homeless stuff done (still waiting... you will know as soon as I do). I never saw any of this coming but I have to learn to adapt if I intend to do big things for this homeless cause.

On a personal note, I'm NOT the person to be doing any of this.There are much finer people than myself out there doing much better things than I do. However, I am determined to walk through every door that opens and take full advantage of every opportunity that presents itself in way of giving homelessness a serious back breaking. It's becoming a job for me now. I like it!

Now that this radio thing is done it's time to move on. I need to gather up more support. I need to get more doors open. I need to make more connections among the people I have now that follow me (that's my favorite  part of this. I LOVE introducing people to each other). Need to work on the ebook things too. That is gonna require a lot of work. I'm still gonna donate as much of that money as I can to kids with cleft lips. That's important to me. So, its work, work, work for this little homelessman. I'm just getting started.

I'm no longer holding the work sign on the side of the road anymore. I'm in full time sales now. I'm working in a car wash. Cars come in. I find the messed up windshields. I give people my little pitch, then I make money (if I'm lucky). Its not a bad little gig though. I'm defiantly doing OK at this. If I get a few sales in a day I make out pretty well. I need to spend more time doing it though. I've only been at it a week.  What I like the most about this job is that my bosses are cool. They know I'm working hard on my homeless cause work  and they let me use the office to hop online and do stuff. They support me a lot! So when I'm not on a sale I can jump on my desk and bang out some stuff. Cool! I'm working around the clock now. Every second of every day I'm grinding away. This all makes me feel better. It helps me stay focused. For a little bit I thought I might have been getting tired and  might have needed a break but that has passed and I've found more energy in me to burn up now. Besides, homelessness never lets up on me.

This is the link to my radio interview. I think I could have done better. I'll leave it to you do decide though.

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Day - 164 Homelessrob, and a COP???

I've known Deputy Donaldson for a little while now. This is the man who helped me off the streets. DD (as I sometimes like to call him, not to his face though) is a deputy in Tampa, FL. Helping out homeless people and working on the homeless cause in the streets  is what he does, and he is very good at it. 

In the time that I have know DD I have learned a lot. DD has a very fine understanding of the homeless problem and an even finer understanding of what homeless people have to go through to get by and to get off the streets. In that understanding, DD finds success. We have talked much.

This video does him no justice because the audio is pretty bad for some reason. I'm going to post it anyway and do another sit down with him later (we see each other every two or three days). I just think the parts you can hear are worth hearing. DD is someone worth knowing as far as this homeless cause goes. Believe me when I tell you that he had to fight very hard to get the people he has helped off the streets.

At one point in this video he and I mention about how we are working together to do some things that will help the homeless cause. This is true! Past the help that he gave me, DD and I are becoming friends and even a bit of a good team together (homeless people and cops are two very stereotyped people, after all. Also, we both like to break stereotypes - good common ground).

The system that DD uses to help the homeless is a system that I feel is the very best. On that note I support DD as much as I can. We (in conjunction with some others) are working VERY hard together to make some huge changes, not just here in Tampa, but hopefully someday across the country. Fingers crossed! Now, that's all I'm gonna say about any of that. I don't like to mention things until they are final. Loose lips sink ships, and all that. I'll keep you posted though!

This is Deputy Donaldson. A good friend that I owe a lot to. He does not ask me for anything though. Just to do my best and stay off the streets. I'm trying my best and he knows it. That's why I sit in the front seat of the cop car. LOL!

For the record, not all cops turn their lights on to get good spots in traffic. I keep telling him to just do it, but he won't listen to me.

I'll post more about my friend later.

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