Housing Insecurity In Florida: A Proposed Solution

Florida has the third highest rate of homelessness in the United States. About 40% of people who experience homelessness have a disability. There are some things available for people who experience housing insecurity, but not a whole lot to help people get on their feet. There’s not many places that will offer a home outright to people who stay in shelters or people with very low incomes.

I have studied Universal Basic Income (UBI). Through the test trials that have been done on UBI, we have learned that most people actually spend the money on things they need. What’s more, Finland offers homes to people who experience homelessness and has seen a significant drop in homelessness because of this. It was with these things in mind that I decided to start a new nonprofit to help those who experience housing insecurity, Housing Initiative of Florida.

We are a Housing First organization that will be offering grants to those who experience housing insecurity. We are in our pre-launch phase right now. Our goal is to help solve the issue of housing insecurity. Our mission is to provide a pathway to homeownership to at-risk residents of Florida. Grants will be issued to eligible residents of Florida to purchase a home in Florida.

This is a way to get people off the streets permanently. It may seem like a radical idea to some, but the obvious solution of giving people homes or money to purchase a home is one that has rarely been tried in the United States. Yet, in the places it has been tried, it has been shown to work. This audacious plan is required to keep people off the streets. We hope you’ll join us in meeting our mission and serving the communities we love.

(Originally posted a The New Floridian.)

Transcending My First Memory

I’m going to share with you some things that have been kept quiet in my family for many years. It starts with my first memory. My first memory is of my dad beating my mom. It’s a sad memory and I’ve rarely told it to many people. I can still see my mom, in desperation, trying to fend off my dad.

We never talked much about abuse in my family, but it regularly occurred. It’s time to shine a light on this and move forward.

I am a survivor of traumatic neglect and a witness to domestic violence and child abuse.

I was a quiet and somber child, very observant. I rarely got in trouble. I also experienced a lot of anxiety.

At about the age of 8, I was asked by a judge who I wanted to live with–mom or dad–as my parents went through a divorce. I picked my mom. I thought this would be better and in some ways it was. However, my mom soon married another abusive man, who not only chased her around the room with an ax, but who also abused, in various ways, my two younger brothers.

As a bystander, as a child, I didn’t know what I could do. But when the man my mom married came into my room and told me to pull down my panties, I knew what to do. I pushed him off the bed. But there was little I could do to prevent the abuse happening to my mom and brothers. Occasionally, the man my mom married would want us other kids to participate in abuse and torment. I always refused.

The man my mom married died in a blizzard. I’m sure this was sad for my mom, but it was liberating for me. I attended his funeral and, when a box of Kleenex was passed to me, I looked at it like, “What do I need this for?”

However, I had to live with my dad again for a while. It was during this time I experienced neglect. I was about 12 years old. Although my dad sometimes cooked–and I remember the things he did cook–there was often very little in the fridge. I remember ketchup sandwiches. I even remember stealing money from my dad to buy food from Taco Delight.  Some of my friends’ parents noticed these things and reported them to my mom, who was doing her best to tie up loose ends with the man who had died in the blizzard.

When I was about 13, while living back with my mom, I experienced my first bout of extreme sadness. It was depression.

At 14, I became pregnant. I also moved to a different state–Florida.

Florida has a law which states that every county has to have a school for teen parents. I attended one–now called The Chiles Academy. Of course, I gained a high school diploma, but I also took parenting classes and learned about various kinds of abuse and neglect. I tried to raise my daughter differently from how I was raised. I went by the book. I never, ever wanted her to experience the things I experienced.

My time at The Chiles Academy was great. My relationship with my daughter, I think, was great. After four years–and after meeting many different politicians and leaders–I graduated with a high school diploma.

I decided to go to college. I applied for Daytona Beach Community College (now, Daytona State College). I did fairly well in all my classes–except Math. However, I decided I was ready to transfer, so I applied to Stetson University. I was accepted.

Being a non-traditional, working class, commuter student at Stetson was, well, different. I didn’t come across many other students with my background. Very few of them could related to the experiences of being a young parent.

And, all the while, I was barely treated for the abuse and neglect I experienced growing up.

However, even though I didn’t make too many friends on campus, I did find solidarity and support in the campus culture. Many Stetson faculty, staff and students are involved in the community and social justice activities. I got involved in social justice issues.

I wrote two theses: one on facial affect (for psychology) and one on colonialism (for philosophy).

Not long after I graduated undergrad, my dad got sick with cancer. I had to travel back to Texas to deal with his death.

Soon, I applied for graduate school at the University of North Florida. While there, I did very, very well in academics, teaching and research.

Still I had not gotten help for my abuse.

I had learned to be distant from my feelings. I didn’t take time to process things and transcend them. However, I spoke out about injustice toward anyone else whenever I could. This was empowerment for me. It was as if I was making up for all the times I couldn’t do anything for my brothers and mom. I sometimes wonder if other people who are passionate about social justice are survivors like me.

While in graduate school, I had my first experience of psychosis. Of course, the current routine is: drug them up and hospitalize them.

I wasn’t seen as a survivor of horrific things who had accomplished so much. I was seen as a “schizophrenic.”

New research sheds light on the traumatic experiences people have which lead to psychosis. Instead of seeing these as “ill people” with an “incurable brain disease,” we should look at them as potential survivors of domestic torment and adversity. After all, if you don’t think I experienced adversity, you don’t know the statistics on teen moms. Merely graduating high school is a very real accomplishment for people with my background, let alone going on to college and grad school.

If you glance around my portfolio, you’ll find I have indeed accomplished a lot. My most recent accomplishment is what I’m doing now: transcending my negative childhood experiences.

 

 

A Note About This Blog

This blog is my personal blog. It’s in no way a professional blog. This is where I try out ideas, post more personal things and try on different hats. If you’d like to see my more professional work, I encourage you to check out my posts at the Florida Student Philosophy Blog. I hope you take the posts here with the spirit they are intended and with a grain of salt. This is, after all, my little playground for thoughts and ideas.

A Couple More Pounds Down

This morning I weighed myself, like I usually do, and noticed I dropped a couple more pounds. I’m not stressing over my weight. It’s a different game this time around. And it’s starting to flow naturally.

Wearing Glasses

I’m vain. I admit it. For the longest time, I wouldn’t wear glasses. However, sometime last year, my contacts scratched my eye. My eye turned out to be OK, but it left an emotional scar. I’m afraid to wear contacts now–even though my doctor said it was fine to do so. So, recently, I got a new pair of glasses–after having my last ones for three years. So far, I like them. They go with both my causal and professional looks.

Identity And Your Career

I think one of the most detrimental things one can do is identify with their career. I find so many people who do identify with their career. When they lose a job, when they retire, they lose their sense of identity.

When one thinks in terms of oneself as how one sells one’s labor, one is really doing a disservice to oneself. It also makes one extremely vulnerable in that it makes one less flexible. Flexibility, as Jonathan Lear argues in Radical Hope, should be the virtue one aims for in our society. Flexibility gives one the ability to reach beyond one’s current or past way of life and imagine something new and different. It’s the key virtue that lends itself to creativity and imagination in forms of life.

Of course, there’s advantages for your employer for you to identify with your career. If you are so invested in your career that you wholly identify with it, you make a good cog in the working machine. The problem, for you, is: what if the machine stops working or changes direction? What if you have to change careers or forms of life for some reason? When that happens, as it has been known to do, you will suffer an identity crisis. Instead of being able to knuckle down and move on with a different form of life–reaching for different thick concepts–you will be stuck in your old way of thinking while the world moves on without you.

So, do not place your identity in your career.

Will Nuclear Weapons Become Obsolete?

I just read Five Myths About Nuclear Weapons by Ward Wilson. Nuclear weapons have been on the minds of many lately. Several of my friends worry about Trump and his ability to use nuclear weapons and the breakout of a war with North Korea. So I decided to break through some of the myths surrounding nuclear weapons by reading this book. There are five major myths about nuclear weapons, which I shall discuss.

Myth One: Nuclear weapons shock and awe opponents. According to this myth, Japan surrendered due to the bombing in Hiroshima. The theory goes, in the popular imagination, that the bombing was so shocking that the Japanese simply had to surrender. However, this myth does not take into account various evidence that Japan wasn’t ready to surrender until the Soviets decided to enter the war, among other evidence.

Myth Two: The H-Bomb quantum leap. On this myth, the H-Bomb is imagined to be a thousand times bigger than than the bomb used in Hiroshima. However, this “thousand times bigger” is measured in yield–not in the measure of destruction. If one were to measure the destruction, it would be about 5.5% bigger.

Myth Three: Nuclear deterrence works in a crisis. On this myth, nuclear deterrence works, especially in a crisis. However, this does not take into account things like the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Gulf War.

Myth Four: Nuclear weapons keep us safe. On this myth, the “long peace” we have had globally is due to nuclear weapons. This myth overlooks other factors that may play a role in keeping the peace between nations, such as distraction with other issues, closer economic ties, alliances and international treaties. Finally, it misses the fact that sometimes there are simply periods of peace and have been throughout history. So, this period of peace cannot be attributed to nuclear weapons.

Myth Five: There is no alternative. On this myth, you can’t put the genie back into the bottle. Even if we do not like nuclear weapons, the theory goes, we can’t simply unmake them. This myth misses the point that there are many inventions that never catch on and/or become obsolete.

Wilson concludes that we should do more serious thinking about nuclear weapons. I agree. And since I read this book, I have done some thinking. My current view is that war, if it should continue, should become much more like a game of chess, where one strategically targets the enemy’s military–not civilian populations. Not only is it wrong to target civilians, history shows it’s ineffective. There’s no reason why civilians, then, should be fodder to militaristic games. It won’t make your enemy surrender.

My thinking is that weapons that merely produce destruction are ineffective when it comes to military strategy. Thus, nuclear weapons will prove useful only if they have strategic value. If they do not have such value, they may indeed become obsolete.

Oh, Crap. I’m a Prophet.

That was my first reaction to the spiritual gift of prophecy. Oh, crap.

It wasn’t like I asked for it. It’s just that as I encountered the Bible, things appeared to me. I had visions. I had dreams. I had revelations.

But, to make matters worse, I also have a history of living with schizophrenia. Only God would do a thing like that. I would, of course, give the power of prophecy to someone else. Someone with a strong history of, well, telling truth from reality.

People who really have the gift of prophecy will tell you that they will know what’s from God and what’s not. And you will know who’s of God and who is not by their fruits.

It’s hard for me to explain the difference, but I know what’s of God and what’s not. My revelations are nothing like what I’ve experienced with schizophrenia. Absolutely nothing like it.

My Church’s Africa Mission

I am raising money so people in my church, such as my mom, can go to Kenya, Africa on a mission trip. All the money goes to Cross Creek Community Church. If you are interested in donating, please go here.

Moral Skepticism and the Foundations of Morality

Like most of my books, my books on meta-ethics are in storage. But was very interested in meta-ethics. In fact, the first iteration of my MA thesis was on meta-ethics. I was thinking about the foundations of morality today. I can’t say I have any answers–for all the searching I’ve done.

But my thesis was originally on value pluralism.

Emotions

I have been thinking about emotions lately. Specifically, whether and what they tell us. Emotions have been given a bad rap among some, but I have come to the conclusion that they are tied to the beliefs we have.

I have said previously that I don’t experience anger. And I don’t. So I don’t know what cognitive content anger has. Most times I have seen anger, I have thought it irrational. There may be such a thing as “justified anger,” but I don’t know.

If I love you, for example, I probably have some knowledge and beliefs about you. I could be incorrect. But these are the beliefs I have. (Note: I’m not an expert on philosophy of love and friendship.)

I see, recently, many people expressing emotions. I think these emotions tell us something. They tell us about the beliefs they have and the knowledge they have.

So, while emotions may have been given a bad rap as something to be quelled if we are to be “rational,” I think emotions are intimately tied to our knowledge and beliefs. I’m open to other suggestions, but that’s where I’m at right now.

Kierkegaard

Anyone who knows me knows I was sort of obsessed with Kierkegaard as an undergraduate. And, after undergrad, I took a year off to study both Kierkegaard and skepticism. I don’t really do philosophy anymore, but Kierkegaard came to mind today.

One of his seminal works is Fear and Trembling. I’m not a Kierkegaard expert, but I do know that this book has been important to me. Others find it perplexing.

I haven’t read Fear and Trembling for several years now and my copy is in storage. But Fear and Trembling tells the story of Issac and Abraham. The book focuses on Abraham and his choice to sacrifice his son–who he loved most in the world–because of God’s command. This choice and the feelings that came with it, along with the ethical dimensions of these choices, are the focus of the book.

The title of the book probably comes from Philippians 2:12:

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Kierkegaard was the father of existentialism. And I took a whole course on existentialism as an undergrad. The reference to Philippians has always been powerful to me. I try to understand it more almost every day.

Kierkegaard was difficult to understand and interpret because he used a method of indirect communication, dedicated his books to ‘that single individual’, and had a deep and abiding, if never consummated, love for Regine.

Once upon a time, I dreamed of going to Copenhagen to study Kierkegaard more in depth.

Our Herb Garden

A while ago–maybe two years now–we and our neighbors collaborated on an herb garden at our house. It’s a nice little place to sit and relax. There’s several herbs there and a bench. Our neighbor (and us) thought it would be nice to make it a community space.

Here you can see our potted herb garden. It’s little worse for wear because of the winter, but there’s plenty of mint, basil and more.

Here’s the bench. People sometimes come and sit for a while because…

…this is the message painted in front of the garden:

I often find inspiration sitting in the herb garden. I always wanted to bring a friend there to chat, but as yet I haven’t.

On Evil

As someone who studied ethics, I was interested in, of course, good and evil. Most people think of ethics as focusing only on good, but that’s not true. The fact is, evil perplexes me. I tried to study it as much as I could. I don’t think I studied as much as some other people I know, however, because I didn’t have the same opportunities.

But I have read about evil. I have studied dark periods of history, read philosophical treatises on evil, and more.

I’m pretty lucky to have not run across too many bad people in my life. All of my friends are good people. So I don’t have knowledge of evil first hand. Thankfully.

One of my favorite books on the topic, however, is a book entitled On Evil. This book lays out a theory of evil that is pretty compelling to me.

Reclaiming ‘Spinster’

The other day, I was with a friend at a coffee shop. I told her, “I’m a spinster.”

She said, “That’s not a feminist word.”

I said flatly, “I’m reclaiming it.”

The fact is, I have never been married and I don’t know if it will happen for me. A couple of people recently proposed to me, but I said no.

All of my friends have gotten married–some also got divorced. Even someone I know who I thought was against the whole concept of marriage recently got engaged.

So, I’m a spinster, I guess. We’ll just have to see whether I stay that way.

Love and Mercy

A while back, I read Brian Wilson’s new memoir, I Am Brian Wilson. I also watched the newest film based on his life, Love and Mercy.

The film could have been better, I thought. It’s difficult to depict mental illness in film. It’s very hard to show what struggling with mental illness is like.

But it was interesting nonetheless.

Counseling is for Everyone

The other day, I was with a friend who said I inspired him/her to go to counseling. This person seems well-adjusted and doesn’t have any mental illness that we know of. But it’s my opinion that everyone should get counseling just as everyone should go to the doctor.

Mental health is often treated differently than “physical” health and so the treatments are seen differently, too. But I think everyone should go to counseling no matter who they are.

So this is a win for me. I convinced someone to go to counseling.

A Year Without Makeup

I stopped wearing makeup about a year ago now. It’s been interesting. Before, I would never leave the house without being completely made up. Now, I leave the house however I feel like. This has been such a relief.

I think when I wore makeup, I had lower self-esteem. I may look less pretty than I used to, and I may have gained some weight, but my self-esteem has improved dramatically.

I stopped wearing makeup because (1) It’s expensive and (2) Because I have sensitive skin, which was irritated by the makeup.

It’s been about a year now and I can’t imagine wearing makeup anymore. It’s so freeing to not have to wear it. I know I’m probably not the most beautiful woman in the world, but covering myself up was symbolic, I think. I think I was ashamed of myself. Now, I go “naked” and I don’t care what people think.

“Still Waters Run Deep”

I’ve always been a quiet person. Sometimes, I’ve been chastised for this from people seeking more “personality.” But I’m actually pretty comfortable with myself. Very comfortable, actually.

I’m a content person most of the time and I don’t have wild emotions. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anger. Truly. I don’t know what it’s like to feel anger.

Having studied emotion, I suppose I could estimate that those emotions are essential to the human condition. But I lack them, I guess. And I’m pretty stoic in the philosophical sense. As in, the Ancient Stoics.

I was talking about these differences with a friend today. This friend has to actively subdue wild emotions so s/he doesn’t do anything irrational. Now, I’ve done irrational things, but that’s when I’ve been psychotic. And I guess most people don’t know what it’s like to become psychotic. So we’re even.

My dad, who I’ve been thinking about a lot recently, was a perceptive person and he noted my calm and stillness from childhood. He always told me, “Still waters run deep.” And my inability to feel anger has actually helped me in many endeavors.

UPDATE: If you are interested in some of the latest philosophical work on emotion–and specifically anger–check out Martha Nussbaum’s new book.

Coffee Redux

Phew. I went and had coffee with my friend. It took a lot out of me. I’m an introvert, for one thing. For another, I’m ill.* I’m used to spending time with just a few people and other introverts. But it was nice. We already made plans to do a lot of things together.

Fortunately, my friends don’t mind me having budget issues to deal with. The friend I met with yesterday suggested many, many free or cheap things to do together. Plus, my friend says they have fun doing small things. I do, too, honestly. So, stay tuned. I’ll be posting about my adventures as they come.

 

*People with schizophrenia usually have issues with socialization and getting out. I certainly have. That’s one reason why one of my goals this year is to try to get out and socialize more.

Socialization on a Budget

I admit it. I’ve become somewhat of a hermit. This past year was rough for me in several ways and I stayed in a lot.

This year, I’ve decided one of my goals is to get out more. I’ve made several new friends and I want to do things with them. But it’s difficult on the budget I have. I know people who are much more well-off than me and I simply cannot afford to do the things they do. But I am determined to do what I can. So, today I’m having coffee with a friend I made recently. We are going some place close to me because, having no car, I can’t travel very far. But I can get to the place we arranged and I have enough to buy a coffee for myself.

I hope to enjoy a few hours with my friend and have great conversation. Here’s to 2017’s new goals.

New Year’s Day

I had a good New Year’s Eve. But on New Year’s Day, it’s time to spend time with my family. We have a tradition. Maybe you do, too. We always eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck.

Here’s hoping 2017 is full of great things for us all.

Last Shot of Abilify for the Year

This morning, I went and got my final shot of Abilify for the year. They always switch between arms. First, the left arm. Then, the right. Today, it was the right arm.

I used to not like getting shots, but I have grown accustomed to it with Abilify. And, anyway, like I told my nurse today, getting a shot is a small price to pay for keeping me healthy.

The Abilify Maintaina shot, which is what I get, can seem scary, though. The injection itself is very large and looks like it would be more of a horse shot. My nurse tells me that the Abilify shot is more effective than the pill, however. I’m glad to take it and glad it has kept me out of the hospital.

New Year, New Dress

To celebrate one year of being out of the hospital–and the new year–I got myself a new dress. It may be hard to tell the texture and shine on this dress in the video, but it’s really a pretty dress.

An End of the Year Thank You

I’ve been on the internet for several years, but have only had my own real estate for a couple of years now. I have brothers in the tech industry. They have helped me with my site.

I enjoy having a blog, and I must say that I’m surprised by how many people show up. Thank you.

Since I started my blog, I have had 19,601 unique visitors. While not many people comment, some of you have contacted me privately. I thank you for that.

The reason I bring up my internet connections is because today a friend I made online who lives in Canada sent me some calendars for the New Year. I appreciate my good connections, and have rarely had bad online experiences.

So, thank you all for showing up and coming back. It makes me happy.

Books, Books, Books

It shouldn’t have surprised my parents that I grew up to be somewhat of an academic. After all, I grew up in a household where both my parents were always reading, learning, and encouraging us kids to do the same. My dad was very bright. So is my mom.

These days, I am surrounded by books. All kinds of books. Some of them are mine, but most of them are my mom’s, as most of my books–and there are many of them–are in storage.

I woke up this morning thinking about books. I have worked on several of them, and have now written a short one of my own.

It used to be that the very best gift a person could get me was a gift card for Barnes and Noble. I just loved reading. I loved books. And I got that from my parents.

However, now that Christmas is over–and having gotten no books or gift cards for books–I have found that I’ve expanded my experiences to doing more than reading. I guess it’s all part of trying to be well-rounded.

Yellow Rose of Texas

Today, I have been thinking about my dad. He died 10 years ago; in 2006. My dad was an interesting man. One time, he wrote the story of his life for me. It was an interesting life. My dad was like a Navy Seal. But that was back before there was such a thing as Navy Seals. He had a bunch of war stories, but never really talked to me about too many of them.

My dad treated me very well. One of the few things I have from him is a coffee cup he got for me a very long time ago. I keep it with all of my special treasures. He used to call me his little, yellow rose because I have blonde hair and always have. The song “The Yellow Rose of Texas” was his song for me because I was born in Texas.

I buried my dad in Dallas-Fort Worth, giving him a full military-style funeral. I think my dad was always very proud of me.

Reflecting on 2016

For many, 2016 was a bad year. In fact, it’s become an internet meme that 2016 was so bad.

For me, at least one good thing happened: I managed to stay out of the hospital for the whole, entire year. That is a feat. I’ve been taking Abilify, and while it has some side effects, like weight gain, it has been much better to me than many of the other drugs I have tried. I managed, this year, through everything, to stay focused on my health and maintain my medical treatment.

That is the good thing, to me, about 2016. And it’s no small thing. One year out of the hospital is a milestone. So, I decided I’m going to celebrate all the way this New Year.

Of course, other good things happened. I got published in several places. I did manage to lose some weight.

Some bad things happened, too. I suffered through a break-up that I’m not completely over yet.

But, all in all, it was a good year for me.

Been Busy

I’ve been a little busy; too busy to blog to much. But I have been enjoying this great weather!

Doctor Appointments

The last few days has been filled with doctor appointments.

Yesterday, I went to my Nurse Practitioner to see how I am doing, and to refill my medications. I think I am responding well to Abilify. I get an injection once a month. The nurse told me that the shot is more effective than the pill because it maintains a more even blood level throughout the month. My Nurse Practitioner and I decided it’s best for me not to work. Our goal is to keep me out of the hospital.

This morning, I went to have several tests done for a physical. I had a breathing test, chest x ray, EKG, urine test, and blood work. It was time for my yearly physical, so I did it.

On Having Schizophrenia

I have schizophrenia. But, during my daily life, I don’t think of myself as someone with schizophrenia. I think of myself as Jennie; a person. That’s what I am first and foremost. For the longest time, I didn’t tell anyone I had schizophrenia, including some family members, and of course, people in my professional life. Especially people in my professional life.

The fact is, there’s a huge stigma associated with mental illness in general, and schizophrenia in particular. I am not in a constant state of psychosis. I have psychotic breaks every once in a while. They have been frequent enough and bad enough that I am on disability, which is hard to get. It keeps me from working full time. I can write because I can self-pace when I write. So that’s what I do.

I want everyone who comes to my website to come away with a different understanding of schizophrenia. There was a point in time that I didn’t want my mom telling anyone that I have schizophrenia. I told her to tell people I have cancer. That’s how bad the stigma is. Think of me as a person with any other illness. You wouldn’t think badly of them for being ill, would you?

I cannot help my disorder. I certainly didn’t plan it. It’s not something I’d want to have, but I have it. It keeps me from doing things I want to do. But, overall, think of me as Jennie–a person. Not as “a schizophrenic.”

Opening Soon!

I am opening a store to sell some of my work. The first thing I will be selling is a collection of poems I recorded, which I’ve posted samples of. If you are a fan of artwork, this site is for you!