Subscribe to Blog

Thursday, June 22, 2017

#MakeupMonday: Lolo's Summer Loves

Hey Team Good Girl. This is a long overdue #MakeupMonday. If you’re a follower of this blog you know I’ve been busy surviving. Thankfully, shelter is no longer an issue, and I'm working again. Interestingly enough even in my homelessness I always liked to look put together. Every morning when I was living in a shelter I’d get up 30 minutes early to apply some foundation and eyeliner. Even though I had no real place of my own, and several nights the places we stayed did not have showers, putting on makeup made me feel good. That is indeed the power of makeup. I’m on a tight budget so I don’t get to splurge on makeup as much as I would like, but I’ve found some inexpensive staples that are helping me get by this summer.

Foundation: Maybeline Fit Line: A great Mac Studio Fix Dupe ! I am a MAC Cosmetics girl through and through. I love thick, heavy foundation. MAC Studio Fix is my go to foundation summer, winter, fall, and spring. But, at $30 a pop I can’t really afford it right now. I searched the internet for MAC dupes or foundations that are comparable and I have fallen in love with Maybeline Fit Me. It has a smooth, dewy finish, blends great, has an SPF, and has darker shades specifically formulated for women of darker shades. Ulta sells this for $7.99.

Tarte Eyeshadow Palettes - Even as a bargain makeup shopper there are a few things I like to splurge for when I can. I recently had a few extra bucks and I sprung for a new eye Tarte Cosmetics eye palette. I was looking for something with neutral tones to wear everyday, and stumbled upon this beautiful palette called ‘Don’t Quit You Daydream’. This eye palette is everything. This palette comes with seven eye shadows and a highlighter. They colors are amazing and great for everyday wear. I have fallen in love with Tarte because they are environmentally conscience.These eye shadows are made from Amazonian clay. Another bonus, when you buy a Tarte palette it comes with a demo card that shows you how to do one or two looks with the palette. It is currently sold at Ulta and on Tarte.com for $29. This is my third Tarte palette and I fall more in love with this line every time I buy one. The shadows last a long time, and usually come with both matte and shimmery shades. Totally worth the investment.



Tone Baby Tone! Why oh why didn’t anyone tell me the benefits of user toner in your beauty
regimen back in the day? The lovely ladies at Ulta have told me that toners hydrate your face and helps better set your makeup so now it’s a staple in a beauty regimen. My favorite is by Mario Badescue. This toner has rose water, aloe, and herbs. It smells so good I’ve been known to use it on my body on a hot day, and my hair. The 4 oz bottle is just $7 a bottle. This hydrating mists smell sooooo good, and does the trick. I put it on before I moisturize and after makeup to help set it. I highly recommend.

If you all have any drug store brands that are amazing or find a good dupe please email me I’d love to hear about it. I can be reached at teamgoodgirl84@gmail.com I have a friend who works for ArBonne Comestics so I may be doing a blog on that soon.


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Why Nice Guys Are Finishing Last in Love


There are a lot of reasons why nice guys finish last. I know because I am a nice girl, a goody two shoes if you will. It wasn’t until I learned my worth and started to love myself that I really starting winning in love and life.
 
I’ve been a self proclaimed good girl my entire life which makes me a magnet for self-deprecating nice guys. Don’t get me wrong, nice guys are amazing. I’ve dated some douche bag playboys and nice guys are refreshing. But, honestly most of the men I’ve dated and given my heart to weren’t your typical nice guys. One was a bad boy from the Bronx, another a suave bald headed man who took my breathe away at first glance, an over confident technology geek, and a sometimes arrogant Navy Corpsman. All of these men exhibit something some “nice guys” seems to be lacking: confidence.

I have had so many nice guys cry on my shoulder about always being friendzoned, never being good enough, and women only wanting pretty boys. I’m here to tell you--- we don’t need muscles, games, good looks, or roses--- but almost all of us want a confident man.
 
Some reasons I think “Nice Guys” are losing in LOVE
 
1.They can’t let go of the past hurt, rejection or loss: I recently met a “nice guy” during a really rough patch in my life. He was kind, and generous when I needed it most. He literally offered me shelter, food, and a kind ear. He showered me with compliments, and seemed instantly enamored. We inevidently got to talk about about love, and how he often felt passed over. He seemed slightly bitter about the women who loved and left, and broke his heart. As kind as he was his bitterness made me friendzone instantly. Even though I was in a vulnerable state his bitterness was a turn off. It made me defensive and wary of opening my heart up to him.

When you speak to a woman about your past particularly in the early stages of a relationship how you talk about it and whether you've made peace with your past speaks volumes. No one wants a 'Bitter Betty'. We want to hear if the experiences made you bitter or better. If you are still bad mouthing your baby mama, or harping over women who have hurt you, it makes us want to run for the hills. It says to us you are still dealing with some residual hurt, and many times that scares us rom giving you a chance.
 
One of my best friend male friends is one the nicest men you would ever want to meet. As much as I love him I often hear him recalling love from more than a decade ago, regretful, and sad. Sometimes I want to shake him and say, "Dude let that shit go! It's in the past." He always seems so fragile and delicate about it I never have the nerve to tell him, his past is keeping him from his future.


 No offense nice guys, but how is anyone going to love you if you’re holding onto hurt, failed relationships, and anger from the past? When women hear these things they are HUGE red flags. They tell us that you are not emotionally ready to give you heart to someone. I don’t believe there is space in your heart for anger, bitterness, and love too. It isn’t until we let go of the past that we open doors for the future.
 
2. Find Your Own Swag ! What is the sexiest thing about a person? While physical attributes are important, the most attractive thing a person can wear is confidence. There is nothing that drives me more crazy than a confident man with swagger. A man who knows his value, what he wants his life, and knows what he has to offer is the shit. Every man I’ve said, “I love you,” to had this trait. They were all confident in who they were. Confidence is electric. People want to be around confidence.

My first adult relationship with was with a computer tech at the community college I attended. At first glance he was not my type physically. Every time I came to the computer lab, he’d greet me with “Hello beautiful, so when are you going to let me take you out?” I’d usually roll my eyes, get my computer pass from him and find a cubicle far away. One night I let him walk me to my car, and he charmed his way to a first date. He told me with confidence I wouldn’t regret the date him and if I gave him a chance he’d make me feel like the most special girl in the world. I rolled my eyes.
 
Jay walked around like he owned the joint wherever he went. He walked with his head up, complimented himself, and always believed that anything was within his reach. After a while, I saw what he saw in himself; a strong, confident, sexy man with drive. GOD I love confident men. I was wildly attracted to him when I saw what he was seeing. Not to mention he did exactly as he said, every date with him I felt like the most beautiful, special girl in the world. He was never afraid to hold my hand, kiss me in public, and remind me of my beauty makeup or not.
 
3. Fear of Rejection: Fear holds so many nice guys back.  Asking someone out can be scary. Trust me I’ve done it. You are a bottle of nerves. Will they say, yes? Do they like me? Sometimes we place our self worth on whether a person accepts a date or not. If that person says no, you think to yourself it must say something about you. You are not attractive enough. You are not cool enough. Those thoughts tear you down, and it prevents so many nice guys from going for it. Love and dating is all about risks, but I encourage you to not to put too much stock in rejection. Don’t let that be a reflection of who are you. I’ve been friendzoned A LOT, but it never makes me stop trying to find love. Love is all about chances… but you can’t be too afraid to try. You miss every shot you don't take.
 
4. Know Your Worth - When you know who you are, what you have to offer, and why that is valuable pursuing love is amazing. I recently read Jennifer Lopez’ memoir ‘True Love’. In it Jlo chronicles the year she did her first world tour, and her divorce from Marc Anthony. Turns out Jlo discovered that through all her relationships she was seeking love and validation from the men she dated rather than herself. In the end she realizes the truest love of all is the love we have for ourselves. PREACH SISTA! I know exactly how she feels. After my last breakup, I was so empty. I was constantly seeking affection and love in all the wrong places and all the wrong ways. It wasn’t until I connected with Christ again, and starting falling in love with me that I learned that the love I have to give is amazing. It is making me more careful about who I share my heart with and fierceless in life and love.

I am a child of the most high God, beautiful, favored, smart, funny, charming, a go-getter, a lover of Christ, a passionate friend. And when God says the time is right I’m going to be an amazing partner. Because I am finding my worth, I can see all around me people are seeing it too. Men are asking me out ( quality men too) , opportunities are coming my way, and the joy I feel is incredible. I want that for all my nice guys too.


 Ask yourself --- who are you? AND do you love who you see in the mirror? If you can't answer those questions, dating needs to take a back seat. Do some soul searching, prayer, reflection, and love who you are before attempting to love someone else. 

I challenge you NICE GUYS - if you are hurting from the past-- deal with it, move on, and let go. The liberation will allow you to welcome love into your life. I challenge you NICE guys to LOVE YOU FIRST. You can’t love anyone else to you LOVE YOU! It is so true.
 

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Death of A High School Reunion

Colored lights, paper lanterns, a dim high school gymnasium, 90’s boy bands lyrics are blasting from the speakers; this is how I envisioned my ten year high school reunion. There’s a long table of appetizers, mixed drinks, and desserts I shouldn’t eat but I do anyway. I am looking fabulous in a tight, fitted dress, my hair is smooth and luxurious. My old high school crushes are staring at me and secretly kicking themselves for not giving me a chance in high school. This very cliche image is what I had hoped for, for the better part of my twenties. I wanted that night of self made redemption. NO, I needed it. High school was rough and I battled so many inner demons I wanted this moment to shine in front of my enemies, my naysayers, and frenemies. Petty?  Heck yea it is. But you’re kidding yourself if you’re saying you didn’t want that moment of validation too. I wanted that night as much for myself as I did for everyone else who ever felt they didn’t get their due justice in high school. With that in mind, I decided to plan my high school’s 15 year reunion. The attempt would lead me back down the long locker lined hallways of Tallwood High School, down the band hall, deep into old memories of my puberty, and back to face a grim reality that very few people romanticized their high school experience as I had.

My campaign to host our 15 year reunion started with so much hope in January 2016. Fresh out of the worse depressive episode of my life, I needed desperately to have some purpose, something to strive for. The class of 2002’ had a very ill-fated 10 year reunion that I’m told consisted of beach volleyball, a grill, and a few people kicking it on a hot summer day. Not exactly the picture anyone envisions when they think of a high school reunion. I figured my years of experience sales experience could help me raise funds for the effort and I could use what little television contacts I had left to find a good venue, entertainment, and food.  I recruited the help of two former marching bands buddies, and we began a very stressful, failed attempt to bring the ‘Class of 2002’ together for a night of memories.

One of my band mates had the brilliant idea of throwing a ‘Second Chance Prom’. While some kids had glamourous, amazing, lush proms nights. I recall a very awkward lonely night with my then hated boyfriend. Turns out a lot of people had crappy prom nights, and we decided to give them the prom they always wanted. It would give us adults a reason to get dolled up, drink, party, maybe hook up with an old flame, and dance the night away. There would be no superficial need to be coupled, no showmanship just some adults who partying who once shared the same high school.

My bandmates suggested we sell t-shirts, and souvenirs to raise money for the effort. My type A personality went into overdrive calling the principal, scouting venues, coordinating a website, and logistics. The thought of bringing all my old classmates together breathed new energy into me. But, the hope for a ‘Class of 2002’ Tallwood High School Reunion wouldn’t live long. It died a slow, painful death and faded into an oblivion probably never to be heard from again. With it took a friendship I once held dear, a good chunk of my new found confidence, and the positive reflection I once had of my high school years.

The first stake in the high school reunion came from good old Facebook. The more I asked people about their desire to come to the high school reunion they all responded the same way, “Who needs a reunion when you have Facebook? I keep in contact with the people important to me, everyone else can go fuck themselves.” That was an actual quote from one of my high school classmates. So many people told me they didn’t want to relive those 4 years, the painful memories of bullies, bad boyfriends, mean girls, and bouts with their self-esteem. Facebook allows us the moment of validation and ego boosting with its pictures, filters, and cool status updates. Now you don’t need to lose 15 pounds to fit into a slim dress reunion night. A good post on Facebook followed by 100 likes from old classmates is enough nowadays. If you wanted to reach out to the hot cheerleader, or the love that got away, well that’s what DMs (direct messages) are for these days. You could see if karma finally served your high school bully with a simply search for their profile. Sometimes the best revenge now comes from a single relationship status, bad profile pic, or low friend count.

The second blow to the ill-fated Tallwood High School 2002 Reunion was due rising tension amongst the organizers. The old saying goes about having too many cooks in the kitchen is true. With no clear leader of the reunion and 3 strong personalities at the helm the reunion started losing hope, motivation, and desire to see it completed. Once those things are gone, it’s doesn’t take long for an event to fail. Before long the tension of fundraising, decision making, and planning got the best of all of us. I take some responsibility for this as well. I had super high expectations for the reunion so I put a lot of pressure on my bandmates to deliver and that drive left lasting cracks in our relationships. The Tallwood High School 2002 reunion died in less than a month.

The bedazzled night of glitz, glamour, and memories I had so desperately wanted for all my former classmates is just a dream now. The age of social media has made it so we no longer need to physically gather and reminiscent. I’m sorry I failed you Tallwood High. I really am. I wanted us to have that magical night together.

Anyways, thank you for the memories. High school for me wasn’t all bad, and I have some amazing memories with many of you; they made me who I am today.

Love You, Love God More

Lauren Hope


Lauren Hope
Owner, Good Girl Chronicles
T:LaurenHope84

Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Ray of Hope: Surviving Suicide and Living with Depression (VIDEO ADDED)


Thank you for visiting this blog. I share stories of love, overcoming depression, and surviving suicide. Living recovery is not easy but telling story helps me release so much pain. I hope in reading my blog you find joy, laughter, insight, and inspiration that your LIFE MATTERS and it is worth fighting for. Below is a speech I gave at a Suicide Prevention Conference in Portsmouth. As a mental health advocate and motivational speaker I share my story of depression to show people there is hope at the end of the darkness, and I hope to be a ray of light for those seeking a way out.


A Ray of Hope: Surviving Suicide, Living with Depression

Good morning! I want to thank you all for giving me this opportunity. Sharing is a big part of my healing and I hope part of breaking the stigma associated with talking about mental health.

Ok - CONFESSION TIME! I’ve been super terrified of speaking in front of you all. I was told a big part of the audience would be mental health professionals. AND I’m like geez what the heck do I have to tell licensed, schooled people on suicide prevention that they haven’t already heard.Typical anxious kicked in and on my fifth rewrite I decided to speak to you from the heart on what it feels being a survivor of suicide, how depression nearly destroyed my life--- and lead me to a year of homelessness and abandonment.

My first suicide attempt was 3 years ago. It was on a May day in 2014 just a few days shy of Memorial Day weekend. Anxiety was reeking havoc on my brain. I was constantly tired, I lost my appetite, I felt I could do nothing right, and I was constantly researching ways to perform a painless suicide where I could fall asleep and escape the feelings of loneliness, despair, failure, and self doubt.

On the outside -- no one would have known I was depressed or suicidal. I was an upcoming reporter at WAVY News 10, 130 pounds, a runner, a girlfriend, a beloved first child and a homeowner. By most people’s standards I had nothing to be depressed about. Well many of you know that sometimes depression doesn’t always make sense -- especially when you have a clinical depression such as mine.

So -- I swallowed 29 pills, laid on my carpet and waited to fade to black-----drift from this world--- and feel no more pain.

As I laid there on my bedroom floor, I thought of my funeral, and all the people that would be there….I wondered if the news would cover my story with the headline WAVY reporter dies in apparent suicide or would they even care…. I imagined a beautiful pink dress I’d want to be wearing in my casket…. And I imagined all the people who would wonder if there more they could have to save me if they only noticed.  THEN I thought of my Down Syndrome sister Sara…. A twenty something woman who would never understand why her sister was cold and lifeless lying in a casket… The thought of the confusion and pain it would cause her prompted me to reach for the phone and call for help.

After that I went to the hospital where I was deemed severely depressed and suicidal. I spent five days at the Virginia Beach Psychiatric Center. I took every medication, went to every group meeting, and said the right things patients told me would get me released. Truth was I didn’t feel any better in the Psych Ward-- I lost 10 pounds, found some comfort in group sessions--- but the emptiness, the anxiety I felt did not go away.  A month later -- still wrestling with the same suicidal and depressed feelings I resigned from WAVY News 10.

Then like Alice in Wonderland I fell into a deep dark pit---- but when I landed it was not Wonderland it was mental hell, a battlefield in my mind.

My licensed practitioner put me on so many meds to balance my mood: Prozac, Ambien, Brintellex, Reluxit, Zoloft - then Viibyrd.

I worked a retail job where television viewers shook their heads at my demise. Some weekends I locked my myself in my room with no food or water...just hoping to sleep into oblivion… I hated who I had become so I tried to destroy what was left of me--- I ate and filled out my small runner frame by 100 pounds. I pulled my hair out. Peeled scabs on my face til they were bloody and raw. And I stopped talking to every friend, coworker, or family member. I wanted no one to see my perceived downfall.

The turning point in my depression came me night in December 2015, I was up binge eating and watching television--- the only thing that brought me joy those days. I was living at my parent’s house at the time because I could no longer pay my mortgage. AND --- I was watching an episode of A&E’s Biography ---- and the subject was Patrick Dempsey AKA Doctor McDreamy. Then that same still voice that saved me a year ago said, “Turn off the television.”

I sat up and looked around checking to see if one of my family members came into the living room. Then I heard it again - “Turn off the television” Goodness I thought these meds are making me hear things now. I was on my new anti-depressant for 2 months so I thought I was in the clear for side effects. But as a woman of faith I recalled people who experienced God speaking to them…. So I responded in prayer.

“Lord, I am so tired. I have ruined so much in my life. Take me tonight, please just let me die in my sleep,” I replied.

The voice replied, “ It’s is time for you to get up. For more than a year I have carried you, protected you and shielded you. Now it is time for you to get up.”

“But God I can’t. I am a failure. I left my job, my boyfriend broke up with me, I am now financially at poverty level, I am fat. No one loves me. I have no friends. I hate going out of the house now. I’d rather die than live this life.”

“Lauren, I love you far more than any man ever will. I never promised you life would be easy or without strife, but I did promise you I’d help you endure it,” He replied.
"I need you to get up and tell your story so the world may know God can love this children back to life."

That night I cried for every loss I endured during my depression, ever man that ever loved and left. With my renewed faith and therapy -- the fog known as depression slowly began to lift… but recovery was not be easy.

I struggled to reconnect with friends who I had not spoken to for over a year. I found roadblocks applying for jobs when I told employers I left the television business because of my depression. People were afraid to hire someone with a history of mental illness after the deadly shooting at WDBJ7, where a former employee shot and killed 2 of his coworkers on live television. He had documented mental health issues prior to his hiring. I feel my honesty about my depression on my blog has cost me a number of t.v. jobs.

My parents kicked me out of their home where I was staying 5 months into my recovery. They were exhausted and tired of caring for me. I left with no money, no place to go --- and no one to rely on. For nearly a year I slept in my car, under a desk at an office I was renting, then hotels, I took offers from strangers to stay with them-- and lastly I stayed in a shelter. It is by the Grace of God I was not raped, hurt, or worse.

Even through all of that I stand before you a SURVIVOR. A survivor of suicide, homelessness, brokenness, depression, abandonment, and heartache.

I attribute my SURVIVAL to God, friends who reached out to help. People have donated over 4,000 dollars to my GoFundme Page in the past year. Their generosity fed me on lonely nights, clothed me, and sustained me. My anti-depressants and therapy helped but the turning point didn’t come until I felt I had something to live for. And it’s God’s love and grace that showed me my life has value.

Now God has turned my pain into purpose. I am on a mission to educate people about mental illness, encourage them to seek help, show them there is no shame, and inspire them that they can not only live but thrive with mental illness.

My experience with depression and suicide has opened my eyes however to how much work we still have to in the world of mental health. As a homeless woman I met many people wandering the street, sleeping under bridges, and worse because families didn’t want to deal with their mental illness and kicked them out. I know how long the waiting list is to see a therapist at the CSB, and the paperwork and red tape that often prevents a lot of people from getting help.

I’ve seen overworked staff in Psych wards more concerned with paperwork and not losing their jobs than actually helping patients, over medicating and not counseling.

So I encourage you to look within yourself as a mental health professional, family member, friend, counselor and to be fighters against the stigma of mental illness, champions of hope in recovery, and interveners when people are suicidal .

Even if you are not liscensed or have a doctorate there is so much you can do to prevent suicide and encourage good mental health. When you see something, say something. If a loved one or friend is showing signs of withdrawal, suicidal ideation or depression----step in.

The more we listen, the more we speak, the more we learn---- the greater we are in preventing suicide -- and promoting healthy mental health.

Let’s make it so there are no more DEJAH JONES--- a 14 year old Newport News teen who took her life last year --- after intensely bullied. You may have seen her story on the news. I was almost a Dejah Jones—that is why I want you to know my story of surviving suicide, but also to the story of people who don’t……..And all I ask of you is to be BRAVE enough to speak up about your pain, your depression, your mental illness, your darkness-----  and for those who don’t know this struggle BE BRAVE ENOUGH TO HELP ---- because that is how we save lives.

I am Lauren Hope of Good Girl Chronicles
I Love You, Love God More
Thank you for your time.


Below is a video clip that captures the mission statement of my business Good Girl Chronicles LLC - to help people tell their own stories--- and set themselves free.



Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Face of Homelessness: Part 3 "Homeless Shoes"



The say goes, "You want to know a man's life, walk a mile in his shoes." It's a quote about empathy and understanding. It couldn't ring more true in my life right now. I could never in a million years understand the life of a homeless person. Most of my life I never thought I would have to. My parents made me volunteer in nursing homes, ride through the ghetto, and give back, I thought I understood. I never I'd give a first hand view of what it means to be homeless.



I grew up a spoiled Navy Brat my parents will say, given everything my heart desired. I finished high school, went to college, even did the unimaginable and became a television reporter. I dated hot men, wore name brand clothes, ate in fancy restaurants, and I volunteered when I had the time. In my eyes, homelessness would not be apart of the Good Girl Chronicles story ever. But it is. May 23, 2017 will mark a year of homelessness. In this most revealing, difficult, and raw blog series I'll share with you some of what I've had to endure this year. It is heart breaking, sad, inspiring, and I hope life- changing to anyone who doesn't think things are going to ever get better. While my journey in these shoes is not over, I will tell you like Job, God has given me the strength to endure it.


"Homeless Shoes"


Fast cars whiz past me. Occasionally, I'll hear a car horn honk and a man yells t me. I am not amused. I keep walking. The heels of my feet are sore and throbbing. Some days I can barely walk two blocks without stopping. I've got to get a doctor soon. My purse is on one shoulder, the luggage bag on the other is applying pressure to my already tender shoulders. Beads of sweat are forming on my forehead, back, and under arms. I am tired, but there is no where to rest. No money for coffee, no car to drive so I keep walking.
 

Some days these walks are under a blistering sun. Some days they are in the cold wind, pelting rain with puddles under my feet. I keep walking. I have a tender, young face so some days when I'm in the nice part of Chesapeake I'll go to a local bookstore and blend in. People never feel threatened by me when I'm in the corner sipping on a coffee with my bags tucked beneath my chair. The days when I'm in South Norfolk (a crime ridden, drug infested part of Chesapeake) where homelessness is more apparent there are few places to blend in. Each store front says 30 minute sitting time, no loitering, no bathing in the bathrooms. I have nowhere to go but to walk. Before this life, I never knew how hard it is to find shelter during the day for homeless people. How hunger pangs feel with no money or how low your self esteem is when people gawk at you with your life on your back. One day myself and some others homeless people were rudely told to leave a McDonald's even though I always buy something when I come in. We're shuffled out like herd and yelled at.

 
The treatment in restaurants at times can be humiliating. Business owners yell, scream, and subject you to all kind of names when all I want is a place to rest my feet, a place away from the men whistling at me outside. 

I understand that a lot of these establishments feel homeless people lounging in their dining areas makes customers uncomfortable. I've seen some homeless people beg, some come in drunk, or worse. It's a tough situation for both parties, but I've never felt so inferior in my life.

 
One morning, I walked up to the McDonald's counter to get a coffee and plan my next move. The moment I approached the counter with my luggage and purse in hand, the cashier rolled her eyes.
 
"What do you want?" she barked. I sheepishly ask for a hot chocolate, and pay with my debit card. When's she done making the drink she hands it to me, and rolls her eyes. 

"You won't get to drink that long? That's the mean manager," a man says to me. I think of the days in my former life when I could sit in a Starbucks for hours sipping a dark roast, reading, and writing. No one said a word about how long I stayed or what was in my bag. Those were the days I wasn't a homeless woman. Now it seems I'm not worthy of respect in a business establishment or kindness to let me rest my feet. Just as the man said, the manager came over and herded us out. It is 7:00 a.m. where am I going to go.

I gulp down my hot chocolate as fast as I can, and head out the door with the others. Homelessness is a problem almost every city in Hampton Roads has, but few address publicly. An old library in South Norfolk that once offered shelter to people during the day is rumored to be closing next year for a police station. Church members would open the old library on days when the weather is below 32 degrees in the winter. During that time, homeless people can come in and have lunch, watch a movie, and stay out of trouble. I've rested my head a few afternoons there, and while I don't want to spend another winter homeless I'm sad the old library won't be there.

 I've been thinking about what I'll do if I'm ever out of this homelessness. This experience has been so impactful, I'm not sure what I will do, but I have to do something.


Where Am I Gonna Sleep Tonight?

There are a lot of tough things about being homeless, the thing that worries me most nights is my sleeping arrangements. I'm fortunate in that I haven't experienced street homelessness yet. I have never had to sleep behind a library, under a bridge, in a box, a shed, or an abandoned house. I've met a lot of people who have to live that type of homelessness, and the hardness of it sticks to them. You can see it on their dust and dirt speckled faces. It lingers in their body odor from weeks without a shower. Street homelessness even seems to age you faster. I've met women in their 50's who are wearing an added 20 years on their skin and eyes. Street homelessness opens you up to so many dangers; sexual assault, drugs, violence, arrest. I am thankful that is not a walk I've had to endure.

For the first few weeks of my homelessness I couch surfed from friend to friend. Every time things got awkward or uncomfortable or if they had to give me the boot it almost always changed our relationships. I was bitter because I had no money and no place to go. They were exhausted from caring for someone with so little to give in return. In the beginning, I slept under an office desk where I was renting space. I took baths in the sinks before the other professionals arrived, and put on a brave face during office hours. When that ran out I met men on Tinder who gave me a place to crash, shower, and collect my thoughts. They almost always wanted something from me. After a while I felt cheap and used.

I sold my amazing, lush condo in Chesapeake to prevent foreclosure. My parents did all they could during that time to have me put away ( a painful experience I'm not yet ready to face let alone write about). For most of the winter I couch surfed, rented hotels with donations from friends, slept in my car when I had it, and just prayed there was some end in sight. When I ran out of friends to call and couches to stay on, I had a revelation. YOU ARE HOMELESS AND THERE IS NO END IN SIGHT.

The realization hit like a ton of bricks in a Chesapeake Community Services office this past January. In order to pay off a traffic violation I got, I had to complete community service. With no car or money, I was in the community service office to beg for an extension on my deadline. A lovely woman named Kim, came back in the office as I sat there swallowing my reality.

"Here's that coffee you asked for honey. Now let's see if we can get you an extension," she said. Her kindness was more than I could bare. I raised the warm coffee cup to my lips and felt hot tears streaming down my face.

"What? Are you crying? Why," she asked.

"I'm homeless and......." I could barely talk. "This is the nicest anyone has been to me all day."

For almost a half hour Kim sat with me, making phone calls, reaching out to her contacts, and encouraging me. Being homeless can make you feel so alone, so when someone even tries for a moment to empathize it is comforting. In the matter of an hour, Kim was able to help me get an extension, and she lead me to an emergency shelter where I found a warm place to land.

to be continued...........

In time I'll be sharing my painful year in recovery and in homeless in my first memoir. There will be more raw, personal stories, and hopeful some healing for me. If you'd like to support me, my memoir, or just feel lead to give, I have a GOFUNDME PAGE CALLED WWW.GOFUNDME.COM/TEAMGOODGIRL.

I feel lead to share my story for so many reasons......my own healing and release.... and hopefully yours too.

LOVE YOU, LOVE GOD MORE
LAUREN HOPE AKA LOLO