My Time on the Streets

I was homeless and living on the streets of San Diego . . . by choice. To research my new novel, The Homeless Hero I decided to leave the comfort of my beach house to live on the beach. With only a pack on my back and forty bucks in my pocket I set out to experience what life would be like if I lost everything—much like the main character in my new novel. It was horrifying. I lasted less than a week, but what I learned will last a lifetime. I want to share some of the surprising lessons that changed me forever and how these insights can help you, too. 
Burn The Ships
The story goes that Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortez wanted total commitment from his soldiers as they went into battle on the shores of the Yucatan, so he burned the ships they arrived on so there was no choice, it was win or die. The mentality of many of the people I met on the streets was there was no other option, they had to work hard to survive. That meant doing what needed to be done no matter how distasteful or demanding it was. Many of us believe we work couldn’t possibly work any harder and that we are doing all we can, but I bet we could be doing even more if we had no choice—if our lives (and those of our families) were on the line. How can we create a “burn the boats” sense of urgency, purpose, and commitment towards what we want to achieve? Imagine what we could accomplish if our backs were really against the wall? Would you want to go up against someone who refused to fail because there was no other option? By the way, against all odds (and a much larger Army) Cortez led his men to victory.
Lighten The Load
In my new novel I wrote that one of my characters (“Shaggy”) liked to wear several layers of clothing because his body was also his closet. (Many homeless women dress down and wear big and baggy clothes to deter men’s advances, but I digress.) My main character was forced to downsize his life after a divorce left him with an old VW van and little else. What if we were forced to only take the things we absolutely needed to survive, how much stuff would we leave behind? A lot. If we were to simplify our lives to just the items that we use every day and need to survive, the things that makes us feel good and bring us joy, and the tools we need for work and to earn a living, wouldn’t we be able to be more focused, organized, and free? We spend a lot of time and money on things we don’t really need and then have to spend more time and money to store and maintain them. Most homeless people are down to just the bare necessities (or less) which is not the goal for us, but we could sell off some things that no longer serve our needs and use the money to do something more meaningful.  
Simple Pleasures
When I was down to my last couple of dollars I bought a breakfast burrito and a cup of coffee from McDonald’s and it was glorious. I savored every sip and every bite. When I was flush with cash (I probably wouldn’t be eating fast food) I would have just wolfed down the burrito and complained about the awful coffee. When we have it all we take a lot for granted. When I forced myself to go with next to nothing I always knew I would be able to go back to my life of luxury in a few days. Still, I found it difficult to sleep at night (I slept under a dinghy on the beach but the sand was freezing and things kept crawling all over me.) Finding a civilized place to go to the bathroom was always a challenge. I also never had enough clean water to drink. Still, when I found a full newspaper to read, a hot cup of coffee to sip, or a clean bathroom to use, I was thrilled beyond belief. I know this will sound so cliche’, but we should try to be more thankful for what we have and learn to appreciate and savor the simple things in life that bring us joy.
There are 18 other lessons just like these in a 25-page report I completed just after my experience on the streets. I will gladly e-mail you a free copy of “Homeless”. Use the link below and I’ll send the free report via e-mail.
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My Time on the Streets

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