Temille is homeless.
Today, we decided it would be fulfilling and fun to drive around Sacramento and find a random homeless or less fortunate person to give time and food to. We stopped by one of the only places that was open today, grabbed some food and some orange juice and started driving. We spotted this woman on the edge of the street, sitting on countless blankets and surrounded by several bags and a bike. We parked and walked over. We gave Temille the food and the juice and began our conversation with “Merry Christmas.”
This is her story..
Temille is a 42 year-old woman who has been homeless since 2012. Early 2012, she lost her job and was eventually evicted from her apartment because she just couldn’t pay for it. Since this time she traveled to Arizona and got a bit grounded, living with her sister and getting a minimum wage job, all short lived to quickly end up back in California so that she could be closer to her son. Twenty years ago she gave birth to her pride and joy and has since, invested all that she was able to into his well-being and success as an individual. Temille is working as a cashier at The Dollar Tree to give all that she can to her son as well as to eventually get on her own two feet. She proudly gave us insight into his growth and accomplishments in life. A few of those being that he is in his junior year of college, a wide receiver on the football team, and, is so close to graduating studying communications. She is undeniably proud of all the he is to her and all that he has the potential of becoming for the world.
Temille split with the father of her son not long after his birth and she says it has been a “tug of war” battle over who got to see him and when up until he was 18. She has accepted that her son is going to make his own decisions and has every right to do so, but as a mother of a 20-year-old man who isn’t able to provide much, she worries of her impact on his life as well as his choices. This Christmas day, Temille was alone on the streets of Sacramento while she happily said that her son was with ‘other family’ in the Bay area. It was his choice and she had no bitterness towards that. It was amazing.
Temille is a woman filled with wisdom and gratitude. She understands the struggle we all face in life and has been through some heavy things. Along with having to face quite a few deaths in her lifetime, 13 years ago, Temille lost her mother. Her mother was mentally ill with schysophrinia and upon discovering that, Temille forced herself to put up a wall for herself from the negativity of this world. She wouldn’t let her mind run away from her as she saw her mother do. She knew she was stronger than that. She said that once her mother died, she grieved for a while and then started to realize that her life “wasn’t about her.” Things happen and life goes on and life is about “giving to others and figuring other people out.” During the time we spent with her, a few other homeless people walked by and Temille graciously shared with them the food that she had been blessed with earlier in the day from people who were in the spirit of giving. It was amazing to see someone who knew they were not as fortunate and who could potentially not know where their next meal would come from, so freely give away their food and drinks.
Temille is a happy woman, and, we were so blessed to have met her and learned about her life by hearing some of her amazing stories. We started to walk back to the car, got in and got right back out. We knew it would be so amazing to have Temille take part in the What I Be project..
As we made our way back to her side and asked her to take part in the project, we could both tell that a light came over her and she happily, without question, said “I would love to do it.”
As I told her the entire concept of the project she readily opened up more with us about something she is struggling with. Her hatred.
Temille has clearly been through so much in life and she has started to resent those who wont give her a chance or who wont hear her out and pay attention to what she has to say and her needs. And, she doesn’t like that. She told us how she has applied for countless positions with the same company as well as several other jobs that wont look twice at her because she is homeless. It upsets her because she feels that negative feelings rise from situations like this and she worries that her mental state wont allow her to stay positive and hopeful after years of trying to stay positive when going through so many hardships. Temille has gotten to the point in her life where she feels like she is not heard. She feels like she has to resort to other actions that are not in her character so that people will understand her and what she is trying to say. The idea behind the words she wrote on her body is, “I will warn you or tell you verbally what I need you to hear, but if you dishonor me or ignore me, does this mean I have to resort to negative actions so that you will respect my spirit?”
A lot of times, we pass the homeless and less fortunate by because maybe we feel like we are better than they are, or like we have more to offer for the world, or maybe we even feel scared of them and their intentions. We don’t hear them. We don’t give them the time of day and truth is, Temille has so much to offer! She filled us up with positivity and gratitude. We listened to her and gave her our time as she did the same for us. Temille is worried of hatred growing inside her for those who don’t make time for others. Truth is, we all are in this thing called life together and we are all connected. We are all brothers and sisters and we have to start remembering that upon every encounter we have with another human spirit.
Another thing we were reminded of is how great is feels to feel thankful. Temille is without a home, and without family, but, on this Christmas day, she was not without love. One could feel her gratitude just by being in her presence, not only because she was verbally affirming that, but, because it was shinning through her beautiful eyes.
Take time. Take time for those less fortunate. Take time for those that you love. Take time and give love. It feels so good and it will fill you up.
Temille’s phrase is “I am not my hatred”