Times-Independent Guest Commentary
Hope and joy amidst adversity...
by Janis Adkins
Aug 16, 2012 | 894 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dear sweet Moab:

A whole lot of gratitude going out to you all. Learning to receive has been one of my many new challenges. And maybe the hardest for me was letting go of the idea that I am unworthy of your generosity. Yes, I felt this way much of my life, but a new me is emerging from this cocoon of my van. I am learning to just bow with gratitude in my very open heart and say “Thank You.” I cry all the time now. I cry with gratitude and love of the healing taking place, of the kindness coming my way. Also I feel so much joy. Joy, because I feel so much love coming at me. And this I so much appreciate. Thank you from every cell of my body.

I wrote emails keeping the sadness out, keeping up a cheery veneer, out of the fear that you may have heard what was really happening. One: I did not want to put you all through the agony of what was really happening. Two: I also needed to keep positive words going through my head. I was not denying what was happening; it was all too easy to go down into the spiral of no return. I wasn’t willing to do that. Three: I could not handle any more personal advice. I understand you all had wonderful intentions but I was just maxed out/overwhelmed on that level. The spiral into the gutter was a daily battle staying away from the story in my mind that, “you’re no good” or “you are not worthy” and of course, “you screwed up”... Bla, bla, bla.

My dear friend gave me the story of the ox herder, which was one of my salvations. This story kept me in the present and did not allow me to wallow. Yes, I had moments of wallowing, but not nearly as much had I not had this story. The story is of an ox herder trying to control where the ox will go. (The herder is me trying to control how things would turn out, and that control would have been my end.) In the end, the ox bucks the rider and the rider then lands backwards on the ox’s back. The ox always knew he wanted to go home. I, the herder, just needed to stay out of the way. I may not have known where I was going but my ox always did.

In many ways Santa Barbara has served me beautifully. I felt safe here, it’s a place to heal, and a place I know. Yes, this journey has been epically difficult and downright scary. But in lots of ways it’s just so gorgeous, beautifully transformative. My van became my cocoon. I turned to soup, sought change and now I feel wings forming. I do not know if I have broken free from this cocoon, but I am very close.

I have a full-time job now. The pay is awful, and the job is not great, but I love the flowers, and I love some of the employees. I will wait with patience for my ox to stop, and my wings to ready themselves to fly.

Please know that I am very well. I am happy, I am at peace, and I am content again. Yes, I am still in the van, but I am actively looking for a place to live, thanks to you all.

I am now helping with a program that aims to empower houseless individuals and help them meet their employment goals. I also am working on getting more media interviews, to keep telling my story. This is no longer only about me. It is the gigantic picture of so many of us affected by this economic crisis.

Heartfelt hugs and kisses from my very old loving dog Jojo and myself.

So wish me luck and thanks again.

Janis Adkins lived in Moab for many years, until December 2010 when the nationwide economic recession forced her to sell her business, High Desert Gardens, or face foreclosure. She returned to her hometown of Santa Barbara, Calif., where she has had to live in her van while searching for employment and housing. She was the subject of a recent article in “Rolling Stone” magazine about middle class Americans who are now living out of their vehicles after losing their jobs during the recession. Moab friends and acquaintances who read that article launched a fundraising effort and sent money to help Adkins move from her vehicle into a rental home. A follow-up story about Adkins will appear in next week’s edition of The Times-Independent.

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