An Essay I wrote for a possible massage school grant. I was homeless at the time and was turned down because of that.
Good morning, Jill! – I know that we spoke on the telephone twice, now, and I just want to say how much I appreciate this opportunity, and even though you’re a busy girl…you’re gonna transform this world by doing what you do. Way to go!
Ok…on to the essay –
This essay is designed to answer the four requirements which I was instructed to follow over the phone. – It’s bare bones for those who need to get the information quickly. Actually, it’s fairly long – so I’ve broken it down into the four elements, outline style, first.
1) Why I need the Full Scholarship to the Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy
I’m homeless, living on the streets, in the cold, being chased by police for trying to sleep and my health was severely affected right after my mother passed about one year ago.
I don’t have the funds to pay for this scholarship and the money that I was going to use to pay back the loan that I took out for my previous massage school is in default. I car broke down, and then started getting ticketed mercilessly no matter where I tried to move it to, in the city of Norristown, Pennsylvania. In the process of trying to protect my car and get it fixed, I called a tow truck and had it put on a lot. Living on the streets, I somehow lost the information for that tow-truck company and therefore, also lost the massage table and books which were locked away in the trunk of that car. That car had been bought with a thousand dollar gift from my dad and his girlfriend. I have still not been able to pay him back and I intend to, as well as all the other monetary gifts they have given me throughout my time on the streets.
I intend to pay back people who I borrowed money from, a few years back when I was asking for money on Pearl street. I have their names, numbers, email addresses and the amounts that they donated, written down in the back of the journal which I’m currently typing into my lap-top – another gift from my father (the lap-top).
I want to be self-sufficient. I have a lot of people counting on me to get my act together, and when I do, and ONLY when I do, will I be able to pursue all those other dreams of mine, which involve life-coaching, writing a few books, opening a balance-training center, learning Aikido and teaching it to people in the prisons and the jails. And opening some kind of training center for kids – to combat the dumbing down of our ‘education’ system – of our children. This is only the tip of the iceberg. I have many more plans!
2) Why do I desire to do this? What would motivate me to take the road of physical touch to achieve what I need?
Several reasons. But at the top of that list is a visceral need to be in tune with other people. A very close second is extreme compassion for those around me. I don’t tend to see color. I still see gender a bit as a separation, sometimes, but I strive to work on that. I believe that I was born with the gift of being able to not judge people. This allows people to be real with me and open up in ways that they simply can’t with most. I have experienced so much pain and emotional trauma from numerous causes, over my life-time, thus far, that I can relate far better than most TO most. This puts me in a great position to hold a space of healing for those whose time has come to do that.
I am super-sensitive to sounds; in fact, vibrations of any kind, I tend to pick up on – and I need a way to ground all that out…otherwise I would be a nervous wreck. It’s even in my astrology; if you believe all that. I do. As the MONKEYs say….”I’m a believer!”. I am highly aware of things in my body, and colors, and the way that people walk and what they say and what they really mean, and how much of that they want people to know that they mean. I meditate like a person possessed, because I love it so much. And nature brings back to the divine side of life, yet anchors it in deep respect for the mathematical precision of our precarious position.
3) Where will I do my 100 hours of free massage?
The homeless population. I know it well, because I am a member of it – have been for about 10 years, now. I know a lot more of the psychology behind being homeless, than – I dare say – some college professors would. I live it. I have thought endlessly on changing it. I have tried to and been unsuccessful – both, for myself, and others. This will be just one more way that I can do something to motivate, to inspire change. Even if all I do is relax some muscles – having carried a back pack for years and having experienced all the strain, pain, and cramping that comes with that, myself – I’m happy to alleviate that for a short time in others. But what I hope to do is find a way to sustain this healing process, so that it goes farther than just a feel-good massage, and has long-ranging benefits which span the physical, emotional, and mental balance of my clients and friends.
4) Commitment to the program and being an exemplary student.
I’ve done this before, while homeless, holding down a job, and battling with issues of low self-esteem. I’ve come through the Marines, and on my own took correspondence courses in both leadership and finance. I took three hundred dollars of my own, hard-earned money and went to a community college for psychology. At the end of the semester, myself and one other student, out of a class of about 28 or so, were the only ones to be excused from taking the exam, because we were deemed to know the material so well.
When I was going through massage school, we took a class I liked very much called, “Psychology of the Body”. At the end, the instructor came up to me, when I asked for feedback on how he thought I was doing, and he said, “You could have taught the class”
I’ve struggled through foster homes, being placed in Special Education classes for my unusual behavior as a child. I’ve taken the Armed Services Battery Test and scored one point below the best possible score, when going into the Marines – a 98 out of a possible 99. If you were to change that out for an SAT score, back then, anyway – people have said that I would have been within like 20-40 points of a perfect 1600. I don’t say this, as much to brag, but as to point out that I AM intelligent, and I HAVE overcome many obstacles that even more intelligent or well-connected people than myself would have been hard-pressed to overcome.
I have a mentor. I have a life-coach. How many people do you know, even if they make those New-Year’s resolutions, actually keep them? How many people do you know who have taken reading for improvement to the next level and have APPLIED what they have read. And much more than all that…how much do you think someone desires something, when they take the time to search out a mentor and keep a relationship growing with them?
And last, but not least – I am a life-long learner. What I mean by this, is that I undertake the responsibility of my own education, even when I can’t afford ‘proper’ education. I have read extensively in the field of Self-Improvement, Leadership, Chakras, Spirituality, Body Language, Wealth, Success, Body-Mind, Yoga, Martial Arts, Writing, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Biographies of Successful people, the Bible, maintenance, construction, massage, Chi, History……..the list goes on and on.
I am no stranger to doing what it takes on a consistent basis, to move forward.
And that concludes my brief essay. If you are feeling ‘froggy’, then you can read on to get a much more in-depth look at the answers to the questions you gave me.
Next I’ll go more into detail on my life story – how I got to where I am today, and where I plan to go from here on out. Thanks so much for taking the time out of your schedule to review the application and this essay.
Why do I need this?
Who could need it more? That’s the question I ask. I’m currently sleeping outside in Boulder, on Church property, trying to avoid the cops who like to go out at night at disturb homeless people from their much needed sleep, and then give them a $100 ticket for “camping”. I would go to a “warming center” – a place which is dry and warm, where you lay on the floor for the night – but it seems that it’s not cold enough to warrant a “warming center”. Maybe their funds are low, but, wait, that’s strange because I distinctly remember them receiving even more funds this year – much more than last. I would go to the Boulder Homeless Shelter, but I’ve been “consequenced” for an extreme 90 days (the rest of the season), because I asked to go to the bathroom (number two) after seven o’clock while standing outside their gates. Two people told me no, and when I got upset – I had to go bad – they threatened to call the cops and told me that I was going to be “consequenced” for three to five days. I raised my voice; didn’t swear; but I did mention that what they were doing was inhumane and I could understand that they had policies, but there was no written policy that said I couldn’t go to the bathroom after seven. There was another place to go nearby – the local stripper business next door. I didn’t want to pay exorbitant fees for drinks I couldn’t drink anyway, just so that I could go to the bathroom. I wasn’t in the mood to see a show – I just needed to perform a human function – and since the people who were running the place are human beings, I just assumed that they would understand, having had a similar problem, probably a thousand times themselves.
I also need to get off the street for medical reasons. Last year, I begged off work for an indeterminate amount of time when I discovered that my mother, in Illinois, had cancer and was in stage 4. I was the only one willing to go help her. I did. In the process, Colorado got me one more time for failing to yield to an emergency standing vehicle – simply put – I didn’t move over from the far right lane to the left lane when passing a state cop who pulled over another guy for something else on I-70. The cop wrote me a $100 or so ticket in pencil and when I got to my mother’s apartment; it was smudged. I did my very best to pay that ticket, getting hung up with the whole phone tag red-tape, and finally decided that I needed to direct my attention to getting my mother her VA benefits. This never happened because of more red-tape. By the time I turned my attention back to the ticket – it was too late, I received a letter in the mail, informing me that my Colorado License had been suspended. It has taken me ONE FULL YEAR to take care of this – all without any resources other than myself and a friend. I did so, even when I had a job, by borrowing five dollars from a number of people for the $95 re-instatement fee, by promising to not only pay each back, but to pay them two dollars more. I have since done so. Shortly after I came back to Boulder, my mother passed on the night of my birthday. I held all that in after a good cry in the parking lot, sinking to my knees. It was all I could do to keep it together enough to call my father and let him know. But because I continued to sleep in conditions that were harsh; where some diseases were easily spread by crowded conditions; sometimes back out in the cold; carrying around all this guilt and anger and remorse, over-layed by the thickest depression — Because of all this, the stress eventually won out over my immune system and dragged it down far enough to where I contracted MRSA Staph Infection. Within about seven days, I was dropping my keys, walking very slowly and stumbling with a throbbing headache. There was a sore on my left shin that was getting progressively worse. At first, everyone thought that it was a spider bite. Eventually, we found out different. When I finally drummed up the courage to go to the hospital, I was dizzy and a red streak had threaded it’s way from the super-infected and inflated spot on my lower leg, all the way up to just near my groin. This is very bad news. This is mere hours from the infection getting to the heart – then it’s all over. When I went to the hospital – I was told that I had about 24 hours to live. Had I not come to the hospital, I would have died the next day about that same time.
My need is to get off the streets. Once you are there, it is extremely difficult to get off. There aren’t a lot of places to wash your body, especially your feet. If you don’t do this within just two days, the skin on your feet begins to peel away and infections creep in. If you have to carry several packs all day, for, both, the fear of having it stolen because you don’t have the money to afford storage, and because during your day you need access to some things; then your body begins to break down.
It protects itself by clenching up. But over time, the muscles never have a chance to relax and extreme exhaustion results very easily from not having any energy reserves – they’re all tied up in holding your body armor in place so that you don’t get hurt. The sad irony is that you get injured far worse despite the good intentions of this bodily safety mechanism. Over an extended period of time, other problems arise: Here are just a few…tingling in the feet or fingers or arms or legs from blood restrictions and nerve crimping on a daily basis. If you’re not careful, then you’ll carry your heavy load, the same way all the time, and if it’s off balance just slightly along your spine, then your body tries to compensate by over-using some muscles and not fully using others. Your whole musculature begins to weaken and break down. You never have a chance to change your pace. That slow-plodding pace keeps your heart from getting a chance to exercise the way it’s supposed to. I don’t know about you, but if I had a bunch of packs on and I could never set them down, I wouldn’t be able to run, or skate, or bicycle, or dance, or do martial arts. I could go on and on about the dietary restrictions due to not having the money to choose what is healthy; but I’ve beat a dead horse here.
My need is great. I need stable housing. I need a place to lock away for my own privacy and silence. I need a place where I have no fear of being woken up and charged with a crime for trying to get my required amount of REM sleep. I want to be disease free. I want a place to shower, meditate, cook my food, clean my clothes, blend my healthy mix of vegetables so I can remain in good working condition so that I CAN work to support myself.
Next is my Desire…WHY do I want to do massage? What motivates a guy like me?
Again, the answers are many-fold. But let’s start with important times in my life:
About age 7, I’m trying to look into the eyes of my father’s mother – she’s sitting in a wheelchair, and she’s staring through me. She was here moments ago. “Why’s her hand all cramped and claw-looking like that”, I’m wondering to myself. I’m scared of her for some reason. We’re at a funeral, and she’s maybe in her forties or fifties.
My dad divorces my mom and leaves me with Nadine for the summer – his girlfriend. He comes to pick me up and now he’s got a new wife. He met her in a car accident. Just a few years down the road, and we’re all yelling. JoAnn – my step-mom is yelling at me to be quiet; I’m yelling at her that she’s not my REAL mom and she can’t tell me what to do. Dad’s yelling at us both to please, just get along for once! She’s had brain damage. She’s had the front part of her brain removed. I’m about nine, and she’s trying to mother me. She’s doing a terrible job and it’s only going to get worse, because what happens next, is that she will begin to revert back to the emotional and logical state of a child. Figure about five years old.
I’m in my twenties; just got out of the Marines. My very over-weight step mom is trying to position herself to flop into our easy chair. She misses and hits the floor of our apartment…hard. She’s just had a stroke, and will have 3 more in the same region of her brain. This will eventually kill her.
Within a few months, my dad is working on his Nursing degree, and he discovers that he has Multiple Sclerosis. Only this time – it’s progressing much more rapidly than it ever did with my grandmother. I’m about 27.
My dad moves in with his girlfriend. He’s now bedridden, and this woman with diabetes and seasonal disseffective disorder is trying to take care of him.
I’ve been working for Aspen Media Market Research – calling people at their homes and businesses to get them to re-up on their magazine subscriptions. I’ve saved up for a beater car. I’m lying on the floor of a friend’s who’s letting me stay at her place. She’s an addict, and this situation is rocky at best, but I need a place to stay so that I can keep this job. I’m in the process of figuring out what my next step is when my Aunt Sherry calls me up. Sherry – “You’re mom’s got cancer. Just wanted to tell you. You’re the only one who can really do anything for her, or will. – what are you gonna do? – Are you gonna go see her? I remember when I took care of both your grandmother and your grandfather. I’m glad I was there for them. I’m not going to lie to you – it was one of the toughest times in my life, but I’m glad all the same. We were able to talk about things we hadn’t discussed for so long, and I found out so much that has helped me.” -(My aunt is over-weight, and has degenerative neck disease, where the cartilage in between her vertebrae are dissolving).
I’ve driven up to go see my mom. I find her in her apartment. This white-haired, 4-foot, nine-inch lady answering the door suspiciously is MY mom?! That night, she goes from bad to worse. I can’t stop her from coughing. I put her in all kinds of positions – trying to relieve her pain. She’s moaning and every few minutes she pulls this pink, rectangular, bucket thing off the carpet and tries to spit into it. She manages to just kind of get some drool to come out. She’s freezing and there aren’t enough blankets. I tell her I’ll turn up the thermostat. “NO! – I can’t AFFORD that! – the bills, the bills….they’re raping me! They don’t care.” I tried to sleep, but in the morning, I awoke to my mother, naked and clawing at the carpet in our guest bedroom. I looked into her eye, horrified to find that my mother was no longer there…no – there she was…and THERE. But her eyes; they were like an animal’s – an animal in pain and scared. She was scared of me. She didn’t trust me. I did my best to give her a bath. I struggled to put on her jeans and a sweater. I told her, “Mom – you’re sick. I need to take you to a hospital. It’ll be alright…they’ll know what to do.”
“NO! No, no, nononononoooo!”, she pleaded. I picked her up, opened the front door and walked down the hall, carrying her and knocked on her neighbor’s door. I didn’t know what to do. He jumped into action and called an ambulance. I picked her up once more and began walking down about twenty or so steps. She blacked-out in my arms before I got to the bottom. The ambulance came and took her away.
What would motivate me to practice massage or energy medicine or any of the healing arts? Compassion, and seeing a need. Knowing that I was called to do this, and that I have gifts. I’ve had gifts to soothe people even before I ever went to massage school back in Pennsylvania. I took $300 out-of-pocket psychology course at the Pottstown Community College, and come time for the exam, my professor told me, “You don’t need to take the exam. You’re exempt.” When I took, “Psychology of the Body”, during my Swedish Massage Schooling, my African instructor approached me and said, “You have a real gift. You could have taught that class.”
I feel called to something much bigger than myself. I feel called to serve and to implement changes for the betterment of society. I feel called to starting several businesses and utilizing that money to help the homeless get housing, and struggling students get grants and scholarships to those studies that so sing in their hearts. I feel an overwhelming need to impact this world on a visceral level.
And I can best do this by bringing myself through my challenges and into alignment and resourcefulness. I have the will to succeed against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and have done so numerous times before. Each time I learn something, but now is no longer the time to be the sword which is being smelted and hammered and folded thousands of times over. Now is the time for me to take all I’ve learned and apply it to become self-sufficient, so that I can release all of the gifts I’ve been given and share them with the world. I ache to do this.
You ask me to tell you where I would commit 100 hours of selfless service, and at first I was torn between Cancer patients and those who have Multiple Sclerosis. Last night as I lay huddled on the patio of the local church here in Boulder – as I lay there, curled almost in a fetal position, shivering from the cold – I dreamed. I dreamed that I was a massage therapist once again, and that someone was lying on my table, wracked in pain. I put my arms under them and cradled them, so that they could just lie against my chest; so they could give up all they had been holding in. In moments I felt their rigidity give way and their body release. It was as if every muscle in their body had given up the fight and every nerve had quieted it’s storm of communication. As I looked down, I saw their eyes drift closed. They were asleep in my arms.
I woke up, and soon the dream left my mind. I was worried that someone had spotted me and ratted me out to the police and they would be by to either give me a ticket or take me to jail for illegally sleeping. As these worries entered my mind, another part of my mind was trying to focus on who I would donate those 100 hours of service to. Then it hit me – the answer had been staring me in the face the whole time: I live in a community which badly needs not only physical touch and muscular manipulation, but love and understanding and compassion, as well. These people are treated like second-class citizens and their spirits have been trampled and that flickering flame hope has been dangerously suppressed, near to the point of being snuffed out. Why should they go day-to-day when the same old conditions conspire to keep them down, hungry, tired, lonely. Who are they to even WANT a better life? I say, that they are the very ones who need love the most. Churches nowadays have become little businesses. I went to church a while back to get closer to God, and all I got closer to was a longer record. I never had a record before coming to Boulder; least not the criminal kind. My dad had a bunch of 45’s, but even though I was a curious, ‘problem child’, I never found myself looking the wrong way through a bunch of bars. I still haven’t – jails no longer look anything like the old days…and since being in Boulder, homeless, struggling to maintain a job with all the challenges that go along with this kind of a life, I’ve been in jail several times. It all seems to be related to wanting to stick up for my and other citizen’s rights to sleep and not be harassed. I’ve since learned to become quieter and wait for my time make a change. But that time – in the judicial system – has not yet come for me. I will have to be patient. And while we are being patient, more people are dying from drinking and drugging their sorrows away and freezing to death and getting beat up by people who are hateful and enjoy the sport of it. They are dying from malnutrition. They are dying from not being able to support themselves through hard times.
But most of all – ALL THESE PEOPLE ARE DYING FROM A LACK OF LOVE. Lack of love is the source of all our world’s problems. I am convinced of this. And so the solution seems simple enough – MORE LOVE.
I will devote my 100 hours to these people. I may do chair massage or it may be some kind of full-blown table massage, but whatever it is…it will be for the benefit of those who are homeless – in need of the most love.
I think that that’s what JESUS would do.
In conclusion; and I know this has been a long essay – I cannot guarantee that I will be an excellent student. Excellent by whose standards? But I will do my best. Apparently my best was good enough years ago when I made it through Marine Corps Boot Camp, and later while I was homeless, but holding down a serving job at the mall next to where I daily went to for massage training. At the end, I was told that I had only gotten a B, but they were sure that had I not had all the challenges I had and could focus more, I would have gotten an A or A+. One of those challenges was running from another town, where I was safer, with a backpack and a black, plastic garbage bag filled with my massage, school uniform. In the pack were a bunch of books. It was most of the way through summer but still incredibly hot, and I was running up the stairwell, well I blacked out and fell backwards, hitting my head against the wall on the second platform. That’s how hard I worked. That’s how much determination I had. And I can recall one of our teachers commending me, because she had seen me riding my bike through a rain storm, while she was driving her car down the road. I came in soaked to the skin. If those things couldn’t stop me from getting my massage certification……
Then, why would anyone believe that anything less than that could stop me?
Thanks again for taking the time out of your busy schedule to read this. I might not win – for sheer length of time it would take to read this email – and if that is the case, then I will take the news in stride and find some other way to live my dreams, give back to those who have helped me along the way, and serve those less fortunate – helping to inspire and lift them to heights they never knew were possible.
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David Lee Madison, Jr.
Nate – my street name , KnavetheMage on Twitter
~ZenNinja to others who saw me do my little ‘cat-walk’
Nate Love – my future pen name
and WordPressing it up on Synergy and Suprememasterjedi
Copied from my WORD documents in Boulder, CO
Monday, December 2, 2013 – 22:40