The sun falling on downtown Havana showed the true Cuban dream of success had washed away into the Caribbean years ago. An area that was alive with music, families and more in the 1940's and 50's is decaying as if it was struck by a curse in 2000's.Read More
Taxi drivers in Cuba are the most open when they talk about the dream of travel. Why? Because they meet travelers from around the world daily.Read More
Every once in a while I came across that picture perfect setting that highlighted what Havana, Cuba once looked like in the 1940's.Read More
Cuba at 9:30 PM Eastern Time: The capital of Havana is only a whisper outside on a Thursday night, other than a few passing cars. As you walk into one of the many apartment buildings you hear kids playing in one unit and as you continue down the florescent lit hallway, you hear the sound of a small yelping dog.Read More
BONNAROO 2018: Ahhh, the family concert... the family who see's Eminem together at midnight sticks together.
BONNAROO 2018: She showed vigorous support for America with not only her outfit, but also her blanket as she sat in the midst of thousands of people walking from concert to concert.
Some may disagree as they were taught not to wear or sit on the flag. Others may high five her, which is the Bonnaroo way.
"How do I look," she asked. The shutter shut, "Great," I quietly responded as she handed me her cellphone. "Would you take my picture with my phone," she asked.
Another shutter click and I disappeared into the crowd where I next came across a large shirtless man that had a "Lost Soul" tattoo across his stomach. He was carrying a unicorn... I will get to that photo later.
BONNAROO 2018: Never get between a large tattooed man and his unicorn. Never.
Be who you want and dress as you like.
He sat quietly holding a sign and if anyone handed him anything, he would politely thank them. As we talked it was obvious that he was well spoken as he told me about two young ladies who stopped and gave him blankets to use for a warm night’s sleep.
“I want to get to Florida,” he told me with a stutter. “I got off the bus in Murfreesboro, but I need to get to Interstate 75,” he explained.
He then described how he has worked all of his life at day labor companies suggesting, “Because I like to travel.” A social security check is deposited into his account each month, but he does not have an ATM card or checks. “I will set all of that up when I get to Florida,” talking about how he wants to find somewhere to live where he will be warmer.
“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” - Matsuo Basho, Japanese Poet (1644-1694)
“Do not avert your eyes.
It is important
that you see this.
It is important that you feel
this.” ― Kamand Kojouri, writer
A photo of faith, humanity and mankind... living on the streets.
“For it is in giving that we receive.” — Saint Francis of Assisi
When you are homeless, it is easy to get knocked down. Most recently, he said that his hours were cut at the bar where he works in Nashville.
"Tough times never last, but tough people do." - Robert H. Schuller
He has been on the streets for about 8 years. He said that his mother told him when he turned 18 he is out of here and on his own, which he has been.
Outgoing, kind and spirited are the words I would use to describe his personality. He was excited to be alive, despite his circumstances.
Jobs come and go and don’t mean much to many people on the street. It is a way to make enough money to get to the next chapter, not something that defines us. However, his most recent job earned him enough money to buy warm weather gear from Bass Pro Shops, which he is wearing in this photo. That is a good thing because recently, he has been without a sleeping bag or tent.
His home was a metal bench in downtown Nashville. He had a backpack of clothing and personal possessions. But, that changed on Thanksgiving Day.
Now, he has a tent and a sleeping bag that will greet the temperatures this winter without an issue. It also means he will be able to visit the downtown library during the day because he can leave his backpack in his tent. What some may not realize, the downtown library now limits what size of bag you can bring in and his backpack broke that rule as he had a hiking backpack.
“There are two great days in a person's life - the day we are born and the day we discover why.” - William Barclay, Scottish Author, (1907-1978)
I told her that I may have one tent left, even though two people were in need of a tent and she was one of them.
When we got to my car... I found that I had two tents left and three blankets - just enough to fill the need. You should have seen her smile when she got to walk back to the others eating a Thanksgiving meal and give that second tent to the other person who needed it along with the blankets.
"There is a lot that happens around the world we cannot control. We cannot stop earthquakes, we cannot prevent droughts, and we cannot prevent all conflict, but when we know where the hungry, the homeless and the sick exist, then we can help." - Jan Schakowsky, U.S. Representative for Illinois
He said to me on Thanksgiving Day... "I'm not homeless, I'm just home, less."
His view is the Cumberland River in downtown Nashville.
"This is just a stop, on the way to where I'm going
I'm not afraid because I know this is my
-Temporary Home by Carrie Underwood
From Louisville, Kentucky she headed to Nashville, Tennessee with her new boyfriend. She is 37 years old and her significant other told me, “She was tired of her daddy taking all but $100 of her disability check.”
"You don’t know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” — Bob Marley (via BerkLee’s mom, the parent of a down syndrome child – quote posted on “Mighty Proud Media”)
Thanksgiving Day in Nashville: After serving in the National Guard he was discharged honorably. He then decided to hit the road and so the journey from California to Nashville, Tennessee was met head on.
He is 23 and homeless. He was adopted at a young age after being removed from his birth mother… it was a story that he was not ready to share.
While making multiple trips to my car to retrieve more sleeping bags and tents for homeless at “Gobble Gobble Give,” he said, “Today, I don’t feel homeless and it feels really good helping.”
The young man helped me until all the tents and sleeping bags were humbly accepted by those living on the street. Some told us, "I don't need one, but he does [pointing at another homeless person at the event]."
After helping, he got a sleeping bag and tent for himself. However, he first made sure that those who needed one had one.
The 23 year old again stated, "Today was a good day - best morning ever, I did not feel homeless."
At Gobble Gobble Give 2017, David Montanbeau told me, “3,348 Meals were served, 1000+ Articles of Clothing given away, 3000+ Hygiene Kits were given away, 74 Haircuts, 28 Showers and 5 Complete Makeovers.” Not to mention, 31 left with a new sleeping bag, 8 left with a new tent and 3 left with new blankets.
He was sitting alone in a dark alley with only the light from a nearby road creeping onto his right side and the left barely lit by an open restaurant door that lead to the busy kitchen. He was crouched down on a milk crate eating a tray of noodles, likely from a cook inside the restaurant.
I could not understand much of what he had to say, but he was very talkative so I simply listened to what sounded like meaningless chatter. But, it made me wonder what has caused him to become this way? Did it start before he became homeless while working as a diesel mechanic or did it happen due to one extreme stressor in life or multiple stressful situations with negative outcomes?
Have you ever thought about how unnerving our world is today? So many people fall into emotional and physical disrepair because of an inability to handle the things around us. Politics, natural disasters, physical ailments, declining health due to age or bad habits, addiction, loss of employment, false ideas of how religion should be verses how it is viewed in our churches, fear of relationships – I could continue typing for hours naming things that bog us down. But, why do we let these things get under our skin?
The simple answer is that not all of us do – some are better equipped with handling today’s times.
A Yale University study found that some people had brains that were able to process stressors better than others. What was interesting is that the study allowed researchers to see which three areas of the brain responded to stress during a functional MRI (fMRI).
The Yale study saw a decrease in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) area of the brain at first and then a huge increase in that same area by most of their study participants. That huge increase could be seen on scans that were overseen by doctors and scientist. For those that had the hyper increase of activity, it meant that their brains were blocking the stressors or protecting the person from stress.
The ventromedial prefrontal cortex area is involved in brain management, in a way. It is utilized when dealing with self-related processing or figuring out when to feel stress or not to feel stress. This area of the brain also causes disruptions in individuals with autism and those who function poorly in social settings. In other words, the vmPFC is not building that wall to block the stress as it does in some people.
Basically, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex either goes into overdrive to protect the brain from extreme emotional response, or fails to go into overdrive (fails to build that wall), which equals a flood of stress and emotional reactions to the stressor.
The Yale study found that those whose brain failed to guard against the stressor, they likely had an increased risk of binge drinking, binge eating or other self-destructive behavior after being stressed.
So if you react poorly to stress and find yourself acting out in self-destructive behaviors after a hard day, your ventromedial prefrontal cortex area is not guarding your brain. A quick fix for this problem is not available, but it is now the spotlight of more research.
For those who experience one extreme stressors daily, weekly or even monthly – these stressors add up and cause serious health issues. Those health issues can include high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease which can lead to more stress. More stress then leads to depression, anxiety or the onset of an underlying mental illness that did not make itself known until that stress in life continued to build up. So, if not tackled in the beginning, it can quickly become uncontrollable for an individual.
The end result of accumulated stress that is not handled properly… we break.
“Stress is the trash of modern life-we all generate it but if you don't dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life.” ― Danzae Pace
Sadness is something that others may be able to see in someone’s face, but what is behind the eyes only the sufferer knows. However, sadness and depression are quite different.
For example: “Shorty,” who is pictured, was likely sad when he and his girlfriend had a falling out. However, he may or may not have been depressed at the time, but sadness was definitely an emotion he felt. The good news is that sadness passes fairly quickly while depression can stick around for months or even years.
So many of those who live on the street experience deep and often dark depression. While it may start out as something mild in their younger years, it lingers into age and grows deeper into severe depression.
People often confuse mild depression with severe depression, only because they have not experienced such agony themselves. Others suggest that those who are sad simply pull themselves up by their bootstraps, which can’t be done if severe depression is involved. Those who make such suggestions fail to understand or even try to understand the underlying darkness.
Sadness can trigger depression and your chances are also higher if you have family members who have fought depression in the past. Severe illnesses can also lead to depression. Other items that can lead to depression in adult life include being abused as a child (any nature of abuse). In fact, child abuse greatly increases the chances of becoming depressed as an adult.
To help cure depression, doctors often encourage a healthier lifestyle along with medication. But, if you are homeless it is hard to eat right and hit the gym. It is also hard to afford a doctor’s visit, much less pay for medication. But, studies show that medication is important.
The brain is extremely complex, as most realize. Some areas of the brain regulate mood while other areas focus on daily tasks like extending your arm to turn off the alarm clock.
According to a Harvard Health article from 2009, “Areas that play a significant role in depression are the amygdala, the thalamus, and the hippocampus.” A recent study demonstrated how the hippocampus is 9% to 13% smaller in those who are depressed or who have dealt with bouts of depression.
To increase positive moods and decrease depression, the production of new neurons are needed. Doctors will prescribe antidepressants to help boost the number of neurotransmitters, but the medication takes four to six weeks to start working. The extended period of time between the depression and a good mood have to do with neurons growing and forming new connections.
Antidepressants promote the growth of nerve cells in the hippocampus. It takes weeks for that growth to occur, which explains why it takes so long for antidepressants to work. This growth process is called neurogenesis, meaning neuron growth or formation.
As for Shorty… he told me that he came to Tennessee because of a girl. He later said that he went to jail for 7 months because of that same girl. "I caught her with another man," he told me. The woman is now in California.
“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.” ― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
He stood in silence as the stage set was changed while the commotion before and around him continued at Bonnaroo.