I have not needed a lullaby in seventeen years...

Last night the strident sounds of an insomniac city pulled at my eyelids and slid me into safe slumber. Those same sounds-- the rhythm of a basketball dribbling in the distance & the tails of amplified conversations--  climbed through my third floor window shortly after the sun this morning. Oh, how I adore my new lullaby.

People ask for a paragraph synopsis of how my life is in the Bronx since moving here on Tuesday.  Well, in order to attempt to deliver justice in this description, Life needs to be personified. Perhaps she is a young girl, ready with a restless heart. You see, the only way to describe this experience to anyone is through imagining that Life is a living, breathing person.

Life snuck up from behind me and handed me a black Sharpie marker last week.

"Here, here, take this," Life says.

"Why, what is this? What should I do with it?"

Life rolls its eyes. "Draw a thick black line down the middle of me. From now on you are going to look differently at me, as if I am two people. One part of me exists as Before and the other now exists as After."

Before & After.

We all stumble into instances when we realize that we have crossed a threshold that will forever cause us to refer to life as Before & After. Before the Divorce. After the Break Up. Before the Car Crash. After the Degree. Some of us sink upon our knees and wish that the After had never come. Others embrace the change and hold hands with the After. Before suddenly seems so Young. Naive. Outgrown. Worn.

Our lives before a certain experience have great difficulty fitting all the emotions and thoughts that we pull from the trial or the stepping stone. And so we pack up our suitcases full of Awareness, Compassion, Understanding & Knowledge and we move over into the After.

For the longest time I heard the perfection in three letters, side by side: NYC. Automatically my mind would turn with 3,000 or so ideas. Broadway shows and fancy dinner parties. Devil Wears Prada Lifestyles & Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. But over 300,000 New Yorkers live a lifestyle that consists of Poverty. Bills that cannot find the pathway to Paid. Schools that fall below state standards.

A lot of this poverty echoes in the place that is now considered my home: The Bronx.

I have long grown tired of people's stagnant set of stereotypes that cover this borough like a thick layer of ashes: Guns. Food Stamps. Sirens. Fighting. Gangs. A place where your one hand belongs next to your pocketbook and the your eyes are meant to stare at the ground. And while the Bronx does certainly have crime and areas of urban decay, more than that, it has people. Beautiful People. Stretching Means to Make Livings. Learning English to Work in this Country. Taking Their Dealings and Dealing With It.

And what breaks my heart is this: We were all called here to live but no one ever wrote in the rule book that acceptance of how we make a living was necessary. Some people don't know trust funds and others have been slammed by the "system" but can we turn our backs on those who are different from us? Just because we have More, if More is even a legitimate word... So what if we have more Paper Money, More Titles or More Security. I want More Simplicity, More Spirituality, More Connections with this City and the People Who Speckle Its Concrete.

My computer broke a few hours after arriving on Tuesday. A Large Crack Etched the Face of Her Screen. And normally I would cry and scream and need a new one immediately. But perhaps it should stay broken for a while, perhaps I need the simplicity that will come from not having this luxury. And my mom said it best, miles away but sitting next to my soul, "Better your computer be broken then your heart." I am already learning, Mom. I want to take so much from this year... but all of the things, "for granted" is not one of them.

I am confident that these next ten months in New York City will mold my life like Play Dough. I am dedicated to a volunteer program centered on Community and Simple Living. I have close to 25 dollars a week for my own spending. I live by a food budget with three other individuals. And I am finding pretty quickly that this is not the Minority, but rather, the Majority. I will work within the community on a daily basis until I am meshed into the community. I am giving my Heart, my Gifts, my Talents and My Self to this year.

Before pulling up to our apartment, situated across from a discount grocery store and a barber shop, it was all about Me. Me Growing. Me Living. Me Loving. Me Wanting. Me Hoping. Me Dreaming. Me Stringing Together Lullabies To Put My Dreams To Rest At Night. But something happened... A shift took place... The ME grew restless suddenly and the M wanted to move away, sick of the E. And the so the E let it leave and set off on a quest for another letter to accompany its side. And oh, what goodness, a W showed up... It may have trailed off from another word: Wonder, Wild or Wisdom. But no matter its origins, it took its place next to the E and the WE was formed. More perfect than the Me. More fitting to be We.

We Grow. We Live. We Love. We Want. We Hope. We Dream.

We String Together Lullabies with Our Own Unique Sounds.

Share with me your Before & After Moments...

As a Drop A Love Bomb Partner, we have a new mission at hand. Please take a few moments to drop a love bomb... This mission is dear to my heart, seeing as I now have four familiar faces taking up the Chicago area. Miss you AVs.

Love Bomb Mission: Chicago Fire Department

Hey Team!

This week we are doing something just a tad different.

Typically we drop a Love Bomb on one person, but this week we are dropping a Love Bomb on the entire Chicago Fire Department.

Chris Wheatley, one of their firefighters, died in the line of duty on August 9th.

Nate and I would like for this Love Bomb mission to be two-fold:

1) To encourage, support and comfort the Chicago Fire Department as they've lost a brother in duty.

2) To thank the Chicago Fire Department for serving their community so faithfully.

As most of you know, Nate (@ItStartsWithUs) runs our parent organization, ItStartsWith.Us - their 15 minute mission for this week is to help out a service worker. Every now and then the ItStartsWithUs team helps us drop our Love Bombs, so I thought it would be awesome if we could do our part by supporting a service worker (a lot of them!) while we drop our Love Bomb at the same time!

You can leave a comment on the Chicago Fire Department's blog here: http://cfdblaze.com/2010/08/cffu-local-2-tom-ryan/

Lauren

Much Love and Light from New York City,

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