Story Submitted by Pegotty Cooper

I am looking through a magazine and find an ad for life coach training. Wow, would that be a great job – doing what I naturally do and getting paid for doing it? I wonder…naaah – get real Pegotty – that might be for others but not for you. While I have a job that pays pretty well, I really feel like it is the wrong job for me. I keep going back to this idea of being a coach – like it is calling to me. So, I go through that training course and imagine that I could be that coach that others come to because I can help them discover their unique strengths. What was I thinking! Here I am a big dreamer but scared to death to find out that I am just a big failure!And then the unthinkable happens. I am laid off from my job!Well, now you don’t have an excuse, Pegotty! Its time to focus on your dream of being a sought-after coach. Maybe tomorrow I will do something. “Maybe Tomorrow” is the same song I sing every day for months. I play with applying for other jobs but I don’t REALLY want a job. I want to be a coach. I keep hanging out with coaches and hope that some of their coaching magic will rub off on me. But I don’t really have both feet in. I am feeding my fears more than I am feeding my dreams, I don’t really believe I could become a sought-after coach that others would hire. I find non-profits where I can volunteer my coaching services AND I keep applying for any job I can get. Then one day I receive an email forwarded to me from a friend – Did anyone want to go to a convention for association executives and offer coaching sessions? Like a whack on the side of the head, I say Wait – that’s mine! I own that! You see I had spent 15 years as an association executive before I moved to Florida and I loved being around those people. BUT it had never occurred to me to go back to what I did before and reconnect to those people who were MY people. My TRIBE! At that convention, I was the only coach there, and I coached seven people each day for two days. I was so juiced at the end of each day. I knew this was the right thing for me. That was 2004. This year I am attending that same convention for the 16th year in a row. Association executives line up to get a coaching session with me and I have built a viable coaching practice coaching people that I love to be with. Once I got both feet in and believed I could do it, I stayed focused on feeding my dream, not my fears. I AM a sought-after coach! And It would have been so easy to give up too soon on my dream!

Story Submitted by Kathryn Manz

I’ve traveled for as long as I can remember. When the lands of my dreams and stories in my books awakened my restless soul, I set out on a quest. I really want to find a quiet corner of the world, disconnect from all this and reconnect to this planet. Just be….That’s my direction. To simply exist without all the pressures of mainstream life. I seriously am tired. Like most of us crazy minds! I’d love to drift and sail around the country and through the world. Although I sometimes despair alone, it’s usually when I am my best!

Story Submitted by Judy G

So let me tell you about my crazy ass dog. I swear. 3 days ago I decided to groom him. Cut his hair. It was getting really long. It is getting hot and I just knew this would help him. It was a very calm groom and he cooperated nicely. It took about an hour, but I took a few breaks to cool off the clippers and to let him relax. So, what could be crazy about that, you ask? For the last 3 days, 3 frickin days, he would not come out of his kennel. I had to force him out. And then, he would not eat or drink. 3 days, 3 frickin days of this shit. I did some research and saw that most dogs cannot go more than 3 days without water. So, as I watched him lay around, completely listless, I figured he had decided to kill himself. Had I done that bad of a haircut? I wasn’t sure what to do. I was figuring I would have to take him to the vet tomorrow. But what would I tell the Vet? My dog hasn’t eaten or drank since I gave him a bad haircut? I decided to keep him outside tonight for at least 30 minutes. It was still pretty hot and I was hoping he would get thirsty. He laid down in the grass and ignored me. This is usual behavior. Sometimes he potties and sometimes he holds it for 24 to 36 hours. When we went back into the house, he walked over to his food and water, looked at me and watched me for about 2 minutes. Then he slowly walked up to his bowl and began eating. Then he drank the whole bowl of water. He smugly walked away and laid himself right down in front of me and promptly went to sleep. He is a little shit! Maybe quarantine is making us all a little crazy.

Story Submitted by Ziigwen Mixemong

My dad, Negonquote, is my superhero. My dad’s story is very different than mine. While his parents loved him and each of his siblings, their trauma was too deep and too ugly to leave behind in one generation. Dad was put in an Indian Day School where he learned nothing but violence and self-loathing. What makes my dad so amazing is not that he came away from that unscathed, it’s that he didn’t. Negonquote’s story is still too painful to tell in full but it left him turning to alcoholism and drug abuse for relief. My dad’s story should have ended here, but, somehow, it didn’t. Negonquote picked himself up and went to AA. The program saved his life by teaching him how to live drug and alcohol-free. To heal, he had to go back and reclaim his identity and ceremony. My dad, who was taught to beat and abuse those around him, has never raised a hand at me. My dad, who was completely reliant on alcohol for any relief, has been clean and sober for 36 years. My dad, who should be dead right now, still tucks me in every night. As remarkable as my father is, the Creator knew it was going to take two to raise an agent of chaos, such as myself. Enter my mother, Wabanoongakikwe. My mother’s spirit name loosely translates to the woman who comes from that far off land that is first touched by the Sun. And like her spirit name, she is powerful and beautiful. My mom didn’t receive the gift of her spirit name until much later in life. But, my mom grew up not knowing who she was. Wabanoongakikwe was raised in a completely colonized household. There was no talk of her Indigenous ancestry and she was left with a giant hole in the centre of her sense of identity. I am so privileged that one day, my mom became strong enough to start learning and asking questions. She knew that she was native, but what did that mean. Who did that make her? While driving by every day for months, she saw a sign at a local friendship centre calling out for volunteers for a powwow. My mom stewed. Was she Indian enough to help? Would they even want her if she knew nothing about who she was? It literally took her months to find the courage to call and see if she was allowed to go to that place. I can’t begin to imagine what that felt like. I am glad to say that one of the faces that welcomed her through that friendship centre door was my father. Of course, they fell in love and soon enough, I came into the world. I am the product of a perfect Urban Indigenous love story. I mean, my parents met at a Friendship Centre, how much more Nish can you get?

Story Submitted by Dru Rabin

Food Truck Convoy, @mealstoneighbors – The Food Truck Convoy project serves as a vital conduit for providing meal relief in areas of St. Petersburg with populations that are transportation disadvantaged, benefit from free and reduced school meals when schools are open or find themselves in need during this community and economic crisis – while putting food truck operators and restaurant staff back to work.

Food Trucks: Anju Korean Gastrotruck, Flip’n Tasty Filipino, Hot Pursuit Catering & BBQ, Maggie on the Move, Pamz Pizza Conez, PB & Jelly Deli, Smokin’ Bowls, Smoothie Operator, Twisted Indian.

Our partners: Dru Rabin, project founder, Pastor Blake Clark and Radius Church, Keep St. Petersburg Local, The St. Pete Catalyst, The St. Petersburg Foundation, Feeding Tampa Bay, The Hangar Restaurant, and St. Pete Hospitality Group.

Story Submitted by Liane Houde

Eight months ago, Jeff and I decided to move almost 1100 miles to Boston (from GA) so that I could attend my dream graduate school and fulfill a masters degree in speech-language pathology. I started classes, he began working remotely from our small office in our 500-square-foot apartment, and life was beautiful.

A week before Leap Day, Jeff asked me to set aside one day the following weekend so we could have a “Date Day” (something we tried to do at least twice a month). It was settled that our Date Day would be Saturday, February 29th.

The day finally arrived and our plan was to visit an arboretum in a suburb of Boston not too far from our place. We jumped on the T (Boston’s subway system) and made our way to one of the most beautiful parks I’d ever seen. It was cold and windy, but the exotic trees were beautiful, and the view from the top of the hill was exquisite.
We had packed a lunch to enjoy at the arboretum, as well as a pair of binoculars to better see certain buildings of the city. Jeff handed me the binoculars and pointed out a few of his favorite buildings. I struggled to figure out exactly which buildings he was referring to, and after a few minutes took down the binoculars to ask him directly what he was talking about. I looked at him, and he was down on his knee, looking up at me.

We had been dating six years at that point, and still my initial reaction consisted of “oh my gosh! Is this real? Are you serious?!” He proceeded to tell me he loved me and asked me if I would spend “forever with him.” Of course, I said yes!
We sat down to digest what had just happened, overwhelmed, ecstatic, and full of adrenaline. He then said to me, “open the box of ThinMints,” and I did. Inside was a map of Boston circa 1770, with little colored dots indicating the locations of our apartment, a sushi restaurant in the time stamp 5:30 next to it, and the location of the Boston Symphony Orchestra venue with a timestamp of 8:00 next to it.

“Is this our schedule?!”

“Yup! I asked you to set aside a whole day. This is what we are doing today.”

Needless to say, that day, Leap Day, is now one of my favorite days.

Story Submitted by Kathryn Manz

I’ve traveled for as long as I can remember. When the lands of my dreams and stories in my books awakened my restless soul, I set out on a quest. I really want to find a quiet corner of the world, disconnect from all this and reconnect to this planet. Just be….That’s my direction. To simply exist without all the pressures of mainstream life. I seriously am tired. Like most of us crazy minds! I’d love to drift and sail around the country and through the world. Although I sometimes despair alone, it’s usually when I am my best!

Story Submitted by Lorri Brown

This all happened in a week! Last Saturday night, a friend, Lizabeth Alexander, shared with me the need for N95 respirators and an open source link for 3D printing of them. I thought it was a great idea and started reaching out to companies on LinkedIn. I put something on face book about it. Eric Burton has a 3D printer at home and started making prototypes. He would message me what he was printing. He was relentless in the hours he worked on this. I saw it was totally possible to do. I decided to try to buy ten small 3D printers. Eric got pricing! Heather Moore and Jim White encouraged me. We kept moving forward Saturday Tim Keeports saw my gofundme. Introduced me to Michael R Guinn. Michael had 14 3D printers he said he would donate for use and set up. We had a meeting with. Christ Fellowship of Tampa. They graciously gave the space for the 3D lab. Today we set up and are ready to print. #Thankyoujesus. Thank you to all! Every morning I prayed for God to lead me.

*On April 1, 2020 – the first mask ever made was used by a nurse.

Story Submitted by Caroline Brown

When my son was very young he was an extremely challenging child. He had A.D.H.D., O.C.D. and extremely difficult behavior. Virtually no one could control or handle him. At the time when he was going through his worst behavior, he was attending a Religious school where there was a young Rabbi. My son, Tyler, would not sit in class, nor would he behave even when punished. He was an incredibly difficult child, and it took a toll on me, my husband and anyone that had to deal with him. I remember sitting in that young Rabbi’s office, practically crying to him, and telling him I was literally at my wits end. The young Rabbi, having little to no experience in dealing with children, sat and listened to me. He didn’t say anything for the longest time. When he spoke, he said these words to me: “Your son is going to make you so proud of him one day” I responded by merely smiling and nodding my head. As I left the Rabbi’s office I though to myself ” You poor, poor deluded man. You honestly have no clue what you are saying, or what I am dealing with”. Several years later my family and I got very involved in local community theater and it appeared that Tyler had some ability to perform on stage. Actually as it turned out he was very talented. He performed in several musicals and plays. During Tyler’s ninth grade year the director of a High School for fine and performing arts came to me asked if I would be willing to allow my son to attend his program at the High School for Performing Arts. I asked Tyler if he wanted to go to that High School, he was very excited to join the program. We immediately took him out of his High School and enrolled him at the High School for performing arts. He excelled in the theater, and was involved in several of the shows in the years that followed. During Tyler’s 11th grade year, the Director of the theater program wrote a musical and Tyler got the opportunity to play the lead role in the show. Later the show was entered into a competition at the Florida Theater Conference. Watching my son, perform in a show, playing the lead role and then winning an award for his performance was an incredible moment in my life. A moment I will never forget. My heart was so full of joy! He truly had made me proud of him. More proud than I could ever have imagined. That Rabbi must have seen something that I could not see at that time. When I think about this story, all I can do is smile!

Story Submitted By John Sudar

It was the first night of Ramadan, and I was vacationing with friends in Luxor, Egypt. I became separated from my friends and wandered from the corniche that was situated along the Mediterranean Sea; this is where the tourists gathered. I was quite lost. As I wandered, it became clear to me that I had turned myself around and had lost all sense of direction. I continued to walk and realized I was now far from the tourist area, both in terms of topography and in terms of reality: I got the feeling that the area was economically disadvantaged. The houses were clay half domes, very much like what you’d see on Tatooine in the “Star Wars” flicks; several skinny cows lie lolling on the ground. Admittedly, I was scared. “Yes,” I said, “Could you tell me how to get back to the corniche?” “I will,” he replied. “But first come with me. It’s almost sundown and we are about to break fast.” He took me by the hand and we began to walk through the neighborhood. We must have made quite a sight: Here was this little boy leading this six foot four American in shorts and a Bob Marley t-shirt by the hand. We got to his family home. I crouched and went inside. Speaking Arabic, the boy spoke to the assembled family who were seated on the floor around the hearth. He must have explained that he had found this poor waif of a tourist. Through gestures and smiles and claps on the back I was warmly greeted and given a place to sit. When it was clear that the sun had gone down, a prayer was said and we ate delicious food and drank nice, strong tea. Throughout the meal my little benefactor translated between me and his family. (I learned that he knew seven different languages and had acquired none of them in school but rather had learned them speaking with the tourists). After the meal, I thanked them and the boy began to lead me back to the hotel I was staying at. It had gotten cold, and he gave me a shawl to wear to keep me warm. When we got to the hotel, I began to take off the shawl to return to him. He told me to keep it. As a souvenir of this special night. I told him to wait, and I went up to my room and gathered a few of my cool t-shirts. I returned to the lobby and gave them to him, explaining that I knew they were too big but that I thought he might like them. He said he couldn’t accept them, but I told him they were a souvenir of this special night. He thanked me. Before he left to return home I said, “I’m duh. I don’t even know your name.” “Yahya,” he replied. “Mine’s John.” “It’s the same in Arabic,” said Yahya. “Interesting,” I added. “And it means gift of God.”