Monday, December 12, 2011

Seattle, you’re pretty fun.

Oh my gosh!  We had a great time in Seattle – we were lucky enough to be staying with one of Ben’s good friends from college, Rachel (I do also consider her my friend), which was really fantastic because she was able to give us a little bit of an inside scoop, and she was really good company.

We got to the city on Wednesday night and then left on Saturday, so we had a lot of time (though not enough) to explore.  We did the Underground Tour on Thursday and it was awesome – the tour guide had some good one-liners, though it was completely scripted, and it was really interesting to learn how the city was built.  We also explored different areas in downtown Seattle including Pike Place Market, a magnificent toy store and delicious coffee.  The market made me want to be able to shop there every day for my groceries – the produce was beautiful and meat and fish counters amazing! 

So, let’s also talk about the whole coffee thing.  I’ve met some people from Seattle who are really big coffee snobs… like, they whine constantly about not having Seattle coffee.  Well, I’m not sure I’m that big of a believer, but I did have the best mocha of my life.  I got it at Seattle Coffee Works and it was like sipping chocolate cake.  You should be very jealous, and just to seal the deal, here is a picture of it:

For the most part, we just kind of explored – we also ate a lot of awesome food and had some good drinks.  Check out these mondo PBRs that Rachel and I had (that’s Ben’s beer in the middle) – we were definitely expecting regular tallboys and then got those instead. 

I also got in a little bit of family time, which continues to add something very special to this journey.  My Aunt Boston (my dad’s youngest step-sister) lives just north of Seattle with her family.  We went over for brunch on Saturday morning – Boston made delicious eggs, bacon, sausage and pancakes and we just sat and talked and enjoyed each other’s company for a few hours… it was wonderful!

And now, on an entirely separate note, with the risk of showing complete selfishness, I’d like to tell you all about a problem I have been facing - and feel free to judge me, leave your comments, etc.  Here it is: It makes me very uncomfortable (and slightly angry) when people ask me for money on the street.  I wish I could be more graceful about this!  It is something that has plagued me for years, and I even try to give myself pep talks about feeling generous and about the fact that there are people who could genuinely use my help.  

Well, trying to psych myself up for it hasn’t worked so far, and I think this is why: I actually really enjoy being generous and helping other people, but the spontaneous solicitation is hard for me.  It really frustrates me when all of a sudden I am faced with guilt for not busting out my wallet and giving someone my cash, when really all I want to do is take a stroll down the sidewalk.  Does anybody else feel this way?  Does anybody have any insight to help me see past my discomfort?  I want to be able to handle this common situation without feeling like I have to stare at my feet out of guilt as I walk past…

Anyway, that’s the story.  Stay tuned, there is more to come!


  1. Hey Crystal and Ben, I've gone the rounds on the issue of giving cash to folks on the street too. I used to dislike it. One day I was sitting at a red light and I kept feeling this nudge from a higher part of me to give the man on the corner some money. I said no. The feeling persisted. The light turned green and then red again so I sat. The feeling became stronger. I checked my pocket. I had a one and a ten. I asked the higher self which they would like me to give. Of course, you know it was the ten. I gave it and felt like other parts of me were dancing with joy. I believe that man needed my help. There are plenty of people on the street who don't really need the help. I hear stories of homeless people making 100,000 per year. What I've come to is that I can trust my intuition and my mood. Some days I feel more like giving and some I don't. I also know though that people who are homeless because they are addicted to substances, use those substances because they are in pain and have no idea how to make it stop. Neale Donald Walsh, author of Conversations with God, was once homeless and he urges people to give homeless people a buck. It can't hurt us and it could possibly help them because once a person becomes homeless, it is almost impossible to get out of it. You can't take a shower, get a haircut or get new clothes to be presentable enough to get ahead and out. There is also the karmic management approach. It's a book by the same name in which the authors suggest that in order to become successful at anything, you must first have compassion and willingness to help others succeed. I guess it comes down to, do you want to help people and if so, how do you want to help them. For some, giving them cash is the help they need. For others, helping out at the local soup kitchen is helpful. Maybe you just don't want to help at all right now and that's ok too. There is no blanket rule, only a moment by moment opportunity to choose. Trust you intuition in each and every case and your integrity to follow through on it and there is never anything to feel guilty about.

  2. Seattle is really bad for panhandling. There are tons of people living off the grid and some are downright aggressive. Your comment about feeling uncomfortable when solicited for money on the street isn't that strange. In fact, I think it's rare to feel genuinely comfortable when this happens. I will openly admit that it makes me angry. Life is hard. My life has been hard (though not as hard as it is for some) but I have never gone through the world with my hand out to others who are just trying to get through their [hard] lives. There are social services available to most people to get their basic needs met.

    But there was one instance of being solicited for help on the street that I still wish I could go back to: a young girl approached me my first summer living in Seattle and said she needed help getting a bus ticket home. Someone had left her on the street there and she had no money. Sadly, I was working two jobs to pay my rent at the time and had no cash, so I apologized and explained that to her. In hindsight I wish I had walked with her to the bus station and bought her a ticket on my credit card, but I was 19 and didn't think that way yet. My point is, don't beat yourself up about it. You can do more good for the world in other ways than handing change out to people who are just trying to make you feel guilty.

  3. Hey guys, street life is tough. i hear the same stories of pan handlers making over 100k. maybe so, doubt it. i am a sucker for this. i give and give and give. i cannot imagine how humiliating it is to be in the place they are at in the first place and secondly, i cannot imagine having to beg for money to feed, cloth or sleep. every one has the right to form an opinion on this but i happen to feel that i am able to help some unfortunates and if they are "taking" me, so be it. i feel good doing it. I know that you are suppose to walk with them to the shelter and pay the shelter! who has the time or interest in doing this. i recently came upon a couple and a german shepherd in fargo at the gas station i was using and i walked over to them sitting in the light rain and asked what's up and was told that they hadnt eaten in over 24 hours, have no funds and cannot buy fuel to get home. i asked where home was and was told it was $50.00 away. you guessed it, i gave them $50.00 and hoped that it did get them home. guess the world is full of all kinds of situations. I would hope that someone would do this for one of my kids in trouble or maybe for you guys as you never know what circumstances are present when on the road. I am happy with me and my decisions and hope you find your comfort level. you guys have a great, safe trip. so nice to keep up with it. love to you both tc

  4. Yeah... I think I'll just have to do what feels right. It isn't the giving that bothers me. I like to give, and believe it or not, there are ways I do it on a regular basis. I can empathize with these people and definitely feel for the position they are in. I was delighted last week when Ben and I could help a guy about our age - his sign said he was traveling and broke and hungry. We scrounged in the back and gave him a bag full of food, which he seemed genuinely appreciative for. Maybe the frustrating part for me is when somebody makes it feel like it's my responsibility, rather than something I can choose to do when I am in a position (both emotionally and fiscally) to give.

    I think it's just easier when it doesn't feel like it's expected of me, or when my conversation isn't being interrupted on every street corner. I do wish that I didn't feel that way, and maybe that will change for me over time. Tom, you're right, I hope that one day if I am in need or somebody in my family needs the help, that somebody will be there to help them pick up the pieces.

    So, here's to a journey of following my intuition and hoping that I'll feel like giving more often than not.