Finding My Cause

You can’t take the first step of a journey if you don’t get your ass off the couch. I’ve felt like this before, felt like jumping in with both feet, telling myself that I’ll sink or swim. I never think about what the water is going to feel like – what if my reception is a cold one? What if it is downright icy? Shall I smash at the surface of the shards of my dream?

I think my husband thinks so. At this point, anyway. He admits my case is a good one; his main concern is me getting set on fire? I think? It is hard to absorb his irrational albeit well-intended worry when my utter relief and sheer giddy excitement at finally finally knowing what I want to do with my life is giving me the spiritual momentum to mold this idea into a real thing. Or at least a real, solid idea. Which will turn into a plan, which will eventually find me opportunities to make this dream a reality.

Books saved my life. Kids should never feel like they want to die; there were times when I did, and sometimes, I told myself I couldn’t do it – there were still books I had to finish first. Books gave me hope.

I owe it to others to pass the blessing on. That is my cause – the one I have sought to find. My journey has finally found a path I can clearly see is marked for me. This is a dream I can see taking shape, a road I don’t feel that lurking sense of mistrust on, when I check the map. I have never felt lost in the many worlds I have explored in books, no matter how many times I have felt lost in my own skin.

I have a few passions in life, other than my fair ginger lover of course. Books. Cupcakes. Good people – and second chances. Or thirds. Or fourths. Or however many you need to find the path you can follow and still feel good about yourself.

Everyone has a dream – and those who think they don’t, feel that way because they don’t see the opportunity to ever achieve that dream. There are a lot of people I can see out my own front door who have felt this way. It is up to me, to you, to anyone who wants to be part of the Solution (i.e. not part of the Problem) to do something to make this opportunity available. If not us, then who? Whom? I’ll have to check on that.

My dream, my cause, is to provide this opportunity to others who have felt, or feel like I once did. I used books as an escape – the best addiction I could have fallen into. If I can provide that escape for someone else, maybe they won’t seek out something worse, like a drug or alcohol addiction. Maybe they’ll finish school instead of selling drugs for a living. Maybe they’ll realize they are not stupid, are not worthless and maybe they’ll realize there are people like me who want to see them succeed. Maybe I can provide help in some way – and I will never know if I never try.

I don’t expect to become a millionaire by giving away books or teaching people how to write poetry. In anything I’ve ever wanted to do with my life, money has never been a motivating factor. I’ve always wanted to teach, to provide something, to offer help to those who need it. I want to provide something for those who are looking for an escape. Living in poverty does not mean one has to live within a prison.

What we lack in our most struggling areas are safe havens. Places kids can come to instead of having to go home, or to come to if there’s no place to call home. We’ll leave the light on for you. What do you want when you get home? You want to snuggle up on your favorite spot on the couch with a warm blanket, a cup of coffee, a cookie and a good book. At least, I do. If you don’t want to be alone, come here. Bring your friends or make new ones. Play a game of Scrabble with someone you’ve never met. Admire, and purchase, if you so desire, local art displayed on the walls. Listen to local bands, spoken word artists, open mic nights for hopeful singers and poets, and let your own voice be heard in a place absent of judgment. Eat some awesome baked yummies made with local products. Support your fellow man and find your safe spot in a big city with a heavy reputation on its broad shoulders.

I’ve worked in several restaurants, most recently the last almost four years in a large corporate one in many different roles. The two main things I have learned about myself from having this job are 1) I love working with people and 2) I’m good at working with food. Another thing I’ve learned is that I very much dislike corporations. I feel that corporations do not put enough care or real life research into handling employees like human beings. If we are to be expected to treat corporations as people, I would naturally expect them to do the same. However, I feel that this is not the case, and as a society, we are allowing this to become the norm. This is a struggle I am feeling in my current job, and I am so excited and anxious to embark on this journey towards this dream – so I can stop being part of the problem, and start providing a solution, as well as opportunities for better decisions to be made in my neighborhood.

I’ve always wanted to run a coffeehouse. They say to do what you love, so it never feels like work. If I didn’t have to work, where would I be? I would be at a coffeehouse, reading a book! It makes sense to me to run one. It makes sense to me to share books with others. It makes sense to offer good hospitality. Not much in my life up to now that I have done or experienced has made much sense. But these simple ideas… they make sense to me.

There’s so much I want to offer, and there’s so much out there to be taken advantage of, to turn into something that gives others an advantage. Walking through the streets of Detroit this past weekend, I saw some terribly ugly things, and I looked through those broken windows and firebombed homes to see the most beautiful potential. A breathtaking building just off Woodward with brick bones and a gaping hole in the roof pulled my eyes away more than once. I loved the building with rainbow windows. I can only imagine how pretty it must look shining inside. I’d like nothing more than to see it, and see my plans take shape inside a building with windows like that.

I saw such a vast array of art. Words, pictures, accusations and frustrations and anger flung about the city in spray paint and Magic Marker. People with voices but nobody to hear them. We want to make our mark on society, but how do we do that? How do we express ourselves, display our hearts, share ideas and educate our community on who their citizens truly are? What we have access to is limited and my hope is to open a door to a broader horizon. One where hope is, where our kids don’t feel like they have to join a gang to be part of a family. Where they don’t feel like they need heroin to find a way out. I want to get people off the streets and into an environment that promotes education, creativity, empathy and community.

I don’t want the people of my city to feel so angry they have to color on the walls anymore. I don’t want them to feel so sad they have to burn their houses down to make the pain go away. I want to teach them how to read and write and find other ways to occupy their time and their thoughts. Steer them in a direction towards a path that they can follow. One that is clearly marked for them, as this path has shown itself so clearly to me.

The other element of this project is the promotion of literacy in underfunded areas. When times get tough, the first city services to be cut are the ones not considered “vital services.” Literacy is the most vital service we can offer. Why do we always put our passions on the chopping block first? When will someone stand up and say, “No. Our libraries are important. Our museums are treasures. Our artists and artisans are valuable members of our society,”?

When books go to die, they are stripped of their covers and shredded. They are burned, valued as much as bodies tossed into a mass grave. Another load of crap to add to the landfills across our nation’s surface like unbecoming blemishes. It is absolute torture for this bibliophilic to know how so many wonderful stories and so many authors’ blood, sweat and tears meet their ends. I want to better our future by preserving our history. Let’s save those books and save our kids.

At Midge & Gulliver’s Book Swap Bake Shop, you’re going to find shelves and shelves of books. They’re not all going to be pretty, and chances are, you probably won’t have heard of many of them. You can take as many as you like. Read them, love them, bring them back for someone else to read and love. If you have others at home, bring them to share. If you love ours so much, keep them. Share them with someone else. My interest is not in how much money I’m going to make. My interest is making sure I’ve given someone the opportunity to have a better day.

You’re going to be offered a hot cup of coffee, or a warm cookie. If it’s a red letter day for you, maybe you’d rather have a cupcake! At our Book Swap Bake Shop, you can choose from all sorts of delicious goodies. I want to offer cookies, cupcakes, sandwiches and various coffee drinks. Maybe we’ll have breakfast. Who knows? Ultimately, we’ll have what you want.

If you just want to stop in and sit down in a comfy seat for a little while, that’s okay, too.  Sometimes all we need to get back on our feet is a comfortable place to rest them for a while.

Doesn’t it already sound like the nicest little place in the whole world? This is the happy place I’ve been hiding inside for the past couple of days since I began cultivating this idea. I’m not sure where to start. I’m not sure where to get funding for a project like this. I’m not sure where to find real estate resources or where to seek help in making this project a brick and mortar reality. I’m not sure about 99% of this amazing endeavor, but I’ve got the tightest grip humanly possible on the 1% that is representing the optimism I have for this vision.

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