Four years ago, during this time of year, I was recently released from Lynwood county jail and had nowhere to go. I had been homeless before but never over the Holidays. I remember walking in neighborhoods where I could see inside the homes of families where the Christmas tree was lit up and it was dim, with lights flickering from the TV. I imagined being warm on the couch curled up next to a loved one, safe. It’s easy to forget how fortunate you are to have things like a home, people you love, warmth, and food, until you don’t have any of it anymore. I had taken those things for granted for a lot of years. Now there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t acknowledge what I have in my life. I thank God everyday for my home, a warm bed, my doggies, friends and family that aren’t afraid of me dying, that love me unconditionally. I will never take those things for granted ever again. One of the other things I gained while I was homeless, was the profound realization that human beings are inherently good and have an overwhelming instinct to help others who are suffering. It is incredible how kind and empathetic a total stranger can be. We live in fear of strangers today, because of what we hear on the news. But my experience was very different. I am probably alive because of the actions of so many complete strangers. Through that temporary pain I gained permanent gratitude and hope in humanity.