Gwen! You Won!

I know there has been a lot of silence since the announcement of the car giveaway, lots of things having to fall into place. Everything is in line, back on the road with tons to share. But first, the car. Tomorrow, I’ll be in Pensacola to deliver the car to Gwen.

Choosing a winner was hard. You’ll remember the process from the last post, if not you can read how it all went down HERE. There were several letters that were top contenders. So if you’re reading this and want to do something for someone, let me know. I’ve got a couple of people who deserve nice things to happen.

What it comes down is that Gwen was the right story in the right circumstance. My car is a putter around town car. Would it be a perfect first car for some teenager? Absolutely, only not being a legal adult makes things complicated. My car would only be a band aide for some of the letters. Though solid, it is not a car that should be someone’s sole transportation to earn a living to support an entire family. My little car could last another 100,000 miles or could die next week (the damn thing has been trying it’s hardest this last week). Honestly, Gwen came really close to just getting a check a couple of times since the announcement. But, $800 later the car that I loved so much is in top shape for her new owner. What if all of that had happened AFTER I passed the car off? Upside, my checkbook is extremely happy to see the car go.

Very few of the letters were from people who had no connection to me. This made it crazy hard. In the end, it wasn’t fair to punish someone because I knew someone they knew. The top 3 letters went through a million readings from about 6 set of eyes before the winner was chosen. After all that….we made a phone call. Of course, I was in a hotel with a bad connection and the video turned out fuzzy. Don’t worry, after a discussion on angles, I fired my cameraman (I kid, mostly).

Is this Gwen? You wrote me a letter…

After all the excitement and shock of the announcement, we forgot about how this is supposed to change someone’s life. What you didn’t get to hear (or see) was all of us breaking down crying when it got serious. At the end of the day, Gwen is 18 years old on the opposite side of the country…you know what, I’ll just let her tell you.

Most of the letters I received were pages long. I would be willing to bet it was the first time they had ever put pen to paper letting their story fill the space. There are a lot of times you pour the words out without realizing what you’ve said. While Gwen has said I can share her story, I have withheld parts of it. She didn’t have a great upbringing. As a teenager, she was taken from her mother and taken in by the people she now calls her parents. This is a happy ending and that’s what we are going to focus on; that is the part of her story that is mine to tell.

Without further ado, I present you Gwen’s winning letter:

Dear Muffy,

Deserve is a difficult word. I was raised to earn and work for everything that I have. I can say with honesty, I have not been proud of all my life choices I’ve made. At one point I learned i had to simply grow the heck up and stop blaming others for perpetuating my downward spiral.  I know the difference between needing and deserving. I’m sure there are far worse of stories than my own. But the truth of the matter is, I have turned my life around, I now am struggling with the ghost of my past and the uncertainty of my future. One thing I always hold on to my Mom’s words of advice, however hard they are to swallow:

I will always remember one of my Mother’s favorite stories… she used to read it to me. It was by Author Robert Fulghum…. ” The fireman responded to a smoke engulfed apartment and found a bed wildly lit on fire. They questioned the tenant after they pulled him from the burning bed as to how the fire started..“I don’t know he said, “It was on fire when I laid down on it”…..

This verse will forever haunt me and remind me that my life situations and choices cannot simply be excused away. Whether or not my life was a hot mess, or a bed on fire…it is ultimately MY choice if I’m going to lay down on it and allow someone to come rescue me, or if I’m going to recognize…hey this fire is probably not the best idea- let me get the hell up outta here.

I am so thankful that my parents didn’t “give” me a darn thing when I was undeserving. They could have easily afforded me everything my teenage spoiled heart desired. A car, fashionable clothes, hair highlights…but they refused. They would never ever allow me anything of serious value unless I had earned it. Trust me, that led to quite a bit of my rebellion as a teenager. However, reflecting back now, as a young adult- I see why they instilled in me the values of working hard and earning every single thing that I own. I have a sense of pride now- not entitlement. I respect my hard work and literal blood sweat and tears that I put into things as simple as grocery shopping for my home. I have to actively think now about the fact that milk is $4.25 a gallon and getting my nails filled is $12.00- so do I want to buy breakfast for a week or have my nails done?
Growing up sucks. It sucks Ass. And I wish I never had to do it. I wish I wouldn’t have rushed through my teenage years with so much haste. I want to go back and make it all right again.
But here I am, 18 years old, Navy wife-  across the country from all my friends and any family that I have. I’ve struggled so darn much just to survive. Struggled for my marriage. Struggled to maintain my sanity. Truth is, my husband is sick. He was just discharged medically from the Navy. We now have no business here in Florida and are heading home with our tails between our legs. Like we “Tried to adult” and failed. I’ve begged for jobs around here…settling for $5.00 an hour working in a sandwich shop. All the while watching all my former classmates and friends start their second year at college. Go to Mexico on Spring Break, gain new internships. Here I sit- trying to be a supportive Navy wife- a WORLD a away from anyone who loves me, no transportation what so ever. This car would mean so much  to me. It would mean that I could actually have the means to continue my dreams and attend college!! I could have transportation to go out and find another job. I have worked so hard to get where I am. My biological parents influences should have made me careless and uneducated, drug dependent,  a parasite to society, and a nobody. I wouldn’t have graduated high school… but I did it 160 credits behind and I graduated on time.
Do I “deserve” a car?? no. I don’t think anyone truly deserves anything they have not earned. My parents didn’t raise me that way. Would this car change my life ? In so many ways I cannot even begin to express. The feeling of being that much closer to actually being a normal adult- and being able to attend college so I can actually make something of myself.
So here is my pledge to you- If at any point I am gifted this car… I vow to you I WILL PAY IT FORWARD. This will not end here. One selfless act truly begets another my mom always said. And I will live up to this solemn promise. If given this act of generosity and opportunity- I will in turn reach down and help the next one in line in the same manner.
I know what its like to envision your life like a burning bed…and I chose to NOT lay down on it and allow someone to come rescue me. If given the gift and opportunity to better my circumstances and education with a vehicle… I will use it to also ensure others see that just because their bed is on fire… they don’t have to lay down on it either.
There you have it. I hit “publish” on this post and get on the highway to Pensacola. I’m 6 hours away, but tomorrow morning I meet Gwen and hopefully change a life.

 

 

 

What’s Going on with the FREE Car?

Glad you asked! Letters have been coming in from allover! Even as far as California! IMG_8406Huge thanks to everyone who has helped spread the word! Especially, Holy City Sinner and Michael Chatman’s #WhyIGive campaign for sharing the info. I even saw that the Salvation Army in Danville printed it out.

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In order to keep it fair and impartial, I’ve got a system in place. Every letter is being read by me then sorted out. If it even hints at someone I might know or know through someone, the letter gets a second read from an individual party. It isn’t fair to exclude someone just because I know them and vice versa.

There was some concern that I would receive a bunch of heart wrenching letters and never be able to pick. Sadly, there have been some doozies…on the wrong end of the spectrum.

Come on people. You’ve got 12 kids, no home, no job, and only one arm so my car would really change your life? There is no way 12 kids would fit in my car and it’s a stick shift so you’ll probably need two arms.

Insensitive? Maybe, but man the whoppers I’m seeing. Luckily, I have a big brain to go with this big heart. All the letters that are moving on are being checked out by a third party. Just be honest guys! You don’t have to have a super sob story to get this car.

Also, in case this has not been covered enough: it is a real car. It really is a real car that I am giving away. That’s cool if you don’t believe me. I get it, it is the internet. But please, as much as I love hearing from y’all, there is no need to tell me how my FREE car is not good enough for you. Let’s keep that to yourselves.

We’ve still got a few more weeks before the April 21st deadline! There is not an exact date yet of when I’ll be announcing the winner, it is going to depend on how many letters arrive on the last day and where the winner lives. I would guess I’ll announce around the beginning of May.

If you know someone who might need a car or want to send in a letter yourself you can get all the details HERE.

Make sure to follow Muffy On the Move on Facebook, Twitter @MuffyOnTheMove, and Instagram @MuffyOnTheMove for updates. Good luck and keep the letters coming!

 

 

 

FREE CAR

I’ve always loved the written word. Renowned penpal, I am never without a book of stamps to send off a quick note, a letter to remind you I care. Thanks to the written word, now I get to send off postcards from all over. Not having a car payment played a big part.
What would you do without a car payment? If someone just gave you a car, would that change your life? Then let’s change your life. You can have my car. No strings attached, all you have to do is send me a letter telling me why you deserve my car. Grammar doesn’t matter, don’t get caught up in that. Look at me, I laugh in the face of punctuation without an editor! But, I won’t bother looking at your letter if it isn’t handwritten.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. You only get considered if you mail a letter. No emails, no calls, no texts. A handwritten letter is the only way you get considered.

2. All letters must arrive in the mailbox at the yellow house by April 21st. Mail your letter to:

Muffy Morris

1107 Riva Ridge, Danville, KY 40422

3. Don’t bother mailing your letters after April 21st, I won’t be here after that.
4. If given the car you cannot sell, trade, or any other type of negotiation for profit.

5. Location doesn’t matter. If you don’t care about the extra miles, we can talk about getting the car to you wherever it is you are.
The Car:

Silver 2004 Hynadi Elantra hatchback

166,000 miles +/-

Stick shift, moonroof

It’s a solid car. Within the last year I’ve put in a new oil pan and a new clutch. It does need a new emergency brake and a CO2 thermometer (It got put in upside down. Promise, it’s the only thing I attempted to do myself). Both easy fixes. The driver side window is off track and there’s some exterior dings. No water damage, we’re flood free and hurricane evacuees. Primary focus is, this car is free.

Moving Monday?

There has been an offer on the house; the light at the end of the tunnel might be getting brighter. I miss being on the road. Even though I’ve been still, my mind hasn’t stopped. 

Nostalgia can’t help from lurking at every corner. Memories both tangible and intangible are all over this place. The “what ifs” are starting to creep in now. What if I had done this in August when I was first asked? Would I still have Mizzou? Would I have seen my grandmother more? 

There is no point in what ifs, that doesn’t mean they don’t run rampant through my thoughts. 

It hasn’t been all sad. I found a tent and a sleeping bag in the garage attic. I’m sure there has to be others…I’ll think of them eventually. 

From here, there’s the world. I’ll pack back up and head off. Before that I’ll pack up the memories both tangible and intangible. This was the last semblance of home and my purpose of being here is to get rid of it. 

There’s no looking back now, the world awaits. 

Almost Lost in Texas

Yeah, I’ve got theme going here. Don’t you worry, I have more stories about being lost than you have time to read. This can go on for forever!

While driving back from New Mexico, The Chef and I decided to detour to McDonald’s Observatory. Lucky for me, The Chef doesn’t just keep me well fed, he also is a star nerd too. So we decide to take a detour to the observatory for one of their Star Parties. Yes, Star Parties! It should be noted that the peeps at McDonald’s Observatory are using the word “party” loosely. They do not offer beverages and there is no music or chit chat. And it just so happened that we were in the area on the night of a Star Party! They also have a Twilight Program beforehand. We didn’t make it in time, but I’m going to guess they don’t offer cocktails there either.

As super exciting as the observatory is, it is not the point even though the topic of discussion that evening was my absolute favorite constellation Orion. I’ll hold off on my love/nerd rant for another time. Still going to sneak in some pics for your viewing pleasure.

img_8230On our way up the mountain, the fog started to roll in. Somewhere along the way we passed javelinas. It was exciting! That was when I realized I lost signal and couldn’t Google fun facts on javelinas to chatter to The Chef.
I’ve been losing signal the whole trip off and on, no big deal.

Except, The Chef lost signal too and he never did. Surely it would reappear once we made it around the bend? It did not. The fog just got thicker.

We kept our eyes peeled for road signs. Finally, we made it up to the top of the mountain at 6,780 ft. It was really, crazy dark. Super cold and crazy dark. You see, the observatory has minimal lighting and red bulbs where they do have lighting. starparty_1
There was lots of dark and lots of clouds. There was so much cloud coverage we couldn’t see any stars and had a virtual sky gazing tour (no where near as cool).

After seeing the giant telescope, we skipped the second hour of the evening. The evening was getting late and we still hadn’t confirmed a hotel. For some reason, Ft. Davis had a shortage of hotel rooms. The 16 miles winding down the mountain in the dark and the fog with no wifi or signal was an estimated 30 minute drive to Ft. Davis. With no public wifi and an unhelpful volunteer at the desk who wouldn’t pull up a map let alone print one off, dictated the appropriate turns and twists to get off the mountain. It was not reassuring.
We snagged a hotel brochure witimg_8235h a teeny tiny map hoping for the best. Exasperated I couldn’t Google if javelinas eat humans (since obviously we would get lost, breakdown, and be murdered by wild piggies) I started shaking my phone at The Chef. As if he didn’t already understand that my phone wouldn’t work, I pulled up the compass that should have been able to tell us our elevation. Except the compass started moving.
Turns out, your compass isn’t based off your cellphone signal, the compass is electronic. While it is not the most accurate option, it is enough to find your way down a mountain away from murderous javelinas in a pinch.

So when you get lost in Paris, call America Express and when you’re lost on a mountain without a signal, pull up your compass to avoid driving around in circles hidden in the fog.

Everything Changes

The other night driving to dinner, I was thinking about Cuba. At the time, canceling seemed like the best thing to do. The Travel Ban was wrecking havoc and Spicer announced that they were starting to look at Cuba…let’s be honest, if only one plane in the entire world, only one person to be effected by a change in the embargo with Cuba then that person would be me. It’s my curse of good luck. 

It’s been discussed before with all of my wonderful luck comes my bad luck. I’ve been escorted home by Buckingham Palace guards, held hostage in a terminal in Germany, been asked to leave a flight in Bermuda because they thought my mother was a drug lord, debated over who had to take me between America and the Bahamas, as well as been delivered to the border by Canadian Mounties who get very upset if you ask if they’re real Mounties even though they’re not on horseback. If anyone was prime for limbo of an embargo, it is me. 

Honestly though, I think my spirit was broken. My isolation has been driving me crazy, but it’s coming round. There was so much to go through that being on the road would have pushed me over the edge or forced it all down inside of me. Back to seeing a balance, I thought about Cuba. I’ve thought about an end game, a final result. The wandering isn’t over, just maybe the living out of a carry on. Do you realize I’ve been rotating out the same 8 outfits regardless of the climate since December 4th? Poor things were getting pretty threadbare. 

You know what they say, we plan He laughs. There are loose plans in shape…mostly in the shape of a sailboat, but there’s probably a couple of continents before I unpack. It’s just silly. Cali is so close to Hawaii, Hawaii is so close to SEA, and SEA is so close to Australia…how can I not?! That should get me through hurricane season. Plenty of time for me to think of a name for a sailboat too. 

The boat isn’t the point. The point is driving the other night I thought about how sometimes your heartbreaks and your dreams change. That is exactly what had happened. Then it dawned on me that that isn’t a new thought. In fact, it is exactly how this whole thing got started in the first place. The header asks “how many miles to heal a gypsy soul?” Looks like we’re starting from zero and beginning all over again. 

Travel Tip Tuesday: Lost in Paris

Where were we? Right, sixteen year old Muffy gallivanting around Europe. If you remember, yesterday I told you about my puppy love and hijinks in Hyde Park all made possible by my absent chaperone. As a teenager with her first real taste of freedom, it was glorious. As an adult, looking back I realize how irresponsible. 

Who thought it was a good idea to let a chaperone who had never been out of the country and didn’t speak any foreign languages be our charge? Our co-chaperones were her college age daughter and one of her friends (I think). 
The chaperone was relishing in her own first trip abroad. It gave us all the opportunity to run wild, which we did…until it got out of hand. 
We were in Paris, only the second city of our trip. We had been gone only a few days. We were supposed to be going to Moulin Rouge only our chaperone was drunk, too much wine.  No help at all. As the sun set, we all started to realize even if we didn’t know where we were supposed to be, this was definitely not it. 

I called my mother collect. “Where am I? I don’t know Mom, somewhere in the red light district.” I’ll give Mom this, when she’s Mom she is on point. Her daughter called from the other side of the ocean in need of an adult. She didn’t panic, she didn’t yell; I’m sure she saved that for the principal. She asked me if I had my American Express card. She told me to call the number on the card. 

American Express got me to my hotel. They still offer “I’m 16 and lost in the red light district of another country” help. In my time as a Vacation Savant, I urged guests to book their vacations with the AmEx card if they had one. They have excellent travel insurance built in just by booking with the card. 

There are lots of cards out there with offers of points. I’m not saying choose American Express. What I am saying is when you choose your in “case of emergency” credit card, make sure you look at what emergency it offers assistance. 

Swans of Hyde Park

For all those who have seen my attempt to clap “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” you’ll understand the depth of what I am about to say: my musical ability is just above my artistic ability. I am extremely creative, I lack the execution. Mostly, I’d put glitter on every surface available. 

Knowing this I’m somewhat amazed that my mother gave in to my pleas to let me tag along with my high school’s art class trip to Europe. You would think the high school art teacher would have been a little wise since I had never taken a single art class with no intention to ever do so either. Turns out the art teacher didn’t speak any foreign languages (well, maybe Spanish but we weren’t schedule to visit Spain) and had never been out of the country. How this didn’t come up in one of the parent meetings prior to the trip is beyond me. For sixteen year old Muffy, this was lining up to be the trip of a lifetime. Man, was it ever. 

Back then airlines gave you free alcoholic beverages in flight and once you hit international waters drinking age was eighteen. Close enough for me! The adventures of underage underage drinking will be for another time. 
Among the museum tours and lots and lots of cathedrals, there was even more free time with even less supervision. Full abandonment of any delusion my chaperone had any control over us was lost in Paris, only our second stop. That I’ll save for tomorrow’s Tuesday Travel Tip. 
Always the heartbreaker, of course I met boys; even an American in Switzerland who I dated after returning to the States. After all, I am enchanting. But, there was one in London. 

All this time later, I’ve lost the memory of how we met. Before cellphones and Tinder, it would have been simply by chance. Packed away in one of the two storage bins I have stored away there’s a photo of us together. He was gorgeous and I was a sun kissed bubbly teen. If only you could savor that kind of carefree for when you are older, beyond having it as a memory, for days when the stress is too much. 

We took a bottle of wine and snuck into Hyde Park after dark. He laughed at my accent and I soaked up his as he tried to explain to me their version grades in high school. We looked for the stars and I told him at my house you could see them all since I didn’t live in the city. He told me how much he loved American Dr. Pepper. We told stories about everything, secrets about nothing, and whispered into the breeze until dawn. Minus the whole breaking into a park, it was an evening of innocence that seems like more than enough when you’re sixteen. 

Eventually, the sun came up and the swans started to wake. As the flock began their way to the water, I started to make my way to the hotel. Curfew was long gone and I was supposed to catch a ferry for Paris. They may have missed me at bed count, but I had a suspicion someone might take notice upon leaving the country. 

He could come with me, no he couldn’t. Even at sixteen, I knew he was going to be a better memory than reality. Now more than twice my age then, that still holds true. When I gave back his hoodie, he gave me his ring. I thought my heart might break when he kissed me goodbye. It could have been a movie. This was a movie, maybe something about a train?

There had been a trio of us and he had a pair of friends with him. They made us laugh, we all had drinks. We were at the age that all we wanted were for boys to talk to us, cute boys with British accents? Yes, please. We paired off. 

Who knows who he grew up to be. All those dreams we planned that night, I couldn’t even tell you what mine were back then, who knew if his came true. Mine were either plans to go to one day become a lawyer (I was really close) or something completely outlandish (which I am doing exceedingly well with). 
It is a different time and a different place. His name was Amid, he was Muslim. Or maybe, I guess he is Muslim. There are many, many reasons now why I wouldn’t wander off in another country with a man (especially not to break the law by breaking into a park). Even in my own country I would not wander off with a man. There is more darkness lurking in the dark when you’re an adult.

It is a different time and place, in this day and age…I probably never would have met Amid. My exploits would have a snapchat filter lost in technology, not a photo for me to hold and remember. I’d never have been unconnected from my parents or chaperones long enough to make a memory. I worry that if we had met this day, this age in this time and place that him being Muslim and me being an American would not have just been tiny parts of us that didn’t factor into our story. I worry it would have been all of our story if we even got that far. Mostly, I worry that instead of him being amazed that back in America we say “y’all,” he’d be amazed at how back in America they say “terrorist” without even knowing him.