Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.
Oh, plum blossom, what
power you hold in your scent,
carry me away.
Hear that? Hard to miss. That is the sound of a door slamming.
And that little second noise? The softer one? It’s not an echo. It’s the sound of the door hitting me in the ass on the way out.
You know that good old cliché: when one door closes, another opens? That’s what I’m dealing with right now.
It’s hard when the “choice” is forced upon you. I forget there are mean people out there who find their joy in hurting others and are willing to lie, bully, twist words, and manipulate to make it happen. Sometimes it’s not even personal; mean people are that way by nature and take out everyone in their pathway, whether it advances them or not. I forget because I don’t behave that way and I don’t expect it from others. I sometimes get hurt because I forget and trust people who are inherently mean and I don’t constantly have my guard up. That’s no way to live, not trusting the people around you. Always watching your back.
So I got kicked. Maybe I didn’t cover my back. That doesn’t mean I am down, it also doesn’t mean I’m kicking back. But I am still kicking. I don’t believe in revenge, too much negative thought never resulting in anything but a poor outcome, and I need to spend my energy on moving forward and taking care of myself. I do believe in truth and justice.
Kicking is going to be hard for me. I’m going to speak frankly about finances and living with low income issues which are not well addressed in this literate democratic society. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders would understand my plight. I am seeking new employment with tons of skills and experience, but I am 62, fat, female, barely tech savvy, with a whole host of health challenges. Because I am a paycheck to paycheck girl with only a small retirement account and no contingency fund, until I find employment I have to ask for help, never easy in our “self-sufficient” United States of America. I’ll be learning about unemployment, looking for employment, seeking health insurance at the lowest cost I can find, applying for food stamps, mortgage assistance, and disability for the hubster, basically asking taxpayers to support me while I go through a rough patch. I can’t afford to retire, though that is appealing right now. No matter how I crunch the numbers retirement doesn’t work yet. It’s a bit dark right now as I move through the hallway between doors.
I’ve asked for help before. 23 years ago when the son was born I was unable to go back to the hairdressing industry I’d been in for 20 years because of physical changes in my body during and after his Cesarean birth. I needed help changing careers and living in the meantime. The hospital where the son was born was helpful in getting me started with phone numbers and addresses. No internet then. No cell phones. These conveniences we are comfortable with now existed for only a few people and were large and cumbersome to use, the change of one generation. Back then you had to go to state offices in person, and fill out forms with pen on paper to get any kind of assistance. 1992 to 1996 was when Clinton’s “welfare reform” was taking place. It felt like I had to fight for every scrap. For the record, I hate food boxes, boxes full of canned and packaged mostly processed poisonous mass produced commercial foodstuff that provides few to zero nutrients. How can you keep yourself healthy enough to work eating that stuff? I can hardly call it food.
I support a physically challenged hubster: he has fibromyalgia and is in constant pain. Social Security has a few gaps in assistance with two main options. The hubster does not qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance, which is determined by time you worked. He hasn’t been able to work since his mid-twenties, and with no work record he doesn’t qualify. He also didn’t qualify for Supplemental Security Income which is based on financial need. Because I’ve been able to work for more than minimum wage (but not much more!), even though we were raising a child, Social Security said our $40,000.00 annual income was too large. We’ve struggled by, becoming homeowners, paying state and federal income taxes, and property taxes, as well. Maybe he will qualify now. Since I’ll be in-between finding health insurance this will be another challenge. Another gap in the system includes the hubster not qualifying for Social Security Retirement Income because he has no work history; he can collect only a small amount from my work history when I retire or die. And he doesn’t qualify for Medicare because of the same issue. We’ll cross that bridge soon as well.
The advantage of welfare reform beginning in 1992 was the focus toward getting people back to work and the opportunity to participate in classes and learning, resulting for me in a college degree. No, welfare did not pay to put me through college. It helped during a short period of time while I found work, financial aid, and went through a relocation.
A relocation now would be the end for me. I already did 20 household moves and I wanted my last move to be my last move. Moving is probably my least favorite thing to do ever. I would not be physically able to do it and knowing my mental stability right now it could do me in. I will do everything I can to keep my home; I need to retire and die here. How can you find work if you don’t have somewhere you can count on to refresh and nurture you each day? I am spoiled having my own bed, shower, toilet, kitchen, water. Every person should be so spoiled with such basic comforts.
I’ve begun the learning process. Now we have the internet. Now we have cell phones (though mine’s not a smart phone). I know it’s a long tedious process, but asking for help while I’m looking to change jobs is my best option, otherwise I have nothing. The extremely small savings I have is locked up in retirement accounts and I will need that money later when I retire. The help may or may not be forthcoming; all the welfare rules have changed. No guarantees.
I’ve never asked for unemployment before. In the past I’ve been able to find work when I wanted or needed to. You used to be able to walk into places and ask for jobs and after a little paperwork you were employed. Now, oh my gosh, they want your DNA and your first born child. And the job descriptions and requirements! You have to have a college degree to figure out what they are saying. Yes, I’m exaggerating, but it seems like they make it as hard as possible. Or maybe I’m the only one who actually reads the information and what they write is confusing. I’ll call and talk to a real live human person who has a job and have them walk me through it as many of the forms and applications are on-line now. Add to these challenges the difficulty to stay focused and concentrating because of the stress and we (the royal we) have a very full learning curve ahead. Again, no guarantees I’ll get unemployment.
I want to go to bed and pull the covers over my head, or lie around the house reading, watching movies, going for little walks, shopping as needed at farmer’s markets, preparing fresh meals, cleaning my house, maybe digging up a little garden. I want to cry and rage and yell at God and the universe and the people who had their hand in making a big fat mess. I want to vanish, to disappear from this life, and walk upon the damp sand of the beach forever. I want to lie down on the wet green grass under my blossoming pear tree and breathe until the fragrance is gone many days from now after the petals have all fallen from the tree. None of which will be my reality.
I have no time to cry or rage or give up. In this self-sufficient society, I will be very busy this week, asking for help, filling out forms, getting my car fixed so I have more reliable transportation as my next adventure might be further from home, filling out and filing applications. I will be frustrated and outside my comfort zone. I will be learning and growing. I will struggle and be flexible. I will open my mind and my heart to opportunities and possibilities. I will move beyond the past and move forward. Easy to say. We’ll see how it plays out.
Hear that? It’s really hard to hear. That tiny whisper of a squeeee is the noise of a door opening. It’s going to get noisier for a while here while I open doors.
Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – those little white quarter-sized daisies are popping up in lawns all over my neighborhoods. Here’s one tinged in pink. A patch of purple violets at the base of a weathered fence. Another patch of purple violets below a frothy yellow forsythia bush. Is it alive or dead? Gray bark and pruned branches make me wonder. Fat creamy white baubles on what my aunt called a bridal veil bush, though when I look it up the pictures don’t match, so I’m not sure what the plant is yet. Pink baubles of a similar bush look like dangling earrings.
Current View – Binged through season 7 of Castle (2015, not rated), a romantic comedy mystery series by ABC and Disney, starring Nathan Fillion of Firefly fame cast as a mystery writer who becomes involved with a female New York Police officer, and uses her as a model for a female protagonist in his best-selling mystery novels. Very little graphic gore and violence, no gratuitous language, and a diverse cast. Light, guilty pleasure.
Currently Reading – The Zig Zag Girl (2015, fiction) by Elly Griffiths, from her Magic Men series, quite a bit different than her Ruth Galloway series, but still a reliably good British mystery. How to Have a Good Day: Harness the Power of Behavioral Science to Transform Your Working Life (2016, neuropsychology) by Caroline Webb. Always looking for ways to improve my performance, more important than ever now. Yes, concurrently.
This week I have been grateful for:
- Still being in my house, and the comfort of my own bed, toilet, kitchen, and laundry.
- Having all my bills currently paid.
- Appliances currently working properly.
- The kindness of a handful of friends.
- A few people who know the truth about me, not that I have secrets, but who see the beauty I think I am in my soul.
- Financial assistance already offered by friends and counselors who have been privy to the process I’ve been going through these last couple months.
- Understanding how hard this is on my guys who feel like they are in the passenger seat (not in control).
- My sister listening patiently while I cried into her ear on the phone. Had to let it out to someone.
- Making progress on getting my car running better.
- Keeping my eye on the daily steps of moving forward.
- Being vigilant about my health during this rough patch, eating as healthfully as possible, getting exercise and rest when I can, though stress makes sleeping problematic.
- Realizing last week was my 200th post on this blog: 200 completed and published essays. And some of you read them all. Thank you!
Hoping you have a lovely week.
Namaste. Peace. Blessings.
Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch
Floral paragraph dividers by Susan Branch