Gratutude Sunday: Living La No Bootstrap Loca

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “It’s all right to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Sunday Haiku

Orange poppies line
roads beside purple lupines;
nature’s Picasso.

Sunday Musings
My boots are gone. Bootstraps gave out in 2016 when I was forced into early retirement. The boots went the way of the carefully constructed small savings cushion meant for after I officially retired at age 66. The forced early retirement took it all away just trying to survive, keeping my mortgage, property tax, and bills paid. Gone. Nary a boot to pull the straps up on, and no youth nor vigor left with which to find new employment or re-make another start in this crazy life of opportunity and choices .

And yet, I still live. I still have to eat, and sleep, and shower. Cash poor, I fake it through every day just praying no other unforeseen event will occur and knowing life well enough to know it’s only a matter of time before more shit hits the fan. Knowing I am unlikely to be able to fix or replace anything broken. Unable to invest or donate or even treat myself or a friend if I wanted to.

And yet, I have so much abundance. So much stuff that means nothing to any one but me. That has no value to anyone but me. It’s all I have. The effort to attempt to sell off some of the abundance seems to have less value when I want more for the item than any one is willing to pay.

And yet, it’s all so freaking complicated. The automatic raises I get in my limited income are never enough to cover the rising costs of food, utilities, gasoline. Who needs clothing? I can wear rags around the house and save my few nice pieces of clothing for being in public. Nobody comes to visit me so they don’t see my glad-home-rags. The only item I need to regularly replace is my swimsuit, which lasts about four or five months because of my addiction to three nights a week in a heavily chlorinated public pool. Indecent exposure at the pool will result in not being welcomed back, and I must feed my water addiction, so I cover the private parts of my body according to rules.

And yet, I still cry for justice. Not fairness, though that would be OK, but I’m not sure fairness exists or we might have eliminated poverty already. I don’t think we necessarily need to eliminate wealth, but poverty can be changed. We can pursue what is right, moral, ethical, and just for all of us. And none of this two or more levels of justice business where the wealthy can buy legal-esed fake justice, and the poor serve real punishments.

Don’t tell me I made poor choices. First, no re-dos, the past is past. Second, the choices were few and limited and hard. Recent example: I chose to try to extend the life of a living creature who gave three humans all kinds of snuggles and purrs, who left this earth anyway after the food the veterinarian wanted him changed to gave him diarrhea and in three weeks he lost half his body weight and began having a series of strokes. There are no guarantees in life, but it was complicated and I wonder if we should have listened to the professional in this case, as kitty didn’t have issues with the other food or if we should have even given him the tooth surgery recommended. I know, no guarantees; I didn’t fix my car, choosing the life of my cat instead. But the universe foxed me, no kitty, no fixed car, depleted savings. Triple whammy.

Don’t tell me I didn’t work hard enough. I did work I guarantee some of you wouldn’t do to feed myself and my family. I worked hours and schedules many people wouldn’t choose. I’ve washed toilets, and pulled weeds, and delivered newspapers at 3:00 AM to put food on my table.

Don’t tell me I should have divorced the hubster because he was unable to work. I took a vow, which I honored. You don’t throw away a husband because he’s broken.

Don’t tell me I should cut my loses. There are no loses to cut. I don’t live any kind of extravagant lifestyle, never have. I don’t buy cable TV, I don’t go out to breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or coffee. I don’t vacation (what’s that word?). I never go anywhere without making four or five stops on one tour to make sure I don’t waste gas. No first run movies at the theater for this girl, I’m behind the cultural curve until the movie or cable TV series is available to borrow from my local lending library. My joy of live theater is totally sublimated because I can’t even afford the senior discount. My twenty year old car needs a thousand dollars of work, my modest sufficient house is falling apart around me, and my yard will soon consume my house. I am blessed with the luxury of having one friend who loves me so much she buys my annual membership to the pool, otherwise I would have to re-prioritize funds, being addicted to pool time as I am (there are worse things to be addicted to). I am so selfishly focused (read that facetiously) I dare to think I deserve basic comforts after working in service to my country and family for the last 50 years because I tried so hard to make it happen by myself.

Bootstraps are worthless when they don’t exist. Even more so when the boots have worn so far down as to be non-existent as well. No boots, no bootstraps. I’m not blameless; I made my choices, but in a society where the myth of self-sufficiency rules, I haven’t been able to manage by myself. I needed help; I need a village. I needed stronger bootstraps. What I got was more crazy.

When you’ve worn out your bootstraps through job changes whether of your own making or the wishes of others, or relocation, or mishap, you start grabbing hold of the edges of your boots. Once illness, injury, or mayhem wear the boots through, bare feet don’t get you far. They burn and blister easily, they are cut by every slender shard of glass or sharp rock, they are stuck by random thistles or blackberry prickles lying around. They are stung by bees and bitten by fleas. They peel and rot because they are exposed, instead of protected in cozy, clean, warm, well-fitted socks and boots. Callouses take a long time to form and make it difficult to perform.

What do we do without boots or bootstraps? I’ve seen folks give up, and others who resign themselves. I’ve seen others thrive making the best with what they have and some just survive. I’ve seen people walk on hot coals and wade through cold muddy water. Others are satisfied with the status quo and still others learn to adapt and find new ways. Like being satisfied to kick ass in slippers instead of boots. Like getting more satisfaction out of mastering a dance move or new water exercise, than seeing the number on the scale. Like being more comfortable asking for help for those who have less because I know their stories; they are me. Like accepting the notion that opportunities and choices are not always under one’s control in this crazy life. Like recognizing the luxury of noticing joyful moments every day that seldom got noticed when working full-time.

Those moments are more precious as we age. Joyful moment: I woke up, I can see, I am walking without pain, I have my own teeth to brush, I still have some hair. Honestly the older we get the more joyful moments there are, or the more we notice because we might have bare feet.

Looking at joyful moments or, in a word, gratefulness, when one’s boots are gone one celebrates one’s feet. Because one has feet and some people don’t. One lavishes a little more care on them because it is what we have. One takes the time to scrape the rough spots off, to massage lotion into them, to paint the nails some bright cheerful color (reminiscent of those purple boots, of course), and decorate at least one toe with a pretty silver ring.

Then you put one foot in front of the other and you start walking. Again. You have no choice. However equipped you are at the moment, forward is the only direction. You can choose to stagnate, or not. You can try something new, or not. Either way you create a crazy, no boot, no bootstrap life. One that works for you.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – A creamy white striped clematis entertaining a local busy bee. I don’t know the name of this lacy pink and I love the way it looks naturalized against the white fence. Weeds are pretty too; purple shooting stars are deadly nightshade. The darkest purple shade of rhododendron cultivar; my uncle called it Blue Peter. Vibrant purple clematis with a neon pink stripe.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} The Hippopotamus (2017, not rated), a poet is sent to investigate miracle healings purportedly done by his godson, only to reveal the mundane truth to the family. Quirky and funny. * Wine Country (2019, rated R), left a taste of sour wine in my mouth. Personally, I don’t like the smell of wine (full disclosure: I had to quit drinking 40 years ago because of liver disease; I get sick before I get a buzz so why bother), nor do I enjoy being around really drunk people. I know it’s a lifestyle for some people and there is a huge difference between the glass-or-two person, and the bottle-a-day person, and the more-than-that person. An almost two-hour-movie-weekend of long time friends getting drunk and questioning their friendship was uncomfortable comedy despite a couple funny lines (“Things we say now”), and even though I know the challenges we face as real women, the movie came off more like Whine Country. Yet this is one of those movies I feel I’m being too judgey on because I understand where whininess and crankiness comes from; I’m really glad this group of women made this movie, and you might like it. I’ll try it again in three or four years. * Philadelphia (1993, rated PG – 13) with Tom Hanks in the fight for dignity for those suffering from AIDS. I needed to watch this for the cultural references I run into about the movie. I didn’t watch it back in the day because I was involved watching a beloved cousin die from AIDS. * Re-viewed 50 First Dates (2004, rated PG – 13) with Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler. I remember enjoying this the first time around. Sandler’s signature humor is crude, with potty and body jokes at the 7th grade boy level, but this is one of the few movies Sandler kept the crude humor reined in to a minimally tolerable quantity and was entertaining despite the smattering of crudeness. Barrymore saves the day with her performance.

Currently Reading
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (2017, fiction) by Taylor Jenkins Reid (American author), a biographical approach to Evelyn’s seven and her true love, with a bit of humor, psychology, and fashion on top of the love stories which relieves it from the tedium of a romance. * Just Give Money to the Poor: The Development Revolution from the Global South (2010, world social development) by Armando Barrientos, David Hulme, and Joseph Hanlon. I’ve learned a small piece about global finance and global poverty, and am so very glad to be done with this dry statistical study. Clarity will be revealed when I write out the notes I took. Author’s final conclusion: giving cash to the poor and trusting them to know how to spend it to make the biggest difference in their lives actually works, in individual families and to the benefit of the community and nation. The major premise is one must trust the poor to know themselves, and not blame the poor for circumstance beyond their control, such as generational poverty.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The abundance of stuff I find when I clean. Recently unearthed a small bottle of wedding theme colored M&Ms from a nephew’s marriage. The M&Ms weren’t even stale, but since nephew and wife have been married five or six years now and expecting their second baby, I’m going to toss the candy and keep the cute little bottle.
  • Still being able to twist into the positions it takes to wax my own legs. Even when I miss a few hairs.
  • Having fun wearing ankle bracelets while my legs are sleek and hairless. I like the ones that make tinkly noises when I walk.
  • Turning off the heater again. Had a cooler spell for a couple weeks and had turned it on again. I’m usually all about bundling up, but I’m ready to un-bundle.
  • People who manage English as a second language, because of how hard it has been as an English speaker to gain fluency in French or Spanish. English isn’t exactly straightforward.
  • Refunds for all the cat food left after Mister Kitty’s demise.
  • My I’ll-believe-it-when-I-see-it attitude. I don’t get my hopes up so when it doesn’t happen I’m not so terribly disappointed. And delightfully surprised if all goes per plan or better than.
  • Getting some math straightened out with Social Security after an hour on the phone with them, though I don’t understand why they have to make simple things so complicated. All about proper communication. We have to wait and see if the call communicated properly.
  • Not being surprised when the neighbor’s tree hasn’t come down per stated schedule.
  • Being able to view all the Portland Rose Festival parades on TV.
  • Being picky.
  • Being flexible within a range.
  • Having a range.
  • Oregon Hood strawberries.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

This entry was posted in abundance, Aging, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, History, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Politics, Vacations and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Gratutude Sunday: Living La No Bootstrap Loca

  1. T H2O's says:

    I’ll NEVER forget that scene in Philadelphia when Tom Hanks dances with that IV device. So tender, so frail, so beautifully sad. I’m glad you’ve seen it.


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