Sometimes it’s hard to get started. Sometimes I didn’t know in which direction to go. If you are like I was, overwhelmed with to much too take care of, too many problems to solve; all solutions seem like dead ends. Questions like: “the car needs attention, but then how do I pay the phone bill? How am I going to work?” took all my attention.
How in the world was I going to work on anything for myself? Goals, career? Anything?
On top of that, the insecurity of “making the right choice,” lack of confidence and the existing demands on my time (caregiving, work ) made the task of moving forward insurmountable.
So I had to frame it in a way I could wrap my brain around it… metaphorically. Maybe it will work for you.
I looked at goal setting like it was an adventure. That helped, imagining myself as pioneer, looking for a place to settle. I’ve got my eye set on a mountain in the distance. That’s my goal. It’s going to take a long time to get there, but every step gets me closer. On the way I go through meadows, valleys. I hit hard winters and lush summers. All the while I have my eye on that mountain. Knowing, that is the goal. Almost there, I walk through this beautiful valley, with an easy flowing river, lots of trout. Fertile ground for a garden and a protected place to build a south facing cabin, it looks ideal. But the mountain is close. I keep going.
Finally I reach my goal. I get to the top of the mountain. The view is incredible. As far as the eye can see, there are rolling hills, trees, rivers. An eagle is flying above. But I can’t stay on that mountain top. There’s no food, no protection. Then I remember the valley I walked through. The ideal place, and I hike back down the mountain, and settle in that valley.
The point is, I never would have seen the valley if I didn’t set my goal to climb the mountain and walk toward it.
It took me 10 years to get here, and I actually feel like I have only reached the base of the mountain. On this journey so far, I raised 4 wonderful monsters, completed my graduate studies in Theology, and was married and divorced a second time. As you can imagine, I definitely hit some cold winter days on that journey. But I also had sunny, “gone fishin’ days. Life happens no matter what direction you head in, so there’s no point in standing still. We KNOW nothing will get better if we don’t change something.
To quote my favorite author, Dr. Seuss, whose birthday is March 2nd. “ And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed) …So… be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way! “ ( Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss)
Our adventure awaits~ Jacquie
My next step in climbing out of financial stress was to develop more compassion, empathy and gratitude. There was also a process of re-thinking my life choices.
In a recent New York Times article, “A Nation of Weavers” Social strategist, bestselling author and commentator David Brooks noted these statistics: 47,000 Americans kill themselves every year and 72,000 more die from drug addiction, he then pointed to isolation and individualism as the cause. We are often in the same room and not communicating. We often strive to achieve for ourselves. We look for wealth and notoriety.
I took a different approach. When living day to day not knowing how I was going to pay the bills, I reached out to care for others instead of internalizing. Here’s the breakdown: Humans have two primal reactions that can be in contrast. Fear; the fight or flight reaction and the need for community; to be relational. When challenged, we most often revert to fear. It comes out in our words, our actions and we close ourselves off. In the case of financial difficulties, the common route to take is work harder, or figure out how to make more money. It seems logical, and sometimes it is. But often that solution does not reach the root of the problem and we then we keep making the same mistakes. Instead of looking internally for the solution and addressing my fears, I chose to react with our other primal need: community and relationships, and opened myself up to others and new solutions.
Consciously expressing more compassion, empathy and gratitude, I made sure my children knew they were loved and supported; taking time to listen to them, play with them, and eat together. And then looked into my community to see where I could help, where can I volunteer? On the request of my teens, we shared our home with couple of their friends who needed emotional support, which taxed me; but the experience encouraged appreciation of our home, and we all felt gratitude for what we had.
Together, we delivered meals to the elderly and worked on community meals. In addition, I volunteered for the Recreation Commission and was a Cub Scout den mother. Volunteering in my community was the most important thing I did. I worked toward meeting local needs, gained confidence in my abilities and made friends out of my neighbors. This is how Sharon Graves, Theresa McNulty and I came to brainstorm around addressing community issues, out of this came BuzzAround.Info.
In using this process, there was less isolation. I felt supported as I tried
new things and raised my children. I was still experiencing poverty related problems, and the emotional and situational issues that put me there, but I wasn’t facing them alone. You don’t have to be alone, either. Thanks for reading.
All good news about Whitman! Read more
All good news about Raynham! Read more
All good news about East Bridgewater! Read more
All good news about West Bridgewater! Read more
All good news about Bridgewater! Read more
Commemorating BuzzAround.Info’s 10th year, I am sharing with you, Dear Reader, our beginnings and lessons learned while working my way out of poverty. There can be an art to living frugally; here are thoughts and tips that made it easier for me. I am hoping if I share my story, it will help someone else.
About guilt and shame: pride has no place, because, let’s face it, poverty is hard. No-one wants to be there. If questions like: “Oh damn, the car needs fixing, what is the least amount I can pay for the power not to be shut off?” enter your life, maybe this will help you.
I started writing this newsletter on a laptop right inside the front door of my 5 room 100-year-old house on Spring St. in East Bridgewater. That was the only place I could get the internet signal from my neighbors. On cold days that first winter, I would go to the public library to write. At home, our only heat was the wood stove in the kitchen and sometimes I couldn’t get the house above 53 degrees. The kids were at school all day, so they were fine, but if I didn’t get warm during the day, I worried about hypothermia.
Now I live in an apartment (heat included), my kids are in college, and with a bunch of help, the Buzz Team has developed a socially responsible business that builds community by publishing good news to 10,000 people each week. BuzzAround.Info is a great job that’s lots of fun.
It took me a couple of years, so the time to start is now! First tip: when you struggle, access community resources. Food. Seriously. Bite the bullet. Accept the help. It’s not going to cover all your food needs, but it will help. Each of our towns has a food pantry. Contact info is posted up top of each town’s Buzz Around e-newsletter. Guilt, shame and pride: Believe me, I have plenty for all of you. Those questions of “How did I get here?” and “Why am I here?” take years to answer. In the meantime, get food. Do it.
Go to the public library. Our libraries have anything we could want and need. Internet Access. Computers & printers. Job search, education on any topic, music, movies and yes, books. I spent many hours writing the BuzzAround.Info and finding solutions at our public library.
Changing patterns of behavior is hard, but if life is going for you the way it was for me 10 years ago, I beat my head against the wall enough it started to hurt. It doesn’t have to hurt. Life can be easier!
Thanks for reading.~Jacquie