Life just happens

I woke up this morning feeling quite refreshed despite staying up well past my bedtime and the brutal heat of yesterday. As part of my morning meditation, I laid in bed thinking that for the first time in a long time, life feels good. Not just I am having a good moment but that for the first time in a long time, I feel balanced and not as if I am running on the damn hamster wheel. My marriage is headed in a good direction despite making choices that others might find questionable, the Spousal Unit and I are in sync, a place we really haven’t been since the pregnancy test back in late 2004 told us we were going to be welcoming a new addition to the family. Granted, I personally have been unbalanced since that fateful night in July 2003 when my mother called me on a Friday and delivered the news that the pesky cough she had been dealing with for months was actually lung cancer. Since that night, I have watched my financial, emotional and mental house slowly crumble to the ground. It has not been a fun time, but relief is here, I called the Wolf and he is delivering me.

However since late last year I have been on a journey to get back to me, sometimes in the many roles I juggle it is hard to make time for myself, to sit in the quiet still moments and really hear my soul speak to me, guide me and for me to allow myself to surrender to myself. Yet it’s happening, it’s really happening, my yoga teacher the other day told me she felt I was finally getting it and I knew what she meant.

Yet sometimes despite our desires and intentions, life just gets in the way and sometimes throws us for a loop. This morning after dropping the kidlet off at school, the man came home and informed me that the engine warning light had gone off. In just that instant I felt like all my hard work was for naught. Just a few days ago, I mentioned this piece in a post and that piece literally sprang to mind. Yep, it’s hard as fuck to get on solid financial footing when life keeps happening. See, we are finally ready to get the bankruptcy case filed (if anyone thinks filing bankruptcy is easy, they have no idea what they are talking about, add in the fact it ain’t cheap! Ironic that one is financially insolvent yet must come up with almost $2000 upfront to get protection from the courts), finally going to be able to finish the bulk of the work on my teeth and finally able to get some much needed home repairs done. Needless to say an unplanned car repair could cause my financial house of cards to crumble.

I spent the first few minutes after digesting this news in an anger fueled rage but then I remembered to just breathe. Breathe deeply and intently and let it all out. In the time that it took for me to breathe, the man remembered rather than taking the car to our mechanic first that he could take it to the auto parts place and get the diagnostic code ran. In short this process means before taking it into the mechanic and paying for their exam, we could at least get a sense of what is wrong.

Drum roll please, looks like it’s a minor issue something about the Evap system (hey we aren’t mechanics) but it’s a relatively minor issue so it looks like we are back on track. Can you say I just took another deep breathe filled with gratitude that at least this time we dodged a bullet, since if we were looking at something more serious, it would require the type of juggling that is part of life when you live with financial scarcity.

PS: Changes are underfoot here at Blackgirlinmaine, ads will be up by sometimes next week as I have been accepted into the Blogher network. There are some other good things related to my writing coming down the pike but I can’t publicly speak on those things yet. Happy Friday!

Messed up society

If you are a regular reader, it wouldn’t take much to figure out that I feel deeply about helping others. Hell, my family still shakes their heads wondering why I choose to do the work I do when I could easily use my talents in the corporate sector. I admit there are days I think I could be like some of my former classmates from grad school living the financially easy life rather than toiling away as the chief officer at a small non-profit organization. In the end though people matter more to me. It’s hard because I strive to truly live according to my values which at times is a test when you have champaign taste on a kool-aid budget. One of the reasons I have such extreme student loan debt was because I initially planned to leave the non-profit sector and move over to the corporate sector, in the end though my desire to help folks won out.

However that is not the point of this post, but it just tells you where I am coming from. Yesterday, the exterminator came by to deal with the pest problem which did indeed turn out to be a return of the mice to our barn. The barn is attached to our house so it was time  to re-bait the barn. I had not seen our pest control guy in a while since it was 3 years since he last came for the mice and over a year since he came because of another pest issue we were dealing with in this lovely old house.

Last time we had seen him, he was recovering from a bout of cancer (specifics escape me) but since we had last seen him he had suffered three strokes and frankly when he showed up I was concerned about his ability to work. Hell, I felt bad calling him but he had his same crazy sense of humor and explained that not working wasn’t an option. In fact just yesterday morning he had contacted our senator Olympia Snowe’s office because it seems his recent health care bills were not being covered by the VA. He further explained that he was still working because frankly he could not afford not to work, so that yes he was slower than he used to be the bottom line was taking an extended time off to recover from his ailments was not an option.

Looking at him, my heart broke yet I was also scared, scared because for so many of us in this country, we have no safety nets. If we have insurance to cover our ailments, the question then is do we have the money to take time off work to truly recover? Yeah, we have things like Social Security Disability but to access those funds takes so much time that you might be dead or homeless on the streets before you get it. Hell, my Mother died before her file was even reviewed when it became clear that she was not going to be working any time soon after her second major surgery in less than two months.

No, I see too many folks struggling to stay afloat and neglecting themselves because we as a society don’t have realistic assistance programs to help folks especially folks who are used to working who sometimes need a helping hand.

In the supposedly richest nation on the planet a man who is recovering from three strokes  as well as being a cancer survivor who can only eat a liquid diet should not have to spend hours dealing with chemicals to rid folks of household pests. The fact that he is not some oddity but one of millions struggling to survive speaks to how fucked up we are as a society.

You just need bigger bootstraps

Warning full rant ahead! Yeah, its been a week as regular readers can tell. No rosy skies over me but hey I am doing the best I can, some moments are better than others. That said, and forgive me if I have wrote about this before but with over 150 posts there are times I am bound to do a repeat or close to it.

I’m sorry, but nothing chaps my fucking hide faster than people who think that poor or working class folks should just try harder. After all if you are poor, or strapped with debt it must be your fault? No one ever wants to have an honest discussion about how for the past couple of decades we have set folks up for failure. No one wants to address that part of our credit woes is not about folks buying houses they couldn’tafford or spending their equity on lavish items. Yes, there are some folks who clearly fell into that trap, but I am convinced that much of our credit woes is due to simple shit like wage stagnation, the decline of employer provided health coverage, pension plans versus 401K’s.

See, in the world of yesterday one that I only caught a tiny glimspe of, you went to work, the job paid a wage that actually allowed you to live, same said employer provided you with insurance and maybe even a pension plan. So after you gave the company 30-40 years you knew you weren’t going to be eating cat food in your old age.

Problem is the powers to be decided we should all share in things such as providing for our retirement and heath care but never really gave us the workers high enough wages to adequately share in the costs. Oh yeah, we had some good years when the bubbles were growing, markets did well and folks thought they would retire in palatial style. Then we started to ride the real estate bubble and then everyone and his cousin figured he would be the next Donal Trump…we would all be masters of the universe. Truth is the only reason household incomes have risen in the past 30 years is because more and more women entered the workforce so in a 2 adult household with both parties working, a family depending on their skills and jobs might actually earn a decent salary. So nobody noticed that their salaries when adjusted for current day and inflation and what have you, never really noticed that they weren’t doing as well as their parents. It was all one fucking illusion.

Well the chickens have come home to roost and truth is we were all playing a game and now its over. Nobody has any cash which is why all this talk of getting folks to spend isn’t happening. Now that Visa is no longer raising our limits but in fact lowering them in some cases and we can’t tap that equity from our homes, truth is we are broke.

So to say folks need to work harder to rise up is really just simple talk, work harder at what? Flipping  burgers? Come on, we are now living in a climate where hundreds of folks are applying for fucking janitorial positions…that’s a real growth position. Don’t even get me started on the numbers of women trying to fall back now on trading their bodies for cash. It seems record numbers of women are applying for jobs in the adult industry, sorry too tired to post links to recent stories but a quick Google search will reveal what I am talking about.

Lastly there is the issue of education specifically student loans, I have been engaging in some discussions with folks who feel that those of us who went into debt for degrees that are noit sure fire money makers didn’t use their brains. Well the bigger issue is why the fuck does school cost so much?

Once upon a time it was feasible that someone could work their way through school say with a nice summer job, problem is now at many schools the per credit costs has risen so quickly that a summer of flipping burgers even at 40 hours a week won’t put much of a dent in the tuition. Unless a family is upper middle class or higher the truth is its hard to go to college without taking out loans. Even scholarships are hard to come by in any substantial form. I maintained a 3.87 GPA for undergrad and still never got more than about 5G’s in scholarships, same for grad school.

Yeah, I guess I could have did college one class at a time which I actually tried but truthfully it was so hard that I eventually opted to take loans so I could get through quicker since as an adult juggling work and parenting was much easier said than done. Yeah, I know….I’m a slacker.

Anyway while there will always be some who truly are slacking, fact is we have created a system that working hard is no longer a guarantee of anything. It most certainly does not mean you will get ahead and lets be truthful, not all bootstraps are created equal.