When You’re Worried about Money

thomas-galvez-money

So, lately I’ve been worried about money. Cause that’s the next thing on the list, I suppose. And cause it’s Christmas and of course, the car needs stuff and the dogs need vet visits, and there’s the dentist and oral surgeon for one of the kids and another needs driving classes and marching band fees.

Then college tuition for one or two is due along with living expenses and I just got my first traffic ticket in 30-some years.

I know better than to worry about money. I know that what you do is you pray about it and then you get busy getting busy.

Selling stuff. Working for people. Applying for jobs.

You make stuff instead of buy it. You put off everything that isn’t necessary. You make soup because it “stretches.”

With respect to money, my experience is that “it” always works out. The way I know this is that my 55th birthday is just around the corner and I’m still here so stuff must always work out.

I’m not gonna sugarcoat it – some of those times have been just AWFUL. And, every time I get to this place I can’t help but wonder how I got to this place.

Of course, I KNOW how I got to this place it’s just that, even with the knowing, I’m always just a little surprised.

With respect to money, it’s time to get serious. As I mentioned, that 55th birthday is coming up and I can’t afford too much magical thinking about the future.

Cause I’m responsible for making it. Yes, I know “god’s in charge,” but he/she’s only gonna do for my what I can’t do for myself. And, there’s a whole lot of stuff I can do.

For one thing, I can practice gratitude. Cause, even with my current worry, I’m still in better circumstances than many many people.

I know this. And, oh how I feel for the world.

With respect to my business, I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I didn’t know stuff about business, even though I did really really well in business school. For one thing, I didn’t know that I care more about making a difference than I do about making a living, so I’ve probably focused some on the “wrong” things.

But I’ve had a blast. I have LOVED writing and working for Beautiful You. And, looking back, I don’t know what I would change even if I could.

It’s just that I need to be smarter moving forward. I need to add in those retirement years. Oh, I haven’t been totally remiss with respect to planning, but it’s time to up-level my retirement game.

And make soup.

Yep. Lots and lots of soup.

Happy Holidays, Dearest Ones.

Love, Jen

photo: Thomas Galvez, flickr

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A Word to the Troubled

randy-heinitzThe holiday season is upon us, and that’s easier for some people than others.

The election just happened, and that’s easier for some people than others.

The winter is here, and that means more dark and cold for a while, and that’s easier for some people than others.

We’re getting older, and the kids are leaving, and that’s easier for some people than others.

And the people around us, the ones “above us” generation-wise, are having different challenges than they did before, and that’s easier for some people than others.

The kids are moving on and out, and that’s easier for some people than others.

The world seems, in some ways, to be in despair, and that’s easier for some people than others.

But none of this is new.

The holidays, election cycles, seasons, generations, health, aging – all of that has been happening since time and society began.

What’s the same is that some of us just have a trickier time with things than others.

If that’s Beautiful You, be gentle with yourself. But keep moving, too. When you are static, the voices seem to get louder. And they say stupid, fatalistic stuff.

Like you’re not going to be okay, your loved ones won’t be okay, the world won’t be okay.

And it all seems really, really real.

But here is what is also real: LOVE.

Generously applied. To all, even those we disagree with. Cause fear and repulsion don’t build alliances. They don’t allow us to connect with the humanity of all.

Love. And Right Action, whatever that looks like in your world.

We can do this. Together.

Love, Jen

photo: flickr, Randy Heinitz

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A Word to Both “Sides”

steven-depolo-sign
My heart is broken. My candidate didn’t win, but it is more than that.

As a child, I was abandoned by an alcoholic father who died when I was 11.

I later became an alcoholic myself, though I have been sober now for 27 years. I have survived the death of a child, a surprise divorce with all the trimmings, single motherhood, a beating by an unfair court system that doesn’t insist both parents actually support their children, rape, 9/11 and more.

Yet this is the first time in my life — and I am 54 years old — that I actually feel afraid for my future and the future of our world.

Clearly, I’ve “lost” before. But this is the first time in my life that I find it hard to choke out the words, “That’s my president.”

On the other hand, I’ve raised three white sons and I’ve been hearing about the “privilege” that my boys supposedly have. I resent being made to feel guilty for the color of my skin and theirs. It’s not my “fault” I’m white. It’s not my boys’ fault either.

I’m a liberal. I’ve always been a staunch advocate of the underdogs of the world. My heart breaks for the injustices I see. And, as an empath, I literally feel the suffering of others.

But here’s the thing: some of this we liberals have brought on ourselves. We have gone too far. “Black Lives Matter” but so do the lives of my three white boys and every other one out there.

Yes, I understand the nuances behind the name. But most people don’t. Plus there is this — You don’t get past your own disenfranchisement by disenfranchising others.

You see, at the same time I have been trying to instill in my boys a love for all people, those same people have been telling them that they should be ashamed or pay back the world because of the color of their skin.

It’s been a reverse-racism and, yes, I’m a liberal and YES that reverse racism does exist.

On the other hand, as a woman, I have been marginalized, threatened, trivialized, hurt, underpaid, discriminated against, and raped because of my gender.

I’m a woman who has lost.
Again and again and again.

Still, because I’m white and because I’m a member of the middle class there has been no safety net, no government hand-out, no quarter for me in the losses I have suffered.

Hold your baby while she dies, and then, “figure it out, girl.” Discover in the middle of the night that the marriage you thought you had wasn’t real at all and suddenly find yourself a single parent with no government to demand equity.

Just, “figure it out, girl.”

Thank god I have a family who loves me and cares for me, even as we disagree significantly on political issues.

Yet as a woman who has had to pull herself up from disaster again and again and again, I am so very tired of paying taxes that support others who refuse to do so themselves. And yes, this applies to people on both “sides” of the political aisle.

I don’t believe in welfare (except in very limited cases) or farm subsidies. I also don’t think the government should rescue you from an uncertain job just because you haven’t worked hard to get current job skills.

And don’t get me started on “no child left behind” and “standards of learning.”

What are you going to do when you graduate and we have let you be weak and the WORLD leaves you behind?

I have HATED raising my kids in a liberal culture that believes that they each deserved a “participation award” instead of letting them lose and win and get stronger for knowing the taste of each.

It hasn’t worked, people.
None of it has worked.

And, so white people are hurting.
And I am a white person. Hurting.

I’m caught between two worlds. I can’t afford my own bleeding heart. I’m a fiscal conservative trapped in a social liberal’s body. Or, maybe it’s the other way around.

Whichever.

Because of this, every election, I have “lost” one or another parts of myself. And yet, this is the worst. This is the unthinkable. This is beyond the pale.

This is reverse reverse racism at its worst. This is fear and homophobia and all other phobias combined.

This is a nightmare – of our own making.

But I know that I will find a way, because I’m a “way-finder.”

Just for today, though, I’m so very, very tired.
And afraid. So very, very afraid.

Love, Jen

photo: flickr, Steven Depolo

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The Daughter that Used to Be

erin-leigh-mcconnell

Sometimes I miss my daughter more than others. This morning is one of those times.

Whatever your political leanings, it’s true that this is a historic day in American history, and I wish I had my girl to share that with.

I wonder what she would have been life. I wonder what she would have looked like. By now she’s be 24, graduated, maybe even grad school. Working. On her second or third love.

Who knows?

That’s the trickiest part of being the parent of a dead child.

The “who knows” part.

It’s like a painful mystery that never gets resolved. I try not to think about it too much, but you guys, on some days – times like right now – my heart just aches for the young woman I never get to meet.

Still, I go on.

I keep moving. I make supper for her brothers. I send love and support and cash and whatever else they need to make their own way in the world.

I love all the women they have picked. I’m proud of them for seeing how smart they each are in love.

But today is this historic day. And I want a daughter to share it with. Someone who “get’s it.”

And so I called every woman I love and shared a moment on the phone with each (or their answering machines.)

I fill the void in whatever way I can. And then I just sit with the emptiness that remains.

I’m with her, but she is no longer with me.
And that’s just part of the whole big beautiful picture of my life.

Blessed Be,

Jennifer (Grace’s mom)

photo: Erin Leigh McConnell, flickr

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