Too Wore out to Go Begging…Too Hot outside, Too Tired Within My Soul…

It is too hot again today to panhandle. The heat index is down to 99 now, but I still can’t bear to be out there. The one good spot I have now for standing and holding my sign has no shade at all.

The stress has made my appetite go out the window, so that doesn’t help my fatigue.

I managed to get my apartment cleaned up today, well, mostly cleaned. I just took a Klonopin to help keep me from stressing too much about running out of smokes again.

I figure if I sleep now, and wake after 10pm, I can hit up the people at the Walmart or in front of the convenience store for dollars. It’s harder to get money that way, but at least I won’t be frying in the heat.

So yeah, nap time I guess. I am so tired.

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I’m Homeless, and It’s Not My Fault…Day 6

This week has been such a blur of thoughts, emotions and fear. It is surreal to know that the life I had just a week ago has disappeared. The dogs, the husband, the home…all gone. I am alone.

Everything is different. I feel free on the one hand…my marriage having died years ago, but to think he would leave me this way is hard to swallow. The dogs being gone is one of the hardest parts..I try not to think about them, it just hurts so much. I have to be content to know that they are safe and cared for…I can’t even say that about myself.

Now, before I say this next part…a bit of a disclaimer…I KNOW that there are people who truly care about what I am facing, and care about how I am doing, but to be honest…it feels like I matter to no one. I am here with my thoughts and fears, alone. Day in and day out, I wonder what I am going to do, where will I go when I no longer have the rent for this room? What if I don’t get a job in time? How long will the food last…Those who one would normally turn to at a time like this, family and friends seem to be the ones who keep the most distance. Why? I can understand that they don’t know what to say, don’t know what to do to help me. I don’t even know the answers, but I didn’t do this to myself. I’m not a drunk or a druggie, I am not lazy. It’s like I have the plague. I have become one of those people you see on the sidewalk, begging for money, and you avert your eyes. It’s too uncomfortable to see, to even think that YOU might be that person if all went to hell tomorrow. I spent 15 years taking care of house, hubby, dogs, bills, and all of that…and had my entire life pulled out from under me, like a rug.

I feel like an outcast. I have had to put anything resembling pride aside, and ask total strangers, friends and family to donate money to help me survive. When it gets this bad, you have to do things that you never thought you would or could. There is no room for pride when you are homeless, when the fear of the unknown is all that you have left.

There is room for prayer, for trusting God to show me the way, to hope that I will find the rent, the food, the gas..the job. But, as I sit here alone today, in this little motel room..I will be content, I will be hopeful. I have to be.

If  you are able to help, the donation link is on my page, just re-posting the link on social media would be a tremendous blessing also!

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What Do You Write, When You Don’t Dare Speak?

What do you write when all that you are thinking are words you don’t want to speak out loud? How do you voice the time spent deciding between paying the bills and buying food? Or how the new spot you found on your chest looks exactly like the last time…when you had skin cancer. You know you won’t go to the doctor..You waited more than a year the last time anyway, right?

You don’t call anyone to chat because all that your thoughts contain is not something you want to share. Misery does not always love company. You watch PBS. You see those who truly have nothing, as you sit on your bed, inside a home, not a tent or worse. You find your blessings in watching the extreme poverty that makes you seem wealthy in comparison. You find the tiniest of things to be grateful for…and YOU are grateful.

Don’t stop long enough to remember that you are a month behind on rent, that so far the landlord has not said anything, Don’t stop playing endless games of solitaire on the computer, mindless hours, so the thoughts don’t come in and bother you once again. Keep smiling, even when it hurts. So many have it so much worse. Does their misery make you feel better in comparing?? Sometimes.

I mean, you don’t want anyone to know that you might be feeling sorry for yourself. It would not be cool. They would think you selfish. Focus on others. Find a way to reach out to someone in a more dire situation. Don’t think about the spot on your chest. You are find. It is all okay. Stay in the moment. Pray. Believe. Trust.

Where did your appetite go? You know you should be hungry by now, but the thought of eating makes you feel ill. You will force yourself to try later….later. Oh, how you long to lay down for another nap, another escape. You are tired all the time. Muscles ache from disuse. You know it’s not good…You should get up and function…but you don’t.

It will all work out. Nothing is really wrong. Right?

Learning to Not Worry…and Failing

For weeks now I have been reading from several different teachers. I have been studying and putting into practice how to live in the moment, to not worry, to trust that all is as it should be. It is not as easy as it sounds.

I find myself constantly bouncing between, “All is well”, and “Omgosh, we need rent in 12 days, and have no money”!

Hubby has been home from his job for over a week now. His roofing company has nothing lined up. I was okay for the first week, thinking he would be back to work this Monday and we would make it all up in marathon fashion. Not going to happen. His boss is now saying they won’t be working until Thursday.

My heart rate sky rockets every time I count the days and how much money we will need by the end of the month. I then try to  center myself, and breathe…”It’s all okay”…but my heart won’t listen, my mind won’t obey. Then, I play a game I call, “Worse Case Scenario” …Okay, we end up homeless, living in the car…not so bad right? It won’t kill us surely….but, I like our little shack, my dogs like our little shack. Having a roof is nice. Okay…none of this will happen right? And even if it does, we will all be fine…right? On and on my mind goes. UGH!

I need to go breathe now.

The Will to Be Joyful

I haven’t had any idea what to blog for a couple of days now. I am trying not to let myself get down. It seems this holiday is always the toughest for me. I know I’ve posted the “positives” of poverty at this time of year, and I DO honestly feel that way, most of the time. But, there are moments when this time of year just puts a magnifying glass to the lack.

I am very grateful that the rent and electric are paid, good things. I am hoping that hubby is not home for the entire holiday, as that would mean no paycheck next week. I can make the $190 last for two weeks if I’m careful, and I’m good at that, for which I am grateful also. I did feel a little bad when he wanted to buy me a present this week, and I had to tell him it wasn’t possible. I honestly don’t need anything, well, not for myself anyway. I tried raising money for the new tires I so desperately need for my car, but I didn’t raise a dime, not a big deal really. “it can wait”…that is my patent phrase lately.

December is a rough month. I lost both of my parents at this time of year, Mom on the 4th, and Daddy on the 18, my birthday sandwiched between them. My brother’s birthday was on the 19, but he has stage 4 prostate cancer, and is refusing treatment. Instead he is drinking himself to death. Nothing I have any control over…I can’t help him, he has to want to help himself, and he’s 1200 miles away, as are my kids and grandchildren.

Ugh. I’ve tried so hard to always post “upbeat” stuff on here, but I don’t feel “up” today. Sorry. I guess I just needed to vent a little. I know that there are people so much worse off…I used to be one of them. I will get up now and find all that I am grateful for…and find my joy in this day, and something more positive to write about, but…”it can wait”. Love and hugs all!

The Benefits of Being Poor at Christmas Time

I had to go out earlier to run a couple of errands, hit the atm, gas up the car, and pick up a few things at the quickie mart. Thank goodness I don’t have to be out there much! Wow, it is dangerous! I almost got hit twice just trying to navigate through a parking lot.

With as much as I sometimes envy those who are able to buy presents, and decorate their homes so beautifully at this time of year, I have to admit, I’m glad that poverty gives me the freedom to stay home. I am not rushed. I don’t have a “to do” list, except for the everyday things. I am only concerned with the basic needs of my little family.  I did put up a small little tree in my bedroom, my haven, but I didn’t string lights around the house as I normally would. I thought first about the electric  bill, and that it’s just me and the dogs most of the time now with hubby on the road, and I thought having to take it all down in January. I’m good with my little tree. I can celebrate my Savior’s birth, and focus on the reason for the season.

I can curl up with my pups and watch endless DVDs of Christmas shows, listen to all the holiday music on the radio, and spend the time being grateful for all I have. I have a warm house, enough food, and time to just relax. You can’t buy relaxation, and from what I just witnessed “out there”, I am blessed to have a lack of “extra” funds. I don’t have many “wants”, and the few needs I have will be met as the Lord promises.

So on this warm, rainy, Georgia night, while the world outside goes a little nuts trying to find that special gift, I’m thinking…I have a pretty good deal right here, and that in itself is a gift.

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“God Bless Us, Every One”

I have all the classic, and not so classic Christmas specials and movies on DVD. I love the feeling I get watching Miracle on 34th Street every Thanksgiving. I only watch the original of course , I don’t believe in remakes of classics.

There have been many, many versions of Charles Dicken’s classic A Christmas Carol, and a few have been done well.  I enjoyed the 3D version from Disney, the illusion of snow falling in the theater was pretty cool. However, none has ever come close to my all-time favorite, the 1951 version starring Alastair Sim. Not wanting to turn this post into a “review”, let me just say, if you haven’t seen this version you are missing out, and need to go out and get it post-haste!

I seem to see something new every time I view it, something I had somehow missed before, and last night was no exception. I was watching the scene when we are first introduced to Tiny Tim. He is standing outside a toy store, looking in the window, fascinated by all the animated, mechanical, and colorful toys on display for Christmas. I watched his eyes so closely last night, the eyes of a child just sparkling with joy and wonder, a little smile on his face. Then someone from inside the store removes a toy sail boat from the window, and for the first time I noticed how Tim’s eyes cloud over, and his joy is replaced by a look of envy and longing. It only lasts a second, and then you see the smile return to his face as his focus turns back to the other toys in the window.

This scene hit something deep inside of me last night. You see, that split second of longing in Tim’s eyes is what true poverty looks like at Christmas, and throughout the year. This movie shows so much of the gratitude that the Cratchet family has for what so many take for granted. I love how excited they are about the goose, the pudding “singing” in the cupboard, and the TWO glasses of gin punch! They are just so happy and grateful. This is one benefit of being so incredibly poor. You learn how to find joy in the least of things. You stay focused constantly on what you have been blessed with and learn to be content.

If I had never been homeless, never been cold, never been hungry, I would not have the measure of gratefulness I have now. When I lay down to sleep at night I thank God for my blankets, my pillows,  for a place to lay my head, because I know what it is to not have these things. I am truly grateful every time I put clothes in the washing machine, because I know what it is like to not have one. I remember when I had to wash hubby’s work clothes in the bathtub each night on my knees, my hands cramping from wringing out heavy jeans, and then hanging them across the kitchen to dry. You won’t ever hear me complain about doing laundry.  Having gone to bed with my belly growling more than once gives me the ability to be happy and thankful for whatever is in the fridge or cupboard. My clothes are almost never new, but they are clean, and I’m grateful to have them.

Even with this attitude of gratitude, like Tim, I find it hard at times not to envy, not to want, not to covet, especially during the holidays. I would love to be able to buy gifts for my kids and my grandchildren. I wish I could afford a haircut or a rug for my kitchen floor that gets so cold. I wish I had living room furniture so that I could set up a tree, and fix up my house…but, you see, the guilt creeps up on me for even typing that I want these things. I know I am so much better off than a lot of people. Heck, I’m better off than I was just a few years back, but it’s hard sometimes. There are so many days I just wish I had enough…enough money for bills, food, for car repairs, not luxury items by any means, but just the security of knowing that I won’t ever have to sleep in a tent again, or go to bed hungry. I think that is the worst part of poverty, the insecurity, never knowing for sure what the next week may bring if hubby misses a few days of work. I would love to know what it is like to live without the worry.

However, on this night, in my modest little house, like Tiny Tim, I will be grateful. I will be happy. I am warm. I am fed. I am laying on a nice soft bed with lots of blankets, and once again, I’m watching A Christmas Carol. Maybe tomorrow I will even dig out a few strings of Christmas lights to hang around the house, and make some soup from the leftover turkey. I am blessed, and I will leave  tomorrow in God’s hands…He’s brought me through so many times, I know he’s got this. And as Tiny Tim says, “God bless us, every one”!

The Silent Blog

I guess it’s okay to not have a post for “Silent Sunday”, and yet I sit here yearning for something, anything to write about. The past few days have taken an emotional, mental, and physical toll on me to say the least. I’m exhausted, frustrated, lonely. ( I wish this auto correct crap would stop telling me I can’t use idioms)! Yes, I meant TOLL!

There is so much going on in my life at the moment, so much twirling around inside my head, but I just can’t seem to get anything to settle long enough to put two thoughts together. Have you ever had so much to say that you just sit in front of the blank screen, and stare? Funny, I’m glad I didn’t plan on a “niche” for this blog, especially one that had to be truly uplifting or inspiring! I would be a complete blogging failure just a month into this thing.

The fear-filled night of my last post has put me on a strange, almost non-existent sleep pattern, and combined with some other stressful happenings around here I just want to medicate and go back to bed.

Have I mentioned that rent is due tomorrow, and that my money is being held hostage on a GreenDot prepaid Visa card? No? Oh, well, there’s a story.

Hubby’s “company”, and I use that term loosely, pays them with GreenDot Money Paks, (who the hell does that)? Anyway, it hasn’t been a real issue until this week. Normally he gets his money pak, loads it to his prepaid debit card, and transfers the money to my companion card. It’s all a bit of a pain, but has worked well. Then yesterday he calls to tell me that GreenDot would not allow him to load the money, (HIS money), onto his debit card because there has been too much unusual activity on the card. First of all..the card he loads it on is not even a GreenDot card! It’s from a completely different company that handles paycheck cards….OHMYGOSH, this is even boring to ME! This is why I wasn’t going to write today. Screw it, I’ll finish anyway. So, being completely broke myself, I had to take $20 out of our rent money, go buy a GD Prepaid Visa (that’s GreenDot, not a cuss word), which cost $3 for the card, and I had to load $10 just to buy it. I got home, registered the card, called him for the MoneyPak number, loaded his paycheck on there…and then…and then…. I find out that I can NOT take cash out with the temporary card that I just bought, not even a cash back with a purchase! I have to wait 7-10 days until my permanent card comes in before I can do any transactions that require a pin. So, tomorrow I have to give the landlord part of the rent, and explain to him that I HAVE the rest of it, but I’m not allowed to take it out? Are you freakin’ kidding me? I wish I was kidding.

Have I mentioned that I don’t drink? This is a good thing. I knew I shouldn’t have started a post tonight. Seriously.

Oh, and have a wonderful week ya’ll! Be happy! Think positive! Yeah, whatever.

Are you P.C. about Christmas?

No, I don’t mean are you Politically Correct. I mean, are you “Poverty Conscious” around the holidays?

I have always loved the holidays. Starting on Thanksgiving day with the Macy’s parade, and all the fabulous food, to watching my favorite Christmas shows. Remember when we had to wait all year to see the Christmas specials, and if we missed them we were out of luck? I’m so happy to have DVDs, I sometimes find myself watching “Scrooge” in the middle of July. I get so nostalgic listening to Bing Crosby’s “I’ll be Home for Christmas”, except that it makes me cry every time. I love decorating the house and the tree. As a child the building of anticipation was almost too much to bear, my parents and grandparents did it so well! I tried to instill this same sense of wonder, and tradition in my own children. I can see the traditions continue, as each year my daughter’s post pics of their trees all decked out, and the grands opening their presents.

Christmas is so different when you suffer from poverty. I wrote recently about The Many Pain of Poverty, and how it affects many of us on a day-to-day basis, but the holidays bring on a whole new set of pains. I am used to struggling week to week, sometimes buying the dog’s food instead of my own, but around Christmas time it can feel really lonely. Honestly, I am not a materialistic person. I mean, you can’t be materialistic and poor, you’d never survive or be happy. It does get  tough though, walking through all the stores, seeing everyone so excited about finishing their shopping lists. Watching others put up post after post of beautiful decorations, trees, gifts, and family gatherings, well, it just hurts. I am truly happy for those who are blessed, but I miss being a part of all the hub bub. I want to be able to buy gifts for my kids and grand kids. I want to be with them! I want comfort and joy.. There I said it. I know it is supposed to be about the kids, but I’m a kid at heart, and I miss “Big” holidays. I miss family.

There have been recent years when we couldn’t even afford a tree, and that was okay. I don’t think I’ll get one this year, I mean, I don’t have living room furniture, so why put a tree in a room I can’t sit down in to admire it? I am grateful that the cold hasn’t hit here yet, so that I’m not worried about heating this un-insulated house that has no central heating. I’m grateful that I have food, and warm clothes, and a roof over my head. Is it so bad that I wish I had a bit more? It is wrong that I want to pay off the new laptop I have on lay-away at Walmart, and I’m afraid I won’t be able to? (I want it for my new bogging “career” lol). Is it wrong to want to ask “Santa” for the new tires I so desperately need? Is it wrong to wish for more? Maybe. But I do wish that a miracle will happen, and things could be different for us this year.

On the upside…I don’t have to face the crowds at the mall. I won’t have to clean up a ton of pine needles all the way through to February. I don’t have all the stress that most people face with this “deadline”. I can just watch the movies, listen to the music, and be happy. I’ll try not to miss my kids, my grands, and my parents (who both died in December), though I’ll fail miserably, and I’ll try to remember those who are much worse off than I am this Christmas.

I could get into the Christian side of this, “It’s Christ’s birthday after all, not mine”, but I’m feeling selfish, and my birthday is coming up too. I’m glad I have a therapy appointment on the 4th, the day Mama died actually, I think I need one. I’m rambling, and probably not making any sense at all. I guess I just wish I had that feeling of anticipation, that joy of expectation, of good things to come. And well, on this particular night I don’t, and for those of you who have managed to read this until the end, my sincere apologies. I’m wondering if I should even push “Publish”. Probably my worst post yet. ( I hate whiners).. But, here goes nothing…

Oh, and one last word, my prayer is always that I can be blessed…not for myself, but so I can bless others, and help them to not ever have to feel this way at Christmas, or any other time.

I just dug out this old photo from my Grandparent’s house…1968? It is one of my best childhood memories.

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Three Golden Eggs

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No matter how many hard knocks I have had in my life, I sometimes find the littlest thing can trigger a moment of sincere gratitude. It is these moments that we need to remember when we are facing a difficult challenge or trial.

Back in 2009 my husband lost his job when his company downsized. After two weeks of searching for work, we knew we were in deep trouble. We had no money for the rent, and little food. We had been eating nothing but white rice for four days. I finally got up the nerve to go and ask a neighbor if I could “borrow” a couple of eggs. She handed me three eggs. I thanked her and headed back to the house. I had never handled eggs so carefully in my life, watching every little step to make sure I didn’t drop them. I got home and scrambled them so there would be enough for both of us to eat. Oh, but the smell of those eggs cooking was like heaven, my belly rumbling, both of us giddy at the thought of something besides rice to eat! They were the best eggs I’ve ever had. We lost the condo a few weeks later, and were homeless, but that’s another story.

About a year ago I was in the kitchen fixing my dogs something to eat. I went to the fridge and pulled out two eggs  to scramble in the microwave, so I could mix them in with their kibble.  As I held the eggs in my hand I became overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude. Here I was feeding eggs to my dogs, recalling a time when three eggs were like gold, because it was all we had.

I’ve learned so much in my struggles with poverty, and found a way to be grateful for something in every day… on that day, it was just eggs.

© Kim Hood 2013