Poverty can rock or suck. Either way it's not the end.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Less Is More

So I noticed that my blog aims to ease the "pain" of poverty and I thought to myself, I don't think I'm doing such a good job with that on here but the truth is all I can really do is tell you that ultimately it is not your fault and hope that eases the guilt that's been heaped upon you for so long. (so you can stop your own self incrimination)  I would also add that a complete deprogramming of what you consider valuable is probably in order.  (at least it was for me)

First of all, you've heard it before but, more is not necessarily better.  This is especially true for the poor after all you don't need more clothes or dishes to wash and you don't need a bigger place to put all the junk you have accumulated in.  That will just cost more to heat and cool, and unless you get rid of the crap it won't look any more distinguished than the one room tiny hole in the wall you hopefully have now.  So just get rid of all that junk that you don't need or use.  If you can have a yard sale super, it doesn't hurt to at least try and make a few extra bucks but if no one buys it even for a quarter get it out of your life for good.  

There is nothing worse than living in a junk filled space.  First of all when you are poor you have an obligation to yourself to think as clearly as possible and you do not need the distraction of living in clutter.  Also, it will ease your mind whether you are like me and have moved a lot or not, you need to know that whether the eviction notice comes today or in 10 years, your most prized possessions are organized and can easily be packed in just a few minutes.  Not to mention if you truly make it to the completely homeless stage or living out of your car stage, there is nothing worse than try to haul around a bunch of junk.  Let's face it, the shit is heavy.  So lighten your load or you will find you lose a lot of stuff when you are stressed and need to move in a pinch.  Remember, help is hard to find when you are poor and you need it NOW, so be prepared.

Try to cut your wardrobe down now while you can still think clearly.  Pick out three or four shirts and two to three pants or skirts where everything can be mix matched to make a week's wardrobe without looking like you only have one set of clothes. Try to pick out the quality items if you can.  One pair of shoes for everyday, and another for the very occasional time you will need to dress up (think that elusive job interview), just because you are poor doesn't mean you need to look like a slob so pick well.  Dark colors will stay clean looking for longer as long as they don't attract lint in case you don't have easy access to laundry facilities.  Also pick clothes that wash well and don't wrinkle even when folded for long periods of time, ironing boards and irons are a pain to haul around.  Hint:  you don't need more than one set of sleeping clothes because even if you do have a place to crash chances are you will be too tired from you life to change into them much of the time.

After this meditate on the fact that less is always more and remember all those times you had loads and loads of laundry to do and how it could last all day.  Now it will take a few minutes of your time to get it all done in one fell swoop.  Also, cleaning your place will take less and less time and that will free up even more time for those daily meditations you will need to do to keep yourself straight with stress and disappointments.  

If you have access to a computer and you have one of those fancy cell phones that have been turned off, just so you know these make great music players.  Just go online and download some free meditation music or inspirational speakers on to them (and your favorite songs from all those Cd's you will eventually leave behind, you don't need the whole album anyway), plug in some head phones and you are your way to keeping insanity and despair at bay.  

Everyday even though you are poor and depressed by that, put on your favorite music and go for a brisk walk for at least 15 minutes at a time.  Do this as often as you can to keep yourself healthy and looking as good as you can, now is not the time to let yourself go.  Just keep in mind that the bigger you are, the more space your clothes will take up and the heavier they will be to carry.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My Mother's House

Not having any money often leaves poor people in a position to be abused.  I'll use myself as an example here.  I've often when faced with homelessness returned to my mother's house.  While initially welcoming me back in the first twenty-four hours, she will then make a trip to the liquor store, get drunk, and then carry on for hours on end about what a loser and disappointment I am.  The insults go deep into the heart of me.  As I write this she is outside the bedroom door where my children and I are hiding, ordering me to open the door, and if I don't she says she will call the sheriff to have me removed.  This is a scenario that I've gone through time and time again.  

Last night she grabbed me and pushed me across the porch while screaming "You fucking loser.  I don't want your fucking ass in my house.  You fucked up your life.  You have no money.  You have no job.  You are a fucking parasite!  We should line people like you up and fucking exterminate you just like the Nazi's did with the Jews."  (This reference clearly has something to do with the fact that she is originally from Germany.  Did growing up in that environment suck the basic humanity out of her?  My childhood would suggest it did.)

If you have ever been around drunk people, you know how utterly hateful and disgusting they can be, but a drunk person who has economic superiority over you whether they are your mother, boyfriend, husband, or government is a beast not to be reckoned with.  Of course, you should never argue with a drunk person because that only strengthens them into assaulting your person even further.  

Being backed into a corner when faced with living on the street or putting up with this type of person makes it easy to forget.  I don't know why but I always forget that she is like this.  I've several times packed my children up with out so much as a dime and taken my chances on the street because after a show like this initially the street presents itself as more kind.  

Many philosophies suggest that we should be grateful for our experiences whether good or bad because they ultimately shape who we are.  I've spent a good amount of my lifetime seeking the spiritual which I believe is due to the incredible amount of humiliation and pain I've encountered in this human realm.  Last night and this morning, I sat facing my mother without objection or retort and I saw the incredible amount of pain that her beliefs about me were causing her.

I listened to everything from "I gave birth to Satan.  You are not my daughter.  I am not your mother." to "I don't want you anymore.  I don't want your children.  I wish you would stop screwing up and imposing on my life" without reaction.  I imagined that a warm light from beyond was protecting my heart, that no amount of abusive words could change who I was and I suddenly had the impulse to go out and ease the suffering of someone else but it was late at night, the car is completely empty of gas, and I have about ten dollars to my name.

So here I sit with the children in one of her upstairs bedrooms.  I would be calling shelters to see if there is anywhere, anywhere at all, that might be able to provide us shelter but the phone is off we think due to the fact that they were working on the road near us.  My only other option is to just drive on down the road but the lack of gas would just have us out of gas miles from any town as we are in a semi-remote area.  I did ask about shelters in the town near us and I was told that the most I could hope for was one of the local churches putting us up in a motel for a couple nights and I don't see how that would help me.

So I deal with my lot in life.  I listen and endure and I make sure to do all the things a good house guest would do like never leaving a dirty dish and picking up after the children.  

Yesterday, I thought she was offering to let us move back in as she was going over the "rules of the land" for staying here but it looks like she had a change of heart.  She blames me for my predicament and it's true I haven't always been able to think straight.  Bouts of depression and anxiety have often gripped me.  

I don't know what will happen when she sobers up but I suspect that I will either have to leave or listen to a daily monologue of how  I failed at life, at being a mother, and every other thing I've ever tried.  I guess I'll just wait for the phone to be turned on or the sheriff shows up to evict us.  If I could leave on my own I would as I don't believe I have a right to stay where I'm not wanted in a place that does not belong to me.  

I do however need a way to leave.  Perhaps I should just pack a few backpacks and we could set out on foot.  The nearest town is 23 miles away but if we hitch hiked then maybe we could get a ride.  I just don't know what I would do once we got there.  

Well, got to go.  She was thankfully passed out in her bed for a time but I can hear she is up again.  So let the raging begin again and as it does, let the sun shine warmth my way so I don't believe a word she says.  Then maybe a miracle will come my way.  

Monday, April 23, 2012

Spirit Blowing Softly

Sitting here with my heart in my hands wondering why it still beats, solidly, soundly, like a rhythmic thunder of a distant time from the lost world that once was.  Sometimes I think I can remember being a part of the earth, somewhere  wildly peaceful like a wide open plain with my Native American grandmother whose spirit departed before I was born.  We are together, wrapped in a colorful drapery of blankets before a small fire with the wind as spirit blowing softly upon our faces.  Hers is wrinkled and wise, mine is young and pure, together I see us sitting upon the earth that is solid below us. There are no thoughts between us, no words spoken, and yet knowing each other perfectly, we are one, solid and transparent at one with everything, a family in the deepest sense knowing neither will ever part.

I could say it never happened but how do I know it wasn't just another time or perhaps it's just as real now because I brought it up in form on this page.  I might be dreaming or mad but what does that matter to anyone if it brings up in me a feeling that makes the present moment less hostile?  Anything, even a memory whether  real or not, becomes welcome when it brings a little comfort to an unacceptable reality.  That someone I never even met but who is connected to me by being my grandmother, to think that I was once cared for by her, that I was treasured is surely worth a little imagining.

Now that I am in limbo, ultimately alone, with no one to belong to anymore except my children who depend on me to figure this out, it is a lonely world.  The sense of being a part of disappeared years ago when I had to deal with the fact that I was homeless and nobody cared enough to help.  I could walk around all day in the city watching people shopping for the most useless and inane items, gulping down fat laden Big Macs and over-sized Cola's and they walk right by the homeless man sitting alone in the cold.  Even I with nothing,  barely still surviving at that point would toss him something.

Once not long ago, my children having received just a dollar each from a friend and knowing that we too were homeless gave it all away to the homeless man in front of the Walgreen's I had taken them to so they could spend their money on a chocolate bar or whatever other treat you could get for a dollar.  A passerby who had just gotten out of his fancy car applauded them in all his gall.  He couldn't spare the man even a dime while he sat on a cold pavement in the freezing drizzle of the day.  People are such hypocrites.  They sit in their comfy homes and bemoan such atrocities but what do they do to ease the suffering when they could easily spare a $5, a $10, $20, or even more?  

Oh, I know what they think, they think there are government programs to take care of those people but worse than that they are thinking that poor people are just stupid and they should suffer the consequences of their obviously poor choices that landed them in poverty to begin with.  Yes, that's what they are really thinking.  We are a country that loves punishment in all it's forms.  We love victims and suffering as long as it's not happening to us.  As outraged as we claim to be as a nation, when we see the suffering of others on T.V. it makes us feel that we are a nation better than never realizing that we are the worst kind of hypocrite imaginable.

If anything the poor are an embarrassment to self-righteous Americans who would not have their name smeared by the truth of what they really are.  No, of course not, nobody likes to be exposed to the quick like that, a country that actually is responsible for plunging millions of people all over the world into starvation and if that wasn't bad enough raping them through cheap labor practices of every last bit of dignity they might have had.  Nobody wants to see that staring them in the face right here at home so for years we tried to hide it by giving the poor in this country just enough to keep them from being seen above the radar.

The game is finally up though.  We poor are realizing that far from being a social blight on the country, we are actually the backbone of it after all, if we weren't here just think how many of you would actually be out of a job and joining us?  Let's see, just how many welfare workers does the government employ to take care of all us losers?  How many illnesses does living in a prolonged state of lack produce that will need to be treated by tens upon thousands of psychologists, counselors, employment and unemployment centers, medical personnel, and lets not forget the police force who now arrest thousands of us because living on the street is now a crime?

We need to realize our true worth and stop participating in our own oppression by working for a wage that hasn't increased in more than thirty years, by no longer seeking an answer to our poverty in ourselves (What do you mean working at McDonalds isn't satisfying you?  Are you sure you don't have some form of depression?) and by forming alliances so huge that no police force can capture us, then many more will be joining us unashamed at last in the bread line.

Until then, I'll occasionally remember a time when things were different.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Day From Hell

Don't Do It!
There are days for the truly impoverished that seem 
unrelentingly unbearable.  Days when the insecurity, stagnation, and just the flat out hopelessness of your life will get to you and you will not be able to see that there will ever be a way out.  It's also very likely that while this sounds pessimistic, it could very well be true.  

Deep down you cradle your hopes and dreams but even deeper down than that you know you have to come to terms with where you ended up on the financial scale.  You have to come to terms with the fact that it's quite possible you will live like this or even worse till the end of your days.  

If this seems just a little dark consider the facts surrounding you that your best efforts to stay above water have gotten you where you are right now.  Perhaps, if you lived in a different world or a different country things might have turned out better but that's not what happened and it's neither here nor there at this point.

The only thing that matters now is how you deal with now and some days are bound to be better than others.  On occasion, however, you will have to deal with that one day that for whatever reason feels like it will do you in.  On these days, you may either be filled with incredible anger or it's opposite, incredible sadness. Sadness is easier to deal with but basically they are the same animal.

The first thing to keep at the fore front of your mind on a day like this is that nothing, absolutely nothing on this earth lasts forever.  This hour will end, this feeling will end, this day will end, this problem will end, whatever it is that's happening that seems so painful to you on this day will ultimately vanish into thin air, of this you can be sure.  When everything feels like it's falling down around you, this is the one thing you can absolutely count on.

If you can, think back to a time at least a year or two ago when you were completely panicked and sure that nothing was going to work out.  Chances are that nothing you thought would happen if it happened at all did not happen anywhere close to the horrific way you thought it would.  It's the same thing now so just relax. Take the day off.

First off, you can only do what you can do and once stress gets a hold of you that will be even less than usual.  Most people don't understand the tremendous pressure a poor person goes through on a daily basis and they don't have the slightest idea of how these things can build up and paralyze a person.  

That's when the day from hell will catch you and even things that you thought couldn't go wrong will.  You may come down with the flu, the babysitter will show up drunk or not at all, your car won't start, and you will realize that very last twenty dollar bill you thought you had for gas is no where to be found (Did you spend it?  You have no idea, your brain is shot.) all on the same day.

Yes, there will be days like this but you won't die.  Chances are very, very good that you will still be here tomorrow and a year from now you will look back and wonder why you were so upset.

So hang in there.  I know what your going through and it's still okay.  One way or another it will all be just fine.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Is The End Near?

Have you ever wondered why people are attracted to end of the world predictions and the videos that go with them?  Every now and then I find myself looking up keywords like Elenin (extinction level event), solar flares,  volcano levels, earthquake trends and I realized that instead of wanting to be prepared for some monstrous world changing catastrophe, I secretly wished it would happen already.

I wonder if I'm alone in this, secretly wishing that something natural and unavoidable would put an end to the suffering that living in this horrific war filled world creates.  Everyday on the news I watch as another unimaginable injustice or atrocity is committed by some power hungry, unconscionable human driven entity.  Just being American brings up feelings of terror and horror when faced with the fact that my own people stand by doing nothing to stop the crimes that are committed in their name.

As a human being I have to wonder WHY?  Why does it have to be this way?  Why do a select few, obviously unenlightened mentally deranged people get to make all the decisions that affect so many? Can't anyone see that what they do is pure madness?  Can you  imagine yourself going around killing any human being in the name of ANYTHING?  I mean really isn't this common sense?  Would you walk over to your neighbors house and shoot up the whole family because you were afraid they might do that to you one day?  

Of course, you wouldn't because you are not insane.  Why can't we see that anyone who would is?  Just how much clearer does it have to be for us to stop letting the insane rule our countries and our world?  Why should anyone rule over anyone?  Can't we make our own decisions?  Are our lives not our own to shape anymore?

The better question is what if anything can be done about it?  Even peaceful protesters are getting locked up now and still nobody blinks an eye?  It's just so bizarre it's like we are living in a science fiction movie that never ends.  

The most bizarre thing of all to me though is the fact that nobody notices.  Or worse than that, nobody cares.  What has happened to us that nobody cares about anyone else anymore?  

Maybe it is time for the world as we know it to end.  Maybe we have passed the threshold of human ignorance and indifference. Maybe it really is too late, to late to end the violence, the inequality, the obvious prejudice and hatred toward our fellow man.  Maybe, whatever intelligence that created this world, if indeed there is one has had enough.  

How much farther down the scale of inhumanity can we go?  I for one don't want to be here to see it.  I don't want to see another Nazi Germany.  I don't even want to see another bomb go off.  I don't want to sit back and watch people starving to death all over the planet knowing all the while that there is enough for everyone and it doesn't have to be this way.  Worst of all, I don't want to do it knowing I did nothing to stop it.  

I for one know that I did not come to this world for this.  I was not born so that I might live as a monster, an uncaring, unfeeling aberration of life.  I was not born to suffer a life of poverty either wondering whether my children would eat or have shelter from day to day.  I did not come to be a witness to this because that would make me unworthy of life.

I was born to live in peace, love, and harmony or I would not have been born.  Even if by some miracle, I could acquire some measure of comfort how does one enjoy it knowing that so many others still suffer immeasurably?  I guess the real question is how do I live in a world like this one?

I don't think I can if something drastic doesn't change this course we are on.  I can't just stand by helplessly while the world is plunged into this senseless abyss of heartless barbarism.  

I don't know what I can do.  The question isn't how can I change my life anymore, the question is how can I change the world.

Fighting Hunger

Coming soon to an American city near you!

Now that I'm fasting and I'm halfway through my first day, I have to play a game with myself.  I have to pretend that this gnawing feeling of hunger I'm now walking around with is "a good thing."  Not only is it good, it's downright "noble".  This is the game I have to play with myself at the beginning of a fast because the first two to three days are the hardest part to get through for me.  It's like my body and mind will team up against me and come up with a relentless amount of fantastic reasons why I should put some more cheap and unnutritious food into my mouth.

With the game's help during the fast I can convince myself that I'm actually a worthwhile intelligent creative person, a boost my ego is always looking for since being poor in America is like being a cat in a dog kennel.  After all, we might as well face it, Americans HATE POOR PEOPLE!  The trick here is not to let myself feel deprived which is something all well adjusted poor people have to do on a daily basis if we want to keep our dignity from being systematically stripped away from us. 

The other thing I have to keep convincing myself is that "I am doing this for my health and it has nothing to do with the fact that I can't afford to buy food that my body would thank me for feeding it."  If I don't keep this up front, I might start to feel sorry for myself and that isn't an emotion I enjoy at all.  Personally, self pity  is something that I try to avoid at all costs because being stuck in that will shut me down faster than having a house dropped on my head.

Initially during a fast it may be hard to think rationally but facts stand that fasting helps rid the body of toxins, facilitates healing, and actually promotes life longevity.  I haven't had any health insurance in almost ten years so it's important to keep my body from coming down with anything serious because I wouldn't be able to get treatment for it if I did.  So far, I haven't needed a doctor in all this time and I'd like to keep it that way since I don't trust them anyway.

Although it's been awhile since I fasted (my last fast was over a year ago and lasted exactly one week) I remember going from being in the same semi-depressed tired state to a state of increased energy and mental clarity.  As a poor person, I am constantly having to rid myself of negative thoughts to keep myself focused on just getting through the day on a budget of nothing which means in a nutshell I won't be going anywhere more interesting than around the block for a walk anytime soon.

Exercise is really a must for the chronically poor since it is free.  The media will have you believe otherwise by advertising fancy gyms, good workout shoes, and the like but I'm here to tell say you can get yourself in optimal shape without spending a dime.  Nothing gets me feeling like a million dollars (okay $100) than a good long jog. 

The thing is that contrary to the name of this blog, poverty can do you in if you are not on top of it and let it get to you.  The evidence of this is all around you if you just look.  Poor people are more likely to be sick, over-weight, addicted to something, mentally ill, and just plain apathetic.  Living successfully through poverty is definitely not for the feeble minded, you must take charge of your physical and mental well being if you want to survive it. 

That's why I'm fasting this week.  It's basically survival 101 for this poverty stricken mom. 

Too Much Peanut Butter

Poor people usually don't eat right because they have to eat foods that will fill them up without costing a lot.  This week, for instance, I found myself eating a peanut butter sandwich about two or three times a day. ( As a mother, I always save the best food for my children since they still have that keen sense of what their bodies need which unfortunately gets interpreted as "the picky eater."

At any rate, although I've never been overweight, I notice that at certain times the pressure of being poor coupled with a lousy food and drink intake can take it's toll on me.  For me it manifests as a dull lethargic kind of sensation that seems to hide just under the surface of everything I do.   Some may call it the proverbial "bad mood" assuming it's purely a mental condition but for me it's definitely a physical one.

My body becomes bloated, my face feels like it's sagging, and my natural energy level becomes sub-par.  I believe not recognizing that this condition is a combination of stress and lack of healthy sustenance leads may poor to seek mental help and many of them wind up on all sorts of dangerous drugs designed to offset the real problem.  ( The graph at the very bottom of this link shows that the increase in anti-depressant use is highest among the poor.  http://meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/data_files/publications/st76/stat76.pdf)  

I personally fell into this trap for years blaming my state of mind (and subsequent long lasting poverty) on some mental defect or on the doctors diagnoses of me as "chronically  depressed."  Ironically, no high doses or combinations of these popular drugs ever made me "feel" any better so some years ago now, I finally stopped looking for the answer to my poverty in them.

Too many poor people unfortunately fall into this trap and wind up poisoning their bodies with these prescribed drugs which only serve to keep them numb, unthinking, and docile never realizing that their poverty is a condition of an unequal and unjust societal plague.  ( Let me just mention once here that the pharmaceutical companies who make these drugs are laughing all the way to the bank.)

The fact that natural remedies exist for cleansing your body and mind isn't something the mainstream poor person examines very often but they should because if you are poor it is even more "IMPERATIVE" that you remain alert and in top physical condition.  Everyone can make their own decisions on what that might entail.  I am going to go on a fast starting today.

I'll let you know how it goes.