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When All Hope Seems Lost

“I waited patiently for God to help me; then He listened and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out from the bog and the mire, and set my feet on a hard, firm path and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, of praises to our God” (Psalms 40:1-3)

I have one week to come up with $989 for the next mortgage payment or the homestead goes into foreclosure. The current job has cut me back to 12 hours’ per week; the previous job wouldn’t have kept me up-to-date either. I had an interview for a position yesterday. It’s another part-time position, but one that I can work while continuing at the greenhouse…provided they don’t decide I’m seasonal and I lose even the 12 hours in the coming weeks. I start training for the new position on September 16th; I don’t get paid until after training. Then the money is decent and will, hopefully, keep us afloat. But it’ll be too late for the homestead…unless the mortgage company is willing to negotiate another modification.

I’m not sure they will.

And, yes, I’ve read “The Secret”. I know about manifestation. Maybe there’s something to it. Maybe it’s “Pshaw!”. Maybe there’s too much angst in my heart for the basic principles of “The Secret” to work. Either way, I’ve also read the Bible numerous times. I know what my faith tells me I should be feeling, thinking, doing.

And I’m coming up empty.

Maybe He has something bigger in mind for me down the road. I hope so. Maybe this new something will be the dream homestead: off-grid; enough acres to grow my own hay; room for more goats to start my brush clearing business; a greenhouse for growing food and spices, such as turmeric, cardamom, ginger and others, year-round for sale. Maybe the new something will provide room enough that I can provide a forever home for animals that have been abused and/or neglected. Maybe the new something will allow me to plant an extensive herb garden that I can teach from…and a backyard habitat to help mitigate the destruction modern-day progress has made of the natural world.

You see, when I’m down and out, I escape into my fantasies (or a book…and endless YouTube videos (sigh)).

I keep thinking, if I could only get back on my feet again, I would be unstoppable. But I’m drowning in debt and doubt and fear and futility.

Yes, futility.

I feel like all of the efforts I have made in the last 5 years to improve my credit rating, to pay down the debt, to build up the homestead to be a working endeavor have been in vain. Granted, the latter has been half-hearted out of fear that any efforts I make might also be futile if I eventually lose the property. The result has been over-grown and overwhelm. I keep spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. I don’t know what to do. I keep asking Him to take the reins, to drive this train wreck of a life, because I have no more fight left to put it back on track again.

I’m down.

I’m broken.

I’m done. Stick a fork in me.

And, underneath it all, I’m scared shitless. I thought I was done with this 5 years’ ago. How the hell, why the hell have I come around this full circle?

And, yes, I’m almost done with the woe-is-me-feel-sorry-for-me pity-party. I’m not so sure about the intermittent crying jag that’s running interference in the background. And I can’t promise there won’t be an F-bomb lacing this post further along…I’ll try to refrain.

I’m asking, but from where I’m standing, the answer seems cruel.

I’m seeking but I’m not finding.

I’m knocking but the door’s not opening.

And, most importantly, I’m angry. I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t ask to fall. I didn’t ask to fracture my shoulder. I didn’t ask to be jerked around by the previous company regarding the necessary time out to heal. I didn’t ask to be backed into a corner so that I was forced to resign…even if, in many ways, it was a blessing in disguise. Despite this desperate situation.

What’s that expression? When the going gets tough, the tough get going. I’m just not sure in which direction…except He’s asking me, I think, to go through this. Again.

I’ve been paralyzed by indecision over the years. Even after I righted the mortgage (or so I thought), I continued to waver. I’ve wanted to relocate. But I’ve got a lot of years in this house. Sure, it’s rundown and needs a ton of work, but it’s home. I have friends and family close by…even if they seldom call or come to visit. I have a church community that I’ve been active in and that I love. I’m close to the current job, even if it is part-time. I have a vet that I also love, who has been kind and caring and has given great care to my animals over the years. This is my world.

It’s familiar.

It’s comfortable.

And I’m not 25 anymore. I am the poster “child” for proof that the older you get, the harder it is to change, to uproot and leave everything beloved and familiar.

Again, He’s asking me (I think) to step out of my comfort zone and trust Him. Really trust Him.

I have trust issues even on a human scale.

So where do I go from here?

The song, “What If I Gave Everything” by Casting Crowns is running a steady monologue in my head. What if I did give everything? What if, despite this seemingly impossible situation, I poured my whole self into building the homestead of my dreams…wherever it lands? Or even if it winds up staying where it is? To hell with the toe in the water. What if I plunged in right here, right now? What if I stopped waiting for the perfect conditions to be that “unstoppable”? And, more importantly, what if I stopped trying to reason everything out with my limited human understanding?

Maybe the only thing really stopping me is, well, me. Somebody, please, push me out of my own way (heavy sigh).

May God bless you & keep you!

Works Cited

Casting Crowns (2016). “What If I Gave Everything.” The Very Next Thing. Beach Street Records.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/9fymzf-medical-leave

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Please Forward to as Many as Possible

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God bless you & keep you!

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“Elvis” Has Left Living History…Almost

“The Lord is close to those whose hearts are breaking; He rescues those who are humbly sorry for their sins. The good man does not escape troubles–he has them, too. But the Lord helps him in each and every one. God even protects him from accidents.” (Psalm 34:18-20)

Okay, so maybe not Elvis but The Herbal Hare. And “almost” because, while I tendered my resignation to the museum I had been employed with two weeks’ ago, I have every hope to return as a volunteer before the season is out; I’m not sure my heart could take a permanent separation from my beloved herb garden there…or the many friends I’ve made who, in many ways, have grown to feel like family. But, for now, though the doc has cleared me for work without any restrictions, I have also been cautioned to take it slow as I strive to get back to my usual level of activity.

So, why did I tender my resignation? I mean, there have been a host of glowing blog posts extolling its virtues; I loved what I did there.

Well, the deciding factor for me was the receipt of a letter from them saying they would not be able to hold my position open any longer, which I totally understand. They need my physical presence there. And that has not been something I’ve been able to provide since January’s spill on the ice. However, I had been coming to this decision on my own for various reasons. The main one being the overwhelming stress of a 2 hour commute everyday.

I’m usually a reliable worker. Past employers would tell you that I rarely miss time from work. The one exception would be back in 2002 when I injured this same arm in a car accident; there was a lengthy convalesce then, too. But I’ve missed a lot of time with the museum. 2002’s accident was during a snowstorm; I HATE driving in snow and will avoid it at any turn. And the back country roads from The Herbal Hare Homestead to the museum are not always well plowed. Add to this, the extremely early mornings coupled with late nights because, in order to get the farm fed, watered and out of the barn for the day, I had to be up by 4:30 the latest and lucky the evening I could get to bed by 10, it is safe to say I’d racked up a deficit on sleep. On slow days, I’d catch myself nodding over my knitting…and being startled by the sudden arrival of an errant visitor.

My homework assignments (I am also a middle-aged college student; due to graduate October 2020) are always due Sunday nights. Thankfully, Mondays and Tuesdays were usually my days’ off but I’d start them so exhausted from staying up–often past midnight–to complete those assignments, that I’d be a near vegetable, dozing in the easy chair while watching YouTube videos and never getting anything done. The farm, the gardens here, all started to look a bit shabby and neglected. Even the animals, who are like children to me, received only the most basic of care: food, water, mucking out/cleaning of their areas and, maybe, if I wasn’t literally running through feeding time, a scratch or two on the head. I’m still playing “catch up” on some of the bigger chores that have been neglected these past 18 months. And, for those who have been following this blog since its inception, I’ve certainly blogged about rising at 3:30 a.m. to write. That also went by the wayside. I still got up early but there was no time to write, seldom time to hit the yoga mat and, by the time I returned home in the evening, no time for either then. I was ripe for catching every malady that crossed my public path…and I did.

All of this leads to feeling beaten down, depressed, anxious. Overwhelmed. And I’ve definitely blogged about that, too.

The last few months of convalescing with this injury forced me to get the rest I was so desperately in need of. And with that rest came the realization that I was, in essence, eating, sleeping and breathing the museum…even if I was often physically absent. I was an empty shell. The things that make me, well, me kept getting put on a back burner: writing, homesteading, my animals, drawing, painting, yoga. I seldom saw my friends or family. And there was a tremendous guilt growing because Mom was also missing time with family as I am her only means of transportation and we are open most holidays.

Before I continue, this is not an assault on the museum where I worked. This is more a recounting of a lesson hard learned. While I love the museum, love spinning yarn, weaving cloth, planting, weeding, and cultivating in the herb garden, cooking and baking on the hearth, and braiding straw, I also love doing these things at home. (Okay, I don’t have a hearth (I did look into it; $40K was the quote…probably won’t have one anytime soon…(chuckle)) or a loom; the latter is coming in some indeterminate point in the future). And none of it has any meaning, here or there, if you cannot share time with those closest to your heart. By spreading myself out so thin, and depriving myself even of necessary sleep, I short-changed the museum. They never saw the best that I could be. And I short-changed my pets, my family, my friends…even myself.

Mom and I went to Easter dinner this year. It felt so good to be with family again, to share a meal and some laughs…and I wasn’t nodding at the table this time, as I had been at Christmas (one of two holidays that I didn’t work). In the last few days, we’ve done a bit of shopping–not the necessary kind like groceries (though we’ve done some of that, too) but fun stuff. We went to Hart’s Greenhouse and purchased flowers and herbs. We bought mulch for the garden walkways. There’s even a new wind chime. I’ve missed that…which has been more of an eye opener at how much such a little thing can mean to one’s well being.

Of course, I knew all of this. I knew how long my commute would be. I thought I could handle it. As the museum closes at 5, I thought I could get everyone–goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits and cats–settled for the evening, complete some homework, etc. by 8:30 so I could continue getting up at 3:30 and write this blog, write some scenes for my book, do some yoga, care for the animals, squeeze a little weeding in before (or after) work and still get to work on time and be on top of my game there. (Yeah, phew!)

Nobody can sustain that level of activity for long, especially with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome…and on some nights, with only 4 hours of sleep (and don’t ask me about the mornings after an evening program…lol!).

This convalesce has been an eye opener as to how greatly I miscalculated. Sadly, in miscalculating so greatly, I let the farm down, I let my family and friends down, I let the museum and my co-workers down, and, most importantly, I let myself down.

Lesson learned.

May God bless you & keep you!

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Longings

“As a hungry man dreams of eating, but is still hungry, and as a thirsty man dreams of drinking, but is still faint from thirst when he wakes up, so your enemies will dream of victorious conquest, but all to no avail” (Isaiah 29:8)

Nope. No enemies that I know of, though I could be mistaken. And, despite the financial destitution I find myself in at the moment, I’m neither hungry nor thirsty–at least not physically. However, I am hungry in other ways.

I have a favorite quote by Anais Nin: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

That’s where I am in life…and have been for some time now.

You see, I like that false sense of security. You know the one. It’s a “security” in having some clue about the outcome of something, not stepping out in faith. It’s a “security” in commonsense dictates. It’s a “security” in following the status quo, a status quo that assumes debt is normal…even if it does hurt. It’s a “security” in that college degree, that 9-to-5, that happily-ever-after marriage with 2.3 kids and a white picket fence costing a fortune to keep and maintain. In striving towards the goals of this “security”, I’ve had two marriages fail without any children ever being a part of the equation and have struggled for 15 years now to pay a mortgage that two people once struggled to pay. (And before anyone asks, it is a fixer-upper; it’s been on the market before with barely a glance). I’ve had the big 9-to-5 corporate job…and had it shipped overseas where the company didn’t have to pay benefits and the minimum wage is much, much lower (if there even is such a thing as minimum wage in these other places…). Even the present position, in light of last January’s fall and subsequent injury, isn’t entirely secure owing to my inability to actually “work”. Kudos! because my employer has been wonderful in regard, though I cringe at how short-handed they must be in early spring with a horticultural lead missing in action. As for the college degree, well, I won’t graduate until October 2020…with a mountain of more debt. And how many college students find even a supplemental income in their chosen field? (Yeah, sometimes I question the wisdom in signing up, too, but I’m determined to see it through…).

I’ve been putting my faith, my “security”, in the wrong things. Though that may be how life has been set up for most of us, though that may be the “normal” in our modern society, we are not cookie cutters of each other. Part of what makes life interesting is diversity. Yes, we all need a place to live and a means to pay our way through life that doesn’t burden others over long (eh, we all need a helping hand once in a while; it’s called community), but, in the end, this is not what carries us through. For me, I have my 9F philosophy: faith, family, friends, farm, fiction, flora and fauna, fiber and frugality. The first three are pretty straight-forward. “Farm” refers to the myriad creatures who share this life with me. “Fiction” is my writing (though I write both fiction and non-fiction). “Flora” and “Fauna” are the herbs, veggies, fruits and flowers that I love to plant and cultivate, harvest and preserve. “Fiber” is spinning and weaving. And “frugality” is a minimalist lifestyle that uses the least amount of resources to sustain. It’s what’s most important in my life, what matters most. For others, it may be entirely different.

My deepest longing is to live completely off-grid. I work at a 1830’s museum; I would love to live that way. Yes, I know I am typing away on a modern computer. That would be one of few concessions to modernity if my dream homestead ever becomes a reality: there would be at least a few solar panels to power the laptop, the wi-fi unit, and charge the cellphone. During harvest season, I might use it for operating the food dehydrator. And maybe a small refrigerator but even that’s negotiable. I dream of growing and preserving my own food, spinning my own yarn, weaving my own cloth, sewing my own clothes, using a bicycle, or shanks’ pony (legs), for most of my journeys, and making my own herbal remedies (albeit, I do a lot of this already on a smaller scale). My dream homestead has a rainwater catchment system that is gravity fed into the house; no well-pumps or water softeners. It has a graywater reclamation system. My dream homestead has a couple of galvanized tubs with a wringer attached to the side and an old scrub board for washing clothes. My dream homestead has a clothesline for drying those clothes. I even dream of a composting toilet. I’m looking at the lowest impact possible to our earth. I’m looking at a return to a back-to-basics’ lifestyle that is, in my honest opinion, way more healthier than our modern way of, well, existing.

At this point, I’m can’t see exactly how I’m going to accomplish all of this; I’m putting it in His hands. And, looking at today’s scriptural quote, there will certainly be the “enemies” dreaming of conquering me: the naysayers who think I’m either crazy or simply tell me I “can’t” have all that I dream of. To them I say, it truly is “to no avail” because this is the dream He has placed upon my heart since I was a very young girl and I cannot ignore it anymore. If that means a few sacrifices, then so be it. Because it has become more painful to “remain tight in a bud” than to “blossom” and grow. I am a free spirit; always have been. This cookie cutter way of life has never fit, like a too-small shoe that pinches and blisters the soul, rather than the feet. For now, healing and getting back to work is the main priority but my dream homestead is just looming over the horizon. It’s time to walk by faith, not by sight.

May God bless you & keep you!

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Fear Overwhelms

“Trust in the Lord and sincerely worship Him; think of all the tremendous things He has done for you” (1 Samuel 12:24)

Things have been at sixes and sevens here at The Herbal Hare Homestead. Not only is foreclosure eminent if I can’t find a way to pay $5K by May 1st, while still out of work due to a fractured shoulder, but my beloved Pearl decided to revert back to her childhood last Thursday, winding up in critical condition at the vet hospital. Snuggling in my lap while I attempted to complete a homework assignment (college student), she suddenly jumped down and, moments later, I heard her chomping on what sounded like a piece of plastic. I reached down to grab her and she ran out of my office like her non-existent pants were on fire. In reflection, I probably shouldn’t have asked, “What have you got?” as I reached down but how was I to know? Anyway, not seeing any toothy plastic on the floor, or anywhere nearby, I followed her downstairs. By the time I reached her again, her mouth was free and clear of any foreign object and there was no way to ascertain, at that point, if she had, indeed, swallowed the object, or dropped it in her flight. A short while later, she started vomiting bloody, watery stuff. As it was evening, I had to wait until the next morning to call the vet and, by that time, she was hunching over as if in pain. Fortunately, I got her in that same day and, after a couple of x-rays, showed that, yes, she had ingested some plastic (still no idea from what…) but had also chewed it up into a mushy mass that was actually moving okay through her system. The doc kept her overnight and administered two enemas. By morning she had passed a good amount, though a small amount still showed in her gut (albeit further along her digestive tract).

Pearl is home now and appears to be doing better. She has a gel laxative that I have to give her once a day for the next few days and a special high-fiber food to keep things moving but she is eating and drinking, using the cat pan and seems to be perking up. But my heart has been lodged somewhere in my throat while also somehow settling in the bottom of my stomach ever since she started gnawing on the offensive material.

I try not to have favorites. I love all of the animals that share this homestead with me like the children I never had. But, no matter how even-handed and minded you try to be, there’s always that one that carves a very special place in your heart. Pearl is that kitty. She’s my eternal shadow, waiting for me to come home each night, eager for bedtime, office time, anytime she can spend in my lap, by my side, at my feet–wherever she finds most comfortable for the moment. A sane part of me tries to remember she’s 15 years old but love has no logic. She could live another 15 years and it would never be enough. Of course, this is true for all of my loved ones, human or humane, but the fear I felt in that moment that this might be the last time knocked me to my knees–both in prayer but also in anguish and agony. When she finally came home on Saturday, you would think I would do the happy dance–and I did–after I blubbered copiously with relief.

As for the vet bill? I am blessed with a compassionate vet who, mercifully, didn’t charge for 2 out of 3 x-rays and nixed any overnight fee so my bill was blessedly low.

All of this fear and anxiety though has got me thinking about how much the adversary uses such things to try to break our relationship with God. The adversary doesn’t understand, because, like Voldemort of the Harry Potter series, he doesn’t understand love, that for a believer, such adversity, fear, anxiety and every other mean and negative thing actually draws us closer to God. Instead of the paralyzing fear I’ve been experiencing since my own accident, worrying about paying bills, the mortgage, etc., I decided to trust God that this was His plan. That Pearl had to go through this crisis. He used it to jolt me out of my debilitating apathy and depression. I have since renewed my commitment to fight for what matters most in life and to never give up. He’s calling me to commit, and to trust Him with the outcome.

This morning a peace settled over my heart. I decided that, while I hope to avoid the foreclosure, I am also accepting that He may have something else in mind, something, or some place, better in mind. That maybe, just maybe, He’s looking to bless me and my family with something greater than we could ever imagine. Of course, maybe not. But you know what? This morning I let go of the outcome. I trust His will, His plan. Whatever it is, He will make it manifest. All I have to do is trust Him.

He’s left me no choice. And He showed me with Pearl that He is in control, that He hears our prayers, He knows our hearts, and whether He takes us out of the storm, or rides it with us, He is always here.

I’m letting go.

Finally.

He broke me.

And it’s the most wonderful feeling…

…no, the threat of losing Pearl was not a wonderful feeling but the surrender, the peace, that He brought to my heart in that surrender, and the renewed sense of faith and commitment are wonderful.

And, no, had I lost her, while I would be sorely grieving for awhile, I would still be trusting in God. I cling to Him like the Rock He is. Because that is what He wants me to do. He is in control. And, though this financial storm still swirls around me, He is definitely riding it with me…

…just as He rides the storms in your hearts and lives, too.

May God bless you & keep you!

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It’s Funny How He Works

“And it is He who will supply all your needs from His riches in glory, because of what Christ Jesus has done for us. Now unto God our Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Philippians 4:19-20)

God is speaking loud and clear to my heart today. First, it was a fellow blogger’s post about how to pray in the midst of depression. I struggle greatly with depression–or at least I have since a major lay-off back in 2009. I cheered when I got laid off. I hated the commute so much that I just couldn’t take it anymore. And for three years’ running, the corporation I worked for refused to give wage increases–even if you worked your proverbial ass off, did a fine job or not, went above and beyond the call of duty, etc. I also felt stifled in the position. As a creative person, one who drools over spiral bound notebooks, Bic and Paper Mate pens, and dreams of finally getting my break as a writer, providing tech support and customer service, well, I loved my co-workers, the field techs I worked closely with, but it really wasn’t/isn’t what I would like to do with my life. So I guess I was dealing with that ol’ devil depression even before the lay off…(chuckle).

Since the layoff, I feel like for every step forward I take with this homestead, I take 3 steps back. Sure, I’m learning a thing or two in the process but I also feel like I’m farther away from my goals and dreams than when I started. The biggest part of it has been the seemingly perpetual financial setbacks. When unemployment insurance was exhausted and I was nowhere nearer to finding full-time employment anywhere, I turned to part-time endeavors, seasonal endeavors, and continued to struggle. In August 2017, I FINALLY found full-time employment (and another lengthy, grueling commute, I might add) doing something I love almost as much as writing. And, just as I started to get my feet back under me financially, I slipped and fell on the ice, fracturing my shoulder. I’ve been out of work, without any income at all, since January 22, 2019. And, of course, it’s starting to get a little scary here as my savings dwindles down at an alarming rate and I’ve now missed a couple of mortgage payments. I feel like I’ve come around full circle, stuck in that proverbial rut I can never seem to claw my way out of completely.

So He spoke to me today.

And I understood.

He answered my prayers to unharden my heart, if there is any hardness there, so I can hear the message He’s trying to speak to me.

First, it was praying even in the midst of depression, when you can’t seem to form two coherent thoughts that don’t end with “wowzy wowzy woo woo” (I’m a big Flintstones’ fan; channeling my inner Bad Luck Schlepprock here). The author is a man named Tony Roberts and his blog is Delight in Disorder. The post is entitled, “Bleeding Prayers,” and I’m sure he’d be delighted if you hopped on over and read his post, too. It certainly gave me a much needed boost today to be reminded that He will never, ever leave us…even when we think maybe He has.

Bleeding Prayers

But God wasn’t done with me there. I have been a subscriber to Seedtime with Bob Lotich for many years’ now, going back to when his blog was entitled: Christian Personal Finance. Over the last week or so, as my next appointment and re-evaluation approaches, I’ve been doing the “what-if” commentary in my head. “What if the doc pulls me out of work even longer?” “What if I lose the farm?” “What if I can’t pay my bills anymore?” And, of course, now that I’ve finally found full-time work, after so many years of not having it, “What if I can no longer do the job I was hired to do?”

(Dang, no wonder I had trouble sleeping last night…)

Did I tell you I’m a chronic worrier? And, like all worry warts, half of what I worry about never manifests, but I can’t seem to stop the train once it starts going down that track.

Anyway, Bob posted a video entitled, “How to know what direction to go with your career?”

Now, as a writer dreaming of writing, a homesteader dreaming of a working homestead, and a 19th century interpreter and herb garden lead hoping to don 19th century attire again soon, I think I have a handle on what direction I’d like to move in, continue in, with my career life. But maybe He has other ideas. What I learned in watching Bob’s YouTube video is that I have to stop waiting for Him to plant major signposts. Sometimes it’s just a little nudge, a change of direction, etc. In my case, a forced rest, with time to think and reflect, and a renewed appreciation for everything that I have here…and at my “day” job.

I miss the friends I’ve made at my “day” job. I miss spinning and weaving, and straw braiding–all things I’ve been looking to incorporate here on the homestead because, it’s not just what’s in our food, but what’s in our clothing, that drives my determination to homestead in the first place (more on that later).

I’m a good interpreter. The 19th century skills that I’ve been learning since August of 2017 have come pretty easy to me. I’m no expert, by far, but I can give a pretty convincing performance and engage the public in whatever I’m doing. I miss that interaction. Again, I miss the friends made–not just co-workers, though I consider many of them so, but even amongst some of our more regular visitors. I’m missing the new lambs being born. The former beekeeper in me misses watching the honey bees. The Hermoine Granger in me misses the research library. And, lastly, I miss the herb garden. I miss the plants singing to me, their sweet smells intoxicating me, their spirits lighting up even under a cloudy sky. And before every thinks there’s a little bit too much “woo woo” in Bad Luck Schlepprock’s cuppa tea today, the Mohawk and Narragansett side of my heritage argues that, yes, even plants have a spirit. The herbs planted here at home sing, too, but it’s a different place and a different energy. And almost all of it is good..here and at work.

The flip side is that this forced recuperation has also been a reminder not to neglect all the many parts of myself, the many facets of my life that make me, well, me. It’s led to burn-out. I write. I blog. I paint and draw. I garden here at home and care for livestock and pets. I have family and friends. And I need to pace myself better going forward because all of it matters: my writing, my art, my homestead, my family, my friends, my pets, my 40-hour a week travel back in time to the 19th century, and, of course, my God.

I’ve been neglecting Him a little bit, too. It’s been a painful reminder (in more ways than one) to find that comfortable balance.

So He reminded me today. He reminded me that even those little nudges He gives are meant to be obeyed, that if we (I!) submit to His nudges, I won’t be disappointed or bereft, or any of the other negativities–lies!–that the adversary screams at us (me!). He’s reminding me to trust Him. That, no matter what happens going forward, He’s got my back. He’s reminding me of the many blessings I have at home, and away from home, that are all worth working for. And, He’s reminding me, most of all, of my own worth. That was the third message that came through today.

I’ve had a Go Fund Me campaign up for several weeks’ now. Asking for help is like pulling teeth with me. It was another Bob Lotich posting that came through loud and clear. This time it was an article entitled “Survive a Financial Crisis: 12 Tips for Married Couples.” Well, I’m neither married, nor a couple, but I am in a financial crisis right now. I’m scared of losing my home. I’d certainly consider relocating, but I need to get back to work and get right side up on a mortgage before I can qualify again. It has also bothered me deeply to be unable to give over the last few years, or give as much as I’d like. When I worked at that corporate position back in 2009, every year my department collected food–non-perishables–for a battered women’s shelter. I always went grocery shopping for them. Today I “shop” mostly at the local food pantry for myself. I feel lowly and degraded, embarrassed to be in need. Bob writes: “God may once again put you in the position of the giver, but for now, this might just be your time to receive. Standing together is a function of community, and in this case, standing alone is a sign of selfishness.” (Lotich).

Yeah, it scrapes and stings a bit. But I welcome it. He’s molding me into the image of who and what He wants me to be…and it may, or may not, be exactly what I want me to be. He’s reminding me that it is His will, not my own. And it’s okay to ask for help. We all need a helping hand now and again. It’s another definition of balance.

So, while I wait for Friday’s appointment and my “fate” when it comes, I’m sitting back and letting Him mold. As an artist, I know these things take time. And who knows? Maybe the herbs have been working on a special chorus just for me.

May God bless you & keep you!

Please consider sharing: https://www.gofundme.com/9fymzf-medical-leave?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=email&utm_content=campaign_link_t&utm_campaign=welcome

Works Cited

Lotich, Bob. “Survive a Financial Crisis: 12 Things for Married Couples.” Seedtime.com. https://christianpf.com/survive-a-financial-crisis-12-things-for-married-couples

Lotich, Bob and Lotich, Linda. “How to Know What Direction to Go with your Career.” Seedtime.com. YouTube.

Roberts, Tony. “Bleeding Prayers.” Delight in Disorder. https://delightindisorder.org/bleeding-prayers/?fbclid=IwAR1TDuupIGlRQ6TwnYG-V7uYZGUATXQhVqVf_sEpO9AQRjW4a5w00kYwaK4

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Doing What I Can

“That is why we can say without any doubt or fear, ‘The Lord is my Helper and I am not afraid of anything that mere man can do to me’.” (Hebrews 13:6)

Brave words, the Scripture above. And, at the moment, with foreclosure a looming threat, I’m not really feeling all that brave. This is where I struggle even with my faith. And I know I shouldn’t but, sometimes, you’ve just been in the storm too long. D’you know what I mean? I want to stand outside in the yard and light a great big bonfire, sending up smoke signals like in all the cheesy cartoon “Indians” of my youth: “Hello…I’m over here. Did you forget about me?”

Yup. I know. Not exactly the pillar of steadfastness. I’m oscillating between sheer panic and catatonic depression on the inside. Yet, amazingly, I’m not my usual paralyzed-with-fear self. Usually, when I’m in a funk, as I call it, I don’t get anything done. Instead, I escape in books, videos, card games on the computer. All productivity stops. Such is not the case right now. Sure, I have my moments when I want to hide like that, ignore my plight, give in to self-pity and self-condemnation (like I could have predicted and/or avoided the fall that fractured this shoulder). But, in a rare moment of patience with self, and the healing process, I’m actually chugging along at a slow but steady pace doing those things that I can do while laid up and hurting.

I’m getting ready to launch my new Patreon page. And I couldn’t be more excited. I started one over a year ago and then got so caught up in work/commute/school work, etc. that I seriously neglected it and the moderators set it to inactive status. I’ve been working on a schedule for after work hours so that I can keep up with it this time, keep adding more poetry, short stories, artwork–some of the latter may even be available for sale at some point. I’ve got a newsletter that I am working on for tier 1 contributors that will include recipes, herbal remedies/self-care products that can be made at home in the comfort of one’s kitchen, original games/puzzles, gardening and/or homesteading tips. There will likely be more but, for the first one, I’m keeping it simple. If I go too grandiose, as is my habit, it will never get written and released for subscription.

Painting is another endeavor that’s been nudging me. I actually invested in a couple of canvasses. Despite all of the chaos of my financial life right now, painting is always a great way to decompress while creating something of value, too.

I give herb garden tours at my “day” job from time to time. It’s been a blessing to do them because it has given me the confidence in both my knowledge of herbs, and also in being able to deliver an interesting tour. I love working with herbs and I think that passion comes through in that delivery. So I’ve been working on some outlines, not for a garden tour yet (though that may be something for the coming summer once my home garden is blooming again), but as a talk to be given at local garden club meetings. And, if I can find a local park with a good quantity of wild herbs (weeds to most people!), I may advertise a “weed” walk once the weather breaks to build some of that anticipation for future classes here at The Herbal Hare Homestead.

My YouTube junkie status has not been entirely a waste. I’ve indulged my love of animals, watching videos of Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, etc. running agility competitions (another dream of mine to work with them). BBC Gardeners’ World with Monty Don just launched their new season; that’s always a pleasure…both for the gardening tips, the comics of Monty’s two Golden Retrievers, and, not to mention, a couple of the hosts are pleasing to the eye, too. (Eh, I’m human…) And, of course, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is always good for a laugh. However, my main focus has been microgreens and sprouts, the growing of them, building a business selling them as a side hustle. Given my financial difficulties right now, I don’t have the means to invest in what I need to get started but I have been working on a grant proposal for the same. There are plenty of grants out there for single women farmers and single women business owners. This would classify as both. (Keeping the fingers crossed…)

And, lastly, the novel, or at least the outline for some of the scenes, is also chugging along. I probably won’t complete the first draft before the doctor releases me back to work but at least there’s been some flesh added to the bare bones of it…and that’s a reason to pat the usual paralyzed-with-fear self on the head and move on.

Father, I praise you for this storm…Amen!

May God bless you & keep you!

PS I would be delighted if everyone who reads this would be so kind as to post the link on their social media accounts; things are getting pretty scary here at The Herbal Hare Homestead. Every little bit helps keep this homestead that much further away from foreclosure. Again, God bless you & keep you!
https://www.gofundme.com/manage/9fymzf-medical-leave

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At Sixes and Sevens

“Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed. I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10).

“A state of confusion or disarray”, says The Free Dictionary online to the phrase “at sixes and sevens”. Confusion? Yes. Confused how I got to this place again in life, worrying about foreclosure, which is eminent if I cannot get back to work soon. Confused with how to stay afloat, where to turn, what to do. I find myself so weary of the constant struggle. It’s been this way since 2009 almost indefinitely. Only brief little respites. I start to pick myself back up again. And I fall back down. Why?

Yup…I’m in that wowzy wowzy woo woo mode again. I know I’m suppose to release that struggle to Jesus, to trust Him to make it all work out–even if it’s not exactly how I would like it to be. And whining about everything surely doesn’t help but, would everyone understand if I said, “I can’t help it?” (Ok, ok…maybe I can but indulge me for a moment, please)

I’m in over my head right now. And, while the shoulder is feeling better, it’s still not 100%. Holding a cellphone for more than a few minutes becomes quite uncomfortable. I’m getting impatient with being a patient again…and this one is serious. Bones don’t mend overnight. But there’s too much of that disarray right now, owing to the current lack of income.

And yet, amidst all of this disarray and confusion, there’s a part of me truly grateful for the rest that this convalesce has provided on a physical level. I’m not as perpetually sleep-deprived. I’m writing more. Singing in the choir at church. Spending some quality time with Mom and the pets here at The Herbal Hare Homestead. And even sharing a few visits with friends who, prior to my injury, probably thought I’d forgotten about them. If I wasn’t so worried about finances, I would focus everything I have on the positive outcomes and just allow myself to heal. That’s why I’m home right now. That’s what I’m supposed to be doing.

Unfortunately, it’s not always so simple. Focusing on just healing is the ideal; the reality is something altogether different.

But, I’m not giving up. I’m going to trust that He does have a plan for all of this. And that everything will work out for the best in the end. In the meantime, I will keep posting my Go Fund Me campaign link and asking everyone to share it. There’s been a few “bites” for which I am eternally grateful; I am eternally grateful for all of the love and moral support that has been coming my way lately, too. I know, deep down inside, that He really does have my back.

And yours, too, no matter what storm you may be riding out right now…blessed be the name of the Lord.

May God bless you & keep you!

https://www.gofundme.com/manage/9fymzf-medical-leave

19th century, Abuse, Addiction, Alcoholism, Animal Rights, Animals, Appreciation, aquaponics, Art, Bereavement, Biodynamic, Birthday Wishes, Books, Brothers & Sisters, Christianity, Chronic Epstein Barr, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Climate Change, Compassion, compost, Cooking, Creativity, Culture, ecosystems, Emergency Preparedness, Enlightenment, Environment, Exhaustion, Faith, Family, Fashion, Fiber Arts, Fleece, Forgiveness, Friendship, Frugality, Gaia, gardening, Ghosts, Global Warming, God/Jesus, Gratitude, Grief, Hauntings, Healing, Heavy Metal Music, Herbs, History, Holidays, Holistic Health, Homesteading, illness, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Lasagna Gardening, Lent, LGBTQ, Love, Memories, Minimalism, Mother Mary, Music, Nature, No-dig Gardening, Nostalgia, OCD, Open-mindedness, Organic, permaculture, Politics, Prayer, Reading, Recipes, Reflexology, Reiki, Religion, Rock & Roll, Scripture, Self-esteem, Self-improvement, Sleep Deprivation, Social Media, Sophia, Spinning, Spirituality, Straw Braiding, Supernatural, Touch for Health, Understanding, vermicomposting, Weaving, Wicca, Wool, Worm castings, Worm Tea, Writing, Yoga & Fitness, Zero Waste

Donor Help

My cousin, Gary Chelak, just found out he has one kidney not functioning at all and the other at only 17%. I am reaching out to my WordPress community to share this link in the hopes that we might find Gary a donor.

Many thanks…and May God bless you & keep you!

https://www.USCLivingDonor.org

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A Living Wage

“And woe to you, King Jehoiakim, for you are building your great palace with forced labor. By not paying wages you are building injustice into its walls and oppression into its doorframes and ceilings.” (Jeremiah 22:13)

As much as possible, I try to steer away from politics on my blog but, if my tagline is truly, well, true, then sometimes getting political is a must. If we are to heal as a people. And, if I’m being totally, brutally honest, Ivanka Trump just hit a nerve with me. A big nerve.

Ivanka stated: “I don’t think most Americans, in their heart, want to be given something. People want to work for what they get” (Reints; politicalobserver.com).

Yes, there is a lot of truth in that statement. We are a strong, courageous and proud motley of people who would rather work for what we get/what we have than to receive hand-outs. There is a certain pride in being able to pay for your cost of living. It is a pride that allows you to lift your head up and look people squarely in the eye. It is a pride that allows you to open the doors wide–to your home, and to your heart–because this is the home and life you have created (or, rather, that He has provided you the means to create). When that pride is missing because of a job loss, an illness or injury, or simply inadequate wages, suddenly the signs of neglect are everywhere. Homes start to show signs of neglect, disrepair, unkempt, over-grown. Clothing is much mended and threadbare because the means to purchase “new,” even in a thrift store, isn’t there. Faces take on a tired, drawn look. Dark circles and/or bags form under the eyes. Tempers flare. And people withdraw. Invites to dinner/outings with family or friends are declined because they don’t feel they have anything to contribute, or can’t afford to pay their way to an event. People start to feel like a mooch (uh-oh, here they come again, Martha, pretend we’re not home). And, in the case of illness or injury, if there aren’t any outward signs of it (i.e. brace, cast, etc), people even start to sneer that maybe this person does not want to work. Or hint that they brought it on themselves.

The end result?

Total.

Isolation.

Addictions.

Disorders.

Loneliness.

Depression.

Even suicide (No, I’m not, but I can certainly understand at this point why people feel so hopeless in the face of such conditions and, PS, I have a therapist; a lot of people are too ashamed to even seek help when they need it. Keep that one in mind the next time the temptation to judge another’s situation arises)

So, while I can agree with Ms. Trump for her acknowledgement of human pride in wanting to work for what you get, she’s missing the biggest piece of the equation. What if you’re working–and working hard, not a slacker in the least–and yet, your wages are too low to pay for even your most basic necessities?

Let’s crunch some numbers here:

Minimum wage sits at $7.25 per hour. It has been $7.25 per hour since 2009 (Reint; politcalobserver; Miller; Amadeo; Numbeo). If you can find a full-time job (because, despite Trump Sr.’s avowal, they aren’t as prolific as he’d like us to think; voice of experience) at $7.25 an hour, your gross pay after 40 hours of work is $290.00. Multiply that times 4 weeks in a month and you get a gross income of $1160.00 per month. Working overtime, say 50, or even 60 hours per week, would drive that up exponentially. But most employers don’t want to pay overtime. It may be because they cannot afford to pay the time-and-a-half required for overtime but, either way, most workers are not getting it. So they take a second, or a third job, working a total of 50 ($362.50 wk/$1450.00 mo) or 60 ($435.00 wk/$1740.00 mo) hours each week, traveling back and forth between those 2-3 minimum wage jobs, become over-tired, get sick–or injure–easily because they’re rundown, and cost their respective employers more money in sick/PTO (paid time off, if provided).

Granted, the above numbers are a single income household like my own. So, if you have a partner, maybe we can double this. And, if it’s just you and your partner, maybe you don’t have to work that second or third job. What if you have children? The average cost of daycare in 2018 was $211.00 WEEKLY(!!??!) (Care.com). That’s almost a full week’s wages for one partner at that minimum wage, 40-hour gig. Some will willingly pay it because that extra $79 left over in that check might be a week’s grocery shopping. But that’s the cost for ONE child; multiply for 2, 3, or 4. If you’re a single parent, and you only have that minimum wage, 40-hour-gig, do you see the problem? How is anyone supposed to hold their head up high under those odds? How can you expect to work for what you have when you can barely provide the most basic of necessities?

Now let’s look at housing costs in America (I would love to see a freeze on housing costs…):

The average median price (2018) for a one bedroom apartment in America is between $991.62 and $1266.40 (Miller). The prices vary depending upon location with the higher prices reflecting those homes closer to the heart of the city and all the amenities that affords. If you’re living in the suburbs, or the country, the lower rental price is balanced against the higher cost of transportation, usually an automobile, because bus services can be quite sketchy, especially in rural areas (again, voice of experience). A 3-bedroom apartment can range from $1601.58 to $2058.96, same variance reflected. The single parent does not even make enough to cover a month’s rent in the city, and less than $200 more living outside of the city’s heart. Again, these are gross wages; this is not what these people are taking home. And this single person may not qualify for government assistance at these wages, even if they can swallow that pride to apply for them. The U.S. Poverty Line used as a guideline by Social Services, etc. is as follows (Miller):

Family size: 1 person $12,140 annually gross income (AGI) Family size: 2 people $16,910 AGI
Family size: 4 people $25,750 AGI

$1160 per month at the minimum wage of $7.25 times 12 months is $13,920. If this is a couple, both earning $13,920 a year, even if there are children involved, they do not qualify at all because their combined wages are $27,840 annually. Without children, it may not be an issue. But, with children, they’re also likely to be forced into that bigger, more expensive apartment, as well as have daycare expenses to pay. Unless they opt to nix any quality family time to work separate shifts, or take on extra side gigs.

With mortgages, it is even more varied. Most people scraping by on a minimum wage position, even a full-time position, can never get approval to own a home of their own. However, if, like yours truly, they had a better paying job before the economic crash of, roughly, a decade ago, and still own a home, they may be paying for a mortgage instead of rent. The average cost of a mortgage is “$1030 a month, according to the latest American Housing Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau” (Pritchard). This is reflective of a fixed rate amortizing in taxes and insurance costs; principal and interest alone averages $853 per month.

The Green New Deal, which may become a topic here for a while, wants to provide “a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security” (Reints). It isn’t proposing that we simply hand people a new job; it is proposing that the job market overall should provide wages that a body can live on. We’re not talking about that random deadbeat who doesn’t want to work; we’re talking about millions of Americans right now who are working–and trying to “secure a job” that really will provide that “upward mobility” Ivanka talks about–and yet they cannot move upwards because they can’t afford to feed their children. Or even themselves. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is correct in stating that “a living wage isn’t a gift, it’s a right” (or it should be) and workers often are not paid for “the value they create” in their company (Reints; Sullivan).

And, sadly, far too many employers are aware of all of these numbers. If you don’t like it, you can always leave. I encountered that attitude a decade ago when I was still working a corporate position that barely provided for my needs and they refused to give wage increases the last three years’ running.

You expect some struggle. Hardships happen. Hopefully, grace will pull you through. And some careful budgeting, robbing Peter to pay Paul, and a local food pantry who doesn’t care about guidelines. You pray for miracles. And a community that cares. You endure the sneers that maybe you don’t know how to balance a budget, or that you’ve brought your hardships on yourself. You have statistics thrown at you that, even with an increase in minimum wage, people will spend that extra money instead of saving, investing and/or getting out of debt. Yes, maybe there’s some truth to that one, too. Oftentimes, people pay off a mountain of debt and go right back out, get another credit card…and run it back up again. More likely, increasing the minimum wage to a level that affords most families the ability to move upwards, will amount to them buying their own groceries, paying their utilities and paying off at least a portion of their debt. In short, it’ll place the 12.3% of Americans living below poverty guidelines (Miller) above those poverty levels and take them out of the welfare system. Heck, it might even stimulate the economy as they move out of poverty and, possibly, into home ownership. At the very least, they might be able to take in a movie, or go to a doctor when they’re sick. Because now they can afford the co-payment.

Ivanka hit a hot spot. I don’t begrudge her the advantages she’s had in life. It’s simply the way things are that some are born into privilege, while others struggle indefinitely. However, while she has the right on our American pride of wanting to work for what we need/have, and to grow wherever we are placed, she needs a lesson in reality for the other 99% in this country who don’t earn enough–no matter how hard they work for it–even to keep a roof overhead. If she, and others in that top 1%, were to switch places with even the so-called middle class, they’d crumple into a fetal position. And, knowing that, is a reason for us 99% to raise our heads high after all.

Now, if only our wages reflected that pride we take in ourselves, in our work, and in our lives. Yup…I know about the sin of pride. I suspect, with my reason fall, injury, and impending foreclosure, He’s working on that sin in me. But that’s another post for another day…

May God bless you & keep you!

https://www.gofundme.com/9fymzf-medical-leave?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=email&utm_content=campaign_link_t&utm_campaign=welcome

Works Cited

Amadeo, Kimberly. “Living Wage and How It Compares to the Minimum Wage: How Much Do You Need to Live in America.” The Balance. Web. https://www.thebalance.com/living-wage-3305771

Miller, G. E. “What is the U.S. Poverty Level Line and Could You Live Below It?” 20 Something Finance. Web. https://20somethingfinance.com/what-is-the-united-states-poverty-line

Numbeo. “Cost of Living – U.S.” Web. https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=United+States

politicsobserver. “Ivanka Trump, Peasant-Whisperer, Does Not Believe Americans Want a Living Wage.” US Politics. Web. https://uspolitics.10ztalk.com/2019/02/27/ivanka-trump-peasant-whisperer-does-not-believe-americans-want-a-living-wage

Pritchard, Justin. “What is the Average Monthly Mortgage Payment?” The Balance. Web. https://www.thebalance.com/average-monthly-mortgage-payment-4154282

Reints, Renae. “Ivanka Trump: Most Americans Want Upwards Mobility, Not Guaranteed Minimum Wage.” Fortune. Web. afortune.comp/2019/02/26/ivanka-trump-minimum-wage