Ups and Downs

“Lord, grant us peace; for all we have and are has come from you.” (Isaiah 26:12)

The last 10 years have been a struggle…on so many levels. Financially it has been a never-ending roller coaster with lots of part-time, seasonal, and temporary job positions. And the one full-time position, while great for me on some levels, proved insufficient regarding my time. It wasn’t a lack of management on my part but a simple lack of that time. I left home at 7:30 a.m. and arrived home between 6:15 and 7:00 p.m. Once home, there was/is the farm to care for, homework to keep up with for college, and a property that perpetually looks like tobacco road owing to the lack of time to care for it. It’s pulled me down. And now, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed but also hopeful that I can “catch up” little by little as I have only these two hands with which to do that catching up.

Emotionally, it’s also been a roller coaster. The loss of many pets; the precarious financial situation that has me perpetually in fight-or-flight mode; adjusting to having Mom living with me after my stepfather’s passing. It’s been the eternal introvert having to adapt to new places and situations on an almost regular basis. I just start to get comfortable somewhere and things change again…and not always for the better. Anxiety and depression have become a way of life. Shame and fear, too.

On a physical level, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has kicked into overdrive. Loss of sleep owing to some crazy work schedules; the stress of being unable to pay all of your bills on time…or sometimes, at all; constantly feeling like I’m getting clubbed at the knees whenever I start to feel some hope. All of this triggers the CFS, the feeling like life is completely out of control. I’ve even found myself reduced to all of the little nervous ticks and habits that I thought long gone–habits that an abused little girl adopted because the pressure was too much for her. I guess it is again. So I whistle…not the usual kind or way. I have this stupid human “trick” where I can somehow constrict my vocal chords, open my mouth and a rather loud and audible whistle, or buzz, comes from the back of my throat. I usually wind up with a sore throat afterwards but I did this often as a child when my stepfather’s drinking made me nervous. I twitch and blink too hard, too fast. And I crave sleep. A lot. Over the last several years I’ve been in the hospital for heat exhaustion (last summer); had a bad reaction to a tetanus shot that sent me to the ER with a raging fever of 105 degrees, and this past winter, a fractured arm that still hasn’t quite gotten back its full range of motion.

Talk about setbacks!

But, while all of this may sound so wholly depressing even to read, the up notes are, despite everything I just typed, I’ve met some wonderful people over the last several years. I’ve made new friends, reconnected with old ones via social media, learned some new, neat and unique skills working in living history, and new pets have come into my life. I’ve tried my hand at beekeeping…and will again soon! I’ve discovered a love of painting and rekindled the interest in my first novel. I will soon have a degree in creative writing. My herb garden at home has come a long way towards being wholly landscaped; it’s only a matter of time before I can start selling plants, dried herbs, and teach classes on them as well. And I have a warm and loving church community that has been an inspiration to me over the years. I also have my Mom living with me again and get to spend a lot of quality time with her…when so many of my friends have lost theirs. These are reasons for rejoicing.

In short, it’s all a matter of perspective. What am I focusing on? What am I giving the most attention to? Whatever the answer, I’m either going to be more up, or more down. Because whatever I focus on, intensifies with that focus. And I’m choosing to focus on the One who has given me both the joy and the valuable lessons learned over the last 10 years. The biggest one is learning to live again by trusting in Him. And that’s the best lesson of all.

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!

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

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.
https://delightindisorder.org/bleeding-prayers/?fbclid=IwAR1TDuupIGlRQ6TwnYG-V7uYZGUATXQhVqVf_sEpO9AQRjW4a5w00kYwaK4

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

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

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

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

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