Friday, December 7, 2012

Multi-Purpose Distractions

One of the great things I have found to serve as distraction/hobby is growing
my own garden. Not a small feat for someone with Zero experience in
such an endeavor nor a smidge of patience. But it did, excuse the pun, grow
on me.

Gardening has been a multi-purpose delight, offering me a distraction from
my troubles as it keeps my mind engaged and let's time wile well
as providing a tremendous therapeutic release. It's also heartening to see the
fruits of your efforts appear and be of use...once again making me feel productive
and capable. And finally, it's a tremendously beneficial cost-saving measure...
and insurance that your diet will consist of fresh and healthy items!

You can do a makeshift greenhouse out of pretty much any space, or convert
a window-filled room of a house into a greenhouse. If you're especially handy
you can build a small greenhouse from predominantly recycled/reused materials
for next to nothing and in no time. The plastic sheeting would be the most costly
piece. (Free blueprints are available online!)

Here are some of the easy ways to get started, as well as benefits of doing it:

* Fresh fruits and vegetables, fewer trips to store, and without pesticides.

*Economical: Seeds can be purchased at the end of season (summer
   especially) from stores like Dollar General for 90% off--anywhere
   from .03 to .05 cents total.  (A great many of my plants I started from
   seeds I saved from product we ate; peppers, scallions, tomatoes, etc.)
* Same for soil and manure, marked down and affordable at end of season
   for stores who don't carry year round. You can also find piles of unused dirt
   and soil all over; generally folks will let you have it if you ask. See below
   for my recipe for soil prep.

* Easy: Not much space required, not a whole lot of time needed. Keep it
   small and simple until you get the hang of it. With indoor gardening, you
   don't have the animals to contend with, your crop will grow any time, and
   the weather is not a concern.
* It's about results, not aesthetics. Your shelves and planters can be made
   from scrap wood, plastic trays, reused garden trays, tomato boxes from
   the store, or whatever else you have on hand or pick up on the road. Soil
   can be mixed in used buckets, storage totes missing their lids, etc. Be creative.

* Environmental/Inexpensive: Recycle/refurbish/repurpose ANYthing!
  Other pots, trays, buckets, egg cartons for seedlings, plastic bottles to
   fill out the bottoms of large planters, newspaper for water absorption,
   milk jugs for watering cans, metal cans for small planters, and so on.
   You do not have to spend a lot of money to have an effective garden.

* Even the least handy handy-man can put together wooden gardening
   trays or basic simple shelves for your plants to be leveled and save
   on room.

* Anyone can do it. I had no experience, and I just tried some common
   sense things, learned by trial and error, consulted a few websites, and
   read a few books.
* Reduce household waste; Start a bin for refuse compost. Everything
   from coffee grinds to egg shells to ashes from fireplaces can be used
   in a garden. I till my compost in directly to the soil I use for new plants,
   letting it decompose while the seeds grow. Less bugs and smell this way,
   as well as work.

* Therapeutic: Something of your own, a space of your own, relaxing and
   a great time-passer with results to show. You're providing your own food,
   accomplishing something, saving money, and being productive.

You can even turn a profit if you have a buyer for excess, or barter your
overage with other folks who have things you need.


Here's my recipe for effective and awesome soil mix for new plants:

-30% top soil
-30% manure/Black Cow
-20% regular dirt from the yard, even clay or bad growing dirt
- 5% mulched leaves
- 5% per lite (water retention)
- 5% ashes; fireplace, burn pile, charcoal grill
- 5% compost material (Note; freeze your compost discards all along in a
   large Ziploc, then crush it apart and mix it in when making soil mixture in
   a large tub. Freezing will keep it from stinking until you have enough.)


My method for prepping a tray/box for seeds/new plants:

1st layer/base: Put some cardboard at the bottom to absorb excess water.
   (Use anything such as food boxes or delivery boxes cut down.)
2nd layer; Plastic bottom; can be saved bags that top soil came in, what-
   ever works. I use the 'cat litter sifter bags' from the dollar store that fill
   the base of the tray and yet have small holes in them for water drainage.
3rd layer; Leaves to provide water-retaining base and extra mulch.
4th layer; crumpled up newspaper
5th layer; Lots of your already mixed batch of soil, patted firm.

Dig a small hole for seeds, place cover dirt lightly over and water.

Good luck, and feel free to ask if you have any questions!
I'll share more tips as I go.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sometimes it seems as if making multiple calls, never receiving
a straight answer, being ignored, and getting the runaround
are all 'job requirements' of my unemployment.

It's not uncommon to have folks be openly hostile, or never
return a call, a letter, or e-mail ever.

I'm already stressed and depressed and fighting  hard to keep my calm.
I certainly don't need condescending or incompetent or
indifferent folks (usually it's 'all of the above') treating me as
though I am a distraction to their day, when in fact they are
receiving a paycheck for providing me assistance. (Or rather,
they're receiving a paycheck for maintaining the illusion that they
are there to provide me with assistance.)

In a small town, you have a lot of 'gatekeepers' who get just a
little bit full of themselves, drunk on the power of whether or
not messages get delivered, resume's get handed in, etc. They start
to think their shit doesn't stink, and, furthermore, that you ought to
act accordingly.

Too bad there's no paycheck for dealing with all this circus, because
it's for damned sure hard work!

I am not, nor have I ever been, someone who is a people person.

I don't 'do' (mostly because I'm no good at it) the glad-handing,
baby-kissing, fake-ass manipulation of people that seems a necessity
for finding, getting, and maintaining even the most pedestrian of jobs.

Yet it isn't the public I have trouble with; it's the staff. The secretaries, the
coworkers, the managers, the owners; the folks who need to have their
assholes polished with other peoples' tongues in order for them to act
halfway right.

Then there's the nonsense factor that cultural and regional issues can
interfere with how folks act; no matter how sweet and kindly and pro-
fessional you are, some things like race, sex, age, sexuality, etc. are
not cottoned to by others, and your workplace experience will be an
uphill climb. Your personal business affects your job, even if you are
not the one to introduce it!
(Most people just can't get comfortable with someone that doesn't look,
act, or speak exactly like them.)

Yup, jobs are all about bureaucracy, bullshit, back-stabbing, bullying...
It's life. It's designed to break you; Don't let it.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Dire Consequences

Beyond the economic pressures of being unemployed,
there are a plethora of physical and emotional aspects
where we need to be concerned.

The emotional strain of being out of work is a result of many
factors, not the least of which is having lost a sense of purpose,
a daily routine, structure, and even one's sense of self and
sense of productivity.

The psychological strain of not having a dependable and
regular flow of income, as well as the loss of face from no
longer being able to proudly state your job.

All these components work off of one another to potentially
worsen our overall health if they aren't monitored, addressed,
and worked on.

Continued stress and lack of sleep can cause heart problems,
stroke, mental distress, diabetes, and other ongoing issues.
Pre-existing conditions are worsened. The body is opened up
to illnesses as the immune defenses are lessened.

Depression may cause us to be less concerned about taking care
of ourselves, as all we are seeing is the immediacy of the dark

So, in the midst of all that troubles us, the best thing we can do
is to take control of the few (yet significant) things we can, such as:
+ eating as well as possible... not stress-eating or over-eating

+ getting sufficent sleep, meditating, staying calm

+ keeping up personal hygiene with showers, brushing teeth, and
   keeping your living quarters neat and clean

+ exercising, stretching out, walking, sex, using a punching bag

+ taking all medications and being vigilant with preexisting conditions,
   seeing a doctor if something changes

+ finding stress outlets like physical exercise, yard work,
   artistic pursuits, counseling, talking with friends, and letting
   the frustration out in healthy ways

DON'T just accept your troubles as unavoidable or overwhelming.
There is a lot you can do to take control of and exert your personal
power to maintain and improve the quality of your life. Take the
time and exert the energy to do so!


Saturday, September 22, 2012

True Gritting of the Teeth

Men are expected to carry their weight, be dependent on no one,
never show weakness or vulnerability, and carry the load not
just for themselves, but others too.

Even as options dry up and possibilities wither, much demand is
placed squarely on the shoulders of men.

For us, a lack of independence, a loss of our prior status quo,
and an inability to provide for our basic needs can feel like
absolutely fatal losses. But still, all in all, they are merely obstacles.

In this battle, our thoughts and outlooks have to be realigned.
Giving ourselves a break does not mean giving up the fight.

It's just a tightening of the belt, a restructuring of priorities...
learning to allow for our humanness. The added stress of beating
ourselves up or feeling 'less than' is not helpful or healthy. You are
more than simply a provider; Accept that.

Situations change. Abilities lessen.
We have to stop trying to be superhuman all the time, and realize
that we don't win every hand. We have to cut ourselves a break.

Let go of the lost image, the expectations, the imagined gossip.
It is what it is.
We do what we have to do.
Survival isn't pretty, but it's of utmost importance.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Saturday, September 1, 2012

You Are More Than Your Past Limitations

Stamina's the thing.

It may be 100 "No's" for every one "Yes."

The changes in lifestyle may be drastic.

You might need to endure 100 false leads for every one option
that even leads to a second interview or shows promise.

Developing and maintaining Stamina, Fortitude,  & Perseverance.
These are your jobs now.

Strengthening and developing  muscles beyond what you ever
thought possible.

Don't take it personally.

Stay calm.

It is what it is.

Transformation isn't for breaking you; it's for making you stronger.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Eyes on the Prize

Don't let 'them' diminish you. During your Waiting Game, you
have to stay (or get) in fighting form, keep your spirits up, and
keep your eyes on the prize.

You cannot be reduced to the sum of this bump-in-the-road,
no matter how often or how vehemently others attempt to do so.

Don't succumb to the lesser notions or the dimmer visions of
you that others all-too-quickly glom on to.

Keeping yourself physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally
fit may be harder than ever, but it must be your Number One
priority; even if work doesn't come, you need to maintain your
top condition and be prepared for whatever does.

Living well really is the best revenge, and it takes constant training.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Begging and Choosing

People have assumptions about both the giver--
and receiver--of assistance.
Be sure to weigh carefully the actual need versus convenience of a
handout when accepting charity of any sort. Nothing is ever actually

Unless you're truly desperate, don't open yourself up as needy or
in dire straits to those in charge of doling out the handouts.
(There's a difference between asking for references, job openings,
or being hired as a favor, as opposed to something tangible like food
or cash.)

Everybody has an angle they're working and an agenda in mind, and
that includes people volunteering/working at a charitable organization.
For some, it's a desire to feel superior to others, for others, it's a want
of finding out the business of people in the community.

Sometimes, maintaining a psychological edge over opponents,
potential bosses, former co-workers, neighbors, etc. is a means of
keeping not only dignity but the upper hand for future business dealings.
Reputation still has its uses.

Just be aware of the dilemma and weigh your options carefully.
You surely don't want to end up the target of gossip, speculation, or
having your personal business bandied about town, especially in a smaller
community. There is no understanding of anonymity or common courtesy
requisite in any agency's dealings, especially a church's.

In a small town in particular, it's easy to have folks fall in love with the
notion of labelling you a 'poor thing' or refer to you as 'pitiful.'
"His luck is so bad; don't you know I saw him down at the church
getting rotten fruit!"  Avoiding such irreversible mindsets is preferable,
if you can help it.

People will pigeon-hole you and write you off any chance they get.
Don't let them.

(And of course the other side is "Fuck 'em whatever they think or
have to say!" But not everyone is ready for that!)


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Kevin Renick Performs "Up In The Air"

Just caught this movie the other day--which was quite good, by the way-- and
it contained this fantastic song about the difficulty of being 'inbetween' jobs and
the psychological transitioning that takes place. Good stuff.

The movie on whole was quite good; not entirely joblessness related, but
it had a good bit of the plot dealing with how people take firing, and how
widespread a trend it has become. Some of the interviews and such were quite
good and relatable.

The movie did deal with reexamining one's place in life, priorities, growing up
fast, finding your own path, etc., so in many ways it's a great flick for facing
uncertainty, whether it be joblessness or middle age or other life change.

Monday, June 11, 2012

"Don't Get it Twisted"

The desire to self-medicate (or let oneself go) can be pretty
strong when so much of your world is spinning out of control.

The only thing left to do after countless, seemingly pointless
interviews, business start-ups, networking, and applying for
work can seem to be something that will make us 'feel better'
and, hopefully, distract from the harshness of reality. (Or,
in many cases, the surreal, subjective sense of 'reality' we are
burdened by in our fugue state.)

You feel shitty on the insides, so letting the outside reflect
it (or not even noticing it's happening) can sneak up on you.

But our obligation is to self, and health and care of self.
While short-term stress relievers can alleviate the distorted
image of ourselves we develop from constant rejection and
(perceived) failure, the long-term effects don't serve us in the

While I have maintained my sobriety and stayed clean from
drugs, the temptation to 'treat' myself with unhealthy foods
as a quick-fix comfort solution has been a difficult beast to
tame. And of course, bad eating habits spiral into bad sleeping,
bad body chemistry, sluggishness, and more. We can do
ourselves far more harm than good.

I find myself channeling the old Bette Midler skit;
"Why bother ?!"

Same for being sedentary and not keeping our body in
shape, active, etc. We feel the effects of that. Our depression
may keep us from feeling a desire to participate, but our
knowledge of what's best has to rouse us from our slumber.

It's basic, and easier said than done;
*Keeping up appearance and hygiene.
*Keeping active.
*Staying connected to people as much as possible
   (or finding new contacts!)
*Moderate eating
*Keeping spirits up with positive activity, music, thoughts
*Moderate alcohol consumption (or abstaining if you have
*And I would caution people to stay away from any drug
    proclivities all together; between cost, risk of addiction
    and dependence, and effects on work readiness, it's
    just a disaster waiting to happen.
*Processing emotions through therapy, journaling, blogging,
   online support groups, etc; Don't hang on to it all!

Sometimes the act of taking care of self has to be implemented
before we feel like taking care of self.

Treat yourself right and start today; whether or not the work
is forthcoming, you still have to live in your body!

(And obviously, the better you take care of yourself, the more
likely hiring or starting up a business is, compared to the alterna-
tive of letting yourself go!)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Whatever it Takes

There may be lots of settling and falling short on the way to where you
want to be.

In this new game, this new economic landscape, you may have to
take any and all opportunities that present themselves, no matter how
far from the ideal they fall short.

I have had yard sales, done temp work, done seasonal work that
was definitely outside my comfort zone, have worked under the table
3 hours a day, have worked one day jobs, and have been used as a taxi
in order to make money since losing regular employment.

I signed up and jumped through hoops to substitute teach, drove an
hour-and-a-half round trip in an unreliable vehicle to make it to a
minimum wage job (multiple times breaking down en route,) borrowed
money for gas, got work clothes from a charitable agency, and played
politics to get my ass asked back.

I have started more businesses than I can count, making blogs and
business cards and fliers to advertise them; pimping myself out as yard
man, jack-of-some-trades, babysitter, elder sitter, tutor, cook, writer,
and whatever else I can.

I have helped write papers for college students, consulted on a web
comic, appeared in films, done stand-up comedy, submitted my scripts
and poetry and articles, and done everything I can possibly imagine
to make ends meet.

In short, I have thrown everything I have at the wall to see what will
stick. It's an ongoing effort and struggle to keep my spirit up and not
just lie down and give in.

You never know when the next effort will be the one that sustains you
for a little while longer. Which one may lead to something better in the
future. It's not easy to find long-lasting or ideal; we may have to change
the outlook and adjust the expectations and standards. Tough as it is,
you can do it.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

'Hocus-Pocus' is another word for Bullshit

It's not magic...but there
are plenty of illusions!

On the road to success (or the road to staying afloat, or the road
to making a comeback, etc) there are always problems.

When you get to the bottom of the heap, the problems can be a
bit more constant and a bit more difficult to overcome, but that's
where ingenuity and stamina come in.

When we're going through tough times, it makes other people
uncomfortable, and they do what they can to avoid facing that
discomfort. Which means that people are going to blow smoke
up your ass more so now that you're on a job hunt than they ever
did when they were trying to impress you.

I guess there's about the same taboo associated with joblessness
and/or poverty that has always been associated with homelessness
or mental illness. People are really afraid that dealing with us may
lead to their having caught some or all of our problems. Social
Cooties, I suppose.

The difference is also felt by 'professionals,' who plaster on their
fakest smiles to bum-rush you out the door as quickly as possible...
preferably without having to call 9-11 on our unstable asses.

So, we are stuck with grinning and bearing it, not able to speak
our mind (and burn any remotely possible bridges) making
their predictions come true. We generally know, from body
language or intonation, that someone is insincere about returning
a call, whether we have a shot at the job, whether someone has
any interest, or if they are really going to put in a good word for us.

But you find out really quickly that most people talk a lot of shit,
and you can't depend on anyone (even more so when you have
'nothing to offer' in the eyes of other people,)
I know the Georgia Department of Labor, a government operation
specifically designated to helping me in my job hunt, has been
lacking in the extreme, taking over 11 months on my case and
has as yet not finished my paperwork processing.  This is due
fully to their feet-dragging and endless demands of hoop-jumping,
which I have obliged, while continuing to call them regularly and
diplomatically inquire as to the progress on my case. Bureaucracy,
yes. But when you have pull, things go faster.

Have patience, and yet don't depend on anyone or anything but
yourself...but still go through the motions of trying every possible
lead and every possible opportunity. You never know when it may
pan out. It could always leave a contact that could be good informa-
tion or a lead later.

Do all the above board stuff, and also follow all the extraordinary
ideas and measures. You have to attack this thing from all angles.
Do not put all your interest in the say-so of anyone in authority who
says they're looking out for you. Prepare for a worst case scenario.

Don't stop trying. Frustration is a part of the game, but you are not
the sum of your experiences; you are the sum of what your choices
are in this present moment. Don't let circumstances dictate despair.

Keep on trucking.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Start Small

Some days are tougher than others--
there's no denying that.

When reality hits after waking from a
troubled sleep, and everything hurts....
when nothing seems to be going right, and
there seems to be no control you have over

Think Small.

Instead of getting overloaded and whelmed by
all that seems insurmountable, focus on what
you can do.

I pull myself out of my despair, and start by
making my bed. That's one task accomplished.
Screw how 'simple' that is; I did it.

Then I take care of the animals, clean up,
bathe, eat properly, pick out clothes, and
all the other things I am capable of doing and
I move through it. I check off the achievement
in my head and feel a sense of success.

I make a point to get out of the house with
at least a handful of tasks in mind.


It may not be solving the big problems, but it's
better than sitting and dwelling on a sense of
hopelessness about the things that I can't seem
to effect.

When I feel better about the little victories, I'm
in a much better position to take on the more
daunting tasks, and the frustration that seems
inherent in them!


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Outside Looking In

Nobody who isn't here understands the sense of
frustration and helplessness at not being capable of
finding a solution to your own problems...(yet) not being able to earn your keep, or pay your
own way. At not having a clear sense of purpose or
an outline to your day when you awake in the morning.

No matter how sympathetic and compassionate,
those not going through it don't feel the sense of failure
and disappointment in self...the sense and fear of not
being complete, or for we men, being a 'real man.'

No one knows what the crushing despair of not
having a schedule to adhere to, not knowing what the
future will bring, not having a sense of continuity will
do to you.

And the longer it goes on, the worse it gets.

You feel judged and 'less than' wherever you go,
as if the most basic task is something you can't

The job skills, and the people skills, and the interaction
skills all get rusty. Without use, nervousness and doubt
further sets in. People keep asking if you haven't found
work yet, as if you wouldn't be telling them about your
new job if in fact you had one.

Do they have one for you? No, of course not. But they
still want to know all about it. Certainly you just haven't
looked in all the places; they hear there are jobs out
there. Here come 100 or so questions to make sure
you've been giving it your all. All old news.
All annoying as shit.

You get your hopes up, they get knocked down.
Other less qualified folks get jobs you applied for.
Rude customer service reps keep their jobs, somehow.
What exactly are people looking for, anyhow?

You have less and less in common with other people
who do work. They avoid you because your joblessness
is depressing and they don't know what to say. If they
eat out, they're afraid you'll mooch or not have the
money to go, so the invites stop coming.

Everything changes.

So, everything changes.

Head high, no matter the feeling.
Best foot forward, no matter the frustration.
Faith in self, if nothing else.
Ask for help when needed; pride is a worthless virtue.
Reassess priorities.
Accept less than you were hoping for, if need be.

Survival comes at a price, but it beats the alternative.

Believe it or not, here comes a chance at major growth.

Get ready.


Friday, March 16, 2012

It's Blinders, Not Blindness

These times may seem insurmountable.
They aren't.

This can seem like the end of the road...
It isn't.

Dreams can crumble,
old friends are disappearing,
hope is a rare commodity
(or perhaps even a distant memory.)

Survival...merely staying afloat...
can seem a strangely unattainable and
even undesirable notion.
("How will this ever work out?")

Ideas don't seem to manifest,
'nothing' seems to bear results,
opportunities seem to have ended.

But, this...this is NOT the end.

Your view is distorted by the experiences
you have endured. By the surroundings
you are 'stuck' in now.
Right now, no end is in sight.
The outcomes seem dark and unavoidable.
Everything seems lost.

But there is a tomorrow...there is possibility.
There are options and choices and chances
that, right now, you are not even capable
of imagining in your current
state of despair.

But even this...this struggle
and helpless sensation
and fear..
is giving you something you can use.

If only you can hang on, and believe,
and persevere.

And you can...
you can do it, even if you don't yet know it.

You are about to discover just how strong
and courageous you are...but it will take
being nearly destroyed for it to happen.

Push on.

This is a new life, a new chapter,
a new understanding.
Be open to the changes, without giving up.

Some day, you will find yourself,
as I have, with a new perspective
and an ability to transcend... that
gives you hope and appreciation
you cannot imagine...
from where you stand now.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"Nickel & Dimed" by Barbara Ehrenreich

As the subtitle suggests, this is a book
about how the American workforce is
not making it on the minimum wage
American nightmare.

It details in exhausting scrutiny how
companies and corporations have us
all behind the eight ball.

If you're already in trouble, it may
not be able to serve as warning, but
sometimes the simple act of
hearing that others know, understand, and
have experienced similar difficulties
can be therapeutic.

Available at most libraries as
book or audio book.

There is strength in numbers.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Michael Franti & Spearhead - "Sound of Sunshine" (ft. Jovanotti)

A little Monday morning pick-me-up and inspiration
for me and my jobless (or underpaid) brothers and
sisters.  Don't give up on the finer points.

'Down' is not 'out'.
Stand strong.


Monday, February 27, 2012

The Way it Goes

"The rich get rich, and the poor get poorer."

That's a pretty universal conceit. Perhaps even a
physics lesson, I imagine, with the energy behind
loss generating more loss, and vice versa with winning.

Or maybe it's just psychological?
I feel that's more likely. Once a man's deterioration
(or fall from grace) has begun, everything seems to
'magically' sync up to head that same direction,
even exacerbating the least for a time.

The universe is merciless, and 'fate' is blind to all men.
You get what you get, and you get what you're willing
to fight for. But behind magical thinking like
'the meek inheriting the earth' is the reality that
money is very important to all aspects of life.

Once we start losing it, despair and lack of confidence
can start in, distracting and running us down.
No one wants to back a loser, and people fear the
idea of poverty being contagious almost as much as they
fear actual illness. Maybe more.

So rats desert the sinking ship, sending another
message of unworthiness, now weighing still heavier.
Inability to eat out ends several friendships,
ends the social connections that led to more work,
ends the public persona of viability, and so on.

Disparity seems to attract more of the same.
Emotionally, psychologically, financially.

And of course we know the reverse is true.
People knock one another down to get next to
a rich man, hoping to be ingratiated to him and
be granted either reward or similar fate.

Don't make more of it than it is;
at the end of the day, we make our own luck.
And there's plenty to be said for drive,
ingenuity, and fierceness.
"Not giving up" may be the only skill
we ever truly need.


Keep On Keeping On

Those pioneer folk who picked up everything and moved west
for the idea of possibility--that's a real motivator.

We can say "Oh, those were different times." But that doesn't
deny the stamina and fighting spirit that had to be utilized by
those folks in daring to try. In undertaking the physical demands
of the exhausting trip. Of facing the unknown dangers, alone.

We have that spirit in us. We have become softened in many
respects in our modern world, and our fighting spirit may have
to first take the form of simply not laying down to die.

The emotional pressures of dealing with loss of job, loss of
security, loss of our prized possessions, (possibly even the
loss of friends and family as we face our ordeal) cannot be
the only thing we see when we look at our lives.

This is one way in which the capitalist world has ruined us;
reinforcing our worth via materialism and consumerism.
We are so much more than the sum of our bank accounts
and the size of our toys, but we have lost sight of that because
we bought into what society prizes and promotes.

Leaning survival skills may first include learning to care
about ourselves in the first place; learning to respect life as
it is, for what it is, and not remaining invested in popularity
and affluence. We may first have to train ourselves to want
to live, even without all the trappings of what others told us
were important. Embracing wherever we are, now.

In this new economy, many of us are having to branch out
on our own, penniless and devoid of any promises, discovering
that fighting spirit within for the very first time.

Bon voyage! There is greatness in you. May you discover
it on the journey.



Even some of us who started off in what was considered the middle class
or lower middle class had some things in common with the upper class;
we were not accustomed to going without, in all likelihood.

We were used to eating pretty decently and participating in many of
the things that everyone else did. Perhaps, in some cases, to our own
detriment. We were spoiled to a way of life we didn't imagine would end.

Tough times have not been a part of many Americans' vocabulary.
A huge aspect of our society is consumerism and plenitude. We were
not accustomed to not having what we wanted. We were spoiled.

The idea, and reality, of having to buckle down and do without is a
new one for many of us. And it's quite the shock to the system.

Having to tough it up and pull ourselves up by the bootstraps may
just be a new component of the landscape, but how do many of us
(for whom this new way of life is unnerving and unexpected) make
the transition?

It isn't as though being frugal, spending-conscious, and giving up

on material possessions are things we were taught in school!

(On a side note; Why do we learn so few basic, necessary,

life skills in our schools? We know most of us aren't learning
anything of value at home!)

So, perhaps the first step is breaking through the psychological
barriers that prevent us from realizing that life has changed dynamic-
ally and we need to follow suit with our mindset and actions.
That can be more severe than it might sound. There're a lifetime
of old habits to overcome for some of us.

So this is the beginning; accepting that the old is done, whether
temporarily or permanently, and we have to adjust to a new
way of doing things. Deep breath. We can do this.