Material Possessions

Today’s economy is one of the worst since the gas rations of the ’70’s. Mind you, I was just a child then, but I remember my mother and father in their Oldsmobile lining up at the pump on your designated day and waiting for your gas rations. My mother would always tell me about the food rations of the ’40’s and how she would get in trouble for eating sugar sandwiches. For those who don’t know what those are, it is a delicacy that the poor enjoys when there isn’t any cookies or cake, pouring sugar into a fold of bread and eating it.

I always found it ironic that my husband and my mother both enjoyed such things as children. It made me feel spoiled to have known my mother’s baking. However, I do recall going grocery shopping once a month when the Food Stamps came in and my father’s SSI. I remember days of lettuce sandwiches when meat was few and far between.

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And I survived just fine. If anything, I was probably healthier in some way than kids today. I played outside, I loved the country air and the horses I grew up around. I had a lot of Barbie dolls that my mother scrimped and saved for to buy me, but TV and such was a privilege. It wasn’t until I got a bit older I really started wanting more, but I fell in love and that was that. My focus was on the high school sweetheart turned husband and the little girl I wanted to give the world.

That ended up being a problem-I wanted her to have all the things I never had as a child and was determined that she was going to get them.

My husband made a good living back then in our 20’s, working in a dairy plant and we had a nice, new car, helped out my Mom and Dad, bought new things, had credit cards. You name it, I could buy it when I wanted to and still had the bills paid. Then I got sick, he lost his job, and we knew hard times all over again.

After many decisions, some good, some bad, moving a lot, and changing jobs (even though it was an excellent one)we weren’t in the position to give our kids all they want and haven’t been able to for many years. We have struggled and now, we own our own property and “house” (it’s a double-wide), but our money goes into making the utility bills each month, food, car payments, insurance (health and car) and other than that, taking care of all of our dogs.

After becoming sick at age 22 and not being able to work, it was a lesson learned in material possessions. I learned, without your health, you have absolutely nothing. I wanted that more than anything else in the world and it wasn’t something I could buy.

Fast forward to now. I sat today in my car waiting for my husband and my daughter’s boyfriend to come out of the pawn shop. a week ago, my oldest doesn’t know it, but my husband pawned his wedding ring when she got married so he could buy her a pair of earrings for her big day and other things. So, when my daughter’s boyfriend decided to part with some odds and ends to get a little extra cash, we took him to the same place. After all, they were taking up precious room they didn’t have and he wasn’t attached to the items anyhow. He wanted to surprise my daughter with new nightgowns for my grandson.

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While sitting there I heard my grandson babbling. He had come along for the ride as my daughter needed a shower and some down time as we were taking her to Urgent Care with a horrible cough and cold once we got back home. I knew she had bronchitis. She works so hard and she is always worrying about money, especially considering child support is not always reliable. She has 3 jobs now-yes-3-and I just shake my head at that. No wonder she was sick…

Just as I am thinking of her, a car pulls up beside me and out of it comes a young black woman with 2 children. I just barely see the tops of their heads but she is clutching to her chest something black with cords dangling down. She looks determined and seems to have her mind set only on one thing-getting inside the pawn shop and pawning the item she had.

I watch her as she strides toward the steps. She is heavy set and has trouble, it seems, walking. She clutched that damn thing to her chest as I watched, listening to my grandson babble in his car seat. I couldn’t believe my eyes as she climbs the concrete steps to the landing and stands there, looking around and not really seeing, it seems, as I watch her 2 children start to climb those damn steps.

One barely could lift her leg to climb them. She couldn’t have been more than 4 years old. The other? Well, it was the other child that captured my attention. Tiny little legs and tiny little arms climbed those steps, one at a time, hand over hand as she pulled herself up on each step.

She couldn’t have been more than a little over a year old.

So here the mother stands there clutching that damn black thing with cords and awaits her children, barely allowing them entrance into that pawn shop as she struggles to open the door. Her darling 4 year old helps her, taking the hand of the younger sister and ushering her quickly inside before the door closes. That mother barely gave a backward glance.

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I await my husband and daughter’s boyfriend to come out, and instead, not many minutes after, that same mother comes storming out of the pawn shop and rushes to her car. She is still clutching that damn black thing with cords as I watch, holding my breath, as those 2 beautiful children slowly climb down the steps. The “oldest” little girl has hold of her sister’s hand as she makes each step (barely) down to the parking lot where cars would come without a second thought to whether there would be children in the way.

And the mother doesn’t move. She stands at the car, shoving that black thing in and awaiting her children to come to her, not thinking ONCE of their safety. My mouth by now is hanging open in astonishment, but also in reproach as I could not believe this woman was not making a move to watch out for her children’s safety.

She turned briefly, most likely realizing she was being stared at by me behind my glasses that couldn’t hide the frown that burrowed deeply into my brow. I tried to keep my face passive, but it was impossible to do so, listening to my grandson babble and knowing he was safe inside the car.

Not long after, my husband and daughter’s boyfriend come out, his stuff still piled up in his arms. Turned out the pawn shop didn’t want what he had and they told me the story of the young mother who went in with an X-Box 360. She offered a whole $20 for it, while they had many others in the case being sold at a whopping $200.

And all I could think?

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Material possessions. That woman cared more about getting that damn game system to safety than her children. She did not want that precious cargo of entertainment ruined, but cared naught for the children so beautiful left behind unattended.

I thought back to me at that age. No matter how much I wanted things, no matter how many times life was hard, my most important thing in my life was always my kids and my family. Once my health deteriorated and we hit hard times, I really wasn’t given any choice but to not want things. I couldn’t afford them.

Then my daughter tells me about her lunch with her boss yesterday. There was a group of children, many who couldn’t have been more than 10 years old, carrying i-phones and other ridiculously expensive items. She told her boss she wasn’t going to allow my grandson such things and he had to earn them.

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Just what I had taught her and my oldest. You have to earn the things you get in life. It teaches you to be self-sufficient.

I realized then that while at one point in my life, money and “things” seem to preoccupy my thoughts, I have raised my children right to know that their children, not the things they can buy for them, mean so much more than anything else in this world. Maybe this is contradictory to the story of the mother who says her kids aren’t the center of her universe, which, I agree, they shouldn’t be. However, they damn well should be more important than any material possession.

Anything you buy can be replaced. Children cannot.

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My motto for the month of November.

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Some say fear is learned. If you do not believe in fear then therefore you cannot experience it. I always wondered, if that was the case, can it be undone? I suppose it might be possible, but what if you feared failure your entire life?

Someone once told me I was afraid of success. At the time, I balked and guffawed (do women guffaw?) and said, “Hell, no!” And yet, it still took me several years to put my money where my mouth is (or should I say, my fingers) and wrote my first novel and published it. I still cringe when I get a review to see if someone thought it sucked. It wasn’t until recently I had to accept the fact some may think it sucks, even if others love it, but that doesn’t mean I should stop writing. Some never finished the book (either from boredom or just because it is a long book!) and never gave any insight to whether they liked it or not. Maybe some day they think it will be worth something?

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I am finding I still fear failure, but now is the time of mid-life crisis coming to call and I am answering with a big “HELLO!?” because I just don’t know what I want anymore. I was a seamstress for over 20 years and now my hands and back are paying the price for it. After making my daughter’s wedding dress for Halloween, I realized all the aches and pains were back. I then realized, I am going to have to accept sewing is going to be a hobby rather than a business for me now. It’s hard to accept after so many years, but I want to stop before my hands get worse and I cannot do anything at all.

My mother said I should keep sewing no matter what it does to me. After all, what would I be doing otherwise? I said housework and taking care of my dogs and family. She said, “So? Everyone does housework. You won’t be remembered for doing housework.” True, but then again, she never recognized the fact I help many dogs get out of shelters from my postings and begging people for donations just to save one little family of dogs from a gassing shelter. I also wrote my novel, so, it wasn’t as if I have done absolutely nothing with my life.

So if I don’t sew, what is my only other option? I have never worked a real job more than a few days in my life (not including my stint as a home health aide ages back straight out of high school) What else am I good at? What may I possibly succeed at that might make a difference and still bring me happiness? And what about money? My husband struggles with his job and ends up with pain in his knees and legs. Maybe I am already lazy and just didn’t realize it?

But, no. That isn’t it. I had to stop listening to that niggling voice in my head saying “You suck because you don’t make money with anything you do” and “You’ll never amount to anything” and “You won’t be remembered”. I think my favorite thing from my past that still gets dredged up is the fact I was a teen mother. I had my daughter as a senior in high school. My guidance counselor told me I might as well quit after missing 4 months thanks to pre-term labor. I proved her wrong-I graduated and I made up every test and every homework assignment. I was going to be something, if nothing more than a high school graduate.

Thinking back to that and all I have done since, I decided to write, not as a hobby any longer, but with the blessing of my husband, to go for the gold and open my mouth and write with it (well, my hands, but you get what I mean). I may write run-on sentences or sometimes use the wrong verb tense, but in general among my ramblings there is usually a lesson to be learned or something to be told.

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I might not be a millionaire when I die. Hell, I will be lucky if I make my mortgage payment, have enough money for food and gas and still buy Christmas presents for my little family next month. But I have come further than last year as I had just bought a house and had so much go wrong, I didn’t even have anything but a dining room table and chairs for furniture other than my beds and dressers in my house. I had spent every dime I had to fix what I could and get a new car and feed my family while our finances decided to sneak up and bite us in the ass finally.

I might be discovered for my thoughts and my movement of “We, the People” instead of “We, the Sheeple” in this country of ours. I might be discovered for campaigning for women’s rights to have much needed surgery for endometriosis without countless months of pain and suffering. I might end up being known for saving dogs and cats, focusing on pregnant Mamas left behind or them with their litters begging for freedom and to live.

All I know is I will find out what I am meant to do and have an epiphany at some point. Until then I am just going to go with the flow and see where it takes me. It is going to be an adventure since I really don’t know where I am headed.

“Be Not Afraid …

Atheists, Religion, and Unicorns

Religion is always a touchy subject for many. 

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If you don’t spout things from the Bible or say anything about praising Jesus, you most likely are just a hateful person or believe in the devil. Many have asked me what I believe in and my answer? I don’t really know…

I grew up a good Roman Catholic girl in a household where my mother was in charge but still did anything and everything my father said. Her needs and wants didn’t matter and divorce was out of the question (Yay Catholicism! NOT). Back then, a woman was always subservient in most households, especially those that are very religious, as we had just been out of the 50’s like 20 years or so. Not enough time to realize some of the shit that happened back then really was plain moronic on the female front (hence feminism coming into existence). Sad. Just sad.

I grew up being told about God and not to talk badly about other religions (which, kudos to my mother, she respected ALL religions). My mother was never one, really, to tell me I would be struck down by God for any one reason but made it clear to be a good person and to do the right thing (but also to NEVER get divorced no matter how shitty your husband was to you and your kids). I don’t think she expected me at just a mere 7 years old telling her I was going to refuse to walk to the Catholic school across from my elementary for “religion” every Tuesday. I just didn’t believe in it.

You see, at age 3, I was really sick and told my mother and father I saw God. My father, needless to say, never slept in that bed again. We didn’t have a good relationship and while that is a shame, it just meant I was able to be who I was without much friction on his part. I believed in God very strongly, even while not believing in having to go to church to do so, even when my daughter was born when I was 17 years old. Now that I am 43, my views have changed drastically, but I cannot pinpoint any one reason as to why or when it started.

When I was only 21 years old, my father died in my arms. He had just been released from the hospital just a few hours earlier after a 2 week stay for pneumonia. Idiot doctors said that he had that when, really, he had fluid around the heart and died of a massive stroke. Needless to say, even though for many years I reflected back on the day he passed, jumping up from the chair, arms outstretched as if going “toward” someone or something, and the  falling over couch  as a somewhat religious experience, my questions about the whys and whatfors made me step outside my religion into the agnostic realm.

I wasn’t quite sure God even existed then or what happened when people died.

I wanted to know, so I started experimenting with the paranormal. Needless to say I still feel a connection to those who have passed and while some would think I am full of shit in the psychic realm, I have proven time and again to know things I should not. Now, doesn’t mean others who have had consultations with me will listen. Hell, half the time what comes to me during sessions I could not repeat for the life of me. I’ve even had people say I must be possessed when I do it.

There’s a problem with that theory-the only “demons” in most sessions are those from the client that need to have resolution to their feelings about those who have passed on and the decisions made in the time they were alive. I don’t believe in demons and I don’t believe in the devil. Many say that makes me a devil worshiper…huh!?

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Back track…

I don’t believe in the devil at all. I believe in evil-pure evil is a contradiction in terms. Evil is and never was “pure”. It either is or isn’t at all. I believe all children-yes ALL-are born innocent and have the ability to choose good or bad. Being human gives us the freedom of choice.

Here is the thing…evil is learned and practiced by those around us. Evil can come in many forms (many tend to point to the political rings) but honestly, a child born to a person who never wanted them in the first place and is told such is given a reason to start questioning why they exist at all. Anyone who tells a child they never wanted them, to me, is an evil person. If you never did, why keep them just to tell them? Give them to a person who would love and cherish any child-like those battling infertility for years upon end. That would eliminate the basis of that evil. Then that child would know the love of a person who really wanted them and self-hate wouldn’t even come into play.

Another example-many children learn from what they see. If a couple is in a relationship in which they hate each other but stay together “for the sake of the child” really, in the end, affect that child in many ways. They might hate men or women (depending on which gender seems to have the most impact on them at the time) and decide never to be in a steady relationship of any kind. Some spout some BS about that can “make” a person gay. You cannot “make” a person gay. But I will leave that for another blog….

But I digress, children learn the hate and evil from others. When we moved from NY to GA my youngest daughter was only 9 years old. A tender age and one that can be so very impressionable. She came home maybe less than a week of living here and asks me, “Mama, what is a ‘damn Yankee’?”

Ummm….

Now maybe…MAYBE that child had heard it from TV. I doubt it. Most likely that kid went home to talk about the new kid in class and how they were from NY and not Georgia. That would make that child and that child’s family “Damn Yankees”. I can joke about it now, but try explaining to a little kid who never experienced a load of hate in just a few words what it all means. Not easy.

Just like when a child asks, “What is God?” many have responses for that, especially those who read the Bible and who have been to religion or gone to church. My reasoning for years since I was a child is, if God DOES exist, why is it only acceptable to worship “Him”  in a church? Isn’t God supposed to be everywhere? Shouldn’t you be able to get down on your knees in the middle of the supermarket and pray to God for enough money to feed your family and praise the Lord when finding your favorite cookie on sale?

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I want to thank my husband at this time, by the way, to have shown me that faith is personal and should not be shoved onto ANYONE, especially and including your children. When my oldest daughter was born, I was insistent that she be Baptized. I had it ingrained in me by my mother it MUST be done. My husband asked me why and I just said, “Because, you’re supposed to!” and he again asked me “Why? And I want our children to be able to CHOOSE their religion, if they even decide to have one.”

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*GASP*

NOT have a religion? What would they put down when they go to the hospital or if they go to have surgery? What about when you’re asked such a question on other forms? What should they say? Is there even a blank space for “None” for religious preference? Does that mean you don’t have a preference or does it mean you have no religion at all? I think there should be a blank for “agnostic” or “atheist”. Don’t you? If there are all those other choices, aren’t those choices as well?

I struggled for years with what my religious preference was. The closest I got was Pagan but then again-that doesn’t even explain me. I went for Wiccan, as I had believed in the mystic and the powers of self. Here is the problem-I don’t believe in multiple Gods. I have trouble believing even ONE exists. So where, oh where, do I fit in? Anywhere?

My husband is a proclaimed Atheist. He doesn’t believe in God’s existence and many times has said in the past, “If God does exist, why do children go hungry? Why do people murder and rape?” He opened my mind on so many levels, this friend of mine, to wonder and ask questions when I was brought up to accept and believe without question. DO NOT question. Just DO as you are told like a good little girl and get a pat on the head for doing the right thing and be on your way.

No. That is my answer to a lot of questions asked. No-I will NOT accept blindly without question. My physical state of being and my mind is unable to do so. I can do good things and be a good person, but to sit here and think Jesus was anything other than a human being with the ability to persuade others to believe in something they could not see is just something I cannot do. I have read portions of the book of Deuteronomy and to my horror some of the things in that book associated with the Bible make me cringe. Many are so similar to Islamic beliefs it makes me wonder-are there REALLY any differences between the Bible and the Qur’an?

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Many would say an emphatic YES! There ARE differences! But many have not even seen portions of the Islamic book and some other books associated with Christianity like the Book of Deuteronomy. That is what changed my life forever-reading those things and that text and some of that book no, not even all). It made me think of why we ended up where we did with Catholicism and where we have been. Most recently, reading up on and watching movies about The Crusades, killing the “infidels” that did not believe in Christ. How was that any different than some of what is happening today with other countries who are Christian? It made my stomach sink to think I ever believed in a religion that had such a graphically violent history.

History is never politically correct. Some are trying to make it that way but in doing so, doing a disservice to those who have lost their lives in the process of it all. I recommend anyone watching “The Tomb of Jesus” by National Geographic. If you are Christian and have a scientific mind and are starting to question your faith, this may start you on your journey to find out more. Don’t accept what is given to you blindly. Find out WHY things are the way they are. Ask the whys of a person’s belief and if they say “Because that is how it is supposed to be” ask them again why. If they cannot answer, then maybe you need to be the one to find out why you should believe so, if believing anything at all.

Just like unicorns. Many say they are mythical creatures and do not exist. Does anyone really know? Think about it-you might be one to believe a dinosaur once existed, but maybe, just maybe, those fossil pieces weren’t meant to be put together and dinosaurs never existed. Maybe they were creatures from an alien planet that got destroyed. What about the pyramids? Do people REALLY believe they were erected the way it is depicted in history books?

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I don’t believe everything I am told. Nobody should (which is why I stopped WATCHING the news and now READ the news) I am always questioning much and believing very little nowadays. It’s a bit of a nuisance for me and to those around me, especially those who once were Atheist that now are gravitating the other way because of things happening to them. I don’t fit into any nice, neat little category. I never could. I don’t know what I believe at this point in my life.

Don’t pray for me or say “I’m sorry” because I’m not and praying can do very little other than make YOU feel good. I always believe in action making a difference. If you want to pray for anything, do a good deed. Could be anything at all. Network a shelter animal in need, donate some money if you can. Or better yet, how about walking down the alley or the corner where the bum you see every summer is not holed up in his or her cardboard box with a winter coat and socks and maybe a little food?

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I wish I could say I had been going somewhere with this blog but these are my random thoughts and if you read this far, maybe you have some random thoughts and questions of your own. You never know what your day will bring, so regardless of what you believe, believe in YOURSELF and make your existence on this earth mean something and make a difference when you get a chance. Then maybe we can talk about faith and religion some day.

Maybe not.