I’m broke. Poor. Eking by. Scraping the bottom of the barrel. Trying to get blood from a turnip.
But today, I’m not complaining about it.
I’m examining and embracing it instead.
I haven’t always been poor. I mean, I was poor as a kid, and it shaped a lot of my wants, needs, and desires as an adult. I used to bury pennies hoping I’d grow a money tree. (I mean, it worked with Juicy Fruit, right?) I wanted to be rich and powerful and gracious and generous. I always claimed I’d be a fabulous wealthy person because I would give everything away. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter to me whether I have money or not as long as I can make ends meet and help my kiddos and take care of my dogs.
For most of my adult life, I made a great deal of money. But I also spent a great deal of money. As we all know, kids are expensive, and I tried to give mine the best of everything: food, clothes, experiences, homes. It’s funny now that I’ve learned how little they really needed: love, security, warmth, safety. I dressed them in clothes I could never have worn as a kid, and now they thrift what they wear. They are much more economically- and environmentally-minded than I could ever hope to be. They didn’t need to wear Baby Lulu and Hannah Andersson (even though it made for some awfully cute holiday photos). They needed me. And although I was lucky enough to stay home with them for a few years, I still maintained freelance jobs and worked full-time when they went to school and stressed out about how to keep our lifestyle afloat.
A capitalistic society is one that can keep you running until you race right into your grave. That desire for more, more, more can eat you alive. I know.
In this forced season of unemployment (300+ applications and not one interview. Seriously.), I have finally learned to slow down a bit. I spend long days writing my memoir and working on my next book. It is a luxury I’ve never had. A wealthy friend once told me, “Money doesn’t buy you happiness, but it does buy you leisure.” I get that now. Of course, I still think money would buy me happiness because it would alleviate so much internal stress (and I wouldn’t have to deal with the unreasonable expectations of and cruel comments from my ex), but…
As scary as it can be at times, I’m learning how to embrace these days knowing I have friends and family who will not let me be homeless. I realize that not everyone has that luxury. I am freelancing when I am able, but even those gigs are tough to come by. I had one all set up for this past weekend—had received the laptop, had completed compliance training, and was ready to work 24/7 for three days to get the job done and pad my coffers a bit—and on Thursday night, they pulled the plug. Oy vey. It’s a sober reminder that those things are so much out of my control. On the other side, I am convinced that I will sell my memoir and my next book and the one after that, but that’s the long game, and I’m still in the early innings.
The worst part about not having money isn’t that I can’t buy shoes that I don’t need and I can’t go out to eat every night, it’s that I can’t visit my kids. They are all so damn far away, and travel is pricey. Although I have a moveable home, it’s expensive to move it, and right now, it’s just not in the stars. But the four of them are gathering on the Oregon coast for Thanksgiving, and I couldn’t be more excited for them. By choosing to have four kids so close in age, it was always my dream that they’d have tight relationships with each other. I’m beginning to see it happen, and it fills my broke little heart in ways I couldn’t have possibly imagined.
My sweet, little traveling home. She’ll travel again someday.
I know that things will change; they always do. I know that someday my bank account will be full again. Someday, I’ll rebuild the savings that’s been depleted. And if I don’t? At least my beneficiaries will benefit when I kick it. Like many Americans, I’m worth far more dead than alive. Isn’t that a cruel joke?
For now, I’m staying the course, embracing the time I’ve been given to pursue my dreams, and remaining grateful that I have a roof over my head, food in the pantry, and a great deal of love in my life.
It’s more than enough.