Home is Where Your Story Begins

December 30, 2010

Shut Up Already!

Filed under: Life — my3daughters @ 12:36 pm

2010 was an absolutely horrible year for me.  I will be so glad for 2011 to start.  I’m hoping it will be better, much better.  Looking back, I would say that I learned two things in 2010—that someone always has it worse than I do and that complaining and whining really don’t help the situation at all.

I am truly tired of hearing all the whining and complaining.  No, I’m not going to offer you some cheese to go with your whine.  That would be encouraging you to continue.  And I’m not going to call you a waaambulance either.  That would give validity to your belly aching.  What I’m going to do is tell you “Shut Up Already!  You don’t realize how good you really have it.”  But if you have the guts to continue reading this blog, maybe you’ll get some idea.

You complain about your car.  It’s too big, too small, too old, too ugly.  I say “Shut Up Already! Just be thankful you have a car.”  I had a nice car the whole time I was married.  I got a new 2006 Buick Rendezvous the same week the divorce was final.  In February of 2008, I had to surrender my lease because I just could not afford the payments.  I was blessed with an easy-to-pay-back loan from my employer that allowed me to purchase a 1995 Ford Windstar.  It wasn’t new but it ran.  Heck, the driver’s side window didn’t work.  But it was what I could afford.  And I was able to cut my insurance costs in half.

In April of 2010, my divorce lawyer decided to seize my van so he could sell it and put the proceeds towards the balance I still owed him.  So I was without a car again.  I’m still waiting to see the credit for the sale on my account, but that’s a different rant altogether.   I walked or begged rides for about a month.  Then I was blessed by friends who paid big money to get their extra car running and loan it to me.  But they needed it back in November so I’m without a car again.  This is the longest I’ve been without a vehicle since I got my driver’s license in August of 1981.  I’m back to walking or begging rides.

I’m not telling you this to solicit your pity.  It is what it is.  God will provide me with another car in His time.  I’m telling you this because I’m sick of listening to you complain about the vehicle that you are blessed to have.  If that vehicle makes you so unhappy, give it to me.  Not everyone gets to have their dream car.  But any car can be your dream car if you have the right attitude.  I have a friend whose driver-side door doesn’t work on her car.  To get in and out of her car she has to crawl over the console.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard her complain about it.  Sure she’s said she’d like to be able to afford to get it fixed.  But she’s not moaning about her less than perfect car every time I turn around.  That’s the attitude that I’m talking about.  You may not be happy with the vehicle you have but at least it works.  And at least you have a vehicle.

You complain about your job.  This is one I have struggled with in the past.  Your boss is mean, your co-workers are lazy, you don’t get paid enough.  I say “Shut Up Already! Just be thankful you have a job.”  Do you have any clue how many people don’t have a job? Do you know how many businesses the banks are closing down?  If you have a job that pays the basic bills of shelter, power, heat, water, food and, if you have school-aged children, the internet, then you have more than a lot of people.  Notice that I did not include telephone or cable in that list.  More than one telephone is not a necessity.  When I say one telephone, I mean a land line or a mobile phone. Trust me, you don’t need both.  Cable is a luxury, nothing more.  If you have children in school, it’s tough to be without the internet.  I know my girls have assignments that require them to go online or even submit things online depending on the class.  And since it’s difficult for me to get to the library daily without a vehicle, I consider basic internet a necessity for job hunting.  But that’s basic internet, not the fastest downloads in the west (or east).

When my divorce became final in 2006, I went from being a stay-at-home mom for thirteen years to having to provide for myself.  I left one job because I found a better paying job closer to home.  In January of 2009, my hours were cut at that job due to a lack of work.  I finally found another position in October of 2009.  I lost that job due to a lack of work in February of 2010.  Since then I have worked various assignments for a temporary staffing agency but I’m still waiting for something permanent and consistent to come along.  My parents encouraged me to get my bachelors degree so that I would “have something to fall back on.”  Yeah, that’s not working.

Again, this isn’t a pity party.  I’m stating the facts.  I know that God has employment in His plan for me.  His timing is perfect.  But I’m not alone out there.  There are way too many people out of a job.  So if you are so unhappy with your job, one of us will take it.

I don’t have a vehicle which makes finding a job difficult.  I won’t start on the crappy public transportation this area has.  That, again, is another rant.  I get just under $900 a month in unemployment.  Not bad until you consider that I was making around $1600 a month while I was working.  And it gets worse with the fact that Friend of the Court takes almost half of that for child support.  Yes, I pay child support to my ex-husband who has a six figure income.  No, the courts will not even consider a reduction in my child support while I am on unemployment.  Again, these are two more rants that I won’t continue with for the time being.  I’ll just continue on with the rant about whiny people.

You complain because your home is less than perfect.  You don’t like your neighbors, the carpet in your dining room or the size of your bedroom.  I say “Shut Up Already! Just be thankful you have a roof over your head.”  I spent most of the summer of 2007 camped out on friends’ couches and living out of my car.  This was my fault.  I had misjudged how much I could afford.  I got through it and moved on.

Now I’m faced with being homeless again and this time I don’t even have a car to live out of.  I tried to get assistance from the Department of Human Services and was denied.  They said my rent wasn’t affordable.  Well, duh, if I could afford my rent, I would have paid it and wouldn’t need to ask for help.  They also didn’t have an answer for my question of “what would you consider affordable?”  I truly detest having to deal with DHS.  But, due to my financial situation, I had to swallow my pride, bite my tongue at their rudeness and navigate the complicated and confusing process of applying for assistance.  My children need food and the courts require me to carry insurance on them.  Now I’m waiting to hear from Community Service.  If they are unable to help me by tomorrow (the deadline set by my apartment complex), I’m going to be evicted.

There’s still no pity party going on.  God has a plan for me shelter-wise too.  I’m not the only one in this situation.  The last couple of times I picked up the Macomb Daily on a Thursday, there was a special 60-page section for Macomb County foreclosures.  That’s 60 pages of tiny type listing home after home and business after business that the banks are taking.  So stop complaining about what is lacking in your home and appreciate the fact that you have one.  There are plenty of us out here who would gladly take it off your hands.

I’m hoping that, if you’ve gotten this far, you are starting to appreciate how blessed you are.  I’m also swallowing my pride and putting this out there because you may know of a vehicle, a job or a place for me to live.  I’ll do whatever I need to do to survive.

I’m tired of hearing “I’m broke.”  I say “Shut Up Already! You have no idea what broke truly is.”  If you have money in a bank or credit union, you are not broke.  If you have a credit card for emergencies, you are not broke.  I am broke.  I have $5 in a credit union savings account because that’s the minimum balance required to keep the account open.  I don’t have a checking account or a credit card.  You go out to eat, take trips, go to the movies.  That’s not broke.  Money may be tight, but you aren’t broke.  Broke is considering the items on the dollar menu at McDonalds a special treat.  Broke is buying all your clothes when they are on sale at Salvation Army 5 for $5, not because you want to be smart with your money but because that’s all you can afford, literally.

And you get no pity from me if you are “broke” because you have to have a new car which means you pay higher insurance and have a car payment every month.  When you are “broke” and can’t pay for your zillion cable channels and super-fast internet.  When you are “broke” because your clothes have to have a certain label or come from a certain store.  My $12 Thrift Store coat keeps me just as warm as your $175 name brand one.  And let’s not forget one relevant to the season—you are not “broke” because you have huge credit card bills to pay in January due to the fact that you “had” to spend several hundred dollars on each family member for Christmas.  I spent about $250 for Christmas this year.  That included gifts for all three girls, myself and several close friends.  Christmas still came and my kids survived.  They had one joint gift, one individual gift and a stocking to open.

I think the Whine Subject that annoys me the most is the one where you complain that your spouse or significant other doesn’t spend enough time with you.  I say “Shut Up Already! Just be thankful you have a spouse or significant other.”  They may not be by your side 24/7, but when they walk out the door, you know they will be walking back in it again.

You are not alone.  You may be separated from your special someone due to work, them spending time with friends or even because they have to travel with their work.  But they are coming home to you eventually.  Their chair at the table may be empty because they’ve chosen to have dinner with a group of friends.  You may go to bed alone because they are traveling.  But it is a temporary situation.  I sit down to a solitary dinner most evenings.  I go to bed alone every night.  This is not a temporary situation.

I was talking with a young couple just the other day.  They each have interests that they share and interests that they don’t share.  They understand that this is healthy, that balance is good for a relationship.  I was impressed by the fact that they don’t begrudge the other time spend away from them.  They understand that time apart just makes the time together more precious.  If you have to be the center of your spouse or significant other’s world, you need to get a life.

As a former professor used to say, “I said all of that to say this”.  Appreciate what you do have instead of whining about what you don’t.  Whining doesn’t change your situation and it usually annoys those around you.  You may think your situation is bad, but, trust me, someone else has it worse.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have my “woe is me” moments.  I just do my best not to let them overwhelm me.  What works for me is to set a timer, yes an ordinary kitchen timer.  When the timer goes off, I have to “Shut Up Already” and get on with my life.  If I can do that while living the situation that I have described in this blog, so can you.

God never promised us a life that was easy.  He never promised us happiness.  What He promised us was that we would never be alone.  He is always there.  He allows us to have joy in the most trying times.  He gives us guidance.  But first we have to “Shut Up Already” and listen to what He has to say.

December 27, 2010

Dawn’s Little Details—The Blog

Filed under: Dawn's Little Details,Life — my3daughters @ 7:43 pm

The motto of my business is “for all the details in your life”.  These details include a few custom handcrafted items.  But the main product is something I call Elephant Bites.

How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time!

I’m a planner, always have been.  When I decided to start my own business to, hopefully, make some extra money, it only made sense to do something I really enjoy.  That narrowed it down to reading, eating, sleeping or planning.

So many times I have heard someone say “I wish I could _______________” or I would love to _________________”.  They are speaking their dreams.  To give voice to your dream is the first step to achieving it.  Unfortunately, most people stop right there.  A dream can’t go anywhere until you give it feet.  A dream with feet turns into a goal, a picture of the journey’s end.  But how do you get from here to there?  The journey can seem huge and overwhelming.

We traveled a lot when I was little.  My parents would decide where they wanted to go.  Then Mom would call the local AAA office and order a TripTix®.  A TripTix® was a plan on how to get to the goal.  But they didn’t just give you a huge map and say “here’s Fayette City, Pennsylvania, right here south of Pittsburgh.  And here’s Anchorage, Alaska, way up here in the northwest part of the North American Continent.   Have a good trip.”  No, they gave you a little flip book of map pages.  Each page had a map with a section (or step) of your journey on it.  Page by page, step by step, you headed to your destination.   It took the journey from an overwhelming 4,000+ miles to smaller, more realistic steps.

Preparing for the Alaskan Highway

I’m happy to report that we made it all the way to Alaska and back, as well as to many other destinations through the years.  Now I want to help others reach their dream destinations.  Plopping that giant elephant of a dream down on your plate and being told to go for it is overwhelming.  My job is to sit down with you and help you break that elephant down into bite sizes pieces.  Before you know it, the elephant will be gone and you will have reached your dream.

I’m not a doctor, a lawyer, a professional of any kind.  If you need professional advice, one of the first steps I’m going to give you is to seek out that advice.  Elephant Bites are not about me doing the work so that you can reach your goals.  That would be like both of us going to a restaurant, you ordering your favorite thing off the menu and then sitting there and watching me eat it.  At the end of the meal you would still be hungry and unsatisfied.

So think of me as your Fairy Godmother.  I’m not going to the ball for you, Cinderella, but I’m going to help you get there.

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