You can’t serve patience, optimism, irony or principles for dinner, but they’ll help get you through these hard times.
Right now, my family is in a place of financial recovery, much like the country. Things haven’t been going according to plan lately and there’s a lot to sort out. Recovery is a process, often a slow and painful one. While I am not prepared financially for such things, I am prepared mentally to fight for what I believe are the right choices for my family.
I recognize that I am fortunate to have been raised in a time of peace and relative ease in this country and now I wish I had paid more attention to the lessons my grandparents were trying to impart to me during my seriously self-centered years. I also recognize that I learned a lot from my relatives and communities and I have many examples in my mind now. This gives me a sense of options regarding what’s next for my family.
In my estimation, part of being middle class is that we have hope that we can change our own circumstances. One of the hallmarks of the middle class in our country is the knowledge that anyone can pull themselves up by their boot straps if they work hard enough. A lot of people who feel stuck in poverty wouldn’t even know what is possible if they are not seeing different models. But in middle-class America, we’ve had a taste of the “good life” and we want to keep living well. We’ve bought a bill of good that tells us we need many things in our lives to be happy and “normal” like all the other suburban warriors out there.
But the way American families, including mine, have been living is not sustainable and either is the way we’re living as a nation sustainable for our planet. Things are changing quickly and things need to change. But change is scary and difficult and never really comes when and how we would choose it. I’ve had to adapt a lot to be able to see life the way I do now and a lot more people are going to be learning these hard lessons too.
People ask me how I keep my attitude up. The answer is faith and commitment. I believe that we’ll be ok in the end and that life is sometimes mysterious. I believe in a higher plan. I don’t think I have control over a lot of stuff and I’ve had to let go more than I expected. But in an economy like this one, there is no guarantee of anything. We don’t know what will happen or how it will play out. We can work to positively frame our vision for the future and move toward the light. That’s about all we can do right now. And spend a lot of time “networking” with great people who are also trying to figure it all out.
If you think you can control the future, then you probably still have a job and money in the bank. I’ve had to learn how little control I have and to let go of my expectations and my ego about a lot of stuff and to trust that we’ll be ok. Bill and I will often say to each other (when the other is really freaking out) “everything is going to be ok” and that helps. We’ve been through troubles before and my ancestors endured a lot more than this mess.
Doing the press outreach I’m doing is not comfortable. It’s not easy to talk about the struggles we face and to be vulnerable with the press. But I consider it an honor to be able to share with others and to help give some wisdom to those who can use it and save themselves some of the pain I brought on myself. I’m seeing a lot of people in shock all around me and I’ve been there. But now I’m feeling like I can move forward.