Stigma or Strength?

This post consists of my opinions only.  The statements are all based upon my own experiences and feelings.  If you are offended, I’m sorry.

Way back many years ago, I was forced by circumstances to use food stamps and HUD to keep a roof over my child’s head.  I was a young mom, and my ex refused to pay child support.  I hadn’t yet gone to college, so my job possibilities were limited.  To make things worse, I had made another bad partner choice.  I felt like I was stuck in a hole.  Was any of it my fault?  Yes, but I wanted more out of life.  In the beginning, I just wasn’t sure how to get it.  My self esteem was in the toilet, but I new there had to be a way out.

I remember the days before SNAP cards resembled credit cards.  I had to count out the actual food stamps with people in the line behind me trying not to pay attention.  It was mortifying.  For me, that humiliation and stigma served as a push stepping stones out of the hole.  I wanted to be able to support myself and not be embarrassed buying food.

I had to meet with a case worker on a regular basis to keep getting services, so I learned how to get into the community college.  When I expressed an interest in college, my partner said he’d “just have to leave” if I enrolled because I’d find a replacement for him.  (It wasn’t a bad idea, actually!)  I was confused because a true partner should be in favor of improving the family’s economy, right?  I applied to the college and filled out a mountain of forms including the FAFSA for grants and loans.  If not for the PELL and SEOG grants and child care services, I wouldn’t have graduated and transferred to the university.  As for my partner at the time, I called his bluff.  After wasting years of my life with him, I had had enough.  He had to go.  College was about me being able to earn a decent wage to support my daughter.  He was wasting my resources—food, money, energy.  He contributed nothing, so I learned how to eliminate people who were unwilling to contribute to my well being.  It was a hard lesson, but I learned it well.

I finally graduated with a BA, and then I proudly went to work.  I do not know what the current statistics are concerning recipients of public assistance getting out of the hole, but I have the feeling that many don’t make it out.  There are many reasons for this, and laws have changed since I was a recipient.  I sympathize with people who want a better life and are willing to fight for it.  It’s not easy.  In my case, the stigma of using food stamps made me strong enough to get my education and do better.

 

 

Sunday Snippet

I woke up at four this morning, showered, dressed for work in scrubs and took the dogs out.  I was walking Jinx around the yard, and I looked up.  I always check the sky, even in the dark.  With no cloud cover, the stars were so clear and beautiful that I could have stared at them until daylight.

What is it about the sky that captures human imagination?  Is it the Christian belief in heaven?  Is it the sheer magnitude of the sky?  I’ll leave you to ponder that.  I’m waiting for the stars to be visible again….

Clouds are amazing, but so are the stars in a clear night sky.

Clouds are amazing, but so are the stars in a clear night sky.

 

Keep Working!

Even though school ended over a month ago, I feel like I have not yet had any summer vacation.  Since my daughter is now homeschooled, I have been trying to keep her working so we (she, actually) can get a few things wrapped up for the year.  There are a few chapters left to finish and a few projects I’d like to help her complete.  I think I get more excited about projects than she does!  She needs to keep working.

At any rate, I’ve been technically working only on the weekends, but I feel like I have not really rested yet.  I think it’s because I spend so much time thinking about things I should do or things I want to do in the near future.  I would be willing to bet that I’m no busier than everyone else around me, but it sure feels that way.  Maybe I’m bogged down thinking and worrying about things I have no control over like all the sickness in our small community.

As I reflect on the “stuff in my head,” I have to remind myself that I should be thankful for the many blessings I have.  I’m reasonably healthy and able to work.  My career is heading in the right direction.  My family is doing well.  Maybe those blessings will be enough to help me relax a bit before I have to start classes again.

 

 

 

Double R

For the last two months or so, I have been cleaning cabins for Pat Bridges, owner of the Double R Guest Ranch. The scenic cabins are about 20 miles outside the small town of Mullen in the Nebraska sandhills.

Pat is a charming lady with a great sense of humor and a definite idea of how her business should be run. Her housekeeping standards are high, but she wants to offer her guests a quality experience. (I now know how to make a bed with hospital corners!) This attitude keeps guests coming.

When you see this, you're almost there!

When you see this, you’re almost there!

Pat and her faithful sidekick.

Pat and her faithful sidekick.

Rules to live by!

Rules to live by!

Large cabin (upstairs)

Large cabin (upstairs)

The large cabin has plenty of room.

The large cabin has plenty of room.

One of three beds in the large cabin

One of three beds in the large cabin

Living room of smaller cabin

Living room of smaller cabin

The bath house is located between the cabins.

The bath house is located between the cabins.

Looking toward the main house from the cabins.....

Looking toward the main house from the cabins…..

If you feel the need to roam and want to visit the sandhills, the Double R is the place to be. See Pat’s website (below) for rates and more pictures of the activities that await you!
http://www.sandhilldoublerranch.com/

Tired!

Do you ever get to the point where you are tired of everything? I am there now. I’m thinking of possible solutions as I go. I am tired of eating the same food. I’ve got my eye on a couple of new recipes we might try soon. That will add some variety.

I’m tired of working all the time. That one is a bit trickier to fix. I love my jobs, though. The main problem is I’m tired of being tired when I go to work. To fix that, I need to put myself on a strict schedule. I know I’ll have to force myself to go to bed early enough! I’m not up all night, but it’s so easy to get distracted and stay up later than planned.

OK, done with whining…maybe I’ll take a nap!?

Juggling Chainsaws

I feel like I’m juggling chain saws lately. Let me explain. I have a full-time job as a Spanish teacher with a history class thrown in for fun (and it has been a blast so far!). On the weekends, I do laundry at the local nursing home. If you’re counting, that’s two chain saws in the air. I am also studying for my Master’s (in Spanish, of course) and taking six credits (two classes) each semester. I’m counting each class as a chain saw, so that’s four, right? Did I mention I have two lovely daughters? Only one is still at home, so she counts as my fifth. I also have a house full of furry kids, so let’s figure them all as one more. (They are darlings, and they are considered family.) Since I’m a volunteer firefighter, I am glad things have not been very flammable lately. I do, however, have meetings to attend.

Right now I feel that all the chain saws are in the air—but it is a precarious situation. I have the sinking suspicion that one is about to drop to the ground. Let’s just hope it doesn’t whack off something important when it does.