still blog-floundering, what’s up with me lately

My friend Paula says we should just blog our hearts out (my paraphrasing, with great liberties). I used to write lots and lots and post it on here. But, that was before the days of “everyone has facebook.” I’m still not sure what I want to do here, though I know I want to lean less on facebook.

Moments ago, I posted some photos on facebook, and it felt weird. I used to share photos of our family’s activities all the time; it was super-fun! And, it’s true that most people I know use facebook. So, a lot of people I care about will see the photos of me and my daughters and our Christmas. Posting photos of my daughters on here feels strange, mostly. What is this blog for, then? I’m still not sure. Maybe just little updates?

I’ll give that a try, again…

I’m still recovering from the concussion I sustained in June, but I’m doing really well. I’ve “graduated” so-to-speak from occupational therapy, physical therapy, and soon will finish up with speech therapy and talk (emotional) therapy. I’ll continue with osteopathic manipulative treatment (“OMT”) and acupuncture for a while now, though at my next appointments I’ll be discussing with the providers how long they think I should continue treatments. (By the way, OMT is amaaaaaaazing and I recommend it highly!) My symptoms (headaches, a certain kind of confused thinking, trouble prioritizing, inability to multi-task) are much less frequent. When they come back, I know what to do to get better and a return to mostly-normal happens pretty quickly. For example, 5-10 minutes of eye and brain rest can get me thinking clearly and just about headache free in most cases.

I’ve stopped writing for the Bangor Daily News, which is a serious disappointment. I was told by someone on staff that opinion columnists who didn’t get enough clicks weren’t getting their contracts renewed. But, I’ve gotten a new regular writing gig about which I’ll share details as soon as my first piece comes out (yay!).

Finances are still quite tight, though bridge loans from my parents after the concussion have made it a little less stressful. Now that I’m able to work on the computer for much longer periods of time without causing terrible concussion symptoms, I should be back to work at the level where I’m not terrified every month about whether or not I’ll be able to pay my bills. It’s not close to how it was when I started writing about being “newly poor,” but it’s closer to it than I’d like. I’m perennially grateful my parents were in a position to provide the bridge loans to me. What I’ve been through with this concussion could have ended much worse if it wasn’t for my lucky birth circumstances.

As I think about and ruminate over how to use this blog, I’m thinking about my father’s annual Christmas letter. Each year, it’s truly a work of art. (There’s an excerpt from this past Christmas’ letter on his blog, here.) Maybe writing to an unknown audience as I do on this blog could still be an intimate space, I could write stuff like this but maybe rather than train of thought, I could put some more writing effort into it.

But, oh, I don’t know what I’ll do here.

In any case, thanks for reading this far! I hope to make posts worth your time in the future. :-)

me by the treet

Senator Collins, please vote no on the tax bill

Passing time after dropping off my daughters at their afternoon writing groups, waiting until the end-of-class celebration, I decided to stop in to Senator Collins’ office.

It’s super-easy to drop in and write a little note. There’s a form to fill out in the waiting room and the guy at reception was friendly.

It’s a block down from Bard and Starbucks Coffee, at One Canal Plaza (you’ll see the Key Bank on your right as you walk toward the door in the middle of the building.

Her office is on the 8th floor, take a right off the elevator and another right into her office.

If you’re in the area, I recommend stopping in and leaving a note. We need her to vote no on this awful bill.

make Trump a lame duck h/t @samswey

click here to donate

 

more exceptions (what poverty isn’t like)

This no groceries challenge is still going, and I’m being more faithful to it than I had been.

Instead of sticking to it strictly, though, I’m going to make exceptions. The exceptions bring to light something I learned during that time several years ago when I was in a financial crisis: people who come from privilege (like me) have no idea what it’s like to be poor.

That seems like stating the obvious, but until I found out how much I didn’t know, I had no idea.

If I didn’t have the money for food for my family, I’d most certainly have to say “sorry, I can’t participate” in providing treats for my daughter’s graduation. This goes deeper than simply not having the money. It means I’m forced to be outside, looking in, at a community.

I found out in 2010-2013ish that it’s humiliating to say, “I don’t have the food or money to offer cookies at this celebration.” Regardless of how people will actually view my non-participation (surely most wouldn’t notice), I will feel like I’m not doing my part.

The people in my communities are loving and accepting, but there is still an awkward and uncomfortable stigma attached to poverty. It makes well-to-do people uncomfortable, I found (beginning with my own discomfort), to be faced with the fact that we don’t have to think long and hard about every dollar we spend. We just don’t understand.

For financially comfortable people, it requires effort to be mindful of the reality that not everyone can afford to chip in to group activities and efforts. It’s an effort I continue making, and these “no groceries challenges” help keep me awake.

no groceries challenge, rebooting

A friend on Facebook recently messaged me to thank me for my “no groceries challenge” posts. Her family was out of money so she couldn’t buy food. She told me she remembered the no groceries challenge and it helped her find a way to look at what food she had on hand so they could get by. My heart is full that she took the time to thank me, that she found my writing helpful, and that she was able to find cook-able food in her shelves.

I told her that maybe I’m due for another “no groceries challenge.” When I did it the first time, in May of 2013, I did it because I had to. We were in serious financial trouble and I had to find a way to spend less. Doing a challenge like this when I don’t have to feels fake and shallow on many levels. But, it’s true that money is still very tight (relatively speaking). More importantly, I’ve paused and paid attention: I’m spending more and being more wasteful than I need to be. I’m not helping the earth or my bank account.

My heart started racing a little, in that not-good way, when I thought of doing a no groceries challenge. I immediately thought about taking stock of everything I have, making a shopping list, filling up my shelves so I can make it for a long time. I felt worried. Nervous about getting back to that kind of thinking — don’t let leftovers go to waste, do plan meals, do appreciate everything we have — because it reminds me of how scary it was then.

This morning, I didn’t want to do my meditation. My 8 year old said, “You might feel glad you did it if you do it.” She was right this morning. I bet the same is true about embarking on another no-groceries challenge again, even without any “prep work.” So, here I go…