I have known poverty. We have danced, he and I, many times throughout my somewhat interesting life. And now...once again...I find myself doing the two step with my old friend as he reminds me yet again how I will never have a summer home (I'm lucky to have a HOME-home), be a snow bird OR afford my own underground bunker.
There is a difference though, a fundamental insight I have gained over the years that makes living below the poverty level different this time around. But before I get to that, let me give you a little bit of a back story.
I grew up in a middle to lower-middle class family with two working parents. We had everything I thought we needed. In my school there were kids living in higher and lower socio-economic brackets, so money wasn't the reason for my lack of popularity, that was more likely due to the fact that I was just plain awkward.
Anyhooo...my parents did not get along (understatement) and the number one topic for fighting was always...first and foremost...money. My mother didn't think we had enough, my dad thought she spent too much of what we didn't have. "Betty, you have champagne tastes on a beer budget...", he would always say. Then my mom would counter with the old tried and true, "I could've married further up, you know...". Yes, those two crazy kids should have been divorced before they ever even met!
But now, looking back, I have to wonder...why was money so important that it took precedent over all else; fun, family time and relationships even though we had a comfortable house to reside in...food to eat...clothes to wear?
Fast forward to me as an adult. I have had four marriages (that in itself is fodder enough for a few different blogs at a later date...) to four different men. Two were not very smart, hard working nor financially stable, one was hard working but bad at spending, and one was a hard worker who made a very good living but shared a much different view on money than I did. It made for an uncomfortable situation when ever we had to purchase something for the house or do repairs of any kind. He wanted to keep what he made. He wasn't comfortable unless his savings account had a certain amount of cash sitting within it at all times. There was a sort of passive aggressive feel to that relationship, and I never liked asking for anything unless it was absolutely necessary.
The commonality between all of these relationships...mine and my parents...was that money was always a bone of contention, whether it was not having enough or having enough but not wanting to spend it. There were always bills, always financial stressors, and always that "financial stability" carrot at the end of the red, white and blue stick being waved around by our societal values. So I left my last marriage and became a single woman, once again living under that "ole line of being po."
I think the universe rewarded me after that, for being brave and trusting I could survive the financial free-fall, because an unforeseen series of circumstances brought back the one true love of my life, my soul mate. We have been together ever since, basking in the gloriousness of our second chance.
Fast forward to last week and my total freak out because my cell phone bill was due and I didn't have enough in my checking account to cover it. I literally wasted the entire half of a beautiful summer day crying because I was stressed, so stressed in fact that my arrhythmia was off and running in high gear. I acquired a permanent injury that has made it necessary for me to cut back work hours and apply for partial disability. It is for this reason that I was suddenly unable to make our timely payment which will end up being paid a month late.
*GASP* Well, there goes my credit! Except, my credit is shit anyway and I highly doubt I'll ever have time in this life to get it where I'll be eligible for an American Express Black Card. Is it really worth the fear and aggravation when some things are just out of our control? We start where we are and we do what we can. The rest is just white noise distractions.
My man said, "We'll be fine, this is nothing you should be stressing about. It's only money." Yes, easy for you to say, darling...except...except...it IS easy for him to say. He is someone who knows the universe will provide as long as one has a positive attitude of gratitude. He is one of the most generous people I know, as quickly as he gets money, he is always willing to spend it on other people.
I want to look beyond the almighty dollar and begin to live a life without the stress of financial problems. Money is a problem if you let it be a problem, so I am taking away its power. I am blessed with beautiful and healthy children, grandchildren and step grandchildren. I am blessed with a man who adores me, and I, him. I am blessed with amazing, intelligent friends and a strong desire to spread my creative wings into the various outlets of music and writing so I can soar. I know, that last part was sort of dramatic, just remember who you're dealing with.
My priorities are suddenly different, they have softened. I still need to make money to pay bills, but I also need to balance that with time spent riding on the back of my honey's motorcycle, visiting with my girls, singing with my band and writing my poetry. I want to be creatively fulfilled, and I want to stop allowing the negative slave mentality of money to stand in the way of my attempts to evolve spiritually.
So we downsize. We simplify. We realize that, yes, we are living under the poverty line. And yet, I feel like I have so many gifts, talents and blessings that I can smile and say, "Yes, I know our bill is due today, but unfortunately, it will have to wait until next week. Yes, I am aware we are behind in our payment. I am also aware that I am a good person, doing the best that I can, so I won't be stressing about it anymore today. If your company feels the need to shut us off, I understand. Thank you, and have a great day!"
My fiancé and I do not fight or argue about money, and we never will. It comes and it goes and I am no longer going to allow myself to be a slave to its stress. We appreciate a simple life that we can share with one another for as long as we can reside on this beautiful planet.
And for me, THAT is true financial freedom!