Monday, June 17, 2013

Poverty isn't funny(Rant Warning): I am about to get really real.


Last weekend I was heading up to the park for a hike when I walked past something that made me really angry. Well I was only angry for a second, it was quickly replaced by me fighting the tears that were starting to fill my eyes. I have a lump in my throat just thinking of it now.
 What I saw was a sign tacked to a tree left over from a child's lemonade stand. The lemonade stand was a part of one of a neighbors art sale and it read " Children of Starving Artists Lemonade Stand".
 I know the sign was meant to be a joke but it wasn't funny. Not to me. Not at all.
First of all, they are not starving. They have a beautiful home with attached art studio, something I can only dream of ever having. I also know it isn't the only home they own, they have rental homes as well.
Maybe I shouldn't share such private things, but it is my hope there are others out there who can relate. I am about to be brutally honest. Please check back another time for pretty pictures of Oregon and lighter topics, I assure you I don't go here often.
We have been down on our luck now for about five years. Three layoffs and an unexpected pregnancy and a huge rent increase on top of not having any savings at all and no credit cards to fall back on. It has been very hard to say the least on Ben and I, on our marriage and our children.Ben's unemployment for the last six months didn't even give us half of what we needed to meet out monthly bills. We had to rely on luck and odd jobs to fill the VERY large gap. I was really blessed for several weeks with  a really fun creative job that saved us for a brief moment.
 Just living paycheck to paycheck sounds pretty great right now, just having enough for once. Living in poverty is shameful and isolating.Ben and I are very used to doing without, we don't go one dates or buy gifts for each other for birthdays or holidays(we do for the children),I haven't seen my family in about 4 years due to the cost of airfare, we never turned the gas heat on last winter, we had to rely on space heaters and electric wall heaters. Our power bill gets turned off...quite often. The list goes on and on. Despite having a bachelor's degree I have not had any luck finding a job which I am sure is due to my lack of work experience. Being a stay at home mom for the majority of the last 12 years despite attending art college,having a costume design internship,  a job teaching a weekly craft time, and an Etsy shop, I don't have much else to show for it.
Things are looking up though. My husband was rehired by his old employer so that is good news. The only downfall is that he works away from home out of state for weeks at a time which leaves me to care for everyone alone which can be extremely overwhelming. But that is the sacrifice we have to make to get ourselves out of this hole.
 But back to the lemonade sign. We have been down on out luck, but we still have a place to live and we are able to eat everyday. We live in a pretty trendy neighborhood  that gets a lot of foot traffic. Many of the people who frequent our neighborhood are transients and folks who rely on collecting cans out of the garbage to get by. I can't even imagine how they would feel to walk by and read that sign and then look up to see the beautiful home behind it.
I am sensitive to the "starving artist" stereotype and guilty that I chose to go to art school rather than to pursue a more practical career. My husband went to school for sound recording and music and we often joke about our impractical career dreams, we were parents already even way back then.
I feel sad for all the things my children have to do without. My eldest daughter just finished 6th grade and after the last day of school I asked her why they didn't get a yearbook. Well the other kids did, she told me she was afraid to ask me for money for a yearbook because she thought I would say that $20.00 for a book was way too much. That really broke my heart. I would have made it happen if she would have asked me. It is just a little thing, but I still feel so bad.
I got a fortune cookie the other week that said "Quit worrying about money, the best things in life are free." Which I don't disagree with at all but it is easy to say when you have money for rent. A job layoff can happen to anyone, let us be sensitive to others in need. No one wants to live in poverty, to  let their families and children down and make them struggle.
Please fancy house with art studio, two cars, and a boat, please don't joke about your starving children.

I found a great blog post HERE that I think anyone can benefit from reading, despite your financial situation.Saving money and wasting less is good for all of us.

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