Sunday, January 22, 2012

My Response to Judy's Post

A few days ago Judy worte THIS POST looking back 10 years to a time when debt ruled her life  If you haven't read it you really should click on my link and have a read. I am reading a lot about debt fatigue these days and thinking back 10 years or in my case, 20 years, is an amazing exercise to help keep you on the path to debt freedom. There are many days when we feel like we aren't getting anywhere, that we'll always have that burden of debt hanging over us like a black cloud. Well, I'm here to tell you to keep at it because you WILL get there but it might take a long, long  time, even 20 years.But it's so worth it.

Few of you know of my humble beginnings, of my long journey to debt freedom. I'm not there yet but the light at the end of the tunnel is very bright. A few years ago I created my Seven Year Plan to debt freedom and early retirement to the east coast. Today I have 2.5 years left in that original plan and yes, I'm on track. Reading Judy's post made me think back over the past 20 years to see how tremendously far I have come. I started behind the 8-ball in more ways than one but as a single parent I was a tigress protecting and working for her young. There was nothing that I wouldn't do to give Kazi a decent life while still plan for the future.

The response below was simply a quick outpouring of my thoughts in the moment, but it has turned into so much more for me. I want to thank you Judy for your post. We all have so much to be thankful for and it serves such a great purpose to remember that everyday. As I tell Kazi, be thankful where you came from. And I know she is...this past summer she got a tattoo which is a line of script from a Beatles song called "Blackbird". She said she chose a Beatle's song as she knows they are my favorite band of all time. The line she chose was this - "take these broken wings and learn to fly." It was a tribute to me and all I've managed to do for her in spite of all the problems I had as well as a tribute to herself for growing up without a father in her life. Underneath the line of script are nine little blackbirds to represent her and I, my parents who made a life for me and my four siblings with even less than I had, and her five aunts and uncles. Even though I'm not a fan of tattoos I was blown away by how beautiful, personal and meaningful it is. She has her own vision board right on her skin and uses the idea that you can create a really good life even though you had great adversity to overcome to keep her motivated. I am so proud of her.

So that gives you a bit of sub-context for my response below. Please ask me any questions you want - I would be happy to answer them. 

My face fits my cousin Paul's face perfectly!

In a nutshell - I had to live on welfare (social assistance) whatever it's called in U.S. I'm not sure. My ex was a gambling man, Kazi was a newborn and I didn't know where the next meal was coming from. I couldn't let Kazi suffer so I moved into a shelter for a week, then found student housing and went to teacher's college. For a year we lived on what the gov't gave us and thankfully had a childcare subsidy because of being on welfare. At the end of teacher's college I took two more teaching qualifications courses over the summer paid for with my tax refund. I had an old car that my ex bought for me for about $500 (out of guilt) and when the weather was too bad to get Kazi to daycare I took her to school with me...imagine sitting in class with my one year old with me. My profs used to complain that she got more attention than they did but otherwise they never told me NOT to bring her. Thank God! The weekend before school began in September I got a phone message from a woman I was in teacher's college with - she'd heard of a teaching position in adult education. I took in a resume, had an interview and got the job. It was $30 an hour, more than I'd ever earned but it was only part-time so welfare continued to bump up my monthly earnings and provide a daycare subsidy. After 7 years of no benefits I managed to get a full-time permanent contract. I borrowed $$ from my dad for a down payment on a townhouse condo. We were home owners!! Just me and 4 year old Kazi. Even at that age she knew money was tight and would suggest things we could do that were free. She was such a bright little thing - it must have been going to teacher's college with me LOL! It took me til she was 10 to pay off my student loans and then another 10 years to get to the top of the teaching grid and make good money. We still live in our condo, free and clear. I learned how to make my money work for me and squeezed every penny that came my way. I still do. After all of that I hope to retire in 2.5 years (early on a lower pension because I've learned how to live on next to nothing and $$ is NOT important to me) in my old PEI farmhouse. It's amazing what you can accomplish through hard work and will power. 
Thanks Judy for this post - it has really made me think back and appreciate what I've managed to do over the past 20 years. :)

At Scots Corner pub watching England LOSE (boo hoo) in
World Cup soccer.


Jolie said...

What a wonderful post. You are proof that life can change and grow and flourish, and amazing things can be accomplished.

~Carla~ said...

You, my dear friend are a fighter & an inspiration!! God bless you!! ((hugs))

saving for travel said...

You are an amazing lady Jane, I had no idea about your background story.

I didn't want to end and was waiting for the handsome prince (M) to arrive and whisk you and K away! LOL!

We have very similar dreams, so glad I found your blog.

Off to read Judy's post now.

Sft x

Babybluewater said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing. You have come a long way! Sometimes it's great to take a moment to reflect on how far we've come. It puts it all in prospective. Keep up the good work. You are almost there :)

Anonymous said...

Your survival skills never cease to amaze me!!! Kazi is beautiful but then again so is her mom!

Suzy said...

awesome! I remember my brother and I going to some evening classes with my mom when s he was in nusing school - a big lecture hall ina 'mansion' that was converted at the time to be part of the college and house the nursing dad was working nights at the time so my mom had to take us with her..I remember us sittingin the back, my mom taking notes, and my brother and I with our new coloring books or sticker books trying to be super duper quiet because we knew what 'or else' meant LOL! surpisingly it worked though i still think my brother got away with more hee hee!

Sharon said...

You know, I kind of figured that about have, a lot of courage and spunk...and Kazi is your gorgeous reward for all of that hard work!

I'm happy things turned out so well for you, Jane. I, too, think it's important to see where you came from...and how far you have come...

Thanks so much for sharing your story!

Johanna said...

After the weekend I just had I'm a bit too tired to say anything really coherent but I just wanted to give you big hugs. We were on welfare for about 7 years before finally getting off the system. Congrats on achieving your dreams your an inspiration. Thanks so much for sharing

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your story Jane - you're living proof that we can achieve anything if we put our minds to it.