Thursday, April 19, 2012

Who Am I.....really...

When I was a kid I looked just like Scout, maybe scrawnier with more sharp edges...but the same haircut, the same older brother, the same determined look on my face, the same tomboy clothes and habits. But to my knowledge I never dressed up as a ham. But I did climb a lot of trees (fell out of more than my fair share too), asked a lot of questions, worried about what was fair, spied on the weird neighbours and was a wee bit afraid of old Mr. Lees, a sinister-looking man who lived at the end of our street.

I also identified with this young lady, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and her family's struggles as pioneers starting over and barely making it through long winters of near starvation and unfriendly Indians in the American midwest. She was a survivor, a real spunky kid who would do anything, eat anything, whatever it took to make it til spring.
Just look at those fierce eyes. Not much got past her! What a strong-spirited girl. I sometimes feel as if I really knew her and I'd like to think I have the same will for survival that she had. Just when it seemed winter would never end and the stock pile of potatoes, carrots and turnips was at its end she'd discover a row of turnips that hadn't been dug up or make some kind of deal with Nellie's folks at the store for a bag of flour in exchange for her first-born child that would see her family through the final three week blizzard of yet another treacherous winter.

I once sneaked a peak in one of my brother's journals as I was waiting for him to make a pot of tea. I found that he compared me to this fictional character:
I chose this picture of Scarlett O'Hara because she is wearing a dress she made out of some drapes in order to make herself look like a woman of substance instead of a half-starved destitute survivor of the Civil War who was looking for a rich husband to help her save Tara.  Yup, I would do that too if I had to....though my drapes aren't nearly as nice...
"As God is my witness they're not going to lick me. I'm going to live through this and when it's all over, I'll never be hungry again. No, nor  any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again."


Here's my Tara, my little homestead on the prairie. I planned well, you see, nestling up to my land are several fields of potatoes and occasionally a field of soybeans. I've also heard rumours of quail or partridge in my forest. And if all else fails I'll raise me some chickens...and when a hen is done laying I'll feel no qualms about wringing its scrawny little neck and throwing it in a big soup pot! (Yes, I'll pluck it and gut it first - sheesh!!)

So even though the government wants to mess with my pension and even though I'll be living on less than half of what I am now I know I will survive. I hope I won't be reduced to boiling birch bark for tea and scrambling for grubs  - I know you'll send me a care package if I need one! I've lived frugally all of my life and can't imagine living any other way. Even though I don't blog about money as much as I used to it's still something I think about every day. I don't really consider myself a personal finance blogger so much as a personal LIFE blogger so I hope you're not disappointed by my lack of financial updates and what have you.  Nothing much changes from month to month.

I'm not rich by any stretch of the imagination and I'll always have to pinch my pennies and stretch my dollars. It's what I do - I'm a survivor. As opposed to when I lived paycheque to meager paycheque back in my 20's and 30's I DO feel rich now in comparison.  I have some savings and own my condo and I'll retire without debt other than my small PEI mortgage. Although my dad felt my best quality was my SPUNK I feel it's my resourcefulness that keeps me going. As a single mother of one it took some ingenuity and juggling of funds to keep a roof over our heads and food on our plates but I did it and can now look back on those as some of the happiest in my life.

I had no benefits for seven years and relied on a daycare subsidy while I taught part-time. The worst time was when I had to pawn some jewelry in order to pay some utility bills and use a credit card to buy groceries. But, you do what you have to in order to survive. Day by day, year by year my financial condition improved, especially after I managed to get a permanent contract with benefits. Now I have 20 years in, lots of seniority and although our school board is laying off 104 teachers as of today, I'm not one of them. I'll put in my remaining couple of years and move on to the next stage of my life. And I'll be rich as long as we're not talking about monetary riches!!

How has your life changed over the past 20 years?

26 comments:

  1. Jane, you my dear friend already know what constitutes "riches" and it's surely not based on how fat your wallet is! So you will survive, and you'll, do it well I'm sure!! Keep the faith!

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  2. Great post!!!! I see you as Scarlett but with a whole lot more spunk and considerably more attractive!! You can bet I'll send you more taters if you run out in your sweet little yellow house

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  3. If you need a box of wine....er....I mean a care package box, I'll deliver it in person.
    As long as I can come when it isn't winter. ;-)

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  4. Funny, your comparisons to those we know are exactly how I would describe you.  I guess it comes out in you words.  20 years is a long time and a not so long time at the same time.  Many things have changed, but sometimes I feel the same.

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  5. I've always admired how you enjoy your time...and weekends, with Michael.  You seem to know how to live...

    You will be just fine in PEI, after all you have all those wonderful neighbors too!

    I wish I could go back 20 years for a do over.  I wasted so.much.money, that I could certainly use now.  I divorced about 21 years ago with two small girls in tow.  I had a good job, and I was getting some child support.  BUT I was wasting alot of money. 
    I got married again, and my dear husband had steady increases and bonuses all of these years.  We did manage to pay for two college educations, a wedding, and keep a nice roof over our heads, but gosh, we could have done so much better!

    Oh well, hindsight, right?  We won't be retiring for at least another 15 years, so we have some time to make up for it...hopefully!

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  6. Miss Jane, what fantastic post!
    And don't worry about not be rich($$$).  I was never after you money anyway.  I'm totally about your bod!  m.

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  7. It's funny that you ask about the past 20 years. I was just talking with someone yesterday about how things have changed for me in the past 20 years. We've gone from welfare to home ownership and I have gone from being so mentally ill as to not to be able to work to being a small business owner.
    20 years is a long time and yet it isn't.

    And my dear dear friend you are awesome amazing and inspiring. The next 20 years are definitly going to be enriched by having you as a friend.

    hugs

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  8. Wow, I have gone from a stay at home mom, desperately in debt to a business owner with a lot more guts.  I used to think I had no talent.  But then again that is where they wanted me.  I did the work.   See how we grow up!  You are such an inspiration.

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  9. You're not just a survivor, you are a thriver!!!! I don't comment often but I read your blog daily and always get lots of inspiration and ideas. Btw, when you're biking towards Manitoba, wave as you go by!!!!

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  10. I'm so proud of you and your spunk. Den and I were just talking that the happiest people in this world are the ones that can adapt. I have had some very hard times as a single mom, I know what you are talking about-completely. But struggle is the greatest gift that you can get. You will see what you are capable of when the chips are down. You will not only find a way but you will thrive. That much I promise. 

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  11. When the going gets tough, the tough get going...:)

    Not long now 'til Crofters Lane and living your dreams full time.

    You strike me as a courageous and inspirational person. It's been interesting to see who has inspired you.

    Sft x

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  12. Just dropping by to say HI!

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  13. thanks for having faith in frugal me Carla - I could certainly learn a thing or two from you. I'm about halfway through the Jane Austen Book Club and really enjoying it. Thanks for the loan!

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  14. Yes summer or fall visits would be the best. I'll be laying in supplies come the fall and perhaps you could hit the duty free on the way to PEI and make the most of those discounts:)

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  15. More attractive than Scarlett - how are your eyes doing lately?? But thanks, support from one's friends is what helps me maintain my faith in humanity.

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  16. Thanks for that - it's nice to hear that I come across the same way as I see myself - I feel more authentically me, if that makes any sense :)

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  17. I hold on  firmly to the belief that if I had done anything differently in the past I wouldn't be the person I am now. No matter the mistakes we make we always learn something valuable from them that informs the person we are now. You're in a good place now Sharon, and I feel I am too. There is always the worry in our mind that we "need more", that we "don't have enough" - I would recommend reading The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist - she explores the relationship we have with money and how it affects our day to day life - here's a link to an interview with the author: http://www.soulofmoney.org/pdfs/SOM_twist-interview.pdf

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  18. Well thanks Mark - my body needs a bit of work too but I'll take any kind of compliment that I can get....I'm needy that way!

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  19. Your comment made me think of something funny: "my life has gone from 0 (having nothing) to 100 (having everything) in twenty years!"  If I was a car (going from 0mph to 100mph) in TWENTY YEARS I'd be seen as a failure but in human time I guess 20 years isn't that long to get your life in order. YOU have surely come a long ways also in 20 years and I think we need to recognize that effort, stamina and perseverance in ourselves and be proud of ourselves for overcoming many HUGE challenges. My dad spent over 30 years going in and out of psychiatric institutions and once I had to take a semester off of university to deal with my own depression and anxiety. Since that happened (l988) I've been very cautious about the amount of expectations I've placed on myself trying to maintain a balance in life so I don't go through that again. However I did have to take a month off of teaching once (about 8 years ago) due to anxiety over things happening at school. That tendency will always be with me so I have to be so careful. A wise principal once told me that I need to think of my work as A JOB and maintain a certain amount of detachment. I always remind myself of that when I have bad days in the classroom and it does help.Whew - look what your comment brought up for me! Thanks for your supportive comments - it means so much to me!

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  20. My dad always used to say that to me "when the going gets tough....." He always said that I've got spunk and that was the quality he liked best about me - I guess he felt he didn't have to worry too much about me, I'd always get by somehow. There are days however when I feel that "spunk" has deserted me, but it only seems to be temporary, thank goodness!

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  21. Well "hi" back to you too!! :)

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  22. Isn't it a relief that we DO grow up. We were out of town visiting Michael's extended family yesterday as it was his mother's birthday. I noticed quite a change in some of the young men of the family (Michael's nephews). They are in their 20's now and many of them have young children and I could see some growth and maturity in the way they were with their kids and wives/girlfriends. I was so happy to see that as so many of them had been really struggling last time we were together (about 1.5 years ago). Helps me to have faith in humanity!

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  23. WELCOME Jackie!! I will indeed wave as I go by Manitoba. I have actually driven through it several times on my way to points further west and then back again. My older brother who also blogs and writes for a local paper is right now on a train headed to Vancouver. Our dad was posted in Comox B.C. at the end of WWII so he is going out to visit naval bases (and pubs) that our dad mentioned in his memoirs. Dad also played semi-pro ball while he was in Comox and my brother has been able to find people that have memories of dad. Thanks for leaving a comment!  I know from my stats that there are a number of people who visit my blog but it's not until someone comments that I know who they are!! Always glad to have a fellow Canadian read my little blog :)

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  24. I am so glad I wrote this post as I am finding out that a LOT of us were single mothers at one time or another. It's interesting that when I reveal personal info about myself that readers respond with insight into their own lives. I think being a single mom is one of the hardest jobs there is - at least if you want to get it right. A lot of single moms just throw their hands up in the air and say "I give up" but for me that was never an option. Yes, it means you're on duty 24/7 and can never truly RELAX but the payoff is priceless. Thanks for your supportive comments SonyaAnn!!

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  25. Proud of you Jane, You are a good woman. Much love. Cheers.

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Thank you for your comment - it means a lot to me that you read my post and are leaving a comment - you just made my day!