I’m learning some things. I’m trying to learn to enjoy life more. I’ve been participating at 43 places.com and looking at all the beautiful places there are in the world to visit, all the amazing history to see, all the cool people to meet and watching the people who are really doing all of this.
It used to be I’d see some place cool like Muir Woods and think, “yeah, that’s cool. . . but it’s too far away, I have no money, I need to stay close to home, etc” but something changed. Well, several things actually. I met someone who made a choice a few years before that he would be a do-er and a go-er and so he started doing and going to things like conferences and taking trips that required planning and investment. I also started back to school and got a student loan which for the first time in my adult life gave me enough to money to buy groceries and have something left over. I got to feel what it was like to have a little bit of money. I also started to think that maybe I deserved some happiness too.
It may be simple to many people but it was a huge revelation to me when I realized that if I wanted to do something or go somewhere I could do something about it. I didn’t need to just survive each day, I could enrich it. I could make it the best day possible, for myself and my family. I am not destined to be poor forever (or this is what I keep telling myself). It’s not wrong to want to have some financial freedom. It may be difficult to change this and the process of getting there is difficult if you’ve never done it but it’s not impossible.
Money may not buy you happiness, but without any it is difficult to be happy. Money stress is hard on families, on relationships, on having fun. I’m not saying there aren’t free things to do; I’ve done this for years and still do, but the options are greater if you can afford small pleasures. or big pleasures. It’s also easier to enjoy these pleasures when you know your basic needs are met.
What I’ve realized is that I don’t have to live below the poverty line forever. Kids are young, I’m a student and a single mum; these things all add up to a classic poverty picture. (This is too often the case and it needs to change. But that’s a whole other post.) But I’m thinking beyond now. I’m trying to think about what it is I want to be able to do: go to cool places if I find them, have good food on a regular basis, live in a house that isn’t crumbling around me, live in a safer neighbourhood, send my kids to a good school, be able to have leisure time with them on a regular basis… basically, experience life instead of worrying about it or missing out because I feel stuck in some permanent condition of helplessness.
I also don’t want to raise my kids thinking that they are poor and will always be poor. I want them to be inventive of ways to meet their needs. I want them to dream big. I want them to think of what they want and how they can reach those goals, with constant attention to balance between reward and effort and strategy. I don’t want them to give up on something because it costs too much – I want them to figure out how to meet that need. I also don’t want any of us to be punching a clock or working under someone else’s orders – unless it is completely by self-directed choice – not a coerced and false choice.
I’m not willing to just wait out the future. I want out of poverty mentality now and I’m going to do everything I can to enjoy life instead of just getting through it.