How to Change your “Stuff”

As I get wiser (0lder) and watch the world around me, I realize that we all have “stuff”.  On this planet, there is no escaping it. By “stuff” I mean issues, problems and fragilities with the life we were given here.  Black lives matter, women’s rights, LGBTQ, are some of the most vocal these days, but there is much more than this.

I was born to a woman who had just gone through a horrible divorce, lost 4 children and realized she was pregnant with me. I was born as an illegitimate child at a time is was a very shameful thing.  She fled her state and we ended up on the west coast, with no support or family. We are not sure if the man she was married to was my father as they had been separated a year.  I don’t know who my father was, she would never tell me.

I grew up on welfare, many times without the proper clothing or even food for my belly. My mother’s mental illness had us move every year, sometimes more. Yes, she briefly married an alcoholic and had a couple more, I had a younger brother and sister.  I also had mild scoliosis, was constantly hungry or hoarding food when I got it and felt horribly responsible for my siblings and even my mother. I was born into a family where I could have easily fell out of a swing at 6, hit my head and that would be it. The little survivor I was, survived everything.

We traveled mostly with vouchers or my mother begging at churches, and travelled with 2 boxes each on the Greyhound bus. When we briefly settled, I had pets, she could not feed or clean up after, I finally took it over. As best I could. Then when we left, we abandoned them. Left the toilet bowl open and hoped the landlord would eventually discover them…My mother seemed not to care. I carry the guilt to this day. I sat in my dirty clothes in doctors’ offices knowing the mothers did not want their children to be friends with me. The office nurses whispering about the welfare case as we came in. Those poor children.

I could go on and on but you are getting my drift. I left at 17 and as adult have never suffered like that since. But it haunts me. I grew up shorter than I would have if I had been fed.  Always hungry, but never allowing myself to eat or keep it down as a young woman. You could be a lot of things, but fat was not one of them. I learned that alcohol kept the pain at bay. Then later that recovery could even heal some of these parts.

I have realized all the reasons I had for not being more successful were excuses. I was really small, 5’1”, so are tons of successful women, including the late Carrie Fisher.  I had problems again, so do others, and they succeed. Every argument I have ever had about why I can’t do something, someone else with it, is doing it. Including these days even my age.  Just do the work and let the results to God. I since educated myself, and have a degree. I have worked on my own since I was 35, and mostly do pretty well.

I understand why people think they need to ‘even the score’ or ‘make the playing field level’. Though even in my darkest days, I have never really thought I could even the score.  I believe you never will, there is always some friction in this life. It is what helps us grow. Maybe the more friction you have the more work you take on in this life. I am glad people are standing up for themselves, but it will be always be there. It makes us stronger. You can fight against the unfairness and you will help some people, but it will always be there in some form.

I am less impressed with the those who are angry and protesting everything, like they have a right to be treated better. I am more impressed with the man who lived in Michigan and walked 20 miles every day to work and back. Or woman who raises 4 children with little help and put herself through school at the same time. I know a woman like that. We all have stuff. The point is to improve your lot in life, not just materially, but with love and discipline. It is discipline and effort that really make the difference.

This is just my opinion, but the real heroes are not the movie stars, the famous athletes or the trendy singers but those who strive to make their lives better no matter what. They not only raise themselves, but the people around them. That is how you conquer your “stuff”.  My journey was tough, but I know there are millions everyday who get up with far less than I had, smile, take care of each other and strive to do better. So, if you want to protest, why not volunteer, or sponsor a kid or an old person. You will change, and I believe that is how real world wide change happens.

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