Trial and Hardship
The last twelve years of my life haven’t been easy. Two divorces and a dreadful economy have taken their toll. I am angry, sad, and frustrated about the payroll tax “holiday” being allowed to lapse. I am worried about how much my healthcare is going to cost me now. I have worked very hard, like so many others to get to the place where I am today. I have lived in poverty and just three years ago, I lost my home of 13 years to foreclosure. It has been a devastating time for so many.
When I look back on the hardship that it was, I don’t know how I did it. When survival isn’t a choice, you just do. I had children who depended on me, I had so much in me to give – so I did, I kept giving, and I never stopped writing.
Yesterday, on Facebook, I was ranting about the tax increase that will take place in my next paycheck. Having received my first pay increase in three years just a few months ago, it has been hard to accept that the little extra I had coming in now would disappear and it would seem as if the increase had never happened at all. After I and others vented a bit, someone commented, “Well, maybe you won’t get to take a Carribbean vacation this year…”
That is not the answer
I have worked hard my whole life. I should be able to take a vacation with my family and not feel guilty because someone else made different choices and is not able to do so. Up until two years ago, I had never taken a trip other than camping at a beach or staying at a dive hotel on the Colorado River or road trips with family. Tom likes to travel and has learned how to do so very affordably, visiting some incredible places like Fiji and Tahiti, Hawaii, Ireland, and the Cook Islands. He whisked me off to an Island adventure nearly two years ago and it was wonderful. If you can save some money and make it happen – travel! You will never regret it.
We work too hard
Taxpayers in the US work too hard. The majority of my past vacations have been for only four days at a time. We need time off to rejuvenate and learn how to connect again with our families, friends, and loved ones – other than rushing out the door to our different destinations. Time off – time away from work – is important. “Only in America have working hours increased,” states Bill Beuttler in his post, We Work Too Hard in Boston Magazine. He is right. We do work too hard – we want our work to stand out, we want to be noticed for our dedication and ability. We want to get ahead – most of us just want to get ahead of our bills.
I Will Go to the Caribbean Anyway
Despite the retort from a Facebook friend, Tom and I will still be going to the Caribbean in March – I am sure she had no idea we already had a trip booked. It’s been planned for nearly a year – we have been saving for it and we deserve it. Yes, times are tough and money is tight. But I don’t plan on regretting the time I have with him on a deserted beach. I don’t plan on staying at an outrageously priced hotel or resort. We stay far more economically (check out www.VRBO.com or www.cyberrentals.com) and eat out at some funky island places – but probably throw a couple steaks on the grill, too. I don’t plan on feeling guilty – I’ve had my time of suffering. I don’t plan on being happy about the amount of taxes I have to pay or the excessive amount of government spending that continues to “raise the roof” and not in a good way.
I do plan on relaxing and refilling my coffers that I drain all year long, because I work too hard.
When times are tough, when our hearts are broken and bank accounts low, we do what we have to do to get by. I can name dozens of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances who also faced severe hardships over the last several years. I am sure you can, too. Those that survived didn’t give up – they fought, they made sacrifices. They refused to roll over and die or even play dead. They kept going…
I am busier now and have more work than I have had in years. What if I had decided to not to keep at it – what if I had given up and packed up my kids and moved home with my mom, citing, “It’s too hard…” I thought about it, trust me. There are all kinds of what if’s we can ask. Are we protected by the what if’s or do they set us up for a fall? There were months on end, when I did everything I could to put a buck in my pocket and hot dogs on my table. I cherish the tough lessons, they are harder to forget – lessons that continue to stand the test of time.
When I was young, taking those road trips with my family, my grandpa, having survived nearly ten years as an infantryman in World War II, used to tease us all that he was born in each and every log cabin along the way. Laughing, we would ask, “Really, Grandpa?” Knowing full well he had not…, but his conviction was so real, his humor so tightened up and dry that we wanted to believe him, we wanted to experience any kind of joy he could conjure. Economic hardship, war, death, life… Every day we all experience these hardships, but thankfully they are often wrapped in joy, birth, and peace.
And so it goes…