Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Holding your breath?

It's very plain to see (or at least I think it is) that right now people are hurting financially. The cost of things are going up when people are losing their jobs.  I can't say how grateful I am that the hubby has a (pretty) secure job in healthcare (though I don't have any illusions) and I can't even imagine the fortune I have had so that I was able to land a Saturday gig.

When I started the Saturday job, which is at a learning center, I thought to myself that this would be a great way to keep myself in the job market at least somewhat so that when I'm ready to return to work or go back to school for my doctorate, there's no huge gap in my resume.

But what I notice whenever I start to think of the future is that somewhere deep inside I hold back.  Of course, no one can predict what the future will be.  No one really knows what things will look like a few years from now.  But it can't be only me wondering when the shit is going to hit the fan.  Right now, it seems like so many folks are intensely invested in maintaining the status quo.  Business as usual--with a few very slight modifications to take into account the fact that their money is kind of funny right now.  But you'd have to be seriously delusional to not notice that it is most decidedly not business as usual.  The world is changing in ways we've never seen before.  They are calling this depression (which folks want to still misleadingly call a recession) the Greater Depression.  It will get a whole lot worse before it begins to get better.  And when it gets better, things will be a whole lot different.  Will Ph.Ds be relevant then?  What will a teacher's job look like?  How exactly do you plan when you don't know what you're planning for?

I don't spend money frivolously at all.  I weigh every penny I spend and struggle to stay within my budget.  I think to myself though that this may be the last time for a long time that I'll be able to get those silver earrings I've been looking at, those workout DVDs I've been wanting, so maybe I should just go on and get them.  Then I think to myself . . . in  a few years, will these things even be relevant?  Will I lose weight because I am not eating preferring to give the expensive food to the children while I survive on nuts, raisins, and topinambur (which was about the only thing we were able to grow in abundance this year)? Will I be looking to sell off my silver and gold to facilitate getting the hell out of dodge?

Is that kind of thinking pessimistic?  Or realistic?  And in my day to day dealings, should I be thinking about these things?  How do you go about in life not thinking about them?  How do you pretend that everything is exactly as it's always been (all this talk of recession is really just a hiccup right?  We'll be back in a minute!) when clearly, it's not.

You've read the articles about the "alarming" number of folks needing food stamps now.  What about when the government can't afford to subsidize the food stamp program?  You've heard of the folks who used to donate to food banks who are now accepting donations.  What about when the food banks can't afford to do what they do anymore?

So, yeah, I find myself holding my breath unconsciously sometimes.  You know, you plan your life out and dream about all the things you'd like to see happen.  But you don't hold on to those plans too tightly.  You let those dreams be fluid and loose and start to focus on the most basic of things that could keep you happy.  And alive.  You start to think about ways in which you can become more resilient and more versatile and more adaptable.

I think about my children and wonder about the kind of world they live in.  I just hope they can have childhoods, i.e. that the shit hits the fan after they are grown or something.  I know that's kind of selfish since there are other children coming up after them.  (And why the hell do I still want more kids if I know the condition of the world?)

The taxes where we live are too high and will get higher yet moving in this market is really not a possibility.  Like many folks out there, we'd have to sell to buy and quite frankly, ain't no one buying.  So we just go on paying our mortgage that has us by the gonads.  We are currently breaking even at the end of month even with strict budgets and accounting for every penny spent.  Yet, the list of things we need/want grows steadily--and we as parents struggle to do without, trying to give the kids a sense of abundance while cluing them in to the reality that for us and for many others, money is not growing on any trees.  So I'm determined to sock the money I make at this Saturday job away--tenaciously.  I know how easy it is once you're making money to spend money especially with kids, especially trying to give them all the things I didn't have as a child--like Christmas trees and such.  But my focus now is really and truly saving a good chunk of money while striking that delicate balance.  While avoiding feeling like I'm depriving my children and my self.  Having cash money can serve as good cushion to absorb whatever shocks we may be about to experience.

It strikes, me that this is also a good time to get my spiritual life in order too.  Again, shock absorption. Sure, I've been searching for my path but I am more motivated to focus on finding where I'm supposed to so that I'm there if or when the "just in case" situations happen.  So that I am there when the time comes to exhale.  And figure out what to do next.

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