Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Flip Side

I've spent a lot of my life developing control and self discipline.  Control over my emotions (my sister used to call me "Mr Spock") control over my career, control over my finances.   I was there with EVERY SINGLE ONE of the points on this graphic, and yes, I think those are VITAL skills to master.

But even Mr Spock echoed V-ger's lament: "Is this all there is? Is there no more?"

On the other hand, following our hearts willy-nilly with no thought of what our head is saying, is a sure way to an aimless life filled with disaster.

The key is always balance.

These days I'm working on fostering my heart as well as my mind.  My art has a lot to do with that, and another great influence has been Lupus and the repeated threat of cancer I've been under these last several years.

I haven't gone over to Santa Fe woo, although I see what some people value in it. I have friends who've studied meditation and Buddhist philosophy, and who talk about "the falling away of the self" and such... all of which I view with a great deal of skepticism.  One of my big issues is with the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, which state, simply put:
1- all life is suffering
2- suffering is caused by want.
3- the way to end suffering is to not want.
4- the way to end want is the 8 fold path.

Now I'm not saying any of the Noble Truths are untrue, however, I'm not sure the "right" path includes an end to suffering and want.

Instead, I believe that suffering and want are essential to motivation, innovation, and creativity.  I believe that necessity IS the mother of invention, and that living in total bliss is ignorant, self-centered, and probably a little psychotic.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't seek happiness.  It means in the real world there is balance... or not... but there is always both suffering and joy, peace and conflict, and a time for every purpose under heaven (la la la)

Balance in all things.  That seems to be the only way to really be prepared for all the possibilities and inevitabilities in life. To be able to balance heart and  mind in making decisions and plans, to accept, struggle against, or wait out the bad times, to revel in the good, and to never, ever, give up a single tool in our mental tool boxes, be they discipline, love, joy, spontaneity, analysis, planning, determination, or whatever is needful.  

Seeing the world with ONLY heart or ONLY mind is seeing only half the world... or being half blind.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The REAL Holiday Stress

Oh, how I long for those days when my big holiday stresses were what to wear, how to fit in all the family visits and parties, and how many kinds of pie to make to go with my traditional dozen dozen (yes, 144) Christmas cookies.

Today I sit here, a quarter tank of gas, a half chicken breast in the fridge and enough eggs for two more breakfasts, and wonder, not just how to make it a happy holiday season for myself and my family, but how to get to school and feed myself in the next few weeks until the Social Security comes in December.

And, at the same time, realizing that having no cost of living increase in Social Security next year, while medicare will jump 50%, amounts to an actual decrease in my total living allowance.

Medicare has not always been helpful.  Yes, I have coverage. No, it doesn't cover everything, in fact, it doesn't even cover everything I'm told it'll cover when my doctor runs my insurance. I've had one situation where the coverage was better than expected (and the doctor refunded my co-pay)  but in more cases, like my recent run in where a piece of wood was lodged in my eyelid and I had to go to the ophthalmology ER, the doctor runs my card, let's me know what my payment is (or isn't) and I STILL get a bill later for uncovered amounts.  Right now, instead of breakfast, I have two of those bills sitting on the folding plastic table I have meals on.

Right now I'm focused on SELLING STUFF.  I've already sold all my furniture, except a twin bed, a lawn chair (I pulled out of the dumpster) a rolling computer cart (which I got at goodwill for $13) a single two level book shelf (which I got a couple years ago when I moved here and thought life would be easier) a tv tray table ($5 at a garage sale) a small end table (also pulled out of the dumpster) and the aforementioned folding table, which I bought primarily to put items on for the upcoming craft sale in December at the college. Basically, everything I own I can pick up and carry and fit in the smallest UHaul trailer.

I have my Amazon search links and banners fully loaded on this site.  Everything a reader orders through that link gives me a small percentage.  So far this month I've earned $1.67.  But that's because there's only been $41 in products ordered through my links, and they've been mostly 3rd party orders.  If even half of my readers placed their Amazon orders through my link, I'd have a nice amount come back after the new year.

I've got a quantity of art online for sale.  All of this was planned, not to get me through the end of the semester and to provide for basic needs, but to get me to California this summer, where I'll have both medicare and medicaid, which will cover not only all my medical costs, but dental and eye exams as well. Ask me again why I've been wearing these same glasses for almost 4 years, when the lens coating has clearly broken down to the point where I'm looking through what looks like an oil spill.

I have two sales coming up: The clay sale is December 2nd and 3rd, and the Arts and Crafts Sale is December 5th.  Part of what I want to sell at the Arts and Crafts sales are the breads I used to make and sell in Clarence, but I have to be able to afford to make them, and that's something I'm worried about.

The problem is, those sales are in December, the Clay Club won't issue my check for the sale until late January, and I'm hungry today.

And of course, the more stress there is the more the Lupus flares, along with the other aches and pains that come with winter when you're "over the hill".  I'm back on a number of the medications I was on years ago, when I first came to New Mexico and was able to ditch them all but my thyroid meds.  That makes it tough,  because now the digestive problems are worse than ever, making finding food at soup kitchens and food pantries tough, if not impossible.  Of course, the other thing making it impossible is the gas situation. Bag in Hand, the open pantry today (which allows you to select from various options, and sometimes has more foods I can eat) is on the other side of town.  That means lunch will likely be Tums.

I think if this were a single time thing, I'd be able to handle it better.  I try to believe that next year will be better (well, maybe it will be, that IS why I'm going back to California) but poverty is as chronic as the illness that keeps me from a job and a decent life.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

YOU can make a difference!

Dear Readers,

 It's that time of year again. I've moved my Amazon Search bar to the top of my page to make it easier for everyone to see. Every time you use my search bar to access Amazon and place an order, I get a percentage from Amazon. It costs you nothing, but a few dollars here and there makes a world of difference on my income! 

 Please, as you start your holiday shopping, consider clicking through my site to make your purchase.  

Thank you!