I have to assume that most people start off the New Year with the hopes for financial stability. That is why we consume pork and sauerkraut and avoid all things bearing feathers. I could have gnawed on pork rinds, bacon, pig’s feet, pig’s intestines, pork loin, pork roast, pork eyeballs and went to a pig roast on New Year’s Day, it wasn’t going to matter.
When it rains it pours….well not in 2018. When it rains, it hails and you get caught in between two tornadoes on an Interstate in Nebraska with 3 children coming back from a much needed getaway in the mountains. Literally. In all aspects.
Plus I also want to take a minute to offer this public service announcement that hiding under an overpass during a tornado, or two, is actually the worst place to seek shelter. I also want to thank the great state of Nebraska for posting the “next mile is this far away …” signs. Those signs saved us because we chanced driving through wind, hail, rain and debris to that next exit 2 miles away instead of continuing to hide under an overpass. I seriously felt like Hans Solo driving the Millennium Falcon. It was truly a matter of ride or die.
I promised my kids an adventurous 2018. I meant more like mountain hiking and white water rafting the Colorado. Being a storm runner away person in Tornado Alley was not part of any adventure plan. Needless to say, we survived.
Anyways, no amount of pork consuming could brace for the financial disasters that would unfold in 2018. I should start a campaign I made mention of a few years ago. How about we eat fish or sushi on New Year’s day to remind us to “go with the flow”.
In August my hot water tank caught on fire. I have three full baths and three post football foul odor goose poop covered children too. As they were all in showers screaming that the water went “freezing ice cold”, I was hopeful that the recent power outage due to extreme heat temperatures caused some sort of glitch in the circuit panel. But that was not tripped. So, like a hair dryer, I naturally assumed the red reset-like button on the water heater thermostat panel would click and instant hot water.
I want to call myself pretty “handy” these days. But “handy” and educated doesn’t always mean bright. Upon hitting the reset on the thermostat I forgot to acknowledge that 220 volts of electricity were powering the utility. Let me just say that my hair frizz that day had little to do with the August humidity. I basically electrocuted myself causing a spark to the foam insulator on the hot water tank and igniting the old B*a$tard. I want to say the $4,400 was worth the expression on the plumbers face when I told him I hoped it was a quick fix of a reset button and perhaps a new thermostat. Smoke damage and fire was an easy fix right?Maybe? Yes? And no! Damn you pork.
A few weeks later I thought I was starting menopause. I run outside the home and inside like a crazy banshee. Yet, September with the back to school craze, a work contest sale promo push to sell blitz and three boys going in different directions with shoulder pads, helmets and book bags is not the month to slow down so it was hard to tell why all the sweat. Hot flashing? Crazy mama running? Well, I wasn’t hot flashing if you will. My HVAC unit was starting to go. So on financial recoup mode from back to school supplies, uniforms and water heater purchase, we had to forego AC and eventually heat until Halloween.
I planned on some relief via my car and my many daily travels but guess what, that went too. I bought the $50 re-charge kit but would you know my model year requires a special tool adaptor only dealerships would have for re-charging. So no car relief as the recharge was actually more like a leak. New as the car may be, I am an unpaid Uber driver courtesy of my kids so I am out of warranty and out of luck. No relief, no problem. I was losing weight in sweat.
Always see the bright side of things. Always!
On my way to get the boys a few days later from a tornado lock down that suddenly hit our non tornado town, my car transmission went. Yes, right then, with tornado sky overhead. “You seriously have got to be kidding me”, I thought. I survived tornado alley and now I am going to perish 1 mile from my home 1500+ miles away from Nebraska. If heaven above was not sending some message to this mama about fear and struggle and rebirth, I do not know who was nudging me.
More money, more problems.
Just as my HVAC unit was being replaced last month in time for the snowfall, my washing machine crawled across my laundry room floor and started leaking. I seriously could do nothing more than laugh-cry.
Laugh-cry is a real thing. It is like when Sybil (love you Sally Fields) invades your body and you are angry and grateful and sad and annoyed and laughing and crying all in one instance. The boys didn’t know whether to run or hide. Instead I told them, “Get mom a solo cup!” After about 800 fill-ups, I finally emptied my washing machine, unplugged her, rang out the clothes and continued to laugh-cry for about three minutes sitting in the puddle of water. Mama power quickly restored after that. Sometimes “all we need is love” or a good laugh-cry when Sybil is more relevant at the moment than Beatles.
So for the past 4 weeks I have been laundering (not the illegal kind) at the Laundromat. I have heat and hot water and the ability to have clean clothes. I had to get really creative to earn some money but grateful for the ability to do so. Grateful for the humility these many trips around the heavens and underworld have taken me.
I have showed my boys we can make it work. I have showed them it is okay to want to quit but never do. I showed them if there is a will, there will always be a way. I showed them sometimes we have to fall down hard to see the bigger meaning. Sometimes we have to relearn humility again from our circumstances.
At the Laundromat last week a young girl came in and immediately sat down. She had no laundry or no real purpose to be there. I even thought for a moment that maybe I should grab my phone and keys because robbery could be a real ending to 2018 for me. I hated that I was judgmental of her even for a split second. Then she started balling her eyes out with her head placed between her hands. Most people around got uncomfortable, grabbed their stuff and walked away. I grabbed a tissue and sat next to her. She looked up and said, “I am sorry.” I told her there is never a reason to apologize for having a feeling, a moment, a situation or a need.
She was 24 years old and 4 months pregnant. Her sister died in a fatal car accident in 2015 and her parents turned to alcohol and drugs to cope with their loss with multiple arrests for DUI and drug possession. She found herself as a 21 year girl then out on the streets with a small paying job and no family to turn too. She rents a room from a 77- year old woman for shelter, owns a car that is mechanically unavailable and has an abusive boyfriend who is the father of her growing baby. Sounds like a Lifetime movie in the making or a crime ring scam, right?
Unfortunately, it was neither. Her boyfriend was yelling at her and manipulating her and there was no way I was going to sit there and allow him to hurt her. She had felt she hit rock bottom. He was threatening her and manipulating her and using her neediness to take advantage of her. She felt stupid and a bother to herself and others.
I spent 5 hours with this girl.
So did Carol the Amish lady who warmed up to us after she saw me consoling her. The Chief of Police sat with us too beause the girl feared her boyfriend would return. He did. He wouldn’t leave and we told her we would not let anything happen to her and her baby. Then the police escorted him out. We spent 5 hours giving her a pep talk. The officer and I bought her beverages and food. Her story checked out so she wasn’t a scam artist. Besides who would contact the police on themselves? I knew those tears and that gut wrenching painful feeling, because I have been there. I knew this wasn’t a scam because she declined taking money from us and her struggle was real. She was just hungry and thirsty for her and her growing baby. I knew she was hurting because I could see it in her eyes, hear it in her voice and see it in her body.
By the end of the 5 hours, two off duty officers took her back home. We provided her with contacts for shelter, care and counseling. No judgment. She needed me that day. The Amish lady Carol and the Chief of Police, well she needed them too. The safety and security of just having people, she really needed that too. Had we been like every other person and walked away from her, she might not be here today nor her unborn baby.
She is getting the help she needs.
I was reminded this year from circumstance after circumstance that we should always keep our humility and look on the bright side of things. Everything is temporary.
I ordered a new washer today and feel the financial saga of 2018 turning a new leaf. I would be lying if I said I will be happy to not have to visit the Laundromat once a week. But I got to know the regulars, the people who come in with their oversize quilts, the Amish who cannot launder in the snow and the restaurant owners nearby who pop in to deliver meals to the regulars. I will miss watching my boys helping with the laundry and how mature and responsibile I saw them becoming. I will miss catching the weekend football games with my Laundromat crew.
I could have been a snob and purchased the washer on credit. Instead I decided to show my children the power of humility and the power of saving. In doing so, I saved myself, a young girl and have forged some real nice friendships.
This Holiday Season try allowing yourself to give more than receive. Try being more empathetic to someone who you may normally judge. Try remembering that…. hurt people sometimes hurt people. Try remembering that everybody always needs that person or people to lean on. Be that person. Step away from the drama, the gossip, the status quo and the regular crowd. It is amazing what you can discover about yourself and others. All things begin at what appears to be the end. Amazing, big and beautiful things… even if delivered by fire, wind, water AND hail.