Sunday, January 3, 2010

Good Advice from Janis Joplin

I don't know about you, but 2009 was one of the hardest years of my life. And yet, I learned many valuable lessons.

I broke my ankle and was out of commission for almost 3 months, unable to earn any money, drive, walk. It really taught me a lot about what the disabled endure every day of their lives for their entire lives. Just a few examples:

1) People treat you like you are stupid just because your legs don't work.
2) There are not enough disabled parking spots at popular venues - like grocery stores - Duh!
3) It is hard for others to know when you really could use some help and when it's unnecessary.
4) It brings out your creativity and resourcefulness.
5) You gotta have a sense of humor or you are finished.

A few lessons for the year...

Everyone should know the following things:

1) How to shop.
2) How to cook from scratch.
3) How to eat right.

If you know how to compare prices, remember which stores have the best buys on items you use a lot, and stock up when there are sales on items you regularly use, you can save a lot of money. Buy family packs of chicken and meat, then repackage into small bags and freeze.

Cooking does not take as much time as you think. You can prepare large amounts, divide it up and freeze meal-sized portions. You can do a lot with a crock pot, although I never leave one on when I'm not home, because I fear fire.

Maintaining your health by eating right can save you from getting sick.

Pawn shops can help you with short-term loans. Don't get more than you think you will be able to pay back, even if you feel the item is worth a lot more, unless you don't care about losing the item. There are finance charges, but if you fail to pay and lose the item, it does not affect your credit record and haunt you the rest of your life, because they have your collateral and the deal is over. You pawn your diamond ring, you can't pay them to get it back. They keep it. End of story.

Live in present time as much as possible. In every moment, find any small thing to be grateful for. A full belly, a hot bath, a bed, a roof, your T.V., your dog... whatever. Things could be worse. I guarantee the more you can do this, the better off you will be. Worrying about things you cannot change right now, is dangerous to your health.

Try to negotiate with those you owe money to. The worst they can do is say NO. They might say YES, but if you don't approach, they will not offer.

You can make a few bucks bringing your cans and bottles to a recycling station. If you don't need the money, give it to the attendant. I know they can use it.

Be as generous as you can even if you have very little. There is always someone worse off than you and generosity gets energy moving. I know this to be true. The more you give, the more the Universe gives you.

Allow yourself a treat once in awhile. "Splurge" and rent a movie or buy some food item you really love, but "can't afford". I'm talking $5.00 items here, not a new Mercedes. This will lift your spirits, which, again, is a way to bring in the light energy.

Now, of course, none of this applies if you are flush and having no financial challenges at all. But....who knows, lately even millionaires are going bankrupt and you could find yourself needing this advice after all.

Recently I was talking to the guy who runs the recycling station in town. I asked him how was his Christmas. He said, "I did without." He said he'd better shut up because he had to be careful what he said to people because they complained about his attitude and he could lose his job. This did not surprise me. Having worked as a 'public servant' most of my life, I knew that people treat you like shit and expect you to keep smiling. When you defend yourself, they report you. I took a lot of abuse from the public when I was a letter carrier. There were many nice people too, but the majority treated me like I was "less than", inferior and stupid.

I mentioned this to the guy hoping to convey some empathy about his situation.

I also said "Look, if the shit continues to hit the fan, or it gets worse, those same people are going to be coming to you for advice. Remember, you are the expert. You know how to live on nothing, how to survive the cold, sleep in your car, stay alive. They have lived their pampered entitled lives for so long, they don't have a clue how to keep warm without the heater on. And...since their self-esteem and self image are so tied up with their material possessions, if/when they lose it, they are going to go nuts. They're gonna need our help."

We had a good laugh over that one.

So, to the words from a Janis Joplin song: "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." For those of you who have nothing or feel you are on the road to having nothing, think of it this way - the less you will have to lose later. And... the more you will value what you do have, which is the real message. You will then be on the road to true freedom.

And remember, nothing lasts forever. You may have already noticed that in regards to
'good' things, well, it's true of the 'bad' things too. The tide always turns. Learn to endure. Learning to be patient can serve you in ways you cannot even imagine. Start when you are standing in line. Do not distract yourself with your cell-phone. In fact, throw your cell phone away, right now. It is an enemy to your peace of mind, yes... really. Studies are showing that the latest addiction is to cell phones and texting. Anyway, back to the line. Just be there. Observe where you are, who is in line. Take it all in. As soon as you begin to truly be where you are.... believe me, you won't be there anymore. It's almost a law of nature. The line will move so fast, you'll have to adjust to that. Ha ha!

I feel this is going to be a good year. I have no real basis for this belief, just faith and trust, two of the gifts this year gave me.