Tuesday, January 25, 2011

“Why do you write about how poor you are?”

“Why do you write about how poor you are?”

I was asked this question recently. At first, I let it shame me. But, as the question, and the venom with which it was asked, have lingered in my mind, some of my own truths have bubbled to the surface. I’d like to share those truths.

We are not our wallets or our bank balances. I am not ashamed of either because neither defines me. I am proud of who I am and what I can accomplish and the ways I find to survive despite what the numbers might indicate to someone who defines merit with dollar signs and decimal points.

I started my blog out of a desire to be genuine -- to write about what’s real, to process my own experience, and to voice something that many people are going through (or have gone through or will go through in the future). There is no need to struggle in shame and silence.

When I think about The Great Depression, I think about how people survived and about how the country eventually pulled itself out. I don’t think poorly of those who went through it. I respect their courage and strength and survival.

I would also like to assert that there is no shame in good, honest work. Period. I have great respect for anyone who gets up and goes to work and gives it their best effort – no matter how menial or low-paying the job might be. I’d much rather work and earn my own way than sit around, spoiled, and have everything handed to me. In the end, having it given to you doesn’t feel good.

In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter how I got to where I am. What’s important is how I get out.

I wanted to write a rags-to-riches story from the beginning (though I don’t need riches but I do intend to work my way to financial security). I wanted to capture the depths of the despair, to write about how I found directions, detail the steps I took that led me out of it, and to celebrate the victory achieved in the end.

I write about how poor I am because I don’t intend to stay this way. Because, after I’ve dug my way out, I want there to be a chronicle left for my children and their children (and anyone else who cares or might benefit) that tells about how we all go through difficult times, that there IS a way out, and that this is a universal life experience that most of us will go through at one time or another.

The most important thing I’ve learned: I can be miserable and walk around all day every day ruminating on my misery. Or not. I choose NOT! It’s about living in the now. It’s about rising above. Tomorrow will come anyway and we will all die in the end so why make myself miserable when I can choose not to be? In turn, I am more productive and more successful at bringing about positive change and I am able to enjoy each day if I am not consumed with my own misery. This is a HUGE and incredibly valuable life lesson that I would never have learned without this time of struggle. Very Zen!

My blog is not about how poor I am. My blog is about creativity, resourcefulness, ingenuity, and optimism. Those are some of the best states of being that I know. If a little financial strife is the catalyst for these things, then I welcome it. I have been pushed by circumstance to be more of all of these. Isn’t this a phenomenon that occurs over and over in life – that challenges push us toward growth? I embrace that growth and the situations and experiences that create it.


  1. Anne- I love all your blogs! I find them all so inspirational! I like this blog cause it kinda helps me not be afraid to take risks, I recently took a rather large pay cut for a job I'm hoping will make me happier and to do that my fiancée and I had to talk about some of the things we'd be giving up in order for me to be happy and to make ends meet. I think your blog shows all the things you want it to and resourcefulness and ingenuity are things I'm trying to work on. Thanks for being so honest in your writing.

  2. My dear friend, you have definitely never defined yourself or anyone else by their wallets. I have always admired what a good steward you have been of whatever resources you had. You were not flashy or spendthrift when you had a larger pile of resources - and you're not pathetic or envious now that you don't have the same resources. I think that is remarkable. I've collapsed under much lighter burdens many times - and you pulled me out just as many. I've learned alot about not only doing more with less but appreciating how much more that less is, from you! And your writing has such integrity because you are not just being honest in order to get it off your chest but to put it out there to encourage others. Optimism is contagious!