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...over-educated and under-experienced, or so they say...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Survival Of The Fittest

You can blame the cat for this one. Granted, me sitting here and writing anything is long over due.

I recently moved into what I've been calling my little hovel and the adjustment is apparently driving my cat insane. As a person who struggles with bouts of insomnia, having a cat that freaks out with crazy running spats between 1:30 and 2:30 in the morning isn't helpful. I can't say that I blame her though, given the circumstance.

We moved here from a three bedroom, two bathroom, house with an elaborate floor to ceiling library with marble floors (the selling point for me), a large kitchen in which to cook and entertain people (which I did plenty of, mind you), and a beautiful back yard complete with hot tub, flowing fountain, and a large zen garden (which my cat and her local outdoor cronies viewed to be the litter box of the gods). But now we live in a two bedroom,two bathroom apartment that I do believe is the same size as the one bedroom one bathroom apartment I lived in as newly wed to my ex-husband. Why, you ask? Because times are hard, you all know it, and I'm broke...flat broke.

Whatever financially prosperous point of view I had two years ago has now been leveled into the realm of practicality -- what I need versus what I want. My short time as a successful mortgage broker plummeted with the industry. Three months of unemployment, along with three months of being told I was over-educated and too under-experienced to be employed, depleted whatever savings I had and was the first event contributing to my current situation. Once finally landing a somewhat decent paying job, the rest of the economy adjusted to make sure I felt no real financial comfort in what may have otherwise appeared to be an improvement. It wasn't long before the familiar paycheck to paycheck scenario started; throw in a couple speeding ticket fines and medical bills and suddenly the overdraft protection from the fledgling savings account became nil as well. Ultimately I found myself, once again, in bail out mode: selling practically everything I own to downsize and move in here.

Humbling as it may be, the surrounding circumstances indicate that at least I'm not alone this time (misery loves company, after all).

I have had to sit and bite my tongue as I listen to the woman in the cube next to me talk about removing 100k from the stock market in an attempt to save it. I listened to another cry and sob about the 40K she just lost. Though I can't really relate to them, to me this simply means that none of us are walking around unscathed by this mess. (Everyone's misery is simply relative to their own situation, always has been, always will be)

The funniest part about all of this to me is that it seems to be happening right after the popular rise of something called The Secret. Perhaps you may have read the book, watched the movie, or learned about it while watching Oprah. Basically, it is a somewhat metaphysical approach to the power of positive thinking: imagine it, visualize it, meditate on it, and you will attain it. This Secret rambles on about something called the laws of attraction, meaining what you focus on is what you draw to yourself. So my question is, has the entire country focused and visualized itself into this pit? Maybe we should ask Oprah, maybe she has the answer. Maybe she's been visualizing Obama as the one to fix it. Or maybe we can blame George Bush once again, though some could argue he's not smart enough to visualize such an elaborate mess. Or maybe I'm just being overly sarcastic now and need to stop.

I don't mean to frown upon the power of positive thinking, nor do I mean to belittle the nice dreams we all have about focusing on a particular goal and attaining it. Lord knows I have many goals, and I strive to attain them, and I know that the only way to get there is by staying positive. This brings me to my point.

I have only been alive for thirty-four years, but many of those years have been a struggle (as I'm sure many of you could say the same). I can't sit here and cry about losing 40K in the stock market, because I haven't had the opportunity to even stick my big toe in that water. But I can tell you how to survive on a shoe-string budget. I can tell you how to look at your negative checking account and smile with confidence and say, "It won't be this way forever." And I can tell you that no amount of visualizing will bring the dream to life if you don't do the footwork and physcially sweat for it. And no amount of visualizing or positive thinking will stop the earth from quaking or the rapids from flowing. But it is true your thoughts, positive or negative, will determine how you handle the quaking of the earth or the flowing of the rapids -- that, and only that, will determine your survival. (For some, this is called faith.)

So...I live in a little hovel. I still don't have living room furniture and my bed is still on the floor. My cat trips out at random hours of the night because she misses the freedom of the back yard and the litter box of the gods. And my bank account is still looking like it has a disease. But my daughter, she smiles at me and says, "At least we have a pool to swim in now." My daughter rides along in the car with me, listening to the Rolling Stones, and says to me, "This is our song, because we don't always get what we want...we get what we need." And this, my friends, is positive thinking with the power to make me smile. This is how we survive.

At least you had 100k to save or 40k to lose, and you know that stock markets always come back...always. At least I had a hovel to move into, and the money I save here will heal my diseased bank account. And if my grandmother can survive The Great Depression and still die with tons of money to disperse to her heirs, then surely we can make it through this -- with or without Obama, Oprah, and The Secret..

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