A Letter to Myself at Christmas

Dear self,

Be kind. Not just to others, but to yourself. You have been through a lot. You’ve started over with nothing more than a few times. You’ve moved to a new town, a new country, a new province, a new community more times that you’ve had birthdays. Still, you’ve managed to gain friends that love you as if you were their own blood. Turn your kindness inwards. Embrace your rough edges with love and trust that you’re not just doing okay but brilliantly.

Be brave. Remember what you’ve overcome. When those memories threaten to bring sorrow and rob you of your joy, remember the courage and sheer determination it took to liberate yourself. You did that. You are amazing. You said enough to toxic people and places. You knew when giving your last dollar would change a life. You stood your ground. You changed a life—more than once. You will continue to create space for those who need it. Take a breath and be brave.

Be patient. You remember how many times you helped that little girl with a lisp say snow over and over until it came out sounding less like a snake with a cold and more like a word? Treat yourself that way. No one achieves success overnight. What’s more, success isn’t even a static thing. It’s more of a mindset and a state of being. If you’re patient and focused you are already a success. You want to publish a book, write a page a day and eventually, you’ll get there.

Lastly, love fiercely. Hold fast to what you love. Never be ashamed of it. You love rainbows and unicorns, who cares if you’re 32 and wear cotton candy socks? You are passionate about human rights, the environment, animals, and LGBTQ+ inclusion in the church—all of those things are beautiful. All of those things are needed. You are not too much. Your heart is soft and full of love. The world needs more love.

Don’t shrink back.

Love,

Yourself.

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I’m 32 and also living paycheque to paycheque

I read an article today on #HuffingtonPost titled I’m 37 and living paycheck to paycheck. As I read, I realized how familiar the author’s story was. You see the pressure to go to events to support friends and loved ones is real—even more so during the holiday season. Many of us are just one or two unexpected expenses away from not making it.

This year we had to replace a furnace to the tune of 6000.00. (We DID get a rebate and it decreases our heating costs…but that’s a huge chunk of money that was supposed to be spent over time on other house related things.) Then, we chose to keep the cat that came with our house. This meant that he needed to see a vet pronto and get all his shots, that was 300 bucks…shortly after that appointment he required an emergency visit for dental issues and some other stuff. We decided to try and save him (to the tune of 1200.00). This all happened during a period of time where Olivia was indefinitely laid off from her long-term job and I went back to school for my final year. Our budget was tight! Then, Olivia found some work, but now it’s winter and she’s facing another potential lay off.

Due to the lay off over the summer, my minimum wage job just covered expenses and we were not able to save anything. This is the reality for most folks. What’s more is most folks don’t have the ability to put unexpected expenses on credit. We thankfully did, but now we have balances to pay each month on our already taxed budget.

Please know I’m not sharing this to whine, but for the folks who find themselves in a similar situation. We see you. You are not alone. If all you can do this Christmas season is to tell people how much you love them, please don’t feel guilty. AND if you’re hard up for food, reach out—there are plenty of resources available in Nanaimo where we live (and other communities if you’re not from here), and you can always come to our house for a modest dinner if you live close by. The challenge is to escape the shame of poverty. If so many of us are (or have been) in a similar situation, why are we reluctant to be honest and to access resources available to us?

This year when people ask what we want for Christmas we have two answers. First, we cheekily reply home depot or PetSmart gift cards (because the cat and the house are eating all our money). Second, for those who are closest to us, the reality is we need time with the people we love that has no financial cost…this can even include gas costs. We’d love to come to see you, but we can’t afford the gas bill—we need it to get to work.