The Fine Art of Begging

Recently I racked up $9,000.00 in debt by moving 3100 miles across country to start my life over after a series of setbacks that, frankly, are becoming too boring to even discuss. Everybody has problems, right? But a friend suggested I do a crowdfunding campaign through the Indiegogo website to help me get my head above water. I set a goal of 5k for my two month campaign, never really expecting to get a response.

The campaign ended just the other day, and much to my shock and awe I did reach 50 percent of my goal. But even more valuable than the money was all that I learned from the experience, about myself and about others. I never realized what a ride it would be until I hopped on.

First of all, as one might expect, it’s kind of humiliating to have to beg for money. Essentially, you are telling the entire world, “I can’t do this on my own.” No one likes to admit that.

Second, you spend a great deal of time dealing with the complex issue that a certain percentage of people are bound to assume that you are asking for something that you don’t really deserve because you’re lazy or you’re a scammer. There’s really no simple way to protest your innocence. “I am not a crook” didn’t work for Nixon, and it wouldn’t have worked for me, either.

And then, at least for me, there was a nagging feeling that maybe it was true. Maybe I didn’t really deserve help. I can think of at least a billion people who are worse off than I will ever be. Who do I think I am? What makes me so special? Those are really uncomfortable questions to have to wrestle with.

The moment the campaign was launched, the vultures started circling. “For just $200.00, I can make your campaign go viral!” “Sign up for tips on how to increase your visibility.” These e-mails made me really uncomfortable. It was like my financial desperation had somehow become a business opportunity. For me, this wasn’t business. This was my life.

Also, I got some really weird reactions from distant family members. One even told me that what I was doing was inappropriate and an embarrassment to the family. Wow. Several of them still aren’t speaking to me, and the irony is, none of them helped out, even emotionally, and I never expected that they would. They had never stepped up before, so it would have surprised me if they did now.

But the amazing thing, the thing that still brings tears of gratitude to my eyes, are the people who did step up. Many of them, I know for a fact, are struggling themselves, and they were often the most generous. Then there were the people from my distant past, many of whom I hadn’t had contact with in decades, who supported me without hesitation. And total strangers who said, “I’ve been where you are. Here. Good luck.” Some people said, “I wish I could contribute, but I have no money to give. But I wanted you to know that I heard your story and I’m pulling for you.” Even those who just shared a link to my campaign on their Facebook pages hold a special place in my heart.

I am humbled by everyone who supported me emotionally as well as financially. The memories of that will be more precious than gold long after this debt is nothing but a bad memory. And some day when I’m able, I plan to pay this generosity forward. That’s a promise.

It is when you have to bare your soul and humble yourself way beyond your comfort zone that you truly discover who your friends are, and that the world is a generous place, indeed. What a gift.

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New, but Not.

I find myself having to strike a strange balance at this new job. I have 13 years of experience opening drawbridges, so as they say, this ain’t my first rodeo. But on the other hand there are subtle differences in policies and procedures at this new place, so there’s definitely plenty to learn. Of course I have every intention of doing things their way.

I don’t want to come off as arrogant. I don’t want to appear to be a know it all. But I’m also no greenhorn. I am completely familiar with a lot of what I’ll be doing.

It’s a weird feeling, trying to be humble and knowledgeable at the same time. I can tell that when I ask questions, they’re surprised that I know enough to ask them. But at the same time, I sometimes feel like I’ve been given a child’s toy to assemble, and all the instructions are in Japanese. There’s also the fear that they’ll assume I know something that I don’t, and that could cause an issue, too.

And then there’s the gender thing. Hard to be taken seriously as a female bridge operator. But I’ve proven myself before. I guess I’ll have to do so again. Annoying to have to start from scratch after all these years, but in fairness, as far as these people are concerned I just hatched from the egg yesterday.

Obviously I’m not the first person in the world who has had to walk this type of tight rope, but it’s a strange feeling indeed. Wish me luck!

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[Image credit: thebettermom.com]

Humbly Reaching Out

From a recent conversation with my boyfriend:

Me: All of a sudden so many good things are happening in my life! I’ve got that job interview, I got a promotion in my captioning job, I got my 100th follower on my blog, and I just saved a couple hundred bucks by transferring a credit card balance. Could it be that the pendulum is swinging back the other way, finally? Could my luck be changing? I should buy a lottery ticket.

BF: Just remember that this is from YOU reaching out. Not the other way around. Keep reaching out and the way will show itself to you.

Me: You’re right. But, too, it DOES seem like it is the very times when I step back and surrender and stop trying to force things…that’s when things start to get better. Sometimes I just have to get out of my own way.

BF: I learned that from hitchhiking. The more you want and NEED a ride, the less chance someone will stop.

Me: Exactly! So, reach out by sticking your thumb out, but don’t add desperation into the mix. Don’t insist. Don’t expect everything at once. Just make yourself available to the abundance should it come your way, and then see what happens.

————–

That’s a difficult balance to maintain. Reaching out but not clutching, grasping, forcing it. Being humble without being passive. Being open without having expectations. Trying to reach a goal without anticipating an outcome. Having faith but taking responsibility for yourself.

I think finding the right balance will be something I’ll have to work on my entire life. But as it stands now, I did wind up getting the job!

On the other hand, I only matched two out of the six numbers on that lottery ticket. But hey, that’s one number more than is usual for me! Which is probably why I rarely buy them.

Hitchhiker Jericho

[Image credit: solanotempest.net]

P.S. Please do not take this as an endorsement of hitchhiking. In this day and age it’s entirely too dangerous. Getting across town, let alone across the country, isn’t worth your life. Unfortunately, this is not the world of my youth.

The Pope and Higgs Boson: Too Much God to Digest all at Once?

So, we have a new Pope. That’s a load off. Not that I’m Catholic, mind you, but I think it’s never a good thing to have a vacancy for the position of God’s representative on earth, do you? He’s from Argentina, he’s chosen the name Francis, and he’s a Jesuit. All of these things are firsts, and for the Catholic Church, firsts are usually avoided, so this impresses me. And the fact that he was never a Hitler Youth is a big fat plus in my book. He’s also the first Pope in 600 years to have to deal with a Pope Emeritus, which can’t be easy, but so far he seems to be handling it with aplomb (a word I don’t get the opportunity to use very often).

During the great outpouring of admiration that we’ve all witnessed, you learn that he is a man of the people. He’s humble. He cares about the poor. He has held mass for the homeless and the prostitutes of Buenos Aires. He wants to be a populist Pope. Again, all wonderful things.

But I’m having a bit of trouble reconciling all of the above with what the Christian News Service says about him:

“In 2010, when Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage, Cardinal Bergoglio encouraged clergy across the country to tell Catholics to protest against the legislation because, if enacted, it could ‘seriously injure the family,’ he said.

He also said adoption by same-sex couples would result in ‘depriving [children] of the human growth that God wanted them given by a father and a mother.’”

CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips says that until now, Pope Francis’ conservative views on birth control, homosexuality and women’s roles in the Church have not made him popular with his relatively progressive Jesuit brothers. That, to me, is a bad sign. If you are a steadfast conservative within a progressive group, what does this say about your ability to be a Pope who listens to Catholics in the modern world, particularly ones with diverging viewpoints?

How can you be a Pope of the people and shun homosexuals? These are our brothers, our sisters, our nieces, our nephews. Are you saying that pedophilia is more acceptable? It certainly seems to be in many areas of the church. And how can you view women as subordinate in the 21st century? Our mothers, our sisters, our daughters. And most important of all, how can you preach to prostitutes and yet believe that birth control is a sin? Isn’t that tantamount to a death sentence for them?

It will be interesting to see what message he brings to those countries in Africa where entire populations are on the verge of extinction due to AIDS. When it has been proven, time and time again, even by your own priests, that abstinence is not going to work, it’s time to wake up and move into the present. But that is probably way too much to ask of a man who is 76 years old, and a religion that is at least 1900 years old.

higgs

In other news, the very next day in CERN, they announced that they’re confident they’ve discovered the God particle, also known as the Higgs Boson. According to Hayley Dixon of the Telegraph, “Finding the Higgs plugs a gaping hole in the Standard Model of physics, the theory that describes all the particles, forces and interactions that make up the universe.” That, my friends, is HUGE. In my opinion, Higgs Boson is where God and science intersect. And I firmly believe that they can intersect, if you have an open mind.

According to CBS News, it is “the subatomic particle predicted nearly a half-century ago, which will go a long way toward explaining what gives electrons and all matter in the universe size and shape.”

WHY ISN’T EVERYONE TALKING ABOUT THIS? I’m stumped. I guess the building blocks of the universe got overwhelmed in the news cycle that is Pope Francis. And that’s a shame, because if you have any faith whatsoever, both of these events will have a sweeping impact upon you, whether you’re aware of it or not.

Or maybe it’s just that we mere mortals can only digest so much God in one sitting. Either way, hold on to your hats. This is going to be a bumpy, albeit fascinating, ride.