Poverty. . .Is It All In Your Mind?

It has been said that he who is grateful never knows poverty.  Yet we often think we are poor – financially, spiritual, socially, on an educational level or in terms of skills.  We think we don’t have the tools we need to succeed so we read articles, we take classes, we save, we hope, we pray.  We do everything but DO!  Sound familiar?

When we give power to the poverty mindset, it looks something like this

poverty² = inaction.  So often, overwhelm leads to the poverty mindset.  Our dreams are big and so are our fears.  Fear clouds reasons to the point that resources are overlooked.  We forget that we don’t have to do it all alone.  If we merely ask for help, admit what we don’t know and set out to dare to fail while learning, we move past poverty thinking into richness of experience.  In every trial, there is a blessing.  Yes, even when it does not immediately reveal itself.

What do you have going for you?

  • friends?
  • teaching skills?
  • contacts in areas related to your desired industry?
  • life experience?  Don’t downplay your experiences.
  • mentors?

The list could go on and on.  Your mission should you choose to accept:  Make a list of 10 riches you have that will move you toward your goals.  Once you have that list written, ask yourself why you may not be utilizing those resources to their full potential.  Allow that list to serve as your diving board.  Dive into your bold, rich life!

You are rich, dear ones, and oh so loved.

 

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Time Marches On

Despair

I remember how topaz blue that morning was, the crispness of the air and the smell of fall as I walked that morning. As I returned back home, my neighbor came outside, handed me a cup of coffee and told me that a plane had hit the world trade center. I thought it odd but believed it to be a small plane. We went inside and were visiting when her husband called and said the 2nd tower had been hit. That is when the realization set in that it wasn’t an accident. We called our loved ones and turned on the TV and watched in horror at the death and struggle for life wrought by hatred. Crying and numb, we watched. I don’t think we even ate the rest of that day. We were too numb to even think about anything but being with other people. It didn’t matter whether those other people were friends, family or strangers. We just didn’t want to be alone. We heard about the collapse of the towers, Flight 93 and the Pentagon. The waves of nausea, shock and grief washed over us repeatedly like the coming and going of tide.

Then the news came that President Bush was coming to Offutt AFB in Bellevue. A new wave of terror overtook me. It was terrifying to know that Stratcom is a target and that we might be next. I remember walking to the stereo and putting in Anne Murray’s “A Little Good News” and playing it repeatedly, wishing there would be some good news. I rocked back and forth in a catatonic state and the tears found a wellspring I didn’t know I had.

Our church held a prayer vigil and we sleepwalked our way into the sanctuary and held hands with our friends and neighbors, prayed for the lives lost, for understanding, for love to overcome hate and reminded ourselves that vengeance is not ours.

We gave blood, helped fund first responders and rescue dogs to help and tried to find our way to a better love of one another. We pulled together as a humans, as neighbors, as a country and as part of something bigger than hate.

It seems that each generation has its version of The Day the World Changed – WW I, Pearl Harbor, the assassinations of JFK, RFK and MLK, Vietnam, Kent State, OKC, the 1st WTC bombing, the Cole and 9/11. It seems the fabric gets torn apart so that it can be patched together in a more meaningful fashion.

We lost so much that day: 2977 souls and service and rescue dogs, our sense of security, innocence and freedoms.

Yet we also gained some valuable things: Appreciation for connection, the value of binding together in times of crisis, sorrow and confusion and pride in our country. While I was always glad to be an American, I think I took it for granted before 9/11. After 9/11, my heart swells at the national anthem and the flag waving in the breeze moves me to tears. That day will never be forgotten. For me, it was the day I learned to appreciate my country.

Now, 10 years later our lives are impacted nearly daily by the reactionary nature of the response to the attack. We have readily given up freedom after freedom as 9/11 is invoked as the end-all argument for never-ending regulation, eavesdropping and stripping at the airport. There is no denying the effect of 9/11 on our freedoms but what about upon our hearts? Are we living our lives with joy and fullness, loving our neighbors and striving to foster understanding of one another? My heart answers yes, what about yours?

 

Walking Wounded

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When I was at lunch today, I had the honor of speaking with 2 Vietnam veterans who were sitting at the counter. I thanked them for their service and one of them – George C – told me that he was in the 1st batch of military members who were hit by Agent Orange. He has lived through 6 heart attacks and a recent surgery on his jugular vein. An amazing man who seemed more amazed that I didn’t recoil at the sight of his scars. His friend, George C II, was also struck with Agent Orange and has health issues as a result. He said he felt that his biggest scars are the ones no one sees. The mental scars of PTSD and being a prisoner of his own mind at times and having flashbacks while he was driving that the cars were not vehicles, but rather trees in the jungle of Vietnam. He has given up driving.

When we parted, they asked me what I do for work. I told them and then George C asked me what I do for life (for joy). I told him that I am a writer and photographer and said that if I’d had my camera with me, I would have asked to take their photos. I paid for their meals, thanked them again for their service and the conversation and they invited me for coffee next Friday afternoon and told me to bring the camera. They would like their stories told through photos and essays. How amazing is that? Simply because I took an interest. I am so amazed at where these encounters are leading me these days and the way my art helps me to interact with the world around me.

I wrote the following piece as part of my eulogy for a friend, a Vietnam veteran I’d known for 35 of my 45 years who committed suicide to escape his demons.

NONE UNWOUNDED

A soldier died today. Not in combat on some foreign soil but in combat on the battlefield of the mind. A soldier died today. He took his own life. Some will call him a coward.

Whether we agree with the reasons our country is at war or not, the fact still remains that we have people fighting for our right to play Monday morning quarterback over it all. Those who would say that our soldiers are stupid and that’s why they’re in Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else in the world they’re needed are naive.

The soldier who serves our country is not evil, self-serving, or looking for glory. Some were given a choice: the military or jail. Others were drafted, still others joined voluntarily after some heinous act jeopardized the safety of our country and its citizens.

These men and women have seen things in the performance of their duties that most of us haven’t even dreamed of in our worst nightmares. Decades after their service, what they did because their country asked them to or because their own life was threatened during combat, still haunts their minds and hearts. Many have never forgiven themselves and believe they can never atone enough for the lives taken, damage caused, and peace of mind taken, even though those lives were of the “enemy”. They weep for the loss of humanity.

Even those who did not die, lose limbs, or see comrades die lost something. The years and months away from family, freedoms, and easy going spirits were lost. Innocence was lost. Simply because the pain cannot be readily observed does not negate its existence. José Narosky has said “In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.”

It takes people with courage to stand up for the weak, less fortunate, and humanity to allow us our freedoms. The right to raise our families and sleep safely in our beds each night rests on their weary shoulders. Hold them up, thank them, and most of all, honor them.

Paulissa Kipp 2011