Category Archives: survival

Dorothy’s Quest-Part 2

Following the Yellow Brick road is a an adventure that demands clever use of all our resources, both internal and external. We undergo a quest with our lunch basket well stocked with the skills. talents, values, wisdom and curiosity we have accumulated over the years. In previous travels we have collected these qualities like souvenirs, brought them home where we pick over them and rearrange, keep some discard others until we have refined our explorers kit.
Those of us who have chosen the path less traveled have a different set of souvenirs than most folks; and it has always been my mission to help us realize that our basket of goodies is no less valuable than anyone elses. Now as I see the state of the world, the economic woes, high unemployment, government that is barely functioning and millions taking to the streets in protest I can’t help but feel that perhaps our time has come. Obviously the “normal” way of doing things isn’t working out. Those who have been complacent, who have always done the “right” thing aren’t faring so well. This is not their fault, by any means. It is the fault of the greedy and self absorbed who take advantage of money and power and feed  on the backs of those who work hard, do the right thing and follow orders. Now people are beginning to question the status quo but many don’t know where to turn. Maybe now is the time for those of us who think outside the box to offer our perspective. If you’re wondering how, well that depends on you! I think the most meaningful opportunity lies in our personal relationships. We all know someone whether a family member, friend, associate, who is being disenfranchised in some way. Maybe they’re losing benefits at work, or maybe they’re about to lose their home. Maybe they can’t find a job and are suddenly living hand to mouth. In times of crisis those of us who have survived instability and uncertainty know how to manage. We have earned our sea legs as the tides of life shifted and raged beneath us. Louisa May Alcott said “I am not afraid of storms for I am learning to to sail my ship”. We have learned to sail our ship in spite of storms, we have survived Dorothy’s twister and we did it without getting in to the cellar because we were busy attending to other matters. (What would have become of Toto if Dorothy had followed orders?) Maybe our tendency to non-conformity and rebellion is the power within us that we needed all along to solve our problems, find our way home and rescue a friend along the way. Think of someone you know who might be struggling. I bet there’s something you have to offer, even if only the gift of how to maintain one’s balance in shifting tides, to hang on to the house as it is wrenched free by the twister. Maybe the two of you can look out the window as the cows and grandmas and fishermen float by and hold each other close.
Please, though, watch out for that loose window frame!

© 2010-2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard


That Ol’ Poverty Mind

In my recent post as I pondered the predicament of poverty, I mentioned some of the tips we use to survive when in tight times, the way we manage with very little and often do so with a wry sense of resiliency and acceptance. The post was meant to provide some insight into the daily life of people living on a meager fixed income, and to serve as a reminder that entitlements are NOT sucking the lifeblood out of the economy while providing Cadillacs and cable tv for lazy n’er-do-wells who have “no work ethic”.
Today I want to look a bit deeper at that apparent lack of motivation that we do see in some people who are living on welfare or other programs. It is a firmly entrenched Poverty Mentality that keeps people stuck in a state of mind and a lifestyle that, to the outsider, looks lazy and unmotivated.
Unmotivated, yes. Lazy, no absolutely not. It takes a lot of energy to budget every penny on a daily basis, to always be on the lookout for any resource to help ensure daily survival, one day at a time.
But “why do people appear so unmotivated?” some might ask. The answer is pretty simple: an absence of Hope. Some people have never known Hope. Some have had it snatched away, broken, or unfulfilled. To break a person’s hope is to break their heart and their spirit. One can only endure so much heartbreak before the scars grow thick, constricting and impenetrable.
I have been fortunate to come from a background that allowed hope to survive, maybe a bit battered and bruised, but strong enough to survive and remain resilient. My family was the kind of family that could live the American Dream. Not the delusional one where you build a megacorporation from scratch and live on a Yacht, but the real Dream where you work hard, still have time for family and community and make enough money to live a reasonably comfortable lifestyle.
My own battle with the poverty profile stems from a more personal foundation, a damaged sense of self worth and fear of success. I think the same is true for many of us who, somewhere along the line have fallen off the track and stumbled into territory that we were not well equipped to navigate. Who is prepared for an abusive partner, a drug problem, a immobilizing episode of depression or a sudden loss of career? The injuries we sustain while lost in the wilderness do not heal overnight. As we regain our self worth and our perspective on life and our relation to it (which of course is the first and most vital step) we are still operating in a kind of survival mode, hanging on to what we have with gratitude and relief. At some point, however, we are “fixed” well enough that we begin to look beyond ourselves and into the possibilities to make our place in the world. For most of us it soon becomes evident that in order to do so were going to need some financial stability.
This is where it gets tricky. First of all we’re still most likely in need of constant self affirmation that it is indeed okay to be happy and to want more than to just survive. Next there’s the actual issue of money. They say it takes money to make money, even if that means having the ability to buy clothes for a job interview or to pay for a class to update some skills. Even in the best of economic times that can be a significant challenge. Nowadays, well I’m sure I don’t have to outline the obstacles that seem to be increasing on a daily basis.
It would be easy to use the present flailing economy to fall back into that entrenched hopelessness that is the Poverty Mind, the daughter of the Victim. I believe it vital at this point in time that we all remind ourselves that we don’t have to live our lives entrenched in poverty. We deserve better, as individuals and as a society. Maybe this is where the personal gets political and vice verse. I don’t claim to have all the answers, or even half the answers, but I do know that on a personal level I’m going to commit myself to throwing off that security blanket of inertia and at least preparing myself for something better. I owe it to myself.
Peace and well being,
© 2010-2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

More Thoughts on Community

Happy Wednesday Warriors, Wild Ones and Wanderers,

I’ve had a thing for alliteration lately..
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about the Concept of Community these days. It may be partially in response to the collective sense of fear and uncertainty that is evident in our nation, and in many other parts of the world. Our government seems out of control,the wealthy are getting wealthier and the rest of us are losing resources on a daily basis. Many of feel that we are no longer being represented by those we elected; we are feeling like children, abandoned unsure of where to go for help.
And then there are the doomsday folks, the conspiracy theorists, the 2012ers who speak of immanent change, but offer little suggestion of what that change may look like. The only thing that seems certain is that those of us without money or substantial political influence (one in the same really) stand to be in for some difficult times at best. At worst we stand to lose many rights and freedoms that we have taken for granted for most of our lives.
I once quipped to a friend of mine that if our economy totally takes a dive and chaos ensues, poor folks, survivors and “disenfranchised” will be in a pretty good spot. We know how to navigate tough times, we know how to survive on very little money and we form tight friendships. Common suffering breeds unity in the best of us. Look at support groups. although all support groups have their problems and as any group work textbook will tell you, evolve through stages of difficulty, the beauty is that in the most circumstances there develops a mutual respect and accountability. If the group can remain focused on their common cause while honoring the uniqueness of the individual there emerges a unity that is rich with possibility
That kind of comraderie and acceptance is exactly what is needed right now. I’ve seen it happen; when our governor attempted to bust the Unions he exempted the Police and Firefighters, hoping to keep them “on his side” I’m certain he was somewhat taken aback when not only did they refuse to hop on his bandwagon, but actually joined the protests is large numbers and, I must say, in quite a grand presentation. One of the most “spin my world, never thought I’d live to see the day” moments came when a police officer announced loud and clear to the protesters in the state capitol that he was standing with the protesters; that he was upholding his vow to protect the citizens. As someone who grew up in the 60’s seeing police and National Guardsmen tear gassing, beating and even shooting protesters I was flabbergasted, and overjoyed.
We can no longer afford to be divided by class, labels, social status…we need each other. We need Community.
Next: ideas on building and sustaining community support. Stay tuned…

© 2010-2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Laughing with the Jester

I was, uncharacteristically, nearly speechless for a moment when I first saw this. Then my reaction was to want to laugh, cry and get up and dance. Some people are offended by this video. They feel it is demeaning to those who lost their lives in Auschwitz and other prison camps. It is an extremely painful history to carry and I can respect their feelings however, they have the option of not watching it. For the rest of us, Survivors of all sorts, I think the role of the Jester or the Trickster is desperately needed. We have become either too politically correct on one hand, and too angry and righteous on the other hand; we tiptoe around our feelings of horror and rage and fear. It’s almost like we are protecting them. It’s almost as if we are afraid that if we allow ourselves to laugh, our experiences and pain will be invalidated.
It is my personal feeling that our experiences are what they are, no one knows why some people were chosen to have more difficult lives than others. What we can chose is how to recover and heal. Today I am choosing to laugh and dance in honor of the strength of survival.

A stranger in a strange land…

“I had crossed the line, I was free; but there was no one to welcome me to the land of freedom. I was a stranger in a strange land.” ~ Harriet Tubman.

One of my reasons for creating this blog, and my website was my realization that as a survivor, and a survivor of multiple challenges, I never really felt “normal”.
Even after receiving degrees in Social Work and Counseling I chose to work in small grassroots nonprofit agencies rather than for profit or government agencies. I knew I’d never “pass” in that world; nor would I want to. I would feel like an alien, a misfit and I’d probably end up getting fired. I did in fact get fired from my last job and I know it was partially due to my inability to conform to corporate like standards and expectations. No one was right no one was wrong, it just wasn’t a good fit with the changes the agency was making.
When I saw this quote by Harriet Tubman, I was initially transformed to the memory of reading her biography as a child. I imagined how lonely and terrified she must feel even while feeling the joy and gratitude of freedom. While her struggles and accomplishments were monumental compared to one woman’s struggle with addiction, abuse and depression, I think there is a common phenomenon that occurs whenever we find freedom, from whatever it is that has had us caged.
fortunately for many women leaving a violent home, recovering from addiction or embarking on another healing process there is support ready and available. This is especially true in the early stages. But as I had mentioned in an earlier post, “Crashing the Party of Normal Society”, many of the systems in place are focused on getting the individual through those initial early crisis stages. It is often when the dust settles and we have stabilized that we realize that we too are strangers in a strange land. at this point we are faced with a choice. Either we allow ourselves to revive our victim role and accept some sense of defeat, that we will never be “normal” or we cherish the experiences and wounds that make us unique resilient individuals and begin to celebrate our individuality. After all most of were somewhat non-conformist to begin with, right? That may have been part of what got some of us into trouble in the first place. I say let us learn to embrace those qualities of non-conformity, of clever survival tactics of resiliency as we create our new reality. there are enough of us “strangers’ out there that we need not be alone. There are others who understand. There are other women on the same path, the same journey to freedom and healing. Let’s learn to recognize each other, and to support one another throughout the entire process of healing and liberation.
If you read this post and feel it applies to you, take from it what you will and I always welcome feedback. If you feel you know someone else who may benefit from reading this please pass it on. If you find a stranger on the road who has a common story to tell, take the time to listen and support her. We need not be alone.
peace and blessings,
copyright 2010 Jennifer Hazard/ Nanakoosa’s Place.