ruby shoesMoney never went far enough when I was a single mom. Food stamps were quickly spent, a welfare check covered a few basics and the child support check, on the rare occasion it arrived, covered even less. I stood in lines for heating assistance, showed up for bags of government rice and cheese, and cultivated friendships with folks who liked having my kids to dinner.

It was 1980. I was going to school, worked part-time and had two kids. In third grade my daughter, Kristen, came home from school and announced that she no longer wanted the free lunches given to children on welfare, because the other kids were making fun of her for being poor. I sat her down in the rocking chair for a talk.

‘It’s very important that you understand the difference between having no money and being poor,’ I said.

‘Being poor is a state of mind that reflects a deep internal sense of lack. Being poor is when people believe they will always be deprived of the good things in life. They expect scarcity and get it, because they don’t know any different. Being poor is when you don’t understand how to use your creative skills to make ugly things beautiful. I don’t think you have the makings of a poor person. Not having money for awhile is different. That means that our financial supply is low, but it will get better, because we are not poor on the inside. We deserve good things and eventually we’ll understand how to have them, even if we don’t know how right now.  Money has nothing to do with self-worth or who we are as people. It’s just pieces of paper.  We are presently without money, so the government, the school and other people are helping us. There is no shame in that. It’s a smart thing to say yes to what we need. Let’s try an experiment; do you want to?’

She nodded her eight-year-old head in agreement and adjusted her weight in the chair. ‘Great, close your eyes and look deep inside yourself.’

She wrapped her little hands around the wooden armrests like she was bracing for a space launch. ‘You’re doing great, now relax a little. Her hands remained firm but she tucked her chin.’

‘Okay,’ I coached; ‘now tell me what you see.’

‘I don’t see anything. Everything is dark. ‘

‘That’s normal.’ I moved closer and lowered my voice.

‘Just keep looking. Go so deep inside that you can tell whether your spirit is rich or poor. Either way is fine, but it’s important to know; keep searching until you know. ‘

Her brow furrowed in serious concentration as she navigated the uncharted territory of her inner world. Finally her face softened, a smile crept across her lips and her eyes sprang open. ‘I’m rich inside. I’m not poor at all. I saw a beautiful princess.’

‘Ah, just as I suspected. Remember when we bought our panel truck and how ugly it was, and how we fixed it up and made it beautiful?’

She nodded, sliding from the rocker to a pillow on the floor. ‘Well, that’s  what I mean, because we didn’t leave it ugly. We made it nice. We can be rich in what we do, in the way we think, and the experiences we bring into our lives.  Get it? ‘  She smiled and I knew she understood.


dream-cat2A client gave me a box of chocolates. I am not supposed to eat chocolate but who can resist? I am not supposed to eat anything that is really wonderful anymore, but I do. In fact my mouth is full of chocolate. I’m on my third piece. I’ll leave the fourth one, the last one, because there is no chewy center. No surprise in the middle. There is only a small rectangular piece of milk chocolate with a logo stamped on it. Oops, too late! I picked it up to examine the design and bite into the corner to prove it was solid. What could I do then, put it down? Nah, just stuff it in next to the rest of them. Now there is an empty box. Soon I will start to itch, and my throat will close a little. People who call will ask if I have a cold because I’ll be sniffling. I get such incredibly low marks for discipline.

I did the cards this morning. They said to be careful of over-indulgence. Don’t try to fill the empty space with food. Ride out your feelings, notice and allow them. I obviously am not listening to guidance today.

I have done everything I know to avoid writing. I have baked a quiche and watered the plants. I have framed a picture and done laundry. The sound of the heater fills the room as I study the tea that spilled in the saucer of my cup.

My thoughts are scattered. Life is strange. We all think we have some control and some say in things, but I wonder. Sometimes life is just life and we’re in it, being stable and happy, or being tossed like a ship at sea. My clients are suffering from the recession, their survival fears are strong. They are being stripped of material security and what savings they had to keep poverty at bay. I worry about them. They are asked to cope differently and be creative in finding solutions. Astrology has thrown us a curve as well. The difficult placement of Venus is great for the arts now, but will highlight weak points in relationship to the point of separation. Ouch.

I talk with my husband about the recession. What would you do if we had lots of money, he asks. What difference would it make? I spin a few fantasies of home and generosity, while he does the same, but as I look around I know that we have everything we need. Our lives are bountiful, the simplicity of our existence full and over-flowing.

I am busy being strong for others now. Sometimes I feel too strong, sometimes I feel too weak. Sometimes I feel like taking long walks to clear my heart. I search for perspective in the distance. I wish life was not so hard. I wish things could flow with more grace and ease, and that there were not so many broken bodies lining the landscape, and filling my dreams. I wonder if there is enough chocolate in the world to deal with all of this. I would be surprised.