Archive for ‘Gratitude’

February 18, 2018

I am not dead, I just bought a house

by Janie Jones

Greetings to anyone still out there.

I did buy a house last June.  Not the one mentioned in the previous post.  That first house ended up having some issues with the inspection that I didn’t want to deal with.  As it happens, I found something I liked better a short while later.  So even though it was stressful, it worked out well in the end.  How often do I say that?!?

This is the house I did buy:

New House w All 1

Janie, the spud and Rupert on the front steps of our new home

Built in 1919, it’s a traditional two storey with 3 bedrooms and a partially finished basement with a 4th bedroom.  There is a large kitchen with a fairly open concept living room-dining room.  The yard is very small, but out back the home has a nice big deck, a detached garage and extra off street parking (a big must in my area).   While in good structural condition, it was lost in the 80s and needed a lot of cosmetic upgrades.  Most urgently the rooms all needed fresh paint and to ditch the 30+ year old carpet.  Underneath most of the nasty old carpet was maple hardwood flooring.  It has been a laborious, stressful and expensive process getting the floors re-finished, but they are finally done everywhere except the stair case (which my contractor was supposed to have done before Thanksgiving, but that’s another story) and the kitchen.  I have new tile for the kitchen, so hopefully I can look into getting that re-done soon as well.  Eventually I also want to paint the exterior.  I am not fond of that brick red color and, though you can’t really tell in this blurry, enlarged photo, the paint job was pretty shoddy.

This is not my first house reno, but it is the first time I had to do a whole house by myself while working two jobs.  It has not been a pretty process; I have broken down and hired contractors for a lot of the floor work and while it saved me personally a lot of time, the dealing with people who don’t give a rat’s ass about what you want even though you are paying them to work on your house has been very frustrating.  But I am almost done (conveniently I am also almost out of money) and I am really looking forward to having a home to be proud of again.  Lately I have been, what do they call it?  Oh, yes.  Happy.

I still have a massive pile of unpacked crap in my basement.  Mostly it is stuff for the kitchen, dining room and decorative fru-fru (such as my wall hangings, decorative glass and pottery) but as I haven’t decided what to do about the kitchen, which is in much need of new, well, everything, and I am still working on finishing painting and wallpapering some of the interior rooms it hasn’t made sense to unpack it all.  However, I did go and set up all my Christmas decorations.  Some of which hadn’t seen the light of day since December of 2013.  When the spud arrived home for the holiday, she said, “Momma, our new house looks like a movie set.”  I knew then that all was right with the world.

My second job, being seasonal, is over for the winter, but the reno work is still slow going.  Most projects have to happen on the weekends and be woven in between other mundane things like grocery shopping and laundry and the occasional fun times with friends.  And, after the holidays, I deflated upon putting away all the decorations and got nothing done but sofa surfing during most of my free time in January.  But, I am trying to grab my motivation by the scruff and shake it back into action.  I do really want to get stuff done, it’s just boring and, well, exhausting to work all week at the JOB then work on the house.  Plus, I don’t really like sanding, and staining, and painting and wallpapering, I just want the finished product.

Things got really bad a few weeks back until I had an epiphany:  Audio books.  I got myself a subscription to Amazon’s Audible, and listened to a Jane Austen spin-off while painting the dining room.  *Cue corny music*  Ahh-ahh-ahh!  I actually started to look forward to painting so I could listen to what would happen to Elizabeth and Darcy in the next chapter.  So, hopefully my new subscription will help keep my nose to the grindstone.  Today’s task awaiting me once I am done here, is to build my new china cabinets and listen to the sequel to the book I listened to while painting.

Anyway, I appear to have digressed.  Those last few paragraphs were probably very dull reading.  The point I was trying to make was, while I am happy, I am getting a bit tired of always being on the job with the house reno stuff.  I want it done so I can just enjoy my new home in my free time.  Eventually I will get there.  And, I will probably be pleased as punch and foist before and after photos on you all.  You might not want to come back to my blog at that point….

Thanks so much to those of you who have always been such an amazing support network for me.  I don’t know if it has been because of the craziness of life, or what, but I just haven’t had the blogging muse despite missing you all.  It has been a tough decade, but I think I might be able to say I’ve finally made it through.  Even though I don’t write much anymore, I do think of you often and how honored I am to have had you as readers and friends.  Hope 2018 finds you all well and enjoying the best life has to offer.

Hugs,

Janie Jones, homeowner

 

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August 19, 2015

Pride, Responsibility and Integrity

by Janie Jones

I’m feeling a little unsettled today.

I got an email from someone at Stickittoyou U yesterday.  Apparently they want to interview me about my scholarships and grants.

This year I’m getting in excess of $14,000 of “free” money, meaning I don’t have to pay it back, for tuition and school related expenses.  Most are need-based, but some are merit based and have minimum GPA requirements.  These funds will cover about 90% of my tuition, books and fees.

Yes, it rocks.  Yes, I’m extremely grateful.  Yes, I do feel honored and lucky.  And yes, I’ve worked very hard to get the best grades I can to be worthy and have applied for up to 50 some scholarships for this year.  But, there is a part of me that is also very embarrassed and ashamed to not be able to support myself and my daughter without all this need based funding.

It feels very much like being interviewed and having my story pasted all over the school homepage and “other uses” is trying to make me seem like someone of distinction to be honored and looked up to when I have done nothing but find myself too poor to make my own way in the world and too under-educated to get the good paying jobs (ie, more than minimum wage) that would allow me to live an average middle class life I was accustomed to before “life” happened.

Sure, everyone needs a hand up once and a while and people and organizations who give out scholarship and grant money are trying to acknowledge and help us who are less fortunate better ourselves.  But, it seems to me if you have a proper sense of pride, self respect and integrity you should be celebrating the donors, not the people who have done nothing but accept their generosity.

While many people fail to see my side of this issue, awards ceremonies and interviews just drive home my shame in being unable to provide for myself.  It feels like celebrating my failure.  I have done nothing to deserve to be celebrated, yet.  Everyone, in my opinion should strive to better themselves, what I’m doing is not special, or unique.  It should be normal, average, and expected.

So, I do thank the donors.  It allows me to do what I have to in order to be a better person and one day again be able to provide for myself and my family.  But I’m not there yet.  Currently I’m a hot mess of stress, frustration, panic, fear, longing, exhaustion, and insecurity.  It’s too soon to see beyond the struggle.  I am grateful for the help but it’s way too soon to see anything in my situation for praise or admiration and I don’t want to be an object of pity either.

I just want to say a heartfelt thank you and go about my business.  Why is that so weird to the world?

March 28, 2015

Here’s a spot of good news

by Janie Jones

I got an email yesterday notifying me that I have just been awarded another $2000 scholarship for next year.  Applying for 30+ scholarships does start to pay off.

March 15, 2015

Blog milestones

by Janie Jones

You like me, you really, really like me!

1000 likes

Thanks for visiting, reading, and liking.  🙂

March 2, 2015

Before I caught the plague…

by Janie Jones

Hello all.

I am feeling much better, and even though I’m still clearing out the congestion, overall I consider myself over the cold.  Thanks to everyone for the well wishes, I was miserable, and it was nice to have some kind words.

But, before I became ill I had been meaning to share a book referral with you.  You see, the Friday before I became so dreadfully sick, I stumbled upon a book.  The campus often has these clearance book sales where you can find new books for next to nothing.  So, passing by one day I stopped for a quick browse to see what was on offer.  And this is what I found:

“A Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning to Say Thank You Changed My Life” by John Kralik

I don’t know why it caught my eye, except perhaps because I am a thank you letter writer.  I always write thank you letters when people send me gifts, and I make my daughter do so, too.  Despite my habit, I get very few thank you letters.  I remember being a kid and being made to write thank you letters, but the expectation was you only had to write if you weren’t actually handed the present face to face.  It was implied you didn’t need a thank you letter if you thanked the person when they handed you the gift.  However, as I got older, some times I felt compelled to send thank you notes for things given when it wasn’t my birthday or holiday, regardless of whether I was handed the gift in person.  Sometimes I do get angry when I send people things and I don’t get a thank you or any acknowledgement of the receipt of what I sent.

So, it seems in our society today there is a distinct lack of the need or even the duty to say thank you.  And, seeing that title perhaps I was curious to know what Mr. Kralik had to say on the subject.  I bought the book, which was on sale for less than I pay for a soda at the school store, and read straight through it that Friday night.  I found it touching and thoroughly engaging.

Apparently Mr. Kralik’s story has motivated lots of other people to enter a campaign to write a thank you note every day.  While I think it is a little extreme perhaps to write a thank you note to the Starbuck’s clerks, it does bring up the subject of just really recognizing how you affect the world around you.  If you notice people and their actions, just maybe they will start paying more attention to you.

Even though I am a very private person and don’t much enjoy living in a crush of other humans with constant companionship every hour of the day (I don’t have Facebook, or Twitter, and most days I don’t bother to turn off the sound on my phone because it’s pretty unusually I get an unexpected call or text) I do still think it is important to have a community of people who you belong to, and who you can count on.  As my life has changed over the years I have always felt frustrated that I didn’t feel I fit into the communities I found myself immersed in, and what I think I’m realizing is that there are a lot of phoney people out there.  They want you to dote on them but they have absolutely no interest in you or gratitude for your thoughtfulness, or even any knowledge of how much it might cost you emotionally, mentally or spiritually to be there for them.

Sure, I don’t always thank everyone every day.  But the communities of people who I do care about most I try to acknowledge their support and what they mean to me as often as I can.  Perhaps I should work harder at doing that.  But, I might be more inclined if they reciprocated.

Of all the communities I belong to, I have to say the blog community has been one of the most important in my life these last several years.  You come back to read my drivel, you leave uplifting comments, and you seem to care for no other reason than you care.  And for this I am so grateful and honored.

Perhaps though it is easier to be humbled and grateful to blog friends, people who only see the true self.  In my day to day life I end up wearing only certain faces.  I build walls to protect myself.  I portray qualities and beliefs that will smooth my interactions and limit confrontation and chaos.  So, people I see in school see the organized, intelligent, striving, scholarly self, most times masking the panicked, neurotic one-step-away-from-nervous-breakdown self.  Closer friends see mostly the panicked, neurotic one-step-away-from-nervous-breakdown self and the fun-loving, snarky, self-confident Janie has been withering away.  Or some times I just pull away so they see nothing and there is no pity or disgust over how I’ve changed, because even people you love sometimes get tired of your drama.  And, let’s face it, a lot of times that is what dominates the blog as well.  But, I can also share more intimate feelings and somehow know even if they aren’t fully understood, I won’t be abandoned or judged.

Well, in any event, there’s some serious food for thought.  Writing thank you notes should be a duty, but, what I think we can take away from Mr. Kralik is that if you put just a little effort into going beyond the duty and thinking about that person, thinking about what it means to have people in your life that do actually contribute to your happiness, your health and your well fare, then you should pause and acknowledge that.  And, when you do tell someone thank you, even for a little thing, it can mean a whole lot to everyone.  When people sense you value them, sometimes that makes people want to continue to feel valued and respected and so they value you back.  It can be a wonderful catch 22.

I think there are a lot of things to be grateful for.  Although, somewhat shamefully, I must admit, I lose track of them every day, because let’s face it, life is hard.  Life is not fair.  Life is full of those unexpected events you can’t always be prepared for.  But when you have a community around you that notices you and how hard you work, even on the simple things that everyone expects, well, it makes some of those trials just a little easier to face, and it can definitely make the ordinary a little more extraordinary.

So, if you have the opportunity to pick up this book, I would recommend it.  It’s a quick read, and a slog through Mr. Kralik’s personal dramas, but as I said above I found it riveting and felt that there was something refreshing in his honesty about his failings and his effort to better himself.

And now my friends, I have to go to school.  May you have a good Monday.

Thanks for reading.

January 24, 2015

You are wonderful

by Janie Jones

I have the best blog friends in the world.  I asked for your help and you rushed to my aid, and I can’t tell you how much it meant to see your wonderful words.

Thanks for all your support; your comments brought tears to my eyes and made me smile all at the same time.  And, special thanks to Speccy, Queen of the motivational slogans.  I am going to bookmark this page and read it whenever I’m feeling down.

I do have a lot of wonderful people pulling for me, and I appreciate each and every one of you.  Thank you.

May you all have a wonderful weekend.

June 17, 2014

Well, that’s some good news at least

by Janie Jones

I just got word I was awarded a scholarship for Stickittoyou University.  It’s not a lot, but it will cover about a quarter to a third of my tuition.

Now if only I could win a scholarship or award that would pay for my housing….

Still one must be grateful for the little things, especially when they are all you’ve got.