Poverty and Black Stockings

Our family grew up poor. That meant we had to be “creative” in having and buying certain material goods.

When I ran middle school track, our uniforms were old and the shorts were too short. In order for the team to be united and to keep the breeze from going through our rear ends, our coach required that we have black spandex to wear under our shorts.

I told my dad as I jumped into his clunker blue truck, “I need black spandex for track.” He drove me to Wal-Mart, the biggest store in the Northern Hemisphere of our State, and lo and behold, NO BLACK Spandex. Seriously, you can buy a gun, some ammo, a black ski mask, duckt tape, a crowbar and craw fish, but no black spandex! I mentioned that some girls on the team were going to the local sporting store in town, G & G Sports to buy theirs.

We parked the truck in the empty parking lot. We walked in and there was plenty to select from.

I found a pair that would fit and I just knew it would be the pair to set new records. “Twenty-two dollars!” my dad exclaimed in disgust. “Sorry, but I am not paying twenty-two dollars for spandex.” We left the store and I was disappointed.

The next few days, our coach kept reminding us that we needed black spandex as part of the uniform, or we wouldn’t be able to run at our first track meet.

So I had to find something and find it quick. I snuck into my mom’s closet drawer and pulled out a pair of her black stockings.

I put it under my shirt and ran to my room. I cut the bottoms and scrunched them up so they looked like black spandex. From far away you couldn’t tell the difference. No body could tell if they were stockings.

So when it was time to warm up for our relay race, one of my teammates stared at my “spandex” and asked, “Are those stockings?”

To my utter horror my secret was out! I freaked! My eyes popped out of their sockets and I shouted, “YEAH! IS there a problem?”

“NO! I just…”

“Just what?” My voice wasn’t very kind, but I was soooo scared that she would tell everyone else, and everyone would start teasing me.

So I did what anyone else would have done in this situation. I ran my ass off and helped our team win first place.

She said nothing more of my stockings. I was eternally grateful.

The next year I wore my moms’s stockings again, because for some alien reason, Wal-Mart did not provide black spandex and paying Twenty-two dollars was just something my dad was unwilling to pay.

I made Varsity Track that year. I even qualified for State as an 8th Grader, with those stupid black stockings.

When I was old enough to hold a job, I bought my Twenty-two dollar black spandex, along with a new pair of spikes, and deodorant- which is a whole other post at another time.

I am always amazed at how resilient children are, and mostly how when an obstacle presents itself we will do whatever it takes to meet a goal, or to participate in an activity or event. I was so determined to run track, and I wasn’t going to let anything stop me.

It’s true that poverty takes many forms. It often does mean lack of income, certainly, but it can be emotional or spiritual as well.

This particular memory I hold reminds me of the message I received when I was only a child- that I wasn’t worth even Twenty-two dollars. You see, it wasn’t that my dad didn’t have the money- he did. Most of his income went to his hobby in restoring old cars into hot rods.

So my sister and I had to find “creative” ways to fit in, to have certain items, even personal hygiene and health care. Ask my sister why her smile lights up the room today, and why she refused to smile for her Senior Portraits.

A child living in poverty is tragic indeed, but a child who thinks they don’t count is a child needing love. A child who believes they can’t do anything right is a child living in emotional poverty.

The good news is that being born into a poor emotional environment does not mean it is the child’s destiny to remain there. The past was not our choice- the present is.

How wonderful to pass this gift to others- that past wounds don’t have to define who we are!


The In Between

Sometimes we focus so much on the outcome we forget to see what is right before us. Sometimes we feel so much regret of the past that we can’t focus on what is on our nose. We spend a lot of our thinking in the past, and a lot of our planning for the future. We forget that life lives between the two. We’ve heard it so many times- live in the present moment. Fuck, that’s hard!

So we finally heard from the Natural History Museum, and Dan did not get the job.

Naturally we were disappointed. In some ways, we really, really wanted him to have that job. We planned, we talked and we lived as if he would get this job.

Life is funny that way. It never seems to go the way you want it to. Damn it, why can’t we just control everything- make everything the way we want it?

We thought this delivering pizza gig was going to be a side gig, not the main gig. We planned ahead, recounting our dreams of the future. You, know retiring with a million dollar net worth, traveling the world and making a difference in other peoples lives.

Instead, we find ourselves in the in-between space. The space between our dreams and our reality. The space between our past and our future. The space where waiting is the only faith we can muster.

It is so hard to live in the moment when disappointment hits you. At least it is for me.

This morning I experienced my first real panic attack. I sponsor Student Council for the school I work at and we meet Tuesdays, before school starts, at 7:15 A.M. I had a guest speaker come in to help us do a fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation. Just before dismissal, the whole room went black! I felt dizzy and my chest felt heavy. When I was able to catch my breath, the entire room was fuzzy and spotty. I thought maybe I was going to pass out. I took a few deep breaths and a few seconds later everything became clear again.

Then by lunch time, a migraine attack.

I’m not handling this life thing very good.

I spend a lot of time regretting my past- mostly I keep beating myself up for the rift that we have with my brother-in-law. I blame myself and carry a lot of guilt with that. Have you ever done that? Kept telling yourself that you could have done things differently? Do you ever have conversations in your head and wish you could have said something that you didn’t, or kept your mouth shut when you opened it? Yeah, I’ve been doing that a lot lately.

I also spend a lot of time feeling that I am not a good mom to my son. I feel so detached and uninvolved in his everyday life.

If I’m not thinking about that, I’m thinking about the future. Paying off all the debt we are in, and working hard to do so. Planning, planning and more planning.

On top of that, the pressure of being an exemplary teacher, and crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s that comes with teaching. Which by the way, I am not. According to the evaluation I am only Effective. Not Highly Effective or Exemplary- just meh.

Life is fucking hard when you live in the past or the future. So much time wasted on fantasy- because face it, spending time in the dark past and the unknown future is just that- fantasy!

There is nothing I can do about the past. I cannot control the outcome of the future. All I can do is live in the in-between.

It is in the in-between we see the good.

It is in the in-between where we develop character.

It is in the in-between where we practice the skills we want- kindness, assertiveness, patience, forgiveness.

It is in the in-between where we teach our body to run 26.2 miles or 1 mile.

It is in the in-between where we find joy and laughter.

It is in the in-between where a group of people will share your story and support you emotionally, financially, and spiritually.

It is in the in-between where we discover new talents and gifts- like delivering pizzas and writing about your life.

It is in the in-between where we build our trust in God, whoever you believe her to be.

And the biggest lesson for me, is that God is not a magical genie from an ancient lamp to fulfill my every desire. Sometimes God says yes to our prayers, and sometimes he says no. And then sometimes there is only silence.

It is there in the silence, in the waiting, in the in-between that displays where our trust really lays. I realized that my trust was in the outcome, not in God, otherwise, I would have seen what was right before me– love, hope, forgiveness, and support.

Thank you all for that support! We love you.

And we know God has something bigger and better planned for Dan.

Love Wins- Love Always

The Case of the “Stolen” Trumpet

About a week ago, my son came home looking distraught. I asked what was wrong. He had tears in his eyes, bowed his head, and said, “Someone broke into my car and stole my trumpet.”

My heart broke for him.

I was ready to find the person and kill them. I wanted revenge and I wanted desperately to buy him a replacement.

At first he told me that he didn’t want a replacement. That this particular trumpet was the world to him. He played in his first All State Concert with it, after all. He practiced until he made first chair in his school band. This trumpet was not some ordinary trumpet- this trumpet was sentimental, it was his baby.

For the first time in his young life he had found something he loved and something he was really good at.

I knew that we did not have the means to replace it. If we did it wouldn’t be until months, or maybe a year until we could.

He looked at me and said, “What about the Drum Choir?” “What about summer Band Practice?” Then he just cried, and I just held him.

All I could do at the moment was call the police and clean that car! It was disgusting. So disgusting I don’t even feel right posting what the Son of a Bitch did to it!

It took every ounce of humility to start a Go-Fund me account so we could have a new trumpet in his hands by the end of the week. Not to mention that two of my loving co-workers brought in a trumpet to borrow until we could get it replaced.

The amount of support we received was overwhelming, and very heart warming.

I went home on that Monday and I couldn’t wait to show him the trumpets he could borrow, and how we will get him a new trumpet by the end of the week, as a lot of our family and friends donated.

This time, his face was not distraught, and there were no tears in his eyes. All he could do was look at me and say, “I found it.”

“What do you mean you found it.” I was confused.

“I guess my friend had it.”


“I don’t know!” He probably could see the red coming out of my ears.

” You don’t know?” I asked very, very calmly of course.

“I don’t remember putting it in his car, mom.”

“So your friend had it, and you don’t know how, and now you have it back?”

“Yup,” he answered very nonchalant.

A bit of awkward silence.

“As long as you have it back.” I said.

Then I sat down next to him, in that stinky room of his, and I said, “You know son, there are a lot of people who love you and support you.” He nodded.

My son is not one with a lot of words, but I could tell he was touched.

Since then, he has been here with me.

You guys! After all of that, I had to claim the “trumpet was recovered” and many people were so ecstatic and excited and asked how it was recovered. I didn’t want to talk about it. Life is hard and we sometimes do some really messed up stuff. And sometimes we forget where we put our valuables.

After all that, there was no climax to the story- no guns were fired, no late night stake outs, no interrogating suspects. Just a kid who forgot where he placed his trumpet.

Thank you to all who gave so generously and without any judgement. Love truly wins.

And Thank you Prozac and Wine! You help me deal with teenage boys!

Love Always

My Heart My Soul My Spirit

My heart like the sun

burns with love and warmth.

Gives life, gives hope, gives light,

when gone only darkness- but then

the moon reflects its beauty

My soul is the moon.

The New Moon hides as

I hide my soul- safe and closed

Then the stars shine more brightly

The stars are my spirit.

The sun rises, the sun shines high, the sun sets,

The moon reflects, waning away,

Stars remind me, the darker the sky, the brighter they shine.

I am made of stars, and the stars are made of me.

~ RoxyJaecks