Welfare

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I write a lot about how little money we live on. But it occurred to me the other day I have never really touched on the subject of welfare, and I began to wonder how many folks think we’re only able to live this way because we rely on it.

So I wanted to make this unequivocal statement:

Noel and I do not take any form of welfare whatsoever.

It’s not that we are too proud to ask for assistance, or that we think getting help when you need it is wrong. We’ve asked for and gotten help in the past (though never from the government).

The government programs are broken, there are too many abuses of the system. I’ve seen too many folks using their EBT cards to buy food, then immediately turning around to purchase expensive clothing, booze or cigarettes with cash.

It has long been our goal to learn to live well on very little income, but one of the primary requirements in that journey has been to do it on our own two feet. And — thank God — we are.

Life update 2010

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I cannot adequately describe the utter, over-riding joy I feel in regards to life right now. My Beloved and I have long been working at having a specific kind of life, and I believe we really are there. Not almost there — there!

I’ve been thinking about our recent past tonight and I thought I’d jot down some notes.

We came to Missouri in 2003. I got a job at the daily paper as an “editorial assistant” (translation: do everything guy). In 2004 we bought a house in a tiny rural village about 8 miles outside of town. And we were mostly happy, we were on the road to the life we wanted.

In 2005 I decided I wanted to pursue photography more than I had been. I planned on getting an old film camera or two and make photographs for myself (much like I’m doing now).  But … two weeks after I’d made that decision, the daily paper in Independence, KS, called me up and offered me their head photographer position.

And I took it. And it was one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made. The day we moved there I turned to Noel and told her we’d made a mistake. I was never truly happy there. It ate at me. And it led me to make many more mistakes.

Even now, a year-and-a-half later, I can’t put my finger on exactly why I was so unhappy there. All I know is that I was deeply unhappy, and it drove me crazy.

In 2008 I quit the paper there. I enrolled in a college class, took a job at the Walgreens. Neither lasted long. Got a job at the public library. I was the janitor, it was one of the greatest jobs I’ve ever had. Still wasn’t happy. And my life was falling apart around me.

Then in 2009 we finished paying off the property in Missouri. In July we sold or gave away almost every single possession and left Kansas. It was crazy and drastic, it was foolhardy, stupid even. And it was the second best thing I’ve ever done in my life (the first was marrying my Beloved, which coincidentally was also stupid, foolhardy, drastic and crazy).

When we made the jump, everyone warned I’d never find a job. In three weeks time I had three jobs and was turning others down. There will always be work for folks who want to work.

From July until early fall we lived in a tent in our backyard — the house has been uninhabitable for a while now — until we found the fifth wheel camper we live in now.

The first day back I felt what I’d been missing all those years in Kansas … peace.

This past year hasn’t been easy by any means. Last winter I was subbing on the school bus and working 30+ hours at WalMart, I was never caught up on my sleep. We were constantly behind on the bills. But I never doubted I had made the right choice and we were on the right path.

Now here we are at the end of 2010. I have my own regular school bus route. I have a good part-time job which dovetails with the bus driving perfectly.

The majority of my time is my time. All the bills are paid. My Beloved and I get to do just about everything together. I can pursue my photography at my own pace in my own way. I’m relearning to play guitar. We are slowly tearing the old house down and looking at plans of what we want to build in the future. We’re getting ready to plant a garden this spring. I’m thinking about a small chicken house.

I am over-flowing with peace, love and joy!

Life is GOOD!

Oh, as an aside … when we left Kansas. Our original plan was to head back to Florida and follow the tourist trade around working where ever we could. Eventually living aboard a boat again. I’m not really sure what that was all about. When we got to Missouri, I was getting job offers. We realized we had the property here free and clear. So we just stayed here. I don’t regret it.

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