Sunday, January 09, 2011

“A small group of thoughtful committed citizens…”

“A small group of thoughtful committed citizens…”

December 21st, 2010
Health, Life on life's terms..., Things that happen., holiday

I’ve led an incredibly lucky and charmed life. Some of you who know me and know the obstacles I’ve faced in the past might question that logic, but it’s really true. I became seriously ill and remained that way through 2005-06, and I needed serious help. And I got it! I got every little thing I really needed, and I’ve realized that every day I get what I need, whether I am aware of it or not. At that time, there was a miraculous outpouring of love from my local community, organized by dear friends, acted on by many acquaintances, and made even more amazing by the generous help from complete strangers. I consider myself blessed to have faced such a challenge and then been given the incredible gift of living to appreciate it and recognize it for the message that it was: What comes around, goes around.

Fast forward to now… I was laid off more than a year ago, have been taking college pre-requisites to apply for nursing school, and honestly have no idea if I’m going to ever get another unemployment payment or not, I’m so confused about the politics right now. But we are happy and healthy, we ( my 3-year old daughter and I) have a remarkable support system, I’ve proven to myself that I can go back to college and succeed, and things have been rolling along surprisingly well. Then December came… I hit the streets with resumes and high hopes, and still nothing. I finished the semester and passed Anatomy (no small feat) but now I need a job, and health insurance, pronto. I’ve fallen behind on rent, my health insurance may lapse at the end of December, and frankly it’s been a bit depressing to think of the upcoming holiday season, our first one without my grandmother, who died in October. I have $11.00 in my checking account, no idea what’s up with Unemployment, and nary a job interview scheduled. I know, whaaaaa. I’m sick of hearing myself talk about it, too. At least you can close the web page and move on… I have this crazy voice in my head reminding me every few minutes that DOOM and GLOOM are impending! The sky is falling!

But after the incredible luck I had a few years ago, the gifts I’ve received in the ensuing years (sobriety, spirituality, motherhood) I would not, could not, hope that I would get out of this mess unscathed. And it’s really tough to feel the Christmas/Universal light/Solstice/Festivus magic when I can’t stop my brain from reminding me how awful things are, and I need to Fix. It. Now.

So I when I saw a link posted by a friend to a blogger that she recommended, I went there to read it and distract myself from my own craziness. And it was amazing. See, this nice lady blogged that she wanted to do something to help others out. And if 20 single moms that needed a little bit of help would write to her, she’s send them each a $30 gift certificate. I thought that was a really nice thing to do. But then (cue music: “How the Grinch Stole Christmas: Fah who for-aze Dah who dor-aze Welcome Christmas, Christmas Day.) more people wrote into the Bloggess’ comments and asked if they could help… “I’ll give out the 21st gift card request you receive; $30 at Amazon. Just give me the email information and I’ll send it along. Happy Holidays everyone.” The Bloggess’ tagline says “Like Mother Teresa, only better.” If Mother Teresa had blogged… or tweeted….SO anyway.

The Bloggess then posted that many people had offered to help, and she would match people with donors over the weekend. What happened next was astounding, and I’m just waiting to see The Bloggess on Oprah. As of tonight, Tuesday, there have been almost 1500 comments on that one blog entry, some people asking for help, some offering help. The Bloggess’ site did not crash, she did not sleep, but she matched the hell out of some donors/donees. Is that a word?

An article about this happy accident published today on The Washington Post blog website said that over $22,000 (now updated to $40,000)  had been given away to people who wrote in and asked for help. I believe that amount may have been completely underestimated, as many people were contacting each other without going through The Bloggess as well. I know this because on Friday night I took a deep breath and wrote a comment asking for a little help, leaving my email address as well. Within 10 minutes the Bloggess herself posted money to my Paypal account. Later I received an email from a woman who said she felt strongly that she should help me, and so was offering her support as well. I imagine other people felt they could contact people directly without adding to the Bloggess’ growing job of matching people up.

So the Christmas angel who contacted me hails from the south, and we’ve written back and forth a few times. Today I opened my email to find a message from Paypal telling me that I had received a completely unexpected amount of money from this person. A complete stranger!!! She said she just felt she was supposed to help ME. Isn’t that crazy? Really, we’ve emailed… she does not seem crazy at all other than her spontaneous generosity to a single mom, as she had also been a single mom in the past. In her letter she also asks if I need any clothes for Grace and what do I want for Christmas? Amazing. I can’t wait until Grace is old enough to understand this story when I tell it to her, and that she’ll grow up understanding that giving is just what we DO, whether it’s Christmas or any other time of year. We all have something…time, resources, attention, or kindness to give.

Regardless of the amount of money that was exchanged through the entire miraculous weekend, being “a part of” something so extraordinary has been a beautiful thing. It gives me hope and it’s a vote of confidence that things will not always be this way. Grace and I are destined to have a fabulous and secure future ahead of us. What comes around goes around, and I will be able to do something amazing for someone else, and it will be very soon. I can’t wait.

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"I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time . Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult." --E.B. White