Ava Grace's Closet: On Being Thankful

Monday, July 23, 2012

On Being Thankful

I contemplated at length whether or not to share these thoughts.
But this is what is on my heart right now. 

I didn't truly acknowledge how badly the U.S. economy was hurt and more importantly, the people were hurt until I arrived in South Florida this year.
Not at first.
At first, everything seemed pretty normal. 
People were happy, stores seemed to be thriving, the wealthy are still wealthy and still living in their Palm Beach mansions. 
But then, I went to Walmart.

I stopped in alone one afternoon to pick up a few items just like I would have back home.
As I wandered through the aisles looking for juice and throwing far too much chocolate into the cart, I noticed a couple chatting.
They weren't but a few feet from me talking about whether to buy the standard size apple juice or the larger one. They went back and forth about how many servings there were, how much it cost. The woman kept consulting a list while the man typed away on a calculator.
I bought the same juice. 
It was $2.00 

Know that I am very mindful of prices when I'm grocery shopping. 
But this, this was something I never had to do.
Contemplate a single purchase at length and worry about how it would affect the rest of my month financially?
I left the store but couldn't stop thinking about them.
I actually felt guilty about picking things up off the shelves and just throwing them in my cart without a thought.
I wondered if they had watched me. I really did.
And I wondered how tight it must be for them to be discussing each purchase.
It must be really tight.
I felt thankful driving home.
Thankful that I could buy what I needed without much thought.
Thankful that I was on an extended vacation with my children.
Thankful that things were not this bad back home.
I started paying more attention.
SEEING the trailer parks hidden behind pretty palm trees just seconds away from beautiful gated communities.
SEEING the 75+ year old man bagging groceries to make ends meet even though he should and deserves to be retired.
SEEING the number of people begging on street corners, in parking lots. A former veteran in at least one case.
I don't know their stories or what brought them to where they are today but whatever it is, it's just not right.

I think we all think, it will never happen to us.

I read two separate stories on two of my favorite blogs this week. Both by strong women who are working and independent and smart and good.
Both who are struggling with financial hardship.
I encourage you to read their stories HERE and HERE.

How to help? Where to start?
I am not sure.
For today, I am more aware. And  I won't look away. And I will try to do more.
That's all.

23 comments :

  1. I can feel your post because I'm one who is at the store with a calculator. Things have been really tight! I'm also weel aware that there are many others who have it far worse---it is hard to know what to do-sometimes just a smile can help

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  2. My husband and I are looking to buy a home right now and I am continually saddened as I visit foreclosure after foreclosure where I see stickers on children's windows with the princesses names or little boys truck stickers on walls. It always makes me think that this family lived and loved here and lost it. It has made trying to buy a house a very sad experience indeed.
    We should always be grateful for what we have. Thanks for sharing your feelings.
    http://www.practicallyperfectprincess.com/

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  3. I love you. Thank you for being a kind, open, sensitive, intelligent woman:)

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    1. Not as much as I love you sweet friend! Thinking of you as you might be able to tell.

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  4. What a great post Susan. It has been tighter for us, and I find myself being more mindful of my spending than I have been in the past. But, I am very grateful that I can buy and feed my children the things they need and want. The tighter budgets have reminded me of when I was first starting out and watched every penny and always made things stretch, as things got more comfortable I have forgotten the skill in making money stretch and want to remember and not forget as things start to ease up again. I have always found the best way to feel rich is to count my blessings and focus on all I have.

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  5. We went from a 2-income home to a 1-income home when my son was diagnosed with all of this chronic health issues, and we had to go on State health care. We also had to apply for food stamps, and we are in one of the lowest income brackets. People don't know, and I don't tell anyone (um, other than online, apparently), because I hear snide comments and hateful things all the time about people "taking" from the government and how they "hate paying for 'those people' who are lazy and won't get a job." Like you pointed out: Don't Judge! You have no idea what individual battles people are going through.

    Great post!

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  6. I am definitely thankful for having the opportunity to be able to afford to take this year at home with my daughter and being able to buy what we want at the grocery store without too much thought. It is hard to see the seniors struggling to afford their groceries. Those that can should help where they can. We like to make regular contributions to our local food bank.

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  7. Such an excellent reminder. Years ago when my husband and I had very little money and used our cardboard boxes for end tables, I remember saying to him how I had never felt so thankful for the little things as I did then. Sometimes, the less you have, the more you have to cherish. Thank you for reminding me to be thankful today.

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  8. How sad :( Thank you for reminding all of us to be thankful and to reach out to those in need. It's so true that we never know what others might be going through until we've walked in their shoes.

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  9. It has been really tough, generally, here in the states for the past few years, though my family has been blessed with a stable income. My son (15) is quite saddened when he sees people begging. We have taken to keeping a box of granola bars in the glove box to give to them as we pass by.

    That's the other side of the story -- seeing the younger generation (what some are calling the "Now Generation") give their time to serve is priceless. There's a new sense of responsibility rising up in 15-24 year olds. They stand for something. They don't tolerate complaining about "1st world problems" like, "I need a new iPod." They stand for helping third world problems like, "I need dinner -- let's start with the one I didn't get last week and catch up from there." If America's Now Generation keeps it up, we will return to our strong ways.

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    1. Karen I love the granola bar idea. I always struggle with the thought of giving money to someone who may use it to fund an addiction. This would be a great way to help. Brilliant.

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  10. This post is so insightful. It really touched me. I see a lot of the same things here. There is so much wealth in Southern California, but there are now homeless people standing on corners where you would never have seen them standing 10 years ago. I too feel heartbreak when I see 70 plus year olds working. They deserve a break. Thanks for reminding me to be thankful today.

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    1. Thanks Katie. I think the toughest thing for me is seeing how ridiculously wealthy some are while others are suffering so much. It just doesn't seem right.

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  11. I was reading this post and thinking I too am so guilty about throwing things aimlessly into my cart without looking at cost. We aren't made of money either, on the contrary with two little ones now, but I have never been one to look at prices.
    Now, as I start my own family after years of wandering in far off and exotic lands, living life as an "it" girl for awhile, I am becoming more conscious about budgeting but I am more and more reminded of how blessed I truly am!

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  12. Hi Susan, That was very well written and said. I could not agree with you more and each day Jamie and I make an effort to give to one person..whether that be a cup of coffee or even a loaf of bread, I cant ignore things like what you saw...I actually can make my siblings go red when I go out of my way to help someone...I cant help it..its my nature to give. We are fortunate to live where we live and that I am able to stay home with our son..I am grateful everyday that I can... check out this you tube beauty guru...his name is Gregory - he goes by the name gregorygorgeous on youtube... I was at first intringed by this gentlemen in *drag* and how confident he ways or how he presented himself - UNTIL i watched this video...it totally sums up his attitude towards people - life - and the fact that HE does live a privilaged lifestyle...I was ashamed that I ever thought this boy was a role model for young teens that were afraid to come out of the closet

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPja0SC1q4Y

    you will see my post under superhadees - I just could not keep my mouth shut on this video...

    warning he does go quite graphic on his shear laziness ...its terrible...

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  13. What a lovely post friend! It is so important to show and teach our children this! To give thanks for the blessings we have in life :)

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  14. This is so beautiful, and I'm glad you decided to share from your heart. It's easy to miss it when it's not you - but there are a lot of people hurting out there. I pray my children will have compassionate hearts, and truly SEE those around them.

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  15. Dearest Susan,

    Being THANKFUL is a must; it is one of life's secrets for being happy. Pieter learned a hard lesson early on when he still was a boy. His family lost ALL; house destroyed by war, greenhouses shattered and for weeks on end they had to collect the glass shards. Than start all over from scratch. By hard work, being honest and saving first before ever buying something he lived a disciplined life. I'm raised the very same way as my family had tough times making ends meet in the 50s. After the war there was lots of poverty, nobody had anything. But I managed and used my hands to make things myself and always lived frugal. And yes, like you did in Florida, if not for the sake of those designer outlets I could not dress the way I do. But I keep things and don't trash it for new things. No way! For that, we've seen too much REAL hunger and poverty in India, in Indonesia, in Mexico... you name it. So much that we had to turn the TV commercials off after coming back home and viewing the Cat's Gourmet food. It made us almost puke. What a contrasting world. Let's hope that the young generation will appreciate life as they know it now and understand that it is not always like that, nor is it guaranteed to last...
    If we all spend our money wisely and lift up those around us that need a helping hand, we perform miracles!
    We are still all blessed, even during hard times. I did jump at the news that my health insurance will be lowered next month after the 200% increase since I became paralyzed. But we made it, by being frugal!
    Love to you and may the good memories of your family time on the beach last for a long time.
    Mariette

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  16. This is the best post I've read today-- its moving that someone still has that passion about other people-- I am also one of those people pinching pennies in the grocery store and scoping sales and coupons to make things just a little cheaper for my family of six. Awesome post-- sharing if you don't mind

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  17. I haven't worked in over a year so money is tight with us as well. We're comfortable but we can't go around spending things just because. But we are still extremely blessed.
    Sometimes we need to run into people like tha tto make us realize how lucky we are and to be thankful of what we have. xo

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  18. A wonderful reminder to us all.

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  19. Dearest Susan... you are beautiful outside and inside. This post a great reminder of all that we should be thankful for and that people all over the world are facing many difficulties (often in our own back yard).
    Hugs to you my friend, xo C. (HHL)

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I love reading every last one. Thanks so much for stopping by our little blog. xo.

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