Posts Tagged With: do it yourself

Where Were All the Single Ladies?

It’s been a while since my last post, and although a lot has happened since moving into the new house it’s mostly variations on a theme. It’s the same DIY theme that seems to be the vein of ore in my life. As I discussed in the last post I’ve had some great examples for how and why to thrive on self-reliance. Over the last year (and especially in the last few months), the thought has turned to “Why the hell don’t I have any role models for this?”

 

One long, enlightened weekend with Ms Annie in Minnie, we actually said at one point that we wished that as young girls we’d had examples of the independent women we’d grow into. How many examples did we have of women who were satisfied with themselves and their lives without it having to center around kids, or a relationship? The key to happiness is following your passion. Marriage and family can be important and fulfilling, but so can a career, hobbies, and friendship.

 
 

As an adult I’ve had more and more examples of women who are happily self-reliant, ambitious, and good people. As a kid, though, I couldn’t think of any major role models I had who fit this model. Certainly none of my aunts or other older immediate family members  qualified. Even though my aunt went back to school to become a successful nurse and did all right after her divorce, a lot of unhealthy things followed. The next closest example was my cousin Teeny, who worked in a large city for a major corporation and was responsible enough to buy her own house and pay off her school debt. Unfortunately, she’s also a raging alcoholic.

 

So while my mom’s family would be best described as an episode of COPS set in backwoods Appalachia, she did end up having two female friends who were great role models for independence, ambition, and happiness. Despite having lots of strong female friends, most of these women were in abusive relationships, had drug/alcohol problems, couldn’t keep their work life together. (Is that a nice way to say it?) She did have other friends who didn’t have these issues, but I never knew them enough to tell you anything about them now. One woman was a lawyer, I guess she’s survived cancer now? Another one was a professor? Clearly you can tell the impact they had on my life.

 
 

That leaves us with her first best friend Steph, and her now best friend Sassy. (You’ll be happy to know that Sassy is the one who taught Lil Pirate and Lil Bro the proper uses of the word “fuck”.)

 
 

Steph is married, has kids my and my brother’s ages, and used to work with my mom. She’s intelligent, hard-working, responsible, and takes good care of her family. If a kid needed a positive influence for their work life, how to make decisions about money, difficult family situations, or life in general Steph was a good person to know. Nobody’s perfect, but she had a significant impact in our lives.

 
 

Sassy is around 7-10 years older than me, and she became besties with my mom when she went back to college. Lil Bro and I were still young and impressionable and Mom had a lot of friends who were young, intelligent, hard-working, and kind. As time went on people moved on to other cities for jobs, sunk into drugs or alcohol, or else just drifted away. There was a short time where Sassy had a boyfriend, but I distinctly remember her breaking up with him because he was an idiot. We never knew if Sassy was usually single because she has a disability, but it turns out that it really doesn’t matter.

She doesn’t have any high-powered job, she’ll never be a supermodel, and she’ll never have kids of her own. Sassy’s financially independent, takes care of her health problem, is a doting aunt to her nieces and nephews, and stands up for herself.

 
 

These are the only two women I knew who weren’t stuck in a relationship because it was abusive or they couldn’t support themselves, didn’t have drug or alcohol problems, had jobs they were good at and were leading to fulfilling careers, and supported their friends, family, and community. Maybe that’s a long list of requirements. It’s also a long list of unhappy trappings if it’s not what you want.

 

And that was it, until I was in my early 20s.

 

I know I’ll be a trailblazer, if that wasn’t how I was born then it’s an old habit now that will be hard to break. I’ve come to terms with the confusion and the difficulty figuring out what was important to me as a younger adult and I know I’m stronger for it. Resisting following the crowd was hard, because even though money, relationships, family were things I wanted, they weren’t what was right for me at the time. Thinking about future versions of Lil Pirates, I always wonder why the message can’t be “Follow your passion” instead of “School, Job, Marriage, Family”.

 
 

This isn’t an issue only for girls, either. Young boys grow up with these examples of what women will or should be, and if we don’t think to treat people as individuals on their own merits, we run into a very unhappy world.

Of course, that’s a lesson that is greater than gender.

Kids learn by bad examples, so this isn’t a lost cause if people aren’t perfect. But if people don’t have any accessible, real-life examples of being happy and successful doing something different, they might not realise they can be strong instead of sinking into following the crowd even if it makes them unhappy.

Categories: childhood, family, friends, life lessons, reflection, Workaholic | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

House Insanity – I Got This

Moving is always an adventure, and when coupled with buying your first house, you realize what stuff you’re made of. While I’ve had plenty of essential help and advice from Miss J and a few other friends, it became clear to me that my parents taught me two incredibly important lessons that are making this entire endeavor possible. If you’re a regular reader of my blog you may have an idea that most of the lessons I learned from my parents were typically why or how NOT to do something, but these two lessons about independence I actually learned vividly by example.

 

My mom and dad are two very different people, but what they do have in common is determination. Big surprise that their offspring are doubly stubborn and determined then, but even more important were their lessons in getting things done.

 

My dad likes to learn new things, and if there’s a hobby he wants to pick up or trade he wants to try, he’ll find a way to learn. I remember him going to the library for books and videos about plumbing, how to build a deck, trapping, how to build a compost pile, all before the internet. Even though I learn by doing more so than by reading a book, my dad set the example that there’s nothing you can’t do if you’re willing to learn. He remodeled the house we moved into in the early ’90s and built the deck out front. 20 years later it’s all still there and in much better condition than the neighboring houses.

Thanks to my dad’s example I’ve learned a variety of skills and hobbies – from teaching myself new instruments, to working on cars, to the fabulous world of personal finance. The only obstacle to whatever it is you want to do is not being willing to find a teaching resource and try your hand. Even if you can’t do something professionally (like rebuild your engine), learning about the task at hand makes it easier to find someone who IS capable of doing it for you.

 

My mother taught me a similar lesson, but more importantly I learned that there’s nothing I can’t do by myself. Ignore the fact that I’m a woman for a second. If there’s something that needs to be done, if I can find a way to learn how to do it, I can do it and I can do it by myself. As a single parent I watched her repair furniture, get her truck out of the ditch, basically accomplish anything that needed to be done simply because there was no one else around to help her. What was a necessity for her has now become a luxury for me.

Yes, Miss J kindly helped me pack up the car and the moving truck and I called the Little Mermaid to help me move the table, but when Miss J hurt her ankle I was able to pick up and carry on by myself. Little Mermaid was very kind and helped me move everything  out of the moving truck and into the house, but I put everything except the table in there on my own. I’ve put all the furniture together, repaired the table, and figured out everything else in the house. I don’t need to rely on having to call someone, do without, or otherwise feel insecure because I’m on my own.

 

I got this.

 

Having a house is a nice feeling – I finally feel like I’m home. It’s even better knowing that, no matter what kind of trouble comes, I’ll be able to handle it. Whether it’s installing a ceiling fan or hiring a qualified electrician I know I’m capable of getting it done right. All thanks to my crazy stubborn parents.

Categories: family, getting old, hobbies, house insanity, reflection | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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