pursuing the simple life.....life on my own terms

Monday, January 6, 2014

I've been giving a lot of thought lately about living life on my own terms. Sometimes I get a bit dizzy trying to rush around pleasing everyone instead of just living as I want to. Where do I want my feet to take me? 

My mom called me yesterday. She was a bit teary, which isn't like her. She has finally come to the realization that she hasn't handled her money well and she is afraid that she will run out. I have tried to talk to her for several years about this, but in her usual stubborn way she refused to discuss it. Now she wants my help. So this week I will be going over to help her find an elder attorney and to assist her in getting money from the VA. It seems I am the only one of my siblings she feels will help her with this. 

My mom has lived life on her own terms. She has spent money where she wanted. She has done exactly as she wanted, for better or worse. She was able to do that because she was left well provided for. Now that her money is running out she is eligible to apply for a monthly payment for widows of war veterans. I am so relieved that she has this cushion, but I think about my options and the options of many other women of my generation. 

I am a woman of the baby boomer generation. Like my mother, I spent much of my adult life raising my children. Unlike my mother I don't have the cushions she has. I was left alone when my husband became seriously mentally ill. I went back to school and did work for a period of time, but it was not enough to leave me with an adequate amount of social security. I know that I have to work to support myself and will probably have to work for the rest of my life.  

Jobs are scarce for everyone and especially so for those who are my age. It is against the law to discriminate due to age, but it is rampant and there is no way to prove it. So after sending out hundreds of resumes with no response, I started to sell vintage and antiques. It provides me with a small amount of extra income, but still not enough to support myself. 

Because of my severe degenerative arthritis and peripheral neuropathy an agency applied for disability for me during my last surgery. I was turned down because of my education. I was told that I could sit long enough to be a counselor. That is wonderful I said, but no one will hire me and I am not licensed. Not their problem I was told. They don't care about that. They are reconsidering, but it is doubtful it will be approved. 

How I envisioned my life would be at this point is not how it has turned out. I feel like I have lost control of it. I am not living life on my own terms. In reality I am living life on everyone else's terms. 

So how do I change this? How do I get to the point that I am living a simple life, a life that I choose, a life that isn't dictated by others, a life on my own terms. My goals are to be self supporting, to live in my own place, to take care of myself. That is what I am working on. 

I didn't insert a lot of pretty photos in this post, because it is a post about the realities of life. The realities that many of us face, and unfortunately it is not always a pretty picture. 

I am a fairly positive person. I get up each morning and thank the universe that I am still here. I am grateful to have a place to live, while there are so many others who don't. Yes, I am filled with gratitude for the things I do have, but I will still strive to live life on my own terms. 



  1. An excellent post. I hope you are able to help your mother and also help yourself. My thoughts and prayers are with you!

  2. Laura, It is so true. So many of us live life on the terms of someone else and not our true inner selves. Oh-to be completely free. I think back to the 70's and the hippy movement and think that maybe they had it :"right" in some ways. I was just too main stream to join them back then. lol

    My mother also ran out of money and ended up living with us-dying penniless. It was sad to watch. Her Social Security was pitiful. I think it was $238 a month back then. Growing up and living on a farm I think they assumed that the farm would provide for them for their lives-as it had for their parents and grandparents before them.

    Life can sure hand us some hard realities sometimes. My ex-sil is also going through the same thing. She should be able to collect disability because of her multiple health problems. However, she is educated AND, like you, no one will hire her because of her age and she is only in her late 50's. It is sad-just sad-what has happened to our baby boomer generation.

    Life to the fullest, Laura- xo Diana ps. This was a great post-

  3. Your life sounds similar to mine, Laura. I went back to school and got my degree after my divorce back in 1989. Never got a penny from my ex. Worked and supported myself and did build up a small retirement. My mom was very frugal and did not run out of money. So I inherited her house and a little money but I still worry about running out of money. I pray that you will find a job and that and your online business will be enough to support you. Wishing all the best for you!

  4. i appreciate the honesty of your post. and i do believe more of us face a very uncertain future in this country as the population ages, social security and healthcare benefits teeter.

  5. What an honest post. Your Mother is so lucky to have you as a daughter, Laura. Hope 2014 only brings the best things for you.

  6. Honey, I could have written this post myself. My dad would not let us touch his money and when my mother had to go in a nursing home, he almost lost it all because he wouldn't listen to me 5 years before. She had to go on medicaid and so the state got almost 1/2 of the estate after he died. I married 1978, the year of the recession. We lived as if the world was going to end tomorrow running up credit card debt. We borrowed money against my house to pay bills off so many times that our home is not worth what we owe. I told my husband last night, at 53, I'm beginning to worry about the debt my kids will have to deal with when we are gone. I think we just need to sell the house and get out what we can and rent. We have not lived extravagently, just foolishly and we have little to show for it. I am unable to find a job. I was turned down for two jobs recently because these were their words, "we had a 30 year old who applied and we have to think about who will be an investment to the company." When it's between a 30 year old who has the qualifications of a 50 year old, it's hands down! No fair! I understand.

    I am bipolar, diagnosed crazy, but I think I'm just an up and down kind of fun person:) I too have lived my life for everyone else and I'm tired of it. I am changing:) I have the best therapist and I tell everyone, find out who you are and you will be happier and a better person.


  7. Laura, I too find my self in a life style I did not predict! My Social Security income is very low but with the help of family I am able to live a very frugal life style. I worry about money but know it does me no good. Health wise I am lucky so far, but I'm one big illness away from disaster! So I understand how you feel. I'm so glad you are blogging about your journey as you are so right, you are not alone!!

  8. Well, Laura, there are no pretty pictures to post with this blog. You, once again, made the right decision; as I know you will about the choices you make for your future. Life is good, but it is just hard. Take good care, my friend. Keep inspiring those of us who look to you for serenity, guidance and, of course, your unlimited hugs. They come back to to you, you know.

  9. Such a great, though provoking post, Laura. I really do hope the future brings nothing but good to you.

  10. I do hope things get worked out for your mom and for you. Life is difficult. There is just no way around that.

  11. I appreciate your sharing and your honesty, Laura. Reading the other comments really opened my eyes up to how people really do struggle in our unsteady world. I pray you will figure things out with your mother and that you might find a steady job that will supply your needs. All the best to you!

  12. Laura...this really makes me sad. Getting by is such a struggle for all of us. My son and daughter and their spouses recently bought homes. My son had to change jobs and his wife lost hers. My daughter and her husband were not expecting all the expenses beyond the house payment. They can't start families because of this. It's sad to think they looked forward to becoming independent adults and this is what they get.

    If it weren't for my money savvy husband, we would be in the poorhouse. I'm not one to look ahead and he guides us. He's 7 years older then me and constantly worries about me being provided for should he go before me. He's made sound investments over the years and has always looked to the future. I am truly blessed.

    I'm just wondering, when it was suggested that you go in to counseling for a living, you mentioned you weren't licensed. Have you checked into what that involves? Maybe of course you just aren't interested in that sort of thing. And I am also wondering about the positions you applied for. My husband has his own business and avoids hiring younger women as they usually leave once they start having children. Most of his female workers are in their 40's on up and quite loyal. On interviews, you might try tooting your horn on dependability as opposed to longevity, which is rare.

    Hope you don't mind my two cents. Best wishes to you and your mother.


  13. hi Laura, What a real, important subject. So many people are struggling...some by their own doing, some not. So much has changed, so quickly. I pray for you that God will help and guide you...you are not alone in this. Blessings~~~Roxie

  14. Hugs. After over 2 years, I've given up hope of finding a decent full-time job (age 60) after my position was eliminated. A person can only take so much rejection. I'm afraid I'd slap the next person who told me I was "overqualified." So I juggle, juggle, juggle part-time gigs -- occasional free-lance research for my brother (bless his soul), seasonal tax prep work, and 2 Etsy shops. Daily bread. No cushion. Too young for Social Security. Too old to be employable. I grew up poor, so I do know how to scrimp and save, and I am grateful to have a warm house and a car that runs and seasonal work. But this is NOT where I expected to be. I got good grades. Worked hard. Paid my dues....for what?

  15. That was a well written post. And I must say I admire you.

  16. I know exactly how you feel! Life surely hasn't turned out like I thought it would either, but I bet it hasn't for about 99.9% of the population. I'm very thankful for all the Lord has provided, but I too, feel like most of my life is spent taking care of everything and everyone else. I had to learn to accept my given role, and make peace with the parts of it I disliked so much. Once I finally reached the point of acceptance, it has been very humbling. I have started seeing how much it means to the ones I "work" for. The little bits of my life that I can control, I try to make as good as I can.
    I wish you well, sweet lady. I hope you have many happy surprises along your path.

  17. I think a lot of us can relate to the thoughts that "this is not what we planned when we were younger". Life is constantly throwing us curveballs. You have a healthy attitude and being honest is part of that. My Mom was left with very little income when I was younger. I look back now and realize how much she sacrificed for me. So now I am trying to pay her back in my own way.
    I hope 2014 is a great year for you and your Mom.

  18. You have some beautiful pieces on your etsy site. I hope everyone who reads your blog goes to have a look. Are you allowed to display it on your blog?


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