My Uncle Herschel (one of my mother’s twin brothers) was always there for me when our family moved back to Laurens, South Carolina the year I started high school. He was not much of a talker but when he gave you his undivided attention…you best listen…because the advice was always worth remembering.
I had graduated from Erskine College and was about to start my first year teaching…Brooke and I had gotten an apartment in Charleston… knowing finances would be tight…but we were still gloriously excited about the freedom of our first year teaching… and bringing home a paycheck! (We were also innocently ignorant of just how little we would have to live off of those first couple of years.)
I remember Uncle Herschel telling me before I pulled out of the driveway heading to Charleston: “There are two ways to be rich, Becky….earn more or want less.”
(Uncle Herschel was a very wise man.) But at the time I remember shaking my head on the long trip to Charleston…wondering what in the world did Uncle Herschel mean by that…was it supposed to be some kind of riddle?
The reality of the difficulty of living on a first year teacher’s salary became evident quite quickly.
In fact I spent most of my working life living from paycheck to paycheck as a single mom with three children… and I always wanted (not to be rich) but to have just enough to be able to pay the bills, have some money tucked away for the “rainy days” and, most importantly, safeguard a small, secret “stash” for spontaneous adventures that make one’s soul grow and and body/mind feel completely uplifted. *Most of my adventures were in creatively trying to figure out how to get three children through college. 🙂
That dream is closer now than it ever was previously…even with the pandemic…in fact probably because of it since I am spending less each month. Who would have “thunk it?” Living off social security and state retirement….more money comes in now than when I was teaching or working as an administrator.
Several past occurrences followed suit to bring about this gratifying phenomenon.
First…..I must thank Pat Bower and the rest of the educational staff at CSU (Charleston Southern University) for sitting me down and explaining why it was so important for me to get my Masters (which ended up as a Masters + 30 for all the renewal credits I had earned over so many years.) A real financial “leap of faith” that paid off, big time, in retirement dividends.
Second… I left the classroom the last four years of my career and took a 10 month administrative job that paid more for more time.
Third….As a retired state employee I got (and get) the best health plan in the world. Believe me…I know because the cancer medicines keeping me keeping on are in the thousands of dollars monthly. I pay only a very small fraction. I know how lucky I am and how gratified I am to have finally landed where I am today.
Fourth: “Little c” (breast cancer) came along and eventually provided me with a disability social security pension that was higher than what I would have ever gotten normally. I figured the prognosis the team of doctors wrote to them must have looked pretty dim because I got my first check six weeks after applying….no fanfare or lawyers or anything…just a check appeared in the mail.
SS must have “assumed” from the prognosis that they wouldn’t be out much money for very long. (I think God smiles with me each month when my social security check arrives!)
In retrospect…every time it looked like a financial disaster was about to crash down on my head and I could potentially lose it all….something or Someone always happened along to prevent this from occurring. God was holding my hand back then too. He helped me sidestep every possible, hidden explosive on the field of life’s possibilities.
And that is my prayer for all the small business owners and restaurant owners trying desperately not to lose their businesses that have taken a lifetime to build. Hold God’s Hand tightly!
So today “less is best.” A pink ribbon jar of flowers from my garden brings on the same smile that a bouquet of flowers used to cost me at the store or florist.
I now understand what Uncle Herschel was trying to tell me…that the best things in life, like love and hugs, are free and worth more than all the gold in the world.
Beauty also sets us free to enjoy nature in our own back yards and gardens! Priceless!
***Happiness is priceless too and it arrived yesterday with a ‘number roll’ that made me smile on my blog post.
In case you can’t see the number of followers…the number turned over yesterday to 1,100 followers and Thursday another numeral surprise will appear! 🙂 🙂 🙂