“Within A Mile From Home”…#SoundtrackSunday

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I grew up in the Mountains of West Virginia. My hometown was just a blip on the map but it was warm and comfortable. I was raised in the arms of Mother Nature and the songs of my summers were rooted in my Irish heritage. In those days, I yearned for change. Instead of appreciation, I stared, in spite, at the steady streams and felt smothered by the hills. My hometown was so small and I felt so big. I, somehow, wanted to be more than the place I came from.

So, I traveled. With every new beginning, I became something more than myself but I never became something new. Instead, I found myself clinging more tightly to my everything I had run from. I searched for the faces of my hometown in the moon, stars and above. I listened for the sweet sounds of my grandmother singing; her Irish voice ringing clear in the wind.

The further I am from my beginnings, the harder I search for them. Eventually, it has become a reminder of everything I have lost…and gained. No matter where I go in life, or how many new beginnings I may have, I am always “Within A Mile of Home.”

The grittiness of my Irish Heritage, the soft blow of the mountain wind, and the rhythm of my Uncle’s guitar…these are all things that are so ingrained within my soul that they can never be removed. Yet, I have removed myself from them. In doing this, I have become a hybrid of the world. The rhythms of all the places I have been and every person I have loved adds to the foundation that was built during my childhood. I replace my bluegrass roots with the punk rock of my rebellious spirit. It’s the same rhythm but at a different pitch. I am the same soul but with a  different song. I’m “Within a Mile From Home” but still so far from it.

Flogging Molly is a perfect example of this…they are so traditionally Irish with a punk rock twist. It is impossible to limit their music to just one genre. Like me, they are hybrids of the world. Still, they remain true to their roots. I love this band, and this song because it reminds me that in all my twists and turns in life, that I am never far from being the person I was at the beginning…it reminds me to stay true to myself and never turn my back on the place from which I came….

“Don’t turn your back on me, don’t ever let me down.” 

I hope this is a promise that I always keep.

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Why I’m Glad That I’m Poor…

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For those of you who know me, this will come as no surprise but I just realized I am extremely poor. I’m not talking middle class America poor, either. I feed a family of 6 on $28 a day. That’s $4 per person. I can’t remember the last time I actually bought an item of clothing and it’s a miracle every month just to get the bills paid. I’m not sure, yet, why this is noteworthy enough for my blog but its what is weighing on my mind right now so I’ve decided to write about it.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a feel sorry for me, sob and give me pity post. I know how I got into this situation and I blame nobody else for it by my own self. I also want you to know that it’s not because I’m too lazy to work, either. My husband works…he’s gone most of the time, leaving me here at the house with 4 children (ages: 11, 4, 3 & 3). We are not a dual income family because daycare for my youngest three (who will all start school next year) is somewhere around $450 dollars a week. So, I stay home with them and we make it solely off his income.

It’s one of those things that doesn’t usually plague me, either. I suppose the reason is because I have spent most of my life being poor. I grew up poor and my dad busted his tail working for promotion after promotion until he raised us out of poverty. Maybe this is the reason why my financial standing isn’t even a present thought in my mind, most of the time.

It isn’t until I’m reminded how poor I am that it occurs to me. Usually, its when a friend asks me to meet her for lunch or go out to dinner. Then, my brain begins to calculate and I decide that I would have to go without toilet paper for a few weeks before I could actually afford to attend. Those are the moments that I actually feel poor.

Still, I decline by saying I don’t have a baby sitter or some other socially acceptable excuse. It’s not that I don’t want to admit to her that I don’t have the money, it’s just that people don’t like to hear how poor somebody else is. I mean, seriously, are you going to enjoy your $20 steak if you know a friend of yours is scraping change to buy toothpaste?

I’m telling you now that I genuinely don’t care that I’m poor. Money just isn’t that important to me. Not having teaches you not to want and so I don’t yearn for new things or worship shiny objects. In fact, there are a lot of reasons why I’m thankful for my poverty.

  • I can’t buy people’s respect, I actually have to earn it. For this, I have to be a genuinely good person.
  • I can’t buy my children’s love and I can’t spoil them. So, I know we will have a strong bond and they will learn to appreciate the things they have.
  • I can’t spoil myself, which helps keep me grounded and I find myself more satisfied with the things that I have
  • I will never forget where I came from because every time I can’t sign my kids up for a sport or activity, I imagine the look in my mother’s eyes when she couldn’t do the same.
  • Because of this, I appreciate the sacrifices my parents made for me.

Out of all the reasons why I’m glad to be poor, the most profound is the way it makes me view the world. I recognize need in others. Not just in a financial sense but in a soul-aching manner as well. In fact, I see more need in those with money than those without.

I truly feel that poverty is a soul building exercise. Poor people have to connect with people, not things. So when I see somebody decked out in designer clothes and diamonds, I peer beyond the outer layer and most of the time, (but not always), I see something missing within that person.

Like I said in the beginning, I didn’t really know where I was going with this. I hope you’ve gotten something out of reading it. Hell, I just hope you actually read it all. I will leave you with one final note. When somebody asks why I write, I hope I never tell them it’s for the money. That is why I am releasing the ebook version of my novel for under $5 in January. I write for my soul; because I feel the need to share stories. I write to be heard and I write because it’s the only thing that I’ve ever wanted to do.