Poor Is An Attitude, Not a State of Being

HTML clipboardhappyI owe a lot of my positive attitude to my aunt. She is a kind of person who can take a simple shirt-waist dress, throw on a fancy belt, a few accessories and trot off to the governor’s mansion for lunch.

Her talents does’nt stop there. She has this knack for decorating. She could take the simplest piece of second-hand furniture and turn it into a unique addition to her home which could be featured in House Beautiful. She always said, “it’s not what you have, it’s how you put it together.”

She and my uncle started just like all of us. They bought a little Dairy Queen, the kind you stand outside to order from back when I was just a Kid and an entire bag of fries only cost a quarter. Before that he was a mailman. This was in the 1950’s.  Despite these simple beginnings, there was always something special there.  It was her attitude. She did not consider herself poor, nor did she allow the humble beginnings too get in the way of her dreams.

My mother always taught me that poor is an attitude, not a state of being. If you think you are poor, you will be poor. While I was married to my Ex-husband we had little money. Our furniture was used. We bought a lot of our pieces at garage sales and flea markets. To this day I still enjoy rummaging through junk stores for that special find.

One day our landlord came to fix a leaky faucet. He turned to me and commented, “You have some nice furniture.” I was shocked. It was just the same old stuff I had lived with during my marriage. Nothing special. Nothing fancy. Much of it worn and very used. But I began to look at it through his eyes. I noticed how well I had arranged it. I had used potted plants to fill the bare spots. Since I loved to collect things,  there were a lot of special finds sitting throughout the house. My walls were filled with pictures, mementos and decorations I had picked up for pennies during my search for trinkets to beautify my surroundings. It seemed that my entire life was displayed on my walls.

I stood back and looked at a living room that was indeed, a reflection of my own personality. I had put myself into this room, adding a warmth, a coziness, a burst of excitement, a glow of happiness, a flash of color that reflected me. I had turned my simple, drab, surroundings into a home that was more than just a house. It was a reflection of the lives of the people who lived there. I liked the look. I liked how I appeared to others. I looked at myself a lot differently after that.

When I finally left the marriage after 22 years, I took those bits of me from the walls. When I was gone, the house looked empty, even though the furniture was still there. I had taken me out of the house and with that I had taken the warmth, the love, the specialness of me. Even though I was starting over with very little; my suit cases, a bus ticket and a few personal pieces of the bits of decoration I had brought to the home, I was not poor by any means. I had my pride, my self respect, my dignity, my memories, the love of my children, my friends, and my talents and skills, to see me through. I was rich beyond belief.

The point of this is: If you think poor, you will be poor. Just because you have little money doesn’t mean you have to act, look, and be poor. It is all in your attitude. You can refuse to dress poor. You can buy a few nice pieces of clothing and take good care of them. You can arrange your furniture and your accessories in ways that enhance the look of your home. You can make an effort.

Flea markets and garage sales are wonderful places to find small, inexpensive items that will add to your decor. Unusual containers make wonderful pots for plants. A cracked water pitcher, an unusual vase, a unique basket will accent a table or a wall. There are endless ways to create a beautiful home with very little money. I did not allow my disadvantages to become disadvantages. I chose to rise above and refuse to let anyone dictate how I felt about myself or my life. And I refused to allow my family to be disadvantaged. I always told my children, “We are no better than anyone else, but know one is any better than we are.

People have always marveled at my approach when confronted by those with power and money. I do not feel intimidated by them. I know my worth, my value, and that I have much to bring to this world. I back down to know one. They are just people, after all. And, we each bring our wealth of talents and skills to whatever projects or endeavors we become involved in.

Before leaving my marriage I had experienced the adventures of going back to college at age 44. I was attending classes with young men and women who had gone to school with my own children. I took a business course for those who wanted to start their own businesses. It was an Associate degree course which included everything from book keeping to management. That course opened my eyes and opened doors for me. Until then I had been raised in a blue collar household and had a blue collar life. I never dreamed that there was another world out there. Suddenly I was dealing with businessmen, mayors, doctor’s wives, all the movers and shakers in the community. Suddenly I was my professor’s personal assistant, learning marketing and working in non profit community fundraisers. I saw an entire world that had been impossible before college. I knew I could not settle for less. With my professor’s guidance I even started my own business until the divorce. But the things I learned afforded me entry into things I could have only dreamed of before.

I feel that we settle for the status quo much too easily and stop growing and learning and progressing. Those in that strata, defined by money, power and status, work very hard to keep it to themselves. I have found, however, we are limited only by our imagination and our determination to change our lives. I believe anything is possible if we can dream it.

You are what you think. If you think poor, you will be poor. Poor is an attitude. Money does not make the person. Refuse to allow your financial status to reflect who you are. Finances area temporary situations. You create the person and the surroundings you wish the world to see. It will be the true you and people will see the heart in your surroundings.

Now and again I do an inventory of my home and my closet.  I can tell just how well I am coping with life by how they look.  If I find myself looking a bit frumpy, I know that something is wrong.  It is a signal to take a look at my life also and figure out what is going wrong and what I can do to fix it.  The same with my home–if it is looking cluttered, unkept, worst for wear–I know that it is reflecting my life at the moment and it is time to sit down and take stock.

I ask myself a few questions: 1.  What is wrong with this picture?  2.  What am I thinking and feeling at the moment?  3.  If my home and dress are a reflection of who I am and where I am going, am I going in the right direction?  4.  Is this what I want others to see when I enter a room or do I need to do some inner work to regain my harmony and balance?  5.  If there is something wrong, what is it and what can I do differently to change it?

Asking yourself these 5 questions can start you on the road to recovery.  And if you’ve slipped back a bit, it will allow you to avoid the obstacle and get on with your journey.



~ by womenstudycenter on January 18, 2009.

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