At times I still marvel at why people want to come to this country at all?
Yes we seem to have it all; houses, cars, malls, natural wonders, etc. but what people don't know is that most Americans have no dream to aspire to. Most are flat out broke, homeless and discriminated against.
Yes, even yours truly has had the pleasure of experiencing decrimination, have been homeless and lived on very little. When I job hunted 4 years ago, I was told everything from: You're to pretty, to qualified, to white, to old, etc.
This prompted me to start my own business and make a difference. Not to save the world - this guy named Jesus already did that, or so people say. The best I can do is make a difference in someone's life, help them live their American Dream, or even to have a dream at all.
Today as my husband and I were making cauliflower pizza I had to laugh because I realized I am living the American dream!
Well my version of it at least.
You see, I own my own business, have a roof over my head, a vehicle to drive and food to eat, thanks to the local food shelf.
My business is in it's third year and I'm lucky to see one client a month. The plus side of this is that I do not have debt since I am have a small amount saved up from the death of my first husband seven years ago.
Widows are not rich! Especially younger widows without children. They throw these widows to the wolves and say, "See you when you are 65, or if you can prove your disabled."
No hope there!
But I am okay since my mother taught me to make the most of what I have. I can sew, so at least I can mend clothing. My winter coat is now in it's 10th years of use! Not bad considering it came from a consignment shop!
The coat was well made to start with, sorta like me. You see, if you start with good materials in the beginning, things will last a long time. I was raised with hard work, homegrown food, fresh air and lots of discipline. Even several spankings and a soap bar or two.
On the plus side, I have lived a life of adventure thus far.
I have traveled living out of my vehicle, eating once a day. Then met a fellow traveler who made life better for a while - more food, a hotel every once and a while, etc. But he was abusive so I left and decided little food and sleeping in the vehicle weren't so bad after all!
Soon doors began to open - a person I knew offered me a place to stay. Living in the library room of an old legal office was nice - beautiful architecture, lots of books and it was quiet. Someone signed me up for a program, which was trying to sell me to the local employment office in the name of Christianity. That was an interesting bunch!
Soon an apartment opened up in an old house. This was a new adventure living in the same building as two registered sex offenders who were mentally unstable!
The bats in the house became my best defence and way to gain respect, seeing how both men were afraid of bats! Amazing how such a small animal can strike such fear in the heart of a man!
But I am grateful for having lived in that old house. You see, it was because I lived there that I learned about the food shelf.
At the food shelf I met people worse off than me and with way less skills - some didn't even know how to do basic self care or make mac and cheese from the box.
The best words of hope I heard in 5 years came from one of the food shelf staff. You see after receiving delicious food the day before, I felt guilty. Others needed it worse than me. I had a little bit of money after all. I went back the next day to meet with a staff member to see how I could give back a bit. I was just a widow after all, but some of these people had much less and had been treated far worse.
I entered the office space and the kind lady D closed the door. After telling her about me and feeling badly about not being able to help, she said, "We are here to help people who need food. We are not here to judge why you need that help. People from all walks of life come through those doors each day, some are well off and others have nothing. You are not alone."
After this talk I became a daily volunteer. Because of volunteering I met another widower and developed a friendship that turned into a marriage.
The American Dream right?
Well, let me continue. By now my business has been around for three years. I love the work I do, but the books don't look positive, another year in the red.
Coming back to today. As I was chopping cauliflower from the food shelf with my husband, I began to remember how other businesses started out. Most had less than me. Some were lucky to eat once a week, and then it was just bread. Many slept in their office space and only had one change of clothing. But from these humble beginnings came the corporate giants of today.
My goal isn't to become a corporate giant, but I do hope to help people, make enough money to have an income and give back finacially to the food shelf, so that it's there for the next me who walks through those doors in search of food.
I truly hope they find more then food. I hope someone takes the time to listen and offer a few kind words. You never know, that person could just be the next business owner who employs your children, allowing them to have big screen TV's, three dogs, a large house, with fancy vehicles and multiple luxury vacations per year!
The American Dream!
As for me, in a couple weeks I will finally recieve my First Dollar Award from the Chamber of Commerce. It seems someone forgot to do that 3 years ago when I became a member!
But for me it means progress. At least I get the recognition, some soldiers who died in battle never even get a thank you!
Another good thing is that I have the honor of speaking at the IMDHA/IACT conference this coming year in Orlando FL.
I am also writting a book and hoping to keep my doors open long enough to help the people who come my way, creating a business out of it.
This is my American Dream.
There is not a tree covered in lights with presents under it, nor will there be. My husband dislikes this time of year due to the war he was drafted into and the unfortunate loss of life that happened at Christmas.
Fancy trees and gifts are not our version of Christmas.
The only presnts we will exchange this year are gratitude in our hearts for being able to volunteer at the food shelf and time with each other.
We most likely will be making cauliflower pizza and playing cribbage.
This my dear readers is The American Dream!
Or at least my Amercan Dream.
Have a joyous holiday season and a blessed new year.
Jessica L Hanson