On the Edge of Poverty 

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Today was one of this days when I knew where my place in society is and that place is somewhere near the bottom. You know, the scummy bit where the sediment is. 
I have some jewellery that I have no attachment to, in fact, I want to be rid of it ASAP. I’ve held on to it, waiting for a reason to sell it. 
When my son was younger, my abusive ex used a trip to Legoland as you would use a carrot on a string to get a donkey to move. My son hadn’t been diagnosed with ASD at this point so his behaviour was seen by my ex as belligerence. If my son jumped through millions of unattainable hoops, he would get to go to his beloved Legoland. On one occasion, he said he could go only to change his mind and bought him some Lego instead.
It’s been a karma thing for me to sort this out. Someone lent me the money to pay for a trip to legoland – even though my son said it’s too late now, I know he’ll enjoy it. I said I could pay for it by selling my jewellery. The kick in the teeth came when the local jeweller wasn’t interested in any of it and the pawnbroker offered me £111. My diamond ring retails at £950 brand new!! She also told me that my diamond certificate was wrong and the diamond was smaller and therefore less valuable. 
I declined her offer and she gave me a leaflet and a mint about taking out a loan. Once I had left the shop, it was like my whole life slid out of view. I felt sub human. All this emotion bubbled up and I cried and cried. 
It wasn’t about legoland anymore, it was about my whole life and my children’s lives. They suffer as I am not well enough to work and they have shitty dads who I would rather didn’t exist. 
I’ve noticed that food shopping is costing more and my money isn’t going as far as it used to. My benefits have been frozen so I won’t have a cushion against any rise in inflation. At some point, I will lose several hundred a month in the benefit cap. Everything is crumbling around me and I’m not sure how long I can keep going.
I don’t know how I’m going to pay for my children’s uniforms and shoes in Sept, let alone when/if they go to Uni. How will my lack of ability to earn affect their futures? There will be no bank of mum to bail them out or treat them to a nice day out. 
I feel utterly heartbroken. My children’s future could be written off due to their feckless mother. 
This year is going to be a huge challenge. I need to find ways to cut my spending. I don’t smoke, drink alcohol, have a social life …. Time to look at my food budget and not use the bus anymore. 
Spring may well be in full flow but our winter is coming.
Exxx 

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@womentogether: a co-op for women 

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Ok… I don’t know where to start! I have so much stuff whirling around my brain, I barely slept last night. Before I go any further, please know that I have ME/cfs and am a single parent with three children (one has Aspergers) so be patient with me 🙂 Things may take a while to get sorted but never doubt my passion for this idea. 

The summer budget hit a lot of women yesterday, it was a cruel blow to all the progress women have made since we ‘stepped out of the kitchen’. Something the Tories fail to see is that if we punish women, we punish everyone. We are mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, aunties, wives and friends. Such oppression of one gender can only lead to hurt us all. As Chief Seattle once said:

‘What we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect’ 

 (see: http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/331799  and yes, I know he may not have actually said it but the words have resonated with me for many years). 

The blog may be a rambling….. 

I’ve been thinking for while that the only way to survive the piles of shit (yes, I do swear from time to time ;).)that the government like to throw at us, is to rise up together and help our fellow woman. The Tories approach is that we help ourselves ‘I’m ok, sod the rest of you’ I don’t come from that school of thinking. Women are stronger together, I witnessed that for myself when I attended the Freedom Program. We had a shared hurt and comforted each other, offered a hand to hold and knowing nod. 

I want @womentogether to grow into a nationwide co-op for women affected by the cuts. The only thing that I really insist upon is that all help/advice/support is offered free of charge. 

By help etc I mean things like:

You could set up your own mini foodbank

Clothes swaps for women and children 

Legal, financial advice 

Going to an appointment 

Sending a woman a nice card in the post or tweeting her when she cries out for help on Twitter (I’m going to set up a Facebook page too) 

Practical help like gardening, food shopping, fixing a leaking tap. 

Skill sharing – whether that be teaching women to crochet/knit/sew, car maintenance, cooking on a limited budget, using a computer. 

This list is endless! You might be a nurse, doctor, plumber, mother, gardener, lawyer, journalist, artist, therapist…… Just being a woman is enough for this co-op so please don’t feel that you have nothing to give and if you can’t give but need support – this is also for you. 

What I need right now is help setting up a website/webpage. I have no tech skills so would really appreciate any advice on this. I also need a graphic designer to come up with a logo. In return, I could crochet you something! My aim is to have a network in place before 2017 when the biggest cuts hit. 

I don’t want this women’s co-op to get bogged down in red tape and bureaucracy    so I’m not registering it as a charity or ltd company (I’d certainly appreciate advice on it though).  Safety first at all times so I think women setting up local groups is better than one woman alone (in regards to practical help). 

On that note, I realise there are many groups out there who help women. I’m not stepping on your toes, please use this account to spread the word of the work that you do and the support you offer, that’s what a co-op is all about 🙂 Would be great to have guest tweeters,when established, so that you can promote your groups. 

So …. Whether you need help or can offer help or even both ….. Please spread the word about @womentogeher 

This is my battle cry. This is my call for women to come together so that we can ride out the storm through love and sisterhood. 

Love, tea, crochet, sisterhood, solidarity 

Exxx 

Am I a real woman?

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Motherhood or not. Big curves or not. Work or not …..

I feel I need to write about the constantly changing tick list that women are being judged on. I’m sure that many high profile feminists have written about it countless times and probably more eloquently but this is my blog, so there! 😉

Motherhood

Choose to have a child then you are seen as creating an unwanted drain on the Earth’s resources. You get frowned at in public places, tutted at when your child has a tantrum and told you no longer have your own life – you’re just a mum now. Have more than two children and you are selfish, slutty, uneducated and generally an all round awful woman, sorry, I mean mother as you are no longer a woman. If you stay at home then may the powers that be forever help you because you may as well be dead to society, actually, they’ll value you more if you’re dead!

Choose not to have children then you are an ice queen, selfish and somehow devoid of womanliness. How can you not want children?! You will be constantly asked as to when you will have children and reminded that your clock is ticking.

This is how we treat women on a daily basis over their personal life choices. Have kids, don’t have kids, work, stay at home ….. Do whatever suits your lifestyle. It saddens me to say this but women also need to respect other women’s choices. You don’t want children? Fine, but don’t look down your nose at someone who has 3 …..

Real women

How many times has someone posted a photo of Marilyn Monroe with the statement about her curves and how she is a ‘real woman’ – as opposed to a fake one I guess. Being a size 8/10 and flat chested and no hips ….. I must be a fake woman. I don’t wear makeup or heels either. Can’t we all be real women? I’m not going to venture down the gender identity path here btw! Women come in all shapes and sizes …. Big, little, round, skinny, hairy, smooth.. You get the idea. Stop the body shaming! Concentrate on loving your own body shape, it’s you that lives that body every day, not the haters.

I really struggle with my body shape and I really struggle with being a single parent with three children because I just want to feel acceptable to society. Slowly, slowly I am disowning the negative thoughts and comments and have taken a step to the left of the well trodden path.

I’m going to be ok. I’m going to do this on my own. I’m going to start again.

Love, tea and hugs
Exxx