This is my reflection on events in my personal life at this point and American society as a whole as it comes to the importance of education and health and the impact of income. This isn’t some statistical post about how socioeconomic status can effect the health and education of people. It’s personal. Nor do I provide solutions besides an opinion of what should be available to the public as a whole. It doesn’t solve everything. It is just my opinion.
The education and health of my children is incredibly important to me. It’s why I, as their mother, have made certain choices that go against the grain of American culture. The kids know that their education is key to their success.
We also focus on their nutrition because what goes into their bodies is as important as what goes into their minds. It does not meant that they don’t get junk food or convenience food at times, but it’s rare that I don’t cook one or two full meals for them a day. Our largest meal is at lunch-time, for time’s sake, the ability to have everyone at the table and to eat at the best time so that we don’t go to bed with heavy food in our systems. We don’t buy that many processed foods. Tortilla chips and crackers, plus sandwich meat are probably the most purchased process foods. I bake everything from muffins to bread and croissants. You can see on my Instagram how much value we place on good, homemade food in our home.
When the girls were in public school, they did not eat school-provided lunches. I sent lunch with them every day. I wanted to make sure that they were fed well and they had no desire to eat what they saw on their classmates’ trays.
Beyond love and security of family, giving the kids a good start on their health and education is critical in my mind.
As a self-employed, artistic family, Geoff and I are constantly working. I write contracts for private events and confirm gigs while cooking lunch. I am constantly on email or social media from my laptop or smartphone. My “office” is in the nook next to the kitchen and about 3 feet from the living room. I am in school and helping with their school, chasing a toddler and so on from the time I get up until I go to bed. Multi-tasking is just a normal component of my life, so is being there for our children.
For the past 9+ years, we have been living in a tourist, beach town. It has been a blessing in the fact that Geoff began singing full-time again. Although there are tourists almost year round, there is a definite period where live music has a higher demand. During March and half of April, life is super busy with music. Then from Memorial Day to mid-August, it’s crazy busy again. Other than that, it’s pretty slow, besides a number of private events in the fall and holiday season. During the slow times, we struggle to keep things going and during the busy times, we play financial catch up. By the time we have caught up, it’s the end of the season.
Honestly, it feels like the movie “Groundhog Day.” Lots of people will comment, “You live in paradise, how can you not love it?” Well, besides tourist industries and the military, there is not much here. And then there’s the thought expressed, “Well, Geoff got a lot of press from The Voice, so why can’t he just get booked anywhere else?”
Booking takes money. Agents take money. If we are constantly playing catch up and slow down, there is no wiggle room. There is no breathing room. There is a lot of talent is this world that doesn’t get noticed because there is no financial backing. This is a subject for a book, or at least another post.
When it gets really stressful, which it does, my focus on helping the kids focus on school simply is not there. My focus is on keeping the bank account in the green and a roof over our head. Our son needs our help the most. He is in 4th grade and at a make it or break it point. We have just switched him from public virtual school to “homeschooling” virtual school (still under Florida Virtual School), which means that for now, he doesn’t have the high-stakes testing until we move him back into the public version sometime in middle school. The girls are more on an independent basis, but monitoring where they are in their studies is key. Also, making sure they are taking the right classes each semester takes a lot of time and research. Either way, I need to have the focus and energy to be there for our kids and their education.
Last night, it really hit me how so many people deal with this on a constant basis and they are expected to be able to focus on the education of their children. I can say that we are better off than a great deal of people and so I cannot imagine being expected to push my children in their education if this was my reality 100% of the time. I felt humbled and more focused after that realization that this was not going to happen anymore to our children. I am also more sympathetic to those that don’t have a choice.
I have kept up my focus on their food and health, but the greatest impact I have seen has been on my health. The stress of the ups and downs of living here and dealing with the roller coaster ride of income has really caused me to become very unhealthy. I am horrified and disgusted at the effects the stress has had on my body. And it’s not as easy and just take time out for exercise. When life gets insanely stressful, there is no extra time for yoga, walking or a bike ride. Don’t mention taking PureBarre classes to me. I don’t have the time or the money. (Honestly, I don’t like classes anyway because I am an introvert on many levels. Yes, I’m one of those extroverted-introverts. So is Geoff.) I am working to find ways to reduce my cortisol levels in my body, which is the core of my health-related issues right now.
Again, I feel for those who are stuck in this hamster wheel of lack of income and have no way to get out. For the most part, they do not have the time, energy or money to take care of their health. They are just trying to keep food in everyone’s bellies, so the quality does not matter on many levels.
I wish that our country would finally realize that we need a stronger education system and not one that is federally mandated but then left up to the state and county levels to work out the details. I do not have the answers as to how to do this, but something has to change. I do feel that the U.S. is too large, as a whole, to answer the education problems. It will most likely be regional answers and that doesn’t bode well for certain geographic areas of our country.
We do need single-payer healthcare and not the system that we have now that focuses on illness management for a profit. Real health needs to be focused on. Get rid of health care that celebrates “pink ribbons” for “non-profits” that make a few people a lot of money and do not find cures.
We also have to look at our food system. Many countries in the world have banned the very foods and ingredients that are making Americans ill. When are we going to realize that you can’t put just anything into your body and still be healthy? When does real food become more important that the profits of companies? Our digestive health affects the health of the rest of our body. So does the level of stress in our lives.
If people did not have to worry about the basic necessities, it wouldn’t mean that everyone was the same, had the same income or had the same opportunities, but it would mean that we would have more stability in our personal lives and our society.
So, there. No specific solutions to the societal problems, but just one woman’s hopes for her family and for the families of the U.S.
For me and my family, it’s onward and upward. We have goals we are working very hard to reach and we will get there. Time to get out of “Groundhog Day.”