First to acknowledge, there’s a lot that’s worthy of complaint:
During this Zombie Apocalypse it seems like there is a lot to complain about — and even for an optimist like myself, there is. That said, there is so very much to be thankful for; our family feels like we are incredibly fortunate right now – and we are so very thankful for our all that we do have, and for our incredible community!
I’m not saying I won’t reserve the opportunity for some more complaining in the near future — I will; check back here for a possible future dissection of some of the more absurd facets of the royal clusterf&%k we have been grappling with as a family during this time!:
- the dearth of special education and disability support services during a pandemic,
- living with family members with OCD during a pandemic,
- missing your child’s college graduation (the first in the family),
- missing your child’s college senior recital (the first in the family),
- managing the lives of multiple special needs children (in self-isolation) during a pandemic,
- precipitous drops in my website traffic (all because of the pandemic),
- precipitous drops in my advertising income (per the previous item), etc., etc. etc.
However, in the space of all the above issues (which are relatively small insults to our life — considering how much worse our personal circumstances could be, with all that is going on in the world right now) we – our little nuclear family here in Portland, Oregon – are INCREDIBLY grateful for our good fortune and our incredibly supportive community. We’re bursting with gratitude every day for everything that has been amazing in our life over the past three months — and are trying (each day) to in some way give-back and support others in our community in any way we can, others who have it the same (or often worse) than our family does – or supporting others who are also giving back, in any way possible!
What I am thankful for today…
From a personal perspective here are many things I am thankful for:
- Unicycles – Well, to start with the photo above… we have three unicycles — what?! How is that possible?! I have three kids at home — and three unicycles, somehow! I don’t even know where they all specifically came from! I think A.J. bought one off of Craigslist, with money he earned from babysitting a few years ago, but I am pretty sure we got the other two (used) for free at some point! I really can’t keep track of all of the amazing gifts that come to us through the wonderful community we are part of! Freecycle, Buy Nothing, Share-It-Square are all just some of the community resources where people help each other and expect nothing in return.
- Friends – Thanks also to all of our wonderful friends near and far, over the years our kids have managed to miraculously source so many of the items they’ve needed for their various imaginative [often unusual / ambitious!] DIY projects and educational pursuits. Just one example: My second son (A.J. – currently 17 years old) 100% on his own, last year pulled together everything he needed to build a homemade forge AND to MAKE an anvil (!) out of available hunks of metal we had. With the help of friends and our community our boys have managed to do this sort of thing (and to keep busy and creative!) despite our obvious lack of means for otherwise funding all of these projects, dreams, and pursuits!
- Barter – I have been having fun unexpectedly trading with friends for stuff… one fun example: we had an extra school-sized whiteboard needing a new home [something we got for free years ago out of the recycling from the elementary school across the street!], and my friend had a couple of jars of chocolate sauce that I didn’t know I needed – but would have likely caved on and eventually bought at some point [!!! yum, just what the doctor ordered!].
- Honey – I’ve also been having fun tipping grocery delivery people with jars of honey from my family farm (in Napa) — and sending yummy honey to friends as gifts. [I got a delivery of a few cases of Napa Valley wildflower honey from my step-father just before the Pandemic hit!]
- Groceries & supplies, and utilities – December, 2019 was my best month ever for my business [since I incorporated as Lead Safe Mama, LLC in January of 2018]. I was paid for the advertising income for December (and January, which was a good month too) on a 2-month delay. Consequently, we have had money for groceries to feed our children every day for the past two months — and money to cover the utilities and make sure we had essentials like dish soap, medicine, band-aids and toilet paper (this is a rare miracle; this is the first time that has happened for us in years with all we have been through)!
- A Roof: O.M.G. we still have a ROOF over our head; I cannot even begin to express how thankful we are for this during this time! Not only do we currently have a roof over our heads, but with the support of my readers and social media community, we have been able to keep our children in the same home for more than 13 years now! April 16, 2020 marked 13 years that our family has been in this home! This is nothing short of a miracle — and has kept our family together and safe through all the nonsense and ridiculousness that the world has thrown at us over the past 13 years [particularly the past 5]!
- BIKE SHOP! – my husband is an inventor/designer/fabricator who, among other things, designs and fabricates custom bicycles and bike trailers. This means we have a professional bike shop, design studio, & machine shop [and wood shop, as well!] at our home (to use for whatever we need it for)!
- This means that we have been able to fix broken things – and design and fabricate new things, whenever necessary – all on site in our own garage (and driveway) — for maintenance & improvements to our home, emergency repairs to friends’ and neighbors’ stuff, and also for engaging, practical, skills-and-charcter-building hands-on activities for the boys!.
- This also means that my husband has been able to help several people in the neighborhood who have needed extensive or complex repairs or modifications to their bikes. He does this all the time [often charging nothing (or just asking for reimbursement for the cost of parts), especially for those in need.]
- This is the first time we – as a whole family – have fully appreciated how lucky we really are to have such a relatively well-equipped workshop!
- Teachers who care – While the whole “Special Education distance learning” is NOT A REAL THING (for my kids, at least!)… the teachers are trying to make it happen — and Charlie will start having daily phone meetings with his teachers tomorrow (Monday – May 4th) — he is very excited about this! This is more than two months after the last day he was in school – March 2nd!. (“Finally!”)
- Shoes, Clothing, Etc. – This goes along with “Groceries…”; this has also been the first time in a very long time that we have been able to work on getting caught up and make sure each kid has at least one pair of shoes that fit (and ideally two – sandals and sneakers), and that they each have enough pants and socks and shirts (and other basics) — for whatever season we are in AND whatever season is coming up! We’re not yet done with this “project”, but we’ve made incredible progress in this area in recent months, and are so thankful to have been able to do that! We really are so lucky!
From a business perspective:
- I mostly already work from home (!): This has been an incredible blessing for me. Yes, my routine has been dramatically (pretty violently) disrupted, because I have no childcare for my disabled children, so I can only work while they are sleeping or watching T.V.(!) — BUT I still CAN work – from the safety of our home – (and still earn at least a bit of a living), even though I am not currently able to travel to do events and visit clients — which is [or WAS — until the #Zombie Appocalypse] a central and “indispensable” component of my work.
- I had just (with the help of a loan) bought a used car for my business – The timing of this is truly incredible; I cannot express how thankful I am for this! Under the current unprecedented, extremely unusual, and very challenging circumstances, I cannot frankly imagine not having reliable, quick access to a car. For some background it is important to understand that we moved to Portland to be car-free — and my family has indeed been car-free for most of the past 18 years! However, it is kind of funny…this time around I specifically bought a tiny car for my business (a 2012 Fiat 500, 4-seater), that cannot simultaneously accommodate my family of 5 (or 6 when Colescott comes home!) – because the main purpose of the car was to bring myself to and from the airport and for me to go to local work-related meetings and events (in Oregon / Washington / California, etc.) — not to haul around three 5 ft 10 boys, myself and their father! In hindsight, I now wish I had had the foresight to get a 5-seater pickup truck instead – lol!
- The clients I was supposed to see in person in April have been amazing! – ALL of my clients that I had scheduled to see – in my planned (and paid for ) 12-State cross-country tour for March and April – have been super-patient with me. There have been very few requests for refunds, and most clients have been working with me to come up with alternate ways I can help them either now or in the future, if not via an in-person, in-home visit – then by phone or video conference.
- My flights were all exchangeable – While my flights on Southwest for March and April were not refundable, they were EXCHANGEABLE, so I now have a TON of exchange credits for flights — for when things get back to (some version of) “normal”, and I need to reschedule my trip that was originally planned for March/April 2020! Southwest also added an extra 12 months on to the exchange period for the credits (so the credits won’t expire until around two years from now!)
- We anticipate no substantial new legal fees in our case – For the past 4+ years – with the lost income caused by (and the expense of) my legal battle, we have been completely overwhelmed financially – which has been the cause of us falling very, very behind in all things financial (and otherwise, due to the domino effect). But since August of 2019 (with the filing of my Civil Rights case against the State of Oregon in Federal Court), I have not had to worry about that anymore because case is now in the hands of an incredibly capable Civil Rights attorney, and I don’t anticipate having any more big expenses for that effort any time soon. Said another way: I stopped hemorrhaging money to attorneys and related experts in the legal case in the second half of last year.
- I’ve been told I qualified for (and was approved for) the PPP loan to cover some of my lost income from CoViD-19 – I am waiting for this to come through. When it does, I will breathe a huge sigh of relief – and not be so upset about the precipitous drop in my website traffic (& related advertising income drop) over the past three or four months! Although I really wish these funds could be used to pay subcontractors, too — as all of the people who work for me are subcontractors [so far, I am the sole employee] so, while they are essential members of my business team, their fees aren’t covered by this loan. 🙁 [If you hear anything different about this, please let me know!]
- 40,000 people! You! – I am so thankful for you! About 40,000 people regularly read my posts each month (in addition to sometimes hundreds of thousands more new people some months!) I am so lucky to have a regular audience of so many (40,000 – wow!) to hold space for my ramblings (like this post), AND to have you for such an amazing partnership in sharing the important information that I write to directly help people limit their exposure to toxic heavy metals in their homes, schools and on their playgrounds! I couldn’t do this without you and you have stood by me through this difficult time (and through all of the distractions of the overwhelming news media in recent months!)
- YOU have helped me reach more than 1,000,000 people in the past 6 months! Check out the graph below. Even though traffic to this website has dropped precipitously with CoViD-19, with your help (in sharing my posts!) we have still reached MORE THAN 1,000,000 people in the past 6 months alone (with information to help them protect those they love from being exposed to heavy metals!) If that’s not something to celebrate and be grateful for I don’t know what is! (Continue reading below the image, you can also click the image to see it full size!)
What are YOU grateful for today?
Make a list! Write it up (it’s profoundly therapeutic!) If you would like to write it as a guest post on my blog (especially if people beyond your friends list might enjoy reading it), let me know, and I may publish it here and share it for you with my 40,000+ regular readers.
As always, thank you for taking the time to read what I write. I am truly honored by your participating in my childhood Lead-poisoning prevention advocacy in this way.
Catherine Brooks says
IT’S GREAT TO HEAR ALL THIS. You and your family continue to be extraordinarily creative in how you handle adversity. Likely, you were more prepared than most for the pandemic with both parents being self-employed. I do understand the stress of homeschooling because of my two autistic grandsons’ special needs. Their county schools screwed up the technology royally and have barely done anything in 6 weeks. Fortunately, our daughter fought hard and got other county services BEFORE the pandemic and they have continued. Hang in there, mama. The world is changing for the better!
Thank you Catherine! Thanks for reading this too! 🙂
So….. I have 3 kids….. when my older 2 had lead in their bloodwork (youngest still an infant) I went on a mad research binge…… finding your incredible website full of reliable information. Since finding you…… I have come to the conclusion that the levels of lead likely came from things we were using in our kitchen….. you changed everything we do and have for the better….. and thanks to you ….my son , my youngest, who’s almost 2 now….. is “non detect” for lead……. and that’s because of YOU!!!!!!! All your hard work made it possible for me to use healthy options for my kids….. I’m forever grateful. So today, tomorrow and yesterday…….. I’m grateful for YOU lead safe MAMA!!!!!!!!!!!