This I Believe

Joanna - Kendrick, Idaho
Entered on December 2, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
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I believe that adversity in my life brought me to self-acceptance. I made the choice to leave an unfulfilling, eleven year career in higher education in January of 2006. I was a career academic with a Ph.D in Botany and I felt my job had taken a large part of my life from me and I wanted it back. I am a single mother of two boys, a rat terrier, two bunnies, a cat and a hamster. I left my job with no future prospects but the conviction that I would succeed and find a new place for myself.

In the course of a few months I became an unemployed welfare mother. I have spent hundreds of hours tapping resources to support my children; food stamps, Medicaid, energy assistance, while spending dozens of hours per week applying for jobs. I visit food banks and I’ve met people who dedicate a significant part of their lives to helping others. However, in some circumstances I feel a sense of discrimination. A woman using food stamps in the grocery store is treated differently. But I hold my head up and tell the checker I’m using food stamps and I am not ashamed.

We are at the poverty level. When people ask how I’m doing, I tell them the truth, it is a challenge but I made the right decision. I am happier than I have been in a decade. I am at ease with myself and I am accomplishing feats in my life I never believed I could. I am making it. I have become the parent I’ve longed to be and I believe we are a stronger family. I have been ridiculed by some for leaving a secure job but I have maintained my belief that I will overcome the adversity we’ve faced. I accept who I am and what I’ve become and I believe I have never done so well in my life.

The upcoming Christmas season has been difficult for me to face. We cannot afford to travel and be with family, so it will be the three of us. I have worried about the isolation, but I have embraced the idea that the upcoming holiday season will be different than it has in the past and I hope we will remember the closeness and quiet of our time together. My children will receive Christmas gifts from family and friends and the generosity of our community. We have learned there are people whom we’ve never met that care, people who understand and are willing to do what ever they can to help us through this period of our lives. I am more of the person I’ve wanted to be and I have bettered my life and the lives of my children. I believe this time in our lives will have a lasting positive impact on our futures.