I had a great catch-up conversation with a good friend today. We were discussing relationships and life lessons around money. We shared stories about being young and struggling to feed ourselves and our families when there was no one else to rely on.
The conversation stirred some memories. The funny thing about memories is you can either remember and reflect, or go back and swim in it. I choose reflecting.
During my first marriage, times were tough. I loved my husband but he was not reliable when it came to holding down a job, God rest his soul. At the time I was working in a pottery factory finishing bowls. The clay was poured into large plaster molds. The combined weight of the mold and the weight clay took some strength to lift on and off the racks. It was hard work.
When I found out I was pregnant, I could no longer do the job which made finances very tight. Finding enough money to pay bills AND eat was challenging. But I was in love and love conquers all, right?
My in-laws had a large garden as most people did. One fall weekend, we went to help pick shelly beans (also known as October beans). If you have never picked beans, it is backbreaking work — especially if you are pregnant. The vines grow close to the ground so it is a lot of stooping and bending to find and pick the beans.
After picking a LOT of beans, we had to shell them. We did at least find a way to speed up that process by running the beans through a wringer washing machine to pop the bean out of the pod. At the end of the day, we had an entire washtub full of shelled beans. The beans were then bagged and put in the freezer for the winter.
The following week was tough for us and we had no money to buy food. We went to my in-laws to ask for a bag of the beans to cook for dinner. We were told no, that those beans were for winter.
There was nothing to do but make do.
Back at home, we had two potatoes and an almost empty jar of peanut butter. That became dinner. We ate a baked potato and put peanut butter on the peels and ate those.
I could be bitter about that memory, but I do not feel bitter. I learned a lot from the experience. I learned that family will not always be there when the chips are down. I learned that even difficult times can be held in a positive light. I also learned that when you share hard memories, unscrupulous people can throw it in your face later in life. But no matter what anyone else says, makin’ do holds a powerful lesson.
I do not live in my past stories but they are there and I can choose how I view them. They remind me how resilient I am and by reflecting, I can see how far I have come.