I recently discovered something about myself that caused me to make a number of adjustments in my life: I realized I had a poverty mentality.

What exactly does that mean? I’m about to tell you.

A series of events led to this discovery:

When I started dating, I realized some changes in my daughter’s personality.  From the start of her life, it’s been just her and me.  She didn’t have to share me with anyone except my mother’s side of our family. Because we’re all close-knit, we’re always together.

Our children are growing up together, but they each have different personalities. Because we are very active in each other’s lives, we know the personalities of our own children as well as our nieces, nephews, and cousins.  So, we know how to address the children to get the desired results.

Now, back to my situation…

Jireh didn’t take too kindly to my spending time with anyone other than her and our family. She saw my interaction with any man as him being a person who could potentially take me away from her.  I assured her that no one would EVER take me away from her.  As an added effort, I designated Mondays as “mother-daughter Monday,” where we do something together, just us two.

Last week, she wanted to go to Blaze Pizza. It’s one of her favorites. As I approach 40, I’m more dedicated to taking care of my health.  So, I had a salad for dinner (which I ate around 4pm).

We went and grabbed her pizza, and since we were in Midtown, I decided to swing by Rack Room Shoes to see if I could grab a pair of closed-toe wedges for work.  I told Ji to lock the doors, as I knew I would be in and out.  When I shop for an item in particular, I go in the store and look around.  If it doesn’t catch my eye, it’s not there. No sense in wasting time trying to make something fit my needs.

Well, this particular night, I literally ran into the store…. So fast that I forgot to put on my mask!  My very responsible nine-year-old looked into the store, saw me, and knew she had to come to the rescue.  She got out of the car and came running towards me.  I thanked her and went out to get my mask only to discover that the car doors were locked… With the keys in the ignition.

At first, I was disappointed because I thought she should have known better, but 1- I had to take responsibility for leaving her in the car, 2- she was trying to keep me in compliance with regulations while also protecting me from possibly contracting a virus, and 3- she was trying to be responsible by making sure the doors were locked. I couldn’t stay upset at the fact that she didn’t remember to take the keys out of the ignition as, again, she’s only nine. So, it was all my fault.

Well, the first thing I did was call my sister.  I asked her to bring me a wire hanger.  What was I going to do with the hanger in a car with electric locks? I don’t know, but I was going to think of something. My sister happened to be in the area. So, she came to the store and checked to see if there was anything in her car that I could use to break into mine. There wasn’t. So, she left to retrieve a wire hanger.

During this time, I sat on a bench near the lot and sent a message to my accountability partners. This is a group of ladies who encourage each other, give each other ideas, and embrace each other’s occasional ratchetness. I gave them the complete run down stated above, and one of them asked, “Do you have AAA?”  Another said, “I have roadside assistance with my cell phone carrier. Have you checked into that?”

Number one, it matters with whom you surround yourself. I pay for car insurance EVERY MONTH and hadn’t even considered that I might have roadside assistance.  I’d wasted at least 30 minutes trying to break into my car! (I’m laughing now, but in hindsight I feel pretty dumb.)

Oh wait! I forgot to mention that not only were the car keys in the ignition, but the car was running! I’d filled up my tank a few hours earlier, but in my state of panic, I developed a new fear of having ALL THE GAS I’d just gotten to run out. I thought I’d end up stranded and when I finally got into the car, I’d be out of gas.  So, in addition to attempting to break into my car, it also crossed my mind to break a small window. I went so far as to price a replacement!

Again, thank God for my relationship with my friends and the ability to expose my foolishness without fear of ridicule. Truth be told, I laugh at myself more than anyone. My daughter really beat herself up over the accident until she saw me laughing.

While waiting for roadside assistance to arrive, I had a deep look at myself. What in the world made me think about breaking into my car before thinking about roadside assistance? In all honesty, I was used to “piecing together.”

Growing up in a household where my mom was left raising five children alone after she and our dad divorced, she did what she had to do to provide for us, and she refused to accept government assistance. She cooked and taught my sister and I to cook.  On the rare occasion we grabbed fast food, we would get whatever was on sale and then go to the nearest grocery store to get something to drink from the machine outside, as the markup at the restaurant was ridiculous.  It wasn’t necessarily that we couldn’t afford to get something to drink at the same place where we got our food, but we were saving money.

Over the past week or so, I’ve given more thought into “piecing together” and thought about how many items people were going to discard, but I took them because “I can probably use that….” Not that I needed it, but I could probably use it.

So, I began the process of purging.  I can’t count the number of promotional items I threw away: calendars, note pads, koozies, tshirts, drawstring bags…. I’d accumulated all of this STUFF simply because it was being given away.  I’d developed the mindset that if it didn’t cost me anything, I’d take it just in case… And I realized that I was stuck with a lot of things I’d never use.

To go even deeper into my self-actualization, I realized that I undercut myself significantly when it came to my craft.  I wanted to keep my rates affordable for all because I remembered a time when we went without.  So, I found myself working VERY LONG hours at 2-3 jobs to make my ends meet rather than accepting the fact that not everyone is going to be able to afford my services and being okay with that.

The fact of the matter is that we are all gifted with SOMETHING!  Your gift could be that you make the best cornbread in the city… And that’s all! What’s stopping you from making a pan and providing samples to area restaurants, who can pay you to provide them with YOUR cornbread? If your only skill is the ability to clean a house, start a maid service. If your best asset the ability to give a recap of television shows, record yourself doing that and sell it!

When we receive gifts for our birthdays and other occasions, the givers always take our personalities into consideration and give us something they think we’ll either enjoy or something we can use. The same applies to our very beings. At birth, we are all gifted with something we could use to our advantage. The key is to tap into the potential within you to bring about the change you want to see.

For me, the poverty mentality ended last week.


Getting My Weight Up

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