casting your nets. asking for help. that man in the arena

Casting nets on the other side of the boat was the Gospel today during Mass.  

It gave me food for thought whilst driving home.  How often do we do that?  Or do we tend to fish on the one side of our boat day in and day out and eventually in total despair just toss the net back into the boat.  Now I have, through trial and error, happy and bad times, by hook or by crook and such, become over the past couple of years a master of casting the net both sides of our boat.  Hell, I even cast in front and back sometimes and if necessary I will even swim under the boat dragging it. 

They say "necessity is the mother of invention".  Well Amen to that.  Whilst discussing it online with someone this afternoon she commented "but you do not know how hard it can be" .... no my dear, I do.  Trust me we have the PhD, MBA, and every other letter in this. Re-casting is what my speciality is.  I am not addressing this to people who tell me they are battling because they now eat out 3 and not 5 times a month ... or cannot have weekly take-aways, or have to give up a coffee date, or scale down their car, or buy less at Woolworths ... I am talking to people who are battling to put food on the table, fuel in their cars and clothes on their backs.  For whom the little decisions are the huge and scary daily decisions.  

So for the many that I currently know, that are battling, mostly with finances, in a time when so many are reeling from the cost of living, getting retrenched, having to close their businesses, finding themselves so lost, so desperate, so overwhelmed, let me lead you as follows, and if you know me, you will know that I speak from experience.  I will place at the end my favourite verse "The Man in the Arena" ... I have been that man, we have been that man, so yes, I am qualified to speak on this subject. 

1.  Ask.  Someone.  Anyone.  You have to learn to ask.  For help.  For a shoulder. For food.  For assistance.  Ask.  Yes you have to stick your pride in your pocket.  Churches have Outreach programmes, these are able to assist you.  Peruse the web for places that help.  Speak to your priest, speak to your friends, speak to your colleagues, speak to your family, speak to a counsellor (and you can do so at Lifeline, confidentially and at no cost whatsoever), but talk to someone. Sometime, somewhere, someone will hear you.  If not, keep asking. I did the Counselling course at Lifeline ... several hours a week for 13 weeks ... intense ... but has given me a skill no-one can ever take away.  To listen.  To understand. 
2.  Do not drive anywhere, and I mean anywhere that you can walk.  Trust me .... if you walk 2km here and 1km there it adds up ... fuel kept in your tank.  No short trips, no unplanned trips.  Know exactly in the morning what your route will be .... school, work, whatever ... plan in the stop for bread .... plan in the random stops ..... no extra stops. 
All of the out of the way stuff must be lumped into one day.  Sometimes it comes down to the wire with fuel.  
3.  You may have to stop handing out car guard money at every stop.  This is hard I know - you can feel really dreadful.  But there comes a stage when it is family first.  It may only be R3 a day that you save, if you make stops daily, but over a month - R90 buys bread and milk my friends. 
4.  Give up the extras - DSTV for starters.  You will survive.  Maybe you have to have it off for a month.  They credit you when you have it put off by them.  Yes it is awful if you are a huge fan.  Find a friend, or two, who won't mind you popping in to watch sport by them, or would not mind you coming over once a week to catch up on your series.  Again refer to #1 - ask.  It may give you the R750 back into your budget.  If there is no choice, switch if off for 6 months.  You can put it on anytime.  Is it hard? Yes.  And you may need to look at old fashioned ways of entertainment - trust me it is possible to play Cluedo 16 times a month. 
5.  Kids first.  In everything.  Food, clothing and all other needs.  Kids first.  Spend the money on the crucials across all family members, but for all other critical things kids first. First to eat, first to be taken care of.  And I am not talking about working salary earning kids.  I mean dependants. 
6.  Work out if there is something you can do to bring in a little extra.  Can you sew?  Offer around school to do simple sewing repairs for friends.  Do you do calligraphy?  Paint? Make costumes well .... repair stuff like toasters, read aloud well .... whatever ... advertise for free over and over in the Junk Mail .... you will be amazed what people are happy to pay for to take it off their plate. 
7.  Have a yard sale, or a boot sale, whatever you want to call it.  Go room to room ... get rid of that lampshade you got in 1999 that you know you are never going to use again. That top you are going to wear when you lose 10kg.  Now is your chance ... you will be amazed how much stuff you can amass over time. Advertise .... a good way is to stick up a note at your local supermarket board for notices. And if you are nervous about security ... find a spot .... where there are people ... like an open shopping centre car park in your neighbourhood ... and I am not talking about Menlyn or such obviously, people walking past buy.  And it is not "selling your stuff" it is getting rid of clutter.  
8.  Need something urgently that cannot wait?  Look online.  2nd hand is not necessarily rubbish.  Clothes, sports equipment etc etc .... it is there.  OLX and Gumtree are good places to start. 
9.  If you are a believer, then pray.  Again and again and again.  To whoever it is that you follow and believe in.  I am Catholic, and I sometimes think that God must have rolled his eyes and thought here she is again!!! But as hard as it is .... All in His time.  Every time. 

I can go on forever.  If you have a question, a fear, a desperation - I am going to do something unusual and offer my email address.  I did it once before last year and was inundated with mails.  I cannot offer money, or jobs or any such.  But what I can offer is a list of places you can turn to, many many suggestions ... hundreds in fact on survival ... so contact me on - we are not bound by where we live in the world ... we are bound by the fact that we are humans. 

Wishing you love ... and patience....... and a calming of desperation. 

till soon 
c'est la vie 

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