It’s that time of year (and decade) again.  Time to look ahead, consider options, make plans!  I was never a big resolution maker and the ones I made tended to be fairly pedestrian and generally remained unrealized.  But I‘ve always been a big planner and dreamer.  I loved looking ahead, imagining what the year would bring.  Naturally all the changes I imagined were positive ones!  Maybe a promotion, fun vacations, new friends, satisfying home projects, another kid 🙂 …  All my dreams were however rooted in the reality of my life- they weren’t ‘what if I won the lottery?’ style fantasies, they were positive plans for reasonable and achievable goals.

This is one of those many aspects of life currently lost to me.  As much as the key to happiness is supposedly living in the moment (anyone remember the est training and ‘be here now’?) it’s an attitude I’ve adopted not to be happy, but because it’s the only way I can live these days.  One day at a time.  I focus on the basics- food, laundry, job search, getting the kids to and from school.  My planning consists of figuring out whether we have food and money for gas and if I can squeeze a little extra money out of the unemployment check for one of the collection agencies that hound us.  While other people are making plans for summer vacation I can’t even schedule a haircut or dental appointment.  I don’t know if I’ll have the money to pay for it when the appointment comes around.

My ability to plan for the future is stymied by forces outside my control and frankly I find trying to plan depressing.  The downward spiral we are in has dug us into a hole that looks harder and harder to get out of.  If I got a job tomorrow, oh it would be a wonderful blessing and relief, but it’s going to be an uphill climb to recover financially and re-establish ourselves as an average American family (to the extent that we ever were).  The kids talk about getting a house again but I wonder if that will ever be possible for us.  I suspect this recession is going to create long-lasting, perhaps permanent scars on many thousands of Americans- life savings wiped out, credit ruined, health impaired by medical issues gone uncared for, children marked by the stigma of free lunches and food stamps and affected by the constant parental mantra of “there’s no money for that.”

So I won’t be making New Year’s Resolutions.  I just don’t know what to plan for.

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