Some politician LOVE to hate the poor. They see them as inferior, lazy moochers who just bask in their poorness and enjoy all of the happiness being poor brings them. They tell America that poor people could stop being poor if they just work hard enough.

What they forget to mention when they paint this fictional portrait of happy poor people are the struggles the roughly 50 million Americans who live below the poverty line face. Normal, everyday things that cause someone with little or no money to weep in frustration.

Here are twelve struggles that only the working poor can truly understand:

12.  The car maintenance struggle:

If you are poor and lucky enough to own a vehicle you know this struggle well. You pray that nothing happens to your vehicle, because you can’t afford the repair fees. For instance, new tires could easily eat up an entire month of grocery money. So you make those bad boys last until they are NASCAR slick. You might slide in the rain and almost kill yourself, but at least you won’t starve.

11.  The dental struggle:

You wake up one morning with a throbbing, swollen face and immediately are faced with horror that you have to go to the dentist. Holy crap! You don’t have dental insurance! Maybe you job doesn’t offer it, so those visits are paid for out-of-pocket. Dentists are expensive. A root canal and crown can easily run $2,000. So what do you do? You hope that the leftover amoxicillin in your medicine cabinet will do the job until you save enough to have that tooth pulled. But what about the pain?! Yeah, you’re screwed. Oh and if you’re really unlucky, you might die from that tooth infection. Because that’s not insane in the richest country in the world.\

10.  The sick kid struggle:

Your kid gets sick in the middle of the week and you don’t even have $4 to your name. You can’t afford any Children’s Motrin or any other store-bought medicine.  Time to bust out that home remedy book your grandma gave you and hope things don’t result in our next struggle.

9.  The medical emergency struggle:

What happens if you or your child has to be hospitalized for something?  Bring on the stress! Not only do you have a medical bill that would make Jesus weep, but now you’ve missed time at work and your employer isn’t paying you for that. There’s nothing worse than focusing on the cost of a hospital visit and missed time at work while also worrying if your or your child will heal.

8.  The grocery struggle:

So there was too much month at the end of your food stamps or maybe you don’t even qualify for assistance, what now? Now you get to sit down and try to figure out how you can make $30 buy food for the week. Ramen Noodles forevaaaa!  Or egg dishes every night! Who cares about the cholesterol, the hospital will be happy to treat your heart attack if you give them your soul…and $50,000.

7.  The bill paying struggle:

Which final notice should you pay first? Water or electric. Well either you’ll be showering with your neighbor’s water hose next week or you’ll be using a flashlight to find your bathroom at night. It’ll be fun! Just like camping!

6.  The overdraft fee struggle:

You accidentally spent one dollar more than you had in the bank and now you have an overdraft fee. Bank overdraft fees are an awesome way to really stick it to people who are struggling to stay afloat. Banks usually charge an overdraft fee of  around $35, but if that one dollar overdraft causes other things to “bounce” then you are looking at multiple overdraft fees. Banks LOVE overdraft fees, it’s where they make billions! But a person counting every penny is basically screwed for the rest of the month.

5.  The school clothes struggle:

Winter is here and your kid has grown out of all of their winter clothes, oh joy! Now you have to siphon money from everywhere else to make sure your child doesn’t turn into an ice-cube this winter. It’s okay though, you really didn’t need trash bags, coffee, or a phone this month anyway.

4.  The school supplies struggle:

Next to Christmas and birthdays this is the single most dreaded time of the year. For one child, school supplies can easily run between $40-$80. That’s the water bill or half of the electricity bill. The start of the school year causes many parents to start fermenting their potatoes to make vodka. Don’t judge, we can’t afford to go buy real vodka, school supplies destroyed any hopes of that.

3.  The birthday struggle:

Yay, it’s time to celebrate your child’s entrance to the world! How exciting! Except when you realize that you have to buy a cake (especially if you’re like me and baking one is not a skill you possess), birthday candles, decorations, a present (and the older they get the more expensive they are), and a multitude of other items to make your child’s day special. It’s okay though, cake can be eaten for meals right?

2.  The Christmas struggle:

It’s the most wonderful time of year, right? WRONG! Every parent wants to make the holidays special for their child. It’s magical for them, but not so much for parents who do not have any money. This is the worst time of year. The desire to make your children happy is what puts you in danger of being trampled on Black Friday. It’s what causes your bills to pile up or a credit card to be maxed out. Christmas is when we check to see if our potatoes are done fermenting because we need to stay a little drunk, all the time, to get through until the new year.

And finally…

1.  The hygiene products struggle:

This is probably the most degrading of all the struggles. You’ve run out of shampoo, toothpaste, toilet paper, deodorant, tampons (if you’re a woman), razors, etc. and you have no money to buy more. Maybe you receive assistance, but food stamps don’t pay for nonfood items. Maybe you just forgot to budget for those things because you didn’t think about it. Now what? You pray that you don’t smell until your next check. Or you sit in a corner and cry because you realize it really, really sucks to be poor.

By the way, these are not problems exclusively faced by people below the poverty line. There are millions of Americans who live just at, or slightly above, the poverty line and they struggle too — maybe even more since this group makes “too much” to qualify for any assistance, but not enough to live comfortably. We feel your pain, too.





We are simply people who use wheelchairs.

Motivational Monday: Dreams

Every great dream begins with a dreamer.  Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach the stars and change the world. (Harriet Tubman)

Wishing you peace and wellbeing as you reach for your star(s).

PS: Remember to hold the one’s you love just a little closer and tighter this week.

With her son Devin’s needs in mind, A.J. Paton-Wildes chose neutral colors for the walls and new flooring in the living room of their Oak Park Heights, Minn., home. As an interior designer, Paton-Wildes incorporates her personal experience with Devin, who has autism, to help create calming spaces for those on the spectrum. (By )

MINNEAPOLIS — A.J. Paron-Wildes’ home, a walk-out rambler in suburban Oak Park Heights, Minn., is a study in calm — all clean, uncluttered spaces and earthy, neutral hues that echo the autumn leaves framing the view of the St. Croix River. On an autumn afternoon, daughter Eva, 6, is having an after-school snack, while son Devin, 19, sketches intently, seated at the studio desk in his orderly bedroom.

This peaceful environment is entirely by design. When you have a child child with autism, calm is a precious commodity — and Paron-Wildes has become an expert at creating it, starting in her own home.

That journey started 16 years ago when Devin was diagnosed with autism at age 3. “It was very traumatic,” Paron-Wildes recalled.

At that time, Devin didn’t speak but was prone to explosive tantrums when he was upset or confused. “He’d drop to the floor and start screaming.” She and her husband stopped bringing Devin to the grocery store or on other errands because they never knew what might trigger an eruption. “We’d have to drop everything and leave.”

At the time of Devin’s diagnosis, Paron-Wildes was a very young interior designer, only recently graduated from the University of Minnesota. “I thought, ‘There’s got to be some great research’” about designing spaces for children with autism, but she was wrong. “There was nothing,” she recalled. “Everything was done in the ’70s, when kids were institutionalized.”

Determined to keep Devin at home, Paron-Wildes committed herself to creating an environment where he could learn and thrive. So she started educating herself — by working backwards.

She read books about autism, and pored over studies about the neurological workings of the brain, becoming fascinated by the different ways people with autism perceive colors, patterns and lighting. She tried to determine what design elements would likely trigger difficult behavior — and then did the opposite, learning through trial and error.

“You can’t really get the information by asking, ‘Is this too bright for you?’ ‘Does this make you dizzy?’ You have to watch for cues,” she said.

Devin, too, was watching for cues. That’s a necessary strategy for children with autism, who usually develop language skills much later than their peers. Those who have difficulty communicating verbally often look to their environment for cues about what’s happening and how they should respond, Paron-Wildes said. They crave order and are easily distracted by its absence. They read meaning into seemingly random visual signals, and tend to be hypersensitive to harsh artificial light and to environmental toxins.

Paron-Wildes learned that the Crayola-bright, busy spaces most people consider kid-friendly — “like Ronald McDonald threw up” — are so stimulating that they can easily confuse and overwhelm a child with autism.

She remembers taking a young Devin to speech therapy — “in a room with a jungle gym and kids running around screaming.” The lesson was going nowhere, until she suggested moving it to a closet, the only quiet place available. There, Devin started to respond.

Information about autism and design may have been scarce when Paron-Wildes began searching for it, but that’s changing as autism rates have soared. The incidence may now be as high as 1 in 50 children, a 72 percent increase since 2007, according to a 2013 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That means Paron-Wildes’ expertise is increasingly in demand. “People think, ‘Oh, I have to redesign my whole house,’?” she said. “No. Pay attention to the areas where the child needs to learn.” Those areas, as well as rooms where children rest and sleep, should be well-organized and orderly, with minimal distraction and muted, warm colors. “I’ve painted many little boys’ rooms pink — it tends to be a calming color,” she said.

She has worked with the University of Minnesota to develop research and design principles, co-chaired the Minnesota Autism Task Force, has written a trilogy of e-books on “Design for Autism” and spoke on “Design Empathy” for architects at a recent AIA Minnesota convention. The bouncy, enthusiastic designer managed to work an autism joke — with a message — into her presentation. Pointing out a mustard-yellow circle at the corner of each page of her PowerPoint, she asked: “How many of you are wondering what that is there for? I did that to confuse you!” she added with a girlish laugh. “That’s what it’s like for kids (with autism).”

A designer for the AllSteel workplace furniture firm, Paron-Wildes also consults with schools, medical facilities and other organizations that serve children with autism and their families. (Most of her consulting work is done pro bono.) At this point, she could probably do autism-related design full-time, but she enjoys working on a wide range of projects. “If my whole life was autism, I would lose perspective.”

One recent consulting project involved working with designers from Perkins + Will on a new space for the Fraser Center, a program Devin attended from age 3 to 6. The designers transformed a former Life Time Fitness office into a speech and occupational therapy site for children with autism and others.

Paron-Wildes pointed out design features on a recent visit. Treatment rooms and “meltdown areas,” where children often struggle with transitions from one activity to another, are quiet and neutral. “It’s easier to add color than to take it away,” she said. In other areas, brighter hues are used as way-finding cues, guiding children down hallways and to color-coded cubbies. Most flooring is kept simple. “If you make a pattern, the kids will follow it.”

There’s a lot more color and pattern in the reception area, however, where parents wait for their children and sometimes meet with therapists.

“One of the biggest complaints in centers is that parents feel like they’re in an institution,” Paron-Wildes said. She vividly remembers the stark waiting room she sat in when she first heard Devin’s diagnosis 16 years ago. “It felt very institutional. There was nothing to look at. It added to the aloneness and trauma.”

Parents feel calmer and more comfortable in a vibrant, upbeat environment. “It’s all psychological,” she said. “These parents want to feel like their child is going to a school — a fun school — not to treatment.”

Today, Devin is a verbal and affectionate teen who graduated from high school, went to prom and has developed into a gifted artist. He hopes to study art further; his work has won numerous awards and is proudly displayed throughout the family’s house.

That house, too, was chosen and designed with Devin’s needs in mind. Up until last year, Paron-Wildes and her family lived in a historic house in Stillwater, Minn. It was not calm, at least not after Devin’s sister joined the family. “We didn’t think we’d have a second kid,” Paron-Wildes said. “Then we had Ava. She’s a screamer. It was hard on Devin. We were having a lot of behavioral issues.”

So they found another house, one with plenty of separation between the kids’ rooms. Devin has a large bedroom with a lofted ceiling and a big window overlooking the river. “It’s really quiet up here; the 6-year-old doesn’t bother him,” his mother said. His room has lots of natural light and views of nature, which he loves studying through his telescope. There’s even an adjacent “Lego room” where he can retreat to build elaborate structures. Devin didn’t want to move at first — transitions are still difficult — and threatened to run away. But he soon adjusted. “He is so comfortable here — he loves his space,” Paron-Wildes said. “We have zero issues now.”

Thresholds, if provided at a doorway, must not exceed 3⁄4 inch in height for exterior sliding doors or 1⁄2 inch for other types of doors. If they are higher than this (as shown in this picture), it can prevent individuals who have mobility disabilities from accessing a business.

We all like to feel comfortable. But doing something new, especially taking an action to change, usually doesn’t feel comfortable. It feels awkward and strange.

Sometimes depression and anxiety can block us from taking the actions we want and need to take. Not taking these actions can increase our depression and anxiety, and we feel even less motivated to act. This cycle can keep us trapped.

If depression and anxiety are so severe they’re stopping you from taking actions to live your life, you may need to seek professional help and get those issues under control. That in itself is taking action.

Challenge: The hardest thing about taking positive steps to change can be having enough hope to believe that what we do matters and the steps we take will work. (Melody Beattie, Daily Meditations, Dec 1, 2014)

Wishing you peace and wellbeing as you take action even when you feel uncomfortable.

PS: Remember to hold the one’s you love just a little closer and tighter this week.

One of the most popular posts that people have accessed through internet searches is Freedom Resource Center’s post on  rejection-sensitive dysphoria and ADHD (  Because of this, we are providing a part two:

Devastated by Disapproval

By William Dodson, M.D.

Science can’t measure the emotional impact of ADHD — but when it comes to fear of failure, it’s real and profound.

You cannot manage the impairments of ADHD until you understand how you process emotion. Researchers have ignored the emotional component of ADHD because it can’t be measured. Yet emotional disruptions are the most impairing aspects of the condition at any age. Fortunately, medications can provide some relief.

Nearly everyone with ADHD answers an emphatic yes to the question: “Have you always been more sensitive than others to rejection, teasing, criticism, or your own perception that you have failed or fallen short?” This is the definition of a condition called rejection-sensitive dysphoria. When I ask ADHDers to elaborate on it, they say: “I’m always tense. I can never relax. I can’t just sit there and watch a TV program with the rest of the family. I can’t turn my brain and body off to go to sleep at night. Because I’m sensitive to my perception that other people disapprove of me, I am fearful in personal interactions.” They are describing the inner experience of being hyperactive or hyper-aroused. Remember that most kids after age 14 don’t show much overt hyperactivity, but it’s still present internally, if you ask them about it.

The emotional response to the perception of failure is catastrophic for those with the condition. The term “dysphoria” means “difficult to bear,” and most people with ADHD report that they “can hardly stand it.” They are not wimps; disapproval hurts them much more than it hurts neurotypical people.

If emotional pain is internalized, a person may experience depression and loss of self-esteem in the short term. If emotions are externalized, pain can be expressed as rage at the person or situation that wounded them.

In the long term, there are two personality outcomes. The person with ADHD becomes a people pleaser, always making sure that friends, acquaintances, and family approve of him. After years of constant vigilance, the ADHD person becomes a chameleon who has lost track of what she wants for her own life. Others find that the pain of failure is so bad that they refuse to try anything unless they are assured of a quick, easy, and complete success. Taking a chance is too big an emotional risk. Their lives remain stunted and limited.

For many years, rejection-sensitive dysphoria has been the hallmark of what has been called atypical depression. The reason that it was not called “typical” depression is that it is not depression at all but the ADHD nervous system’s instantaneous response to the trigger of rejection.

Until recently, all that a person with ADHD could do was to wait for his dysphoria to dissipate over time. Clinical experience has found that up to half of people with rejection sensitivity can get some relief from medications.  More investigation and research are called for, but if you think that you may have rejection-sensitive dysphoria, talk with your doctor about it.

Source:  ADDitude: Strategies and Support for ADHD and LD


Accessible parking for an entrance that is not accessible.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” (Melody Beattie)

Wishing you peace and wellbeing as you remember, gratitude isn’t just a holiday tradition.

PS: Remember to hold the one’s you love just a little closer and tighter this week.

The Accessible parking spots do not have access aisles. In case you missed it, the delivery truck is taking up all three of the access aisles.