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School of Hard Knocks, We All Got Em

I’m a therapist and being a therapist has a few advantages and disadvantages, just like any career. In my opinion, a major advantage would be that at any given point I feel as if I’m pretty humbled. I have a hard time ever feeling sorry for myself anymore. If I do, its pretty short lived.

No matter how bad it is for you, someone always has it worse off. Unfortunately, that is how it is. The bad news is everywhere. If you watch the news… or hear it you know it’s depressing. You know what I mean. You don’t even need to watch the news to know this. People around you are suffering and have their own crappy things going on and chances are it’s worse than what you are going through. Life kind of sucks at times. I don’t need to tell you though.

News flash! I actually stopped watching the news around 6 years ago after my divorce and it was one of the best I’ve done for myself. Ok, I admit, I occasionally catch glimpse of it in waiting rooms of the doctors office or read about it on my news feed, hear awt work, but I don’t seek it out.

The term “ignorance is bliss”, hmmm is there something to that? Perhaps.

Last night I accidentally listened to a news bit about what Richard Simmons has been up to while I was making dinner.

r simmons


All of sudden I was interested in what Richard Simmons was up to. I caught myself stirring dinner while I was staring at the photos of Richard while the sensationalism reporting of him was horrible. It was a miracle didn’t burn dinner like usual. Well, this time I had a good excuse. It was Richard’s fault.Which is funny. My brothers name is Richard. Blaming my brothers is something I’ve never done, I’m sure.

I caught myself and changed the channel.

I was like…does this make my life better knowing what he has been up to? I got sucked into the drama of it all. It almost got me. Whew. That was a close one.

I was curious, though!

I remember my mom doing some of those “Sweating to the Oldies”, now I’m an oldie.

Crap. When did that happen?

Even though I turned stations; it made me think.

How do they plant that little itty bitty seed and make me wonder about something I hadn’t seen since the 80’s or early 90’s? How to people do that? How does that itty bitty though get burrowed in my head?

I’m a child of the 70’s. I guess that’s half-true. Wait. Is that a true statement? Blah. Let me explain. I was BORN in the 70’s. There. That’s better. People who burned their bra’s in the 70’s, went to Woodstock,  had strong opinions about the war and legitimately braided their hair and put flowers in them and sang “Give Peace a Chance”. I think of them as genuine people from the 70’s. Hippies I think we call them.

(I really hope I’m not offending anyone from the 70’s) but technically I was born in the 70’s so I guess we are all cut from the same cloth, right? (do you hate me yet?).

I really wasn’t making any point at all, other than my age honestly, and giving you a point of reference. I was clueless during that whole time frame so it really doesn’t and shouldn’t matter.

Right? Right? ☺


I’m not a cool person from the 70’s. I wasn’t even a cool person from the 80’s or 90’s or even now. However, the 80’s was cool. We can all agree to that!

I digress.

I was the youngest out of 8 children in rural Iowa. My dad worked very hard for his money and mom took care of us hungry kids. I mean I know I ate a lot anyway.

If you ever get a chance to come to any of our family get togethers – you would never go away hungry. So, I can only imagine feeding us growing up in our younger years.

My mom went to a grocery store called Aldi’s, she canned garden food and occasionally made some of my clothes from her sewing machine. She mended the clothes that had holes in it with patches and once I was old enough my mom and I shared some of our clothes, which is something I NEVER admitted until now. Occasionally an older neighbor would give me a sack of clothes.  I wouldn’t care, wouldn’t turn them away  because they were typically nice.

The only store we bought our clothes was a store on the corner called Pamida, Woolworths or Kmart at the time. My dad would occasionally drive by a garage sale on the way to and from the store on “grocery store day”, which was always on Friday. Now, he would never go out of his way to go garage sale shopping for mom, per say. However, if there happened to be a garage sale that happened to be on the same street we happened to to be driving on and if my mom seemed interested – my dad might stop. I loved it. I begged to stop because this was my chance to actually find something different than what we would normally get.

Now, if dad was in a shopping mood, which was hardly was ever, he would take mom, grandma and me to the Goodwill or some other thrift store. Of course, he would sit in the car and wait as listen to the radio while we would make a mad rush to the store looking for treasures.

It was fun dashing through the store. I equate it to the scene simular to  Forest Gump when he was running across the United States in his new sneakers. Except, I didn’t have a cult following, except I didn’t grow my hair out, except not across or back-forth the United States. Except, well….it was nothing like that but we had to dash real fast. Since we were on a very limited time frame, clothes were never tried on. I would have to grab things that I thought would fit and throw them in the cart and hope for the best. Typically dad would give us around 30 minutes or less to shop. I was a power shopper before I knew what a power shopper was. If I was extremely lucky I would find a cool poster or toy as a treasure.

I remember one time finding a unicorn jewelry box that I adored and a Bon Jovi poster.

Bon Jovi was dreamy. Sigh.l

Lets just take a moment to remember the early 80’s for a moment.


I’m not sure why someone would ever feel the need to donate him to the Goodwill! Man! I hit the jackpot.

And unicorns are still cool, I don’t care who you are!

Going to the Goodwill was something I treasured. It was a good memory for my mom, grandma, dad, and I.

Yet, that was my life. I didn’t know any different. I didn’t care, and I looked forward to those days with my mom and dad. It was great!

But, do you remember being younger and not having a clue of how you looked and remember how happy you were – just being you? Who cared?

When does that change?

Do you remember not every looking in the mirror? Not ever caring what your hair looked like? Not caring if your outfit matched?

I remember being proud of my second-hand clothes until the day I was challenged not to.

So, going back to Richard Simmons…(you didn’t think I would ever get back to the main point did you?! ) I know this is a stretch from Mr. Simmons, but hear me out…I didn’t think about Richard until that thought was put there…then I was curious and it took up mind space.

I also didn’t think I was poor until I was told.

So, when did you start seeing yourself as others saw you?

When did you come to realize that you don’t have the name brand clothes other kids had?

When do you realize that you don’t have the cool gadgets or toys that other kids have? Or maybe you were the kid who pointed it out that others didn’t have it as good as you.

When did you start noticing you were different (if you felt that way)?

Maybe you started noticing differences when your best friend’s parents got a divorce.

Maybe when you experienced your first death.

Maybe you were abused and that changed you and you started seeing the world differently.

Perhaps it was multiple moves or different schools.

Getting beat up and having people in your face. Yelled at. Not feeling accepted.

Bad grades and feeling stupid.

Maybe it was when you realized that not everyone gets first place in the sports you played and you can identify what mediocre feels like.

Maybe you noticed yourself change when you sang in the choir and you searched to find a friendly face out in the crowd in the sea of faces but you were left feeling alone.

Maybe your story is much more twisty and darker…most people’s stories are darker. Most people stories are way worse.

My story is silly, honestly. I remember when I started not feeling good enough and not fitting in with my peers. Or at least that is what I thought.

As a therapist, I have to do a lot of self-reflections.

It’s kind of horrible honestly. I am always looking pretty deep into everything and over thinking everything.

It’s totally overrated. However, it allows me to have insight. Sigh. UGGG. Insight is overrated.

I was asked where I got my clothes.

I wasn’t ashamed. Why would I be? I had fun with my parents and my grandma. I found fun treasures. I had a freakingly awesome poster of Bon Jovi people! He knew how to rock that hair!

Oh, but back to the outfit….

Whew, I can loose a thought. You should knudge me once in awhile. You dropped the ball on that one. Ok, Bon Jovi..Richard Simmons, clothes. Oh yes.

I couldn’t remember if it was a thrift store if it was a garage sale if it was from my neighbor…?

So that’s what I said. I actually said it with pride. I was feeling good.

That was when honesty wasn’t the best policy. I hadn’t learned how to really lie yet. I didn’t need to, why would I? That was my first lesson that apparently money buys happiness because I was told I was poor. I was taught that poor was bad.

The person pointed, laughed and said ‘Tammy is poor, she can’t afford to buy clothes”.  it was really loud in front of a bunch of people. I wanted to run. All eyes were on me and I felt my life changing.  For some reason I let that stupid moment change me.

For crying out loud. I mean it changed me for YEARS.

So, as a young impressionable little girl, I started being sad. I started seeing myself different. I was devastated and I no longer saw myself the same anymore and I no longer saw my family the same anymore. All because of someone’s statements.

Why did I let that one person change my whole outlook?

Why did I let that comercial let me think I needed to know about Richard Simmons all night?

I was taught I was poor, when before I was totally happy living the life I knew. Why do we let the opinions and thoughts of others interrupt our own happiness?

For years I held myself as if I was lower than others, and I believed as if I was. I had no courage; I felt like I couldn’t speak for myself let alone to others. I was pretty shy. I was afraid of others, mostly afraid of myself I guess. At that point school really sucked for me, yet I had a decent childhood. I just let the comment of another person burrow in my heart and change me.

Like I said, it changed me for years. That comment hung into me and made me feel inferior to others and my self esteem was shot. I could give you example after example of crappy thing I’ve allowed into my life because I let others opinions impact me.

However, school of hard knocks – we all got em.

I’m sure you have a great story to tell, we all do. God gave us situations to go through, to preservere through.  We each have a reason why we are here, a reason we are here and lessons to learn along the way. You are here for a reason. God has a purpose for you no matter what your story is. 

I get to spend time with people who have a lot of trauma, sorrow, grief, torment, sickness, disease, years of substance abuse, plauged with mentall illness…just overall dark and twisty stories they have been through. Some of them are so bad, I’m not sure how they emotionally survived – let alone physically survived. Many of them want to die and they need hope.

Yet many of them have stories of hope, survival and strength of how they have not allowed themselves become a victim of their circumstances. Those are my favorite people, inspirations and my biggest teachers in life. Advertisities happen to all of us, but what we do with it is the key.

So, I’m better now in my older age. I care less what people think because I know who I am and I’m more comfortable in my own skin. I try not to judge others because I think “I never know what my life could have been like if I was born in their family” or what “would my life been like if I was in their situation”.  I try to literally put myself in their shoes.

As far as being poor, go out of the country. We are not poor. And thank you to my parents for giving me the simple life that I maybe didn’t appreciate back then, but do so now.

Because I’d rather hang out with someone down on their luck, or in a camper or talk to the homeless than someone who is a millionaire or someone who lives in a multi million dollar house. Oh wait, that’s what we do every day. 

I love my simple life.

 I still shop at thrift stores, garage sales and I still take hand-me-downs. I would rather shop that way than at stores and pay full price. Which, is a proud trait I handed down to my childen and hopefully my future grandchildren. My husband appreciates this too as I don’t spend time shopping. 


Live life to the fullest! Be kind to one another.



Photographer, mother of 6, therapist, traveler and blogger.

One thought on “School of Hard Knocks, We All Got Em

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