Sometimes I Can’t Help Myself

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Yesterday I talked about what it means to keep your integrity and never forget where you came from. While I really try to apply this mindset to my life as much as I can, I don’t want to come off with a “holier than though” sort of attitude so I figured I would talk a little bit about some things that I do for my kids that I never could have dreamed of as a kid. I have found that we can still spoil our kids every once in a while as long as they understand how fortunate they are.

My Childhood Dream Yard

Besides from a television or video game set, the number one thing that I had always wanted as a kid was a playground or some sort of tree fort in our yard. I was realistic however and knew that this was something that I would only be able to enjoy in my dreams as long as my family were still stuck in Buckfastleigh. This wasn’t out of the ordinary for my neighborhood though as every one of my friends were wishing for the same thing but knew that it was never going to happen.

fortNow that I have children of my own with a steady and secure job, I have sort of been living vicariously through my children. So just like my parents and their newest home renovations, I decided to surprise my kids with what I have always wanted. What my parents were unable to do however, my wife and I are fortunate enough to go through actual professional companies to come and do all of the hard work for us and let me tell you, it is an amazing feeling having come from where I did.

So as soon as my kids were sent off to school, we had a professional landscaping company here at – Top Tree Services to come and clear out our yard to make room for their brand new playground. To make the surprise even better, we waited until the next day to put up the jungle gym while the kids were at school again and made sure to have the camera ready when they got home.

Seeing such excitement on a child’s face is a feeling that only other parents can ever understand.

Remembering Where I Came From

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I think a really important thing to keep in mind for anyone else out there who has come from “rags to riches” (for lack of a better term) is to never forget where you came from. I have seen time and time again people who have made a life for themselves or their family and they let their success go to their heads, forfeiting any sort of integrity that growing up in poorer circumstances may have brought.

This is something that I promised myself that I would never allow to happen and I acknowledge the fact that everything I have worked for over these years can be gone in the blink of an eye. This helps keep me down to Earth while appreciating everything that I have worked for over the years and the person that my parents have molded me into.

Teaching The Young Ones

kidsEven though I like to give my kids a lot of the things that my parents were never able to afford for me, I make sure that I continue to teach them what it means to be modest and appreciate what they have. They have gotten close to the age where we can start talking to them about people who are in less fortunate circumstances than us and how my childhood was compared to theirs.

They are still a little young for a lot of this conversation but my wife and I wanted to start this topic early so they don’t grow up thinking they are any better than anyone else.

Giving Back to My Family

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The most important thing that I want my children (or anyone reading this for that matter) to take from my experiences growing up poor is to stay humble, modest, and to appreciate the blessings that you have. Even though my family never had any money for the majority of my life, I knew how much they loved us unconditionally and this is something that money could never replace.

Now that I have my career that I feel very comfortable and secure in, I have finally been able to give back to my parents for everything that they have done for me and taught me over the years.

Saying Thank You

My family chose to move here to America when my father finally got back on his feet and life has been amazing for all of us ever since. My parents lives were completely turned around and even though the home they live in now can’t even compare to what we were used to in Buckfastleigh, they are still not rich by any means and their house has needed a lot of work over the years.

Because I know how hard my father worked and tried to make ends meet when I was growing up, I have been saving as much as I could to help them out in every way possible since my graduation. Just like our house, I decided to spoil my parents with a complete home renovation done by actual professionals so that my father wouldn’t have to risk hurting himself trying to fix the problems himself like I know he would have tried to do. We searched through a number of Rockford roofing companies until finding this one and had them show up to my parents house unannounced to do the renovations.

The looks on my parents faces was something that I will never forget and can’t put into words how it felt. It was one of the only times that I can ever remember my dad actually crying which of course immediately brought me to tears as well.

It’s funny how much coming from nothing can make you appreciate things like this in life and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Talking To The Children

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Keep in mind that as I talk about my life today and how far I have come that I definitely do not spoil my children and I still teach them the values of hard work and how it pays off. Even though I will never allow them to fall under the same circumstances that I did when I was young, I still try and teach them about what it is to be grateful for what you have and how fortunate we are because not everyone ends up with a happy ending.

Sharing Stories

Unfortunately, my family never owned a camera of any sort when I was growing up so I don’t have any pictures of my old home or where I grew up to show my kids but they are getting to the age where I can start talking to them about those who are less fortunate and where I came from.

My wife and I have had a few discussions about exactly how to talk to our kids about these kinds of topics and when to do it. There are many different opinions on this topic and we did a lot of research online to get a general feel for it. Articles like The Washington Post here might have completely different information than the next so we decided to do it on our own terms when we felt like they were ready.

There really is no definite answer but I feel like it really is an important discussion to have.

Stuck To My Word

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If you missed yesterday, there was a moment when I was a younger teenager where I promised myself that I would never let my family fall into poverty like my family had and I kept to that promise. Trust me when I say that I know how hard these times can be and I genuinely hope that anyone reading this who may be in less fortunate circumstances can relate and stay positive.

Don’t ever give up and know that if I can get out of where I was at, then so can you or anyone else who have their minds in the right place.

Providing Is My Only Goal

Having lived in a house where my father couldn’t afford to fix anything or buy anything short of food and shelter, I worked relentlessly for years going to school and making sure that I would have a future for my family. After years of school, internships, and hourly jobs I finally got my degree in marketing and am now the lead project manager for a growing everyday firm in my town.

When my wife and I had our first child we wanted to start a new chapter in our life so we bought our first brand new house. Having saved pretty much every penny I could for over 10 years, we decided to spare no expenses because I wanted to give my family the life that I did not have growing up. Unlike my parents, we were able to afford hiring actual professional roofing contractors to upgrade our new home which is something I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams as a kid. I genuinely cannot tell you the feeling of having come from a poor community to being able to pay for a house.

As a kid, we were responsible for fixing everything wrong in our house or yard and the majority of the time they were simply left alone to only grow as worse problems, which I will get into more next.

Motivation For Today

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Even though times were pretty rough for my family and I when we were living in Buckfastleigh when we were, I wouldn’t change any of it for the world because it really did help shape me into the man that I am today. I didn’t realize it at the time, but having my family go through the struggles that we did was changing my attitude on life itself.

Perspective and Goals

When I reached my teenage years I started to have a better understanding of the situation that my family was in. While I was younger, most of my friends and other kids who went to my school were on the less fortunate side as well so it didn’t seem too out of the ordinary for me but once I started to grow up and see others outside of my small neighborhood I realized how bad our situation really way.

Even though we never had a lot of money and met pretty much every criteria described here to fall under the “poverty line” that is  to buy luxury things like televisions or computers, we always knew that we had each other and made the best of our circumstances.

I don’t remember the exact circumstances that it happened, but there was a moment when I promised myself that I would never allow my future family to fall victim to the situations that my family had fallen into.

Stay tuned to hear more about that next.

Making the Best of It

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Now that you have a little bit of information about my living situation and where I came from, I can start talking a little bit about growing up in these situation.

As I am sure most of you can relate to, when you are a kid you tend to make the most of whatever situation is thrown at you regardless of the actual reality of it. This was most certainly the case in my childhood and my friends and I never let our parent’s poor income have a negative toll on our lives.

Lived Outdoors

oldhouseIt might be hard for my children and the younger generations out there to grasp this but we never had a television, computer, or video game system when we were growing up and had to make our own fun.

How did we ever survive???

Well like most kids during those times, we were responsible for making dew with what we had and entertaining ourselves completely technology free. Just like my house, the lawn was a complete disaster and was filled with overgrown grass, rotting trees, and random mounds of dirt all over the place.

One of my favorite things as a kid was playing “war” with my friends and creating our own fortresses and home bases with some of the mess that my yard consisted of.

This was one thing that I was actually thankful for while we were living here and find it fascinating how different my, and others, children could never fathom having to go through life without their computers and smart phones.

Living Situation

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For those of you who have kept up or had the time to check out my about page, you know that my family was going through pretty rough times while we lived in Buckfastleigh. My father had lost his job and we really had no choice but to relocate to a cheaper place in a cheaper town which led us there.

Now that I am an adult and have a career and consider myself to be “successful,” I really do love looking back at where I came from and it gives me an entirely new perspective and appreciation for what I have today.

Our House

When I look back and think about it I realize that for the most part, the house we lived in was an absolute disaster. Being a kid and having most of my friends living in similar circumstances I really didn’t realize how poor my family actually was so thankfully it never really effected my everyday life.


We had major plumbing, roof, and yard issues and you better believe that there was no way my parents were spending any money to hire people to come and fix these problems because there simply was no money to be spent on it.

If we had a roof (even a leaky roof) over our head and food on the table then my parents were doing their job but anything more than that was very rare to come by.

My Favorite History As A Kid

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So as you know, I lived in Buckfastleigh from the time I was 7 for about 10 years so obviously the majority of my time there was as a child. Little did I know that what I was observing and taking in would have a major impact on myself and attitude towards life overall later on.

But I will get to that stuff later, for now I’ll talk a little bit more about the history and what I loved as a kid.

William Pengelly Cave Studies Centre

Like most of you out there reading this, I used to love taking field trips in school and the William Pengelly Cave Studies Centre is one that stands out as my favorite.

caveThis centre in Russets Lane, was established in 1962 as a focus for the study of the caves, through educational visits and research, and for the conservation of the cave environment. The focal point at the centre is the Joint-Mitnor Cave which contains the remains of animals that lived here about 100,000 years ago.

These rich bone deposits were laid down during the last inter glacial period. The climate at that time was hotter than now so such animals as hippopotamus, straight tusked elephant, rhinoceros, hyena, bison, cave lion, wild pig and many more could live here. From time to time animals fell down the limestone fissures on the hill into the caves below and died. Gradually a mound of bones, earth and rock built up. As the ages passed, the climate altered and openings into the caves appeared.

Little Bit of History

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I understand that the majority of people reading this have probably not even heard of Buckfastleigh, let alone live there or know much about the history behind this smaller English town so I want to fill you in with some of what I know about the history. For those of you who have some knowledge about it or aren’t too interested in the details, this one might not be for you.

Take Some Notes Kids

buck1Greek and Phoenician traders came to the Casserides or tin Islands from 2000 BC for tin was more highly prized than gold as it was used to make bronze.  There is no record of their having reached the Mardle Valley but they described the country as ‘hospitable, thickly populated and with an extremely chilly climate.

Until 1204 AD the whole of Devon was a royal forest, but on May 18th King John de-forested land up to the bounds of Dartmoor.  An old map painted on skin shows four circles, the  center being the true forest in which dwelt 35 tenement holders whose names had been on the Manor Rolls for ‘tyme out of mynde’.

Devon men were said to have long legs to pull themselves out of the mud. Not until 1635 was there a highway code with o Surveyor appointed for a single highway parish and a District Surveyor for several parishes grouped together by order of Quarter Sessions, the rates being ten pence, three times a year. Twenty five years later the Public Health Act divided England into Urban and Rural Sanitary Districts and that eventually formed Buckfastleigh into what it is today.