"Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset." Saint Francis de Sales
Are You Piss Poor? Good! That's better than not having a Pot to piss in!
I'm fascinated by the origin of ideas, beliefs and sayings--and search engines provide me hours of amusement as I attempt to discover how colorful sayings get a foot-hold in our language.
Every now and then when I catch myself using an odd phrase I stop to wonder what I'm really saying--and this leads me on a path to discovery that often lightens my mood despite trying situations. That's what happened one afternoon as I found myself using the phrase 'piss poor'.
While engaged in a conversation with a friend about people feeling poor and down on their luck she shared her own story about two little girls who showed up in her daughter-in-law's backyard one afternoon.
The kids had just moved into a new home built by Habitat for Humanity right behind her daughter-in-law's modest home. This young single mother who is 'piss poor'--lost her husband at a young age and is raising two boys alone while going to school and receiving financial support from her parents. She isn't exactly flush with resources.
She hadn't yet secured a job since finishing school. But she does have an old, long out-of-use trampoline in her backyard.
One afternoon, she looked out into her backyard to see two little girls sitting on the decrepit trampoline. When she went out to greet them, they asked, 'Are you rich'? To these children 'without even a pot to piss in' that old broken down trampoline looked like riches.
Perhaps after the recent years of economic woes, like this young woman, you're feeling piss poor. But it's all a matter of perspective. While you may be feeling 'down on your luck' or less than 'well-heeled', the good news is if you're feeling piss poor you still have options for pulling out and making money.
The expression 'piss poor' originated around the 1500s when urine was used to tan animal skins. Poor families could earn money by collecting their pee in a pot to sell to the tannery--and thus they were 'piss poor'.
But someone else was even worse off than you in the 1500s if they 'didn't even have a pot to piss in'--meaning they were so poor they couldn't even afford to buy a pot for the family to pee in--and so they were unable to make money selling pee to the tannery.
Seemingly Vulgar Terms Originate out of Hard Times
What I see in these seemingly vulgar expressions is our ingenuity to find ways to make money in dire circumstances. Life is a challenge. Since the beginning of time people have been struggling to make a life.
From the outside, others always look shinier, better, and more successful. From the inside, we see all of our blemishes, failures, losses and difficulties. Yet most of us in the U.S. are part of the 99% whose income has diminished while our struggles have increased. Most of us must work at creating a life, finding or keeping a job, and making an income in this tough economy. No one 'has it easy'--and few are 'catching more breaks' than you.
Stop Worrying and Let Tomorrow Bring New Strengths
How do you survive hard times? Are you struggling to catch a break? Are other people doing better than you? When you look around you does it seem like everyone else is breaking through the difficulties, except you?
As Eleanor Roosevelt said, "with the new day comes new strength and new thoughts". When you find yourself worrying about comparing your current circumstances to others, put it down for the day and see what tomorrow brings.
"Worrying does not empty today of its troubles, it empties tomorrow of its strength." Mary Englebreit
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For more than 30 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.
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