Enough already with this Occupy Wall Street nonsense.

Don’t get me wrong, every month I write that check for my underwater mortgage, pay the car insurance and deal with other necessities, I dream up a million other ways on how to spend that money.  While I might not like writing those checks, I sure do enjoy the fact that my family has a roof over their head, food on the table, and some hot water for that shower.

I grew up in an immigrant household.  For my parents, their migration to the United States was about opportunity and building a better life for themselves and their eventual family.  They were two immigrants with less than a grade school education, traveling to a foreign country, where they did not speak the language or know the customs or traditions.

Forty-two years ago, when my parents ventured into this new country, the only thing they had was each other and a work ethic that is as strong and old as this country’s history.  They didn’t whine or complain, they just worked hard and took the necessary steps to make their own situation better.

Over the past twenty years, my parents have opened their home to nearly fifty-two kids.  In a foster home you quickly realize that life is rarely easy and nothing comes for free. Many of these kids are just looking for a safe and secure place, away from an abuser.  Others spent weeks hoarding food, wondering if the next day the food was going to disappear, and for most, they spent days, weeks, months, years and for some a lifetime wondering why their parents had abandoned them.  Life wasn’t and isn’t easy for those kids, and fairness was something they had to fight for at the most basic level.

Most of these kids now live productive lives; some went off to college and other into the military.  Every holiday more and more chairs are added and more tamales are consumed – each of us kids seem to be bringing a few more people as the years go by.  The progress we’ve each made has come only through our own willingness to take responsibility for the direction of our lives and set achievable goals.

Working your way up can and will happen, but it will not fall in your lap.

One of my first jobs was cleaning the bathrooms of a four story building – this helped me pay for summer classes.  Years later I was grateful to a friend who helped me get a job with her brother as a plumber assistant.  Changing water heaters and trying to dig our way to a collapsed sewer pipe, this wasn’t very glamourous work, but it was an honest job.  After hours of scrubbing and digging you learn to appreciate that dollar earned.

The same is true for my cousins who spent their summers in the California fields of the Central Valley.  Underneath that blistering sun, they earned and saved their money, and eventually put themselves through college.

None of us attended Ivy league schools or some nationally ranked institutions, we did with what we had and made the the best of our opportunities.  We did it by taking responsibility for ourselves and for each other.

Maybe it’s an age thing, but now that I am approaching forty, I can’t seem to understand how camping out in the streets for weeks, banging on drums, not showering for days, and complaining to those passing by is somehow going to change your economic situation, make your debt disappear or help you get a job.

And if you aren’t getting results, how is that a good use of your time?

There is nothing wrong with starting at the bottom, most people do.  There is also nothing wrong with updating your skill sets, learning a new trade and not losing sight of your goals and dreams.  When our economy begins to recover, how you spend your time and the opportunities you seek today will inevitably help determine where and how you end-up.

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