I thought about this long and hard. I really, really did.
When I started the site that preceded this one (The Tramadol Diaries), my intention was to use it to build a community and ultimately write a book about coping with chronic pain. Then the whole “Google hates the ‘T’ word” thing happened, and life happened, and … well, good intentions, road to hell, all that.
See, running a website requires time and money. There’s the cost of the premium theme that controls the way the site looks. There’s the yearly registration of the domain. There’s the monthly hosting costs.
In the beginning, I’d planned to recoup the cost of running this site via affiliate links to Amazon and such.
But there were a couple of problems with that. One was that Amazon pulled its program out of North Carolina, where I now live. But the bigger issue was that I just felt icky writing those posts with affiliate links. The fact that I never made more than five to ten bucks in any year was almost beside the point, but in the end, it was just one more reason to call it quits with that approach. I’ll be removing those links from the old posts over the next few weeks.
This has always been a labor of love for me. Chronic pain has isolated me thoroughly from people I love in the past, and it puts up a wall of separation between all of us and the rest of the world. Others may mean well, but they can’t live inside our skin — they don’t know what it’s like. We do. We can, and must, support each other.
That’s why I love getting email from readers. Every time someone writes me and tells me how hopeless they felt before they found this site, how relieved they felt when they read a few reassuring posts, how this site helped them in some way … my heart just swells. That? Is payment enough.
So why am I putting up a tip jar, then?
That’s a fair question, and like I said, I wrestled with this for a long time.
What pushed me over the line and settled the issue once and for all was this: Y’all know life has been financially difficult for me for the last few years. Chronic pain took a lot away from me, including a well-paying career and a home. I’ve been slowly rebuilding over the last year, but things are still tight.
Being minimally self-employed (I set up websites and help others with marketing their businesses online but due to my condition, can’t work enough hours to make a living wage), money is always an issue. My medical care comes from a community clinic with a sliding fee scale on which I pay the lowest fees. I’ve applied for disability, I’ve applied for Section 8 assistance, and I’ve applied for food stamps.
Life’s hard for all of us, even when things are going well economically. (Which, let’s face it, they aren’t right now, whatever the headlines might say to the contrary.) And for those of us with chronic pain, it’s even harder.
So, back to the story of why I decided to put up the tip jar: My best friend and I talk every day on the phone, and it was during one of those conversations earlier this week that I caught something coming out of my mouth that took me by surprise. We were talking about the thorny issue of having spiritual faith in God when things are so damned bleak-looking. I said this:
It’s like the lottery thing. I mean, the only thing we can say with certainty that if you don’t buy a ticket, you won’t win. But if I really mean what I say, that I’m going to work on letting go of controlling things and have faith in God, then don’t I have to leave room for Him to work in my life?
That question stayed with me all that day. Was I leaving room for something better? Or was I letting my ego seize control of the “how” — how I would make the rent, how I would get the money I need to buy a car (I’ve been without one for eight months), how I would pay the hosting bill — instead of letting that be God’s business?
I don’t want to get too religious here. I completely respect others’ beliefs, or lack thereof. And it doesn’t matter. For “God,” you can substitute “the universe,” “the Flying Spaghetti Monster,” or “fate” or “luck.” There’s the stuff we do and are in control of, and there’s the stuff that happens outside of us but impacts us nonetheless. I can and should focus on the former. I absolutely should do all I can do to support myself and my child. That’s a good thing. But I should also recognize that the latter force is at work, too. And I should leave room for it to do its thing.
Then it hit me: the tip jar is “leaving room.” The tip jar is my way to recognize and honor that force, which I think of as God, and allow it to move and work to my benefit as it will. As He will.
So: I put up the tip jar.
I want to make a few things really crystal clear here:
- There is no obligation to donate. None. Zero. I mean that absolutely.
- I will do nothing with your email address except send you a thank-you note. Period. I freakin’ hate spam, and I would never sell those addresses to anyone. EVER. Seriously, if there were a way to make donations anonymous so that I wouldn’t even know so-and-so donated, I would. But PayPal doesn’t allow for that, to my knowledge.
- If you are moved to donate, you can donate whatever amount is comfortable for you. There are no set amounts, and zero expectations on my part. (See #1 above.)
If you’ve found this site helpful, and if you’re in a position to do so comfortably (and ONLY if), I would be grateful for your donation in any amount to help offset the costs of running this site.
And I truly, truly hope this doesn’t offend anyone. If it does, hey – let me know. Feedback of all types (as long as it’s politely worded) is welcome.