I have spent the better part of this evening perusing some other blogs. Jenna at Cold Antler Farm (one of the blogs I follow daily- and have for many months) put out a request for her followers to speak up and say "Hello". The last time I looked, she had something like 134 comments! Woo Hoo! Way to go, Jenna!
Most of the posters wrote a little about themselves, and I decided to check out a few that sounded interesting. I saw photos of farm animals, gardens, flowers, pets, people, handicrafts, and landscapes. Most posts were of daily life and observations.
One post actually gave me pause.
Re-read it, slower this time. WOW! Talk about hitting home. I decided I needed to share some of it here.
The following is the words of FruGal, from her blog Living Well and Living Cheaply:
... a list of life experiences people had that made them realize how poor they were. There are some things I can directly relate to, and some things I could add to the list like the time I was 5 days away from a paycheck with 5 dollars to feed myself and deciding how to make one package of raman stretch for a full day, then receiving a letter with a couple of $20 bills in it from a friend with the simple command, “Please buy some food to eat,” and spending an hour crying before I could pull myself together enough to go get real food for the first time in a couple weeks. I have obsessively recounted a handful of change for fear that I miscalculated what the tax would be on an item worth less than a dollar knowing if I was short a penny I’d have to suffer the embarrassment of putting the item back. Real poverty isn’t just about how much money you don’t have, it’s about a lack of dignity. It’s not just stressful, it’s humiliating, degrading, and poison to the soul. When you’re in a situation where you’re trying to decide between paying the cable bill and paying the cell phone bill, you’re not as poor as someone trying to decide between basic needs like food or shelter.
I’ve brushed up against poverty a couple of times in my life, but never stayed there for long. When people criticize my frugal lifestyle now and say I shouldn’t deprive myself of things like take-out teriyaki or clothes that weren’t worn by anyone else but me, I just have to shake my head. What I’m doing is a choice and as long as I’m not making that choice between one basic need or another I’m not really poor. ....... Living in a first-world country as a middle class citizen, people think they’re poor when they can’t afford luxuries. In the same country there are people who die of curable diseases because they can’t afford treatment. When someone says to me they’re really upset that they had to cancel remodeling their kitchen due to the economy and I’m wondering how long it’ll be before the pain gets so bad I can’t work and whether I’ll be able to the afford the surgery I need by then, it makes me think that this country is sadly lacking in clarity. ...... I pay more in a day for the handful of pills I take than for the food I eat. One doctor’s visit is a months worth of groceries and for it I get 10 minutes of face time with a doctor who asks me to schedule a follow-up appointment right after I told them I don’t have health insurance. I really hope someone out there with a loud enough voice has the guts to stand up and point out how ridiculous it is for doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies to continue to pad their pockets with over priced goods and services while people are dying of things we cured 50 years ago.
She put into words so many of the things I have been thinking about lately, but unable to put into a tangible sentence. I did remove some political and some personal sentences, but for the most part, this was her post.
It is very personal to me, after being to the same point of "being poor" she relates to, AND the situation with doctors and medications. I never had a friend send me cash, but I have had a local church send a couple to my home when my kids were very small bearing Christmas gifts for our family. I remember getting kitchen and bath towels, my ex received a robe and a small tool set, but the girls? They received many, many packages of handmade doll furniture, store bought dolls, stuffed toys, bedding, and craft sets. A large food basket with everything needed for a Christmas brunch and dinner was left as well. I never had asked for this. I don't know who told them that our holiday was limited to one gift for each of the girls, nothing for the two of us adults. These folks weren't even of my religious choice! I cried that night, and again on Christmas when the packages were opened and we saw what was so freely given to us strangers. Someday I will be able to repay that gift to another young, needy family.
Before I can do that, though, I have to struggle through the broken U.S. healthcare system and try to get my body back into a semblance of working order... without health insurance.
Wish me luck!
Having seen and experienced "poor", I learned how to live in a very simple way. Sure I buy most of my clothing second hand, and watch the grocery ads. I don't think going out to the movies is worth the money, but do like the experience once in a while. I save and budget for anything "extra". I don't make a ton of money, but I am not in need of any of the basics either. I have learned to live frugally out of neccessity long before it was the "in thing". I have removed most of the stress out of my life, and I am able to say I am happy and content with the way my life has become.