Saturday, July 25, 2009

In the words of a fellow Blogger

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.
I stopped.
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.


Lelainia N. Lloyd said...

ANd those ads the anti-reform lobbiest are running about the Canadian woman who had the brain tumor and had to go to the US because if she waited to have it taken care of in Canada she would have died? (Yes we see those ads-we get American TV in Canada.) Well what they didn't tell you is that she got her health care the American way-she had to take out a second mortgage on her house and borrow money from her friends to get treatment in the US.

I am the first to admit our health care system is not perfect by any stretch-I think the US really needs to try and model after France or Sweden to get it right, but when I see Americans (my friends) risking losing their homes to try and stay well or making choices about whether they can eat or take medications it freaks me out.

Those lobbying groups have admitted that they have not come to Canada and spoken with a cross section of Canadians about their opinions about what works and what doesn't in health care. THey are just citing ONE example for their own agenda.

It's the same scare tactics they use during election campaigns. I hate to think it would get enough merit that it would cost you the chance to have universal health care. I mean imagine if you could go to the doc when you felt sick and not have to WORRY! Imagine going to the hospital and NEVER getting a bill! I can't tell you how blessed we feel to be able to take this for granted in our country. WOrrying about money is the LAST thing you need when you are ill.

Okay, stepping off my soap box now!

J and J Oxrieder said...


Hi there! Thanks for the comment. I haven't had much of a chance to check out your blog but I'll add you to my watch list!

....I grew up in Helena MT as it were, small world huh?

Jamie D. said...

I won't get into the whole health care thing...not fond of talking politics with people I don't know very, very well. But I can speak to being poor - even though I'm solidly and comfortably middle class now, I grew up in government housing, and I've been through those holidays with no gifts, months with no money to eat, and miraculous gifts from strangers. One year someone left a check box containing $100 on our doorstep when I was very young at a time when we really, really needed food. Second-hand clothing was all we wore when I was little, and I remember every bit of the effort my parents put into pulling our family out of poverty and into a decent income level. It was a lot of work, and a lot of "luck" too.

But I never regret growing up in that environment, because it taught me how to survive with nearly nothing, and it taught me not to "fear" being without money. Those two things have served me well, esp. this spring when my husband took a huge pay cut to take a more stable job.

Happy and content is all we can really ask for - and I think it's something we have to find regardless of our surroundings whenever possible.

earl-baldwin said...

Read your comment on Roz Savage ocean rower, and had to check out your blog.
I am not as frugal as I would like to be but have lived on bread and milk for months at a time.
Loved the mention of christmas gifts being brought to your home. We had the same situation in our home as a child.The Salvation Army was our Santa for several years.