Friday, July 10, 2009

What I Have Lived Without...

There has been a lot of talk on the QuiltArt list about what people cannot live without. It has gotten me to thinking not about what I cannot live without but what I have lived without.

I have lived without enough food to eat. I will forever be grateful to the guys who worked at Borden's Milk and Ice Cream in Lafayette, Indiana who noticing how thin I was getting started buying me breakfast-- two eggs over easy, wheat toast, and I'm embarrassed to admit it a coke.

I have lived without water and now I'm so thankful every time I turn on the faucet and I'll never forget the ring I made around my bathtub when I got home. Brought back great childhood memories.

I have lived without electricity so learned how to use a crank sewing machine and use an iron I could hardly lift heated over a tank of propane.

I have lived without heat which made me think to use a blow dryer under the sheets to get warm. Before I figured out the blow dryer trick, I had my first and only panic attack. I was so ill from being cold and run down that I couldn't breath. The only way I could think of stopping the attack was to open my window and let the cold air blast me in the face. I'll never forget the stars in the clear sky that night or Vanadzor.

And while all of these things were not easy, I am so glad that I lived without. It has made me appreciate so much more. What have you lived without and how has it changed you? With gratitude, Karen


  1. Wow Karen! I have lived a very blessed life. While there were times when there hasn't been a lot, there was usually enough.

    This winter, while my husband was away, our refrigerator died. I am grateful that we had enough to go out and buy a new one, and I was pleased with myself for being able to make the opening in the wall bigger to accept the fridge when it wasn't the right size. I was also grateful that it was cold enough out that I could put the food out on the unheated porch so we didn't waste all the food in the fridge.

    I can honestly say that the only thing I have been doing without lately, or which had the biggest impact, is doing without my health. I understand completely what it is like to be afraid that my husband wouldn't find a job in time and that we wouldn't be able to continue to pay COBRA because if our insurance lapsed, I am uninsurable.

    I know how guilty I feel that my health issues are a burden for my family. I also know what it is like to have constant pain, fortunately it isn't something that I can't deal with, but I really feel compassion for those whose pain is less manageable than mine.

    I understand the problems with the health system which leave people unable to pay their bills. I also know what it is like to have to fight bot the insurance company who didn't want to pay the bills, or paid them incorrectly, or didn't want to pay a portion of a mastectomy bra because they wanted proof that it was medically necessary even though they had paid for the mastectomy only a month earlier.

    In some ways, this has made me less tolerant of people who say that the system is fine the way it is and that there is something wrong with people who can't afford to pay for their regular doctors visits. I also know how easy it is to lose or come close to losing your house because you have to pay the medical bills, and sometimes there just isn't enough to go around.

  2. I won't list things I have gone without, over the years, but I am starting a mental list. One of these days I will start typing it out. Thanks for the inspiration, Karen.

  3. Karen, that was a truly an inspirational post. Remembering tough times helps us to appreciate what we have.
    Thanks for sharing your experiences
    warm regards

  4. Hi Karen, the path, serendipity....glad I found you again. Loved the post. I, too, am experience a great deal of positiveness in my life right now, and am so grateful. Truly experiencing (as in recognizing and accepting) abundance in my life is probably what I have lived without most in my 53 years. Though I have never really experience physical hardship, I have experience emotional and spiritual hardship and neglect. I will be reflecting today on what you have written and really appreciate the gift that it is!

  5. Karen I was touched reading your post. Most times individuals are a little embarrassed to share things that are so personal, but I can truly identify a lot with you. Many times I went without food so that my babies could eat. I pretended that I was "full" if they asked if I had eaten. When I couldn't keep the lights on, the kids and I would get under a quilt with a flashlight pretending to be camping. We learned to make do with what we had.

    I have a wish list of things that I would like, but I am truly blessed with whatever it is that I presently have. Having grown up with very little, and even experiencing very little in a marriage that should never have taken place, I learned early how to make do, how to survive. I learned to recycle, I learn to create from things others threw away. I learned from my mom very early how to take bits and pieces of whatever I could find in the refrigerator and cabinet and make a tasty meal. If I was ever given a large sum of money and for some reason it was taken away, I could still survive. My life today is stronger because of a lack of things, so that when I do get something that I feel improves the way that I work/create, it brings a smile to my face. Thanks Karen for reminding me and others of what we have lived without.

  6. Karen, thank you for a very thoughtful and touching post. As I child, I lived without a lot of things, but the lack that has had the longest-lasting effect is food. I tend to hoard food and panic if we don't have a pantry full of soup and tuna (even if I don't eat either very often). Like Michigoose, though, my greatest battle has been living without good health for the last year and a half. They say that what doesn't kill us makes us stranger, so I'm looking forward to emerging from illness strong and grateful, and determined never to take good health for granted again.

  7. Thanks to everyone (here, by email and phone) for sharing their thoughts, kind words and experiences. I am so deeply touched. I find it interesting how many people experienced not having enough to eat. More alarming to me is the number of people I know with health issues and no funds or insurance. My heart goes out to you. Hugs, Karen


Love comments! Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me.