Tag Archives: Poverty

Only Child’s thoughts on living poor

Only Child and her son Martin who helps her survive.

Only Child and her son Martin who helps her survive.

Except for a couple of years, I have been living on or below the poverty level for nearly 18 years. So I think I speak with some “personal authority” on how it goes.

It is a mixed bag, but unfortunately you lose more than just money. Many not-so-good traits and habits happen. Living constantly in survival mode has turned me into a skeptic, made me cranky, angry, sometimes rude, pessimistic or overly optimistic, which I know doesn’t make sense. I have learned to watch the optimism because that can too soon change to the opposite.

Money may not buy you love (the jury is out on that one), but without enough money to live on, I do some things others might find crazy or unbelievable. My biggest financial issues don’t usually include food (more on that one in a sec), but health and home  (including utilities’ escalating costs and repairs). Despite scrupulous monthly budgeting, my health expenses always go above budget – the last few months hundreds over budget. The latest is my prescription eyeglasses which have to be replaced. My vision (excluding the glaucoma) is the same as when my eyes were tested the end of 2014 when I purchased my new prescription glasses, so getting a new pair of glasses now doesn’t please me, to say the least.

Saturday I had just returned home from the first round of grocery shopping, placed my bags of groceries on the veranda between the front doors and hauled out my keys. The keys slipped from my fingers and fell to the ground. When I bent down to retrieve them, my sunglasses fell off, landing on the soft bags. One frame side (the part attaching to the ear) fell off. I was very angry at God (not watching out for me)  and after putting the groceries away and eating a light lunch, I rushed to The Bay Optical where I had originally purchased the glasses. They can’t be fixed permanently because of how it broke off and the company doesn’t make those frames anymore. So, a whole new pair of glasses. Of course, the one-year warranty was up but the optician glued the frame back on and after I went into my poor senior-living status and I asked, she did agree it could be glued on again until I could afford a new pair. Because my vision is the same, so same prescription, the cost is a bit lower – but still more than I can afford now, what with house and property repairs – the eaves trough situation I had blogged about previously and the one property thing I was saving for – some tree and branch removal issues. Hopefully the temporary remedy my son suggested for the eaves trough will work a bit longer than planned. Trees must be done this spring, the earlier the better before leaves appear and plants around the trees pop up.

The health issues escalate the supplements and now there are the monthly eye-drops and having too much income to qualify for the Ontario government drug co-payment play for seniors. The government scrapped the increase on this plan (I would still be above a few hundred dollars in income to qualify). But the deductible starts all over again each Aug.1. Fortunately my son will now pay the difference.

That brings up something on a broader scale. CARP (formerly  Canadian Association of Retired Persons) has stated that many seniors don’t get prescriptions filled because they can’t afford them. CARP is lobbying the government for a Canada-wide drug prescription plan for seniors – heck everybody could use one, at least up to a higher income level.

As for food, I do budget and usually stay within it each week, occasionally go a few dollars higher, but then sometimes I’m under budget. Not easy. Here’s my little secret – I ration my food, not only spreading out meat and fish dishes into several meals, but dividing up some fruit such as oranges into two or three meals (depends on the size of the orange). I buy lots on sale and yes, there are some tinned meats and fish in my food repertoire. In spring and summer I have a vegetable and herb garden, so that helps.

The garden is one big reason I continue living in a house. I also like this house (despite the property problems that crop up). My garden, my writing, my family and friends, reading, TV, walking help sustain me.  They have to. I can’t afford even a few concerts and plays, travel only to visit family (I am grateful for that) or the occasional day trip to Aurora and the like. Bucket list? Can’t afford to carry through with anything on a bucket list.

Living poor is a struggle. Perhaps the only plus is learning to be resourceful. But at what cost? Your health? And one thing I have learned from experience – mine and others. You can’t depend on God to help. Just look at all the poor people, especially the homeless. God helps those who help themselves? More like, just help yourself – if you can.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

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Filed under CARP, finances, God, Health, Health Seniors, Healthcare coverage, Home and Garden, Life demands, Old Age, Poverty

Only Child looks at the macro of our horrid world

01910012You have had enough of my rants on personal reasons why this world is so bad, so except for my opinion on it, today I’m going to go into the macro area – why our 21st century world is doing worse than going to hell in a handbasket.

First, for those who didn’t read the comments from my last post, here’s a brief update. I’m not going blind yet and have expensive eye drops for life for my left eye. My son Martin is helping to pay for them. The left eye has glaucoma and is badly damaged. The right eye is fine. So, not getting an eye patch yet for the left eye. No Pirate Sharon for now.

So what is wrong with the world we live in? Here are a few things I’ve either seen (in person or online or TV), read about or people I know have experienced. FYI I believe the world just went really bad when we entered the 21st. century. Think 9/11 in 2011. Before we left the 20th century, the world was still livable, not perfect, but not way out of whack.

Here we go with my dirty dozen on what’s globally wrong.

  1. Terrorism escalating. Enough said here.
  2. Recessions, high unemployment, high debt (some people have no choice but to go into debt because income doesn’t meet expenses even if they do budget. I’m not talking about buying too expensive houses and taking on mortgages that can’t be paid if someone loses a job).
  3. Pollution.
  4. Extreme weather being the norm everywhere. I do blame global warming for a lot of it and we (the collective “we”) screwed up. I still believe that God controls the weather and could put a halt to all this or at least get it back to normal. But I also believe that because he gave us free will and he doesn’t like what we have done/are doing with it, he’s not helping us. Can you really blame him?
  5. The world is overpopulated. And you can use your own take on the whys and the wherefores here.
  6. Religious fundamentalism  of any kind and its results.
  7. Bad leaders and potential leaders in some countries. You can also use your own take here.
  8. People are getting ruder and nastier and more violent.
  9. The over-technological world we live in. Is all this necessary when we see what it does and can do to people? Yes, basic cell phones are probably necessary (text and phone functions) for emergencies and the like. But all the “bells and whistles,” the apps, etc.? And full digital kitchens? Come on, where’s the fun in cooking?
  10. Too many people getting too many cancers.
  11. Medical – both the primary caregivers – some are so inept and also how the practices and medical clinics are run. Here’s what’s happening with one cardiologist being disciplined.  And the cost to people for medical services, including drugs and supplements – what isn’t covered by government medical insurance and the high cost of private insurance.
  12. Too many people living below the poverty level and too many living high on the hog with too high salaries. The middle class? What’s that? It’s shrinking.

What am I doing about it? Trying to combine what is necessary for me in technology and becoming more self-sustainable (if there is such a word) in my life. I’ll go into that more in a future post.

So, what are you doing about this world we live in? One of my blog post followers has a slogan at the top of her blog

“Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.” — Laurie Buchanan

Check out her blog posts. It is people like Laurie who give us hope for the future.

 

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Civility, God, Health, Health Insurance, Life Balance, Life demands, Money, Only child, Problems, Rude Rage, Technology overload, Weather

Only Child cranks up the worry wart feature

Me in 1950 - up against the barbed wire fence, a good analogy for worrying

Me in 1950 – up against the barbed wire fence, a good analogy for worrying

Lately I’ve been worrying a lot – maybe more than usual. The poverty issue (see last week’s post), work-related concerns (some of them $$$$-not-coming-in issues), and living with a boarder who has so much stuff. I live in a tiny bungalow as many of you will know from previous posts showing  a picture of the outside of my house. So I tend to gravitate towards my tidy room, somewhat tidy office (which we share – no problem with that part), living room and outside in my garden. Now that there are tomatoes, turnips and carrots in the garden, just bringing them in to eat is positive – it digs into the poverty part and also nurtures the soul and the body.

Worrying can affect your mental and physical health. I know that. But I find if I don’t worry about something then something catastrophic happens. I’m not saying you should worry about everything but going along in life that everything will be okay, why worry, doesn’t cut the cake or even the bread for me.

In the article “Steps to End Chronic Worrying” by Denise Mann http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/9-steps-to-end-chronic-worrying, experts weigh in on worrying. They say that the worriers get it genetically. I grew up with two worry warts – my dad and my mom, especially Mom. The experts also say it can be your environment and give the example that if your mother didn’t nurture you and provide a safe haven for you, that can do it, too. Right. Blame poor Mom for everything. No mention of Dad. My dad had cancer for six and a half years of my childhood and finally died of brain cancer when I was 16. That will pull the security rug out from under anyone.

The article also says worriers tend to see their doctors more often. Not me – at least not for the last few years. My doctor is an insensitive jerk and if I could afford a naturopath (not covered by Ontario’s primary health care system) I would see him or her regularly. So, I read a lot about health and try to live a healthy life…yes, even with worrying. Worrying often motivates me to do something about the situation. Solve the problem now – that’s my mantra. Of course, when you are “blessed” with too many problems at once, you are overburdened.

Living with uncertainty is another area covered in this article. It uses the example of worrying about getting cancer. Despite my dad’s dying of cancer, so far I have rarely worried about getting cancer. There are too many other problems in my life to worry about.

One interesting thing I read – if you cry or get angry you are not worrying. I do a lot of the latter – much of it based on the actual worries I’m dealing with. I also do a lot of weed-pulling in the garden and the weeds get names of people or things causing the worries.

Worrying has taught me a few things:

  1. There is uncertainty in life but instead of accepting all uncertainty and going on your merry way (we all know what happened to Pollyanna in the Disney movie), it is better to try to obtain some certainty with these issues. For example, face some of those demons.
  2. Worrying brings to my mind more clearly the problems I have to deal with and I have to deal with them pronto.
  3. Worrying brings out the anger sometimes and that can lead me to focus that anger on the person or issue that is angering me. Again, face those demons.
  4. And stop blaming Mother for your worrying habits. That’s a copout.

I’m interested in how all of you deal with worry. Do you agree with any of the points in the article mentioned above?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Aka Ms Worry Wart

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Decisions, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Money, Only child, Poverty, Problem solving, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford, Stress, Worrying

Only Child robbed of time etc. by poverty

Only Child  contemplates some harsh financial realities - again

Only Child contemplates some harsh financial realities – again

Living around the poverty level has another bad effect on people. Not only does it kill you but before you die your cognitive functions will nose dive and your time management will fly out the window. I’m living (so far) proof as my poor (pun intended) brain is drowning in trying to get around living like this.

This year seems to be the worst as work has dried up since early July, although there are lots of promises of work to come from next week – writing and editing plus I’m teaching a memoir writing workshop Oct. 1. Hopefully all those readings with other writers (which I’ve been helping plan) will boost book sales or I will be going way Beyond the Tripping Point (the title of my mystery short story collection, Blue Denim Press, 2012). I even have a boarder, temporarily, a friend who needed a place to stay until she gets into public housing (long story and it’s her business). She is paying room and board and helping with buying groceries beyond that. For this I am grateful.

It’s the lacks that are eating away at my brain and my psyche. And I never had that as a child. I’ve blogged about that recently. This year I couldn’t even afford to go to the Canadian National Exhibition, which I usually attend annually. And it’s only $12 for seniors to get in.

A recent study published in the journal Science backs this up. Among other things the study says that poverty uses so much brain power that people living in poverty don’t have enough mind juice to deal with other areas of life, such as good steps to get out of poverty because they are too busy with poverty-induced issues such as finding ways to cut-costs, borrowing etc. to try to pay bills. All this steals from your time, time better spent trying to improve your situation – education, job training, or in my case, marketing my skills. As a result, they make bad decisions which can keep them living longer in poverty. The study was conducted by researchers at Harvard and Princeton Universities (USA) the University of Columbia (Canada) and the University of Warwick (UK).

You can read more about these studies at http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265501.php and http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/health/2013-08/30/c_132676023.htm

I have only two more points to add to this poverty situation – house repairs and continually spiralling utility bills. This month, for the first time I have all utility bills (and property taxes too) to pay and two have their rates gone up. To add insult to this injury, I’m paying the gas bill in two parts – the regular leftover year-end bill and the sort-of –last bill of the year – the one which bills for the difference in the monthly equal billing and the actual usage. Unfortunately, the winter was harsher and we had a long cold spring, so usage was higher. I phoned Enbridge Gas and complained. Apparently they were too stupid to gauge that winter just might be harsher than the one for 2012 and they no longer automatically adjust your equal billing to reflect higher amounts used. I pulled the senior’s card. That got me a division of payment – but I’m not sure it makes much difference if I had paid it all last month or part then and part now. I still have to steal from so-called senior savings (RRSPs and the like) to pay for basic food and some of the bills again this month. It would help if the promised work would come in.

Are you listening God, Universe? Sometimes I have to shout very loud to be heard. So do many others I’m finding out.

It would be interesting to discover if those not being heard are predominantly those living around the poverty level.

Next study on poverty please?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under finances, Life demands, Only child, Poverty, Seniors, Time management, Uncategorized