My Love/Hate Relationship with Poverty

For years, I’ve had this love/hate relationship with poverty. In fact, over a decade ago, I ran a blog called Living on Less Than a Dime about thriving as a single mom in spite of poverty. My son is now grown, living across the country, and I am a married hermit called to a spiritual path of service to my village – in both the digital and physical realms.

I love that poverty brings out my resilience and gives me the opportunity to build that resilience even more.

Last year, I went six months without running water, and did just fine. Water became a quest, something to be sought out. I learned to appreciate it more. To understand the ways that modern running water delivered right to our faucets frees us up for other things. I developed a new and deeply spiritual relationship with water that even now that I have running water again remains.

It was exhausting and frustrating at times. How do you deal with having to shit when you can’t flush the toilet? You learn. You adapt. You figure it out. (A five-gallon bucket, a foam pool noodle, and wood shavings/dirt between poos. Toss it in the hot compost pile to become humanure. Use on trees and flowers, or veggies if you’re really adventurous and are only feeding yourself/your family.)

If you can’t figure it out – or you don’t have the support of someone in your life who can help you figure it out – you suffer, and I’m not a fan of suffering. Even when times are really tough, suffering is a choice. To be miserable about the circumstances, or to face them, head-on, using what you can and doing what you can until you can do something else.

I hated that poverty makes everything so much harder. That I couldn’t have the impact that I want to have because I couldn’t get the sort of visibility that money can buy.

But harder is not necessarily worse and not having money means I just have to get more creative about the ways that I do the things that I want to do.

Sure, it might come slower.

But slow-living is one of my Eremitic Principles. To slow down enough to be able to pay attention. When life gets moving too fast, we go on autopilot and everything becomes a blur. We lose our spiritual connection and before long we lose ourselves. Capitalism and patriarchy and white supremacy keep things moving faster and faster and faster so we can never slow down and never find who we truly are.

Slowing down allows us to savor living.

Even when that living is hard.

Especially when that living is hard.

When I find myself hating my poverty, it’s a reminder to re-evaluate. To see where things have been moving too fast. Where I need to slow down. What I need to let go.

I hated poverty because I didn’t choose it. I was born to it. I struggled against it for years, trying to escape it’s clutches.

Until I accepted it. Acceptance of what is is another of my Eremitic Principles. Acceptance doesn’t mean we don’t do anything about what is. Only that we don’t resist the existence of what is. Denying reality does not help us escape reality because we can’t escape it. We can only mold it, slowly, by molding ourselves.

Acceptance also doesn’t mean you can’t want something different. Acceptance isn’t resignation. Once we accept what is, we can change what is. Resistance just makes reality dig in even harder. Acceptance gives reality flexibility. It’s like the Universe says, “Here, I’m showing you this!” and until you accept it, the Universe is going to keep showing it to you.

Acceptance, of course, doesn’t guarantee things will change in a particular way. Only that you’re not spending your energy resisting so you can start spending your energy rearranging.

I’ve been rearranging my life deliberately for some time now. For a long time, though, I spent all my energy resisting poverty. Trying to make more money. Constantly hustling just to pay the bills. And going against my own personal flow to do so. No wonder I never got anywhere.

When money stopped being my focus, when my calling became my focus, and rearranging my life so that my calling can weave through every moment of it, money got easier. Not great, yet. But flowing in ways that it never did before, bringing ease. I’m still poor, but not as poor as I was.

I don’t hate my poverty anymore. I don’t necessarily want to be here forever, but I’m also not attached to the idea of leaving. It is what is is, what will be is what will be. I am focused on my calling, on making room for it to fully express itself, and allowing everything else to fall in place as it will.

But I’ve also got a fuckton of survival tips that will be coming as a series of blog posts over the next few weeks/months.

The Poor Witch’s Guides to Sustainable Living will share my own learned lessons about living on a below-poverty budget and THRIVING in spite of the poverty. Ways to obtain property (it’s easier than you think), how to garden to grow your own food, how to live without utilities for an extended period of time, and how to weave magic through all of your life while doing it.

Poor does not mean bad. Poor just means you have to create your life a bit differently.

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