For the past few days I’ve felt a bit melancholy. I originally attributed it to my “living below the line” and feeling restrained in what I could do, or because I wasn’t able to enjoy the things I used to take for granted (like going for beers on a patio, or the luxury of condiments). But it occurred to me this morning that it has nothing to do with me living off of $1.75 a day.
I realized that I’ve been transferring my personal baggage onto the challenge, which is not only moronic, but it’s also counter-productive. So, for the remaining eleven days my “baggage” is going to be safely stowed away in the back of my metaphorical closet, where it can stay until I’m ready to deal with it. This will allow me to focus on what is important: putting myself in the shoes of those who have to survive like this every day.
The first thing I saw upon waking up this morning was a notification on my phone from Twitter. I had gotten two tweets from Live Below the Line Canada (@LBLCA), which I can only assume was in response to the miserable-sounding post I put up yesterday. Here’s how the conversation went:
Then, on my way to work I got a Facebook notification. My friend Rosanne, who had been one of the first people to donate towards my LBL fundraising goal (and who I’ve known since I was in junior kindergarten because her brother Roderick and I were little buddies from day one), had posted a photo on my timeline. The caption was “I saw this on ETSY and I thought of you 😀 Keep it up Ashley! I think you are doing an amazing job with your Live Below The Line Challenge.” :
The funny thing is I shared the exact same picture to my Twitter last week (okay fine, the pillow in mine was white, but still…). I couldn’t help but laugh at the coincidence.
Last night I was on the edge of reaching my lowest point during this challenge, but I woke up to a new day and within an hour had received so much love, inspiration and support that it mentally got me back on track. I’ve also been tweeting back and forth with @followericgould, a fellow challenge participant in Halifax, and we’ve been happily commiserating together about how hungry we are and what we’d eat RIGHT NOW if we could (his answer: tacos; mine: veggie burritos). He actually also tweeted today that the word “hunger” is starting to look like the word “burger”. It seems that through humour we find strength to continue.
If there’s one thing I can say about participating in the Live Below the Line challenge (aside from the obvious of learning how to food ration, budgeting, gaining eye-opening perspectives, and oh, THE HUNGER), it’s this: this organization has provided it’s participants with the biggest sense of community and solidarity. I’ve done fundraising before, but never before had I been as motivated, or as supported as I have by LBLCA and Raising the Village (@RTVorg). It makes you feel a little warm and fuzzy inside.
I’ve also learned a few other things:
- In order to make my breakfast last longer, I’ve started to dismantle the open-faced sandwich that I had previously been making. Instead of piling my tomato and egg onto the half English muffin, I’m now taking little nibbles of the three separated ingredients. So far so good! By doing that and taking sips of tea and water in between, I feel much fuller than I did yesterday morning. I can’t really do this with my lunch or dinner (how do you dismantle soup?), but I will continue to sip water and tea in between to make me feel more full.
- I may be allergic to sweetener or coffee (although I’m leaning towards the sweetener seeing how it’s a chemical cocktail of shit that’s probably not that good for you in the long run). Before I cut those two items out of my diet for the challenge, I’d often break out in these weird, itchy, rash spots. I showed my doctor a few weeks ago and he suggested that it’s a food allergy, although I had been tested for every allergy under the sun just a year and a half ago. Since I started the challenge, the spots I had have begun to clear up and I haven’t noticed any new ones. Problem solved? Hopefully!
I’m grateful for stumbling upon that Ben Affleck article two weeks ago that eventually led to my signing up for this campaign. It’s been challenging so far, yes, but rewarding beyond anything I could have imagined. This has also been the only thing that I can remember in my recent memory that I’ve set a goal for and stuck to, which is a miracle in itself.
Plus, I’ve reached my new fundraising goal! I was $35 away from my target, so I put up a post on Facebook (basically bribing people with cookies), and then some kind soul anonymously donated the $35. Since then, I’ve surpassed my goal of $500! I think I might have to increase my fundraising goal again 😉