Living Below The Line Challenge – After Thoughts

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The beloved Thich Nhat Hanh was once asked:
“What do we most need to do to save our world?”
Those questioning him probably expected him to
share specific strategies to pursue. But instead
he answered: “What we most need to do is to
hear within ourselves the sounds of the Earth crying.”

Yesterday I completed the 5 day challenge to live below the poverty line
that is the daily experience for 1 billion people on earth. For me, this
challenge opened up a greater awareness of the obstacles people
living in poverty must face every day. It made me grateful for everything
I have – without taking anything for granted. It inspired me to use my
imagination to creatively find ways to live with less – so that more can
be shared with those in need. It kept me in reliance at a deeper level
of Holy Presence, moment by moment.

But the greatest gift from this challenge is the re-affirmation that our
greatest joy in life is found through loving and serving one another in whatever way we feel called to put love into action. Whenever I listen deeply through the silence ~ the words I hear coming through the Spirit are:

“My people are crying, you need to help them.”

That is the challenge I continually take into my Christ Path.
And let me tell you, it is not a burden at all . . . it is JOY found
in the gift of a life lived to its fullest, in the power of a Presence
greater than ourselves . . . it is the purpose and the passion
for which each one of us is created . . . and the fruit that it bears
is for the healing of the world.

Photo at:

Day 5: Living Below The Line – The Feeding Of Our Souls

Yesterday I did not feel well at all.
When our bodies begin to lose fat, the toxins stored there
are released and can begin to affect vital organs. We may
become ill.

Like the bees, pesticides have affected my cytochrome p450
pathway that allows the body to detoxify chemicals. For me,
it has resulted in Acute Intermittent Porphyria. Like the bees,
my body becomes disoriented and stops functioning properly.
It’s a very unpleasant experience!
So yesterday, when my health began to falter, I had to eat
extra food to re-balance everything and stop the downward

It’s a scary experience when I see this happening. I won’t
go into all the nasty details, but it can be life-altering and even
life-threatening – so I live to avoid this occurrence.

What I know for sure – after years of practice – is that no
matter what – I have the Presence of God with me always.
We all do. For me, God is present in the form of Jesus Christ.
For you, the Divine may be experienced in another way.
I honor that.

As we see every day in the news – through wars and famine,
through floods and hurricanes, tornados and earthquakes,
through accidents and acts of terrorism, through unexpected
illness or loss of income – our health and wealth can
disappear in an instant.
But the Presence of the Divine is with us forever –
to empower us and give us peace.

The greatest gift for anyone living with hardship in their life
is coming to rely on this Presence of Love and Grace in
all things. It is the one thing needed to feed our souls
and to heal the world. May it be so for us this day.

Day 4: Living Below The Line Challenge – More Than Enough

I find I’m coming to accept a simpler menu without regret.
I have greater appreciation for every bit of food I’m able
to eat.

When preparing meals, I notice how I value every piece with
more regard. Parts I would normally toss into the compost
bucket, I now pause and think: “I could use this to give more nutrition and flavor to soup broths”. I look to each morsel with great thanksgiving.
This greater awareness and appreciation for all I have extends to
my surroundings as well. Instead of thinking: “I need this and this
and this” – I find myself thinking: “I have so much more than I really need –
it’s time to let this go.”

It reminds me of when I did an exercise from the life-changing book
Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez.
It asks us to make a complete inventory of all the items in every
room of our house, just to be aware of how much we really do have.
I started with our bedroom and never got any further; I was so
overwhelmed with gratitude, realizing I have more than enough
with which to live.

At the time, we were considering building a house here on Denman Island.
This experience invited us to choose plans for a small cottage rather than
a grandiose house with more than we need.

That’s how I feel today about my relationship with food.
As I look at our cupboards, filled to the brim,
I am grateful, yet humbled.
I have so much more than enough with which to live.
I can share even more.

Day 3: Living Below The Line Challenge – Day of Reckoning

After two days of eating at $1.75 per day, I’ve already lost 4 lbs.
It’s ok for me to lose some weight, but this would not be a good thing for many many people who live in poverty.

I look at how much my husband is eating compared to my meagre amounts during this challenge. It seems like a huge amount of food. Totally unnecessary. Yet, he’s eating approximately what I would normally consume at a meal.

Here I’ve been striving to live a sustainable life-style for the past 20 years and I’ve neglected to include my dietary practices in the equation.
I realize what a psychological issue food is for me. I rationalize that I deserve this bit of comfort because I can’t go shopping, or travel,
or go to movies, or restaurants, or church, or visit with family, or do all the other things that most people do. Poor me. Ha! Woundology at its best.

I’m grateful for the awakening that this challenge brings.
When I acknowledge these inauthentic ways of being,
I open them to the Light so I can be transformed.

My life just got simpler ~ and freer ~ and better for the world.

Now breathe ~ ~ ~
all is well with my soul.

Live Below The Line Challenge – Day 2

I’m sharing some reflections from yesterday’s experience living on $1.75 for the day.

It’s 9am of Day 1. I’m starting to feel hungry. I’m beginning to feel a bit faint and loss of energy. I’m cooking the pea soup, and I’m getting really
impatient to eat it. The aroma is enticing and I realize how difficult it must be for homeless people to smell foods that are cooking in restaurants and know that they will not be able to eat a meal.

Our son once basically lived on 1 Subway sandwich a day. He never complained, so we didn’t know this was his reality. When one has severe health issues, life gets complicated. Today I have a new awareness of the times he would say: “Mom, I just crave to have some of your home cooking once again.” How often do those Living Below The Line ever get to experience a feast of food?

9:45am I just realized I forgot to make hummingbird food. I had planned to make it first thing this morning, but it never crossed my mind. They will be ok. We put up an extra feeder last night, so they can feed there.
I’ve been so focussed on my own needs and finding food for myself, I neglected to care for these little birds that are so dear to me. Ah, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. So this is why so many people seem unconcerned about the Bigger Issues of life . . . their own basic needs have not been met. It’s not even possible to look to the broader picture of our planet
unless one’s own needs for food, clean air and water, and safety are met.

11am My pea soup was ready. When I first tasted it, it was tasteless.
Bland, unappetizing, Blah. I added some of the herbs I had gathered and that helped some. (rosemary, sage, oregano, parsley and celeriac)
What it really needed was salt. Salt helped a great deal and made it
quite tasty actually. But many people in the world would not even have access to herbs, spices, and salt. Then one would have to eat just to ease the hunger – without the enjoyment of food that we take for granted.
Oh how fortunate are we in the world of plenty!

2pm At noon I sat and ate a tiny salad of greens with a bit of olive oil.
It was hard to watch my husband eat a full meal of delicious food items.
It was hard to cook for him when I couldn’t eat what he could eat.
It reminded me of children throughout the world who must sit and watch as their classmates enjoy hearty school lunches and they have very little or none at all. I’ve forgotten to remember to give to the Red Cup program that provides at least one meal a day for millions of children throughout the world. How did I ever stop giving to that great cause? I shall begin again today.

After “lunch” I had to rest awhile. I feel listless and unmotivated to do much of anything. All I can think of is hunger. The people of Nepal are constantly on my mind. The people crossing the Mediteranean Sea or in refugee camps in Syria, or struggling still in so many Middle Eastern countries . . . the BILLION people who live below the line at less than $1.00 a day throughout the world are on my mind and in prayers.
I am tired and hungry but at least I have a warm place for shelter.
I have clean water to drink and I know that I still have some food that
I can eat later in the day. How grateful I am for all that I have.


All That The Earth Provided


So this was what the Earth provided on my prayer walk this morning.
I realize how blessed I am to be in this lush environment and at this
time of year when so much is readily available. Most people would not have the luxury of these FREE food items; nor the means to cook them, as I will do.

I took courses on herbology many years ago (blessings to Sheelagh McKenzie); so I have the advantage of knowing which plants are edible and safe to eat, and the medicinal qualities they will provide.
It’s time to prepare my meal for the day. If it weren’t so mild out,
I’d do it on our woodstove. But I’ll use our electric stove to make pea soup now.

Here’s what I gathered: nettles, cleavers, dandelion greens, fireweed shoots, chickweed, turkey tail mushrooms
culinary herbs that have grown here for years and are sustainable:
celeriac, marjoram, rosemary, wild oregano, dill, mint, sage, chives, parsley, thyme
overwintered in greenhouse or outside: purple brocolli, chard, lettuces,
garlic, green onion tops, viola and nasturtium flowers
and wood betony (for possible headache from no caffeine)

Living Below The Line Challenge

Today I began the 5 day challenge Living Below The Line – trying to live on $1.75 a day here in Canada. (Our food is more expensive than other countries who may use $1.50/ day)

I know it’s not a true example of what it means to live below the poverty line, because I have the choice to go back to my regular array of foods
at any time. But it does help me to be more aware of what others must
experience on a daily basis. I feel so grateful for what I have, and it
makes me want to be more generous in sharing with those in need.

In some ways, this challenge is easier for me than it would be for most
privileged people. After I became very ill as a result of pesticide poisoning,
there were times when I could only tolerate 5 different foods. One learns to be creative in finding variations of how to eat yams, for instance.

I am using this time as a review of gathering edible plants from the wild
that are available in our area. Since they are free and sustainable, I
will add them to my menu for extra nutrition and flavor in what will soon
become a drab boring diet.

I started the day with some lemon balm (melissa) tea that I picked right
outside our door. It is easy to grow and I have transplants from one
single plant all over our garden for interest and as a insect repellant.

It’s getting light outside so I’m getting ready to go wildcrafting and see
what our forest and garden has to offer me today.
I’ll keep you posted.