Having had a varied and dynamic life, I do not take things for granted. I remember being hungry. Not just needing a meal, but being without enough to eat for days at a time as a girl in Florida, away from my family…. I worked some at a stable where their summer campers were fed lunch and I got to have a sandwich and chips on weekdays. I shoplifted 4 cans of tuna one evening from the market and felt so guilty. I’ve always been vegetarian, so the tuna made me sick on several levels – the guilt of taking it and the guilt of eating an animal. I was 17 years old. I called my Dad and he rescued me, in spite of his alcoholism – he came down and brought me back to Virginia.
To have a fridge full of fresh food is often the type of photo I put on my vision boards. The ability to fix a healthy meal and sometimes to “make something from nothing” became important to me. I do mindful eating, considering who grew my food, how nature created it, who prepared it, being grateful for all.
I lived in a “house” for a year that was a shack connected to a trailer (poorly so) where I had to climb on the roof and attach tarps to keep the rain from pouring in through the seam like a waterfall. Even then, I used muck buckets and feeders to catch the water. The wind howled through the house and water in a glass on the “kitchen” counter would freeze in the winter. I had no water heater, I used a metal rod (for heating water in a bucket for the stable) to heat water to take “bucket baths” with a ladle as I squatted in the tub. I had an oil filled electric radiator and my dogs and I stayed warm in the tiny bedroom with the door closed. We stayed cool with a window A/C I installed. I had no stove, just a crockpot and a hot plate. I had a refrigerator a friend gave to me. I had running water (when it wasn’t frozen) and I made myself happy most of the time.
My dogs and horses were with me (including Basil, my dog who is now 21 years old). I built the horse pens, turn out and shelters myself – digging every post hole by hand around almost 2 acres. I taught lessons there on my sweet horses. I owned the land and wanted to build a house someday, but the wind could get to 90 miles an hour and after one night with my dogs and I in the tiny radio room, terrified, unable to leave with the house being torn apart around us – I gave up.
My stories could be told for days on end. I was born into wealth and have seen both sides for sure. My first car was a Jaguar Mark 2, I had my own riding school at age 18 (my father sobered up briefly and set me up as a part of his corporation that then went bankrupt when he started drinking again and everything was taken from me). I had to rebuild another school years later on my own and I kept training horses and people to make a living as best I could.
So, now… I revel in a hot shower! I kiss my thermostat (I have central air!!!)! My horses have shelters and turn out and trees (the wind still blows, but my good old mobile home is ground set and I have lots of TREES). I cherish my life. I know my place doesn’t seem posh to others, but it does seem so to me – even though I grew up in a house with 6 bathrooms and a pool in the garden room! I am so grateful to have seen so many sides to life. I hope this has made me more compassionate and more appreciative.