Whole Life Magazine

June / July 2016

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42 wholelifetimes.com O ne day I woke up to fi nd the money I thought I had in the bank was no longer there. My husband of 27 years had emptied our comfortable bank account to below $100, and when I reached for my emergency cash, it had "disappeared." My husband controlled our fi nances. I homeschooled our three children and juggled scouts, orchestra and activities. I'd been active in church, but after our two oldest went away to college, I had time to study Mormon doctrine and realized I no longer believed. When I stopped dressing like a Mormon, I was shunned as an "apostate." I was given a $500 monthly "allowance" to pay for everything. My husband and I were not yet divorced, so our "joint income" excluded me from any government programs. My youngest, a community college freshman, and I lived on whatever food was in the freezer, which lasted about a month. Then I delved into our reserves for "the coming apocalypse," stashed in the crawl space under the house. Everyone knows about the coming apocalypse, right? Most of the apocalypse food had gone bad. "Use by" codes, mold or liquid running from jars, and damaged containers meant most of it had to be tossed. Rats had chewed through the bathroom paper, so I picked sycamore leaves and put them in a basket by the toilet. Fortunately, the Mormon teaching is to be prepared with at least 100 pounds of wheat per person, and wheat will last 20 years if stored correctly. Few Mormons I know actually use this wheat, but now I ground it into fl our or popped it like popcorn, or we ate it as cooked cereal, sprouted it, made it into Essene bread or turned it into gluten. Do you want to know a foolproof weight loss plan? It's called "monotony." That's what happened with the wheat. I used my money for 99-cent roasted salted peanuts, which I now craved. One apple cost 55 cents and a jalapeno cheese roll for about the same amount would fi ll me almost as good as a sandwich. And I picked wild edible plants. With my limited funds I had a bargain attorney, and the divorce was fi nalized with my having fi ve days to leave my home. Having no job skills, I became homeless. It's hard to rent if you have a court judgment promising income, but no job. So when a friend asked me to house sit while her family went on vacation, I was in paradise—a protected place, taking care of rescue animals. Then other people asked if I'd care for their pets, which gave me some money, but not consistent shelter. For a while I lived in a vandalized house in the desert with no windows, electricity or plumbing. Finally I found a low-income apartment, but it needed repairs, so I bought my fi rst drill. Most online instructions work on the assumption that you know certain basics I lacked, so a repair that might have taken 15 minutes took me one to many days. I was slow, but I got tasks done. My balcony had full sun and no air conditioning, so I bought awning fabric at a discount, sewed it into a shade and screwed it into the beams. It worked! I needed a bookshelf and saw one by the dumpster. All it needed was paint and love. I also spray painted an old rocking chair and put a comforter and blanket over it. Voila! I made my own couch from a kit, and when I needed more counter space, I found discounted cutting boards the correct size and added closet braces for legs. Slowly but surely I came out of crisis mode and began to live like a normal person. Along the way I learned I had deep resources I didn't know were there—skills, patience and friends. If you fi nd yourself in survival mode, remember that you can continue from this new place. It may not be fun, but fi nding a new way is how you turn a bad thing good. backwords STARTING FROM ZERO By Helen Sweany How I survived losing almost everything

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