Guest Post by Jennifer from Life From The Roof
In our neck of the woods, there are lots
of bars over the windows and doors. Despite how elaborate the design,
the overall effect is still a bit disheartening, as it is aesthetically
a distraction, and psychologically it’s a reminder that there are
reasons roaming the streets at night that require those bars to be
there in the first place.
We live on the third floor, however, and
for awhile we were able to enjoy the prettier views and bar-free
existence that this height enables. That is, until our little guy Eli
became a bigger guy who was capable of climbing out of those windows.
We racked our brains for solutions. Our
windows are fairly large, and are only 18 inches off the ground (the
building we live in is around 100 years old), and as I researched
options, I was discouraged to find that if I wanted something really
secure, it would cost upwards of $200 a window, and we had two windows
Safety of course, matters, and no matter
how frugal you are, it’s not something you want to compromise when your
child’s well-being is at stake. So I braced myself to somehow find a
way to scrape the money together on our limited budget.
Then one day, as I was taking out the
trash, I took another look at an old abandoned black metal headboard
and footboard that had been sitting there for at least a couple of
months. They were about 3 feet tall, and just wide enough that they
looked like they might fit our windows. I went upstairs and after my
husband measured them, lo and behold, they would fit! They even had
holes drilled in them for the bed rails that would make securing them
to our windows easy.
Only, they were still black and ugly. I
thought about it for a minute, and then remembered an extra set of
sheer white curtains I had purchased awhile back but had never got
around to using. An hour or two later, I had come up with sheer white
sleeves to ruffle over the bars, and voila, window gates that not only
kept our little critter in, but also allowed light to pour in and
shield our view of the next door building’s roof.
“They say that God is in the details, but
maybe He’s in the dumpsters, too,” my husband commented wryly as we
finished up our project.
It’s easy at times to feel like we’re
limited or lacking in our ability to “live” because we have less money,
but I’ve observed over time, in my own life as well as in the lives of
others, that often we are at our most creative when we are provided
with limitations and boundaries. As T.S. Eliot once wrote:
“When forced to work within a strict framework the imagination is taxed to its utmost – and will produce its richest ideas. Given total freedom the work is likely to sprawl.”
Sprawl…yes, that is what I feel like at times when I’m faced with too many choices. My mind becomes cluttered with options instead of solutions, because I have to waste so much time considering the many choices.
When I was working in Uzbekistan, an Uzbek friend of mine had the opportunity to visit the US for six months. When she returned, I asked her what she thought of America.
“America…they have too many cheeses,” she replied.
“Too many cheeses?” I asked, not quite clear on what she meant.
“Yes…so many choices, and why do you need so many cheeses in the first place?” she asked.
I understood later when I returned for the first time to the US after my initial 2 years in Uzbekistan. I went into Wal-Mart to buy shampoo, and ended up just standing there for a few minutes staring at an entire aisle of shampoo.
I was so overwhelmed, I ended up just turning around and walking out without buying anything. While it was hard at times to be deprived of access to certain products in Uzbekistan, I now understood what Wordsworth commented on in his poem Nuns Fret Not at their Convent’s Narrow Room. Instead of being limited by what we cannot buy, perhaps sometimes we should look at having too many liberties as a weight, and at our limitations as true freedom.
Jennifer Duenes is a homemaker, wife to Michael, and proud
mother to one-year old Elijah. She lives in the San Francisco Bay
Area, and despite living on one income with the high costs of living
associated with that area, she enjoys finding creative ways to save
money and thrive. She attributes part of her ability to save and
appreciate the important things in life to her experiences as a teacher
in a poor region of Uzbekistan for five years before getting married.
For more on her insights from life in Uzbekistan and tips on making the
most of your resources in high-cost urban areas, check out her blog at www.lifefromtheroof.wordpress.