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Post photographer Michael Williamson is traveling across the country covering the economic situation.

Possessions Lost, Perspective Found


Anita Prins lost her job, her two homes and a closet full of clothes because of the economy, but she said she has gained new perspective. Photo by Michael Williamson/The Washington Post

Anita Prins no longer cries every day.

That's a change from when Michael and I last saw her a month and a half ago, standing outside a condo in Colorado that wasn't hers. Little in her life was. A former business proprietor who once owned two homes, Anita had been staying in borrowed space, eating donated food and relying on public transportation to get around.

Her life had leaped from one extreme to the other--from coveted autonomy in which she relied on almost no one else to forced dependence in which she had no choice but to lean on many.

It would take the recession, she told me when I called yesterday, to help her find a balance somewhere between those two states.

“I can’t even begin to speak about the level of appreciation I have for what I’ve been through,” Anita said, describing a newfound “interdependence” in which she has learned to accept support as well as give it. “Probably a lot of my tears over the years have been in seeing how little I valued people. It sounds so terrible, but it’s true.”

Michael and I had met the 36-year-old at a community dinner in Silverthorne. She served food to others, then put some in a Styrofoam box to take home that night. She had lost almost everything: an industrial design business, a house, a condo and a closet filled with fashionable clothes. (She was down to three outfits). Her relationship with her parents had grown strained and a few friends, those who no longer knew how to deal with her, had slipped away.

If she cried, it was understandable.


Anita Prins volunteers at a “Free Community Dinner” at the Elks Lodge in Silverthorne. Photo by Michael Williamson/The Washington Post

A month later, she says her mood lifted after we ran the piece about her life here on Half A Tank, in part because of the response from strangers (she received more than a dozen emails) and in part because of her decision to live a healthier lifestyle (she joined the gym and began eating healthier).

“A person can really be pulled down and stay down,” she said. “But if they just allow themselves to morph, it can really end up being a beautiful, growing, maturing process.”

She still aspires to work in the design industry, but no longer wants to run her own business. Instead, she hopes to work with a team. In the meantime, she plans to move in October into the B&B where she's been working part-time. Once there, she's already decided she will start baking goods for those in the local hospital who have no relatives to visit them.

A few days before we met her, Anita wrote this on her personal blog: I don't want to do this anymore. Blogging. My time here is apparent in its meaning for me to be away to repair and recover. Putting my thoughts out into a quiet space occupied by millions of people is too much for me right now.

About a week ago, she wrote this: Fear, doubt and control won't 'do' - reliance, trust and surrender is what I work to bathe my self in daily. Yet, the sweet sting of my recent losses (assets and mind/body/soul) seems to be my greatest feat. Forgiveness. And I can't help to wonder if that was in God's Ultimate Plan for my stay here; fulfilling my need to completely forgive myself before I'm able to move into the next season in my life journey.


“I’m not crying everyday anymore,” Anita Prins said. “My mood has really lifted.” Photo by Michael Williamson/The Washington Post

By Theresa Vargas  |  September 30, 2009; 12:03 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: In Las Vegas, A Slow Recovery
Next: Silence From Lives On The Edge


I believe you are finding out the true beauty of life! I think the true value you will find in yourself will far out-way the things you acquired and lost.
Beautiful journey to you! May you continue to be a joy in other peoples lives!Thank you!

Posted by: keb09 | September 30, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse


On the one hand, I regret you have experienced hard times. And yet, adversity truly provides one with the opportunity to experience tremendous growth: mentally, emotionally, career wise and perhaps most importantly, an insight into your values. You will learn a great deal about people, their weaknesses and strengths (generosity, kindness and empathy) including your own. It may seem trite but I found it to be spot on in my own life. I wish you the very best in your future. It seems you are already well on your way.

Posted by: brwntrt | September 30, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

What a lovely person Anita now has the chance to become. THINGS aren't what makes us whole, no matter what the advertisers say. Once we learn to let go of material things, we can stop the constant struggle to GET MORE STUFF and enjoy the world and all that's in it!

Posted by: greatscott47 | September 30, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

This is an extremely well written, fascinating blog.

A great idea.

Photos are world class.

A face for the faceless victims.

Posted by: JaxMax | September 30, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

I think she's positively wonderful! This is a time for all of us to stop, look around, and appreciate our humaness. We've collectively been going after the almighty dollar and what has it gotten us? The fabulous thing is that Anita is going to have the best time of her life now that she's no longer part of the "system." Welcome home Anita. You are part of my heart now.

Posted by: allie7 | September 30, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

It is hard to have felt some of those things and more than once. Good for you. As sayings go sometimes you would be lucky to get that where I have been, so here is one for you.

The hardest steel is forged under the hottest fire.

Posted by: katzedes | September 30, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Well, she is a better person for it. You know, some "tough love" type stuff.

Posted by: oracle2world | September 30, 2009 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Its very hard to feel sorry for a person Anita Prin,who lived the good life only to squander it all away.Now she relies on the time honored and proven female defense...tears and sympathy.A man would be told to "Get a job you lazy bum"!

Posted by: hyroller56 | September 30, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

What a cool story and Anita might be the 'poster child' for the impoversihed middle class. Her attitude has everything to do with her growth as an individual.

I have a strong suspicion that things will turn more positive each day she is willing to allow the flow of good things to steer her in the direction it was intended for each of us from the beginning. Good luck Anita, you are alright in my eyes. Speaking of beautiful eyes, those and her contagious smile, is enough to lift the spirits of many.

Posted by: jakesfriend1 | September 30, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

This is a lousy series with pathetic writing and mostly terrible "poster children".

Signing for properties (two!) you can't pay for doesn't make you a homeowner. Posting your resume on your website doesn't make you a business owner. Having no skills from college, life, or work experience doesn't make you surprisingly unemployed when nobody will hire you. Spending all your dough on pedicures, massages, and toys doesn't make you a victim of the recession when you wind up broke with nothing to fall back on. Glad to hear she's all better now that she's had some adversity. Good thing cause there's more where that came from.

Posted by: mark2004a1 | October 1, 2009 3:43 AM | Report abuse

Hey mark2004a1, if this series is so lousy and the writing so pathetic, why are you wasting your time reading it?

Posted by: iamtoni24 | October 1, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

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