When I look at my yard that is being turned from a typical suburban lot into a food garden I feel so happy. When I watch the "exploring alternatives" channel on YouTube that is about bucking the system and potentially living in a van (#vanlife) or a tiny house or a yurt or in a tent in the woods or off the grid and there are millions of views since January I think, "hell yesssss." People are waking the F*#k up.
Now don't get me wrong. I was born in a cage, not literally, figuratively, no need to panic. I live in a box, filled with pesticides to kill the bugs inside (we didn't do that this year, and yes we have some "visitors") surrounded by other boxes with pesticides all over the yards and streets, that have power and water running to them that I have to pay for, oh and I have to pay someone, just in case my box gets destroyed and also the county for maintaining areas around my box and if I fail to pay the mortgage for my box, someone takes my box away from me (Right now that sounds appealing).
We are also farming our front yard, organic-style, and loving the new energy it brings to our little cul-de-sac and home. Yesterday I bought a few annual flowers and a perennial lantana to start to attract more pollinators as our tomatoes didn't fare all that well this summer, partly due to poor pollination.
After I wrote those first two paragraphs, my husband and I started talking about "exploring alternatives" again in our own life. Namely a yurt on the land of the business we own. We have 10 acres and as we are only using part of it and already paying mortgage, taxes, insurance and all on it, why not sell our house at the height of the market and build a yurt on property, which can later be used for living, or office space, or group space should we not want to live in it long-term. We are planning on buying a property in Hawaii and permaculturing that property and spending half our year in Hawaii and the other half in Florida to start. Without being able to travel we are trying to channel our energies into helpful, productive purchases and that had proved difficult during these trying times (hello all the new toys in our playroom!)
I've also had a deep desire since we moved to Florida to become as minimal as possible. It's like I can hear the earth (and especially the ocean) begging and pleading with me to stop buying plastic crap and stop all the senseless consuming. And I have not been successful as of yet. I still find myself buying things everyday. Right now it's mostly garden supplies, seeds and plants. But I know it needs to stop. Also, every purchase I make feels like a step further away from Hawaii. My dream. So why do I do it? Well, I am going to blame TV a little, and my addiction to the internet. I compare. Even when I watch fancy, tiny-house videos, I compare. I want the off-grid homestead lifestyle and when I'm out researching how to do all that, I inevitably run into things that are going to make my life easier. So, I still have a long way to go, but I'm glad I'm on the journey to less.
I was at a friends house yesterday and it is a very large house close to the beach in a gated community, with a security guard and all. There was a time just a few short months ago, I was really considering this way of living. And though, of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with this way of living, I am aware, that this is not me. I would not feel satisfied with that lifestyle.
Also, when I read the book "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" by Robert Kyosaki, one of the things that really stuck with me was that your mortgage and your home is not an asset. It is a drain on the system. It always requires money and maintenance and does not produce any income in return. So this got me thinking about potentially buying a multi-unit property and that way, other people, who rent from you, pay your mortgage. And who doesn't want that? Don't get me wrong, Jason and I said good-bye to the beach house of our dreams a few months ago (we were hours from buying it) and we cried. It is a 100 year old beautiful, ocean-front piece of history. But it is also a money-pit, and potentially hazardous for little kids, so we let it go, in pursuit of other dreams. We still drive by it and sigh heavily, our eyes adrift in a sea of loving affection for it's beauty and charm.
The very next day though, after we let it go, I was relieved and so excited, because it drew Hawaii closer to me. A lot closer. I love Florida, but I miss the crystal clear waters to dive in, and the mountains to run in. I need both equally. Plus I can't stand the cold. I am convinced I died in the cold in a past life because though I'm German and English by blood, my heart yearns for the tropics. If you happen to come upon me in the winter and ask me how I am, you might get a salty reply, as I detest even pleasant, chilly days. I want to sweat, I want it humid. I want it sunny. I only like it chilly and raining when I run, and there's lots of that in the mountains in Hawaii. Seriously, we went to Waimea (Big Island) and it was like rolling through Northern California. But with less people.
As soon as the travel restrictions lighten (negative Covid test vs 2 week mandatory quarantine upon arrival), we are going for a few months to really get a feel for the neighborhoods and to look at properties. In the meantime we are trying to run the ship as lean as we can. We want what we want. Staying focused on the future while simultaneously enjoying the present is the tight rope we are trying to walk. I know there are scores of books written on the subject (I still haven't read Dave Ramsey), but for the most part, we are simple people and know where the lines are for ourselves.
I can tell you, I have come a long way here too. I am a reformed shopaholic and mega consumer. I used to routinely spend about 1000$ a month on clothing. My closet wasn't big enough, my house wasn't big enough, and my car wasn't big enough. Now they are, and maybe even too big, except for my car which is a Rav 4 hybrid and with two kids, two dogs and a husband, it sometimes feels tight (but 41 mpg with awd is THE BOMB).
So I know I'm not alone in this quest to save the planet. I just saw an ad on Instagram this morning for a regenerative agriculture/soil reconstruction/permaculture documentary narrated by Rosario Dawson and funded by some Hollywood folks. Thank goodness. I'll probably watch that later. (www.theneedtogrow.com) I am so fired up about this stuff. I finally feel like my life is flowing versus all the stops and starts or feeling like I'm just getting through it. I am starting to be the person I think my kids would be proud of me for being. I'm not apologizing for my lifestyle or who I am becoming anymore both internally and externally. It is a little scary when I let my people-pleasing twitch flex for a while, but the rightness and internal peace and joy I feel outweigh it's antiquated musings. And the status-quo will flex on me (and you). The eye rolls when talking about living in a yurt bemoan the age old stories about the "American Dream," but to me they are just fodder for the pile at this point. I'm digging that I bring up some resistance in others. I hope they use it as a chance to examine and look at the discomfort or disapproval my lifestyle incites. What could being a minimal, vegan, running, outdoorsy, natural, peaceful, gardening, magic believing, person make them angry about? Is it me or is it them?
Oh yeah, and I'm going to start saving seeds this year too. How freaking wild is that!? If you haven't gotten to get outside to go connect with the plants in a while, I highly recommend it, and maybe then you'll see why that is so thrilling. Imagine a beautiful fenced garden, with a few chickens scratching around and clucking, the sun is coming up over the marsh and the sea birds are slowly hunting. The cardinals are foraging for seeds and eating the muscadine grapes on the arbor and the solar fountain is trickling nearby. The morning dew is lit up on the spider's web by the blackberries and the smell of the orange blossoms are beckoning you to take a deep breath. In front of you is the bounty of the garden full of broccoli, green beans, tomatoes, greens and fragrant herbs and the sweet potato vine is creeping all over. You and creation in perfect harmony. You the shepherd and The Universe the muse. So, amazingly divine. Can't wait. See you there.