Archives for December 2018

December 12, 2018

Living with Less

How life on the road has been the best idea I’ve ever had.

Two years ago an idea popped into my head: to get rid of most of my possessions and leave my home of 27 years to travel full-time in an RV. This idea was so far out of my norm that I kept it to myself for months, fearing that my friends and family might think I’d lost my mind. I wasn’t sure where it originated but I decided to research as much as possible and find out if it could be done.

The more I learned and read about others leading this lifestyle, the more I believed I could pull it off. The fact that I’d never so much as spent a weekend in an RV didn’t faze me. I focused on the freedom I would gain, traveling to beautiful places. The opportunity to explore, hike, and fully enjoy nature. I resolved to continue planning until I encountered some insurmountable obstacle.

Spoiler alert... I never did.

I began looking around my house, making a list of items I would purge. My intention was to give away my furniture, appliances, and clothing to people in need. Things with a lot of sentimental value would go into storage, but the cost for that space was not to exceed what my monthly utilities had run.

Every box packed and trash can filled over the next few months brought me closer to my goal. When I got close to my exit date I contacted a woman at the local community college who coordinates services for students with children. Soon, trucks began coming down the driveway and grateful young people would cart off my stuff.

I had not anticipated how satisfying this process would be. And now, 18 months into my RV life, there’s not a single material possession I regret giving away. I have all the essentials right here, along with the freedom to move on or stay put wherever I choose. I spent three months last summer as a Forest Service volunteer at Mount St. Helens National Monument, camping in the back of a ranger-station-turned-visitor-center. I was surrounded by a  gorgeous forest with the Milky Way overhead and no sounds at night but owls. This, and other experiences have brought a depth and freshness to my life that I would have thought unlikely at my age.

When asked how long I intend to live this way, my answer is simply, “as long as it works for me.”

I hope that will be quite some time.

December 6, 2018

Simple is Not Easy

The challenge of simplicity may not be easy, but is worth the time and effort.

I was not looking for a change when I first stumbled upon the minimalist approach. I was preparing for a month-long trek across the famous Camino de Santiago in Spain. My plan was to travel as light as possible, so for obvious reasons, I began to research all things small. It was then that I found this new, exciting, and large movement. It influenced me to pack light and pack smart.

It wasn’t until halfway through my Camino journey that I saw the beauty in minimal living. I realized why living simply was so appealing to me—I could focus on what truly mattered. I could enjoy everything I had because I had them for a reason. 

Each day, I’d wake up early, pack my bag, and start to walk. In my bag, I had about 8kg of stuff. It didn’t look much, and still, I had not used all of it during my trip. I was amazed that I could survive on one soap bar to do all my self-washing and laundry. I was even more surprised that I could live with just three sets of clothes. Wash, dry, wear—it’s as simple as that. 

One of the biggest surprises was the makeup. I rarely go natural with makeup—I like my eyeshadows, eyeliner, lipsticks… but after a few serious conversations with my sister, the only items I took were mascara, eyeliner, and face cream. Even with my love for makeup, I only used these makeup items a handful of times on my walk. The sun kissed my skin golden brown, my freckles popped out, and I really didn’t feel the need to put anything else on me.

Upon returning home, I was overwhelmed by all the stuff around me, and I desperately wanted to hold onto this minimal way of living that I enjoyed so much on the Camino trail. However, holding onto this lifestyle was far from easy. 

Before traveling to Spain, I moved all my belongings into a storage unit. After finding a new studio apartment, I realized it is a few times smaller than my previous apartment, which meant that my belongs were crowding the space. If I ever wanted to start living minimally, this was the time. 

Even with the desire to live simply, throwing things out does not come naturally to me. I like my books, movies, and CDs, as they bring memories and ease. Excuses were made until I made a breakthrough. I had found a year 2000 Panasonic CD player, one in which I had not switched on for years and could not find a home for in my new home. I debated the decision for days, and in the end, it was placed in the bin bag and removed from my life. It felt so good!

Over the next few weeks, more items followed the CD player out of my life—some things I never would have imagined getting rid of. My apartment with fewer items began to look and feel like home. Everything that remained in my life had a genuine purpose. The space I gained was precious, the clean and airy room made me feel calm. Coming home wasn’t exhausting, and I enjoyed sitting on the sofa and simply just being at home. 

Of course, there are still things I can get rid of, but it’s a process that doesn’t need to be rushed. A clutter-free space not only created room for things that matter, but it also cleared my head. Getting ready takes me half the time, looking for things is easy, and cleaning is simple.

Simple may not be easy, but it does feel good. It also may not be for everyone, but it gave me a new outlook on my everyday life and what I want it to become.