If you followed my old blog you would know that I had this little, (BIG) dream. I wondered if we could get down to a suitcase each and find the freedom to get on the road with our kids.
Over the past few years we’ve simplified the stuff, the commitments, the debt, the wants, the needs, the priorities, the expectations and along the way we’ve done a whole lot of connecting, learning, travelling, slowing and growing.
It’s been quite a transformational time and at the same time not so transformational. I’m just back to myself…the self that got a bit lost under the stuff, the adulting and the 10 years of having children. Same me, just a better version, living closer to my values.
I will be forever grateful that others have shared their stories in the blogosphere. The personal stories have inspired, motivated and challenged me over the past few years. I have questioned what is really important (for us), what we really need, and found some bloody great advice. It’s been a calm place to discover a more minimal lifestyle while we live amongst the hustle alongside a culture of consumerism.
Eventually, I found the courage to write my own. Without a doubt writing in this space has kept me honest and on a path to simplicity. There are many reasons to blog, but for me, its always been about sharing stories. That’s what I do and those are the style of blogs I read.
I closed down my initial blog at the start of the year which I feel a little disappointed about. There was a whole journey on there and I wish it was there for you so you could see that we didn’t just arrive here without a lot of work and at times, confusion and discomfort.
I think I became scared of being judged by people that I know. Blogging is weird like that, you put your vulnerable self out there and that’s scary. Especially, for a shy introvert who has hidden from attention and social media until setting out on this path.
Nevermind, time out is always a good thing. A little time to pause, reflect, reset and come back. I’m happy I did. I like sharing and I love the connections I’ve made. I learn so much from people who share how they live simply.
Losing the stuff and my connection to stuff has been a huge part of my life since moving to Sydney (3 years ago). I don’t consider myself to be a hoarder and love an empty shelf, but still, we had too much. Decluttering half of it gave me enough white space to think and explore what a simple life could look like for us.
I left a job with a toxic work culture and focussed on working where my philosophies and values could align with my practice. Eventually, I reduced my hours and spent more time on things that mattered. I am lucky to have been able to do that but we also reduced a lot, no babysitting, less take out, one car, we don’t outsource anything and we consume mindfully. This year I challenged myself to buy myself nothing new.
I discovered my hiking boots at the back of the cupboard that my boyfriend (now husband) bought me when we first met, 20 years ago. That old passion was reignited and not only am I an avid hiker (again) but we are a hiking family. As a family, we are connected to nature and this wilding without a doubt takes you back to what’s important.
We moved house to reduce our rental costs and give the kids some green space. We achieved both but the compromise was a school commute. I’m happy it’s coming to an end. A nice lesson learnt here, I am someone who needs to be able to walk around my community and commutes are not for me.
I discovered I quit sugar and a whole new world of cooking opened up to me, (Greg has always been the family chef but the Sydney work culture has meant that I had to step in/up). But more than that, I started to care about our environmental impact and how we could reduce food waste. We have always eaten market fresh but considering food miles, farmers and the policies and practices of growing food are now firmly in my sphere and I want to explore and care about this.
Of course, this led to me wanting to grow my own food so I did an organic gardening course with Milkwood Permaculture (awesome blog) and dabbled in some home gardening which I’ve loved. It was probably only a matter of time, all of my grandparents were market gardeners. My mum is a plant grower.
We began to camp in a more minimal way and each school holiday and long weekend has become an opportunity for travel and adventure.
Sustainability is something I care a lot about, and it’s creeping in a little more each day. The dryer was sold early on, plastic bags were ditched (mostly), take away coffee cups a thing of the past and we began composting. Slowly we get better at living in a more environmentally conscious way.
I started taking photos because I started to see beauty everywhere, every day. Slowly, I rediscovered the joy of making. It’s easy with children to forget these hobbies and skills. Rather that a strict routine of cleaning and organising we do more making, it means my kids are not sparkling clean and their hair is rarely brushed but my heart fills with the creativity and imagination that comes from these little people.
I’m married to my best friend, we’ve almost been together longer than without each other. I am definitely the spontaneous, free-spirited and whimsical one. I am getting better at thinking through decisions and sitting with a problem rather than trying to solve it, he is the master of that. He is way more logical and practical than me. I just think it will all work out, usually, it does and if not I’m pretty good at adapting.
This life partner of mine is always supportive of my endeavours which is lucky because I tend to jump into things! But he’s not always on board, little things, I love the idea of earthing, it’s a bit hippy for him.
I read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project and while most of the ideas weren’t new to me there was one chapter that struck a cord. At times, I took Greg’s lack of excitement about some of my endeavours personally and maybe over analyed it little. Gretchen spent a month being kinder to her partner and not expecting him to read her mind.
So I cut a little slack, I talked about what was important to me without expecting so much. I started appreciating my husband for the beautiful, supportive, kind man that he is and stopped taking it personally if he came home with a plastic bag, or thought that travelling indefinitely was ‘checking out’.
Basically, we started living and appreciating the now, doing things we care more about and ditching the stuff that didn’t matter. No wasting today thinking and living for what may or may not happen next year. I actually stopped thinking about my one suitcase campervanning around Europe dream.
Then, a shift happened, a switch flicked. In the calm and quiet, without the expectations and in his own methodical way, Greg found a path that made escaping together as a family doable, no pushing (nagging) from me. It turns out that he just needed to find his own way there. The jobs would be quit, long service cashed in, and stuff would be sold.
So, of course, I needed no time to jump! Yes, let’s do it, let’s take the kids on a sabbatical and see Europe, hey let’s even move there after we travel. Why the heck not? Life is an adventure, a new chapter to write. I’m lucky to be born in Australia to migrant parents so very privileged to have an EU passport as do my children.
In all honesty, I never thought when I started this journey of simplifying that we would get here, or maybe I did? I don’t know. But I do know that there was not a hope of doing it way back then when we weren’t focussed on simplicity.
So now I’m getting us down to that suitcase each and maybe a box of books. And gosh I’m loving that as I sell, give away and donate our possessions I’m meeting interesting people and banking lovely little stories. Out of the box and getting closer to a new chapter of freedom that we’ve created for ourselves by unburdening the weight of stuff and commitments.
I loved Cybele from Blah Blah Magazine’s blog post from last week (here) about her big decision to move. I’m not sure I could write myself an obituary but I do think about living fully. I know I will have lived without regrets in my relationships and life choices. I listened to the podcast she talks about a while back, I often think back to parts of it. It’s one of my favourites, it’s like being a part of a really interesting conversation.
Woah, that’s a long one, if you’re still with me thanks for reading. The next month will be focussed on losing what’s left of the stuff and moving into some furnished digs with our suitcases. We can thoroughly enjoy the last term of school and life in Sydney before we leave. I think that’s the gentlest way for all of us.