I‘ve been blogging about our “life less burdened” since the end of August 2018. I’ve been in search of a different lifestyle since January 2018.
With my husband of over 30 years, I lived in a new home. We had a mortgage. Our garden shed was full of more than yard tools. We had boxes of stuff parked in our garage, instead of our truck. This is where we started downsizing, with the house and the contents. We transitioned from 1600 square feet of our shared homelife down to 200 square feet of life on the road.
Weekly I write blog posts about the events of our journey. Now I want to look at what the lifestyle, “a life less burdened,” has come to mean to me. I want to speak about what changed during 2018. My life became complicated, not less burdened.
Go back a year, go back even farther; I had routines. I was aligned with family life. Then, naturally, family life transitioned to just my husband and I. We invested in a new house. I brought everything with me that I had carried my entire adult life. All of this fit comfortably, I thought, in our home.
At first, it was just talk. My husband and I both thought moving to the Atlantic coast from my birthplace on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, was a simple idea. We could buy a small house with more property for a fraction of what we had invested on the west coast of Canada. We could quit our jobs, travel across the country in an RV, and become full-time creators. My husband would follow his passion to be a videographer and photographer, and I would write a series of books, plus blog about our new life.
Six months into 2018 we were debt-free. The house had been sold, furniture and household effects sold, or they were donated or thrown away. Whatever remained fit into 100 square feet of a storage unit, and 100 square feet inside our truck and travel trailer. We set off to find a new life.
I took my fears on the road, not realizing how much space they would take up. I gave up clients and income and discovered I had to rebuild a process of delivery because I was now working for myself and I wasn’t seeing any revenue. Not yet. My husband gave up a regular paycheque, but he also gave up a commute to an office. I thought we made space for freedoms we couldn’t attain when we fitted into societal expectations.
Why live the same way as everyone else and call that our life? I wanted more, and looking back I suppose I had a romantic notion that living with less would change me.
By the fall of 2018, I knew I had to redress the life I had stripped down. A life less burdened was debt-free, but it was not without financial concern. I was writing every day, but I was not building a sustainable audience to connect with. I was living in another country, having gone south to winter in a warmer climate, but I wasn’t exploring the locations where we landed. Instead of taking every new experience and learning from it, I was withdrawing in exhaustion. I settled into the belief that this was a punishment.
In a vulnerable moment, naked without a proper desk or a quiet space of my own, I stood and reflected on what my life could become. I thought about what I wanted to see and feel when I told my story.
Two weeks into 2019, with a countdown app on my phone set for the re-entry back to my home province, I realize it’s been an entire year since I started packing up our old life to find a new one. I’m not living on the Atlantic coast. Maybe I never will. Decisions along this journey kept us on the west coast of North America. We’ve traveled through five US states and will explore two more on our return to Canada.
Depending on what happens when we re-enter British Columbia, if we take a break from travel or move to a different rig with more storage space and go east, we will never go back in debt, and never work in a pod in a corporate environment again. We plan to build communities online and craft our businesses to grow as our life less burdened grows. I’m changing my beliefs about being an author, and I’ve been mindful to stop punishing myself for thinking the work I’ve done up to this point was not of value. It’s because I failed along the way that I know this. The best is still to come. The countdown app reminds me my target is less than 64 days away.
Here is what I see and know after one year. I have a different diet. Whether it’s been to simplify, or just acceptance of the limitations of life on the road, I enjoy meals that take minutes to prepare. I still shop at Costco. Somehow their products continue to fit our lifestyle. You would be right if you guess that the store provides a familiarity that I’ve chosen not to give up. I miss my cast iron teapot, but I’ve found other useful tools to fit our tiny trailer kitchen. I enjoy tea whenever the mood strikes.
Our folding bikes allow us to explore cities when we don’t want to drive, and that time in the saddle is well spent. I think about everything while pedaling, enjoying the introverted lounge space in my mind under a vast and typically sunny sky. The choice to winter in California has not been a regret. We walk as much as possible, we started skipping rope for extra cardio, and sometimes we get on the water in our kayaks. We aren’t as active as we were last year, but we’re more aware of what movement our bodies need.
The search for a home base continues. We never set out to travel full time. Finding property remains our short-term goal. We want to find a new space to live in, one I won’t fill with things I might need “one day.” I will fill our new home with items that serve our new lifestyle only. This property will be our launch pad to more travel and will give us space to create, plus provide an address to legitimize our creative intentions. My beloved cast iron teapot will come out of storage and go to the hearth of our home base.
There isn’t more time or more opportunities available to us unless we search out and build what we need. The most significant change in our life didn’t happen because we sold our house and gave away an excess of stuff. Change blossomed from the many ideas we explored in the past year.
I can’t say I miss any of the items that are gone. I appreciate that our life is lighter. We’ve worked to become comfortable with change. Maybe that’s what adventure is; our freedom to think boldly and not settle for limitations.
This is the beginning of our life less burdened.