The good thing about moving is that I am forced to let go of things. I am moving tomorrow, and I plan to have two suitcases, one day pack, a rolling card, and a rolling cooler to take to my new place. I might be staying up all night in order to accomplish this, but I am determined to get this done by tomorrow at 1pm when my son is coming to help me move.
For the past year and 4 months, I have been trading my services of organizing, cleaning, and gardening in order to rent a room. I have no car. I have a bicycle. I have a few friends who can either give me rides, or I borrow their car when I really need the use of a vehicle. I buy 70% of my food from the local farmers market or straight from a local farmer, and am working on increasing that to 90%. 95% of my food I buy at a discount because of my good relationships with the farmers.
My only expense besides food and a few supplies I need once in a while, is my cell phone bill which is $50 a month. Therefore, my expenses are now about $300 a month. I charge from $15-$50 an hour for my services, so I work any where from 6 to 20 hours per month in order to pay my basic expenses. I promote myself very little, and get most of my work from clients who hire me from time to time. I have no regular work. Rather than be discouraged about my lack of work, I am happy. If people call me, I can’t resist working for them, even if I don’t need the money. So when I don’t have work offered to me, I have more time to meditate, pray, write, research, work on various enjoyable, meaningful projects, and spend time with my family.
Some day, I do want to make more money so that I can develop things like a land trust/intentional community on our Wellspring Community land. But for now, I experience the abundance of free time as a blessing and a kind of sabbatical.
I have moved four times in the past sixteen months, and my time at my present place is over. The last place I stayed started with a trial period of one month, and lasted a year. This place the boundaries were clear–I could stay here for two months. Normally my friends have foreign students stay in their guest room, but since they needed extended house-sitting help, they decided that it would work for me to be in that room for a relative short time.
I was going to work really hard to find a new place when I realized that I needed to leave my last place. I dreamed of making a nice flyer, putting out ads, making a blog, and other creative things. Instead, I blurted out to a client that I needed a place to stay and could I stay with them. She said, “Let me talk to Steve.” She came out five minutes later and said, “Yes, you can stay here for two months.” Well, that was easy!
I thought for sure I would have to do the same in order to find my next gig. But I kept resisting actively looking for a place. So once again, when I was visiting a friend and we were having a wonderful conversation, I blurted out that I would like to stay at her house along with her husband and baby. She said she was actually thinking of the same thing. I told her that if I came, I wanted to get down to living out of a back pack. I have not downsized that much yet, but I really need to keep paring down. Okay, maybe I should go to sleep and just get up early and start fresh.
I have heard stories from minimalists about how downsizing is a process, and how it takes quite a long time to sort through those last items that seem hard to get through. I am finding this to be true. I have three big boxes of things to give away, and about 5 boxes to store. I do have about four boxes of books, a box of summer clothes, and some tape masters I am storing else where. But really, I am finally getting to a place where I am only keeping what I really need and what gives me joy.
Living lightly has transformed my life for the better in so many ways. I invite you to do the same!