Why we are still cutting down on our crap and tent-shopping
I've got a half hour window to spill some thoughts on 'stuff', inspired by a morning spent cleaning up the house we've been 'sitting' for the past couple weeks since our return from overseas. I dropped a suitcase of my 'good clothes' along with a couple storage units of books, my surf board travel case (no boards, left them in Colombia), and a rice cooker which I think we'll use again soon.
Packing up our necessities - our three travel bags and some extras like my Ninja Blender, jars of nuts, grains and flours, plus my 'work bag' with my laptop and hard drives, etc - I realized we have way too much stuff. Still.
Last year, I sold everything and packed our lives into above said travel bags, and we spent eight months travelling, with majority of our time spent in Colombia and the snow mountains of Hakuba, Japan. We might be back 'home' now, in the sense the kids school is here in Lennox Head, but we are not done adventuring. Over a 24-hour period from today we will live in 3 different houses, which can be a pain packing and unpacking the bags, but we love it.
I'm not ready to settle. We came back to Lennox because the kids really wanted to see their friends, Hunter was ready to start school, and Ryder's reading and writing had fallen so far behind, with no love on the home schooling front. My work as a Virtual Reality producer is busy AF at the moment, and I needed my ninjas in school also to give me some time to get shit done. They get educated and entertained at the same time, talk about killing two birds with one stone.
"Oh wow you're back, how are you 'settling in'?" has been the common reaction when I bump into old friends in the village.
Um yeah well, if settling means choking myself as a single mum with bond, rent, bills, and accumulating more stuff, show me the door. We're staying, for a while, but we are certainly not 'settling' by the mainstream definition of the word.
Minimize the 'stuff'
We have a couple more weeks staying with friends, then our sights are sent on the local caravan park; pitching a tent and living as simple as it gets, with the tea tree lake to one side, the beach to the other. I want to see how little we can have, and how much happier we can be. In all our months of traveling, the happiest moments were those spent camping or living closest to nature, in sustainable huts and mud cabins, with minimal 'stuff'.
Looking back on the past six years of my life since relocating to Australia post Japan disaster, I cringe to think how quickly we went from losing all our possessions, to having so many again. My ex-husband was a hoarder, and I admit I collected more than I needed, but when I look back at what the biggest stresses in my life have been since becoming a mum, it's been domestication and cleaning up the 'stuff'.
Selling everything and exiting my two-year rental last year was one of the most stressful periods of my life. Now I just need a few hours to pack up our 'stuff' and I'm ready to move on to the next location. Cleaning up someone else' pad is a joy rather than the burden I used to feel cleaning up our own; I'm so grateful when people open their arms to me and my tribe and whilst I'm not naturally gifted at house work (and sorry for the broken knife and running out of gas James!), I now love to leave places better than I find them.
Re-connecting with the 'self'
I want to re-connect. The 'stuff' in our lives shelters us from our surrounding environment, from having empathy for people and places, from connecting with our kids, from connecting with our self. Single mums, all mums, devote so much of our time to providing for our kids that we often leave little time for self care and connection. We're left unfulfilled, depleted, sick and depressed. Some of us hit alcohol - I've been there - some of us fuel our days with gossip, some of us become social media addicts, some of us become obsessed with shopping and materialism; we're all searching for that escape. Addiction really is a disconnect, and I watched an awesome little YouTube video on the subject of addiction this week that I highly recommend.
Living in a tent (geez we are really excited about this)nis really all about minimalizing, re-connecting, and going deeper into the 'self', along with learning how to be more adaptable. Yes it's the un-affordability of rent in Lennox Head (Air BnB's that cost a small fortune for a week) that spurred the idea, along with my unwillingness to 'settle', but the whole concept goes a little bit deeper.
Single mums leaving domestic violence are 80 per cent more likely to return to the violence, many citing financial strain and lessened quality of life as a major reason. Leaving a decade of domestic violence put me almost $50,000 in debt a few years ago, but I refused to re-enter the relationship and started the tough but liberating journey as a single mum in debt. What limited my rise was not the debt, but rather my limited belief systems that hindered my breakthrough.
It's taken me many life experiences, and many trips abroad (especially to third-world countries), to learn that poverty is a state of mind. On paper, the kids and I are technically 'homeless' - we have never owned a home, and we no longer have a rental lease. But in reality, we have everything we need, and most importantly, we are 'heart-full'.
Living in a tent will take my closer to a life of authenticity. And I hope it can offer other single mothers leaving domestic violence a chance to view the struggle from a different light; change the way you look at things, and the way you look at things changes.
I remember when I went to India in 2008, 6 weeks pregnant with Ryder. We stayed a month, working on a 26-page surf/travel magazine spread for Japanese 'BLUE' magazine. I will never forget the day I volunteered at a girl's orphanage. Many were there because their parents were dead, in jail, or had raped or molested their daughters, yet these girls were running around giggling with innocence and took me by the hand into their tea fields to show me how they plant the tea themselves and harvest ready for sale to help fund the school.
India changed my life, yet many of the lessons I learned were clouded by 'human obligation' and 'stuff' as I lost my way time and time in domestication. In India I surfed with street kids, boys, many of whom had been raped by local fishermen repeatedly until a Belgium non-profit built a school and a surf club and took on the care of the kids; and I walked through many of the slums all over the country. I will never forget how those kids' smiles lit up my life. The same goes for my travels in Africa, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and South America.
What's your economical abundance ballpark?
Mine is freedom. To have the freedom to pack up and jump on a plane and say yes to opportunities. To have the freedom to chose organic, vegan food, and ethically-made products as opposed to the 'cheap revolution', to give my boys a wide range of opportunities - less toys, more experiences.
Rent at the caravan park is a small fortune, almost $300 per week for an un-powered site. Then add on the coast of global, unlimited wifi - I'm a working woman - and food, and you're not far off a mortgage. But there won't be extra bills to pay, no grass to mow, no house to clean. And when opportunities arise, we can pack everything up, pop it in the car, and head off again.
That's not to say I don't dream of a place to store my books, and my crystals, one day. But I'm certainly not ready for that yet. I don't know where I want that 'home' to be, and I yearn for the inspiration that springs from gypsy life. And I want to learn to live with less, to feel alive, and appreciate true abundance.
Coming up this weekend...the next edition of the 100 Waterfalls Challenge. Where to next?
Check out our little iPhone Vlog from our most recent adventure: