What Are We Afraid Of?

What Do I Want?

  • I want to live in a tiny house.
  • I want less stuff.
  • I want to write.
  • I want to travel.
  • I want to take summers off and not have to work if I don’t feel like it.
  • I want to write on the beach in Costa Rica.
  • I want to eat GOOD FOOD – healthy, REAL FOOD.
  • I want to go hiking and take long walks with my dogs.
  • I want to take a nap whenever I’m tired.

You get the idea.

As I was thinking about this list before I sat down to write it, I realized that all of these things are easily within my reach. Everything on this list is absolutely 100% doable. I could have it all, and do it all, like, NOW.

So why don’t I?

Seriously.

What makes a downshifter’s dream life – a life that is smaller, simpler, quieter – seem so far out of reach for so many people? It’s not like we’re asking for millions of dollars. We want less. Less stuff. Less stress. But we also want more. More freedom. More control over our own lives.

Or do we?

What is it about freedom of choice that scares the crap out of most people? We all have it, but we fool ourselves into thinking that we don’t. We live the way we do because, well, we have no choice. That’s what we tell ourselves. It’s complete bullshit.

Why are so many of us scared to change?

~PEACE~

 

Following My Own Advice

I’m always preaching about the importance of getting enough sleep. And I’m usually pretty good at practicing what I preach. But for the past 3 or 4 nights, I’ve been averaging less than 6 hours. Getting up at 4:30 a.m. for work requires me to go to bed pretty early in order to get my 7 to 8 hours every night, but lately I’ve been staying up way past my 9 p.m. bedtime! Today, I’m really feeling it. My brain is foggy, my body is achy, and my stomach was upset all morning.

As much as I would love to dazzle you all with a brilliant and insightful blog post this evening, I’ve really got to pack it in and GO TO BED. Hope you’ll consider doing the same. Your body will thank you.

Tomorrow is a new day. Goodnight!

~PEACE~

 

Freedom From Choice

For me, the foundation of a simpler, streamlined life is built on good habits. In her new book, Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin asserts:

“A habit requires no decision from me, because I’ve already decided. Am I going to brush my teeth when I wake up? Am I going to take this pill? I decide, then I don’t decide; mindfully, then mindlessly. I shouldn’t worry about making healthy choices. I should make one healthy choice, and then stop choosing.”

I agree with this approach, and have had some success with using habits and routines to save my time and brainpower by eliminating some of the decision-making from my day.

When I eat the same healthy breakfast or lunch every day, I have one less thing to agonize over during the course of my day.

Dressing in the same basic work “uniform” saves so much time — no more staring into the closet trying to figure out what to wear every morning!

My friend Norm starts every day by going for a run, without fail. It’s as much a part of his morning routine as showering and brushing his teeth.

Why reinvent the wheel every day when there are so many aspects of our lives that we can put on autopilot? By eliminating some of these mundane decisions, we can free up our minds, and our time, to focus on more interesting choices and opportunities.

Honestly, though, the only downside I’ve found to this method is that I do get bored sometimes. A soothing routine can start to feel like a rut after a while. I crave variety in my diet. I get sick of wearing the same old clothes all the time. So once in a while, I make the conscious decision to mix it up, at least for a day or two.

But after I get it out of my system, I usually return to my same comforting routines and good habits. What can I say? When you know what works for you, you stick with it!

~PEACE~

 

 

Profile of a Downshifter: Noelle Hancock

While some of us only dream of quitting our mundane jobs and moving to the Caribbean (or Europe, Alaska, wherever), some people actually do it.

Noelle Hancock went from feeling “stressed, uninspired, and disconnected” in NYC to living “on a tiny, rustic island of 4,100 people sharing a bathroom with poultry.” Check out her story on Esquire.com to learn why and how she did it:

Why I Gave Up a $95,000 Dream Job to Move to the Caribbean and Scoop Ice Cream

Some of you are probably thinking that you couldn’t possibly do anything that radical. I can hear your objections:

  • “But she was young.”
  • “But she was single.”
  • “But she didn’t have a mortgage.”
  • “But she didn’t have kids.”

I know, I know. BUT, BUT, BUT, what can we learn from her? What is your dream? What do you want your life to look like? And what small steps (or BIG ones) can you take today to start moving closer to that dream life?

  • Take a class?
  • Put your house on the market?
  • Look for a new job?
  • Buy a one-way ticket to paradise?

It’s never too late. We all have choices. We aren’t as stuck as we think. According to Hancock:

“It was startlingly simple to dismantle the life I’d spent a decade building: I broke the lease on my apartment, sold my belongings, and bought a one-way plane ticket. The hardest part was convincing myself it was OK to do something for no other reason than to change the narrative of my life.”

We each only get one life to live. How will we change the narratives of our lives?

~PEACE~

Two Weeks In!

I’m almost two weeks into my commitment to write a blog post every day for the month of May, and I haven’t let myself down yet. In addition to the great sense of accomplishment I’ve gotten from setting a goal and sticking with it, I’ve learned a few other things along the way.

  1. The momentum of a daily habit is a powerful force.
  2. No matter how busy some of my days turned out to be, I could always find a tiny bit of time to write — no excuses!!
  3. The WordPress community is filled with so many amazing, inspiring, and talented writers/bloggers.
  4. Having people from all over the world read my writing, and respond positively to it, is such a high!
  5. When I focus on something that I love to do, everything else in my life seems to fall into place and go more smoothly.
  6. If I can do it, so can you.

After my monthly challenge is over, I WILL continue to write and work on Downshifter’s Journal every day, although I’ll probably post a little less frequently. But then again, let’s see how I feel in 2 more weeks…

~PEACE~

 

 

A Tiny House Alternative Worth Considering

From the age of 10 until I was almost 35, I lived in a mobile home. Two of them, actually: first in a trailer park with my parents, then with my now-husband on our own land. When we built the house we live in now, I joked that my only non-negotiable requirement was an upstairs.

In my 25 years of mobile home living, I learned to appreciate their efficient use of space. I also enjoyed a lot of years without a big mortgage, which enabled us to save a good chunk of the construction costs for the new house. Now, we rent out our mobile home to pay our (small and almost-paid-off) mortgage. The old trailer has been very good to us!

In her book Trailersteading: How to Find, Buy, Retrofit, and Live Large in a Mobile Home, Anna Hess profiles a collection of folks who have discovered the advantages of mobile home living. For a number of people, mobile homes don’t carry the stigma of “trailer trash,” but rather represent freedom from big mortgage debt and the opportunity to live a simpler life.

I’m all for that. How about you?

~PEACE~