I know I haven’t visited here in so long and I have no idea when I’ll be back. However, this morning, I sit here with a cup of creamy, sweet coffee reheated for the second time in the microwave and a picture window in my living room where I can look over our snow covered forest and watch the sun rise above the tall sequoias and pines. Our good friend has been here for a few days and we have had so much fun cooking, eating, playing, cooking and eating some more, decorating the house for Sam’s 7th Birthday, watching good movies and having deep conversations with good music in the background. I think we spent two minutes each online and I haven’t seen a cell phone in days.
But my friend and I are from the “old days” when the only phone in the house was still on the wall and if you needed to call someone while out and about in town you found a payphone on the street. We didn’t have computers, we had books and life and conversations.
For those of you watching my videos on YouTube, I’ve been talking about a simpler life. Less hustles and more time for what matters. For me staring out a window at the snow matters. Looking my children in the eyes and listening matters. A slow day matters. These matter more than all the busyness and pollution we find online.
These are the books that have heavily influenced me and a new life: Essentialism by Greg McKeown and What Falls From The Sky by Esther Emery. Since reading these books I’ve been clearing off my calendar and returning to my former position of being home and taking great pleasure in a slow and simple life.
I started missing the life we had years ago before I was blogging and filming for YouTube, trying to write books and build up an online presence. I enjoyed all of it and it helped with the more isolated years. But now I want more time for family and play. And to go through menopause gracefully. I want exceptional health for the family and all of us to be out and about in nature, finding our joys, and being creative.
The cyber world is a strange place. There are so many good things, and then there are dark places and rough streets you don’t want to be after dark. There is so much toxic BS on there. You really have to be cautious and decerning.
I don’t want to be a part of the world and mainstream at all at this time. I want to live in a big bubble and live happily ever after. The less I know the happier I am. I do read news everyday but I read about wonderful things happening around the world that you can’t find on mainstream news because it doesn’t sell or get the views like the crazy, depressing, and over dramatized news most people rush to devour and make themselves sick.
I will link the news feeds I use to lift me up in the mornings at the end of this blog.
So, I was feeling stressed and moody and I began to go back in my memories to a time when I was content and peaceful. A time when I was almost saint like with patience and life was slow and sweet. The biggest thing that stood out was not a laptop or cell phone but books and family and home. I would sit under this huge olive tree in the warm seasons and read stacks of books. I was focused on my tiny boys and loved fussing around my house, decorating, cleaning, changing the rooms around (as I do to this day). I brewed and drank a cup of coffee in the mornings, I washed dishes after lunch, I read books to babies and nursed, music played in the back ground and we spent many days outside in the backyard exploring and listening to the boats on the river near us or watched tractors slowly go by on the levy road above us. There were evening baths and coyotes hunting at night. That was our life and we were all content within and satisfied with the days.
I have been going back to that time. I have taken myself offline for the most part. I am blogging today because the mood is there to write about my feelings. Other than that, I have scheduled out videos, disabled comments, and emptied our calendar so that I just do five minutes online a day to pay a bill, respond to an email and that is it.
I will be publishing my last book on homemaking and frugality soon. This one is different, it’s the exploration of choosing to be broke over working ourselves to insanity. How can we have more time? Less hours working. That means less money so that will require some lifestyle changes. And it is so worth it.
We recently decided that I would slow down or even quit my hustles and Bali has three day weekends now. We live on his income and save any money we get from passive income.
Because I’m no longer online for hours or spending hours trying to build up my online channel or blog, I have whole days to just be present in our life. I purposely try to NOT work on anything but home life. I have whittled it all down to one purpose; family.
Bali is having time to play with his sons, to rest, cook his Indian bean dishes, and fuss with the garden. He has time to start and finish projects. His mood has improved drastically. Two days is never enough for a person to recover from a work week. That one extra day makes all the difference. You have time to rest, catch up on sleep, work on your yard or house. Time for family and movies.
We are on a tight budget for sure, however, the money has been flowing in abundantly since we decided that our well being and boys were the priority and not working like dogs all the time. The Universe is definitely supporting this decision. Our refund was wholesome, another stimulus check on the way, my channel keeps growing despite disabled comments, and other gifts have been handed to us. We will carefully tuck away money for saving and some for home improvements and garden projects.
I’m mastering coupons and 50% off sales at thrift stores, finding things free on Craigslist. Our grocery budget is much smaller and I’m adjusting it to be realistic. I had given us $300 to work with monthly but honestly $500 feels far more comfortable and we aren’t into deprivations. We are into thriving.
I got rid of all the extras on the budget but I did add Prime. So many good things with Prime. Free shipping, yes, but the movie selection is fantastic and I love movies! So, it is this daily question of “do we love this? do we use this often?”. There is no sacrifice or suffering happening here. We just exchange something we aren’t crazy about with something that we love or serves us well.
This goes for people too. I love being with some people like my friend who is here now. Some people stress me out. The person may be very negative or unhappy and it is not fun to be around. We all have things to work out and complaints, that is fine now and then but when you have a friend that roles out a complaint list a mile long every time you spend time with them or goes over all the woes of the nation, it’s time to create distance. Then there is the friend that you are eager to be with and talk deeply about how to encourage more joy and thrive, what is going right in the world and life, that person you schedule in more often and treasure them. They are a gift.
How about activities or social events? Do you have to go to make appearances or because you should? No, say no. If you aren’t into it and the kids aren’t into it, don’t waste that time and energy.
My friend says to see energy in the form of gold coins. How are you going to spend your precious gold coins? Are you going to throw them out here and there or are you going to spend them wisely?
I pulled my kids out of a program they had been a part of for 4 years. The instructors we loved were gone this year and the new instructors were different in a way that didn’t work for us. My eldest was being treated differently and felt like an outsider in a program he had been growing up in. There is no need to stay where we aren’t wanted and it’s ok to move on from things and relationships or situations when they stop working or being enjoyable. It is the healthiest thing to move forward and onward to new lands and adventures that may serve us better.
And our budget, that will take some work. It’s been a long time since we lived on one income. I have to create the budget we had before. I have a lot of trading this for that going on because I’m not willing to compromise on the good stuff. I have to do it cheaper or for free.
We did an over haul on the diet as well. We are now shopping, cooking and eating 95% organic whole foods. This has been a very new, creative endeavor. I binge watch plant based cooking videos, make list of seasonings and supplies, then the next morning we go off to the store and shop for these new ingredients and spend a whole day cooking up a storm, freezing half and having plenty for new dishes for the week. The foods are delicious and it’s been over a month of this and we all feel incredibly healthy and energy filled. This way of eating is also easier on the budget, despite all the organics. We make everything from scratch and with basic ingredients and produce in season or budget friendly foods such as oats, beans, potatoes, salads, bananas. It cost less than the diet before with all the processed vegan foods.
We spend our days out walking. We walk everywhere; to town, to parks, to fields to ride our bikes. We go out somewhere daily to play, hike, or bike ride.
We watch a lot of good movies and read piles of books. I color and ponder, I do a lot of self exploration right now and I love it. I’m studying the craft of fictional writing and how to build a series, the heroes journey and how to outline a novel. This is my new love. Most days I just turn up our music, brew a pot of coffee and play with my house. I love my house dearly these days. I’m so grateful to have a shelter for my family and that our mortgage is less than apartment rent. I show my gratitude daily with my sweeping, vacuuming, burning incense or melting scented wax, making beds, keeping up on the laundry, purging and donating extras, filling shelves with stones and treasures we find on our walks, and washing windows. It is a my daily meditation over my home.
In the book Essentialism, there is a chapter on play and how important it is. Even companies are seeing the productive benefits of play for employees. We actually learn more, heal deeper, think clearer, and produce far more in a state of play.
I ask myself daily, “how do I play? How do I want to play? What is fun for me?”
I play with decorating my shelves. I play with new recipes. I am reading Dr. Wayne Dyers, Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life; Living The Wisdom Of The Tao. I love this work as well. I love walking. I love coffee. I love mornings. I just work on being in the moment with it all. I’m grateful to have a full house. The other day Bali took the boys and the house was too empty, too quiet. I want to enjoy everyday the boys are small and noisy and wanting to be near me all the time.
I also love to shop. This is a tricky thing when you are on a budget. But I find ways. I use coupons and huge discounts and those 50% off sales. I found free oil lamps for those days the power is shut off and a lovely free leather chair and ottoman for my office. We hit a big daddy 50% sale on clothes at our favorite thrift store near the bay area. We made a big day of it. We had thermoses of coffee and packed snacks and drove the distance. After two and half hours of premeditated shopping, we brought home three years worth of clothes for the boys to grow into and new clothes for us parents. We found new backpacks, games, books, toys, purses, hats, and coats, along with a quilt for our big bed, and linens to last for years. I will not have to shop for years except for some underwear, maybe more socks and new raincoats down the road. In the end this helps our future budget.
I found cheap bikes for the man and boys, purchased a 50″ TV for under $300, stocked up on affordable skin care. When I need something I save up points with my bank card. I stocked up on a white board for goals, points, and outlining novels, and office supplies with a Target card I earned recently. You can still live luxuriously but it requires some hunting and pecking.
I feel like life is so much better now and even more abundant than it was before when Bali and I were working around the clock. Time and having plenty of it creates a sense of wealth. When you have more time you can enjoy friends and family more, clean the house deeply or spend a few days gardening.
Before I took this sabbatical and encouraged my husband to let go of one more day of work, I prepared for this. I did the budget in pen and paper to really get a true look. I got rid of a lot of things in that budget to make space. I stocked up and prepped like crazy. Whilst others were doing it out of fear encouraged by the fear mongers on mainstream media, I did it with an energy of play and fun. I knew we were preparing for something, but something fun and fabulous…like taking a year off to enjoy life and try something new.
So, the pantry is stocked, the toiletries, the cleaning supplies and medical supplies. Our wardrobes are stocked up, extra bedding and linens, rugs, books, games, toys, and tools. Anything we might want or need has been stocked up and now we laze about self educating, roaming nature, and having time for each other.
This blog will always be up and now and then, when I’m inspired to write on here, I will. It’s the same with my YouTube channel. I have videos scheduled out to the end of April. The channel sort of runs itself at this point. This is wonderful because I can go about my days without a care or thought of online worlds. When I feel inspired, I make a vlog. I have all the time in the world. I’m no longer trying to build a blog or channel. I no longer care if my subscribers grow, my views are plenty, or I make money off the channel. The joy in creating is back and I understand that I should only make a vlog or blog when moved to do so and not in the energy of “have to, it’s my job”. Now I do it when I think, “I would love to share that.”
So, here we are. We are lazy folks now. I’m working on the inner world, the boys are just working on fun and play, my husband is working on learning to play.
We have our first visit from an out of town family friend that has been very fulfilling, I have cooked so much this week; vegan lasagna, huge salads, espressos, cake, plates of fruit, smoothies with lots of greens. We have been eating and laughing and cooking and playing for days now. I feel peaceful and slow again. I take all day to do easy chores, because I can. I study in the mornings for hours, because I can. I sit and listen to Arjan or Sam for long periods of time, because we can.
The other day I woke early and as I could smell the coffee brewing on the stove and I pulled back our thick winter curtains to see the sun rising over the trees, I felt such gratitude for the moment and I wish this life for anyone who will take the time to clear away the clutter of life, schedules, commutes, over working, and negative people, news, and what ever else is keeping you too busy to watch the sun rise and feel that swell in your heart.
Good news sites and links: