Let Go of Survival Mode!

Originally published May 2013

DSC_0063[1]

We live in tough times.  So, we do whatever we can, to keep the “security” of a steady income.

We’re in survival mode.

Survival mode justifies a dog-eat-dog mentality, that puts what we perceive to be necessary for our family’s survival, above the common good.

Survival mode justifies throwing innocent people under the bus, so that we might draw attention away from ourselves.

When we’re in survival mode, we compromise what we believe to be right, because it might cause us to lose that income.

We think we’re protecting our children.  We think we’re being sensible and doing what must be done.  We think we have no choice.

But we do have a choice.

The notion of survival mode is fake.

What happens if we lose that income?  Is our family really going to starve?  Do we not have it within ourselves to find a way, to meet the challenge?  Are we really in danger of not surviving?

And if we’re not being true to ourselves, if we’re deliberately doing what we know to be wrong, in order to “survive,” are we really living?  If we’re sacrificing our dreams and passions, for “security” that really isn’t there, is that a life?

We need to have more faith in ourselves, in our place, and our purpose.  We need to believe that we were put on this earth to do more than sell-out, be miserable, in order to have some level of material security.

The right thing to do is to do right things.

We need to believe that if we do what is right, the rest will be there.  That there is more to life than “earning a living” and looking out for number one.  It is NOT the human “race,” and we have a much larger role to play, than survival.

Are you working toward a simpler lifestyle?  Then I would love to share your story!  Please submit your original (not published anywhere else) story about how you are simplifying your life.  You don’t have to be an extreme minimalist–I would love to share stories of people who are just starting out of their journey.  If your story is selected to be featured, you will receive 50% off the the Simple Living Basics E-Course, after any other discounts.  Send your story to brosselit@gmail.com . 

New to Simple Living?  Then check out our Simple Living Basics e-course.  There are plenty of discounts available, and it will be an investment in a lower-stress more focused lifestyle!

So Much Clutter!

Many of you have dreams–crazy, outrageous dreams–that you would like to achieve.  Many of you are following our story, in the hopes of one day following suit and beginning your own adventure.

For that reason, I will not sugar coat today.  Making changes might just be a matter of deciding to do something, then doing it.  But we are all human, and there is certainly a great deal of mental clutter involved.  I feel like my head is spinning, like my brain in unusable.  In fact, I almost didn’t write a blog post today, but I do want you to know the entire journey.

Because at times it is overwhelming.

We need to declutter the house.  There are things we don’t want to be tied to, possessed by, any longer.  And those things are not all material possessions.  This lifestyle, that we are leaving, did not agree with us.  We have the opportunity for a fresh start, but we need to make sure it isn’t the same play, on a different stage.

I will share with you the physical decluttering, emptying, of our house.  Our plan is still to take only what will fit in our LeSharo motor home.  But, as of yet, we are unsure of our destination.  We might:

  • Live in the LeSharo for a few months while we boat shop.
  • Find a boat right away.
  • Sell Moonraker and put that money toward a boat in Texas.
  • Keep Moonraker drydocked for a year, while we decide what to do with it.
  • Live in an apartment, while we shop for a boat.
  • Get a loan and buy a live-aboard right away.
  • Live in a smaller boat, while we save up for a larger one.

Honestly, I need to take a break from the planning.  It is relentless, and it is rendering my mind unusable.

There is a lot to consider.

So, while I am emptying our house (we still want to be out by the end of the month), I will also be working toward clarifying my priorities.  I knew I wanted out, but I was never clear on what I wanted beyond that.  I will share my decisions–and our plans–with you as soon as I know.  In the meantime, it is quiet, peace, and a slower pace that I am seeking, in order to gain some clarity.

It’s a lot.

Before I go, however, I will share with you some pictures from our trip.

DSC_8008                                                 DSC_8005

DSC_8034                                                                                     DSC_8038

DSC_8048                                                    DSC_8049

DSC_8073                                                   DSC_8078

DSC_8058

Our car was covered in bugs, after driving through Arkansas!

Our car was covered in bugs, after driving through Arkansas! 

DSC_8083

We knew we were back in Michigan, when we saw a lighthouse in a field, by the freeway!

We knew we were back in Michigan, when we saw a lighthouse in a field, by the freeway!

 

 

Looking Fear in the Eye

I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.
— Dawna Markova

As my family and I have been making some very substantial and much-needed changes in our lives, the same comment has been made by so many people, whom I have told.  The same issue, the same question, is on everyone’s mind, preventing them from making the changes that they would like to see in their own lives.

It is the question of fear.

“You’re so brave!” I hear over and over again.  “I hate my job, but I can’t leave.”  “Aren’t you scared?”

The answer is no, I am not scared at all.  Why should I be?  We’re moving to a friendly place, with lots of opportunities, more resources for the Bean, and much less pressure on us.  True, I will have less seniority in my new job, but any security that I may have perceived having in my old job, first probably wasn’t real, and second, was not worth clinging to when I was less than happy with my situation.  The fact of the matter is that we have so little to lose.  If I lose my job, our living expenses will be so low that we could get by working minimum wage jobs for awhile. If it turns out we hate living this way (which I doubt will happen), then we will make another change and live differently. Yes, by moving out of state, I have lost my years toward retirement, but our expenses are going to be so low, that putting some money away won’t be a problem. (Actually, I don’t intend to retire from teaching anyway.  We’ll be putting away money for crossing the ocean, as well as money for our care when we’re older).  And–while we are not planning on using them, of course–there are safety nets in place, so that we will not starve if things do fall apart completely.

All that being said, it wasn’t so long ago, that I was the most fearful person  I have ever met.  I was afraid of standing out, taking any risks, or being close to anybody.  Survival and security were my dominant drives.

I thought I was stuck in my situation.  I thought that I “couldn’t” leave.  What changed it was a very conscious effort to change my thinking.  First, I realized what I described already–that there is very little at stake.  The worst case scenario isn’t that bad.  It definitely is not worse than staying in a situation that makes me unhappy.

Once again, it was a matter of looking life in the eye.  Look fear in the eye.  Feel it, but then observe your thoughts, as if you were a third party.  Notice which ones are useful, and which are not.  What are you thinking that is completely irrational?  Remember that you don’t have to believe everything that you think.

Then–most importantly–even if you are still feeling a bit fearful and anxious, move forward anyway.  The fear is all in your head, and you know that intellectually now.

So move forward and catch that dream!

Ocean : big ocean storm ( Commander Islands )

Last Week’s Trip (and a GREAT minimalist house!)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(the sign on Chris and Kelly’s piano.  I thought it was appropriate)

Ask that your way be long.
At many a Summer dawn to enter
with what gratitude, what joy –
ports seen for the first time;

–From “Ithaca” by Constance Caverfy

That stanza from the “Ithaca” poem ran through my head, as our plane descended last Sunday, and Houston came into view.  I had an aisle seat, but I leaned forward to see this new place, that was to be my future.  I blinked rapidly as my eyes filled with tears.

Everyone else on the plane was returning from a vacation at Disney World.  I was beginning a new life.

I was greeted by my brother-in-law, Chris, and his wife, Kelly.  They had done the legwork, to make this change possible, and I stayed with them for the two nights I was there.  (We will be staying with them again, next week).

Chris and Kelly at a roadside fruit stand.  Do you think Texas is ready for two brothers, with waxed mustaches?

Chris and Kelly at a roadside fruit stand. Do you think Texas is ready for two brothers, with waxed mustaches?

Two Mrs. Rosselits are better than one!

Two Mrs. Rosselits are better than one!

Look at all those masts!

Look at all those masts!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Out to eat at Boongoddle’s…

The dog could come along, too.

The dog could come along, too.

All right, so let’s talk about their house.  We always suspected that Chris and Kelly didn’t have a lot of stuff, and now we have confirmation of it.  The refreshing thing is that Chris and Kelly don’t consider themselves to be “minimalists,” because they don’t consider their lifestyle to be countercultural.  They just have what they need and what they want, and that’s all.  Intentional living is a way of life for them, not something new that they are trying to embrace.

So let’s take a look!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

From the outside, it’s a cute house in the suburbs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But look at their backyard garden!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The sunroom

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Very simple bedrooms.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The parlor/music room.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A delightfully simple living room

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And a very unique shower!

We had a wonderful trip, discovering a new city.  And, as you read this, we are on the road, planning to stop in Little Rock tonight.  We are seeing many states that we have never seen before, and we will share our adventures with you tomorrow!

Keep chasing those dreams!

Arbitrary Rules

I plan to follow my dreams, and make the move away from the script.  But first, there are some things I need to do.

  • I need to pay off my house.
  • I need to wait until my daughter has completed kindergarten, so we can have a program in place for her.
  • I need to pare down my possessions, so that getting rid of them at the last minute isn’t overwhelming.
  • I need to save up some money, so that we have a safety net.
  • I need to pay off my student loans.
  • I need to lose weight and adapt a healthier lifestyle.
  • I need to get our house off the grid, so we can save up more money.
  • I need to reduce the amount of waste we produce, so that I will be ready to live with limited waste facilities.

If you have a dream, I am willing to bet that you’ve got some steps to follow, too.  Steps can be useful.  They give us hope, in our day-to-day lives.  They make us feel like we’re working toward our dream.  They make us feel like we’re moving in a direction.

But you need to realize that they are fake.

Steps slow us down, when we’re not yet ready to make the change.  They keep us focused, but they are a delaying tactic.  That can be a positive thing.  We shouldn’t move forward, until we are ready to do so.  And having something to keep us focused can be helpful.

It’s when we start using the steps to hold us back, that they become a problem.  When we’re adhering to steps out of fear, it’s time to realize that the steps don’t matter.  They are just rules we’ve created in our head. 

When you’re ready to let go and follow your dream, then you need to let go and follow your dream.  There is absolutely nothing that you have to do, before you do that.  Any rules, are rules that you are choosing to have.  You can walk away from anything, when you are ready.

I’m obviously not yet at that stage of the game.  But I’ve been watching, as my rules, my “steps” to follow have gradually been disappearing.  There are some that I’m choosing to keep, at this point in time, at least.  But noticing that keeping them is my choice, and noticing how the other steps were limiting me, has given me more control and freedom.

What arbitrary rules are keeping you from your dreams?

  • Sunset Over The Petra Velikogo Bay Stock Photo

The Four Stages of Minimalism

There seems to be kind of an evolution that takes place, once someone begins their journey to minimalism.  In fact, everybody seems to go through the same four stages. 

What stage are you in right now?

1.  Testing the waters.  This stage involves lots of fluctuating.  You’re intrigued by minimalism, but you’re not sure you can do it. People in this stage get defensive about their possessions, then try getting rid of a few of them.  In this stage, “minimalism” means living like a monk, with little to no possessions.  It’s lower-stress, but you’re not entirely sure it’s for you.

2.  Dogmatic minimalism.  This is where you try to have 100 possessions, or meet some other criteria.  You’re unsure of whether you actually qualify as a member of the group, so you definitely don’t want to be called a minimalist…yet…

3.  The “OK, what next?” stage.  You’ve been decluttering for awhile, and you are getting sick of having it as your only hobby.  At this point, you either bail, or start to pursue your passions.  Which you now have time to do, since you don’t have so much stuff.

4.  Time to do something crazy.  This is really the sum of everything.  By embracing minimalism, you have begun the process of questioning society.  If we don’t have all the possessions that we’re told we need, then how much else, that we’re told, simply isn’t true?  This is the stage where people fully embrace their passions.  Perhaps you’ll move into a tiny house with a homestead?  Or maybe a one-room apartment in the city?  Maybe you’ll start a hobby farmand produce all of your own food, or finally realize your dream of quitting your day job.  Or maybe living nomadically is more your style.  This is the stage where you ultimately claim your life as your own–and I hope to enter it soon!

 

Wherever you are in your minimalist journey, I hope it is a rewarding experience of growth and learning!

Beautiful single pink rose flower isolated on the white...

Own the Day!

You own today.

Today, you chose to get up, out of bed.  Your choices put you where you are now, and today can be whatever you choose for it to be.

You chose this day.  So make sure you use it up.  

Will you…

Spend some extra time enjoying your friends and family?

Take some extra time to notice the beauty around you and in nature?

Sip some jasmine tea and stare out the window?

Take some extra time to listen to those who are hurting?

Spend that extra dollar and buy that shamrock, balloon, or other fundraiser at the grocery store?

Give somebody an unexpected gift or commit a random act of kindness?

Visit someone who is lonely?

Finally stop caring what others think and start following your dreams?

Decide what you really want to do, rather than just doing what you think you have to do?

Take that first step toward fulfilling your greatest desire?

You own today.  It’s yours–you don’t owe anyone anything.

So what will you do with your day?

subset