Adjusting To Simplicity

When Peter and I first started dating, we would take weekend trips to the Eastern Sierras to go camping. We would look up at the stars and talk for hours about how we wanted to live a simpler life. We talked about one day living on a sailboat and traveling around to all the most beautiful and remote islands, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city life we had grown so accustomed to. We were both tired of living life according to what society thinks is normal. We wanted something different.

Just last year, circumstances aligned and we had the opportunity to buy a boat and leave our old jobs behind. We found our tiny floating home on the West coast of Florida and moved full steam ahead downsizing and preparing our belongings to move across the country, towing near everything we own in a small gutted pop-up trailer.

With excitement spilling out of us, Peter and I and our two big dogs spent a few days getting familiar with our new tiny home. All the storage spaces are irregular shapes and it was like a giant puzzle trying to make all of our belongings fit. Although thoughtfully engineered, each and every space on the boat was much smaller than we were used to. We stubbed our toes and hit our heads daily. Our muscles ached from climbing around like monkeys. Living compactly inside a sailboat with comparably 360 square feet of living space definitely required an adjustment to the way we function on a daily basis.

Suddenly, the reality hit that we were now living with significantly LESS STUFF. The items we couldn’t part with were stored on the other side of the country back in San Diego, and we only had the few items we brought with us. Gone were the days of walking into a closet to pick out clothes for the day, or walking out to the garage for the exact tool needed amidst a lifetime collection of useful things. We had brought the bare minimum we thought we would need to sail away for an indefinite period of time.

Immediately our boat began to feel like home. It was as if a huge wave of relief had come over us. We were less overwhelmed by superfluous space and stuff. If there was a mess on the floor, it’s because we were actively working on a project and needed those things out. There is exponentially less room on a boat for clutter and the kind of stress generated from having ‘too much’ just magically disappeared. We became more focused on the present moment and our every day experiences.

Although Peter and I had zero sailing experience, we knew that a sailboat was the most economical way to travel around to all the places we wanted to see. We didn’t let the fear of the unknown scare us away from our primary goal. We chose a simpler life and took on the challenge of learning many new skills in order to make it all happen, regardless of how scary it sounded. We learned how to generate electricity from the sun and the wind, how to make fresh water from the ocean and how to propel ourselves with the sails. We learned how to navigate with charts and communicate with long range radio signals. We learned how to read the weather and how to rely on ourselves to harvest food from the sea.

It has been amazing to see how little we actually use, and subsequently how little we actually need. We get by just fine with what we have, without being left wanting for more. We have a small home to call our own, filled with all the things that really matter and it allows us to appreciate those things even more. Sentimental items and favorite belongings carefully placed throughout our tiny home provide emotional comfort apart from the outside world. We love our little home, more than we ever thought we could.

It has been an amazing journey that is teaching us to appreciate the world and ourselves in a new way. We are growing stronger both mentally and physically, and experiencing things we never thought possible. Choosing a life less ordinary and getting back to basics has proven to be the most rewarding and amazing opportunity I’ve ever had, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

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5 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN ADJUSTING TO SIMPLICITY

  1. PURPOSE – Take a moment to remember why you chose to live a simpler life. After making a major life adjustment like downsizing or moving to a smaller space, it can be difficult to adjust to such a radical change. Remind yourself on a daily basis of why you chose simplicity in the first place. Was it to eliminate stress? Was it to acquire more time for the important things? Was it to allow yourself more freedom to move around?
  2. PATIENCE – Be patient with yourself. Try to avoid getting frustrated with this new way of living. It can often be a challenge to complete a common task with fewer tools or less space than you’re used to. Just try to do your best. It will get easier with time.
  3. INTIMACY – Allow yourself to become familiar with your belongings and your home on an intimate level. Appreciation and gratitude will grow in you for both the small and large things that make up your life.
  4. CREATIVITY – Get creative with your actions and find new and innovative ways to do more with less. Challenge yourself to use what you have instead of feeling like you need to buy something new.
  5. INSPIRATION – Find inspiration from others who are successfully living a simple life. Learn the possibilities and dream big. Share your inspiration with others too. In sharing your joy and helping others find simplicity, you will ultimately find more appreciation for your own new way of life.

In what ways have you adjusted to simplicity? Leave a comment and share your inspiration!

By Jody Pountain for the [Tiny House Blog]

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jaks - November 14, 2014 Reply

I have just shown this to my husband Andy. 5 years ago we left a 4 bed house to live on a narrow boat in the UK. All of our friends and family just do not get it, they swing from feeling sorry or jealous but can not understand we want to live how we do, living off grid in a limited space. We spend less as we have no where to put it, and can cruise off when we want to!

Would

    Jody Pountain - November 16, 2014 Reply

    Jaks, I completely understand! This life is not for everyone, but for us… we wouldn’t trade it for anything! Congrats on five years 🙂

Tom - November 14, 2014 Reply

Two large dogs on a sailboat doesnt sound prudent, thoughtful, and certainly not “simple”. Even having a dog in a small city backyard seems inappropriate; I wouldnt have a dog except out in the country. Just my humble opinion. Certainly it can be “made to work” with some inactive dogs, and people do it, but……

    Jody Pountain - November 16, 2014 Reply

    Hi Tom, it may not fit your definition of simple, however our dogs were part of our family before we bought the boat. It was not even a thought to leave them behind, or postpone this adventure for years later. I do agree it depends on the dog though. Thank you for your comment!

Marie - November 14, 2014 Reply

So where do the dogs poop?

Tom - November 14, 2014 Reply

Sorry for the ‘negative’ first comment but seems theres an elephant in the room…..to me anyway.

Steven Pitchford - November 14, 2014 Reply

Having had many animals, (mostly farm) and now have two big dogs plus goats, chickens tortoise, turtles, fish ducks, I have learned that many animals will eat each others poop. Are you totally grossed out now? Awwh, too bad so sad. I live on an acre and poop is everywhere.
I also garden, so my question is do you have an herb garden on board?

HappY trails,

    Jody Pountain - November 16, 2014 Reply

    Hi Steven, I believe it! That’s farm life. Our boat stays much cleaner, even with two large dogs on board.

    No we don’t have an herb garden or plants at the moment, but eventually I would like to build a system of pots near our cockpit where a small garden could get enough light. It’s on the list! 🙂

Rebecca - November 14, 2014 Reply

Dogs live with their families, of course, and poop is a renewable resource for ocean life.

Delightful choice you two have made, and kudos for making it and encouraging the rest of us to follow our own road.

Another point: allow yourself to miss your family and friends, and do your best to keep in touch. I am following my dream (albeit slowly) and even though I miss people, I also am hearing how they are taking steps to shift to a more rewarding life, however that looks for them.

    Jody Pountain - November 16, 2014 Reply

    Thank you Rebecca!! I like what you said about ‘however that looks for them’ 🙂 To each their own! Congrats on following your dream… that’s wonderful!

Molly - November 14, 2014 Reply

Wonderful article. Thank you. I especially resonated with your your thoughtful list of 5 things to consider. Very appreciated.

Malka - November 15, 2014 Reply

I am 60 years-old and I am so sorry that I didn’t do what you are doing, when I was in my 30s. Enjoy your beautiful, rewarding life. You made an amazing choice. May God protect you wherever you go.

    Helen - November 16, 2014 Reply

    Malka,
    I hope you know that it is never too late! I met a man who was almost 90 who still sailed his boat from Maine down to Dominican Republic every year. He had his sister come along when thought that single handling was getting challenging!
    There are many folks in their 70’s just getting into sailing.

    Jody Pountain - November 16, 2014 Reply

    Malka – Thank you so much for your support! It truly is a beautiful and rewarding life we have chosen. Blessings to you as well!

Myrna Rife - November 16, 2014 Reply

So glad you are happy with your choice of life right now. We go for two months in our smaller 24 foot motorhome and do well with space limitations. However, we have to come back home and take care of a grove and a larger spaces. I would not give up either, yet, but could be happy with more time on the road.

Mike Wofsey - November 17, 2014 Reply

Great story, best of luck. But a request … please don’t throw the dog poop overboard when you’re in an anchorage or a mooring ball or a marina. I’ve lived on boats for several years where people throw their animal waste overboard (and sometimes even human waste) and it just makes for a repulsive environment.

The ocean may be somewhat self-cleaning, but bays, dockages and moorings are not.

    Jody Pountain - December 4, 2014 Reply

    Mike,
    We rarely stay in marinas but we do take the dogs to shore as often as we can.

    We also prefer to stay in anchorages that are flushed out constantly and the Caribbean is great for finding those places. We swim around our boat daily and also appreciate a clean anchorage.

    You’re observation is absolutely right and we appreciate your concern.

Jane - November 17, 2014 Reply

I’ve lived near the ocean all my life, and can’t imagine how to live without the sea nearby. I, too, wish I had chosen ‘the ultimate waterfront property’ option when I was younger. Good for you for doing instead of dreaming about it. Best wishes!

Zena Davey - November 17, 2014 Reply

My heart is racing after reading your wonderful story, and knowing that I too hope to be doing this in the very near future. I have met a wonderful man (who is currently O.S.) and lives aboard his yacht, we have had some discussions about selling up my house and buying a larger boat for us to live on….I’m so excited at the thought of ‘letting go’ of materialistic possession’s and living a wonderful simplistic life on the water…..well done to you and many thanks for your story and insight of living on the water…..

    Jody Pountain - December 4, 2014 Reply

    Zena, That’s wonderful! Congratulations on your upcoming adventure! It’s a wonderful life. Thank you for the kind words. Feel free to contact me with any questions!

Becca - November 18, 2014 Reply

Beautiful & inspiring story

Lucia - January 14, 2015 Reply

Jody, simply delightful! Making self-honoring choices is a must to live a fulfilled life. I honor and congratulate you and your husband for the choices you made that are personal to you. And the gift is that they are inspirational to me and my boyfriend who are dreaming in the same direction! BRAVO BRAVO!! We have a dog named Henry and yes no matter what where ever we go, there he is nose to the wind along with us living the life we love. Much love light and laughter your way… keep on posting photos!

    Jody Pountain - February 5, 2015 Reply

    Hi Lucia,
    Thank you!! I’m so happy you found our story inspiring. Best wishes to you, your boyfriend and Henry to follow your dreams and love life every day!

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