January 29, 2012 Mulege, Baja California Sur, Mexico – by Gabriella Morrison
Just eight months ago the idea was born that we (Gabriella, 41, Andrew, 38, and Terra, 12) would sell half of our worldly possessions, let go of our rental house, buy a pop-up tent trailer, leave our known world behind and spend several months living a more simple life. Our motivation was to let go of the patterns that have kept us living in stress and endless to-do lists by thinning down the amount of distractions and busyness we had created over a lifetime. Our hope was that in doing so, we would re-discover who we are and what our nature is when we aren’t inundated by media, television, phone calls, email, billboards, etc…
What we’ve found is that happiness has nothing to do with having a large home (we are living in a 150 sq ft trailer) and that less is so, so much more. That the best way to get to know those you love is to share a tiny space. That the best way to live a life that feels inspiring and fulfilling each and every day is to thin ourselves from all the clutter and unnecessary possessions that create a distraction from who we really are.
We left behind a life in which we had finally ‘made it’. Our financial situation was better than ever and we were able to surround ourselves with the beautiful house and items that we had only dreamed about. What had caught us off guard in this lifestyle was that our stress levels were continually rising. The more we had, the more afraid we became that it may go away. Thus, the more we worked to create more money. Working while being fueled by the fear of loss is draining and unhealthy. So, here we were in a large, beautiful home, with all of our nice things, and we were simply too busy to enjoy them because we were always working and worrying. It was a vicious cycle that was taking a toll on all of us and we knew we needed a drastic change to reassess our lives and how we wanted to live.
We are over four months into being ‘homeless’ and living minimally. We have never felt more relaxed, content, grateful and able to enjoy the natural rhythms of life as we experience it now. We have bonded as a family in a way that we didn’t think was possible. We have learned by living in tight quarters and spending 24/7 with each other to be tolerant and compassionate. Daily we get to know each other on a deeper level and at the end of each day, we love each other even more for it.
It’s not to say that it’s all been a bed of roses. The first month was rifled with challenges such as intense media withdrawals in addition to learning how to live in such tiny quarters. Sometimes it felt unbearable. We didn’t have a language to deal and communicate these struggles as a family because in the past we had always been able to avoid those intense feelings by taking refuge in some other part of the house. We had to create new pathways for communication and to get really clear on what was important to each of us, and what we could let slide. At times during that first month we seriously considered calling it quits, not seeing anyway out of the emotional discomfort we found ourselves in.
Since that first month it’s gotten more and more wonderful. Our time in Baja has been magical on all levels. We live within the rhythm of the sun and surround ourselves with a lot of silence and listening. There’s a lot to hear in silence actually and when one slows down enough, all the wisdom and guidance one needs can be heard. Living with minimal expenses ($8 per night camping space right on the beach, food, gas, occasional meal out) allows for a sense of abundance and wellbeing. Seeing how little we really need in order to have basic needs met has tempered my fears of losing possessions due to a lack of money.
We’ve been learning invaluable lessons that we will bring up with us when we re-enter our life in the US. First off, kill our television. We will never again have television programming in our lives. As a whole, it is toxic to us as individuals and to our global community. Secondly, lower our expenses dramatically. It is a wonderful feeling to go to sleep knowing that we are living not only within our means, but also saving resources as we go. Thirdly, we don’t want to live in a large house again. They cost a lot, take hours to clean, create places for people to escape to rather than learning how to deal with problems as they arise, and use enormous amounts of resources to maintain. Fourth, create time daily to be still and to listen. It’s vital to recharge one’s batteries on a daily basis to maintain a sense of joy and content.
I suppose that we didn’t need to come all the way down to Baja to learn these pieces; however, I think that we needed to experience this process for ourselves so that it felt real and true for us. We wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world. In living with less than we ever have, we have gained the most.
Follow Gabriella’s blog at http://www.smallhouserevolution.com/