Do you remember watching the Jetsons? I do. The year 2062 doesn’t seem so far away now, less than 50 years, but I can remember thinking the year 2000 was in the way out future. Here we are entering 2016!
With all we faced in 2015, we are led more and more to live on purpose. This means being aware of each moment, seizing each opportunity, and making deliberate decisions that align with our goals and lifestyle. The reality is this is easier said than done. Surprising, huh?
Our Journey to Living on Purpose Begins
If you subscribe to our newsletter, then you know about some of the situations we passed through in 2015. We lost jobs, and the family made decisions that forced us to have to leave the family farm, and this caused us to make a life-altering move. We moved from the Deep South to northwest Idaho. Yep, this southern-born and bred girl is now in the mountains of Idaho and I’m loving it!
Not only did we have a total change in climate, but we had a lifestyle change. We are living in a friend’s cabin. A real old-fashioned log cabin. No electricity, no plumbing. It’s been quite an adventure, but we find it very freeing, for us. We are enjoying every moment together and with our friends.
As we watched what we thought was our life’s path close and take a whole new direction, there were some stressful times. There were times of great anxiety, I must admit. In reality, these were just times I was focused on our circumstances and not on the God who rules over all things and is in control. Once I became aware of my need for a change of focus, things settled down into a journey of learning new depths of trust, faith, and reliance on the only one who can be relied upon.
If you’ve read any of my writings, especially my Voices of Heritage series, you know my husband and I are generational, sustenance homesteaders. We felt we were living a simple life and were quite comfortable.
As in all of life, we each make the best decision we can make at the time we have to make it. That’s all we can do. So we can’t blame others for the circumstances we find ourselves in. We all have to take responsibility for ourselves and our decisions along life’s journey.
Our journey has led us to a simple life. A life of living on purpose. I guess a more recognized idea is living a simple life. But what does this really mean?
What Does Living on Purpose (a Simple Life) Mean?
Does it mean living isolated from the rest of the world? Is it free of electricity? Free of conveniences or technology? Well, no.
Each of us has to decide what a simple life would be for our family. For us, it’s free of debt (a work in progress to be achieved this year!), not being tied to the grid (any public utilities), and not depending on others for our food and water (almost there). We want to be as self-sufficient as we can and enjoy the freedom it brings.
What would a simple life be to you? Eliminating or cutting down stress? Decluttering your home. Going after that dream job? Moving to the location you’ve always wanted to be in? Have a garden? Raising your own meat animals? Just what would make you feel you’ve achieved living a simple life?
How to Start Living on Purpose
So how does one go about living on purpose? First, you have to set your goals. Decide what kind of life you want. Where do you want to be in 5 years? What can you do today that will bring about that simple life you want to live?
Then stop waiting for the one big break, for all the stars to align. Just make a step in the direction of your goal. One step at a time, one decision at a time, and before you know it, you’ll be on your way.
Keep your eyes on the goal while focusing on the here and now. Make daily decisions and adjustments that will be in line with your desired lifestyle and above all, live! Don’t exist, don’t simply get by, live!
What do you do if you find yourself having to walk away from “stuff”? What stuff do you take? What stuff do you keep? These were the questions we were faced with. In a matter of a month, we had to sell everything we could, pack only what we would need, and could get in a 5′ x 8′ U-Haul, and leave.
What I’ve Learned
I want to share with you some of what I’ve learned. Stuff is just that, stuff. Is it nice? Yes. Is it necessary for a happy life? No!
I kept several family heirlooms, my photos, and a few mementos, but that’s all the sentimental items I allowed myself. Out of hundreds of books, we kept one box. We sold everything we could sell in order to pay for our move and help us through the first couple of months.
Was it hard? Yes and no. Letting go of things I used every day that would not be practical here, letting go of things we just didn’t have room for, and letting go of things I liked were all difficult in varying degrees.
Being put in the position of only being able to keep the bare necessities makes you evaluate exactly what is important and what isn’t. We had been preparing for the failure of the electric grid so I had many hand kitchen tools.
Of course, I only use cast iron for cooking so I had all I needed for the wood stove. We pared our clothing down to two bags and only took what would be appropriate for our new climate. We moved from the Deep South (West Central Louisiana) to northwest Idaho! Yep, talk about environmental shock.
We kept The Farmer’s Lamp Pack (Roxie and Bowser) but sold all the other livestock. Saying goodbye to the special animals was not easy, but it was best for them. That’s what you do, what’s best for those entrusted to your care.
I’ve heard all the criticisms and opinions, but those who are quick to tell you what you should have done or should do are usually those who have never faced the circumstances you find yourself faced with.
Cling to your spouse, your children, and those friends and loved ones who support you and offer you loving encouragement. Everyone else, ignore.
A rule of thumb to consider is if you haven’t used it in a year, you don’t need it. If you find something when you’re packing that you’ve forgotten you had, you probably don’t need it.
The things we left, but I have found there are a few things we should have brought which we didn’t.
- We left pallets by the stack, really should have brought at least 10 of them. Out of our 20 plastic buckets, with lids, we only brought two…big mistake. They’re good for all kinds of things.
- Food storage containers – you wouldn’t think that would be a big deal, but when you can’t run and get plastic zip bags you can see the use of bowls with lids. We are trying to get away from anything we have to keep purchasing so baggies is on that list. Plastic boxes for storing clothing and blankets, things of this sort which you want to protect.
- Lastly, the one I regret the most is my baskets. I had several baskets. I began collecting them when I was a young woman, something I gained the love of from my grandmother. She had a whole wall of baskets she had collected and she used them. I kept the ones she gave me and some my kids had bought for me, but I left the rest. I never realized how many uses baskets have!
Hopefully, you may not find yourself faced with decisions as drastic as ours. If you do, I hope I’ve helped you be better able to make those decisions with clear thinking. I am deeply moved for those families with children who are faced with losing their homes and lively hood. I can’t imagine the different degrees of stress these situations bring.
However, the change can be an enriching journey. Your journey. I say face it with love, laughter (Granny always said, “It’s better to laugh than cry.”) and the expectation of finding the truth of life. It’s not what you have. It’s not what you do. It’s about love. Those you love and those who love you. The one thing we take with us when we leave this world is love.
I’m sharing our journey with those who want to join us. We’re facing the challenges of hauling water, using an outhouse, cooking on a wood stove, and using coolers outside for refrigeration. We’re having a blast! Our friends are off-grid with solar power so we have access to hot showers and are able to charge our rechargeable electronics. They have internet through their solar power so we are able to access it too. So you see, we’re not totally off our rockers!
My hope for you in 2016 is that you embrace the change, face the challenges, and grab hold of the circumstances you face. Live every day on purpose. You only get one moment at a time, don’t miss a single one.