From the 2012 archives.
There was a common misconception when we were on the book tour that the way Hanno and I live works best for older people who have the time for it. I've written here before about how that's not right, that this way of living would suit anyone living in the country, suburbs or city, whether single or married, straight or gay, young or older. It's here for all of us, there is no doubt about that. I have thought a lot about this and I know that you can change the way you live no matter what age you are; all you need is the will to do it. My regret is that I didn't start sooner.
I wish I hadn't waited so long to change.
My right time came when I was burnt out and miserable and I doubt I could have done anything else. We made a complete change and luckily for us, it turned out well. I can't help but think about Hanno and I living as we do now but at a much younger age. There would have been different choices made, no doubt, maybe we would have ended up in a different area, but we would have spent much more time outside the mainstream celebrating life and being who we really are. So when is the right time? From experience, I doubt there is one right time. The sooner you can simplify your life, the better you'll be for it.
I was talking to young man the other day, his first child will be born later this year. He is ready to settle down and start a family but where he sees difficulty, job uncertainty and not enough money, I see opportunity and independence. When I was his age I thought that a baby must be born into a family using newly bought clothes and equipment. I know now it makes no difference whether what you have is new or old, what matters is that baby is loved and the family it's born into is stable. Stability, love and calmness will see every baby through. All a baby really needs is to be fed, to be warm and secure and held in loving arms. Everything they need can be gratefully accepted secondhand from friends and family, or made for a fraction of the shop price. Babies, as well as older children, are not deprived by this way of life, they thrive in it. Looking on Freecycle or in op shops, and telling your family and friends you're looking for certain items, will open up a new world, and show you that when security and love are provided in full measure, happy healthy babies thrive, even when there is very little money.
I wish I hadn't wasted so much.
I have always know that work is the key to a good life. When I was younger, I watched as my parents worked their whole lives. As I matured, I took on their work ethic but I left out an important part of the equation - working in my own home. The older I got, the further I moved away from the notion that being at home is the major part of everyday renewal and that home is where we rest and regain the strength to deal with the stresses of the outside world. Our homes must be far more than just the place we store our clothes and sleep in every night. Turning the shell of a house into something much more and doing the house work that every home requires, may very well be the making of you too. I know now that making a warm and comfortable nest for my family and me was as beneficial and important as any of the paid work I ever did.
I wish I'd worked that out sooner.
A home has the power to nurture and strengthen you and your family. Not only can you be your true self in your home - you can do anything you like there. If you want to work all day or read all day, if you want to make your backyard into a mini farm, if you want to set up a small business, if you want to teach your children about the night sky or how to plant a seed, if you want to enjoy time with visiting family and friends, if you want to reinvent yourself, there should be no one there to tell you not to. And when you really understand that your home is your safe haven, when you change your home to suit you and your family, this place you've chosen will be the making of you. Your home can have more influence over you than any other place. And the beauty of all this is that all homes have this potential power - tiny homes furnished with hand-me-downs and scrubbed-up op shop finds, rented flats and apartments with bricks holding up the shelves and smart homes with modern everything. Because it's what goes on in the home, the love given and shared, that makes the difference, not the newness of the building or the price and age of the furnishings.
I wish I'd know that when I was young.