Welcome to the February edition of the Simply Living Blog Carnival – New Beginnings cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. This month’s topic, our writers consider where they are with their New Year’s Resolutions or new ventures of 2013. Please check out the links to posts by our other participants at the end of this post.
Today, while using the washboard and brush to scrub the towels, I thought of how our lives have changed since moving to México. Not only our lives, but our needs had become pared down from our middle-income suburban past.
Immigration reform deprived my family of a life in the U.S. and so 6 years ago, we came to México to start a new life. Many of the things we painstakingly packed and brought were essentially useless and we have divested ourselves of most of the excess baggage along the way. Don’t think it has been easy. Possessions have a way of feeling important even if they are not used. The washer and dryer set just took up space in a house that had no running water or electricity, but I was loathed to part with it for quite some time.
Living without electricity has also eliminated a refrigerator. We buy fresh food daily and only what we will eat in a day. Anything in excess of our daily bread goes to waste. We enjoy fresh organic goat’s milk and eggs, sometimes in quantities that we have difficulty in finishing in a day, but hey, who’s complaining?
We have a stove, however, there are days when we can’t afford the gas to cook with, so we gather up sticks and build an impromptu stacked brick oven outside. Flame-cooked beans have a flavor all their own.
We’ve divested ourselves of the TV, lamps, electric piano, blender, toaster, radio and crock pot. We use a rechargeable flashlight, cell phone, portable DVD player, laptop, and solar lights. When these items could no longer be recharged we replaced them or not depending on if we felt the cost worth it. For instance, we use candles now, no flashlights or solar lights. They work just as well and are more easily obtainable.
My wardrobe has also changed. In the life we lived prior to this one, I had a full closet, multiple pairs of shoes for every outfit and occasion, and coats and jackets that truthfully saw the light of day two or 3 times a year. I used to have beautiful silk dresses and angora sweaters, but they just aren’t practical wear for minding the goats. Now I have 2 pairs of pants, a handful of shirts and sweaters, one jacket, one pair of sneakers, one pair of sandals, and one pair of boots. Don’t think that sometimes I don’t look back longingly, like Lot’s wife, but my needs have changed, and I have to change along with them.
We have also changed our spending habits. Not having electricity or running water means we have been unable to establish credit. And without credit, no credit cards or buying on credit. So for us, it’s cash on the barrel, or it doesn’t get bought. This has meant that materials for our house are carefully budgeted items, not something we can run to Home Depot and buy now to pay later. We are moving towards a finished house, but haven’t arrived there yet.
We have found that we need less to be content than we thought we did. Our preconceived priorities have been altered. Yes, we still need food, shelter, water, and clothing, but not what we thought we needed.
I have had one heck of an education, moving from a first-world country to a third-world country on what a person needs to be happy. Safe in our middle-income suburban life, I might have said that the conglomerate of things we had amassed was essential to living. And I would have been mistaken.
I have found that difficult though some days may be, there is a sense of freedom in our new life, a sense of purpose in what we do every day, that has nothing to do with what we own. As if all the extra frivolousness has been stripped away, leaving only the basics and a sense of gratitude.
- Using Special Time to Simply Connect – Amber at Heart Wanderings begins to focus on simply connecting with each of her children for a few minutes of Special Time each day. A deeper connection and sense of joy, softening of emotional outbursts, and less sibling rivalry have resulted from this practice.
- Redefining Simplicity – Living within our needs – Survivor from Surviving Mexico talks about how moving from a first-world country to a third world country has changed her family’s perception of simplicity. Adapting to this new life has not been easy, but can be done with an attitude of gratitude.
- Changes – Sustainable mom writes about how she is bringing back a beat to a rhythm that has been falling apart.
- Listening to my Kids – Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs is seeking peace and freedom after over-scheduling her daughters.
- Thankful to Begin Again – Mercedes @ Project Procastinot learns a lesson from her twins.
- Changes for a New Year – Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children is concentrating on making small changes this year in an effort to make better habits.
- Parenting Two: A Fresh Start – Joella at Fine and Fair embraces the transition as her family grows as a new beginning by being gentle with herself and realistic with her expectations.
- Finding Balance – At Authentic Parenting, Laura looks at where she’s gotten fighting depression and aspiring to a more harmonious life.
6 responses to “Redefining Simplicity–Living within our needs”
I get this. We are also intentionally minimizingour eartgly posessions. And I like those days where we don’t have electricity. It is hard to get used to, initially, but in hindsight, it gives life such welcome simplicity
What a change! I can only imagine the culture shock when you first arrived…although it sounds like now you have grown somewhat accustomed to it. Do you get back to the States ever? You will see it with new eyes… (for example: why in the heck is it necessary for Office Depot to be open until 10 pm?? Every day??)
I think it is often easy to become complacent about luxuries and begin to view them as necessities. So often I have heard people speak about how certain items are necessities and I think to myself how there are people in the world, including the US, who don’t have items such as electricity, let alone the newest gadgets I hear about.
I’ve often thought the idea of living completely off grid would be a romantic one. However, the reality scares me a bit, and I don’t know that we will ever be completely there. Right now we are just working toward a more sustainable life.
Thank you for sharing your journey.
I am currently living the suburban life filled with wants. The closest we come to experiencing living with minimal wants and simplified needs are when we go camping each summer, and even then we bring way to many things that we think we need but end up just taking space in our vehicle.
You are so right about stripping away things that really are just frivolous and finding a sense of gratitude.
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