Cliché…the Meaning of Life…or Lack Thereof

A highly sought after answer.  Almost forty two years later and I don’t know what to tell you, but with how Westernized humans are living, we will never find it as a whole.  I do believe I am starting to find it, sadly as I reach middle age, wishing I had learned these things sooner.  Life is not in a huge house, an unaffordable car, a new washing machine or dryer.   It’s not in a job or salary.  It’s not in the latest pair of Jordan’s that society makes you feel like you must have.  Life may mean something different to each one of us, but in the end it consists of the basic fundamentals of life; shelter, nutrient providing food, basic clothing, and familial, societal, and close relationships.

I’d like to think I’m different, that I’m “woke”, that I am aware of what is going on with humanity, or the lack there of.  A few months back I posted about my time off of work after spinal surgery had really left me wanting and needing more in life.  The feeling has been there for a very long while, suppressed by the constant need to make a dollar to keep a roof overhead, pay all the bills, and put food on the plate.  I’ve been reaching for years now, only to come up short, and in the same position, just like a large percentage of the populace.  No longer wanting to attribute to my perpetuating cycle of unhappiness, living in a state of constant stress, and always in a rush because I had to be at the next place, I told my job I was cutting my hours and my landlady that I was pursuing a different place to live.

I started spending more time outside, where I love to be the most, deciding to take care of myself, my now twenty one year old daughter, and my dogs.  Happiness was found, not complete utter contentment, but happiness-with a feeling of time slowing down just a little and enjoyment of more of the things that will create a perpetuating cycle of joyfulness.  Finding the things that bring joy and contentment to the heart and soul is what life is all about.  Life is part of a continual feedback loop with the decisions we make at any given moment predicting our future paths.  My decision to make that path mine is deeply infused within.  The search continues to find my tiny home on wheels for now, so that I can explore the meaty middle of the Americas, and hope one day to be able to have my dream of a sailboat come true.

The truth is, we all feel this urge to know what the meaning of all this is, our lives, our existence, but we are too busy trying to pay the bills, strapped down and broken to realize it.  We are told we are to follow the societal expectations, go to college, find a job, get married, have kids, and obtain that huge house with the perfect lawn and a swing set out back.  We are advertised to directly for everything we don’t need to a point that it creates a want, or at least a want to keep up with the rest of the world and not be left out or behind.  We are told how to dress, what music to listen to, and how to properly poison ourselves with what kind of chips to buy (and told that they are healthy!?!).  We are lied to.  We are corralled and dictated to as the proverbial sheep.  We are being trained to not think for ourselves and trained to want more and more stuff.   We are slaves to our own environment and sadly we allow it, become stuck and numb, too busy to care or do anything about the ever declining society/civilization around us.  It’s a sad state of affairs that I no longer willing to be a part of.

I want as much freedom as I can afford and I want it now.  Choose to live now.  Slow down, have less, find what you love, express yourself as a human being to the fullest, stop being owned by someone or possessions.   Don’t be afraid.  Do it now.

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The Newb Hiker

A huge part of wanting to live minimalistically small, is to spend more time outdoors.  Keeping a mobile (RV or van) home base to just sleep, cook, and keep the things.  Plain and simply put, I friggin’ love being outside, beach, country, or mountain alike.  Just sitting outdoors, soaking up the sun, the songbirds, and the visual beauty, but I want to do more.  The dog and I hike the local trails, travelling up to ninety minutes at least once a month to summit new mountains.  This is super fun and all, but herein lays the problem, I want more, but have ZERO experience.

What’s this MORE that I’m looking for?  Ok, reality is I’m a total newb.  I can put one foot in front of the other and hike up and down a mountain and have been doing this for a few years, what I’m looking for is a broader experience.  Doing a thru hike the Massachusetts NET aka Metacomet-Monadnock Trail, the Vermont Long Trail, American Discovery Trail, and the East coast ultimate thru hike – the Appalachian Trail aka AT, are on my list.  Just camping in the woods for the first time would be a great start, but my long list starts with learning how to navigate, read topographic maps, what kind of gear is necessary (READ: necessary), how to use a bear bag,  the lingo…yeesh, heck just how to plan properly.

There is only so much I can learn from blogs, podcasts, brand websites, then I was excited to discover REI Co-op and the Appalachian Mountain Club has a plethora of fantastic classes, most of them free!  Give me ALL the knowledge.

Welcome to my blog.  The blog of the newbie hiker and outdoors woman, minimalist, tiny home chaser, crafty-ish, upcycling, environmental loving and educating, trash picker-upper, dog and chicken obsessed, chica just trying to find her way in a backward and twisted world.

This is what I’ve learned thus far.  Trail maps you pick up at the trail head are not set to “true North” I still have a hard time figuring this out, need compass reading 101.  Make sure your hiking shoes are just a little bit bigger than your regular shoes, IMO with a wide toe box and protective toe, learned this because I’m a rock and limb kicker and tripper.  Wearing good socks-not just athletic socks-are ideal when you are hiking over four to five miles.  Trekking poles absolutely help, just not sure I’m using them optimally – but I’m only using my snowshoeing poles at this time.  Having the right pack is KEY, especially right now for me four months post neck fusion surgery.

The search from the tiny home on wheels continues.  Here’s how to find me on IG: @ironrassie (personal page) @greenlightgoproject (business page for the upcycled crafts that I do on rainy days).

*Here’s a list of what I’m using and doing right now and like so far.  Sort of a shameless plug, but also to keep a running journal of my progress through this.

White Mountain insect repellant (www.whitemountaininsectrepellant.com)

Osprey pack Stratos 24 (sort of regret getting a man’s bag for some of the fit and adjustability) adequate size for time being, love the hip pockets, and how it feels like I’m not even carrying a pack (https://www.osprey.com/us/en/search/?q=Stratos+24)

Keens – Targhee – I like the wide toe box and the thick toe protection, might go for high tops next pair (https://www.keenfootwear.com/p/W-TARGHEE-II-WP.html)

Hydrapak 3L Shape Shift water bladder – easy to clean and use (https://hydrapak.com/shop/reservoirs/shape-shift-3)

Maui  Jim polarized sunglasses (https://www.mauijim.com) I swear by these after having a few other high end brands over my lifetime.

Smart Wool socks.  So far I like the light PhD socks, after getting nearly blisters wearing regular athletic socks  (https://www.smartwool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/SearchDisplay?)

Appalachian Mountain Club (https://www.outdoors.org)

REI Co-op (https://www.rei.com/events)

Sierra Trading Post (https://www.sierratradingpost.com) has some great deals…although I haven’t purchased anything from here yet, so I guess I’m just a gear troll.

Access the Joy Within

About four o’clock in the morning, the most gorgeous song bird sits in the lilac bush just outside my bedroom window. There is a warm glow as the earth spins to allow daylight on this side of the world. My rooster crows. He’s still in the coop, I can tell by how muffled his voice is. This is my favorite time of the year, when the sun is glowing early and stays with us until late. The trees have leaves to offer shade if needed, food is growing in the gardens, we can wear less binding clothes and shoes, have flowers for the table, and a cold beer tastes even better on a warm day.

Enjoying this place I currently call home is my focus as of late. There is no solid plan, only knowing in my heart that it’s time to move on, driven by the financial failure of being a veterinary technician and inability to afford housing in this market. Truly, my heart wants to learn and see more things, experience more nature, do more of what I love, and develop human relationships. Live a life that I am lacking by solely working to pay the rent.

As far as downsizing, I find it fun. Challenge myself to see how little I really need, turns out it’s not much. Of course the family is giving me kickback, telling me I’ll need things for my next place. Just knowing and expecting to get slack from people has helped me set up a barrier, because really only I know what I need and want. Every time items leave my possession, it’s a weight lifted, a step closer to obtaining a goal, a little bit more freedom.

The ability to find peace and happiness in true simplicity is awakening, genuine, soothing…and free. Here’s to a little more living.

Greenlight Go Project

IG: Greenlight Go Project

Erin’s personal IG

Today is day one

That moment when you gently glide into telling your awesome landlady you are going to move out within the next seven weeks. Bit the bullet and slipped it in while talking about sailing. I may not have everything planned or even ready, but that is what the next seven weeks will be about. Making sure during this time to work hard but allow time to enjoy the life I am working to create for myself. This was a hard thing to do as this has been the most glorious place that I have settled as of yet. Life is calling. I am nervously answering the call.

Goals are to avoid over analysis paralysis, feelings of being overwhelmed, and being scared by a new chapter to life. There is enough knowledge in me to get things started and will learn the rest along the way, just like we all do with anything in life.

Whatever excites you, blows your skirt up, floats your goat (or boat) is what needs to be done. Don’t wait a moment longer. We know damn well everyday is not guaranteed to us. No regrets. You sit in the driver seat of your life. Just make sure you wear your seatbelt. (Self pep talk)

Greenlight GO Project

IG: @greenlightgoproject

IG: @ironrassie

Goals are no good without a plan

The road ahead will not be easy and I accept this. There is really no solid plan, only thing I do know is that change MUST happen, not only because it is necessary monetarily, but even more so mentally. It has been years I’ve been craving a new way…a new view…a simpler life. I want to find where I want to live in my older years and be the crazy chicken lady. New England is awesome place to live four months out of the year in my opinion, it’s just way too cold for me all the other months, although with my love of hiking, the cooler weather sure is awesome for that.

Ultimately, my plan is to be a WWOOFer, a Sea Shepherd volunteer, a citizen advocate for the earth and its seas, an upcycler and educator, Habitat for Humanity tiny house builder, an outdoors woman, sailor, essentially all the things while my body is still on this side of youth. I want to learn something everyday, be a part of a community, and do good by the Earth, impacting the humans I meet to do the same. Quite lofty goals, I fully recognize this and am up for the challenge, humans have been shitting in the nest long enough.

Greenlight GO Project Go Fund Me

IG: Greenlight GO Project

Here’s a picture of my older chicken flock this morning scuttlebutting around the fields of where I live

A little further along than yesterday, plus some self-care

Weather is warming up in New England and motivation is flowing. Got the van measured and have decided how I will build the platform. I found some thermal curtains at Target in the sale

section for SUPER cheap and have five out of six curtains cut and sewn to size. I think I will get thermashine to really block out the windows and insulate them from the summer sun. I’m tempted to lay down some vinyl over the preexisting carpet to help keep things clean. Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.

Meanwhile, I’m taking the time to cook, hike, sew, or just kick back. I truly enjoy where I currently live-that is-during this warmer months, but I know there is more out there to learn, explore, experience. The 9 to 5 and huge rent bill is just not worth it and hasn’t been worth it in a long time.

Trimmed down the grocery bills from $600/500 a month to $250 a month and don’t feel one second like I have trimmed it back…what the heck was I buying before!? And I only buy organic or humanely grown, grass fed, meats. Imagine what I would have in my bank account if I had this epiphany sooner! In all honesty it was my spinal surgery, officially sixty days ago today, that set me straight! Without being able to drive for four weeks, I ate down to the ends and never wasted a thing. I’ve kept that momentum rolling since and can I say UNBELIEVABLE.

Super pumped about what is to come, knowing it won’t be easy, but it will be interesting to say the least. My little side project, the Greenlight Go Project, has been doing well, with my first vendor event coming in early June. Very exciting. Hey, check it out on IG: @greenlightgoproject or FB: @sleepinggiantorganics.

Happy Earth Day y’all. Get out and do something good.

Getting Somewhere

Lists do no good if you’re not acting upon them.

I have lists of things to get done. Lists of things I’d want for my tiny home to make my life easier. Lists of personal goals. Lists of places I want to visit. Summits to climb.

Some days my body revolts and says not today, take it for what it is, and rest.

With Spring finally in the air, it’s time to get things done. Clean out the garage, sell the few things that are in there and open it up to be my workshop to build out my van. Life awaits!

Finally bought myself a pair of hiking shoes, after many nearly disastrous hikes-acorns are dangerous and minimalist shoes have NO grip. I grabbed a pair of Keens Targhees. (In no way am I sponsored by any company, but wouldn’t mind it!) Hope to test them out this weekend. Maybe tick one of my summits off the list.

So maybe after all I am getting things done. It may be slow but it is progress. I think the Buddha has something to say about that.