I got into a pleasant discussion with some new friends at a weekend gathering back in January. They were speaking of living in a way that allowed just their vegetable operation to support them without need for 'jobs' off the farm. I piped in and encouraged them to pursue this option. Not having had a 'job' myself for over 5 years now, its fun to nudge others in the direction of disentangling themselves from the system. My friend Katherine was accused of having "No visible means of support" and she felt this a great compliment. I see it that way also.
Moving towards not needing an outside job in large part comes from slashing expenses. And slashing expenses is a life style change. It is a paradigm shift. If one comes to value their time at home and their personal freedom more and more, this is a natural process. I would only discuss this with someone who was wondering about it. The shift has to be part of the person's natural evolution and general direction in life. Forcing this kind of change does not work and when it happens easily the results can be beautiful.
My new friends and I felt comfortable discussing numbers and really examining how to live simply and stay at home to pursue passions and live a fulfilling life. I offered the number $6,000. That is what I live on here at the farm with two other humans. Two adults and one growing child live comfortably, and I mean luxuriously, on $6,000 per year. Now this land is paid off so that changes everything. Moving towards freedom is a process and shifting a paradigm can take some time so knowing that one is moving towards paying off land by slashing expenses can be so helpful.
Part of what helped me spend less money was a little rule I made up for myself in 2003 after reading a book about factories in China that produce all of the items sold in any Walmart or Target store here in the good ole USA. I decided to only buy things that were 'made in USA'. It quickly became clear that I was now unable to buy almost anything. I became a bit obsessed, examining every package of socks, looking at the tag of every item and then quickly putting it down when it did not say USA. I was not all pro-USA, I was just trying to pay attention to what my money was supporting. Just the thought of a huge, stinky ship crossing the beautiful ocean only to carry this item to me was enough to help me put it down and walk away. This rule for myself was sort of a game I began to play and it turned into a real life style change.
Then it seemed reasonable to cash in my retirement account from the nursing job I was still working. I knew the money was being used to fund wars and produce dangerous, useless chemicals so I took it away from the investment company. That is my money and the interest earned isn't worth the cost to humanity. My paradigm was really shifting. Then I quit my nursing job, rented out rooms in my house and started working on vegetable farms. My monetary income had fallen 75% and I'd never been happier. I was barefoot in the sunshine 6 days a week, eating better than I ever had, and getting real physical exercise that had me looking better than ever too. Then I rented out the whole house and moved to this farm where I've been for over 8 years. Now the expense slashing really got going.
I thought I had been living simply and I had, for city standards. But moving out here to the deep country changed even more than I knew could be changed. I loved it. That's why it works for me. One has to be ready and the change has to be a natural part of a life's path.
So in the discussion with my new friends one thing I did not feel comfortable mentioning are my views on and experience with, the germ theory. Letting go of the fear of germs and really understanding how planet earth functions with humans and all creatures actually helped me slash expenses. This is a bit confusing to me because the process was so gradual and I remain a comfortable human, not disease ridden, as popular culture would declare. I remember spending much energy trying to decide which shampoo would help my hair look good and which lotion would make my skin nice and I wanted the biggest bottle so I wouldn't need to buy more in a few weeks and I wanted organic because I had the money and so might as well support companies that were trying to do the right thing... blah blah blah.
Its so weird to me now, all those hours in the isle at whole foods reading labels and the money handed over at the cash register. Now, here on the farm, knowing what I know about the planet where we live, I don't use soap to wash my dishes. I don't use soap to wash my kid. I don't use shampoo to wash my hair. I don't use soap to wash the milking equipment. We do pay for LP gas that heats our water and we use really hot water, that is to me, a luxury that I truly enjoy. My diet is so different now than it used to be with all the healthy fat that I eat every single day that I don't require lotion anymore. Even in the winter! I mean I can't really even believe it. I've lived in Michigan most of my 44 years and lotion in the winter is just a fact of life. Nope. Not anymore. I haven't bought a bottle of lotion for many years. My skin does not get dry, it is soft and quite beautiful. I guess you could say I eat the lotion. And chapstick either, not needed. Because I don't use soap to wash my hair all the natural oils stay and do what they're supposed to do, nourish my hair and my scalp. I rinse it with water occasionally and I brush it every day but not spending money on shampoo and conditioner has been life changing for me.
This all seems simple and silly and a bit crazy. Its not something I generally discuss with people, that I don't use soap to wash my dishes. I am perfectly happy with my life and the home I live in and I want to respect other people's religious views about the germ theory. If I started spouting off about how biodiversity makes the world go round, they would feel that I was threatening the bottles under their sink that they hold so dear. This paradigm shift is not for everyone and I just wanted to share the truth about my life because it feels good to come clean - ha! If there is anyone else out there who suspects they could change a few things in their life but it feels weird, I want to encourage you. Go with what you feel may be right, even though it looks totally different than everything around you.