My family moved into a bigger house for a couple years before we went off grid. It had a large basement for storage. We moved all of our belongings from our apartment, our storage unit and my husband’s parents’ house. I was astounded at how that basement filled up. Who knew we had so much stuff?! It bothered me. We also had closets full of things that I had completely forgotten about. We moved it all and as time went on, I forgot what was in my closets in the new house. I’m painting this picture like we had TONS of stuff, like those hoarding shows that you see on TV. We weren’t like that, not even close. But it all still bothered me. So little by little, one closet at a time, I began to get rid of stuff. I loaded up my van frequently for trips to the Goodwill. I began to pare our things down to what we really needed. What did I keep? (See How I Got Rid of More than Half Our Stuff)
My husband and I talked all the time about how crazy the world was getting. It was common to hear us saying, “When we were kids…” I guess we wanted to rewind and have our kids raised more like that. We wanted to live where we could grow our own food, raise our own animals, and have our kids run around feeling free to explore. Most importantly we didn’t want to have to rely on anything (including the power grid) to sustain our lives. This is what simplifying our lives became to us, being self-sufficient, and we began to work toward that dream.
We had talked to my parents on and off about our dream. They decided that they were in for the adventure and in 2012, we all moved to Arkansas to live off grid. What??!! No electricity, no running water? I began to research all the old-fashioned ways of doing things. How would I do laundry? How would I get water into my house? What would we do for a toilet? All very important things that I would need to know. I soon discovered that it would not be simple in the true extent of the word. In simplifying our lives, I was trading a house full of modern appliances (aka servants) for a lot of hard work. Why would I do that? We have seen so many benefits. We work hard, but we take satisfaction in knowing that we are building something for our children. They are learning the meaning of hard work in ways that they could never know in the city. They are not addicted to electronic gadgets. They spend more time outside than they do inside. We spend lots of time together as a family. We sleep great at night without the lights of the city to stimulate our brains. We have lost a significant amount of weight without dieting. We are fine when others are suffering from power outages and frozen pipes.
I would describe my life as simple in what I have around me every day. Are my days always simple? No, but I’ve simplified my life to make room for things that are important to me and things that really matter.