A Defining Moment

The Mountain Farmgirl had an epiphany this week, and it hit her like a ton of bricks. (Well, maybe more like a Massey Ferguson hitting the broad side of a barn).  Anyway, she and her thoughts were moseying down the path to Simpler Living when WHAM! … it struck her, and now she’s wondering, “Have you ever had a revelation that changed the course of your life in a flash?” Come see why the Mountain Farmgirl Cathi Belcher will never be the same again!

 

Hey gals, hope you’re all enjoying summer’s bounty. Don’t ya just love it? Here in the mountains the meteor showers sparkled so brightly you could almost touch them! August in the mountains means the sounds of crickets chirping, the sweet smell of corn silk, and good clean earth squishing up between bare toes after a nighttime rain… For me, this season has been mostly a progression of thoughts that have left a paper trail in the form of these blogs … sort of like ‘thinking out loud’ in the company of friends. One week it was that crazy-busy feeling of having just too much on my plate (and who hasn’t been there?).  That prompted some serious thinking about “Why do we do this to ourselves?” and "How can we simplify our lives so that they aren’t just one giant To Do list all the time?" Rural Farmgirl Libbie Zenger wrote this week about Kindness, a very poignant topic and one dear to my heart. We definitely need more of it in the world. I find that when we’re overworked and overstressed, the tendency is to be anything BUT kind … such a shame. It is, after all, the quality of life, not just the quantity of things in it that really matter. If you’ve ever been close to that meltdown point, like I’ve come to a few times, common sense tells us that there’s got to be a better way. I have found that ‘way’ usually includes a deep and cathartic ‘de-cluttering’, whether it is in our homes, our minds, our schedules, or our outside responsibilities. Thoreau always seems to present himself to me when I'm in de-cluttering mode, and he usually calls me to another perusal of Walden. And that’s where I was in our last conversation, in which I promised to describe the unique path my husband and I have taken these last 40 years, which has been our own personal and unfolding Waldenesque experiment. In writing about it this week, I had what I would call a “Defining Moment” – one which profoundly changed me and the way I will forever think and live, like a lightning bolt out of the blue. Have you ever had a revelation about something that instantly changed the way you perceived your life? Like me, you may have thought about something plenty of times before, but suddenly the timing was right and you were convicted and committed to something like never before. That’s what happened to me, and it happened while I was writing about:

Our Path to the Simple Life & How We Embraced It
So before I tell you about my 'epiphany', I'll tell you about our personal history, the reminiscences of which inspired it. My husband and I have a long history together. Although we knew each other practically from birth, we didn’t start dating or fall in love until I was 15, and he a freshman in college. One day we visited my mom’s classroom; she was a 4th grade teacher in the same elementary school I had attended. We were her ‘guest speakers’ one day helping to demonstrate Colonial Crafts – grinding flour for bread and churning butter – and we asked the kids if they knew where butter came from? Back then our birthplace of Orange County, NY had been predominantly farm land (and dairy farms at that), but sadly, not one student knew the answer to our simple question. How quickly we humans lose connections to our roots; a generation from the farm is sometime all it takes. The only response we actually got was from one little boy who queried back, “The grocery store?” Not what we were looking for … but it started us thinking of getting back to the roots in our own lives … and asking ourselves basic questions, such as "Where did things really come from? Did we truly know the sources of the all the things that we used on a daily basis, such as our water? And electricity: it didn’t just come from the switch on the wall. How did it get there? We had an insatiable desire to understand all the things we had taken totally for granted as we were growing up. On our quest for such knowledge, it wasn’t a far mental leap for us to start questioning other things too, such as what constituted the ‘necessities’ in our lives, and what things were actually ‘luxuries’. We really wanted to know. This was one of the first ‘defining moments’ in our lives.

That was back in the 1970’s when everyone’s awareness had suddenly focused on personal environmental responsibility. I had just taken part in the very first Earth Day at my high school, where our class had created an artistically ‘shocking’ display for the event. We created numerous fully-clothed papier-mâché human forms. All wore gas masks and were strewn in various positions on the hallway floors, along with garbage and litter of every description. Large quantities of dry ice created the illusion of pollution, with its eerie, vaporous, smog-like effect. It was a powerfully graphic image that jolted many of us on that very first Earth Day into a state of sudden environmental awareness and a desire to be better stewards of our fragile planet. And so, a few years later when I joined Dana in college at Alfred University in western New York State (after a year at Goddard College in Vermont, where I also had the good fortune to meet Helen and Scott Nearing on several occasions), we started our own Thoreau-like experiment to determine what we really needed to live ‘the good and simple life’, as somewhat defined by Helen and Scott in their classic book. We also made a commitment to one another to become part of the solutions instead of the problems of modern life, and for the last 40 years, this quest has continued to evolve.

Everyone has a story. I love that part of MaryJane’s Farm magazine, don’t you? I never tire of hearing them. This one is about our story, and when I say we got ‘back to basics’, I mean literally that. We were young, idealistic, and wanted to make our own way in the world, paying our own way as we went. Food, Shelter and Education, we decided, were on the top of the ‘Must Have’ list, but dorm life and cafeteria food appealed to neither our social sensibilities, our appetites nor our wallets. And so we sought a rather radical alternative and decided to take ‘Housing’ literally into our own hands.

One man’s Junk is Another Man’s Treasure
At the end of the semester at our university when students went home for the summer, we discovered that there were many in our generation who did not share our passion for ‘making do’ or recycling. Rich, wasteful college students left hordes of perfectly good stuff lining the streets for the trash man, knowing that ‘Mommy and Daddy’ would buy them new furniture and new toys next semester. Our disgust at the blatant wastefulness soon turned into a personal recycling effort that provided us with two wonderful bicycles, a slightly cracked fiberglass kayak that needed only a small patch – and which we still use to this day -- and all the furniture a couple of college students could ever want or imagine. We made out like bandits! But now that we had it, where to put it?

One of the most easily overlooked trash-treasures turned out to be the most valuable find of all: some old canvas tarps we found in the woods, no doubt left over from a raucous college weekend campout. We soon found ourselves in the college bookstore once again, and another life-changing book we discovered there had the immediate solution to our housing needs: The Indian Tipi by Gladys and Reginald Laubin. It was the ‘bible’ of Native American Tipi living, and costing all of about 95-cents back then, this ragged, little dog-eared volume is today one of my most treasured possessions. For the cost of the book, a spool of carpet thread and the loan of a friend’s Singer sewing machine, these tarps were quickly sewn into enough fabric to create a 17’ diameter tipi. A gallon of paint disguised the fact that they were old and stained, and voila! our very first home was born! We lived in it until the first snowfall 5 months later, on a corner of an old farm field near college. (Tipis are wonderful structures, and history repeated itself 20 years later when we lived in a larger one while we were building our house. Our son Noah was born in it, and lived in it until he was 3 months old).    But back to our original tipi. Our ‘refrigerator’ was an old metal milk can we buried in the stream (a simple, low-cost solution, by the way. The food stays cold inside, but the tight fitting lid keeps stray wildlife out). Alfred winters are notoriously cold and snowy, with lots of lake-effect snow, and even though we had a fire pit for warmth and cooking, our little tipi was just a temporary housing fix. My husband had been reading about a guy named Buckminster Fuller and his geodesic domes, and since we thoroughly enjoyed living ‘in the round’ of our tipi, we thought that a  permanent circular structure could be easily built to house us through our college years as well. We were right. Just then another opportunity presented itself to us. This time it came to us in the form of building materials. The old village Town House needed to come down, and we got the job to demolish it! When I look back on it now, that was a rather crazy, time-consuming thing to do, but it provided us with most of our building supplies with no outlay of capital. The following year a major flood in western NYS gave us everything else we needed to complete our home, as lumber yards were practically giving away water-damaged goods. Between that windfall and the generosity of the retired farmer on whose land we had pitched our tipi, (and who allowed us to build what turned into THREE geodesic domes by the end of our college years), we were sitting pretty! We ended up bartering the farmer the use of his land throughout college -- in exchange for giving him the structures when we were through. He rented them out for many years after. (Alas, this was 40 years ago in a very rural area, before building codes or permits … Doubtful whether this could actually be done in many places today).

For the first couple of years, we lived in our domes without plumbing or power. We had a woodstove for cooking and warmth, a gas refrigerator, and kerosene lamps. We took showers at the school gym and lugged in water from campus. But gradually we added both running water and electricity after learning how to install them ourselves. We then re-joined the modern world, much the wiser, and also much more appreciative of these things that we had formerly taken for granted.

After graduation, we moved back to our roots in the Hudson Valley on the family farm, established in 1790. We reclaimed the old orchards, bought a couple horses and some cows, put in raised bed gardens, got a pig, some chickens, a goat … and started a big restoration of the farmhouse that took us many satisfying years to complete. I worked at a local museum demonstrating pioneer crafts … everything from blacksmithing to spinning & weaving to open-hearth cookery. Dana put his environmental science degree to good use as a scientist doing environmental impact statements on the power plants along the Hudson River. We got involved with Peter Seeger and his Clearwater Festivals held each year along the Hudson, which were brought attention to the pollution of this beautiful waterway, and facilitated an awareness necessary for the clean up which followed. During these years we grew our food, cut our own wood, ground the wheat that made our bread. And we discovered that while the ‘Simple Life’ is not always ‘simple’, it affords a way of life that is wholesome, honest, sustainable and very healthy and satisfying.

The Road to Simplicity
From the many comments I’ve received from people on the topic (both on my blogs and also in person), the concept of ‘Simplicity’ seems to be a theme that resonates deeply within most of us. But simplicity is a relative and elusive term, and those of us who are on its path are on varying legs of the journey, many of us even with different definitions of the word. It is, I’ve decided, a subjective process rather than a destination, and our travels on the road to simplicity are as varied as those of us who are traveling on it.

For some, the decision to simplify is a gradual, steady process of slowly purging the burdensome details of everyday life and physically ‘lightening up’ on our possessions, whether that means ‘buying less’, giving away things we don’t need, taking on fewer outside responsibilities that eat up our time and energy, or growing more of our own food. I’ve been trying to do that for years, with varying degrees of success.  For others, it may be a cold-turkey process, a conscious ‘Stop-the-World-I-Want-to-Get-Off’ decision to get out of the rat race before its too late, and to live differently starting right NOW! Simplicity for me started almost 40 years ago and continued up until the time we purchased our Lodge … when life suddenly got very complicated!! However our ever-present desire to live a more simple and ecological lifestyle has been an interesting catalyst for our business as well, helping to introduce simplicity and ecological practices into our very public field of hospitality – one in which consumers have invariably come to expect ‘More and More’, rather than ‘Less is More’. How to reconcile the paradox, and demonstrate that ‘simplicity’ and ‘elegance’ are not necessarily contradictory terms is a personal business challenge I wrestle with daily.

Do you have any special moments, forever crystallized in time, that you’ll never forget? For me, the dawn of simple living was one of those precious moments, and it started on a very specific day when I was in the 10th grade. I can still picture the moment as vividly as if it were yesterday. Dana and I were in a bookstore together (a favorite pastime even then) and a book called Living the Good Life by Helen and Scott Nearing practically flew off the shelf right at me, changing my life forever. I’ve been thinking about the Nearings and their lifestyle a lot lately, and I think the reason for this is the recent arrival of the Tumbleweed tiny house here at our Lodge. I sit in it and imagine paring down to such an extent that I could live in a space like the Woman Who Lived in a Shoe! Not an easy feat to be sure, but it could be so liberating to focus on People and Life instead of Stuff. At any rate my desire to get back to basics again has been bubbling through my brain at such a fevered pitch, that on August 8th, just after my last post here, while I was craving a simpler life myself and writing my story about it here, I had an epiphanic moment. (I just looked it up … it IS a word!). I asked myself: “WHY WAIT?”. Just like a diet, that nebulous ‘tomorrow’ is always on the horizon, but what if it never comes?  A line of a song suddenly played again in my head: ‘If not me, WHO? If not now, WHEN?’  I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was committed to make the changes to a truly simple lifestyle that I had been dreaming about and espousing most of my life since those college days. Complexities have a way of creeping in over the years, and I needed to reclaim a simpler lifestyle. I couldn’t put it off any longer and so it started right then and there on August 8th! No more spending, no more stuff … just a conscious whittling of my life down to its essence, one precious day at a time.

And so my ‘Year of Living Frugally’ was born; my current personal experiment for taking the concept of ‘simplicity’ at face value and putting it into practice on a daily  basis. I have decided to live a whole year without buying any non-necessity. I will either use what I have, make what I need, barter, buy essentials used or second hand, and as the saying goes, either ‘make do or do without’. When our children were young, I got very sick ( didn't have health insurance), my husband lost his job, and then I got pregnant again. We had some pretty lean times. I know what it is like to struggle, and I also know how to live simply with such style that it doesn’t seem like any hardship. (Our kids never knew we were ‘poor’ during those years). I know that many folks these days are in a pretty tight place, and I would like to show 1) that living simply  and frugally can be done – and done well; 2) I’d like to show how to do it; and 3) I’d like to be an encouragement to others who may be considering a very simple lifestyle either by choice or by necessity. The day I made this decision, I knew that it had to start right then and there. No waiting until the first of next month, no waiting until 2011 to start with a clean slate. I did not want to suffer the temptation of ordering or buying things before I officially ‘started’, because what is right to do, it done best right now! It was like a huge weight lifted from my shoulders.

And so, it has started … and I'll update you on my progress from time to time. But what's really exciting to me is hearing about your "Defining Moments". Have you had one lately? How did it happen? I'd absolutely love to hear! Until next time,

Much Love and Mountain Blessings from Mountain Farmgirl Cathi Belcher

 

 

Comments

 
By: Debbie
On: 08/24/2010 10:09:55
As you so eloquently put it, we have all had to find a way to manage through lean times...At my age, I really never knew I would have to count my pennies once again to buy birthday gifts or barter for eggs, but here we are..My husband and I are building our home and most jobs he acquires is far from our residents, so it's been a very long 6 years...With the economy in defunk, my husband has hardly worked at all in the last 18 months, making our home building extremely slow but challenging...However, I've learned how to be frugal which includes using thrift stores to find some beautiful chairs, requiring a bit of attention to some refinishing, a beautiful rocker that needs some sewing pads, making my own curtains and whatever else. I am looking forward to seeing your progress and wanted to let you know, I'm right there with you..Thank you for such a lovely article...
 
By: Noreen
On: 08/24/2010 10:34:39
What a lovely inspiration to live more simply. I t is so tempting to spend, and so easy to do with cedit cards. But, lately I have been thinking about wasting so much through the years with high bills every month. Surely I could saved so much! So now I find myself scrimping when I would not have to had I been more discerning about spending. Such a sad thought, but there is no time like this moment to make a positive permanent change. Wasting is such a negative thing. I choose to be on the side of love and compassion to ourselves and our envioronment. Love to all, Noreen
 
By: Heidi
On: 08/24/2010 11:15:45
I love the history in your post! Hearing about how others have reached their current place is fascinating to me.

My husband and I had a "aha!" moment last year. We realized we were drowing in stuff, accumulating for the wrong reasons, rewarding ourselves by buying, etc. etc. This happened after we inherited 49 boxes of family items from the two sides of the family. We were overwhelmed.

We made a commitment to release at least half of our belongings by the end of 2010. Ironically, I am an estate liquidator, so I always have lots of lovely vintage and antique items. So perhaps my business is exempt. :)

This followed our previous 5 years of not buying anything new. It started out as a yearly experiment and then just became the norm. We don't like box stores, don't want to support corporations and don't want to buy from China and other gov'ts that aren't fair to their citizens or the planet.

So far it's working! We're paring down and it feels good. I admire your lifestyle choices. You've done well and will continue to be an inspiration to many.
 
By: susan
On: 08/24/2010 12:28:57
Hi Cathi - just loved reading your simple living blog. I love the idea of living with less stuff and have also begun my own campaign to pare down. I started in my home office about 2 weeks ago - throwing out, donating and recycling. Getting rid of all the clutter has actually increased my creativity! I haven't reached the point yet where I'm willing to commit to not spending for a year but I find myself thinking twice whenever I go to purchase something. I like the way it makes me feel. I look forward to following you on your journey. Thanks for being such an inspiration. Susan
 
By: Maezie
On: 08/24/2010 13:16:03
My exact sentiments lately, my newly discovered friend. Since my life has been so medically complicated, changing daily, requiring me to seek my own solutions, I have come to another path on my 'journey' to personal, re-evaluated satisfaction. I was thinking of it as my 'feng shui' period but realize it is more than that. I is a decluttering and complete reevaluation of my daily abilities to accomplish whatever it is my instincts tell me for the day. Instincts are usually an honest guide as I have come to realize. No ex
 
By: Carol
On: 08/24/2010 13:43:31
I am very excited for you and I wish I could be that strong and do that too. I have started paring down and would like to live even more simply. Please update us often as to what you are doing...I need some ideas and inspiration. Thanks so much and I enjoyed your story about your life, very exciting and makes me envious.
Carol
 
By: Shirley
On: 08/24/2010 14:37:24
Greetings from Kentucky !

Oh my I have to write a comment !

Just this morning as I was reading emails, setting aside books that need reading, doing laundry, looking about at all that needed to be organized, cleaned, etc.. to do, to do, to do... I stood up, burst into tears and said out loud " I don't know what to do ". You see I used to live a VERY simple life in the Laurentian mountains in Quebec, Canada and I loved it...never to much for me to handle and never overwhelming like now. I sold my precious little home there and moved here to get married. I just brought one small u-haul truck of my interior personal belongings and memories from my single parent life of 18 years. The thing is this home is MUCH bigger than what I am used to and it seems I just can't get a handle on things, even if it is a nicer home and we have everything we need and more.. it seems the more I try to keep it simple here the more complicated and more STUFF I end up with...even if I only buy things from second hand shops like good will..I started being frugal way back when as I found myself with a new born, alone, and out of work. Hard times sure make us resourceful and teach us what is important and the real needs we have. It seems like now that I have more, bigger home, 3 dogs, cats, horse, etc...I have days that I am ashamed to say I am not happy. I need simplicity back in my life desperately and this morning I longed for it to the point of tears...I too have decided not to buy anything unless it's a NEED. Also, I am on a mission to clear out the clutter and organize. Maybe it's a Garage sale in the making for this fall, who knows, or perhaps I will bring a few loads back to Good will. All I know is that this Canadian EX simple mountain girl has to fill her primary need...go back to SIMPLICITY !

Thank you for your blog, I love it ... hope to start one myself some day..when I get organized..it is on my to do list.. haha !

p.s. I also read Living the Good Life year ago, way back when.. perhaps I will dust it off and re-read it.

Blessings to you
Shirley
 
By: Louise Fredieu
On: 08/24/2010 14:47:43
Amazing! What an amazing full life you have lived! i can see in your picture an absolutely beautiful woman, and from your blog i can see an absolutely beautiful human being. You are now my hero, and i suspect many others feel the same way. Thank you for bringing such thought-provoking images to my mind. i want to share just a little about myself so that you will know where i am coming from.

For some time now i have been ill and depressed. It started after my children all left home. Immediately, my ill mother came to live with me. For three years we had a wonderful life. My oldest son, who was divorced, came to live with us and provided a great deal of help. In many ways, we all cared for each other. Then my mother passed away, my son went to live across the country from me, and my grandchildren were born across the country in a different direction. Since then i have become physically ill and mentally depressed. I am recovering from my physical illness. My depression, however, has had the best of me. Now, i have read your blog, and i feel stirrings of hope. i am going to continue working through this. With the help of you and others, i am going to get my life back in order. Thank you for getting my ball rolling again. I will keep you informed of my progress. You continue to keep me and all of your anticipating readers posted on your progress.

Much gratitude to you,
Louise Jozwiak-Fredieu
 
By: sue
On: 08/24/2010 14:54:11
One of my favorite sayings is "Don't sweat the small stuff, it's all small stuff." My defining moment came when I was sitting in a hospital room with my son not knowing whether he was going to live ar die (he recovered) It opened my eyes that entirely too much time is spent worrying about stuff and not taking time to enjoy life and the people who mean the most to us. Since then I try diligently to simplify and put what means most first, to tell my guys that I love them and like Libby to be kind in the small ways. It has made a huge difference in my life.
 
By: Morgan Dickerson
On: 08/24/2010 15:05:35
I'm so excited to here what it is going to be like! I'm a young mother of three(I stay at home), and my husband is a landscape designer. We are seeing lean times for sure. I live on five acres in Loomis, Ca. and we grow some of our own food. Here is my struggle. Since Sarah is 17moths, Gabriel is 2 1/2 and Jordan is 12 I find it nearly impossible to do very much work in the garden outside with them. As a result, I feel "I should do more!" and then I feel overwhelmed and stressed. Inside stuff pulls at me, outside stuff, relationship stuff. I know you were a farmgirl, wife and mother too(and still are).Do you have any advice? I love your blogs, keep 'em coming:)
 
By: mellee
On: 08/24/2010 16:25:20
ah, the simple life. the life my husband and i struggle to get to in so many ways. i so deeply admire a life that is led frugally, simply, off the land and off the grid. we will get there, one change at a time. speaking of change, i have indeed had a defining moment of late. i am a former rn who stopped working a decade ago to raise my kids. imagine how put off i was to find that i am considered out of date and a bit over the hill for today's nursing (i mean when you have several managers explain that they cannot offer the job to me when there is a bumper crop of new young grad trained on current technology, kind of puts it all in perspective.) so i thought, if i can't beat them, i'll join them. i am now a student once again, working toward my master's as a nurse practictioner. i will be able to work part time and make the same as i would have as a full time nurse. this is a pretty defining moment for me.
 
By: Pam deMarrais
On: 08/24/2010 18:17:22
Wow, your blog really brought me back to the whole process of simplicity. When I was in my early thirties, I met some really neat people who had built their own home, and they lived a very simple life. They told me that they were inspired by Helen and Scott Nearing. They loaned me their copy of "The Good Life", and I was entranced, just like I was after reading "Walden". Later on, I caught on to the Simplicity Movement, and I read "Your Money or Your Life." The world can pull you away toward materialism so easily. It's ironic, because you don't really get satisfied with stuff...but it takes a while to recognize it. I live on a shoe string now, and I am more peaceful than ever. Thanks for your great message of encouragement. Let's keep "making do"!
 
By: Cari Lin
On: 08/24/2010 19:11:08
This is a lovely post. I am eager to hear how your year of frugal living progresses.

Although I do not have a specific day that my desire to live a simpler life began, I do know that the catalyst was turning off the TV. We had moved to a new house and didn't get the cable hooked up right away so there was nothing to watch. The amount of time we found ourselves with was amazing, the desire to buy new things was greatly diminished, and the sense of peace in our house was meditative. Life felt fresh, free, and full of fun things to do outside!

That was 10 years ago and we never did get around to getting cable. I spend my free time outside with nature at the beach, riding my bicycle, kayaking, hiking, or swimming in the pool. Or I spend it inside sewing, writing letters, creating art, hanging out with my pets, or playing board games with my husband.

Turning off the TV stopped the advertisements from telling me what I needed to buy in order to live a happy life and open up some time and space in my life for me to decide these things for myself. It was definitely one of my big 'defining moments.'

Thanks for writing so positively about the simpler lifestyle. Cari
 
By: joy
On: 08/25/2010 07:12:13
What a breath of fresh air, which by the way, is always free! Blessings on your new adventure. Glad to be along for the ride!
 
By: Cathy Harvey
On: 08/25/2010 08:57:03
Your posts are so inspiring. I always pass them on to my friends. Thanks!
 
By: Nella Spencer
On: 08/25/2010 09:17:59
Dear Cathi, Thank you, thank you, thank you. I, too, have had the same epiphany and have been trying to live it. Now I am going to try your example of the year of living frugally and simply. I was raised being the first generation born in America. My parents came from Poland with nothing but their suitcases and a couple of dollars so growing up I was used to the want vs need concept but being young a person gets caught up in wanting and having. After living the American way,with the accumulation of "stuff" for over 50 years, I am simplifying and focusing on my inner "stuff" and the people in my life-it's quite liberating. So thank you for sharing your life with me--it's inspiring and encouraging; I'm looking forward to reading your blogs.
 
By: Heather
On: 08/25/2010 10:38:47
Thank you for these past two posts; they have been most inspiring. Having just returned from my annual camping trip in the Adirondacks, I was having a rough return to the "overwhelmingness" of every day modern life, - the cell phone, e-mail, etc. Your posts hit the spot. I have shared them with fellow classmates at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition who have also been lamenting the loss of simplicity and wish for a return to the "cabin." Please keep sharing your journey with us!
Health and happiness,
Heather
 
By: Janeen
On: 08/25/2010 11:53:55
I have come to a "Simple Living" mindset through various avenues: My economic status requires that I live frugally, I see a "second life" in things and tend to purchase used clothing, books, etc. I am in love with all things "pioneer" and happily read about homesteading, etc. I feel that from a faith standpoint it is what is required of us. I long to live in a yurt, have a raised bed garden, tend a few chickens and learn the lost arts of simple living. I am glad to join you on your journey. We can be an encouragement to each other.
 
By: Ruth
On: 08/25/2010 15:32:28
Well, again you have left me nearly speechless and in tears...bittersweet tears. Apparently simplicity is a powerful undercurrent traveling beneath the surface of consumerism these days! I've been 'caught' in its tow for a number of years, unsure of what to do and how to do it. Faced right now with selling our home and moving out of state, paring down seems like a welcome gift in the midst of all the turmoil a move creates.

I have quipped on more then one occasion that I could easily and happily walk out the door of our present home and never look back, leaving the door wide open for any and all to peruse merrily through the years of 'stuff' that I, quite honestly, no longer want in my life. A much easier prospect then sifting through it all, piece by piece! ACH!!

I have wanted to live in a tipi for most of my life! One of those dreams that, at 57, better happen soon!! You certainly have inspired me yet again!!

I also LOVE the Tumbleweed houses!! I've looked at those for a few years, too, and could see myself living happily in one! Small places of contemplation reshape our souls, I think.

Being at a major crossroads in my life has sparked a reawakening in me to the gift of simplicity. Your blog has fueled that flame!
If not me, then who? If not now, then when? Indeed.

I'll be interested to see your continuation of this Year of Living Frugally. I appreciate your sharing and your insight. It certainly spoke to me at just the right time! I'll send you good thoughts as you move forward with your heart's passion.

Simply, Ruth
 
By: Tammie
On: 08/25/2010 22:41:16
Cathi,
I love reading your blog. I get so inspired and end up feeling good about life in general.
I also loved Libbie's blog as well. There again I just picture her as such a warm person. I read her blog and feel good about life when I'm finished.
Last year was my year of great change... my mother passed away and life's events toppled like dominoes.(everthing has gone back to normal now.) One of the changes was that I closed my daycare. I ended up with ten years worth of stuff that I just couldn't throw away and the thought of people going through my things in a garage sale didn't appeal to me. I saw a friend that had graduated from college and was starting her first year of teaching so I gave her all of my resources. I felt really good about the whole thing. She had an unbelievable amount of resources to beging her teaching career and I had declutterd. It was very healing.
I find myself craving a more simple life. Getting back to the basics so your article really hit a chord.
I would love to hear everything you are doing to simplify.
I was raised a city girl so I would love to learn as much as I can.
Love the pictures you post too. Thank you for your thoughts, out loud. :)
 
By: Pamela
On: 08/26/2010 14:32:30
Cathi,
I sure do enjoy your posts. Your life and stories are super inspirational to me. I have always tried to live pretty simply, and I think we do a pretty good job at it, although we sure could do a whole lot better. Like you, I am always trying to improve on it. Good luck with your challenge. My husband and I are working on a similar challenge, as we try to get out of debt and save more. I don't think I have a "defining moment", just a gradual trying to do better.
Boy, I sure could live in one of those tiny houses. Our little farmhouse is already pretty small, but I could go smaller!
Have a beautiful day, and keep up the great stories.
Hugs,
Pamela
Pamela
 
By: Christy
On: 08/29/2010 02:10:55
What a great story! Looking forward to reading more about your journey.
 
By: carolj
On: 08/30/2010 14:52:34
Cathi,

After reading your blog and glancing through the responses, I am more convinced than ever that our greedy consumerism has tainted every aspect of our lives. I am married to a wonderful man who can't pass up trash/treasures. He knows how to barter. I think our dinner conversation tonight will be about a financial fast of our own. Thanks for the inspiration.

Carolj
 
By: Valynne
On: 09/12/2010 17:33:28
I met Paul in 2006 and moved from a 500sf apartment in CT to a 4,000+sf home in CO. We lived there for almost four years (that is how long it took for us to sell it!). We decided that when it sold we would become house and pet sitters (I did this in my twenties and loved the freedom of it). When the house sold last year, we got rid of almost all of the "stuff" and can now fit all of our belongings in a 5X10 storage unit. We are just finishing a year long sit here on Cape Cod, and are on our way to TN for a six month sit. Neither of us miss ANY of the "stuff". I am so happy to be with a man that shares my values. Thank you for another thoughtful post...I am going to find me a copy of Living the Good Life as I am so inspired by other peoples' "living simply" success stories : )

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Cathi Belcher

Cathi Belcher,
an old-fashioned farmgirl with a pioneer spirit, lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. As a “lifelong learner” in the “Live-Free-or-Die” state, she fiercely values self-reliance, independence, freedom, and fresh mountain air. Married to her childhood sweetheart of 40+ years (a few of them “uphill climbs”), she’s had plenty of time to reinvent herself. From museum curator, restaurant owner, homeschool mom/conference speaker, to post-and-beam house builder and entrepreneur, she’s also a multi-media artist, with an obsession for off-grid living and alternative housing. Cathi owns and operates a 32-room mountain lodge. Her specialty has evolved to include “hermit hospitality” at her rustic cabin in the mountains, where she offers weekend workshops of special interest to women.

“Mountains speak to my soul, and farming is an important part of my heritage. I want to pass on my love of these things to others through my writing. Living in the mountains has its own particular challenges, but I delight in turning them into opportunities from which we can all learn and grow.”

Column content copyright © 2010– Cathi Belcher. All rights reserved.

Mountain Bounty

“Keep close to Nature’s heart ... and break clear away once in awhile to climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods, to wash your spirit clean.”
– John Muir