Nearly two months ago I shared our story of how we sold our 1,700 square foot home to buy a 200 square foot RV. This is our dream turned reality of living minimally so we can travel full time nationally and internationally. For the past couple months we have been parked in a simple, unscenic lot as we tie up our remaining commitments and contracts in the area. This has been a good test to see how we would adjust to living small and simply. Will they be able to do it? We know many have been thinking.
The response to our plans of living small and dreaming big has been met with a variety of responses. From support, encouragement, and enthusiasm to doubt, cynicism, and even sarcasm:
"Soooo...you're going to like...live in that?"
I flash a smile that only those who dare to dream understand, and respond:
"Why, yes! Yes we are!"
The truth is, there definitely have been challenges, but not the ones many would anticipate or think. For us, downsizing brought a great wave of release; an exhale of heavy burden and responsibility. We share space quite skillfully and take pride in our tiny space which only fosters intimacy. But of course there has been stress, which takes form in the minutia of planning. The itinerary for our trip across the country this summer looks like this:
Utah, Nebraska, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado. That's fourteen states in just eight weeks!!! There are a lot of moving pieces to put into place and coordinate with friends, family, and work in each state as we are traveling.
Mix into the minutia of the itinerary is the continued process of tying up loose ends with our careers and relations we have built these past three years in the making. It has been an emotional process of letting go and we have been working tirelessly in the midst of it all. Sydni is giving up her career in management and the security of a consistent salary. I am releasing my place in the yoga community...my roots, my influence, and the relations I have spent years watering.
We are exchanging the safety of the known for a life of uncertainty. It doesn't take long to see how impermanent all things are and how quickly the world moves on. We have been surprised by those who have been there along the way as well as those who have not. Leaving brings out strange responses from people you love that are not always easy to interpret or understand. There is a lot of emotional processing that perhaps we weren't expecting.
Needless to say, one month in with still one month to go before setting off on our new life on the road, we needed a reminder of what we were doing and why; some confirmation of our dream to keep us excited to that finish line. Besides, we really needed to test our little house on wheels within safe distance before traveling the entire country with such little experience. So we headed to Monterey.
This small adventure was exactly the medicine we needed to come alive again and reclaim our vision. It was validation for all we dared to dream and worked so hard to achieve. Being parked in one place as we checked items off our to-do list has been emotional and exhausting. It appears by this trip that the hardest part of this living has been cutting ties and embracing the unknown despite all the planning. But once we hit the road, the living part is not only easy...it is everything and more than we hoped it would be. Even our pets were excited and relieved. Just the act of being on the road helped us reconnect with the feeling of being free...which is the entire point of this life we are choosing. Sydni got to rip off the bandaid of driving our home on wheels safely; something I already knew and had full confidence in her bad-assery.
Side-story: I am not yet allowed to drive our RV. Perhaps it has something to do with crashing a car on top of a cluster of mailboxes when I was sixteen. But my favorite joke is to text her when she's at work with something like: "Hey! Taking the house for a spin. Be back in twenty!" I die every time. I think she's laughing, too...on the inside.
Not only did we make it to our destination without a hitch, we set up our home up in its temporary destination in record time. It is an amazing feeling to know that you have everything you need and that your back yard can be anywhere at anytime you decide.
California has some of the most magnificent coastlines. Most of my fondest memories of Sydni and me have been our impromptu roadtrips overlooking the sea. For both of us, it is our way to reconnect, be present, and release. We relished in the calm pace of our days. Early morning practice followed by leisurely breakfasts. Long walks along the coastline, quiet conversation, campfires, and slow cooked dinners. This was our opportunity to simply BE without timelines, commitments, stress, or worry. Every moment we spend this way validates the way of life we are choosing.
Of equal fondness, ironically, was our trip back. Because we had our house on wheels, we were not in any hurry. We pulled over every chance we could get to take in another majestic view...to breathe in the fresh air again, and again. Each beach along the way embodied a different character or story.
At one location, it was cold and windy, so we parked right up to the beachline and watched the kiteboarders dance across the waves with their parachutes billowing in the sky. We sat at our diningroom table and enjoyed a leisurely lunch with views of blue sea and sky; taking the crisp breeze blowing through.
Afterward, we laid down for a little rest before our journey would commence. From the vantagepoint of our bed it looked as though we were floating in the sea. Truly we feel we are living the dream. This life is meant for living...experiencing...surrendering...and enjoying all its wonderous offerings. And though we may face a million unknowns and a lot less security, we know that we are living our life fully and together in a way that holds great value and meaning.
The countdown is now just over a week before we set off across the country. We are ready. The road is calling. We are eager to create new experiences and memories; to explore new opportunities. We know there will be challenges along the way. Not everything will go smoothly.
Sydni and I have shared more memories in the past year and a half than most people experience in a lifetime. We have demonstrated our resiliency. I am eager to experience all this life has to offer with her by my side. That is truly more than I could have ever hoped or dreamed.
I will be documenting our travels along the way...as well as exciting projects I will soon be announcing. Coming to a state or city near you...stay tuned. Namaste~
“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”
Many of you have been following our story in our quest of what I fondly called, “Hoping to be Homeless.” Nine months later, we have sold our house and achieved our dream! We spent the last several months conceptualizing, visualizing, and downsizing in preparation for this dream-turned-reality of seeing and experiencing the world while living minimally.
Now, we proudly present that we are “Happily Homeless.” If you want to know how we downsized our life from 1,700 square feet to just 200 square feet and put thousands of dollars a month back in our savings, keep reading...
We have been raised on this Western ideology of “bigger is better” and “quantity over quality.” The more money we make, the more we spend. The more we have, the more we want and we begin accumulating "things" at such an alarming rate, that we can't even itemize everything we own. We are hamsters on the wheel of consumption and excess, which only seem to spin us into greater depths of dissatisfaction, stress, and debt. We become pinned underneath our financial commitments and find ourselves losing our deepest passions and interests.
Yogic philosophy teaches us the moral restraint (yama) of what is known as aparigraha, or non-possessiveness. In yoga we learn to embrace simplicity and efficiency, understanding that all attachments lead to suffering. My first experience and taste of this dream came in 2007 when I traveled North India to work with women and children living in poverty. The impact was two-fold:
To witness children playing in the trash or sent out to the streets to earn money for their families to eat delivers an embarrassing confrontation of every dime you have wasted and every moment you experienced self-pity in the belief that whatever you had was not enough.
Secondly, comes the realization of how little provisions you need to truly be happy...and that living with minimal necessities out of a backpack is truly liberating. Letting go of material possessions frees you to experience the whole world without the chains of debt and financial responsibility. That experience changed my thinking and for years I have longed to move closer to that kind of living.
“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.”
Sydni and I had both moved to California seeking some form of the American dream. California is rich with rolling vineyards and majestic coastlines. We are verily spoiled with incredible food and an endless calendar of events from which to choose. The problem is, most the time you don't have the time or you can’t afford to. Next thing you know, you find yourself working day and night to maintain a life you cannot maintain or enjoy. The expenses mount and you’re conflicted inside and out with what society defines as happiness and success.
Our decision to downsize to a 200 square foot RV is one of living mindfully, consciously, and FULLY in the present...no strings. No attachments...and no guarantees. It means that every decision we make has great impact and meaning. It means that we have less responsibility...but also less security. We inherit a life of risk and uncertainty...but that lifestyle is ours for the choosing.
Everything we purchase must live in harmony in our small space. There is no room to negotiate. Living small means practicing patience and courtesy to share the same space with ease. Lastly, it means practicing grace in the face of all life’s unexpected moments: the things that open our eyes, challenge our perceptions, and break our hearts in exchange for living and loving boldly. We are under no illusion that everything will go our way. Some things will work and some things won't. But we are prepared to skin our knees and learn from those falls because life is short and the world is not small. We are hungry to experience everything this journey has to offer.
So we sold the house and our two vehicles to get a 24' RV and a smaller car for towing. In the act of downsizing we cut our monthly expenses by more than half, saving approximately $2,500 monthly. These decisions alone pared our loan debt down from over $450,000 to under $60,000! Now instead of paying for a house we’re never home to enjoy, we can see the world that many only see on their iPhones and flatscreens. Now, we can spend our money on living versus working to pay off the insurmountable debts we were accruing.
The added incentive of purchasing this tiny space was not just to open up travel in this country, but also internationally. This decision enables us to store our home on wheels easily while we are globetrotting, or to rent it to those who wish to sample a little of what a minimalist life has to offer.
For now, we remain in the Napa Valley while we finish our commitments and contracts locally. In July we will embark on our first tour across country, which will allow us to connect with friends and family while I am teaching. For Sydni, this will be a first opportunity to breathe after years of hard work and overachieving. She can finally take the time to explore what she really wants and needs; her own wishes, and dreams. She has innumerable talents and skills from business, to cooking, art, yoga, and photography. I cannot wait to see her spread her wings; to live freely and joyfully. As for me, I have always had a need to live my life creatively and I look forward to where ANANTA will take me as well as the ways it will open up new options and opportunities. To share my love of yoga through teaching is such a gift to me, but equally important is to continue studying. I am the best version of myself when I am both student and teacher equally. So I have mapped out many of the teachers I respect and admire to add to our summer itinerary. Truly, I feel that we are living a dream.
For those of you here in California, this is not goodbye forever. My students and relationships I have forged these past few years hold great value to me, and my Ashtanga community are like family. We will return in September and there on periodically to reconnect, offer workshops and trainings, and for me to continue my ongoing ashtanga practice under the guidance of my teacher, Kory.
Lastly, as most of you may have heard— this national road trip is just the beginning! October 20-27th we will be jetting off to exotic Thailand to lead a week long retreat and other offerings! We are excited to explore the jewels of Southeast Asia while teaching. If you haven’t looked, you simply must take a peek at this incredible 5-star resort and its amenities.
Many more announcements and plans to come...I can't speak them all just yet because some are a surprise for Sydni. I take great pleasure in teasing her with these things. It keeps her on her toes with me;) My love...this is just the beginning...
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~Mary Oliver
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