Tuesday, October 12

just do it

i think there's a shoe company that has taken that slogan *chuckle* but it could be one of mine.

i have had emails and comments in the past asking me an important life question - how did you do it?

how did you leave behind a safe social structure, the comforts of urban living, family, friends, a secure job, modern conveniences, a language you know....... for something so drastically different?

i have tried to be inspirational, offer practical advice and tips, but i'm just not skilled in that approach. and more importantly, i had no fear. never have.

i just did it.

when in Australia, i left a promising academic route to backpack and hitchhike around the country. no predetermined destination, no time scale, no plans at all. sometimes i would jump on a train within 24hrs of deciding to move on, from a place i was enjoying.

i left Australia when i was 24 to meet up with my boyfriend in England and discover if the relationship would endure, or not.

at 37 i left England (with said-boyfriend-now-husband in tow, and a womb bean) to live in Eastern Europe. a country i had never visited. i just followed my intuition.

i trust my intuition that much. but, it's also more prosaic than that. i view life as an adventure. i don't view it as something to endure, or survive, or to make as safe as possible. i see it as a very small window of time to experience being human and whatever's on offer. i've always been bohemian.

i also see that society is a creation. we take it for granted - all the rules and expectations and lifestyles - but it's simply something that happened. our society is nothing like it was just 50 years ago. but we accept it like it's a reality carved in stone.

we believe that there's only a handful of choices.
which career? - rather than, career or not?
how many children and when? - rather than, children or not?
and on and on...

but i did have a challenge.

credit: me!
playing with simplicity

convincing my conservative husband that lifestyles were as varied as our imaginations. that the sky's the limit. that some people choose making art over having secure finances. that some choose no home but rather travel everywhere. that some choose odd jobs and freedom rather than set career paths. that some grow their own food, don't send their children to school, parent gently, live in yurts, travel extensively, exhange services instead of money, focus on the process of living rather than a goal, work scattered hours........

everyone has the ability to make their own rules. to construct their lifestyle. most of us just don't realise that. we're too busy paying bills or 'making something (respectable) of ourselves'.

our generation is lucky. we live during a time where choices outside the mainstream will be considered crazy by most, but where those choices are possible and where you can find kindred spirits. the world is a flexible and varied and smaller place than it was just 60 years ago. whatever you decide to do, you can hop online and find others are already doing it.

a word of caution though. alternative communities can be their own traps too. being alternative doesn't make them immune from the need to impose rules and choices. i see it all the time. someone choosing to remove themselves from the oppression of mainstream society, only to feel obligated and pressured to do things a certain way or be a certain person in the alternative community. you know - if you're going to be green, you need to perfectly green at everything.  if you're going to be crunchy, you need to be crunchy at everything.

only recently i commented on someone's blog who was feeling guilty about not using cloth diapers and wanting to go that route. part of my response was that it didn't have to be all or nothing. cloth diapers at night, or most days. nappies for outings.....  whatever works for you. that's authenticity.

we really impose a lot of restrictions in our 'free' alternative choices don't we?

i refuse to apologise for our choices. they're right for us, at this time. i unschool my girl, but if in a few years it'll work better for us that she attends school, then so be it. i know i would lose home/unschooling readers. so be it. i love the idea of being almost completely self-sufficient. but being an Intuitive Mentor, creating art, and travelling, are higher on the priorities list. i can't have chickens and a large veggie garden if i'm doing so much other stuff and going to regularly leave it all to globetrot.

so taking the plunge for a different life comes down to asking yourself what you really want from life. we live with the stream and hope we'll achieve happiness. topsy-turvy.

begin by asking yourself what makes you happy. 
and work towards creating the lifestyle that will make that possible.

if you want a big house filled with beautiful things and a nice car and expensive holidays and designer clothes, then you will likely have to work a traditional job (but not necessarily, plenty of entrepreneurs are living the high life). if your core needs are peaceful living, adventure, more time with your children, doing your passion, travel, rather than stuff, then you might be living a life that is bringing you everything but those things.

our income is about 1/4 of what it was in the UK. but we've traded luxuries for less stress and more time together. here, husband can spend many mornings playing with his daughter. in our old life he would have seen her for a few hours after work - when he was stressed and tired.

if like my hubby you have a deep need for community support, it can be found for the most way-out lifestyles. if like me you're a maverick and life adventurer, you just need to wake up from the socially-induced sleepwalk and remember - oh yeah, i can create my lifestyle.

our particular lifestyle is a mix of both our needs. security with freedom. many conveniences with green mountain living. a social network with a unique lifestyle. a fixed abode with travel. working towards meeting immediate needs with no fixed plans for the future.

so, i've tried writing the motivational posts, but it's not my talent. all i have is...

this is your life, right this moment, there really is only one choice... with fear or without it.....

just do it.


  1. Hi Monica
    I have just discovered holistic mama and have felt a strong affinity to mindful mama. I only began my blog at http://www.poetryintheprose.blogspot.com/
    last month and so am very new to all this and am still finding my way around, but I suppose I began because I needed to break out of my life into something more. Authenticity was a word loud in my head so I'm thrilled to find that this is what you're about.
    What you've done with your life is so encouraging to read about. I'm not a risk-taker so stepping out is hard for me, but I'm equally not content to sit by and miss what my life could be - so I'm struggling with that tension.
    I think our life is made up of seasons and we need to take what steps we can when we can. Sometimes they have to be baby steps, sometimes we can leap.
    I've two girls - aged 10 and 12 - so whatever I do for now must be with them in mind. But I'm beginning to explore the possibilities a little more as they grow older.
    And I echo your word of caution about communities: they can be a great source of support, but they tie you down with expectations as much as anything else. I'm questioning what my community of 20 years has made me at the moment and I'm not sure it's who I want to be anymore, but the ties are so strong and I have responsibilities here that matter. So it's a difficult balancing act - looking for my authentic self inside the me I've become...
    My blog was inspired to make sure I remembered once a week to look for beauty in a life I'm currently struggling with. So your pockets of joy are something to look forward to as well.
    Thanks for the inspiration today.

  2. Hi Lousie, welcome to HM and to the blogosphere!

    Sometimes they have to be baby steps, sometimes we can leap.

    absolutely! it's no good leaping if you are terrified, or it doesn't feel right. leaping for the sake of it or because you feel you should.

    also, following your dream life needn't be really drastic either. just changing jobs to one you truly enjoy, feel valued at, or gives you more time to persue hobbies, is wonderful.

    so many people just can't imagine doing that much.

    i also have to take into consideration my 2.5yr old girl. but you know what? there are so many different families persuing so many different lifestyles.
    i recall (from TV show a family from UK uprooted their 8+yr old children to France. the kids were speaking French within 6 months and had made new friends at school.
    i came across a mama backpacking with a baby in Thailand.

    children are way more resilient than we are! also because, unlike us, they don't realise they're supposed to fit into a mould. ;)

  3. LOVE love love this post! It is so easy to think that life should be a certain way and should fit into a cookie-cutter pattern. There is comfort and less risk living like that, not always more happiness.
    Thanks for linking up! :)

  4. I'm inspired and motivated by this post! It sounds like you've been living an exciting life. Loved reading this...thanks!

  5. this post is so great at summing up your whole philosophy and i totally chuckled too, at your use of "just do it". i mean, in the end, that is what it comes down to. i have this ani difranco quote in my head this week: "first you decide what you've gotta do, then you go out and do it". lol. it's so simple, really. simple can seem so complicated sometimes.

    anyway, i've been really enjoying your insights and following along. i take so much courage from seeing other mamas following their intuition and seeing that yes it works. the organic sister just had a post that resonated for me in a similar way, the way both your post and hers have laid it out how choice is so important (we do have to make choices and what we choose means something else we didn't choose) and how it is all about having those choices actually align with where we actually want to BE not just what we think we should or have to be doing. "you might be living a life that is bringing you everything but those things" exactly.

    anyway, just babbling here to say i like you and what you have to say. :)

  6. I love this! So many 'right-on' moments here - how society is just a 'construction', how we limit our own choices, how even alternative communities can end up imposing rules (I think of this as an extension of the tribal side of the ego - we have a very strong drive to create an 'us' and 'them'.)

    I also think being able to acknowledge how things change is so important. I also have never been afraid of change, have moved constantly, changed careers etc., even when others told me it was crazy or even irresponsible. And now I have settled in one place for a time, at least while the kids are young, but it doesn't feel restrictive. There are things I would like to change or improve, and will, but I don't have this sense of the best part of my life being over, which is what seems to happen to many people once they have a family. I hope I can stay open to whatever feels right as life unfolds...

  7. Mon - this was a great post - i've actually quoted it a bit in my post today (please do let me know if you mind!) - loved it all!

  8. I really like the example about the cloth diapers. I feel like that I so true among moms. How you have to be all the way crunchy. But I think people need to do what works best for them. And get out of the labeling idea.
    My husband and I both have parents who want us to do everything the 'regular' or 'conventional' way. But sometimes you just have to say screw it and do what makes you happy.

  9. hi everyone! and welcome mb and Dawn.

  10. This is lovely. I especially liked the part about not apologizing for your choices. I find myself doing that constantly. "I know this is inconvenient to you, but..." or "I know I may look like a hypocrite, but...."

    Lots to think about...

  11. Definitely a post that has resonated with me Mon. I struggle to fit into a mould and yet still manage to "conform" to things, but it is all about finding peace and comfort in your choices and reasons behind your choices. I want to leave this world with no regrets at having not done something or at having done something that I didn't really want to do.
    And, my big wish for my children is for them to question things. Not so they sound precocious, but just so that they are asking the questions to enable them to make a truly informed decision about the paths they take through their lives.
    One life... xxx

  12. It really is about what's most important to you. For me, it was important to be near my mom and as much family as possible. I love Oregon so much that I have no desire to leave.

    But that doesn't mean I didn't have to make a big leap of faith once upon a time. I was 22, I think. I had been going to school in Utah, and I felt trapped there (had no money, needed to finish school). I hated it there. Just when I thought about moving back to live with my mom (which I thought I would never do, and she had moved to Oregon where I had never lived before), I got a really great job and free rent offer...in Utah. What to do?

    With tentative plans to return to Utah to finish school, I packed up and moved to Oregon. I never returned, except to get the rest of my stuff. I could have stayed trapped in Utah, but instead I am perfectly at home and happy in Oregon.

    I like a lot of traditional/conventional things, but I don't take them for granted. I like a lot of alternative things, too. I really just go for what I want. I don't do things just because they are expected of me or because people I admire are doing them or whatever. I can't say I always jump into things (sometimes I do), but I do progress toward what I really want.

    I think we all have to evaluate our lives once in a while and make sure the things we are seeking are still the things that we want.

  13. This post just screamed, YES, YES, YES to me. You do inspire Mon - don't doubt that. xoxo -Debbie

  14. hi beehive, yes, i love that you encourage your children to question. that's what we're often taught not to do - just do as you're told, or do as everyone else does.

  15. this compeletely resonated with me - particularly the part about having to fit in with the "alternative" culture. I got involved with a group last year (in real life) who were alternative and outside the mainstream in their parenting/lifestyle choices and initially a lot of it chimed with me, and I really thought I'd found my community, my 'village' in which to raise my children. Unfortunately after a while I realised that I was not entirely following down the same path as these people were and spent a lot of time feeling inadequate and like we weren't quite measuring up, or if we did, then I knew the choices weren't sitting well with my family. Now we do our own thing, we are outside the prevailing culture where we live, so I still feel on the outside of a community, but oddly, less judged than I did by the 'alternative community' - although my choices are different, I'm still made to feel welcome, albeit just referred to as the oddball hippy one! So, although it can sometimes be lonely, and hard to explain to the children why we don't do things as their friends families do (violent video games for one), because we are doing what I feel is authentically right and best for our family, overall we are much happier. Now we just need to find a slightly alternative community that we can be the norm in!!

  16. Love, love, love this post, Mon! And it is so inspiring!

  17. I've moved many a time, originally through no choice, because of parental job or political upheaval, then as an adult I moved on a whim too - if I needed to see a different sky, I packed up and I moved on. It took the love of a good man and the birth of my two sons to stay my feet a bit longer.I believe in the need to follow instinct, the need to change the air and the sky and question the need to be static, I hope that my children will inherit my need to breathe and to feel free and not to be trapped by society.

  18. just do it ...... three little words that can change a life! i finally did it, got out of a relationship that no longer "fit" me, it was no longer who i was. thank you for sharing! light & love to you and yours, this day and always,

  19. I bought my hubby a sweat shirt years ago that said "Just Do It: as he is someone that gets stressed very easily and spends more time "thinking and stressing" about what he has to do that it takes him twice as long than if he just jumped in and did it...he still has it. Your post gave me lots to consider...thanks.

  20. What a wonderful post Monica.
    "you just need to wake up from the socially-induced sleepwalk and remember - oh yeah, i can create my lifestyle" - so well said.

  21. Thank you Monica - loved this and I agree with the whole things about the alternative community being quite stiffling at times, but I have been fortunate most of the time. I think that I put it on myself sometimes.. remember feeling embarassed my daughter had a a disposable diaper with Elmo on - but no one really cared. She was Diaper free most of the time and it was for trips etc... it was all cool really.

    Been some tough times for me recently and I haven't been keeping up.

    I keep meaning to send my email to you.

    I loved reading this and your insight and style of writing.

    OKie Dokie-

    Reggie xx

  22. I'm overwhelmed by reading your blog. You are very inspiring :)

  23. I've really been noticing your photographs lately. Lovely!!

    I've been struggling with this issue... "someone choosing to remove themselves from the oppression of mainstream society, only to feel obligated and pressured to do things a certain way or be a certain person in the alternative community. you know - if you're going to be green, you need to perfectly green at everything. if you're going to be crunchy, you need to be crunchy at everything."

    We just moved into a cohousing community and there are families here, with younger children, that are much more rule-oriented than we are -- who are crunchy but MORE crunchy than me, who seem to be complete about it, if you know what I mean. I can feel how I feel at a loss, like I haven't been strict enough about keeping violent toys out of our lives or whatever. It's definitely an interesting touchstone for me -- to get in touch with my own issues. I practically vibrate at times with discomfort/defensive feelings, which is a sure sign to me that there is some internal conflict or unresolved bits within me.

    We'll see.... :)

    Thanks, as always, for your very rich and honest posts.



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