Monday, 26 August 2013
Living the dream
This winter was rough. REALLY rough. And not just here in Minnesota. It was cruel to the whole country. It took it’s toll on me mentally. In January I was starting to look for new states to live in. Where could we live without -45 degree weather? Where could we live without snow?
My most common Google searches during that time were: “average temperature in [insert big city name]” and “number of sunny days in [city]”
I was also looking for cities where I could live out my dream life. The one Nick and I talked about when we were first married. A big city where we’d live in a condo. I’d shop at the market every day for our fresh food and we wouldn’t need cars because the public transit was all we needed. We’d have “neighborhood culture” and countless restaurants to choose from when dining out. And of course…mild or no winters.
After searching way too many cities, I decided Barcelona fit the bill – and had beaches too! But I wasn’t sure I wanted to move that far and work so hard to remember my Spanish. So New York came in second. Where I could still speak English and still get snow for Christmas.
Once I’d settled on moving to NYC (I’d even looked at neighborhoods on urbancompass.com – awesome site!) I started reading Notes From a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider. She and her husband started their marriage living the dream life I’ve been wanting. They were living in Turkey with a daily market below their apartment, had fresh milk delivered every morning, walked and rode public transit everywhere, stayed at their friend’s houses for meals and long afternoons. But they ended up needing to come back to the US and settle here for a variety of reasons. After a few years of longing for their life back in Turkey, Tsh realized she could make conscious choices to live out some of her ideals right where she was.
Her book covers the areas of food, work, education, travel and entertainment in her life and tells the story of how they’ve carved out a simplified life for themselves in each of these areas. While what works for her family won’t always work for mine, the book got me thinking about how I could actually live that “dream life” right here where I am. I also started to see how we’re already living some of the goals we’d had in mind before.
We don’t live in a condo downtown, but we are in a townhome. So our goal of never mowing grass or shoveling snow has been achieved.
We don’t have a backyard to send the girls out freely during the day, but that was a desire that came last year when I shifted from my original goals. I’d forgotten how fortunate we are to have a pond with a dock in our backyard, three playgrounds we can walk to, and a swimming beach only a 5 minute drive from our house. Granted, there’s not a lot of grass like a backyard would have, but Mariah breaks out from grass anyway.
We don’t have a huge playroom where toys can be out all the time, but when we share play space with living space, we’re better at cleaning it up each night and keeping things organized. I’ve also been better at paring down toys and limiting what we purchase.
Knowing we were already on track with a few things gave me momentum to look at other areas we could get back to our goals from long ago.
The daily market. It’s my biggest dream. Seriously. And you know what? Since December, I’d been sitting half a block from the Saint Paul Farmer’s Market for an hour every Saturday. During Mariah’s ballet class I’d sit and read and try to make small talk with other moms, when my dream life was just around the corner. Even in the winter! After deciding purchasing local, grass fed, free range meat and eggs was indeed one of my goals (I’ve mocked it for years, and come to decide it’s truly the right choice for our family) I began to shop there each week for our meats. Next month the full market will be in swing so we can buy our fruits and veggies too. I’m sure I’ll end up blogging more about the switch to this type of eating, but let me just say for now – grass fed beef is like WOAH!
Sure, I want to support my local farmers, but I also want my girls to see how food grows. Which is why one of my most recent goals has been to garden in a backyard. So this year I’m stepping up my game for our balcony growing and I’ve purchased a community garden plot 5 minutes from my house. I have no idea how it will go, but hey – my girls will see how food really grows. And I will too.
In August, when I’m at my old/future job, we might end up going down to one car. Saving money, yes, but also just making things simple. We also have the option to ride the bus if needed even if it is a little bit of a pain to make the transfer. And Nick rides his bike in the summer months when I’ll be home and needing a car with the girls.
The list could go on, but MAN this post is getting long. The point in all of this is this: You might be surprised at how a few small changes or shifts in thinking could lead to a much more fulfilling life. You might not be in a place right now where you could make a big move or change in order to live out your dream, but it is possible to live a life of purpose and focus on some key areas.
And I highly recommend Tsh’s book Notes from a Blue Bike. It’s good to get the wheels turning on where you might want to make some adjustments and find a simpler life.