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One year ago...


...we were packing up the van for our great adventure; deciding on what to take with us and what to leave behind. (ProTip: Much more should have gone in the 'leave behind' pile.)


We were all full of excitement at the possibilities that stretched out before us. And, yes, we certainly did have some adventures. (Many of which we *still* need to post about! Don't worry, more to come in the near future.)


But what has become of the Curious Souls since then, you ask? What is so 'alternative' about our living now?


Well, this trip changed our lives. The time we spent traveling, reading, reflecting while not working, helped us define what we want for our lives now and and in the future. 


So what is it that we actually want?

To Work For Ourselves
I won't lie: in the beginning, we were afraid (well, Ellen was afraid). Not having a regular paycheck was a bit of an adjustment for two people conditioned to expect one. But it turns out that it was unfounded fear. Now that we're used to it, we love being self-employed. Jon is currently working on his second software contract through his company (AvieTech) and Ellen recently started working as a consultant to her old employer. For us, the impact of this control over our time on our state of mind cannot be overstated. Not only does it fit more closely with our personalities, but it fits with the plans we have for our future. Do we make less money? Yes. But do we also work less, have more time for personal activities and are we happier? Absolutely.


To Live Slower Lives
Part of why we are happier is because our lives are slower. When possible, we bike instead of drive. When our washing is done, we hang dry it. We cook more, take more walks, sleep in. We are also consuming and wasting less, buying many of our groceries and household items in bulk and composting (summer will show us how successfully). I know, it sounds totally hippie-obnoxious but it really is rewarding.


Freedom From Possessions
Part of consuming less has included learning to differentiate between what we need and what we want. The temptation to consume is strong but there is a psychic toll to owning stuff. We want to stay free. Beside, there will be more travel in our future. We need to stay fleet of foot!


By all of our measures, our Experiment in Alternative Living has been, and continues to be, a success story. We are committed to continue to grow and change and look forward to sharing that with you! 


(Pic: Last night's Super Mooooooon!!)

Comments

  1. I've enjoyed following the journey and being a part of your lives!
    P.S. Killer pic of the Supah Moon!
    -Liz

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  2. Thanks, Liz! I'm so happy that we landed here and that we can hang out with you! And that pic is all Jon - I was sadly asleep by the time it got good. :)

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  3. To be fair, supramoon never really "got good." The bigness in the picture is really just the light dissipating into the clouds.

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  4. Good post and congratulations on staying true to your guiding principles while enjoying life on your terms rather than someone else's.

    One question. How much thought and/or effort do you two or have you two put into long term financial planning (saving) for retirement and future healthcare needs?

    I ask becuase I love your concept but Andrea wouldn't go for dropping everything and going "walk about" we might, however, be able to implement parts of it - the working less part is especially appealing.

    The drawback is the the negative hit the finances would take combined with her strong need for financial security.

    How have you two balanced this and are their lessons you can share?

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  5. Hi there,
    Thank you for sharing. Your journey is an example of achieving what you put your mind on. I think is great that the two of you know exactly what you are looking for in life. That knowledge by itself is pure gold. And it is interesting the description of how when you shed your fears you realize that there are other options in life. Cheers to living the life you want to live!

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  6. @Jay: Ellen had a really good post composed ready to reply and then... boom! Blogger decided not to post it and it was lost. I'm hoping she'll try to recap the major points because she is our financial guru. I'm just the one that keeps reassuring her that "everything will work out fine." I'll reserve further comment until I find out if she plans to rehash her post. Wouldn't want to steal any of her thunder.

    @Alejandra: Thanks! Knowing exactly what we want didn't come naturally, and I'm sure it will continue to evolve from here. But, the truth is that you never know (what you want) until you try (out the possibilities).

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  7. Jay -

    Our general long-term plan involves monthly IRA contributions (amount dictated by a calculation of what we want to have per month from the age of 60-98, taking into account inflation and expected growth rate, blah, blah) as well as an aggressive home ownership goal. Basically, we would really like to be able to own a home outright in 10 years or so and thus eliminate the housing cost from our budget. It remains to be seen if we can swing it but we're going to give it our best shot.

    I think your question is also a philosophical one. What path will garner the most happiness? I didn't like working a corporate job - it made me really unhappy. So I am happier living more frugally so that I can be a little more flexible in my work situation. But if someone likes their job (or doesn't mind it) and doesn't really like the idea of living frugally, they might not like our path. I think it's hard to balance everything we want in life because there is always a sacrifice of some sort.

    And when there are two of you needing to compromise, that makes it even more difficult. It took me at least six to twelve months to convince Jon that we should try a different life path. But now that he is on board, he is the one who keeps me sane. When I freak out about money or worry about the future, he tells me that it is going to be ok and that we could always go back and get corporate jobs if we really needed to (how's that for motivation!).

    The only other thing I would share is that the path to a happy alternative-type life is a winding one. I believe that we are not very good at predicting what will make us happy. I thought I would be happy doing long-term travel. It turned out that the constant moving around was really stressful for me. So we stopped traveling and tried out living a quiet little life in Fort Collins. Much better fit except that I'm not too inspired by the way I'm making money right now. So that will evolve. I guess what I'm trying to convey is that I believe chasing a different path is worth it but that it isn't always smooth. Along with the excitement, contentment and happiness comes tears, frustration and terror. It's worth it but it's something that should be taken into consideration.

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