By Notes From The Frugal Trenches
Lately I've been privy to many conversations about what people want from life. As a pretty young downshifter, it is something that interests me greatly, especially as I've always believed one's ideal/dream life is a window into their soul. It seem like most people want enough to not have to worry about money, due to my curious nature I've asked people to further clarify what they mean by enough. Not surprisingly most people don't really mean "enough", answers given were enough to take 3 or 4 "good" vacations a year - a week or two in the Bahamas, or winters in Florida. Enough to eat out several times a week without having to worry, to meet up with friends to golf or horseback ride a few times a week, enough to have no mortgage, maybe a holiday home or a few weeks timeshare, a couple of rental properties for extra income, a bit of help around the house and enough left over to see a good six figures in the bank account and a good monthly pension. Everyone shared that they wanted to be able to go to the mall or shops and buy furniture, clothing and kitchenware as they wanted, without ever having to worry about their bank balance or a budget. The reality is, most people's "enough" isn't what one would call enough, instead it's a time of more luxury living. A friend of mine shared that seeing her parents retire and lead such an easy life financially, really skewed her understanding and desires for her own life, instead of working towards retiring with no mortgage, a decent pension and being able to afford a week in Europe each year, she's desiring more and feeling like she's failing in comparison.
Our conversation made me really think about what my dream is, what type of life I want to lead, making it as realistic as possible and a true representation of who I am now. Of course financial security, especially in retirement is important and yes having enough in the bank to cope with unexpected housing or medical expenses is something we should all aim for, but I think life is about so much more than being able to buy what you want, when you want, or vacation for 12 weeks a year.
So what is my dream? It's a mix of being self-sufficient and truly living as part of a community. I dream of a small plot of land where I can live off the earth, being able to foster a donkey or two and give a home to animals which are hard to place, the ability to work part time, have a full emergency fund, several children (I am hoping to adopt). Days spent volunteering, writing letters, knitting, sewing and baking. Time to care for others, provide meals for those in need, hold hands with people who are dying, care for family members or friends who need help dressing or preparing meals. I'd like to make my own jams, sauces, preserves, pasta, breads and cakes. I would like to be able to give each month to the charities I feel passionate about and volunteer abroad, both in disaster relief and in preventative education programs. I would like to journal, write, sing and pray. In the evenings, I hope to curl up by the log fire and read until my eyes are weary, and retire to bed with a back sore from gardening and chasing donkeys, sheep and goats around the land. At least once a week, I'd like to walk by the sea taking photographs and giving thanks, for a life with purpose - the ability to serve, the ability to work and the ability to see the beauty all around me.
What is your dream life? Does it represent the changes in you and your desire to live a simple life?