The Difficult Path to The Simple Life


The Difficult Path to the Simple Life | Why slowing down and living simply is not always as easy as it soundsFrom city girl to simple life

I grew up in the city. Life was fast, competition was fierce and downtime was considered a luxury. Meals were often eaten on the go as I rushed from appointment to appointment; From the train to work; From home to school and back again. Always rushing. 

Always stuck in never-ending traffic, or alone in a crowd on the train as everybody averted their eyes from each other and looked down at their phones. Always scurrying around with everyone else stuck in the rat race, just trying to get through the day. Get through Life. 

I’d look up sometimes and see nothing but grey; Grey concrete shooting high into the sky on a backdrop of grey skies. And I lived in one of the greenest cities in the world! Still, it never felt natural to me, and I often found myself stressed, overwhelmed, anxious and depressed. 

I know there are lots of people who do love living in the city, surrounded by stimuli; Things to do, places to go, limitless options for dining out, a never-ending selection of entertainment, businesses open 24/7, bright lights, loud noises and crowds of people everywhere. The city teems with life, and some people thrive on that. I have many friends who do. They get their energy from the constant buzz of city life. I think it’s awesome for them! But it’s not for me.

 

Loving life in the slow lane

I like living a quieter, slower, frankly more boring life. I hate feeling rushed, stressed or pressured to keep up with everybody else. I’m energized by being in nature, gardening, reading, writing, solitude, having deep philosophical conversations with my closest family and friends, and spending time simply enjoying life in the moment. I once read that time is a currency, and that we all have a finite amount. I truly believe this, and I don’t want to waste mine.

The Difficult Path to the Simple Life | I reveal the hardest part of my move from city girl to small-town homesteader, valuing moments over money, learning to slow down and savour the simple life.

So we moved away from the city to the outskirts of a smaller town. It’s still quite large, but nothing like the big city. There’s lots of land still out here. There’s nature everywhere and room to breathe. Many businesses still close on Sundays and most dining options shut their doors at 8 pm. People look each other in the eyes here and most still say hello or offer a friendly smile. There’s less pressure to run the rat race because there’s really no rat race to run. 

Sure, it’s still busy here. We live off the main highway and as I write this I’m listening to sounds of rush hour traffic right outside our front door. But at night, the road is quiet and the traffic is replaced by the sound of crickets or frogs or owls or nothing, depending on the time of year. And you can see the stars when you look up on a clear night. There’s no light pollution to interfere. It’s heavenly.

We live on enough land now to grow a good-sized garden, we currently don’t pay rent where we live in exchange for taking care of the house, and I’m realizing my dreams of pursuing a simpler life where I get to stay home most days, spend quality time with my family, follow my passion for homesteading and write about it here to boot. I really couldn’t ask for a life better suited to me and my husband. But I still struggle to embrace simple living fully and completely, the way I really want to.

 

You can take the girl out of the city, but…

Last year when I was about 6 months pregnant with my daughter, I was working full time at a school where I had a conversation with another teacher. I told him I was also working part time at another job, substituting at other schools on the days this school was closed, starting a candle-making business from home and growing my first big veggie garden, all while being due to give birth in the middle of summer. As I told him all this, he looked at me, perplexed. Then he asked me, “why are you so busy?”

“I don’t know,” I replied. “I feel like I need to be. I like to keep busy.”

“Do you think it’s because you used to live in the city?” He asked.

I thought about that for a moment, and let his words sink in. Finally I responded, “maybe.”

The Difficult Path to the Simple Life | I reveal the hardest part of my move from city girl to small-town homesteader, valuing moments over money, learning to slow down and savour the simple life.

My husband and I on a hike on our due date. Even at 9 months pregnant I found it hard to sit still.

Learning to let go of the need to keep up with the pace of a faster life has been a challenge for me. Don’t get me wrong; To most people looking from the outside, it might seem like I don’t have a lot going on. But I’m always busy with some project, task, commitment or self-imposed deadline I’m working toward.

I’m very goal-oriented and I care about being successful. But what I’ve been learning lately is that my version of success doesn’t need to look like other people’s. I still struggle with feeling like I need to prove myself to others; To please them and be what they expect me to be, rather than who I really am. To feel accepted. To fit in.

I don’t think many of my friends and family members really understand this lifestyle that has captivated me, and I still get the feeling some people think it’s a way for me to justify laziness and get out of working for a living, which could not be further from the truth. I just want the work that I do to be worth more than a steady paycheque and a good benefits plan. And I don’t want to rely on a pension to provide for me in my old age. I want to rely on my own skills, knowledge and land.

But I still feel pressured to prove my success through the money I earn, the title I have and the things I own, because that’s how so many other people define and understand success. A stay-at-home mom with a few bucks in the bank and dirt under her fingernails is hardly the poster child for a successful woman in the 21st century. But that’s what makes me happy. And I believe being happy in today’s world is the greatest success anyone can achieve.

 

Success is all relative

My version of success is not about earning enough money to pay for a fancy lifestyle. Rather, it’s about living a simpler lifestyle so that I don’t have to earn as much money to support it. It’s not about having some big fancy title or status. Instead, it’s about living a life that’s true to who I am and what I believe. It’s not about accumulating things. I’d rather accumulate moments spent with my family, in the garden admiring the miracle of life, in the kitchen cooking, at home creating and doing what I love. 

The Difficult Path to the Simple Life | I reveal the hardest part of my move from city girl to small-town homesteader, valuing moments over money, learning to slow down and savour the simple life.

I decided to write on this topic this week because I’ve been feeling out of sorts for the past few days. I’ve been struggling to find where I fit. Do my friends and family think I’m strange for pursuing this dream? Do they take it seriously or think it’s just a phase? Often I don’t talk to them about it because they can’t relate to where I’m coming from. I hardly told anyone I was starting this blog before I launched it simply because I feared they would ask “what’s it about,” and I’d have to explain it to them, feeling weird and uncomfortable and utterly “different” as I did. After all, let’s face it: this isn’t the typical 21st-century millennial dream.

On the other hand, I feel like a fraud sometimes because of my inexperience living this lifestyle. I’ve connected with some amazing people online who are self-proclaimed homesteaders, preppers, farmers, gardeners and natural-living experts. Many of them have years or even a lifetime of experience doing what I’m teaching myself to do one step at a time. I’m proud to feel like I’m becoming a part of this community, but I often feel inadequate and even unqualified to give advice, like I do here, on this blog…

 

Learning to trust my journey

I’ve had to remind myself lately that life is a journey, and to trust that journey. To love where you are on your path and know that’s exactly where you should be. Right now I’m in a transition phase. I’m still learning to slow down, to let things go, and to allow myself a little grace.

I don’t need anything fancy. But I do need to feel as if I’m living my life honestly and being true to myself. For me, that means breaking free from the rat race, and living a life removed  from the stress and the pressures of the modern world.

A simple, slow, quiet life where I grow some of the food that we eat, make what I can with my own two hands, follow my passions, and spend as much time as possible enjoying every moment with the ones I love.

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CATEGORIES
HOMESTEADING
REAL FOOD
NATURAL LIVING

8 Comments

  1. Paula

    Great blog post! I want to encourage you to stick with what your heart is telling you. You obviously love what you are doing based on the pictures of yourself in your element. Love your husband and your little one and evaluate each day you spend on your little piece of land by asking yourself, “Did I do today what I wanted to accomplish?” If so, keep smiling and keep plugging along!

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Thank you for the encouraging words! I’m so glad that I found my passion as I know there are some people who never even discover what they really love doing because they are too busy “running the rat race” to even stop and think about it! And of course there are many more who have passions that they never pursue (or at least not to the extent that they would like to) because of others’ expectations of them. I know, even when I feel I am not living up to others’ standards, that I am doing exactly what my heart is telling me to do. If I died tomorrow, I would be able to say I lived a life true to myself, followed my dreams and put my heart into everything that I did. And that is priceless. Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  2. Lynda Lu Gibb

    And Blessed we are to spend those moments along with you.. It is wonderful to see someones life taking it’s true path..

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Thanks Lyndy! So awesome having you guys just across the yard. And your chickens! I mention them and their eggs often:)

      Reply
  3. Glenda Zelionka

    A girl after my own heart! I wish women could have stayed home with their children(and I don’t mean to drive them places and always be on the go) taught them cooking, cleaning, gardening etc. And you certainly have a knack for writing as well-just be you, relax(and work hard at the same time)-therapy. A big thumbs up Anna!!

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Thanks Glenda! I love being at home with Evelyn. As every mother knows, some days are trying and I even get envious that Ryan gets to go to work all day and talk to adults while I stay home and deal with crying and dirty diapers. But getting to spend time with my daughter every day, to be present for all of her milestones and to bring her into the kitchen and out to the garden with me is a priceless gift that I don’t intend to waste. I’m excited to raise her like children used to be raised: being a part of where her food comes from, contributing to our family by helping out around the home and learning the skills necessary to become a confident, self-reliant adult with a strong work ethic and moral compass. That’s my dream for my kids. I don’t care how much money they make or what their “status” is. All I care about is that they are happy, healthy and have all the tools they need to take care of themselves and their own families one day, and pursue their own passions with my full support.

      Reply
  4. Deborah

    Great post. I think this is something we all struggle with. It is what is expected of us. Kudos to you for working toward your dream. I too am working toward my dream of just living in the moment.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Kudos to you for working towards yours too mom:) Remember to slow down and enjoy it before it’s too late.

      Reply

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ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
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I’ve been feeling pulled to slow down and retreat into my home lately; To turn off the news and social media and focus on the tangible things like lighting the wood stove, preserving the mountains of food still coming out of the garden, and slowly stirring a pot of soup as it cooks on the stovetop.

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I laid in bed the other night and couldn’t sleep.

I know that probably doesn’t sound out of the ordinary, especially considering the collective stress we’ve all been through over the past year and a half. But if I’m being totally honest, I’ve done a pretty good job of not letting it get to me.

I used to have really bad anxiety, and I made a conscious effort to learn how to manage it in (mostly) healthy, natural ways. I practice a lot of gratitude every day, and overall I’ve learned to deal with stress, anxiety and negative thoughts pretty well.

Lately though, I’ve been feeling the weight of it all. Aside from dealing with personal issues like our ongoing infertility/pregnancy loss journey and the every day stresses we all face, the bigger things have been feeling bigger and heavier lately; The mandates, the politics, the pushback, the arguments and attacks online, the divisiveness, and the seemingly never-ending pandemic that every single one of us is still dealing with in some capacity.

I’ve been seeing more and more calls to “choose a side.” I’ve witnessed my own close friends on both sides of the debate hurling insults at each other, defending their ground, and refusing to listen to each other’s valid points and concerns.

I’ve even witnessed a widening crack in the homesteading community, despite the fact that so many of our core values and beliefs align and are unique to us.

Despite the division, I would still argue that ALL of us have much more in common than not, and to see the divide continuing to deepen has started to get under my skin lately.

(Continued in comments…)
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