alternative: a chance to choose between two or more possibilities; one of the two or more possible choices.
Sometimes I forget that our little family is not normal. I forget that our life is a little on the "alternative" side...because it's just us. It's just life. But the more people I meet on the road...the more I realize just how different we are than the typical American family.
And yet, we are all so similar. Everyone longs to be free. Free from the burden of a mortgage. Free from the constraints of a nine to five job. Free from the pressure to conform. I see that longing in people's eyes and hear it in their words over and over again...and yet, comfort usually wins out. It's comfortable to be like everyone else. It's easier to give in to the pressure to live the "American Dream" because everyone else is doing it too. Everyone else is at the mall. Everyone else is buying a house and cars they can't afford. Everyone is charging it on their most recent 0% interest rate credit card. But I don't want to be like everyone else. I want to live in my own little alternative dream world. :)
Over the last couple of years, we've worked towards making our dream world a reality...and it has all come down to choices. We chose to sell our house and move to a smaller apartment so we could pay off debt faster. We chose to move West and simplify our life even more...with the goal of truly enjoying each day. We chose to go on the road full-time and explore the country while teaching others how to live green. We chose to give up the stability of a steady job in exchange for a wild journey of faith. Here are a few thoughts on the alternative parts of our life...and the variety of choices that are before us.
Employment One of the most common questions we get asked is "how do you make money?!". Most people are so accustomed to thinking about making money in the most traditional of ways...so making a living without a 9-5 job is a completely foreign and scary thought. The reason that it's so scary is that we are constantly told by the media (and sometimes our family/friends) that to be accepted, we must appear to be successful. We must own a house. We must own a new vehicle. We must have a job with a fancy title. None of these things are bad...but they really aren't necessary to have a happy life. When I started thinking about what was motivating us to have the big house, the car, the fancy job, etc...I realized that it was mostly driven by other people's expectations. So, we left the very nice steady job and now we make money doing lots of small jobs. And we couldn't be happier...because we are doing what we LOVE. Demos for the tour, photography, life coaching, handyman work, graphic design...everything adds up, and by the grace of God, we are able to pay bills and stay on the road! :) God has been so faithful throughout this journey and continues to amaze us with His provisions every day.
Housing If you browse around my blog a bit...you will quickly notice that I am WAY into alternative housing. Yurts, cob houses, earthships, tipis :) Anything that looks a little quirky and I'm all over it. So it wasn't a huge jump for us to move our entire life into a teeny box with wheels and hit the road. And we LOVE it. We love the smallness. We love having our home with us wherever the road leads. We couldn't imagine it any other way! When we do settle down again somewhere...I'll be checking one of my favorite books out from the library: Mortgage Free: Radical Strategies for Home Ownership. Love it.
Faith Relying on something other than yourself is a foreign concept in our culture. We are constantly bombarded with messages of self-sufficiency and using our own "power" to create a new reality. And while I agree that we have amazing power within...I believe that power comes from Christ. He alone gives us power to pursue those dreams and He opens doors and opportunities beyond our wildest dreams when we abide in Him. Living a life focused on Christ is not always a popular choice, but for us...it's the only choice.
Parenting It's a crazy thing...this parenting job. We are trying to do the best that we can with the information that we have...and adding a whole bunch of love and kisses along the way :) We are a homebirthing, cloth diapering, non-vaxing, gentle disciplining, babywearing, co-sleeping, extended nursing family...whew! That's a lot of labels. :) I prefer to think of it as natural parenting. We believe that children are to be treated with respect and mercy. It's not an easy road and we're not perfect by any means...but we try to treat Bella the way we want her to treat others....with respect and kindness.
Education Another question that we get asked a lot is "...but what will you do when Bella needs to go to school?". And to that my response is "...she is already in school!". The school of life, that is :) Bella is learning new things every day...in the last week we have learned about railroads, numbers, seasons, food, money, and more...just by living life. She is learning about the world around her in every interaction we have. She constantly asks questions and I do my best to teach her new things each day. We fall into the "unschooling" camp and it fits perfectly with our lifestyle and beliefs about how a child should learn. For some great reading on this topic...here is a great book to start with.
Food We definitely go against the flow when it comes to food...we've been vegetarian for almost 4 years and are most recently eating all raw vegan foods. We feel amazing and we're having a great time teaching others along the way!
Beauty To be considered beautiful in our culture, it might appear that one needs to be a size 2, have long flowing blonde hair, and wear designer clothing. These are all things that the fashion magazines tell us...and it's probably the most difficult thing for women especially to overcome. But for me, it's much more fun to love myself for who I am, in the clothes I found at Goodwill....with hair that doesn't have to be combed.
I love the definition above of "alternative" listed above..."a chance to choose between two or more possibilities". A "chance to choose". There is so much possibility in that phrase. What is your ultimate dream in life? Are you pursuing it? Are you taking steps each day towards that goal? Or do you just lay in bed at night and think about it? Do you think about how impossible it is? How life just isn't fair? No more thinking. JUST START NOW. Take one step. And then take another. And another. Until you are living your dream and you couldn't imagine it any other way!
God places passions and desires in our hearts for a reason. He wants us to be in the center of His will...pursuing the passions that He has placed in our hearts. Abide in Him. Listen. Dream. Take one step toward the alternative.
Photo credit: Flickr| tonystl