We pulled off on a dirt road outside of Zion National Park. Followed it up a hill then came to a dead end. “This’ll do just fine!” we both said as we looked out across the valley of pine trees to the red mesas on the horizon.
Andrew and I have gotten pretty quick at setting up our trailer. He handles all the unhitching from the truck and I set out our camp chairs and give Ole’ Gertie a deep clean. Our trailer is only 29 feet so this does not take long. The girls, free from the long drive in the truck are running around with such joy and abandon. I watch them as they play chase up and down the road.
At the end of a long drive I usually go for my glass of white wine but I’ve committed to not drinking for a month. This has made such a change in me I wonder what it will be like at the end of this time. It’s usually tough for me to get a good night’s sleep and I rely heavily on Melatonin. But since I quit drinking, I fall asleep easily, sleep deeply all though the night and wake up refreshed and energized. So instead of my usual glass of wine, I squeeze a lime into a fancy glass and pour an ice cold grapefruit La Croix. This way I still get to have my special happy hour drink.
I take my drink outside, sit in my chair and watch the clouds form over the mesa and the girls play. On moving days I usually plan for a simple dinner. Just roasted veggies (beets, butternut squash and red onion) brown rice, and a salad. We plan on staying here for four days so we need to conserve our water. Preparation and clean up and the water it uses factors in to my meal planning. So I have my simple go to, little clean up required meals for when we’re off the grid.
While dinner is cooking, Andrew and I bust out Rummycube. This brain teaser game is one of our favorites and we play it all the time. When we lived in the city we spent a lot of our evening down time watching tv. Now we watch more sunsets, play more games and play fetch with our girls. When we’re off the grid we don’t have enough electricity for tv, so that conveniently limits us. Before we hit the road we loaded up a hardrive with a bunch of tv shows and movies. So on certain nights, we check out and watch a movie from our computer. But most nights we just read or play games.
After dinner, Andrew leaves to head into the park for his sunset shoot. We spend almost every waking moment with each other so it’s good for him to go alone on his shoots. But still sometimes, I tag along and take my little dinky iPhone pictures next to his professional ones. This night, he went on his own so I gave the girls their dinner, washed my face, brushed my teeth, made my hot tea then settled on the couch to read my book.
From my window I saw the setting sun delicately light up the sky in pale blue, light pink and tender orange. All was quiet, I could hear the wind rustling the tall grass. The girls were breathing full and heavy in sleep. It got cool so I cradled my hot mug and wrapped up in a blanket.
I used to spend so much time living in anxious knots. I would stress about my job, stress about my weight and keeping up, stress about having the energy to make it through the day. Since going on the road I’ve removed unnecessary stimuli. I’ve whittled down my days to necessities. Things that used to seem like such a big deal to me, melted away with the setting sun. I never imagined I could be so content with such a simple life. I used to find affirmation in my busyness. I felt more needed, more important. It’s still a work in progress, but now instead of relying on outside sources for that affirmation, I make time to read my bible more and put needs and wants and desires in perspective.
You don’t have to move away from civilization to simplify your life. Take a moment and review what you spend your energy on. What you get anxious about. Put it in an eternal perspective. Is it really that important? Is it really worth your time? Since moving on the road I was in a way, forced to say no to things. Little space, so no to extra stuff. Little financial security so no to frivolous purchases. No to instant gratification. I’ve found that in spite of all my “No’s” I’ve had the opportunity to fill it with a bunch of necessary “Yesses.” Yes to taking care of my mental health. Yes to an active lifestyle, and providing my body with proper healthy energy. Yes to open spaces and exploration. Yes to committing myself to my husband and his joy and welfare.
The sun goes down behind the mesa and the crickets start their song. I look around my 29 foot home and feel a sense of accomplishment that I never felt in the city in my big house with multiple rooms. What gives you security? What do you rely heavily on to get you through the day? What in your day is unnecessarily draining you? You don’t have to sell all your stuff and move into a trailer to simplify your life. You can do it by choosing your “No’s” and refocusing your “Yesses.” Turn off Facebook and Instagram for a night and play a game with your family. Take a walk outside and watch the sunset. Once you start finding joy in the simple things I can tell you from experience, it becomes addictive.
Andrew pulls up after dark and his headlights flood Gertie. I usually wait for him to get home. In just the little time he was gone, I started to miss him. Since we’re off the grid, we don’t have electricity so we both have on headlamps. He comes in, downloads his images and I get in bed. It’s only around 8:30 or 9. It’s funny how fast your biological clock gets adjusted to the sun. When the sun goes down, with no artificial light, you naturally think it’s time to go to bed. In the same respect, when the sun breaks over the horizon and streams into the window, it’s time to get up. Go to bed with the sun, wake up with the sun.
My anxious thoughts used to keep me up a night. But now, having so little, I feel so overwhelmed with how much I have. I fall asleep listing the things I’m thankful for: my health, Andrew, the girls, the sun, food for dinner, practical clothes, more energy, more purpose, time with the Lord, a warm safe home… necessities.
Take a deep breath, review what is crucial in your life. It might be a change to refocus your energy, but this is what we got to work with. This one life, this one opportunity.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30