“Day two, or whatever that middle space is for your own process, is when you’re ‘in the dark’ – the door has closed behind you. You’re too far in to turn around and not close enough to the end to see the light…the shine of a new undertaking and the sparkle of possibility have dulled, leaving behind a dense fog or uncertainty…Experience doesn’t create even a single spark of light in the darkness of the middle space. It only instills in you a little bit of faith in your ability to navigate the dark. The middle is messy, but it’s also where the magic happens.” – Brene Brown, Rising Strong
Those of you who have followed our roadschooling journey might remember that we have decided to stay stationary for a season to focus on saving, and build a tiny homestead. We want to establish a “home base” for the kids that allows us to grow roots and foster self-sufficiency, all while living well below our means so we can make travel a regular part of our lives. Our goal is to build on a budget of $70,000 or less, and since we have chosen an area with low land costs and few (if any) building restrictions, we believe this is very achievable.
The dream is a good one. But it requires patience.
For now, we are living in our paid-for 5th wheel so we can powersave. Unconventional? Yes. But we love our home-on-wheels, and are in no way uncomfortable.
Here’s the thing. Being “in-between dreams” is making me a little squirrelly at the moment. I want to DO things, SEE things and EXPERIENCE things. I want to either marvel at mountains, or watch the walls of my house being erected. The monotony of life in the middle is causing impatience and frustration to seep out of my every pore. Just let me be immersed in something exciting, instead of this daily rat-on-a-wheel, same ole, same ole! Anybody else?
And while I profess to be a minimalist, during this season of insipid, colorless days, I confess there are times when I fantasize about going to the mall and throwing our savings around until my eyeballs pop out. The spending compulsions from my past try to resurrect themselves with the promise of the joy and sparkle of a new pair of shoes. Or ten. My eyes start to spin around in circles like in the cartoons, and I have to talk myself down from the ledge.
Living a minimalist life in a consumerist world is a daily struggle. The temptation is never completely squelched, especially since I have been immersed in it for so long. It requires consistent effort to look past the sparkle of the shiny new things and focus on a life of greater meaning and fulfillment. The “stuff” will always be in my face, so it is up to me to look the other way on a daily basis.
So this is the state of things. A daily back-and-forth between the big hairy dream, and the gratification of the moment. During these days of drudgery, I am thankful for my past failures. Having followed my whims for a season and suffered the long-term consequences of debt and uncertainty, I can vividly recall the feeling of being trapped by my own bad choices. The more I spent, the smaller my circle of options became. The fear of returning to this sort of existence shakes me from my self-pity and places my feet firmly on the path of my dreams once again.
The proof in a story like ours is in the proverbial pudding. I suppose there is no way around that. There is a vast ocean between having a dream, and living it. So we work for that moment when we can gaze across the land we own, do dishes in our paid-for sink, and teach our children to live a self-sufficient life unchained from the bonds of consumerism. That will be the day when our naysayers can eat their proverbial words and suck the proverbial egg. But for now, in this middle space, their judgment and doubt cannot be disproven with flowery words. And it hangs in the air like a thick fog, threatening to obscure our vision.
Yes, the middle is messy.
But here’s what else it is. Time and time again, the middle is where my greatest growth happens. It’s where I encounter the big temptations, and learn to either forge ahead or fall flat. Either way, at the end of it, I learn and grow, and end up a better version of myself. When I succeed at saying NO to momentary impulses that threaten my goals, it does something to my self-esteem that is worth far more than any sparkly object or stranger’s approval. So for now, I will choose to celebrate the middle, and all that it has to teach me!
Thanks to Money Saving Mom for recommending a book that is helping me along the way! In the coming months, we will be looking at property, and sharing more of the nuts-and-bolts of our journey to self-sufficiency. In the meantime, you can follow our adventures on Instagram.