October 29, 2014

Why I Went Homeless on Purpose.

homeless on purpose

I went homeless one summer, on purpose, for the sake of adventure.

My parents thought I was bonkers and my friends were excited, maybe even jealous.

I was working hard, going to school full-time and struggling to make ends meet as a single mom. I was stressed and tired and stretched thin.

I had just ended an exhausting personal relationship and my daughter was struggling in school. We needed a vacation, to connect and spend some quality time together.

I decided to sublet my house, put my stuff in storage, buy an RV and live in it for the summer.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

In the beginning, I did it to let go of the stuff. The attachments to things.

Why couldn’t I live for less, while living for more?

The mission to find out seemed simple.

Become lighter, leave less of a footprint, while living more fully.

Explore life outside the box.

Save some money.

I wanted to be fully present with my child and cut out the meaningless bullsh*t that was wasting space in my life.

So we packed up in May and for the next three and a half months took up residence in the “Hippie House”, our 8’ foot by 18 foot steel box on wheels. It became home for me, my 5 year old, our 80 lb dog and one grumpy cat.

This adventure brought on a set of challenges I’d never experienced before.

How do we stay warm?

Where do we shower?

What if we lose the cat?

It was a tough adjustment at first. But still, a choice. I worked during the week and we’d go out of town for long weekend adventures.

Sometimes generous friends let us park at their house and plug into their electricity. Others shared their plumbing––a weekly load of laundry and a bath became a luxury.

Looking back, it was an unforgettable adventure. Here are some of the things I learned by going homeless on purpose.

1. I spent more quality time with my child than ever before.

We collaborated to keep our close quarters organized. We didn’t have a TV, so we spent our time reading together, making art and truly interacting.

2. We moved our bodies more.

Living in close quarters provided a need to stretch out and expand into physical space sometimes—bike riding, yoga in the park and taking the dog for a hike became part of our regular routine.

3. We made local a habit.

Lets face it: living in an RV is bad on fuel economy, so we often left the thing parked and used alternate commuting options, like walking and biking.

4. We made less garbage.

C’mon, you have to store things, transport them and eventually dispose of them. You’ll want to do that less frequently when confined to tiny cabinets and no garbage service.

5. We made our eating habits efficient.

Think: less packaging, less waste, less dish-washing.

6. We found rhythm with nature.

No alarm clock. We slept in fresh air when it was dark and woke in the light.

7. I connected with my friends more.

I had nowhere else to be, nothing to do at home.

8. I connected with myself more.

I read books. I meditated.

9. I learned to value a long hot shower and a deep shampoo.

And a kitchen.

10. My naked body spent more time exposed to nature in the fresh air and sunshine than it ever has in my entire life.

Soaking in a hot spring lake or skinny dipping in a lake seemed only natural.

11. Sometimes Wifi is necessary, sometimes it’s not.

I learned to be efficient with my time, getting my online business taken care of quickly without burning hours on the ‘net.

12. I learned how to ask for help.

I learned how to support myself through asking others for support. Whether it was asking a friend for a shower, or someone to show me how to light the propane, I learned to ask for what I needed.

And, we never lost the cat.


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Author: Shawna Reece

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photo: courtesy of the author

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