Every Monday I post Real Life Minimalists, a profile of one of my readers in their own words. If you’d like to participate, click here for details. (Note: the schedule is now full through mid-December — but if you don’t mind waiting, feel free to send me your submission!)
Today, it’s my pleasure to present Alisa Moore’s story. I think her minimalist lifestyle on Bainbridge Island sounds wonderful, and I hope you find it as inspiring as I do!
I come from a family of minimalists, so it’s not surprising that I feel best living in a small space, owning few possessions, no major electronics, and working from home most of the time, allowing me time to garden, read, hang out with my teenager and his friends, sew, cook, and just think!
After 24 hectic years in the San Francisco Bay Area, I returned to my childhood home, Bainbridge Island, where I lived aboard a 34’ sailboat with my parents and my brother in the early 70’s. After living here for 4 years, my parents divorced in 1972, and I followed my dad, his new wife, her three kids, and Lhasa Apsho to a huge house in Omaha, Nebraska. We lived in an affluent neighborhood (for the schools) and lived your typical American family life, which nearly killed my dad and step-mom with resentment and frustration. Flash forward 12 more years….I’m driving across the country on college graduation day, to move onto a historic wooden sailboat in Sausalito, neighboring my parents’ new 50’ sailboat. One by one, we kids all followed them to the Bay Area.
When you live on a sailboat, you shop for fresh food daily, you store very little food or other belongings (they’ll all mold anyway!), and your world becomes nature, visiting with your neighbors, and observing the subtle and ever-changing landscape of your surroundings. You enjoy the sounds of the blue herons splashing in the water as they dive for fish, watching ducks and seals bobbing by, and following the moon as it sinks over the horizon from the cockpit each night. Soon however, I moved to the city and got caught up in home-ownership, car payments and the rest of mainstream consumer culture.
About 5 years ago, I made the decision to return to Bainbridge Island. I had grown weary of the traffic, the competition for survival, the high cost of housing, and while I worked full time at the Oakland Unified School District, my son was being harassed each afternoon following school. I honestly didn’t know if he’d make it home from school each day, while I was stuck in an office earning enough money to pay our huge mortgage and shop mostly for recreational purposes on the weekends.
My son and I now live in a tiny, beautifully gardened, trailer park, which I dubbed, “The Artist Colony”. I spend a lot of time sitting on my cozy front porch, visiting with our neighbors, and tending to my potted peppers, peas, eggplant, tomatoes and abundant flowers. Because we live one block from town, and just a few blocks from the Seattle Ferry, my son is free to come and go with his friends, as I did as a child. It’s a sweet life for this social worker, artist, gardener, mom, writer, and dreamer. Although I still work full time, I work mostly from home, and set my own hours, so I’m free when he needs me or just wants to talk.
I’ve chosen recently to eat a mostly raw and vegan diet, further simplifying our lives. My son walks to school, he has abandoned the mall in favor of fishing and exploring the local beaches and woods, and I get my weekly veggies from a local CSA (www.farmhouseorganics.com). I get most of my books from our excellent library. I’m developing my own business (augustlake.wordpress.com). I belong to a close-knit Buddhist group, and most of my social activities are centered around spirituality or sharing meals with friends and loved ones.
Even if I live in a city again, I don’t think I’ll ever own a large house again, and I’d be hard pressed to buy much “new”…I love finding clothing and household bargains at the Ballard Goodwill store (and the myriad of other consignment, discount, and used stores around the Puget Sound). I consider this minimalist living to be a great adventure, and the more independent I am from consumer culture, the freer I feel. Next, we’re turning off the cable and consolidating the cell phones…