Thursday, June 12, 2008

the middle way: or where finally i spill the beans

I know, I've been such a tease. I am finally able to talk about it.

It all started back here when we realized we'd found the next chapter for our lives but had very little idea how to get there. Then we've spent the last few years slowly chipping away, paying off debt, saving money, making connections, doing research. We've lived frugally, our stuff is all old and somewhat shameful. Our cars are on their last more than a decade old legs. But we did it. I won't say it didn't cost us because everything has a price but the pound of flesh in the end tastes sweet.


We are moving to a small village in the Belizean jungle this fall. As in This Fall. J has already left his job, we've just pulled M out of school. I am slowly extricating myself, a process that went public a little while ago. We are getting rid of all of our stuff. We are only bringing what we can carry. We've got a list of things we still need to acquire and a longer one of things still left to do.


We've found a little place to rent and nice people to rent it from. It's a simple house but perfect for us while we build our own home, the one we will construct out of sustainable materials, one that we will power with the sun. We are committed to lowering our carbon footprint as low as possible, we will no longer have a washing machine or a dishwasher or a toaster, we will catch rainwater and dig a well and we will grow our own food. Chickens. We'll have some chickens. Our feet will always be dirty.


We are going to do this and it's equal parts terror and joy. It will all be unknown and there will be only the tiniest safety net. We will learn how to more deeply trust each other and to listen to the earth. We will move slowly and with intent. We will make mistakes and I will most certainly find myself huddled on the jungle floor in disbelief. We might fail but we've promised to look at it as an adventure and we expect it to be hard before it gets easier.


We'll teach M that there is more to life than producing and consuming, heading to work to school then back home every single day and repeat. We'll travel cheaply for extended periods of time and homeschool her in between as she gets older, or if she wants and it makes sense she'll go to the local school. Either way she'll have a say. We'll see that she puts her hands and feet on as many different parts of the world as she can, her science projects will be in the first person, she'll learn which trees heal and which ones can make her sick.


There are a thousand things we do not know and only a handful of things we do but we know we want to do this. We want off the production and consumption treadmill. We want to teach M how to live sustainably while teaching ourselves too. We are uncomfortable living such a sanitary existance, something so incongruous with so much of the world. We want to spend more time as family exploring for the sake of seeing what we can find. I want to get involved in regional relief and development efforts and see if I can lend a hand.

We want to push ourselves in the best possible ways. Or as J likes to put it paint our own masterpiece. It's the end and it's the beginning. It will be harder than I can currently imagine and I hope to come out on the other side victorious because the journey will be the reward.


And we'll have an internet connection. Oh yes, my lovelies, I've made sure of that. You aren't getting rid of me that easily and besides, something tells me I'll be needing you more than ever. From care packages and bail money to your wise thoughts and kind understanding, promise me you'll stick with me and in exchange I can offer you your very own in-country host for your next tropical vacation, the one where you bring your babies and sit on my hammock and we toast cold beers under Central American skies.

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80 comments:

marymurtz said...

I am grinning from ear to ear. This is, without a doubt, one of the coolest things I've ever read.

I cannot wait to hear about this journey. I'm amazed and envious and enthralled.

And utterly unsurprised. This is so exciting!!

Bungi said...

This sounds wonderful... I dream of marrying a farmer and moving rural... But i don't know... May be. May be not... Lol...

But it is so cool that there are people like you who are going counter-cultural...

ewe are here said...

Wow.

Just wow.

I can't wait to 'watch' this epic journey.

QT said...

I'm glad you've finally "outed" yourself. I'm so excited for you, and can't wait to hear the stories, provide the support, and drink the cold ones. I know you walk into this with eyes wide open, and that, friend, is one of your greatest attributes.

Karen said...

amazing. I'll be taking notes every step of the way. You are really doing it!

cce said...

OMG...I'm just speechless and so damn envious of your bravery, your willingness to really do this thing that we all give lip service to. I'm so excited for you and your family and I just can't wait for the blog posts from the jungle!

Little Monkies said...

Intentional to the core. I would expect nothing less from you, my friend.

How beautiful. Our loss is Belize's gain...what an ally you will be. They don't even know what they will find in you...

I hope to meet you face-to-face before you leave. (Sigh.) Joy!

Sober Briquette said...

jen, I am so excited and thrilled for you. you know I will support you in any way you need. just give me the word.

alejna said...

First, I have to say that I am so relieved that you will have an internet connection. Because selfish me, I've been thinking about how hard it would be for me not to have your presence in my life.

I am so excited for you about this new adventure. Holy crap, what an adventure! You guys are an amazing family.

Arwen said...

What a great adventure!

mamatulip said...

I'm excited for you, so excited! And a bit jealous, and envious, and really interested, and anxious to hear all about it.

TZT said...

That is just awe-inspiring news.

Congratulations!

I am so excited and feel so privileged that we'll get to be here to listen, and help where we can.

Anna said...

I believe this is is the first time I have ever commented, although I read every since post. I am in complete awe, even more than usual.

I would be happy to join the others in providing whatever support you need, and perhaps my little Molly could someday come and play in Belize with your M!

Defiantmuse said...

come next winter, my friend, the 4 of us toasting your new adventure with some cold brews while the babes drink their coconut water and M schools Monkey on tropical birds.

xo

Pgoodness said...

WOW!!! This is just amazing, fantastic, wonderful, PERFECT for you guys and I am so excited for you!! I cannot wait to hear your stories and learn from you as you tackle this new adventure. You guys are awesome and I envy your ability and desire to just do it.

WOW!

Deezee said...

So happy to hear you've made your dream come true. I applaud you all, and wish you wonderful adventures!

(and you know you have a book in this, but I'll email you about that one...)

Mad said...

Yay!!! BTW, I still have a very small package to send to you. I just need one more ingredient. Almost all of it can be consumed before you leave.

bgirl said...

i've been waiting for this post. so happy to learn the time is drawing near. we share many thoughts sister. i will be watching and learning from your lead...you are doing exactly what i wish to do. i have so many questions for you...perhaps via email.

huge hugs and grins. best morning read i've had in a LONG time.

b

Amy Y said...

You are living the dream I'm too scared to walk in to. I am proud and in awe. I can not wait to hear all about it...

(this news was definitely worth the wait and along the lines of what I'd suspected).

So, so excited for you, Mama.

Omaha Mama said...

This post read like a suspense novel with a happy ending for me. I kept reading and reading, skimming even, for the answer to my question: will she still have a blog? I'm so happy with the answer!

This is a beautiful thing that you do, one beyond anything I could imagine. I am so please that you will be able to record it here and hope that you will share stories and photos of all of your big adventures!

You are awesome. I think this is amazing and wish you only the best as you continue towards fall. Getting ready for the change you've been alluding to. It feels good to finally know what it is. (Silly me, I just thought you were changing jobs or something)

Sizzle said...

Wow! How exciting! I can't wait to read how it unfolds for you. :)

meno said...

I know you've been plotting this for a while. It's so beautiful to see it coming to fruition.

THIS FALL!

wheelsonthebus said...

May I just say -- holy shit. That is wonderful and scary and I am so happy for you.

Joker The Lurcher said...

wow! good on you getting on and living your dream! i hear they may even have lurchers there...

Anonymous said...

"We want off the production and consumption treadmill. We want to teach M how to live sustainably while teaching ourselves too."

To be logical, first try to live without Internet, or you are just cheating.

Trenches of Mommyhood said...

I am in awe of you. Can't wait to follow your journey.

hypoglycemiagirl said...

What an awesomly brave thing to do! And I'm very happy for the internet connection. I can't wait to hear about your adventures!

heather said...

Wow! Go you Jen...it takes much courage to follow your dreams.

slouching mom said...

WONDERFUL.

I can't wait to read about your new lives.

xo

Maggie, Dammit said...

I'm speechless.

This is the kind of thing I talk and talk and talk about, but never really mean. It's the kind of thing I didn't really believe could happen in real life.

I admire you very much.

patches said...

It takes a lot strength to be willing to dream...but making it happen takes balls. You go girl!

flutter said...

I am so excited for you!

Mrs. Chicken said...

I'll be here with you, all the way.

ALM said...

WowWowWow! Incredible!

painted maypole said...

oh, hooray! glad to hear the exact news of what I've been suspecting for a while. and hooray for the internet, because I am SO excited to go on this journey with you. and oh, wouldn't I love to come and drink beers on your hammock. Maybe someday...

nyjlm said...

wow! congratulations!

Expatriate Chef said...

I once thought I would stay in the islands and have little ocean-babies and be just my barefoot savage self. It will be a life-expanding experience for M, definitely.

I'd miss you, but then, you'll still be right here. All good. Good for you.

jennifer said...

I'm coming to visit. Definitely.

Binky said...

What an amazing way to help M find stories to tell and for you to hone your skills. Together, your family will no doubt have a lot of adventures to chronicle. Best wishes!

thailandchani said...

I'm sure you can predict my response.. but I'll say it anyway: So glad you've made this choice - not only for you and J - but mostly for your daughter.

Velma said...

This is amazing, and wonderful, and scary, and FABULOUS! Congratulations on getting to this place. I can hardly wait to hear about your adventures!

hele said...

From the bottom of my heart I wish I could be there with you.

Anything you need sister, seeds, chicken advice, awe - its yours for the taking.

Janet said...

I chose the perfect time to jump back in to the blogosphere because, if I missed this one...gah!

I kind of had a sneaking suspicion your secret involved your dream. How amazing for you all! I wish you well on your journey and can't wait to read about your adventures this fall.

Now, I just need to find someone to watch my toddler so I can come to BlogHer and meet you before you go!

liv said...

oh, you are the best. i cannot wait to be in the jungle with you because, you know, liv loves a jungle crash pad!

Amanda said...

Mark me down for care packages, I'll send them with love, awe and ear-to-ear grins!

Jennifer said...

Yeah, baby! I'm so, so excited for all three of you. And so in awe of you. GO YOU.

(And you know, at some point, I'll be there, to drink a Belikin with you. :) )

slackermommy said...

How scary and exciting. Belize is lucky to get you.

Anonymous said...

The Mosquito Coast

carrie said...

I knew this was brewing . . .

And I am so, so, so happy for all of you. I'll send you bail money anytime (or anything else, for that matter).

Thank you for taking us along. I can't wait.

Also, I hope you know that although I post about my love of Target, it in no way detracts from my understanding of living without leaving a footprint. I admire what you're doing so much and I already feel like I've learned a lifetime of lessons from you.

Family Adventure said...

Wow, jen. It is going to be amazing to follow you on this journey. I have butterflies in my stomach as I write this. You go, girl! Lead the way.

Heidi

Deb said...

Wow! and congratulations.

Christine said...

oh man.

OH MAN!!!!

I can't tell you how thrilled i am for you, seriously.

a dear friend lived in belize for a while and recently wrote a book you might be interested in. i'll email you off line with the info...

Bon said...

i keep coming back to try to say something and finding myself speechless...with respect. i honour you for what you're doing, though i know you're not asking for that...and i am excited for you. and if there is anything we can do to make this easier, you ask, okay? because i am going to learn a hell of a lot from you - even beyond what i have already - and i would like to find some way to give back.

just sayin'. and woot.

Julie said...

Dude--I cannot wait to sit on your porch!

Tabba said...

this post made me well up with tears of joy for you and the two

Candy said...

What an amazing thing to do with your life. I'm so envious and excited for you.

But I also chuckled at "anonymous" and his/her remark that you were cheating. ROFL, who said there were rules??? The first rule of such an adventure is always, "THERE ARE NO RULES!"

Hetha said...

I just totally adore you. I can't wait to hear all about it and am so psyched you'll be able to share it with us. Wonderful stuff jen.

cinnamon gurl said...

Sounds awesome! Bloglines messed up so I missed your 10 most recent posts. Ugh.

And I'm SO glad you'll still blog. Woohoo!

Mayberry said...

Me too, I missed like two weeks' worth of posts -- and this! You know I'm so thrilled for you. And I'm with Bon. You let us know what you need when you get there, for your family or your neighbors.

Kyla said...

As long as you aren't leaving us, dear.

This is all so insane to me, because I could never do it. Could never dream of wanting to do it. But I absolutely love that about you, the parts of you that are nothing like me. I admire it so.

Andrea said...

Congratulations! I'm so happy for you.

(Bloglines wasn't updating your feed for some reason, so I just saw this today.)

I know you've wanted this for a long, long time and I'm so happy that you've found a way to make it happen. Go get it. :)

Susanne said...

Wow. So fast. This surely will be exciting.

Magpie said...

Awesome. My heart leapt a little for you, and J and M. What a cool adventure, and new chapter.

Big best wishes.

cynematic said...

Amazing and wonderful! Don't forget to bring or otherwise get your hands on a bike at your new home.

So glad that I'll still be able to check in on your corner of the world. You'll have visitors year 'round, if not half of North America seriously considering how to join you! :)

Bianka said...

Ya, no kidding to the above comment! We're all coming to visit you! I'm making my reservation now! We will learn as much as we can from you during our stay. :)

KC said...

Of course we'll be right there with you, cheering you on, giving a well-timed hug, eagerly awaiting every word about your magnificent adventures.

Ally said...

Holy guacamole Jen! I am so, so excited and scared and happy and nervous and and and for you! And THANK YOU for answering the internet question right away. Cuz really, it being all about me, that was one of my first questions. Oh how I love this, you moving, the life you are choosing for you family, and for the earth. I'm looking forward to hearing all about it.

Ruth Dynamite said...

Shangrila...

I am thrilled for you and in awe of your bravery.

Go for it, woman.

PunditMom said...

You are an amazingly brave women. When you write the book about this experience and sell the move rights, who will play you! ;)

xoxo

Wayfarer Scientista said...

Yay, yay, yay!!!! I'm so excited for you! And for us, to keep reading about the adventure. And trust me, running water, dishwashers, indoor toilets...they're all way over rated. Oh, and an FYI, the state of Alaska has some pretty awesome homeschooling developed since so many kids live too far away from schools to go - might be worth looking into.

Anywho, just catching up now but I couldn't resist commenting on this one thing. Can I come visit??

Gwen said...

Ah! Now I see. I can totally aid you with jungle living tips. Or, uh, my mom could, I suppose, since she was the one who did it for us. How funny would it be to hook you and my fundie mom up?

Keep the the lines open; you will need them.

And congrats! I am so excited to watch your next adventure from afar.

a li'l bit squishy said...

you go girl!! I have a cousin who sold everything here in Canada and is setting up there in Belize as I write, with a slightly different approach but the desire to live more simply. We talk about joining him almost everyday. I will read on with envy about your adventure!

Kelly said...

Geez. How pathetically late I am to this? My hat is off to you and your family, sister. You are made of much braver material than I, and I look forward to reading all about this true, new adventure.

Sylvia said...

Hello, Since I cannot reach you in any other way I am going to leave a comment here. I stumbled upon your blog and am so curious about the picture of the bus you have used in your heading. It looks similar to the schoolbus we have bought (former American Army in Germany). We intend to convert it into an RV.

Would you send me an e-mail at mercedes817@gmail.com?

Thanks, Sylvia (Belgium)

Katie said...

I just found your blog via flutter... this experience sounds AMAZING... and I am jealous and scared for you all at the same time.

I'll definitely be following your adventure from now on!

Karen said...

Yay for you! My husband and I found a way to live our dream (although it is not as adventurous as yours) and have not regretted it one bit. We sold our house and all of our stuff 8 years ago and now live in a travel trailer in the US. For us, it has been a wonderful adventure. I am sure your's will be too.

Penny said...

Jen. You amaze me.

Much Love! Stay in Touch! I'll send care packages!! :) xoxoxo

Lucie @ Unconventional Origins said...

Hello!

I am a first time reader (first, love the blog) and I came by because I read that you are moving to Belize. My best friend (my heart) is in the third trimester of her pregnancy and she JUST moved to Belize! She moved to Hopkins. She is about to launch a blog on life living in the jungle, but if you would like I'll pass on her email to you now. She is a new mom who is far away from everyone she knows here. I am worried about her, I miss her, and you seem pretty damn cool so I am gonna pass you blog onto her.

If you want her email stop by my blog and just send me a message! I figure there aren't that many cool moms who move to Belize with their fams!

Lacy said...

Hello jen....
this islu's friend in belize, shejust sent me a link to your blog. how exciting! i've been here most of the year but have just recently moved a bulk of my things here. i live in hopkins, but we also have a farm in valley of peace village, near belmopan. where in sweet belize have you found yourself?

sounds like we are kindred spirits, maybe someday we will cross paths here, it is quite a small place. i've been here for a lee while now so if you need help or advice figuring anything out let me know, i may be able to help?

my email is lacybriana@gmail.com

Lacy said...

Hello jen....
this islu's friend in belize, shejust sent me a link to your blog. how exciting! i've been here most of the year but have just recently moved a bulk of my things here. i live in hopkins, but we also have a farm in valley of peace village, near belmopan. where in sweet belize have you found yourself?

sounds like we are kindred spirits, maybe someday we will cross paths here, it is quite a small place. i've been here for a lee while now so if you need help or advice figuring anything out let me know, i may be able to help?

my email is lacybriana@gmail.com