Friday, February 26, 2016

Walking Away

Not our home.  This is a photo I took in MD in 2009.

Now that my mother is no longer with us, I am faced with my future.  It is big.  It is open to me now...and I have no idea what I want to do with it.  One thing I do know is that I don't want to go back to Life as it Was Before.  I don't want to go back to Suburbia, to Big Oil, to The Grind, to shopping malls and mindless television.  I do not want a full time, permanent job.  I want my life to be different--even greener and more frugal. 

I'm tired, and losing one's parents tends to make one more tired.

This process of walking away, as I'm calling it, will require some initial spending, but in the long run, I believe our costs will come down. My mother's car and pickup truck are to be sold.  I had thought she would leave the truck to us, as we have been living here, but she did not.  We have the opportunity to buy both vehicles, but we're going to buy our own instead, and the truck is out of reach for us, financially. 

Instead, we are going to invest in a used electric car!  I have a maximum price in mind, and from what we've seen in our browsing, we'll be able to come in under it.  (We also still have our Mini Cooper. Where we live, we need to have two cars.)  This is exciting to me, as I've never driven an electric car before, let alone owned one!  We will not be able to buy a Tesla, as I'd hoped, but we've found a make and model that's reasonably priced and gets very good reviews across the board (including safety ratings!) This car does have a gas engine, but the engine's main purpose is to charge the batteries, so for local driving, we may end up not using any gas!  We're even going to research charging stations for when we travel to New England and take it on that trip at least once, as an experiment.

We need a truck or something to manage our property.  We are on several acres, some of that wooded.  Our driveway is very long, as well.  We need a vehicle that can haul wood and other yard waste, etc, and we need something that can get us out when it snows.  We're debating whether we need a truck at all, because we plan on buying an electric tractor for mowing.  My partner seems to think that we can get by with the tractor if we get a plow blade for it.  We have a trailer in the garage already, which may or may not fit the tractor we have in mind.  If it does, money saved!

When my mother's estate is settled, I'm going to be talking with my financial advisor. Not all of the money she has left me is in retirement accounts, so I'm going to see what we can arrange, so that I can draw a minimal monthly or yearly salary (I want to make it last and keep it earning money for me, after all,) so that I don't have to go back into the workforce full time--if at all. I've come to enjoy having control over my time way too much to give it up, and as I've mentioned before, my working life was traumatic, to put it politely.  It would be nice to be able to maintain that control over my schedule and to minimize my stress in the years to come.  What I am trying to avoid is high taxes.  West Virginia is a bit predatory when it comes to taxes. My financial advisor is good, so I trust that he'll be able to tell me what's what.

The good news is that the house is paid off, so all we need to come up with is taxes and insurance.  Between the two, we'll still be paying considerably less than my mortgage on my house in Maryland, which is currently covered by renters. Overall, we should be in OK shape, but it has become clear to me that I won't be able to forego traditional work altogether.  If I can keep it minimal and temporary in nature, I'll be happy.

I'm finding that the name, Sage Alley, fits this place really well.  So well, in fact, that we'll probably get or make a sign to hang at the bottom of the driveway.  We still plan on moving our old sage shrub from Maryland, and we may even be adding one or two more.  The garden is not planned or marked yet--we haven't finalized the location--so we'll see how it all shakes out.

(The most profound thing that has struck me, having experienced the loss of my mother, is how, when we die, we are reduced to our stuff.  It all comes down to "who gets the stuff?" and "where's my stuff?" and "I want this stuff, but not that stuff" and "let's just sell the stuff." It's as if, in handling the person's belongings--which really have no use or meaning now--people try and hang onto that person.  Memories are fleeting. Our belongings ground them. It's fascinating to me, because I don't care about the stuff.  I miss my mom.

That was a tangent. Sorry!)

All of this is to say that I am continuing to reduce my dependence on The System.  I won't be completely free of it--far from it--but I plan to learn all I can about homesteading and living independently.  I plan to unapologetically structure my days as I see fit and say "no" to things when I need to. I plan to be more myself and less the person I think society wants me to be. Most importantly, I plan to get back in touch with my spirituality and let that bolster me and help me through this transition period.

It's not that I don't like other people.  It's more that I just do things differently, and I like that about me.  I like living simply and not worrying about The Latest and Greatest and Flashiest.  Do we buy stuff? Yes, but usually secondhand.  Do we watch "mindless TV?"  Yes, but we do it on our terms.  We pick and choose what we want to watch and when. We minimize our exposure to commercials.  We watch shows that inspire and educate us.  Sometimes, they are the popular ones.  Other times, they are oldies but goodies.  What's important is that we are in control of it.  We also pay about a tenth of what most people pay to watch TV.  I'm even spreading the word to people I know, hoping to help them save hundreds of dollars a month.

Our society right now is a shallow and phrenetic one. It makes me tired. I'm not cutting myself off, but I'm definitely ready to walk my own path. Now is the time. I like to think think my mom would be happy for me.


Carol in Magnolia said...

Good for you, Jen! I'm sorry to hear that your mother has died - I've seldom been online since before Christmas. You are lucky to have had a mother as long as you did. I was the eldest of 3 sisters, and had just turned 13 when my mother died. We are so lucky that our mother's friends welcomed us, and our newly-made guardians so lovingly provided a lovely, rural home for the school holidays. I hope that you and D revitalize Sage Alley.

JLynnPro said...

Carol, I didn't know that about you. Wow! You were definitely fortunate.

Thanks for the good wishes.

This property has always been lovely and in good shape. D and I are simply going to make it a bit more rural and self-sufficient. One day, I hope to add solar to the house, but that's a big expense, so I'm going to wait a while.