Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Little Glimpse of Me - OR - Waxing Philosophical

 I made a realization today. Yeah, happens sometimes. But I have to back up a little before I tell you what it is. Maybe you'll have guessed by the end of my post.

One of the words Michael has used to describe me is "unpretentious". And he's right on. Pretentiousness is one of the few things I abhor. Pretense of any kind is just an illusion and pretense that someone is "falsely important" or better than someone else leaves me cold.  The consumer trappings to prove one's "importance" are just that - a trap (and probably a debt trap to boot!)

Can you guess where I'm going here? Maybe to a simpler, though not "easier" lifestyle in PEI? When many people my age are planning their retirements around European tours and luxury condos in Miami I am planning on living in a home that will be heated with a woodstove and a basement floor made out of dirt and several inches of gravel. You could say that my lifestyle will be even "less luxurious" than it is now. Why is this ok with me?

Simple. I am not used to luxury and wouldn't know what to do with it if I had it. (Although I could also very easily argue the point that I do live in luxury if you compare my lifestyle with the several billion people in the world who live on one or two dollars a day - but that's a different post entirely.)

I am a little odd. While co-workers and friends sold their homes and moved into bigger, more comfortable surroundings over the years I remained in the condo that I bought as a single parent when I earned less than $25,000 a year. We're talking no dishwasher, a noisy hotwater tank, not the best neighbourhood in town, no air conditioning, small yard etc. Even when my income doubled, tripled and quadrupled I have remained in my condo. While people I knew traded in their car every year or two for the latest model I continued to drive my old compact car with rollup windows and power nothing.

And today I figured out why and you won't have guessed this part. 

It's because of my mother and father. I have never aspired to live a lifestyle beyond what they were able to provide for me and my four older siblings. Don't get me wrong - they made several improvements in our pioneer-aged home over the years and each one was cause for a major celebration. For example, I can remember vividly as a 3 or 4 year old watching our 150 year old home get jacked up so that a basement could be dug out and cement foundations poured then an oil furnace installed. Goodbye oil stove! However, we didn't get to say goodbye to icy cold linoleum bedroom floors though because the furnace ducts didn't reach to the second floor LOL!

Ye Olde Oil Stove pipe visible behind us!

I remember the day we got a clothes dryer.  We felt like the Rockefellers! Of course we were only allowed to use it in the winter so we wouldn't have to struggle trying to fold frozen bluejeans from the clothesline. Another HUGE event was our acquisition of a television!  My very clever mother used to enter jingle contests and she won a TV!! Holy moly! We were rich beyond belief! Never mind we had to push up the livingroom window in order to turn the aerial, and in winter we'd have to first pour boiling water on it so we could make it turn! Oh, the memories:)

To me the furnace, the dryer, the TV - these were luxuries. And I've never really moved past that, I've never wanted more. We kept chickens and appreciated the fresh eggs everyday. We had a strawberry patch, raspberry bushes, a peach tree (well it was technically on the neighbours property...tee hee, don't tell anybody!), a pear tree, and row upon row of beans, potato hills, corn, carrots, cucumber patch, squash patch, rhubarb patch - you name it my dad could grow it!

Luxury was canned strawberries spooned over your vanilla icecream in the middle of January!

So moving to an old farmhouse out in the countryside in PEI is a bit like "going home". I've always been a "tough cookie" so the walk down our long driveway to the little postoffice 1 km away doesn't faze me - I'll get there even if I have to ski!  Imagine what I'll save on gym memberships:) Maybe we'll put in a cement basement floor and maybe someday I'll buy a dishwasher...maybe not. We do plan to travel, and we'll save up for our trips. We want a screened meditation hut in the centre of our forest - we'll save up for that too. The goal is to live life as an adventure, to live consciously and unpretentiously.

We're well on our way!

PS: the opinions expressed in the above post are strictly those of the writer (and her partner) and are not meant in any way to offend those with differing views.


  1. Well I happen to think the author and her partner, have their views and priorities just right, I would give my back teeth, no wait a moment!! all my teeth to know how I was going to be living in retirement. And simple and happy would do it for me everytime.

    Your little piece of the world looks heavenly, picture perfect, no wonder you are saving like a crazy woman.

    P.S. I will email you, thanks.

  2. And here I thought you were saving for a fancy, gas-guzzling SUV, and an enormous fancy house!


    Just seeing how excited you are to move to your lovely old house in PEI speaks volumes as to the kind of person you are.

    Here's to living simply!

    P.S. love the idea of your meditation hut!

  3. I for one, enjoy your philosophy. It makes sense, you in that house enjoying your life with your family and not worrying about your things. i am excited for you and that you will be able to live simply and be content.

  4. Jane it's exactly what I've always dreamed of. A quite place to sit and just BE.

  5. Simplifying life in PEI is the way to go. Moving from Vancouver to PEI to raise children in the country with chickens, morning doves and now rabbits (my son's new hobby) is the best way of life!! Life is good!! Congrats to you and Michael, Jane. What peace!!!
    Hugs Kendra

  6. Contentment is priceless. You hide nothing when you write, and you make this reader feel as if you are talking directly and only to me. Don't ever change my dear :)

  7. Jane, I couldn't have said it better myself. The more life style is just not and less just fits so well. I remember be younger and dreaming of more, and I think age shows you happiness for enough.

  8. Lovely Jane. I think you're mature enough to realize what makes you happy, and it isn't shiny dishwashers or the latest in engineered flooring. Is it really the thing that makes anybody happy over the long haul?

    Sure, we want to live in places that will comfort us, that will keep us warm and dry, that we can be proud of. Pride doesn't need to be wrapped up with the latest trappings.

    Lately I've wondered if I'll still live in this home when the girls leave. I've looked at some smaller condos and rentals online. They look appealing from a price and reduced workload point of view. Then I remember how much joy I get out of my garden, not because it's big, but because it's there. It's not there right now, at least not that I can see, and that makes me a bit anxious. I'm sure I'll get over it when the snow melts.

    Like you, I'd rather live a sustainable life (financially and otherwise) and be able to do other things like travel if I wished, or just sit back and smile at my unpaved driveway or vintage kitchen floor.

  9. Hello from oldest sister..seems we are both on the same track..moving to the island within a year of each other and living a simple life..funny, how Jim said he wanted to build a little hut back by our stream there! We four have alot in common..I still only use my dryer in the winter..grow my own veggies like dad and imagine the size of garden I can have in P.E.I.! I totally agree once a person starts spending, it's hard to stop so I don't go downtown..I'm thinking about starting to bake my own bread, the prices you L.Dee

  10. it sounds wonderful! you can't buy peace and contentment and some people just don't get that.

  11. Jane,
    What a beautiful post.
    You and Michael will have a great retirement on P.E.I. You have such a great attitude and remember the hardness of living without all the extra's. I remember Dad getting our first T.V. all tubes inside and we only got three channels all in black and white.
    But we finally had a T.V.

  12. This sounds absolutely lovely as long as your knees hold out!


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