If, at first, you don’t succeed……

Bernie and I started our Back to Basic Living website in May of 2006. At that time, I outlined our plan for getting back to basic living and how we hoped to accomplish it. Let’s call that Plan A.

There was one step in Plan A that we did not accomplish in the 18 months that followed the outline I posted. We had not entirely eliminated all debt. We had hoped to sell our home in town and use the proceeds to pay off the remaining mortgage on our land. At that point, we would be debt free, move to our homestead, and be one step closer to our goal of getting back to basic living.

As it turned out, life wasn’t really on board with our Plan A. In fact, life had a-whole-nother plan for us. There are many graphs and charts and theories about when the housing market began to decline, but I can tell you, with complete certainty, the exact moment the downward spiral of the housing market began. This event occurred at precisely the second that we listed our home for sale. Seriously. And so, as is often the case, circumstances led us to come up with Plan B.

Plan B was much the same as Plan A, with the exception of moving to our homestead and then selling our home in town to pay off all debt. Certainly we would be able to sell our home in town over the next couple of years, right? And in doing so, we would be able to use the proceeds to eliminate the remaining debt of the land mortgage. So we moved onto our homestead and believed that, with a little patience, Plan B would work for us and we would soon be debt free.

As it turns out, a couple of years was absolutely not what was needed to sell our home in town. In fact, a couple of years is what it took for us (and the entire nation) to realize that the economy of the U.S. is tanking. Home sales, across the country, are at an all time low. Home values have plummeted. We won’t even talk about what’s happening on Wall Street right now. Suffice it to say, conditions in this country have forced us to come up with Plan C.

Plan C involves renting out the home in town. While we will not realize our dream of being debt free as quickly as we had hoped and mapped out in Plan A and Plan B, renting the home in town will provide us with additional money each month that we can apply to the land mortgage. Plan C will take a bit longer but will ultimately allow us to accomplish our goal of eliminating all debt. At least I certainly hope it will. We are well into the alphabet at this point with plans.

I share the above with you for a couple of reasons. First, it’s been a while since I posted and I didn’t want you to think I’m a slacker or that I’ve forgotten about you. My Dear John will still think I’m a slacker, but I’m hoping the rest of you will give me a break here. Bernie and I have been busier than bees the past week packing up a home we were in for over 20 years and hauling it all out to the homestead. We promised our renter we would be out at the end of this week so that she can begin painting the house and move in by next weekend. Lest you think that’s a pitiful excuse, please allow me to explain.

Bernie and I are both pack rats. We throw nothing away. And when I say “nothing”, I really do mean “nothing”. We had over 20 years of crap stuffed in every nook and cranny of a house that is three times the size of the home we now live in. We found clothes that I wore 23 years ago stuffed in a box in a closet, toys that my now 30-plus year old niece and 20-plus year old step-daughters played with as small children, and a small box of old gun pieces that Bernie stored in a suitcase (for some completely unknown reason) over 20 years ago and thought he had lost. I would say it was a walk down memory lane but it was, in fact, a moment of sheer horror as we realized we had 3400 square feet of utter junk to sort through, pack, load, and unload in the span of one short week.

So you see, that is why I haven’t blogged in the past week. Not only have I been incredibly, overwhelmingly busy, I am so sore from packing and moving boxes and furniture that I’ve been questioning my ability to even raise my arms high enough to reach the keyboard, let alone use my aching fingers to type. Yes, it’s sad. I know. Well, grab a hanky and read on as I explain the second reason I’ve shared our plans with you and how they’ve worked out.

The main reason I’ve told you about Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C is because I made a promise when I started the Back to Basic website and this blog that I would document our journey into homesteading – and this includes the good, the bad, and the ugly of our experiences. And while doing this does allow me a therapeutic method of dealing with our ups and downs, it’s not the only reason.

I have received so many emails from people who have stumbled upon our website, or this blog, and have taken the time to write me and tell me that we are an inspiration. So many people want to get back to basic living, but fear they don’t have the courage, knowledge, or stamina to begin giving up a life of convenience and working to become more self reliant and self sufficient. Several of you have read my little tutorial on making home made soap, and then written me with questions, or to tell me how thrilled you were to follow my directions and make your very own soap for the first time in your life. Many have begun to raise meal worms after reading my post about it. I’ve even gotten emails from a few people who decided to raise chickens after following my posts on the subject, or built their very own chicken coop. Some of you have made your own butter, yogurt, and cheese after reading my posts on the subject. And virtually every email I receive mentions that reading what I post on the website and/or blog has left the sender feeling that if we can do it, so can he/she.

Getting back to basic living is a choice that Bernie and I have made. It’s a goal that we are working toward. We feel it is necessary for our health and our sanity, if not our basic survival. It is our hope that, by sharing our struggles and victories with you, you may learn from them and be inspired to begin your own journey in getting back to basic living.

I advise starting with your own Plan A and, if that doesn’t work out, go with Plan B – and if all else fails, move on to Plan C. It is, after all, not the destination that matters as much as it is the journey taken in reaching it that brings the most satisfaction. Let’s just hope we all get there before resorting to Plan Z.

Bee Free,


4 Responses to “If, at first, you don’t succeed……”

  1. Trixi says:

    I am one of those who find your site an inspiration and we are bit by bit getting back to basics ourselves. Thank you for sharing.

  2. basicliving says:

    Thank you for the nice comment, Trixi. I have visited your website http://makingitourhome.blogspot.com/ and am inspired by you! We’re getting back to basic living with baby steps – and loving every minute of it.

    Take care,

  3. Shirley says:

    Great post, Penny, and very inspiring. Everyone is at a different stage in their plans, and adjustments have to be made all the time. I have a feeling things will get worse before they get better as far as the economy is concerned. But with a little luck and lots of love, we’ll all make it through.

    One thing I have found is that people are finding that they really don’t need alot of “stuff”. We get along with very simple things (except for the motorcycle; that is our extravagance), and I think we’re even happier than ever ! Simplifying your life adds to the very value of your life, I do believe.

    I would encourage anyone, no matter what their circumstances, to take those baby steps. It all adds up.

    Keep on bee-ing free !!

  4. basicliving says:

    Great to hear from you, Shirley! And I agree with you completely – I also think things will get worse in this country before they get better. Getting back to basic living has never seemed more important to me.

    And I also agree that trimming back and simplifying your life is so rewarding, and allows a person to focus on those things most important to him/her.

    Yep – we’re baby stepping. Heck sometimes it feels like we’re going backwards! But it’s all a part of the process and we’re loving every second of it!

    Take care,

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