Thanks Kristin for being our guest over here at the Simple Life Celebration Blog! For those that don’t know, your blog Along the Heart Trail: Tales From a Tiny Home on Wheels was started after you purchased a motor home and moved up North. I was ecstatic to be delving into your mind and hearing all about your story, reasons behind your adventure and minimalism!
What prompted you to start your blog?
Hi ladies! I’m so flattered that you have asked me to be a guest. I first got the idea to start a blog from a colleague who thought that I had a lot of knowledge to share with the world. That was about a year and a half ago. I kind of laughed at him and said thanks, but my life isn’t that interesting. Who would read my rants and ramblings anyway? It took me a year and a half to get the nerve up to create a blog domain and write the first post. My biggest fear was that I might scare off some friends and acquaintances with my bold opinions on the state of our world. I decided that speaking my truth was more important than what others think of me.
How would you describe yourself?
This is a broad question. I would say that I’m a black sheep. I feel like I see the world a bit differently, even since a very young age. I have always been observant of my surroundings and of other people and have a strong curiosity for human psychology and what makes people tick. More importantly, what makes people happy? A year and a half ago, I would have called myself a “people pleaser”. Now, I have reformed myself to be a “ME pleaser” first, and when I have left over time and energy, I still love to help others to find their own happiness and purpose.
Can you tell our readers how you came to the decision of leaving the town that you were in and your business to live in the MoHo?
In a nutshell, I was an owner/operator of a successful consignment clothing store in a small town. My business partner, who was also my life partner, and I parted ways and it just didn’t make sense for us to co-own the business…after an additional year of trying to tell myself that it would work out to continue to run the business together. So I sold my shares in the business and was looking for a new life path. Enter my fiancé. He and I were both searching for more meaning in our lives. We didn’t know what we were looking for until we found each other. He’s a black sheep too. In a really good way. Last Christmas, a family member re-gifted us a book about minimalist living that we thoroughly enjoyed. It prompted us to downsize our lives and buy a 1982 26’ motorhome. We wanted to experience living with as little as possible in a tiny space to see if people really need all of the STUFF that we seem to covet in our society. A bonus of living in a motor home is that it’s 100% portable and allows us to be adventurous.
Was it difficult to minimize your belongings even further to fit in your cozy home on wheels? Have you always considered yourself to be a minimalist?
To be honest, it was pretty simple for both of us to get rid of our extra stuff. We were both pretty minimalist when we met so it wasn’t a huge leap. I certainly wasn’t raised with a minimalist mindset. As a child, I had all of the material STUFF that I could have ever asked for. But, strangely enough, our family was still not happy most of the time. I grew up on the east coast of the US and when the opportunity arose for me to move to Alberta in 2004, I left everything I owned behind, except a carry-on size suitcase with a few articles of clothing and some toiletries. I would say that was pretty minimalist, I just didn’t know it at the time. After a few years, my mom asked if I wanted her to send any of my STUFF to Alberta. I said “I have no idea what I left behind, so probably not. Thanks for asking. Please donate what you can to a charity.” The things that I thought were so important had become irrelevant. Fast forward to 2011, when my ex and I separated. I left with my clothing, a few books, a yoga mat, a bed and my trusty ol’ VW Jetta. Literally, that was IT. Having so little feels SO freeing.
Do you miss any of your belongings?
Nope. I couldn’t even tell you what I parted with, other than a bed. I really enjoyed re-gifting some items that I knew others would appreciate having. Living in our tiny home has been like a chastity belt for purchasing or accepting any new STUFF. It’s awesome.
What advice would you give for anyone else considering pairing down their ‘stuff’?
Open your closets and storage spaces. Start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself by tackling everything at once. If you find yourself thinking “WOW! I forgot I had this thing”, ditch it. If it something has an inch of dust on it, ditch it. If you haven’t used it or worn it in at least a year, ditch it. Even the stuff that you feel a sentimental attachment to, or feel an obligation to keep just because you are worried that the person who gave it to you might be offended if they discover you no longer have that THING…ditch it. Then do a happy dance. Tell everyone that you are on a mission to live a simpler life. How can they be upset when they see how happy and light you are?!
Is there anything that you were not anticipating when you made this move?
Hmmmm. We have had to rely on the kindness of friends and family for showering. The shower in our motor home is VERY teenie. So we use it to house our drinking water bottle and some extra items that didn’t fit in the small cupboards. Also, the oven is so small that you could only bake 6 muffins, so I do baking in real ovens. Oh, also, the motor home guzzles fuel. So we find ourselves being very calculated about how far and how often we move her around.
How do you think technology has changed the world? Is it necessary? How do you think it has affected our relationships?
Haha. I will try to keep this answer brief, because I could write a novel about this. Technology is good. In some ways. I think there have been a lot of amazing breakthroughs that are saving lives and helping raise the bar for our quality of life on earth. On the flip side, my personal view is that a lot of the gadgets that are being pushed on us as modern conveniences are actually degrading our quality of life and the human connections that we all need to thrive. The next time you’re in a public place, like a mall or restaurant, take a few minutes to sit quietly and observe others. Chances are that you will see people ignoring those they are with to attend to their texts and Facebook messages. Everyone is distracted by the beeps and buzzing of their phones and other devices. I think people are forgetting what really matters in life. The people. I think smart phones and the like give us all a false sense of connection. I am a huge advocate for TECHNOLOGY-FREE days. Make an agreement with yourself and family members to turn off all phones, beepers, buzzers, computers and the TV and go outside. Do something together that will create memories. When you go out for coffee with a friend, turn your phone off and hide it so it won’t be tempting. Life is too short to miss the special moments.
If you could encourage people to read one book what would it be and why?
I have read a lot of awesome books in the last few years, but I think the one that I am re-reading right now is amazing. It’s one of the books that first inspired me to start my blog. It’s called Turning to One Another by Margaret Wheatley. She brilliantly explores the idea of human connection and why it’s SO important in today’s frantically fast-paced world. I’m actually writing a new blog post about it coming up!
Do you have a favorite blog?
This may be ironic, but I don’t really read other blogs. I try not to spend much time online. I find it distracts me from living in the moment and enjoying what’s right in front of me. I am a recovering Facebook addict. Like many (or most?), there was a period of time when I was consumed by clicking on Facebook a dozen times a day. Now, my blog posts even go to Facebook automatically so I don’t even have to log on there. It’s pretty awesome.
What do you think are necessities in life?
It’s pretty simple to me. Obviously, food, water and shelter are givens. Above and beyond those, I think we all need meaningful relationships and loving connections with other humans. We need to do what we love every day. Even just doing little things can make a huge difference. That’s it. The rest is just static, distracting us from living an innately beautiful existence.
If you could have one wish granted for the world what would it be?
This feels like a Miss Universe question, so I will try not to stumble and sound silly. I think what I would like to see is for people to start taking responsibility for their own thoughts and actions. We all need to stop making excuses, and start helping ourselves. Mind our own business and stop gossiping. Resolve our own conflicts, treat our minds and bodies with love, and start giving more and taking less. Be the change. It all starts with you.
Anymore adventures for you and the moHo?
Oh yes! The adventure has just begun. We have lived in our moHo for 6 months now. We have enjoyed it SO much that we are going to continue to live in there for as long as it’s feasible. Winter is just around the corner in Northern Alberta, so we have decided to head to the West Coast for the chilly months. We have some really exciting ideas up our sleeves. Human social experiments, if you will. It’s going to be amazing and I’m super excited to blog about it all. If you are curious: www.alongthehearttrail.blogspot.com
Thanks again Kristin. I am looking forward to following up with you next year to see where your adventures have led you!
Kristin Allan is a Pennsylvania native who migrated north to Alberta 9 years ago. She strives to live simply by minimizing the stuff and stress, while maximizing the love in her life. For several years she operated a women’s consignment clothing store which she founded in central Alberta. “Buy it used” is her motto.
She and her man half recently sold most of their belongings and purchased a 30 year old motorhome to live in for the warm season, until the bitter northern Alberta winter chases them into a warmer space.
Kristin loves to share her knowledge of minimalism, growing food, healthy communication and veggie cooking with curious folks.