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The current, cozy lil home of Kristin and her fiance.

Interview With Kristin Allan (Heart to heart about life in the moHo, minimalism, and technology).

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!  

The current, cozy lil home of Kristin and her fiance.
The current, cozy lil home of Kristin and her fiance.
  • 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.

kristin

Minimalist Packing

minimalist packing

 

We’ve gotten pretty good at packing light. This is important now that some airlines have begun to charge for ALL bags! There was the spur of the moment trip to Great Falls Montana where the Cevrainis left their house with nothing but a change of clothes, some P.J.’s and a few snacks! It was one of the best weekend’s ever! (The whole story is back on my personal blog: http://cevraini.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/lewis-and-clark-adventure/ ) I went to Edmonton for the week for work in the spring, and only took a back pack and my laptop bag (pictured above)! I had enough clothes for the week, including some workout stuff. Krystal and I went to North Carolina for the weekend for a retreat and we had a duffel bag each! Our families went to Florida this spring for 10 days and the Worths (5 people) had 3 suitcases and the Cevrainis had 4 (one for each person). We saw families with A LOT more than that and they struggled through the airport. Never again will we be like that.

The benefit is, it usually only takes me about 15 minutes to pack and then I don’t have a ton of stuff to try to carry around! I love it! The only thing we were missing for Montana was swim suits, but we did that on purpose because we all needed new ones and they were cheaper there! LOL!

Here’s my list of things that I normally pack in my suitcase (to be checked):

  1. PJ’s
  2. Toothbrush & paste
  3. Shampoo & soap
  4. Small bottle body lotion
  5. Norwex facecloth – this is the only thing I use on my face
  6. Norwex towel – this is light weight and dries quickly
  7. Contacts, solution & glasses
  8. Minimal “first aid” – tylenol, homeopathics etc.
  9. Feminine hygiene
  10. 4 pairs undies & socks
  11. 1 sport bra
  12. Capris or my other comfy pants
  13. 2 short-sleeve tops
  14. 2 long sleeve running tops – these are nice and are cool or warm for every day, great for layers
  15. 1 yoga pant
  16. 1 yoga top
  17. Swim suit
  18. Sandals
  19. Journal & Pens
  20. Books (1 or 2)

Here’s my list of things that I normally pack in my carry on:

  1. Passport and documentation
  2. My small wallet
  3. Book and notes that I’m working on
  4. iPhone and/or GPS for travel car (and charger)
  5. Laptop
  6. Few granola bars and snacks
  7. Kleenex
  8. Gum & mints
  9. Lip balm
  10. Water

Try packing less the next time you travel. What’s the worst that can happen? You may need something, but chances are it’s pretty minor. You won’t regret it – and you’ll love the ease of moving through the airport compared to the others that need a cart!

 

Clutter Chaos

gerberia daisies

The dog wants out in the middle of the night. As you fumble towards the front door, you trip over the pile of clothes in the bedroom, bump over the box in the hall, stub your toe on the stack of books at the top of the stairs and have to push the coats & shoes out of the way as you struggle to get the door open…

You decide that you want to make a special cake for your 8 year old for his birthday. After pulling 8 pans out of the cupboard, including a bundt cake pan (what the heck is that thing for, anyway?), you finally find the one you’re looking for. You rummage through the pantry trying to find the brown sugar. When you finally find it, you realize that it is hard as a rock. You run to the store and end up buying a cake from the shelf instead; for twice the price of the sugar…

Your husband calls you from work and offers to take you out for dinner. You are elated and excited. After spending 10 minutes looking for your babysitter’s number on that piece of paper, you jump in the shower and knock over 3 shampoo bottles that have a tiny bit of shampoo left in them. Then you try to grab a fresh towel and pull down 5 others in the process. You untangle the cords from 4 different curling irons. You rummage through the closet past outfits you wore 10 years ago to find your favorite pair of jeans. You realize the top you wanted to wear is wrinkly in the dryer. 15 minutes later, you realize that the iron you plugged in isn’t heating up because it’s the one that your hubby was going to fix and you remember you bought a new one two months ago and find it still in the bag from the store sitting beside the freezer. After dumping 3 make-up bags out onto the counter in the bathroom, you’ve got your mascara on and quietly pray that it’s only a year old instead of the two you think it is. Your husband gets home and you realize that you forgot to tell him to pick up the babysitter. You get annoyed that he didn’t think of that and you start the evening off glaring at each other…

Everyone in the family is exhausted. You check the calendar and realize that there are 3 times in the week that you have to be in the opposite sides of town at the same time. You can’t remember the last time all of you sat down and had a meal together. You don’t remember the last time you just played a game with the kids or had a pajama day and just stayed home. If you’re not going to a practice or a recital; you’re heading to the mall “for something to do”. You realize that there are several items of clothing in all the closets (some still in bags) that have never been worn and are now too small. You have multiple projects on the go, and haven’t touched any of them in months. You are exhausted, and just don’t know what to do.

We have been there too, we know what it’s like. We’ve been doing a lot of minimalizing over the past couple years, we’re here to help you. Minimalizing isn’t about throwing out everything in the house. It isn’t about living like a hermit. It’s focusing on what is really important and getting rid of all the excess. It’s not about keeping up with what everyone else has or does; it’s about doing what is best for you and your family.

The Simple Life Gals encourage you to go through different areas in your homes and lives and really prioritize what is important to you. We welcome your questions and we’ll support you in whichever way we can. If you would like to book a session, with us, check out our sessions here: Organizing Services.

Introducing Kristin!

Krystal and I will be “off the grid” for a little while with our families! We’re pretty excited! A joint vacation will be so much fun!

We have asked our adventurous friend, Kristin, to post for us while we are away. We adore her and we’re sure you will too! Be sure to leave a comment and say Hi!

kristin

 

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.

Spring is in the Air

This is an article that I wrote last year that fits well with this weeks theme.You may want to do a personal challenge of your own? Even if it is a small challenge, it is still moving forward! Follow Shawna on Simple Life Celebration’s Facebook page as she completes her 365 Thing challenge by getting rid of at least one item per day for the WHOLE year! 


☼Spring is in the air, the snow is melting, the sun is shining and the geese are beginning to fly back home. It’s as if that fresh air and sunshine brings with it this yearning to clean and find order in our lives! With Spring comes the inspiration to clean and tackle those areas that don’t regularly get touched.

 

I have been reading endless blog posts not only about Spring cleaning but also about clearing mental clutter, clearing emotional clutter and not letting other distractions get in the way of living life. I mean REALLY living life! I am taking this all as a sign from the Universe that this year we need to put a spin on things; in true Simple Life style. 😉

 

We say it all the time. We are not only Professional Organizers, we want to help you simplify your lives so that you can take the time to enjoy the important things. In fact this week I took a few minutes to physically write down a list of simple pleasures. You know the things that we so often take for granted. Many things that I wrote revolved around time; taking a moment to really enjoy the company of friends and family, going for a bike ride, surprising someone with a kind word or note of appreciation, cuddles and LOTS more. What if we made the time to enjoy some of life’s simple pleasures? Wouldn’t life be grand!?!

 

And the thought that screams into many people’s heads is but I just don’t have the time! Poppy cock I say! I challenge you to really look at the time in your day. You may spend an hour watching some show on TV that you won’t even remember in the morning. Are you on Facebook once or twice a day? How much time do you spend on it? How often do you sneak on the computer or your phone to check emails? Do you find that you have subscribed to way more than you can find to read? Are you running from one thing to the next all week long? Perhaps it is time to recheck priorities and figure out what truly matters to you. Life gets crazy at times but if you don’t want it to be busy then evaluate your schedule.

 

Last year Shawna and I had our Minimalist Challenge. This was where we divided all of the areas in our homes into zones and tackled each one individually. We got rid of LOTS of stuff that we did not need, love, or use. We gave ourselves two weeks to get each space done. (Empty, clean, sort, purge, reorganize, put back together, and get the donations/recycling out of our houses.) It was really quite freeing and it was doable because we all did it together. We encouraged each other and were accountable. It was a personal challenge with a manageable time limit!

 

This year we wanted to do a followup to the Minimalist Challenge from last Spring.

We are calling it the Simple Spring Cleanse.

Here is the actual definition.

 

cleanse

verb (tr)

 

  1. to remove dirt, filth, etc, from

  2. to remove guilt from

 

We want to cover both of the above definitions. By all means feel free to do the usual Spring clean but we are asking ourselves to also think not only about the physical stuff but also the mental, emotional, and even digital clutter that inhabits our worlds on a a daily basis.

What sorts of things can we get rid of?

 

  • items in your home that are broken, that you no longer need, want, or love.

  • magazine, newspaper or other subscriptions that you no longer read.

  • email/blog subscriptions that take time away from other important things that you want to do. (Keep you favourites only!)

  • Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google plus etc.- can you limit these in any way? Can you cut down your time here or have a day a week that you disconnect? Joshua Becker from Becoming Minimalist talks about Finding Significance in a World of Distractions. YES, love it! The gist is to recognize the distractions and manage them.

  • Emotional clutter. What is this anyway? Bernice Wood from the Blog, Living the  Balanced Life talks about what it is here:

Some of the emotional clutter we may carry:

Worries Low self-image

Toxic relationship Guilt

Anxiety Fear

Inability to trust Anger

Negative outlook, pessimist

Read more about this!

 

  • Mental Clutter. The Minimalist’s, Ryan Nicodemus writes about Decluttering your Mental Clutter. He describes this as “the voices in your head that won’t be quiet.” We all know about that. Those things from the past or present that make you feel anxious and weigh on your mind. These included physical health, circumstances, and past troubles. Time to deal with these and say good bye!

 

 

  • Unfinished projects. If it has been sitting around forever and you haven’t dealt with it then decide if this is something you really want to do. If you do then stop making excuses and schedule time to do it!
  • Nostalgic clutter. Gretchen Rueben author of the Happiness Project describes this as, “things you hold on to from your past that you don’t need or use.  Things like old text books, old love letters, etc.” I think I may still have all of my binders and textbooks from college. Hmmmm…

  • Aspirational clutter. How about those jeans that you are hoping to fit back into again?

  • Commitments. How many things are you involved in? Are you running from one activity to the next all the time? Do you want to be? Do you have time for the things that you really want to do?

 

Sound good? We think so! Let’s do this together. We can share stories and support on our Facebook page too. http://www.facebook.com/simplelifecelebrations

 

The end result is happiness in the palm of our hands….Mmmmmm…..


 

Need help getting started? We can help!

www.simplelifecelebrations.com

krystal@simplelifecelebrations.com

shawna@simplelifecelebrations.com