Some more pictures from my vacation in LA. Edited in a West Coast style. I had so much fun. I really can't wait to go back.
The following images are from the huge fire of Lear in Carlisle. This fire took place in 2012. I was lucky enough to live in walking distance, so I was able to get a few shots. Enjoy!
Moving A Family Of 7 Out Of State On A 3.5k Budget; And My Introduction To A Semi-Minimalist Lifestyle
We recently moved to Illinois from Pennsylvania. My husband and I needed a drastic change for our family. We were surrounded by toxic people in a city that never really felt like home to any of us. So we took a leap of faith in October of 2017 and started to save for our move.
The biggest question we get is the how. How much we spent, how long we saved, and we went about it. We aren't rich. We lived for the most part pay check to pay check. We sacrificed A LOT to be able to do this.
Budgeting any move out of state is INSANELY expensive. A truck alone could run you over 5k (rental + gas) easily. And let's face it... depending on how big your family is and how much stuff you have.. one truck load probably won't cut it either. And us? We're a family of seven. Yikes.
I got to looking online and seeing how other people did this. How does one move on a tight budget? My searching brought me to an article on minimalism and living a minimalist lifestyle.
"What Minimalism is really all about is reassessment of your priorities so that you can strip away the excess stuff — the possessions and ideas and relationships and activities — that don’t bring value to your life."
I was aware of the concept, but not in this way. Things like tiny homes (and if you have ever seen my pinterest, yes I am obsessed) were ideas that appealed to me later on in life. But I did not think it would be possible to really declutter and downsize with children.
And the other HUGE part. I had no idea the concept applies to relationships and activities. I was so intrigued. I really started to dig deep. I joined a few Facebook support groups on minimalism and recreated my goals.
Now for most people doing a big move, there is a car or cars involved. Well my husband and I don't drive. This meant the first part of our budget had to be for our own transportation.
My husband put in for his job transfer in February and actually applied for a couple different states. We had two accepted. One in Washington state and the other Illinois. We went with Illinois as that is where my in laws lived. We set his start date for the first week in April.
Traveling this time of year was still relatively cheap. We got sleeper cars with beds for seven people on Amtrak for 1.2k total one way.
Now, this would also be important in the planning of getting some of our belongings to Illinois as well. We were allowed to take two large suitcases each. So for seven people that is 14 bags! We utilized this for all the clothing we were taking.
Now, if I am being honest. As a family we owned waaaayyyy more clothing than could fit in two bags each. But this is where our minimalist journey begins. With the clothing.
We spent a good week going through all our clothes. If we didn't NEED it, love it... it was donated or tossed. I am talking items that were never worn or didn't fit. Things being saved for "some day"...yeah no. We were living in the now, so they had no room in our future.
Next we had to decide what wasn't replaceable. Now I have always been an upcycler. I have furnished every home I have ever lived in with FREE or used furniture. So I let go of my initial instincts. The "but I love my couches, but I love my dinning room set". Those can be replaced. They were not coming with us.
What would be most expensive to replace were TVs and Mattresses. We could have gotten upcycled of these items as well, but we had just purchased new six months before and didn't want to waste that money.
Shipping these items would cost an arm and a leg, and again... we don't drive. That killed the idea of a truck. So we then we decided a POD would be the right choice for us.
PODS are amazing honestly. The company drops it off. You have three days to load it. They pick it up and deliver it right to your new address. So simple!
We went with the smallest POD and packed it up tightly based on our needs. We did not want to force a minimalist lifestyle on our children in a traumatic way. So a good portion of our boxes for the pod were the kids toys and personal belongings.
I packed my books, some camera gear, one full box of picture frames and photographs, my crystal collection and incense. And a few personal items. Pots and Pans my father had given me, and plates. Blankete, sheets and pillows. That was it. We pretty much left everything else behind.
$1.2k Train Tickets
$1.5k Boxes, Packing Supplies, POD
$500 To Replace Furniture
$300 To Replace Decorative Pieces
Total moving expenses of $3.5k
Roughly $8k - $10k cheaper than those who would have moved their whole house or bought brand new furniture at their new location.
Full disclosure, the first place we rented was out of our budget and we knew this. But we wanted a place to get our foot in the door so we signed a six month lease. If you wanted to budget in our rental cost it would be an additional $3k for rent and deposit putting us at a $6.5k move total cost. We kept our furniture budget in savings and waited until we found a cheaper place closer to Chicago and transportation. We applied for an apartment in a gorgeous complex after our first lease was up and we got approved.
Renting a temporary house helped us learn our new state. Research neighborhoods and school districts. Decide what we wanted in our home and where. We were able to get our deposit back in full and applied it to our new place.
Our apartment complex is in a great neighborhood, close to transportation. Easy train ride to Chicago. Pool, gym, clubhouse, 24/7 maintenance. Our unit is three bedroom, 2 full bath. It's everything we wanted.
It took six months of saving and planning to leave Pennsylvania and another six months to get settled into a new state and find the perfect apartment but we did it.
I will make a follow up post with some pictures of our new apartment and the items I purchased to decorate as well as the upcycled furniture.
We had A LOT of odds against us. We don't make a ton of money. We had to sacrifice a lot to save up. No going out to eat, no takeout. Cheaper phones and plans, no cable etc. We don't drive. Traveling was difficult. But I am here to tell you, if we can do it... so can you!
LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO BE UNHAPPY.
Our worst days in Illinois have been better than some of our best in Pennsylvania. So that says a lot.
If you're stuck in a place you are unhappy... start small. Make tiny lifestyle changes and learn to let go.
Until next time.... love and light friends!
I got to see Okkervil River preform tonight and it was everything I thought it would be and more. Will is just... amazing. You felt his vibe and energy shoot from the stage into the crowd. Soon as he walked out, I cried. Tears of joy and happiness... tears of sadness.. I felt things that I have never felt in my entire life. This overwhelming peace and gratitude.
Okkervil River and Will Sheff is something I wrote about constantly in my old blog. Losing the writing about them when I deleted was one of my more sad experiences with the loss of my blog. I wish I did not delete the blog in a rush of emotions when my father passed. I would have love to have been able to look back on them today.
So as the posts are gone and if you're not close to me, you won't know my love and history with band...so let's talk about them.
I first discovered their music through an internet friend of mine over ten years. I believe the first time I listened to them was in 2004. I was instantly addicted. I had never heard music that was so unapologetic and raw. It drew you in and forced you to open your mind.
Their music has been here for me during some of the worst times in my life. Growth, change, divorce, death... you name it... I experienced with the help of music therapy through this band.
He writes so beautifuly, honest, and open. You feel what he does. He is an amazing story teller. You can see what is going on in his head as the songs continue to play.
Here are some photos from our night.
If you’re like me, gratitude is an emotion that has a limited shelf life. It’s not because I don’t want to feel grateful (I do!!), rather there so many things that seem to pull me away from that experience.
I traced the roots back to the theme of yesterday- entitlement. It is because I feel entitled that my gratitude is limited. After all, if I feel I’m deserving of something, when I get it my attitude is more along the lines of “Finally!” instead of deep appreciation.
In the lives of my own mentors and teachers, I’ve observed one quality that is present in those who live a life of consistent gratitude: they are humble.
They are humble because they live a life of no expectation. Whatever comes, they appreciate so deeply because they have deeply realized that this life is one of service, not one of being served.
It’s a high standard and definitely not one I’m anywhere close to. That said, their example and presence in my life, make it seem possible.
Just some random thoughts I had today... Please enjoy my view. Happy Sunday!
I am a ride or die New Yorker, but I will admit, this pizza had me asking some questions about my pizza loyalty! Lol Sooo yummy!
Adjusting to life in Illinois has been interesting to say the least. I am just trying to take it all in at a one day at a time pace.
I am realizing that with this new space and place I don't have to constantly walk around on eggshells anymore. I don't have to fear what people think they know of me or how they define me.
I have changed a lot in the past two years. Losing my father has caused me to change how I looked at the entire world around me.
One morning I woke up and I looked in the mirror and saw a person I did not like...a person I did not know. I spent ten years of my life trying to fit into a mold I did not belong.
I spent the next year searching and I found myself again. I found my reason and purpose to be in this world. But I still felt incomplete. I was surrounded by people who didn't want growth or change in their lives. Or they wanted it, but were not willing to fight for it.
You are a lot of who you put yourself around. Their energy and vibes feed into you. Not only in our friends... but our neighborhood and community too. When I realized this, I knew I had to leave. I could not strive to be the person I was meant to be and have the life I wanted for my family in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
My husband and I spent the next year researching places to live. We looked into about 10 states, but only put in for job transfers in Washington, California, Illinois, and New York.
We were approved in both Washington state and Illinois. However, we went with Illinois because they offered more money, was closer to family, and had several gated communities / subdivisions.
I wasn't sure what to expect and how my life would fall into place into place here... but so far I am loving the direction things are going.
Every afternoon it's been nice weather, Poppy and I have been walking the nature trails in our subdivision. Poppy brings her tablet to take photos and I bring my camera.
The beautiful spring birds are out. My favorite are the Redwinged Black birds and the Tree Swallows. I had to look up their names on google and now I am inspired to journal them. I ordered a "birds of Illinois" book and plan on learning as much as I can.
You can probably expect a lot more pictures like this (smile). I really enjoy bird watching and nature photography as a whole. It's relaxing and nice to have something I can share with my toddler.
"At some point in your childhood, you and your friends went outside to play for the last time and nobody knew it."
I really thought that this year it would be easier. I could come into November feeling productive. Host a #LungCancer project, have a happy Thanksgiving dinner, smile on your birthday... but I have not been able to do anything. I still struggle to get up in the morning. And this past month has been one long string of what feels like never ending anxiety and depression. I could give you a fancy metaphor about dark deep holes forming below me that I fall into. Not being able to climb out...That feeling of absoulte hopelessness. But....Maybe simply saying that the part of me that died in June of 2016 is now killing what was left of the person I used to be. If you could see me now, I know you would not be pleased with what you saw.... Still, even that isn't motivation enough to claw even a tiny hole to peek at the light that was once there. I used to be the happy friend. The one always making jokes and people enjoyed being around. Now I have no one left. And I can't blame them as I don't even want to be around myself. I miss you, dad. You were the only person who understood me and loved me unconditionally. You were more than a father, you were my best friend. I wasn't ready to say goodbye. None of us were. There were just so many things that were unsaid. You were supposed to see Ashlie graduate and tell Poppy stories. I don't like being the oldest in the family. I don't know how to guide and keep everyone together. I feel like I have failed you and I can't keep my promises. As I write this I just feel even more crazy as I know you will never read it. Your consciousness, your energy is moved on into space or the Earth... you.. the things that made you, you are gone. And grasping that just tortures my mind. I am so tired of being tired.
This morning on Snapchat I saw some awesome posts by Brenda Waworga. If you don't know who she is, please check out her work http://www.brendawaworga.com ! She is a really awesome photographer with over 300k followers on her social media. She is absolutely fantastic with her craft!
This morning she did an expectation vs reality behind the scenes that really shows what a difference a pro photographer makes vs someone with just a cellphone. It also really digs deep into the quality of work because let's face it - not all "professionals" can work with anyone and any circumstances. And even buying a 2k camera doesn't mean your images will come out like these. Some need their studio, or that perfect location. While some of us can find inspiration wherever they are. I think it separates the photographers who did this for money, or the ones that do it for ART. The ones who always strive to do better and improve. Always learning. Always teaching and sharing. I have been doing this a little over ten years now and I still find myself striving to be better. I think there is always room for improvement.
So taken from Brenda's post, I got a little inspiration this morning, I would love to share with you guys my own behind the scenes. I know a lot of people wonder where my pictures are taken and you may think you need the perfect location. And honestly, that does help. But sometimes you have to make the most of what you have. It is a lot of hard work at first and learning your camera.. Then it's a lot of inspiration and finding your muse. Building a beautiful image in your mind and putting it out there making it a reality.
A little background on this... As you guys know, I love abandoned buildings and houses. We were heading to one location to find out it had no access at anymore. I do not believe in breaking into the places I visit, so this location was a no go. We were Definitely bummed and not sure what we would do. But then I saw a little grassy area next to the parking lot and we decided to take some pictures over there.
I still consider this to be one of my absolute favorite shoots. It was random and an unexpected location, but we really made the most of our surroundings. Photography for me is absolutely about creating something magical and memorable. I am so glad that Brenda came out and showed just how these images are done and the work photographers actually put in to make these perfect shots.
Thanks so much for reading! If you would like to see a few more images from this shoot... I have them in an album here: https://sugarygiggles.pixieset.com/native/