“You can’t get those roof joists in alone. I mean how will you line them up properly?” Farmer Quilo was studying the vacant space in front of my ‘bedroom’ hut, where I was planning to put my bathroom. His cows were chewing nonchalantly below us in my field, oblivious to the plans of builders and mud witches. They had verdure to process after all, and it’s a full-time bovine occupation.
“I think I can,” I replied with none of my old cantankerous I’ll-show-you, because Quilo isn’t a macho moron, and is capable enough that he doesn’t need to put me down to make himself feel better. He wasn’t doubting me because of my gender or my size. He honestly couldn’t see how the job could be done single-handed.
“But how will you hold the joists and bang them straight? I mean they all have to be lined up. And the ones poking out of your hut are all crooked.”
“Aha...Estoy preparada,” I answered with glee. Bending down, I picked up one of the small joists and showed him where I’d bored three holes. “Now it’s easy to bang the nail in one-handed,” I said. “I’ll bang the middle nail in first, then I can move the joist up and down and adjust it. I’ll do that with all three joists, lay a beam on top of all three, line them up, then whack the other nails in.”
Farmer Quilo’s features expanded like the face of the moon, one of those big rosy pumpkins that rise just before sunset, (because he likes a splash of vino tinto, does our Quilo). I think he’s an Asturian fusion of Celal and Dudu, with his dogs and cats and cows and beans. Yes I am lucky he’s my neighbour. But hey, I conversed plenty with the Earth before I found this spot, remember?
“Whoa!” Quilo eyed the planks and then me. “I suppose necessity is the mother of all creation,” he said – or something along those lines. Then he stepped along the path, flicking his garden gnome face briefly back. “Well, as I said, if you need help, just ring me.”
“I will, I promise,” I said. This time I meant it. I’m tired. It’s cold. I need a frigging bathroom.
The next day, for what it was worth, I looked at the weather forecast. It wasn’t inspiring. Rain was coming in shedloads, it said, not to mention the cold. I stared at the empty space where my bathroom should have been. I thought about extending that roof and those awful curvy tiles. Then I trotted down to talk to the ash tree.
“See it finished. Feel it finished. It is done,” Ash Tree said. Which is basically what he always says. And I sighed. Thus, with the sunlight dancing over his remaining leaves, I meditated and envisioned the roof extension finished. I felt the relief of it. I saw the beauty of it. After that, I climbed back up to my stone huts and banged in those three joists. They went in fast. They lined up properly. Then the pitter patter of precipitation filled my world.
Two days later my land was a cold boggy mess. It was so dreary that world politics almost glimmered in comparison. Even the cows looked disgusted, and stared at me in grumpy expectation, as if I had some control over the elements. Only the bull remained stalwart, but he is a remarkably easy-going chap. I decided to call Farmer Quilo the next day, and take a chance on the weather.
It was unbelievable really. In a week of solid rain, rising rivers, and floods, we had a single dry afternoon, and it happened to be the one that Quilo turned up on. He arrived at midday with a bag-full of tools and a stepladder, puffing a little as he pushed up the hill. But my ruddy-cheeked neighbour set to work like no tradesman I’ve ever hired. That roof was banged together, complete with tejas curvas by five pm. Totalmente. All right, I helped a bit here and there flitting about as materials delivery, but honestly? I can’t take credit for that porch. Lord knows how long I’d have messed about with it. As I threw the last few tiles up to Farmer Quilo, a stubborn-looking drizzle set up camp on my land. It turned to rain, and then to downpour.
Over the coming days, the ground transformed from solid to liquid, the air from warm feather to cold slate. Rain gathered in sodden flocks and stampeded down the slopes until it was no longer clear where the sky ended and the earth began.
It’s at such times that a builder must stop and assess. Traditionally December would be the time for such a stock-take, but Gaia has decided to suspend action early. So it is now, with a roof over my head (albeit small) and a stove chugging in the corner (albeit still with wood to cut), that I have momentarily paused for breath. And it is for a moment only, because I’m still a bathroom short, not to mention hot water. Oh hot water, what I wouldn’t do!
Did I bite off more than I can chew?
Quilo’s porch has highlighted something. It’s the first thing this year that I haven’t built by myself (notwithstanding a little help with the tejas curvas from my friends in July). As I sit in my nobbled kitchen, coffee steam wafting out of the cup, the landscape of the recent past spreads before me. With its peaks and ridges, its declivities and chasms, 2019 has been an odyssey into exertion the likes of which I’ve never known. Bitten off more than I can chew? Hey, I’ve had more on my plate than a shoestring backpacker who suddenly finds himself at an all-inclusive buffet.
Roofs have been taken off and put back on, there were battles with tiles, water pipes to connect, skylights to make and install, walls to plaster, floors to lay, holes to bash, plaster to throw, cretes to mix and apply, insulation to insert, beds to build, tables, kitchen cabinets, everything including the kitchen sink. The only two power tools I possess are a jigsaw and a drill. I have almost no electricity. Everything you see was hand-sawed, hand-mixed, hand-hammered. By me. One woman lone builder. Not to mention The Mud Home website to run, articles to write, and emails to answer, all without a proper power system installed, which means I’m starting my car to charge my laptop at times, or I have to run to the nearest cafe. Somehow (I actually have no idea how) I put together a digital lime course over the summer, too. I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard.
Sooo with this dramatic vista of endeavour at my back, should some slack-jawed fool dare to mumble that I’m so lucky, or they wish they could have what I have because blah de flipping moan whine blah, I fear they may find themselves swiftly buried under six feet of my hand-mixed limecrete.
Yet here’s the strangest part of all this. You see, I’ve loved every minute of my stone hut endurance caper, even washing in the freezing cow trough when it was ten degrees outside. You couldn’t drag me back to civilisation if you tried (well alright, perhaps for a hot shower now and again). Am I mad? A masochist? Or is this the sheer delight of stretching into wild new realities I had no idea I could reach. I’m astounded at how my body, psyche, and energy have adapted to birth these creations. I wonder where my limits are. Where our limits are. I understand now what I am. I’m a creator of worlds. It’s in my blood and my soul. I thrive on it.
Which brings me back. Lone builder I am, and I love it. But that is because, as I’m always saying, I’m not alone. This doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally feel alone. But whenever I do, I sit with the sensation and check exactly what that feeling is. What I discover when I look inside, is that loneliness has nothing to do with people, or being solitary. It’s about being disconnected. Disconnected from myself, my environment, the voices whispering all about me, the trees and birds, this incredible planet, the force of life in and beyond us all, and the beauty and wonder it opens for us.
It’s why I love to live by myself. It’s why I don’t envy couples or nuclear families. Because they are so often lonely, conflict-ridden old shacks. For me at least, enmeshed human relationships drag me away from the very place where I feel supported and connected. They pull me away from the unconditional tenderness and wonder and magic that I find in silence and nature.
Each morning in my spinster builder life, I walk along my ridge, and the sky tells me a different story. Through the sunrise and the dew, I sense Gaia’s power reaching into my muscle tissue. I hear the trees whisper in my mind, and feel the hands of the planet on my shoulders. I’m certainly not invincible, but I am part of something that is. When I become aware, minute to minute, that I’m not enclosed in a sack of skin, but emanating far beyond it, I finally understand I’m part of a living, breathing masterpiece that actually paints itself.
So thank you dear Earth for leading me here to this enchanting place with its bounteous wildlife and benevolent neighbours. Where will you lead me next, I wonder? And what will I create with you when I get there? Who knows? Who knows?
A massive hug and thank you to the crowd of people who’ve joined us on Patreon recently, as well as those loyal supporters who’ve been with us for so much longer. Thank you so much for chipping in to get me some decent batteries and a tougher inverter so that I can keep these posts coming. It would be impossible for me to maintain The Mud Home without your contributions.
Become a More Intimate Part of The Mud Home
If you want to see more photos, watch my land report videos, and get the inside story on this one-woman off-grid build, consider contributing as much as you like to support The Mud Home on Patreon.
May is nearly here and I’m not ready. Nowhere near. The roof hasn’t been touched, I’m only just getting the hang of the mortar, and my ‘bedroom’ is still a dusty heap of rotten wood. I can feel the pressure inching up my abdomen. It would be easy to panic now.
In fact last night I did panic. It was a fairly average case of the 3:00 am prod-of-terror. One minute I was happily asleep, the next minute my ‘to-do’ list decided to unfurl in its entirety beneath my eyelids. And it demanded solutions to everything, there and then. No matter how fast my neurons fired, I couldn’t find enough answers. There beneath my duvet, roofs collapsed, money ran out, and a hundred and one hitherto unforeseen disasters lurked in the darkness. These calamities never showed their faces, but growled menacingly from my subconscious.
I’ve spoken to a lot of builders. Most seem to have a 3:00 am panic from time to time. Because there’s something about building which engenders a huge leap of faith. You are constructing something larger than you, and many times it’s not at all clear how it’s going to materialise. At all. I’m standing at the threshold of such a time. How easy it would be to throw up my hands and yell into the brisk north-westerly coursing across my land, “Agh! I’ll never make it in time. I can’t do it! I give up!” Or indeed just run away and never come back.
But I’m in this with Gaia. Even in the pre-dawn pitch, I know deep down as long as I keep stepping forwards, I’ll get there – usually just in the nick of time. It’s a question of trust now. And trust is something we moderns sorely lack. That’s why we love calculations and future prediction models and algorithms. That’s why we obsess about plans, and tie ourselves in knots trying to stick to them. Because we don’t trust that Gaia has our back. We don’t trust life. We don’t trust ourselves.
I’m passionate about creating tiny off-grid Edens for so many reasons: They are liberating, sustainable, and invite a deep awareness of the environment and our impact upon it. But perhaps my favourite aspect is the process of the build itself. The trust it demands of me. It’s me and the land joining forces to create a new world. As soon as I physically begin working with a vision in mind, creation just sort of happens. I honestly don’t know how. It's a kind of magic.
The power to create isn't to be found in plans or solutions. Nor is it some sort of macho brute strength phenomenon. Power is in life itself, and either you are aware of it and access it, or you aren’t.
Today as I stand, wellie-clad, feet firmly planted upon the cool dirt, I sense it. The very life inside me. That wave of power. And I know if I trust it, I can ride it. That creative force makes a mockery of my 3:00 am mind and its limited ideas of who I am and what I can achieve. It has no understanding or interest in my schedule either. It makes no guarantees to finish by any time other than the right one.
Scanning my Eden, my eyes fall onto the burgeoning pasture. The meadow has exploded now. The grass is on a mission upwards with thousands of tiny flowers twirling in its midst; buttercups, daisies, wild violets, and birdsfoot trefoil all bob in the wind like rainbow stars while fat honey bees cavort with dead-nettle flowers*.
When you stare into the face of Gaia, you have to wonder. How do the flowers ‘know’ how to bloom? It is after all an immense engineering project for a tiny little plant; the pushing of the stalk upwards, the development of the stigma and stamen, and the sudden cranking open of their petal umbrellas. Whatever the answer, we can safely assume flowers don’t wake up at 3 in the morning in a panic about it. The intelligence is within them. It’s in life itself.
We humans are part of the same matrix of power and life and intelligence. Our growth and ingenuity move out of it. Yet I wonder, do we realise it? Because here we are at the edge of creating a new world for ourselves, and we've woken up in lather. We’ve known for a while that our house wasn’t stable, (heck, the thing was built on dodgy ground anyway), but the renovation work looked so daunting. Where to start? And how deep to go? So we’ve overthought everything and done a perfect nothing, because it all just appeared impossible. Now of course the roof tiles are falling off, and the walls are beginning to buckle, so we have to act. Yes, it’s 3:00 in the morning of the modern world, and we're suddenly awake. It would be easy to panic now. Easy to throw up our hands and give up. But building new worlds doesn’t happen like that.
It’s always when I’m teetering terrified on a scaffold without a clue what I’m doing, vision in mind, hammer in hand, that I realise I have to stop trying to think my way out of it, and allow life itself to work through me. I’ve set my best intentions of how I want my building to look and feel. I'm following through. Now there’s nothing else for it. It’s time to have a little faith and climb on that roof. Oh course, there are the usual crowd of hopeless naysayers (when are there not? And when have they ever been right?) but nowadays I'm adept at zoning them out. Because the limitations are in their minds, not in my reality. And not, most importantly, in life.
In the world of the modern human there's a brave new house to be built. But while blind panic may galvanise us to act, it's hardly a vision. We need to claim our future, rather than feebly just trying to avoid calamity. The outer work is all well and good, but without some serious inner renovation frankly we are toast. It was our old school mindset based on fear and mechanised contingency that got us exactly where we are now.
It's time to step towards a more beautiful world with a little trust that something larger than us, something that doesn’t adhere to schedules and man-made predictions, will take our hand. Without that trust we are lost. Without that trust we create nothing magnificent at all. We simply stare ahead and see doom.
Remember back on Mud Mountain when the bulldozers came? It seemed like the end of the world. Yet what do you know eh? My new world is full of honey bees and vultures, clean spring water and wolves, cobbled huts, and organic free range cows... Apparently, when you trust in the planet, sometimes the end of the world can be an upgrade.
At the moment I'm paddling like mad just to keep everything running, and need to offload a lot more 'drudge' to my paid virtual help over the next few months. It really is pretty hard to keep The Mud Home going while I build a roof over my head. So if you find meaning or inspiration in this blog please consider contributing on Patreon. For just $2 a month you have access to my private news feed where I post updates and thoughts I don't wish to share with the world at large, plus a monthly video from my land.
Many many thanks to the dear Mud Sustainers and all those already supporting on Patreon for helping to fund this website and allowing it to continue.
“Yeah, you can eat this laurel,” said the owner of the nursery. He was a sturdy man with a generous smile. Stretching out a hirsute hand, he pulled one of the sapling’s leaves off and stuffed it in his mouth to prove the point. “Should survive up where you are, though you won’t see anything for three years, because...” and here he started babbling about raices while spitting out bits of leaf.
For the umpteenth time I pulled out my phone and typed the new word into the online dictionary. Raices. Roots.
“Once this tree has a decent root system, then it grows pretty fast. But three years. You need to be patient.” The tree seller dropped the potted laurel back on the ground, and the leaves shook on impact.
Standing there in the nursery, I felt the sun warm my spine. In the background, behind the polytunnels of baby trees and the car park, mountains pushed up crisp and clear. Within those colossal peaks my land was waiting.
I snapped my eyes back to the laurels. “OK, I’ll take three of them,” I said. “Plus that holly you showed me. You know, the independent female that didn’t need a male,” I winked at the tree seller. He guffawed. I grinned in return, feeling rather pleased that I could now express a soupçon of wit across the rickety scaffold of my Spanish.
A week later all the baby trees were planted, with fences to protect them from goats and eggshells to protect them from slugs. I sat between them, watching the rocks come alive in the gloaming, their ancient bodies pulsing. Slowly. Patiently.
On the rim of my land, my eye fell upon a full-grown holly bush. My gaze flitted from the baby I had planted, to the adult in the woods, and then to the enormous ash tree behind my stone hut.
If you want to see how to make incredible things happen, just watch nature, because nothing and no one is as powerful at creating worlds as She.
Thus I return to last month’s post. To one way of making things happen. Though in truth we are all unique, each with our own growth rhythm and style. When we sit with the Earth and let her speak to us, if we look for her secret messages within the ridges of rocks or the bifurcating stems of leaves, we are always reminded of our way.
The Process of Making Things Happen
Watch a tree, how it happens, and you will learn everything you need to know about manifesting new realities. All trees – imagine an enormous powerful oak, or the evergreen tower of a red pine – start as lifeless kernels until they are planted, and watered. For quite a while nothing appears to happen. Yet in truth, as soon as the kernel hits the wet dirt, something shifts. And if it continues to shift in a certain direction, the seed germinates. This is a kind of alchemy. I’m fascinated by it, because no one really understands it. It’s the spell of the dirt.
There is the potential. The seed. Lifeless. Doing nothing other than holding the idea of a tree within it. The seed hits the dirt, and something changes.
After germination, everything moves in increments. Step by tiny step. No step on the sapling’s path is superfluous. Each is necessary. It just keeps moving bit by tiny bit in the direction it wants to go. Namely toward the sun.
Whether we still feel it or not, we are born out of the dirt of this planet, just like the trees and the slugs and the grass. Despite what education systems and social conditioning ‘teach’ us, we create new versions of ourselves exactly like our planet does, using the very same dirt alchemy.
The seed is your vision. Your dream. It holds great potential, but...until it is planted in the real world, in the dirt of the planet, in the messy physical plane, it is lifeless. It will never germinate. That magical alchemy will never happen. Nothing will appear.
Planting vision seeds in the real world seems to be what most people struggle with. And I think it’s because we see a seed, and then a full grown tree, and have no idea how to bridge the gap. So we panic. Because we think we have to have the entire process covered from start to finish, because that’s what we’ve learned at college, or in business management courses, or from architect’s plans.
But you cannot have the process covered. And if you do, you’ll be throwing your plan away pretty soon (if you ever stop tinkering with it and start putting it into action). Because as soon as you take the first step and plant the seed, neither you nor the world is the same.
The secret to making things happen is to move in increments. Consistently. Patiently. With one eye on your dream, and the other on where you are now. Without worrying too much about the rest of the journey. This is as true for house building as it is for book writing or land buying. Because life is a cauldron of enchantment which when stirred causes miracles to emerge.
Six Tree Steps to Making it Happen
1. Find your seed.
Your dream is your seed. Make sure it’s the right one. Are you planting a maple tree seed? Or an orchid bulb? Or a hawthorn? Be sure. Know what you want and why, because you will get what you ask for. The most potent seeds are forged within kernels of trust, joy, and inspiration, while seeds born of anger, fear, and low self esteem tend to develop into weak, unsatisfying realities.
Hindrances: Even at this early stage, people can start losing faith. They think they can’t have what they want, so begin reducing the dream seed to fit into some box that they have been made to believe is reality. I notice I’ve done this a lot in my life. Perhaps in truth we only expand the cage bit by bit.
2. Dig the ground.
The way I till the ground is to start brainstorming all the things I’d feasibly have to do to obtain my dream. I write them down on paper: List, mind map, or picture format, it doesn’t matter. The crux is to move that non-physical dream some way into the physical world.
Once I’ve brainstormed every task or action I can think of, I put the steps in some kind of order. Yes, I might be an earth-whispering hippy, but even I have a to-do list. Unfortunately this isn’t the '70s, and to be free in this age of corporate insanity, you need to be organised. Now, I'm not saying I take my plans too seriously, because life enjoys a good chuckle at any planners' expense. Nevertheless, this process transforms my otherwise nebulous unattainable vision, into concrete doable steps.
Hindrances: Here, because we suddenly see a bit of effort is required, the insurmountable obstacles start popping up in people’s minds. So if I find myself thinking I can’t dig the ground and plant a seed because (insert your excuse), I make another list with all my excuses on it. Then I resolutely set it aside (or burn it) and start acting and thinking as though the solutions have magically appeared.
People are often bemused when they ask me, "but what are you going to do about (insert random worry about some detail at the nether end of my to-do list)" and I reply, "No idea. Something will turn up." To their abject annoyance, it always does. Doubt and worry are the mental equivalent of Monsanto Roundup. They are carcinogenic. Don’t apply them to your seed.
Believe it or not, trees also form action plans. They calculate where they think the maximum sunlight will be X years from now, and push out branches accordingly. I'm pretty sure they don't worry too much about number 10 on their to-do list either. For more on tree intelligence and problem-solving capacity, read this article: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/radical-conservation/2015/aug/04/plants-intelligent-sentient-book-brilliant-green-internet
Don’t become obsessed by money.
Notice “raise money” is not number one on the list. That’s because it definitely isn’t the first thing you should be worrying about. Huh? Really?
Money is a tool, not a vision. And take it from me, as soon as you start believing in your vision enough to do something about it, weird and wonderful things happen. Life starts believing in you. Other people start believing in you. Support appears. As long as you’re open to different ways of raising money, and not clinging to some sort of ‘poor me’ scarcity mindset that refuses to let it in, funds will arrive.
3. Plant the seed!
And this is where the majority of folk falter. They just won’t budge out of the stalls. If this is you, ask yourself: Are you really only going to buy seeds for the rest of your life? Really? Is your life just going to be a shelf full of jars that you look at? On your deathbed are you going to be proud that you just dreamed?
You plant your seed by taking the first thing on your new to-do list, and doing it.
You may find yourself looking at that initial step and realising it needs its own to-do list. Very normal. I do that all the time. Just break down step one into mini steps. Increment by increment. That’s how trees to do it. Follow the trees.
This is the first place overwhelm hits. “Oh so many steps! How can will I ever take them all?” Remember: You don’t have to take all the steps. You just have to take one, and once you’ve taken that initial leap, the world is no longer the same. This is such an overlooked and profound truth. The world is no longer the same when you take one action in it because you have now changed it.
When I moved onto Mud Mountain in Turkey, I didn’t know how to bang a nail in. I could never in my wildest dreams have imagined I’d be building my own house within six months or writing a blog about it. How could such a thing be possible? And yet, what do you know? You see, our knowledge of our world and ourselves is horribly limited. Once you’ve stepped onto a different life track, incredible things happen.
4. Water the seed. Consistently.
Some seeds grow into trees. Some give up. If you ask me, it is completely okay to give up if you realise you don’t want to be that tree anymore. Far more worthy to have stretched out of seed mode and then conclude you need to change course, than to remain a dry kernel forever doing a big fat nada.
I’ve given up on plenty of planted seeds. Van life, for example. Pah! It’s definitely not for me. I’m very glad I tried it though, and it brought me to my land, so it was a valuable seed to plant.
Watering the seed means to keep moving through your continually evolving to-do list. Patiently. Consistently. Throw on too much water (or effort), and you drown the poor seedling. Neglect it, and it withers up. It's a balance. The trick is to make sure you’re enjoying each step of the process for what it is, while simultaneously keeping the end vision in mind and pushing gently towards it. One foot in the now, one in the future.
5. Let the plant grow.
Healthy, blooming, mature trees grow organically. Life and the Earth weave their magic into them and they alter their growth pattern in accordance. They adapt to wind, sunlight, food, predators, and the needs of the forest community too. Life is not static. That static ‘thing’ is an idiocy of the human mind.
A Seed Well Planted
Over two years ago I planted a seed. I threw myself from the Mediterranean coast of Turkey on to the Atlantic coast of Europe. There was the usual throng of naysayers braying at my back. “It’s very expensive you know, how will you survive?” “You can’t find land there for that price!” “You don’t have a network! It will be hard without friends.”
Today, I sit in my new Eden. Looking up, I see the horizon has become the canvas of an impressionist, mountain backs dappled violet, green and grey by the brush of the clouds. I am amazed. The seed I planted has now become a sapling. Next year it will grow higher still until one day it’s as grand as this ash tree I’m sitting under.
Curling into my favourite nook in the trunk, I raise my eyes into the arms of the ash. The last leaf has recently fallen. Her branches are bare now, all energy pulling back underground. To the roots. Raices. Where she dreams of new pathways, considers fresh outgrowths, and consolidates her power for the year ahead.
Want to create a new reality?
I’m not sure if this is due to my land’s influence on me or not – it’s a powerful space; abundant, endowed, enabling – but I’ve felt a calling to push out an extra side shoot on creating new realities.
I don’t know exactly what this will entail in terms of content, but over the winter, for anyone who signs up in the box below, I’ll be sending free material and ideas on making change happen, increasing your power to create, and following through on your dreams. So if you’re interested, put your name and email address in the box.
Don't forget to confirm your email address, by clicking on the link in the first email (check your spam folder if you can't see it).
If you enjoy the Earth Whispering Blog and would like to keep it running, please consider making a pledge on Patreon to support it. For just $2 a month you join my private newsfeed, where I post photos of my land developments and musings I don't wish to share with the world at large, plus a monthly patron-only video.
Many thanks to the dear Mud Sustainers, and all those already contributing on Patreon. You keep this blog alive.
You want to escape the system and find your dream space. You’ve read about it. Googled it to death. You’ve drooled so long and hard over those mud homes and natural wildernesses that you’ve run out of saliva. But for some reason the dreaming never seems to shift into reality. You’re still stuck in your hateful job. You still haven’t found your space. Do you really believe you can? Somehow you can’t pull yourself out of that stale old life, and slide into something dazzlingly and awe-inspiringly new. Why not?
“Why don’t people leap?” Is a question I often ask myself. I would. I’m a leaper. And leapers are always in good spirits when they find they’ve landed in the right place. Because you never quite know for sure, do you? It’s a risk.
Now I wouldn’t deny, even by my standards this particular leap turned into a somewhat protracted, nail-biting flight. At times I felt I was grabbing at vines and branches to soften the descent. Air currents buffeted me in places, other times I was battling head winds. Even when could clearly see my landing space, it seemed to take an eternity to reach the ground, my heels skidding through the mud never quite coming to a halt.
This month however, it happened. I landed. And such a gratitude has been welling up in me, because my rugged beauty is wonderful. As I potter in and out of my cabanas, I marvel at how perfect these ancient structures are. How useful. How full of character and potential. Each stone is a mottled and magical being waiting to tell me his story.
When I gaze out from the stout coolness of these huts, I see the mountains folding back on themselves in rocky pleats. Each valley hides another world, and another reality. The wind blows. All about me tree fingers are releasing what they have gripped tightly onto all summer, leaves fluttering to the ground like rusty confetti. Some see autumn as an ending, but for me it is often a beginning. An opening into a cave where I find new ideas and inspiration sprouting from the humus of the old.
No longer am I lost and rootless, camping beneath the dictates of the World At Large. I am yet again queen of my domain. I can do whatever. I. like.
Yes I’m a leaper. Because once you’ve sipped from the chalice of freedom, it’s impossible to put up with the dregs convention throws at you. You will leap and leap, on and on, because you know there is nothing to lose and everything to win. Still as I breathe the clean air and feel the land join my heart, I know there are many others still drooling with hunger, still yearning. And yet for some reason unable to make it happen.
Thus this post becomes an odd mixture of whimsy and ideas. There’s an art to making stuff happen you see. And in the light of a few discussions this week, I will try to share some of what I know.
How to Make Stuff Happen
Since the day I started blogging up on Mud Mountain, there has been a continual trickle of emails and correspondences along the lines of: “I’d love to do that. But...” and then out spin the reasons, like a threadbare roll of carpet underlay. This isn’t a judgement. What I hope to point out in this post is that the reason you aren’t going for your dream is not what you think it is. If you want to cling to a reason, it's your call and absolutely your right, but it's incredibly disempowering.
I know some folk just enjoy the dream, and that’s totally acceptable to me. I have dreams I have no intention of fulfilling. Imagining is fun. Whatsmore, I certainly don’t believe everyone should do what I’m doing. Who knows what’s the most fulfilling course of action for you? And there are many different ways to buck The System and be yourself: You could throw on a backpack and travel the world, buy a campervan, leave your job and volunteer in an elephant sanctuary. The most valuable thing anyone can be doing is living from their heart and soul, and if you’ve been so brutalised by The System that you no longer know what they are or yearn for, then the most valuable thing is to take time out to relocate them.
But if you do deeply and truly want a way out, and feel thwarted, then read on. Because the way out is you.
The Insurmountable Obstacle
Whenever someone longs for something but doesn't go for it, there’s usually an ‘insurmountable obstacle’ lurking somewhere in their mind. This phantom issue then serves as a buffer from a deeper truth. The person may be afraid to take a chance, or perhaps don't believe they deserve any better, or just can’t muster the willpower to really commit to their dream. To leap.
By far the most common “insurmountable obstacle” I hear about is money. Most folk who come to me saying they don’t have enough funds, have more than I do. I’m not proud of that. I’m not against money either, it’s a very useful and empowering tool. I’m definitely not starting some sort of moneyless woman competition. I’m just pointing it out. Your money limitation cannot be the real reason you’re not living off-grid in nature, because this lifestyle is the most inexpensive there is. Most out-of-system lifestyles are cheap to run. It's 'normal' life that's expensive. So you can do this. That's good news.
Let’s get into some real figures here, only to widen ideas about what is really possible: Currently I’m living a beautiful life in Europe on about 600 Euros a month, and a third of that goes on running The Mud Home website. So in fact I could be getting by on 400 Euros (well below the minimum wage). Europe. This is Europe. Not Asia. Not Turkey (because that was the excuse when I lived there, “oh you’re so lucky, you’re in Turkey, you can’t do that in Europe.”) Don’t cling to the figures though and start using them as another thing to contort your mind around. In Turkey I was getting by (admittedly not very comfortably, yet ecstatically happy) on 150 Euros. Perhaps tomorrow I'll start spending more. Perhaps I'll spend less. I'm not attempting to live the cheapest life on the planet or be better than anyone. I'm just trying to show alternative realities exist, and that the point isn't a number on a spreadsheet. The point is the vision in your soul, and breathing life into it.
The truth about money is, no one ever thinks they have enough. So you’ll never reach the stage when you think you do. Why? Because what you actually want is security, and the brutal fact is there isn’t any. Even if you have a million pounds, or Euros or dollars. That’s why these top CEOs are still raping the planet to eke out a bit more profit. Because in their minds, they still don’t have enough.
This all becomes so clear once you step outside the prison walls of The System, but from within it can be hard to imagine life without: a pension scheme (that you continue to pay into, but may or may not receive), health cover (for the myriad ailments you acquire because life in The System is so unhealthy), a regular salary (to spend on a whole bunch of things you don’t need because you are burned out and miserable).
Of course it’s not just money. There are a plethora of other ‘insurmountable obstacles’ in people’s minds. I'm not making light of people's issues here. We all have our struggles and have to overcome them. Sometimes those difficulties change our paths entirely. But the myth that you can't create a new, inspired life for yourself is both untrue, and cruelly self-limiting.
I’ve met folk who’ve left the system and begun new lives with every single limitation imaginable: Children, age, serious health issues, single, not single, woman, man, in every country in the world people hack their way out of the grind and shimmy off grid to create Edens for themselves. Did they manage it by sitting on Facebook all day? Or by saving money ad infinitum? Or by huffing and puffing and assuming everyone else has it easy? Was it a piece of mud cake for any of them? Nope. These people did it by climbing out of the soft padded cells of their minds, and into the wilderness of real life. At some point they took a risk. Our Facebook Group is full of such people. They are all amazing, and all have different limitations. None of them are millionaires. Not even close.
The Bottom Line
For me there’s only one question you absolutely have to sort out in your mind here. Do you want a new life? Really? If the answer is no then I very much respect you for your honesty. Good for you! Now you are clear, you can focus on what you do want, and go for that. Perhaps you already have it! But if the answer is yes, then it’s time to act. Don't dawdle any longer, because nothing in the world is secure. You have little to lose.
Next month I’ll share my own method for how I go about that. How to get from A to B. How to make big things happen in real life, step by step. Because I think perhaps a lot of the time people just don’t know where to start. It's not an exhortation, just some ideas for what they are worth.
In the meantime I’ll be pottering up on my land, a plot which cost me half the price of Mud Mountain in Turkey yet incredibly is five times larger, with running water, a spring to drink from, and three beautiful stone cabanas on it. And all this in expensive old Europe where apparently no one can do anything because of red tape and high prices. I never believed such a thing was possible, because Europe had long been an insurmountable obstacle to me. Until the day it wasn't. You see it isn’t about the numbers. This world is made of magic stardust, and anything can happen.
If you enjoy the Earth Whispering Blog and would like to keep it running, please consider making a pledge on Patreon to support it. For just $2 a month you join my private news feed where I post photos of my land developments, and musings I don't wish to share with the world at large, plus a monthly patron-only video.
Many thanks to the dear Mud Sustainers, and all those already contributing on Patreon. You keep this blog alive.
"I loved reading this book if just for the eloquent depictions of starting a homestead from scratch. You won’t get hippy-dippy tree hugging instead, you will be entertained and mentored on the trials and joys of building a homestead while bonding with and appreciating the nature around you." Thomas on Amazon.com
"The way Atulya writes is captivating. Over the last two years, I had been struggling to concentrate for any length of time in order to read a book. I was so gripped by this book that I actually read it in a day!" J Bilton on Amazon.uk
"Magical, mystical, brilliant as ever," Mrs Ann Kirk on Amazon.uk
"...Inspiring in its all its 'dirty' glory. The challenges faced, the problem-solving using heart AND mind, and the coming home to one's own self - I enjoyed it tremendously and have already recommended it to friends and family!" Recovering Idealist, Amazon.com
"Atulya Bingham is undoubtedly brave, not only because she lived in a tent on a mountain by herself. That's elementary compared to writing and telling about the experience in the way she does--nakedly and honestly." KK on Amazon.com
Atulya K Bingham
"Reality meets fantasy, myth, dirt and poetry. I'm hooked!" Jodie Harburt, Multitude of Ones.