Off-grid Dream 6 Months in- How Far Have I Come?

A new community, permaculture explorations and co-creation in action- reflecting on what I have learnt so far as I follow this off-grid dream.

off-grid dream
The dream!
Picture of Jo Fores permaculture paradise, creator of https://www.permaculturewomen.com/

We are now at the end of June 2020 and things seem to have slowed down and sped up at the same time. The fire that I spoke about back in January when I made my declaration to the world is still going strong but the initial push has given way to a moment of stillness and reflection…

The blog has now been born and after 6 months I feel like it is the moment to step back and take stock of how far I´ve come on this journey of off-grid dreams and discovery. And having just read back all my blog posts so far, I can see that I have come quite a long way since I wrote my first post.

It might seem from the outside that things are the same as they were 6 months ago. I mean, I have the same job, I am still in the same city, there hasn´t been any outward movement towards any possible move to the countryside. The off-grid dream remains nothing but a dream at this point.

However, at the same time, I feel so much closer. Below the surface, things are happening and my original dream of living a more earth-centred life is beginning to take shape.

Community

The first amazing discovery is the fact that so many people who have come across my blog posts on Facebook have shown me so much support. In fact, I have found whole communities of people online who are more than happy to help and share their knowledge.

The support that I have received has really blown me away and has really given me so much more confidence about moving forward when the time is right. I had offers of setting up communities, countless invitations to visit projects and one kind and generous soul even offered a small plot of his land to live on so we didn´t have to worry about spending all our money on buying our own land!

The trust, openness and generosity that people have demonstrated have been simply amazing. As one new online friend commented, in his experience, the people living alternative lifestyles were always very warm and welcoming. It seems like co-operation and the sharing of knowledge is the norm in these communities, and it feels so refreshing in comparison to the dog-eat-dog world of competition that is so prevalent in the rest of society.

Everyone has a different story, but ultimately the same vision or outlook. And when united by a common goal, people naturally come forth and help to support others who are also starting out on the same path, like knowledgeable, wise mentors.

Facebook is just for funny pictures of cats, right?

What has also surprised me is the power of an online community. This might seem strange to say since it is exactly what I am trying to create with the book club and Facebook group, but the truth is that I have never really been big on social media, so I was a complete newbie to using Facebook groups etc. But really, I can´t believe what an amazing space for finding like-minded people they are.

Previously I had thought that Facebook was just for people posting cute images of cats and Instagram was just for posting pictures of what you had for lunch, but now I can see that they are so much more than that. It just depends on how you use them. It can be used to pass the time aimlessly or to network and connect with like-minded people and help each other out.

I am sure that some people reading this will be wondering where I have been for the last 15 years, but really I am only just catching on! 🙂

New Friends in the Making

One of the most wonderful things that have come out of this new blogging venture so far, is the lovely people who have got in contact with me directly because they also share the same, or similar dream. I genuinely feel like I have connected with people that I would love to meet in person one day.

In fact, it is only thanks to two readers who both got in touch with me, that I have found this wonderful permaculture online course that I am doing now. Created by women, for women, it is amazingly put together and an incredibly rich resource of information and community. There is a free year-long course, as well a paid one, which you can pay different amounts for depending on how much you can afford.

This has been a huge step forward in gaining the knowledge I am going to need and is also helping me gain a deeper understanding of what it is that I want to do in the world. So thanks to them suggesting the course to me, I will now use the summer to understand exactly what permaculture is and even become certified when it is finished!

Permaculture and Blogging

Another benefit to doing the permaculture course has been seeing how I can relate some of the permaculture principles to this blogging adventure.

When I started this blog I was under the impression that for it to be a success you had to have thousands upon thousands of readers but what I am seeing in that that is not the case. Or at least it depends what your original intention was.

It´s true sometimes I have had moments of despair, wondering how on earth I could reach more than 5 people a day, but when I look back on my original intention of ´connecting with others who are also treading the same path´, I can see that this is already happening. And therefore it is already a complete success!

Thanks to my permaculture course, I can see that it is not the number of connections that I have but the quality. I have learnt that in all living systems, there are connections between different components that allow for the necessary diversity to sustain a strong and healthy system.

free permaculture
https://www.freepermaculture.com/onlinecourse

However, it is not the number of connections, but the number of beneficial connections that make the difference. So relating that to my blog, having two readers who send you the support and information you need to take your next step is much more beneficial than having 10,000 readers who read but don´t engage or participate.

Not that I don´t want readers who only read- don´t get me wrong! Feel free to read this and then move on with your day – comment/email/interact only if you feel inspired to do so! I offer this article in the spirit of the gift and without expecting anything in return. We have enough obligations in this world without adding another one.

Rather this is just a reflection of how my learning about permaculture is also helping me to see this blogging adventure from a different, more holisic and qualitative angle, rather than the quantatative mindset we usually value.

Syncronicity and Flow

What I also love about how this permaculture course came about, is the fact that I didn´t go through the hard work of researching all the different courses available online, comparing them, looking at reviews etc. It simply came my way, and when it comes from two people who have similar ideas to me, I took that to be the best reference possible and jumped straight in.

For me, I see this as the complete embodiment of what Charles Eisenstein calls ´The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible´. Trust, synchronicity and believing that you don´t need to know all the answers before you start a project, you just trust that synchronicities will appear to guide you- as long as you show up to do the work…

The cues will appear but it is up to us to take them.

I also love that this act of sharing is the living embodiment of co-creation. Sure I can write a blog and hang out there in cyberspace, but without the interaction of others it would remain a dead thing, lingering there but not really breathing. A monologue but not a conversation.

It is only with the help of all these lovely people that I have been in contact with that I have moved forward. And so from monologue, it has transformed to a participatory interaction between co-creators, all of us sharing what we have that could be useful for others.

Giving of Yourself

It also makes me think about the importance of stepping forth and offering what we have. Speaking for myself, I can now see that I have often held back, waited to see what others said or did, quietly absorbing and coming to my own conclusions.

I can see how reserved I have always been. Whether that was out of shyness or Britishness I´m not sure but now I see this as being a bit… stingy.

Stingy is perhaps a word normally related to money, but I think that there exists also an kind of inter-personal stinginess: when we want to say something supportive but don´t, when we could say something helpful and choose not to, when we could participate but decide against it.

It obvious that there are many times that all of the above are completly justified but in my case, I think there have been all too many times that I have chosen not to interact, not to participate, not to speak my truth, not always our of fear but just out of being reserved in coming forth.

Now, after receiving the generosity of people interacting with me when they could have just stayed quiet, it really makes me appreciate that the best gift you can give someone is when you give of yourself.

Giving is also receiving, so rather than stinginess being only a withholding from others, it is also a withholding your own self.

How much more beautiful could the world be if we could heal our selves from this learnt habit of reservation and stinginess and give our light gloriously to all those who may cross our paths?

Especially now more than ever, I think it is the time for more people to speak up and step forward in order to unite together so we can feel the strength of others who also believe a more beautiful world is possible and are willing to participate in its creation.

Believing in dreams

One common theme that has ran throughout my conversations with people is that of believing in your dreams whether or not you know how to make them happen.

As my new online friend Wouter said,

´There will always be a lot of people yelling that something can´t be done or isn´t realistic. It´s often when you embark on your journey that unforeseen opportunities arise´.

So far on this journey, I have seen that this is very true! And if it has been true for the last 6 months, why not the next 6 months?

As another new online friend Paul has said, fortune favours the brave!

Next Steps

With just a few more days of work left until I break up for the summer, I´m feeling a bit more research, investigation and exploration is in order…

Where will this summer take us?

One thing is for sure: this opportunity for myself and Sergio to have some time off together (thanks to the coronavirus) isn´t going to come around again so we have to grab it with both hands and really use it to get this ball rolling.

As I said, I have had a lot of invites to go and visit projects and get to know people who are also treading in the same path, so it seems like the next natural step for this off-grid dream to go and check them out!

How we will do this remains to be seen…we don´t have a car and it would be too expensive to rent one for such a duration of time. But one thing that I have heard time and time again from tho people I have been in contact with is that lack of funds needn´t be a problem but an excellent opportunity to be creative!

So the question that I am going to asking myself over the next few days is:

Within the limitations of time and current funds, what would be the most enriching, exciting and adventurous thing I could do this summer?

If this were to be my absolute last, what would I do that maybe normally I wouldn´t quite dare?

How can I use this time the most wisely to nourish this off-grid dream and take me closer to realising it…?

And you dear reader?

What could you do this summer to take you one step closer to realising your dreams?

Because as another new online friend Paul said,

´If you don´t try, you will never know´

off-grid dream Madrid
Tree of dreams, Madrid Rio.
photo by me

Credits

A big thank you to the following people who have unknowingly contributed to the article:

Aurélie and Lorna for sharing the permaculture course with me.

Paul Carruthers, Walter Spmuk, Paul Dunn for your inspiring words.

Max freedom for your generous offer- expect a visit soon! 😉

Andréas Poléo for all great info and book recommendation- I will let you know how it goes!

To the following Facebook groups, whose members contributed to discussion, sharing info, kind invitations and other inspiring words that will no doubt appear on this blog at some point!

Off-grid living Spain

Self sufficiency, permaculture and sustainable living (UK & Europe)

Extinction Rebellion Re-wilding

If you have enjoyed this post then please share it with other like-minded souls! Let´s make this community grow 😀

Olivia

Join me as I transition from the city to the country, following my hearts desire for a more sustainable life based on respect for the Earth and all the creatures in it.

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Shreyash Chaudhari

Hey Olivia! I don’t know if you recall, but I met you at the Isha Yoga Center and you told me about how you planned to start this journey and consequently this blog. I’m so happy to see that it’s come this far 🙂 You write in quite an engaging manner, which is clear from the fact that you’ve sold me on following these posts though I personally have no interest (yet) on permaculture or off-grid living. The synchronicity aspect of it is truly affirming and encouraging to read, and if nothing else, makes for a good story! I’m going to graduate soon, and seeing your outlook towards your challenges is emboldening for my personal pursuit of difficult and unconventional goals. I look forward to seeing how this adventure unfolds 🙂

Chris haworth

Sounds exciting Liv, stepping out towards your dreams. Good luck with your ventures xx

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