“Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship”. Buddha
Those of you who’ve been on the blog a while may have noticed our avatar has the name libertatemamo (freedom lovers…more or less…in latin). Freedom has been a cornerstone of my life ever since I can remember. It’s driven countless experiences for me both financially, emotionally and travel-wise, but in a very particular way. You could say RVing is a natural progression of my love of freedom (and it really is) but there’s much more to it than that. Freedom is a financial, mental and physical endeavor which I believe is attainable by everyone. It all depends on how you approach it. Here’s my take on what freedom means to me:
1/ Living Within Your Means
You might not have expected me to start this way, but this motto has been a true brick of my freedom-loving life. I’ve always striven to live within (and more usually well below) my means. My very first income was made cleaning houses and my first 2 years of post-college work I shared a house with 4 other people so I could save part of my income. As my income rose I targeted to save at least 40% of what I earned, all in the quest to remain financially free. Then I met a man who felt the same way, and I was hooked
In our fulltime RVing we continue to follow this mantra. RVing has actually been the perfect outlet giving us the ability to adjust our lifestyle (via how we travel and where we camp) to our income at any given time. It’s been a truly freeing experience.
P.S. In the spirit of this goal Paul has finally been convinced to come back to blogging (yes, yes his own idea entirely…of course…bien sûr) and just posted our 2011 portfolio results yesterday.
2/ Living Debt-Free
We’ve not always been debt-free, but it’s always been a goal. We finally achieved it when we decided to radically change our life in Asia several years ago, and it’s been an incredibly freeing experience. Living debt-free allows you an enormous financial flexibility which the burden of debt does not. I think everyone should have this goal.
3/ Living Healthy
A wise man once said that health is the most important gift in life and I certainly believe that. I struggled with weight ever since my early teenage years and finally found a way of eating & exercising which keeps me at a healthy weight and energy level, with blood levels that support it. Paul and I spend a lot of time researching and keeping track of our health (I’ll blog a bit on it sometime), and it’s definitely a freeing endeavor. The body is a super-complicated machine and there are no guarantees or magical recipes for 100%-health, but I think it’s important to try to make the best of what we’re given, no matter what that is.
4/ Living In Happiness
We’re veering into the spiritual side of life here, but trust me it’s worth it. Having struggled with some pretty deep depression in my lifetime I believe happiness is a thing earned and worked at, not given. It’s a question of how you wake up, how you approach life, and how you allow your mind to react to the obstacles, stress and worry that daily life throws our way (and believe me those obstacles will always be there). I start each day with positive affirmations, make it a point to note and appreciate the daily beauty around me and practice both meditation and yoga. Plus I feed my mind with the right foods (amino acids, correct vitamin D levels, omega-3 supplementation, and cutting out sugar & gluten have all been key for me). I consider all this the equivalent to going to the gym for my mind and it’s going to be a lifetime plan. The more I exercise happiness, the happier I get. Isn’t that a fabulous combo?
5/ Staying True To Yourself
This is a kinda a big fluffy-white-combo-cloud summary of all of the above, but it completely works. You could say I was gifted with an independent character and a solid upbringing that supported that streak (both of which are correct), but I’ve also worked to stay true to that precious gift. I’ve always strived to follow my own path in life, to seek the things that gave me fulfillment and happiness and to stay true to those values. It’s not always been easy and there have been cases where I’ve sacrificed material, financial and career gain (much to the astonishment for those around me) for personal growth, but it’s always, always been worth it. No-one can live your life but you.
With that rather profound end to my little post, I challenge you to answer one question. What does freedom mean to you?
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