Mov­ing for a sim­pler life

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FEATURES - JILL BURNS Visit our web­site: www.chick­en­soup.com.

Jill Burns had al­ways dreamed of mov­ing to the moun­tains to live a sim­pler life and en­joy more of the out­doors with her fam­ily, but the time never seemed right and their fi­nances never seemed ad­e­quate.

Af­ter many years of putting off her dream, she and her hus­band fi­nally de­cided to take a big leap into the un­known, mov­ing their fam­ily out to the moun­tains to live the life she had longed for. Jill shares her story, “Moun­tain Dreams,” in our book about find­ing your time to thrive. Here’s how Jill tells the story:

Our fam­ily had en­joyed a happy home in the small com­mu­nity where we lived. Yet, as life of­ten does, our sit­u­a­tion changed. The town had grown, but we had not. We de­cided to move and start fresh.

That night, un­able to sleep, my hus­band and I dis­cussed our plans, or lack of them. We had no idea where we were headed or what we should do with our lives. The more we talked, the more I thought about one of our fam­ily’s fa­vorite Dis­ney movies: “So Dear to My Heart.”

This won­der­ful movie por­trayed the life­style my hus­band and I longed for. We had al­ways dreamed of own­ing a tiny chinked-log cabin like the one in the movie, but we’d live in the moun­tains. I’d spin wool by the wood stove, milk goats, make cheese, can food and work a gar­den. My hus­band would har­vest wood, hike, fish, snow­shoe and make maple syrup. We imag­ined our chil­dren thriv­ing and pur­su­ing their in­ter­ests in the great out­doors. The longer we chat­ted, the more I felt our an­swer had been in front of us all along.

“Do you still want to live in the moun­tains some­day?” I asked.

“Of course,” he an­swered, “but we can’t do it now.”

When I asked him why not, he pre­sented me with our usual col­lec­tion of prob­lems: east ver­sus west, how we would fi­nance our land, and how we would make a liv­ing once we were there. “The bot­tom line is that we can’t af­ford it right now,” he said.

“That’s how you felt when we wanted a baby,” I re­minded him. “If we’d waited un­til we could af­for­done, we’d still be child­less to­day.” He nod­ded. “Why not live our dream?” I con­tin­ued. That did it.

We were ex­cited and ter­ri­fied at the same time. Nat­u­rally there were ob­sta­cles, but fight­ing for our dream made it worth­while. The east­ern moun­tains won. We fi­nanced and found land. We put our home up for sale while we built our cabin from thou­sands of miles away. Ques­tions and con­cerns from well-mean­ing friends and fam­ily were ad­dressed.

“Why such a hard, mea­ger life?” my in-laws asked. “Why not move closer to a city? Why not move closer to us?”

“Be­cause we’ve al­ways dreamed of liv­ing in the moun­tains away from it all,” we an­swered.

Even­tu­ally we packed up our three kids, six cats, seven para­keets and one dog and we made the cross-coun­try trip east­ward. Liv­ing in the moun­tains had been our big dream, but there were plenty of mini dreams that we ful­filled along the way. Each dream re­quired a sep­a­rate leap. We homeschooled our chil­dren.

I milked goats, made cheese, spun wool, grew my gar­den, ground wheat and baked bread. We heated with wood stoves. We made maple syrup, picked berries and canned our food. We hiked and en­joyed na­ture and our peace­ful sur­round­ings. But most of all our chil­dren thrived and so did we.

This year we cel­e­brated the 20-year an­niver­sary of liv­ing our dream.

I can’t be­lieve how quickly the years flew by or how many changes have taken place. We’re older now. Our chil­dren are grown. We’ve got grand­kids. Time moved on and now there are new dreams on the hori­zon. We are grate­ful that we took this risk. Not only did we sur­vive, we thrived!

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