"Sooo you're telling me we're living with strangers for a month before we go on our trip?"
It was the end of summer 2013 and we were making our final preparations for what seemed at the time to be a dangerously under-planned six month trip to Europe. (Actually, in hindsight, it was exactly appropriately under-planned. Never plan too well guys, it leaves less room for adventure) If we were going to afford to be away for that length of time, we had decided we would need to rent out our townhouse in Airdrie, and Erin had just informed me that the Dutch couple we had picked who had not yet arrived in Canada from the US, would be staying with us for a full month before we left.
That was my introduction to Rolf and Iris. Little did I know, a very similar conversation was taking place in the States as Rolf explained that he had agreed to move themselves and their dog into an 1100 square foot townhouse with Canadian strangers for a month because it worked better for their schedule and, I assume, because the girl seemed nice.
From day 1 we all got along astoundingly well. Rolf and Erin shared the similar easy-going love of life and faith in the good of people that put us all in touch in the first place and Iris and I would eagerly share ideas on lifestyles, travel, and music and vehemently disagree about the virtues of Apple products (of which, there are none. Fact.) Erin once told me "Iris is the only person aside from me and your sister who I've seen get away with calling you an idiot."
So fast-forward almost 3 years. After rightfully deciding that the winters in Alberta weren't worth it, they've moved on to Sweden and created www.nabalo.com ; a beautifully crafted website based on an even more beautifully crafted lifestyle philosophy (NAture, BAlance, LOve) where they help people pursue dreams and realize their full spiritual potential. (A little like this site, but with less swearing and dogs and more photography and elixir recipes). They are two of the most sincere, thoughtful and supportive people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting and without them, we might still be struggling with the idea of the farm and the tiny house. I've chosen them to be the topic of an 8 Questions article because I am always impressed by the apparent ease with which they are able to adapt and create a new life plan when the current plan isn't working.
And now, the questions:
Was there a catalyst for your lifestyle shift?
Both Iris and I were searching for something before we met.
Lets say we were searching for our own truth.
Probably like everybody.
But we both knew that the answers to our questions were not to be found in the life we grew up in.
So that needed to change.
And with this change came a lifestyle change.
When did you decide to pursue a more deliberate lifestyle?
The moment we met each other we started dreaming about all the changes we could make together.
"What were our dreams separate and how could we melt them together?"
One central point in all of our dreams was travelling and we both felt the need to explore the world more than when you do on vacations. Next step for us was a choice to leave the Netherlands and try our luck somewhere else. After some research we pinpointed Canada as our destination. The time frame for all of this is; the 4th of July 2008 we pinpoint as the true beginning of our relationship and 26 September 2012 we travelled to the US to start our emigration adventure.
How did family and friends react to your decision?
Iris had been a wanderer for a while before we met and her family was used to her seeking travelling adventures and knew that she would not be staying in the Netherlands and close to them.
For me (Rolf), that was a different case. I learned who my real friends were. Before we started travelling we bought a house in a different city than I grew up in. That was a shock to absorb by my family. Then a few years later I came bearing the news that we would leave for the Americas! I am making choices that don't line up with how they perceive the future. I am literally making choices in the opposite direction and that isn't understood or appreciated.
What was the hardest thing to sacrifice to get you to where you are now?
Although it doesn't really feel like a sacrifice it is the letting go of your securities. Everything you are familiar with you have to let go if you want to be able to wander around. Although you really want to get away from everything you know it is still a development to actually let them go.
The hardest thing to deal with when wandering around is the high stress levels. Stress management sometimes becomes impossible and now (that we have found home in Sweden) we feel that. With everything we gained we have lost a part of our selves in stress. When not managed correctly, we are aware now, this could short-circuit everything because it will impact your health enormously. Without your health you basically can't do anything so that would be a tip for future wanderers; Be aware of your stress level and manage it to be healthy. A big help in this is a clean diet and enough sleep (like always).
What is your favorite aspect of your more deliberate lifestyle?
Wow! All the thing described above are nothing in comparison to what you gain as a human being. You come to understand what life really means to you and what it is about. Because you have no choice and actually adapt to new situations; you come to have more respect for everything around you and with this for yourself (or vice versa).
We got more guts to do what we want.
There is nobody or nothing stopping us in chasing our true path in life.
Describe a typical day before your change.
Both struggle to get to a job in the morning which pays for the house you are not in during your working hours and when you are not working trying to meet all social and life expectancies of your surroundings (mostly based on long forgotten socio-economic conventions).
Were there any financial implications to leaving your previous lifestyle?
All was fine.
But the weird thing is that the whole financial situation improved by actually following our own wandering path.
Not by working more but it just did.
Describe some of your current projects as well as any that you may be trying out in the near future.
Iris is setting up the concept we dreamed up in our first period together into a real business.
NABALO is to be our future income source.
Rolf: working on a self employed business model based on the NABALO perspective and wants to bring that to the business world in a consultancy format.
We just landed in Sweden, the country we believe will be our home for the upcoming decennia. 2016 will be the year of finding a house/piece of land of our own here, buy it and turn it into what our dream home looks like (when it is not already bought like that).
Both Iris and I are still dreaming of a small coffee place as a business, also based on the NABALO principles.
We know that dreams can become reality because we live the actual reality of it everyday. A challenge there is to keep being grateful for what you have and not constantly being busy with new endeavours but actually enjoy it. Gratefulness is the biggest part of being able to turn dreams into reality.