Liesbet’s Life Less Ordinary: An Alternative Lifestyle
I love to imagine living an alternative lifestyle, “a life less ordinary.” My imagination will, unfortunately, have to suffice. I’m too much of a homebody to ever become a “full-time nomad” or “lifetime adventurer.” But I thoroughly enjoy living the life vicariously through the wonderful blog Roaming About: A Life Less Ordinary by Profound Journey tribe member, Liesbet Collaert.
Every phrase in quotation marks in the above paragraph comes from Liesbet’s blog, and every phrase is supported by fascinating accounts of her adventures. While many of us may, like Mark Twain, dream of throwing off the bowlines and leaving the safe harbour of our lives, Liesbet and her husband Mark have done just that, and they’ve been doing it for years.
Liesbet took up my invitation to contribute a tribe story by responding to 20 of the 25 Slightly Scary Deep Questions Worth Asking Yourself. Reading them, I just kept thinking, “Wow, is her memoir ever going to be fascinating!”
1. What trip have you taken that had a huge impact on you?
When I was 24, I took a year-long break from teaching in Belgium to backpack around South East Asia. I started out with a friend the first month and the rest of the year, I was on my own. I adapted to the moment, made all my decisions based on what I wanted to do and where I felt like going, and created a lot of real life connections. There was no Facebook or blogging back then.
One unexpected revelation was that I never really felt alone, since you meet so many like-minded people out there when traveling a certain way. The cultures and sights I encountered were diverse and awe-inspiring, and I felt happy and strong to be traveling by myself–deciding to tag along with others when I had fun and going my own way again when it had been enough or I didn’t like the company. What a great adventure!
My life is a string of great trips–like shorter, multiple-month backpacking trips before this one and multiple-year camper and sailing trips after. The answer to this question could turn into a whole book.
2. Who is your favourite character in fiction? Why?
I rarely read fiction so no favorite character. I sometimes feel like I live in my own fictional world and that keeps me entertained enough.
3. What would you do if you could not fail?
Get rid of ignorance and arrogance in the world, improve the environment, save all pets that don’t have a happy life, make ideological, smart and caring politicians succeed, remove the desire for money and power, erase violence and fanaticism and then some.
4. What can you never imagine buying? (question from Natalie Goldberg)
A house, make-up, the latest and greatest gadget, fancy clothes, stuff that does not have a good use in our lives, bulky things.
5. If you were writing a book, what would it be about?
My alternative lifestyle, trials and tribulations, 24/7 relationship and adventures. How to explore the world on a tight budget. I guess I’m going to need to write a few books.
6. What is your body telling you?
To be more relaxed and less perfectionistic, to exercise more, to keep eating healthy, to get rid of that belly fat.
7. If you could be famous, what would you like to be famous for?
Inspiring people to live the life they enjoy most. To make them think outside the box. To encourage and inform them about living an alternative lifestyle.
There are no ordinary moments.Dan Millman
8. What life advice do you give to your friends? (question from Danielle LaPorte)
Do what you like, like what you do. You only live once, take full advantage of that opportunity. Now is the time that matters.
9. Who was your favourite teacher? What made him or her so special?
My geography teacher in 11th and 12th grade. He was strict, but fair, passionate about his subject and his travels. He was smart about the way I challenged him.
10. What do you want that you can’t have?
More time. Being able to get younger instead of older. Or, remain this age.
11. Describe a perfect ‘ordinary’ day.
No day is ever ordinary, because of our lifestyle. My current perfect ordinary day–something I manage to achieve once in a while–would be to get up at 7a.m., exercise or walk the dog(s) for a bit, have breakfast, work on my memoir until lunch, read or work on other projects until 4 p.m., go on an hour-long walk with the dog(s) we are sitting, and relax after that.
12. If you could choose to live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
If I knew the answer, I would be living there! We are kind of trying to figure that out (and have been for several years already). The conclusion: perfect does not exist. We have not found a place that we like enough to get settled. Therefore, we keep roaming about at our own pace.
13. What do you most value in your friends?
That they are themselves, care, stay in touch, and make time for me in their busy lives.
14. What have you collected?
A lot of memories and experiences, but on a more tangible level: masks and little wooden statues from all the countries I visited. This habit had to stop a decade or so ago, since we permanently lived in campers, boats, cars and other people’s houses. These souvenirs are stored in boxes at my parents’ house in Belgium.
15. When are you most yourself?
I’m most myself when I am in a good mood. When I am with people dear to me–friends and family.
16. What is the best thing that has happened to you in the last few days?
The last ten days have been hectic and trying–being on the train tracks and the road, while having to run our business and taking care of a new development that required a lot of time and patience. The best thing that happened took place last night, to conclude this gruelling period: once settled into our new house sit (unpacked and organized) in Sebastopol, Northern California, I sat in the hot tub around 10 p.m. Pure bliss….
17. What is most important to you at this time in your life?
Completing a few projects while in the U.S., so we can be totally free again after that–hopefully we need no more than another couple of years.
18. Which culture, other than your own, speaks to you? (question from Julia Cameron)
Being immersed in the Polynesian culture while in French Polynesia left a deep impression on me. I am also attracted to peaceful cultures found in Buddhist countries and to African drumming events.
19. What smells give you a sense of wellbeing? (question from Julia Cameron)
Monoi oil, which reminds me of the tropics and the South Pacific. The smell of the ocean always produces a smile on my face. I also like to be around freshly cut grass and fragrant flowers.
20. What dream have you had more than once?
I have many recurring, vivid dreams. One of them is about my teeth falling out, another about fighter planes readying to attack my parents’ house and having to quickly pack our bags to get out of there. (I have become an expert on packing up quickly, in my dreams and in real life.) I have many “chase” dreams, where I have to escape the bad guys or fool them into releasing me. When we lived on our sailboat for eight years, I often dreamt about our boat, Irie, running aground and “driving” overland. There is always a lot of action going on in my dreams, which is exciting, but makes me feel tired when I get up.
Does an alternative lifestyle appeal to you? If so, what might it look like? What’s holding you back from living your dreams?