Living True to Nature With an Online Income

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Posted by The Savvy Retiree on July 13, 2016 in Online Income, Remote Working

Tom Kerr writing on online income

These days, I work from home…or from wherever I happen to be. I don’t owe anyone a cent and make enough money freelancing to support my simple, debt-free lifestyle. I live in a rustic home in the woods of western North Carolina next to a magnificent river and within commuting distance of a small city, in case I need anything urban life has to offer.

Within the past few hours, my visitors included a rafter of wild turkeys and a stately whitetail deer. From my porch I can usually spot a gray heron and a family of wood ducks…and Canadian geese frequently fly overhead, as do watchful and graceful hawks.

Winters are cold here, but I heat with wood and stay nice and toasty even when there’s a power outage in the area. I often cook in my fireplace and have a supply of fresh water from the well. There is sufficient firewood in the shed to weather three hard winters and, in a few weeks, there will be enough vegetables in the garden to prepare a feast for a dozen friends.

But I haven’t always lived this way.

Twenty years ago, I lived in the mega-city of Houston, Texas in a cookie-cutter suburb. I sat in traffic for hours every day while driving back and forth to my corporate sales job inside a fluorescent-lit, glass-box high rise.

I began to question my purpose in life and my sense of self.

I quit my job, gave away or sold most of my belongings, moved to a little, remote cabin in the mountains of Appalachia, and embarked—cold-turkey—on a lifestyle that I wasn’t sure I could endure.

I learned to grow cold-weather vegetables and to cut, split, and properly stack firewood. Soon I knew how to sharpen my hand tools with a file. I baked apple cobbler in a Dutch oven, over a fire pit, and used the ashes as nutrients to grow bigger potatoes.

Over a period of two years, living almost like a hermit, I reinvented myself in a more natural and sustainably harmonious way. The chronic health problems and hacking cough from the city disappeared and never returned. Along the way, I discovered the incalculable and incomparable value of a more independent lifestyle. Eventually, I moved to a small city about 100 miles away, to be closer to friends, but I took a lot of valuable lessons with me.

Then the journal-keeping I had begun while living as a hermit evolved into freelance writing—and that developed into a new career covering music, art, and entertainment events for newspapers and magazines.

When it occurred to me that freelance writing was a portable career, I invested in a laptop computer and airfare and began to travel. I could submit my assignments to editors from anywhere and support myself financially without the legal requirement of applying for a work permit or special visa.

Living more independently affords me luxuries that I can’t buy in the marketplace. Pursuing that kind of lifestyle also guides me into experiences that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Please don’t get me wrong. Life isn’t easy. But in my experience, a more independent and unfettered life can definitely be easier—and much more pleasant, exciting, and fulfilling.

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