The Good Life Lab by Wendy Tremayne is the inspirational story of how one couple ditched their careers and high-pressure life in New York City to move to rural New Mexico, where they made, built, invented, foraged, and grew all they needed to live self-sufficiently, discovering a new sense of value and abundance in the process. When we read this book, we felt our feet literally starting to move towards the door and outside to breath, that’s how major and genius and inspiring it is. Alongside their personal story are tips and tutorials to guide readers in the discovery of a fulfilling new lifestyle that relies less on money, if any at all. Wendy wholeheartedly believes that everyone has the skill, imagination and creativity to make it work, and by the time you are done reading it, you may agree with her. This books heart is sustainability and the power of being as green centric as it gets – Wendy should be applauded for this sensationally powerful piece of writing that teaches us all – yea, we really could split town and live off the grid.
Read this snippet from the book, order it asap, and begin to get crazy, crazy excited;
“It is no sign of wellness to be well adjusted to a sick society.” — Krishnamurti
Driving on Highway 1, I remembered taking a crappy job just to obtain medical benefits. There were always good reasons for making bad decisions, I said aloud to a 4-inch plastic troll that I had mounted to the dashboard with a glob of glue. My plastic patron saint came from a thrift shop in Topanga Canyon. She made a good road companion. Her hair was burned in spots, and melted wax covered her toes. We’d both been through something. My homely idol had skirted getting whisked away and dumped into the landfill by capturing the interest of a Topanga Canyon shopkeeper and then my own. An excellent listener and devoid of judgment, she welcomed the few words that broke the silence that I was learning to love.
On a moonless night in front of a cave on a beach in Southern California, green phosphorescent waves illuminated a black ocean. Gazing out, I remembered lying for several employers. It felt awful, but I had done it anyway. “Didn’t everyone?” I asked the troll that I unstuck from the dashboard and placed in the sand next to me. With a candle lit by her side, she cast eerie shadows on the earthen wall at our backs.
In Moab, Utah, under a blanket of stars that seemed to multiply every hour, I remembered my first job offer after I got my bachelor’s degree. I turned it down, even though it came from Grey, a top advertising agency. I couldn’t survive on the $14,000 they offered me. I had loans to pay. Instead I moved into the future, head hung low, to meet an unknown fate that expressed itself through a string of featureless gigs: promotion manager for an engineering company that made multimeters, sales-team manager for a company that sold devices for attaching tags to garments, and promoter of magazines (including one for ham radio operators).
While cruising pristine Amish country in Pennsylvania, I remembered times I had compromised my better instincts. In college, knowing that no financial support was waiting for me after graduation, I turned away from art and chose instead to major in marketing, with a minor in business. It was a practical decision. I had student loans to pay back, and living in New York was going to be tough.
The Indian spiritual text the Bhagavad Gita says in words different from these that it is better to do a crappy job at what you alone are able to do (your purpose) than to do a great job at what someone else is here to do. This felt like an appropriate description for the predicament I was in. I wondered what I was meant to do.
Free of the cloak of my career, my ego regularly prompted me to think about the hole left behind by the part of my identity that I shed. It wanted to know who I was to become.
That would take time.
My journey concluded with a return to Burning Man to live in Black Rock City’s gift economy a second time. Then I headed home to learn what it means to be a yogi. Yoga studios were not yet as common as pizza joints. I searched out a seasoned, eccentric French yoga teacher and started an apprenticeship.
Four hours after I returned to the city, the World Trade Center towers disappeared from New York’s skyline. I made my first pledge.
I will no longer make decisions based on money.
Excerpted from The Good Life Lab (c) Wendy Jehanara Tremayne. Illustration (c) Rachel Salomon.