Live Below the Line: Live Simply so ALL can Simply Live

You know the old saying ‘Live simply so others can simply live’ actually I don’t know if that is a saying or if I made it up… Anyway there is more to that saying than what you might first think.

The work I do with the Global Poverty Project addresses the simply live part of 1.4 billion people in the world who can’t obtain it but personally I am just as passionate about the live simply part for the opposite 1.4 billion people in the world (me and likely you if you are reading this blog…) who can choose it.

I am not going to tell people what to do but… personally I have really learnt from the poorest in the world that simple living has a lot going for it especially if you get to choose it and not live in hunger, fear, sickness or absolute uncertainty.

Anyone I have met who has visited a developing country has always said ‘the people seem so happy there’. Well they are because they have to be as there is very little else in their life to distract them from pure, humanistic and simplistic living of people, community, family and friends.

I am totally glorifying the noble savages here and making a slight mockery of poverty but there is a huge lesson in this for me. As I have slowly learnt to perpetuate the developing way of life in the developed world I have become richer for it. Less means so much more to me now and it keeps my body, thoughts, environment and community much purer and happier.

In developed countries to give me the purity of life I strive for with the most satisfaction – Live Below the Line is the best thing I have done along with hiking and cycling trips.

Like the 10km walk to the airport in Portland with this stunning sunset

For me Live Below the Line redefines how life can be in the developed world and makes those things that are so important in life that much clearer such as family, friends, community and nature – all of which are free but priceless. It really showcases to me that the best ‘things’ in life are ‘doings’ – talking, writing, walking, riding, helping, reading, learning, sharing, teaching, living!

I can’t tell people to change their life and live simply but I can do it for myself and hopefully model that less income, more time, more family, more community, more nature, more pure living is a richness that is totally undervalued and underappreciated in the developed world. If we can learn a few of these joys I am sure we will see a world where we can all simply live.

Day 27

  • Portland and on plane to New York at 11pm
  • Breakfast: porridge pancakes with my wonderful friend Julianna
  • Snacks: bread and plenty of it!
  • Lunch: onion soup broth with bread
  • Dinner: Leftovers from dine below the line – lentils, rice and quinoa

Another day of catching up on food – nailed the rest of the loaf of bread!

Another simple happy breakfast with an old friend!

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$1.50 a day is small change for a major change…

Day 23

A portal in the clouds for a Seattle sunrise!

  • Seattle sunrise and back to Olympia
  • Breakfast: Whole-wheat bagel with lentils on top!
  • Lunch: Leftover corn bread and ¼ cold boiled yam (not boiled in cold water, cold after boiling the day before)
  • Dinner: Bagel and sunflower butter – bit crazy on the bagels but can’t carry them all now back on the road travelling and ate less than I though I would so far!

A fantastic presentation at Washing University with International students – they all want the Global Poverty Project in their home countries including Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Japan, Brazil and many more!

Live Below the Line is proving to be quite transformational for me again this year and it has me renewing my usual crazy New Year Resolutions and looking at some new ones or making certain promises and commitment to myself that I would like to perpetuate in everyday life that I have learned so far on this trip.

  • Eating to live as opposed to living to eat is a healthy attitude from time to time – to take a step back from having fantastic delicious meals all day everyday and to appreciate some simple beans and rice or lentils and onion
  • Walking, riding and swimming are worth spending time on – the days where I walk or ride for at least 4 hours have been great and has been time well spent
  • Healthy body… healthy mind… allowing myself to take time to do things, exercise and time to think, contemplate and reflect
  • A great diet, maybe not enough, but certainly a good basis for healthy eating on oats, lentils, vegies, rice, pasta etc… would be nice to have more fruit though!
  • Eating locally, in season and unprocessed  -basically you can’t afford anything that is pre-made and it all comes from natural basics – basically nothing from a factory or using heaps of resources to produce or be shipped
  • Interaction – with people and nature. The simple free things in life become important, meaningful and fulfilling – especially meeting people and talking
  • Transport of walking or riding to get from A to B I have been loving – even if it will take a couple of hours or a day. Best when the weather is nice but humbling when its not and I like making the time and enjoying the trip

I will be banging on about the richness of simplicity in the next few blogs so I’ll save those thoughts for now.

  • Did I also forget it is extremely powerful for insights and understanding in to how 1.4 billion people live everyday and how your efforts can made a massive difference to them in advocacy and sponsorship!!!

All I can say is that Live Below the Line is one the most transformational experiences I believe you can have in the developed world to understand, appreciate and be inspired by the way people live in the developing world.

Are you doing Live Below the Line NEXT MONDAY? You should – it’s a life changer and a great one at that!

Sign up through the Global Poverty Project http://www.globalpovertyproject.com and find out more here http://www.livebelowtheline.com

OR have you sponsored me yet…?

Australia: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/lunnylbtl

US: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/uslunnylbtl

Environment and what WE have to learn from the world’s poorest

Day 21 – Three weeks!

  • 18km walk (10.5 miles) Seattle – Fremont to Discovery Park and back, beautiful!
  • Breakfast: small portion of corn bread
  • Lunch: oats with orange peel, banana and bran
  • Snacks: half bagel with sunflower butter and large cup of ramen broth
  • Dinner:  last of the refried beans and rice (small portion) with ¼ yam, little bit of garlic and fried onion with half a bagel

The Meal: Rice, refried beans, garlic, yam, onion & 1/2 bagel

The walk: Pink pathways in Seattle

The physical aspect of this trip is now done! As it should have been with the original plan of 1000 miles of cycling but instead I actually think it has been more demanding as I have only had one rest day in three weeks. I still have a few walks, swims and rides from here but not everyday and sick of recording them! But stats for my three weeks while eating and drinking on less than $1.50/day – Ride 447km (279 miles); Walk 182km (114 miles); Swim 6.63km (4.14 miles)

The idea of the physical stats was to simply to try and match people in extreme poverty who mainly work hard physical jobs and show how much effort they might do – but usually MORE, EVERYDAY and WITHOUT CHOICE!

The physical work that gets done in real world for those living in extreme poverty

Spending so much time on foot, bike and in the pool while Living Below the Line was always going to bring out the strong environmentalist in me…

Quite a few things have been running through my Live Below the Line head in the past two days after reading a few articles, recalling conversations and present chats with hosts.

Live Below the Line is a direct action towards living within the natural confinement of nature and our environment. Climate change I will not mention because I think it is irrelevant in the argument and too many people have opposing views. Instead I look at our natural environment and how much it can handle and its limitations, regardless of climate change.

So in the case of Live Below the Line and the way people in developing countries generally live, their impact on the environment is significantly lower than your average one white Australian brought up in Adelaide.

The idea of population going through the roof and we can’t fit everyone in the world, especially all those people in Africa is absolutely true, but here’s the thing, that is if they live like the average white Australian from Adelaide.

When you live in extreme poverty or in my case currently Living Below the Line you can only consume a very limited amount of anything – food, water, goods, etc. This is where it all comes together for me and now in my fourth week of Live Below the Line is that LBL is not about starving yourself or feeling sorry for the poor but to understand that living in simplicity is not only quite enlightening and morally enriching but it has a huge positive impact on community and environment.

Living Below the Line for an extended amount time is really teaching me that life is ‘richer’ in social interaction, community involvement and environmental sustainability.

I will make more reference to this in time but on an environmental front my emissions have been next to nothing (if I exclude how I got to North America and the flatulence from lots of refried beans).

  • The food I eat is almost entirely from local producers of basic ingredients that are affordable
  • I walk or cycle to get around as much as possible on my 1000 mile journey
  • I have not been consuming ‘stuff’ as much as normal from the humbling experience of Living Below the Line
  • My entertainment has largely been walking and cycling seeing new places
  • Even more significantly entertainment has been talking and meeting new people – learning, sharing and laughing
  • I have been connected closer to the natural (free) beauty of the world and want to keep it’s integrity more
  • I have been more susceptible to the weather but embraced it as you have to, not to alter it completely for my comfort or happiness
  • I accept whatever housing and hosting is given to me but I prefer the more simpler as it suits the lifestyle I am portraying (not saying I didn’t enjoy staying in everybody’s house because it is the people that make the experience)
  • I am forced to accept the living conditions of the day as someone in extreme poverty would have to for in the weather, income or circumstance

Two major pieces of information on environment that have been bouncing in my head are these two:

I suppose what I am trying to allude to in this blog is that it is not about us trying to ‘help’ the poor but it is also what we can learn from the poor.

I don’t ever advocate we need to bring the poor up to our way of living. I believe it is about us meeting the poor half way (or my preference closer to their half) and enjoying the immense amount of happiness and benefit it brings to ourselves, each other and our environment.

The d'Arcy Happiness & Sustainable Spectrum

Wish I could do a spectrum graph and where we need to meet the poor at place at the big smile…

Call to Action!

Just slipping in a sneaky blog here for you all to stand up around the Live Below the Line campaign starting in 2 weeks (May 7-11) – sign up take the challenge, sponsor me or have a conversation about it!

Now is the time for my call out around all this propaganda and North American shenanigans! In case you have been following my Live Below the Line 1000 mile trip I am just over half way done with lots of inspiration to come!

There is a great opportunity for you to take action NOW on seeing an end to extreme poverty in May through the Live Below the Line campaign (eating and drinking on less than $2AUD, $1.50USD,  £1GBP per day each day for five days May 7-11)…

  1. Sign up to take on the challenge (a life shifting experience [for the better]). Go through the Global Poverty Project website http://www.globalpovertyproject.com

OR

  1. Sponsor me in my 5-week 1000-mile LBL quest to educate and advocate on behalf of those who live in extreme poverty who I have learnt so much from…

Australian sponsorship – https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/lunnylbtl

US and Canadian sponsorship –  https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/uslunnylbtl

A good guide might be maybe sponsorship for each day I have/will Live/d Below the Line while riding, walking, swimming and advocating for 35 days… (35 x $1.50= $52.50 actually $51 if I take out the beef jerky day…)

If you are happy to just read one blog entry from this wonderful learning experience I am having and the perspectives, conversations and inspirations it brings I would be very happy as well…

See the tangible results and the impact the Global Poverty Project has had in a few short years of education, advocacy, campaigns and presentations – http://youtu.be/tAmfy-C6MB0 including over 100 presentations from me to over 20,000 people.

Lets see everyone have access to their basic needs in life and feel proud we were a part of making it happen!

Big love, d’Arcy.

What I carry on my back is passion, determination, joy, representation and mostly inspiration from all the wonderful people in the world I have met and learnt from, particularly those who deserve the basics in life...

The Global Wealth Project…

Day 16

  • 21km walk from White Rock, Canada to Samiahmoo Marina, USA – or 1 mile if I was allowed to swim or could fly…

    The little bit of green on the other side of the water is a short swim or 20km + walk!

  • Breakfast: BIG bowl of oats, bit of bran, a few flax seeds, cut up dried orange peel, teaspoon of nutritional yeast and boiling water

    Very apt sign for my day and all days of Living Below the Line

  • Lunch: ½ cold potato twice at different times, some bok choy and my last sardine
  • Dinner: Macaroni and cheese as a tribute to leaving Canada. Was loving those preservatives, they taste soooo good…

    Ahhh preservative goodness!

Love walking to cross a border as it makes the experience more thoughtful and exciting!

 

The volunteering and work I do for the Global Poverty Project is great and I am very passionate about seeing every human in the world have access to enough food, clean water, health, education and a fulfilling livelihood.

Still one of my greatest other passions is simplicity and live life more with less (as you will have gathered from this blog…).

My post today isn’t to harp on again about simplicity but to acknowledge the work I am doing with the Global Poverty Project which has taught me a lot about life and creating change. For many years based on the experiences I had in developing countries from around the world I would be judgmental, highly opinionated, critical, dogmatic, guilt charged and ready to criticize anything and everything about the developed world and how ‘rich’ we are… I generally now only reserve this for my family and friends!

I always felt like I was fighting the system and it was usually to people who already thought the same way or would turn off those as I was putting myself on higher moral ground. Since joining the Global Poverty Project in 2009 I have learnt to work within the system and give an inoffensive message and options for those who wish to take it on. Kind of laying out the topics, issues and actions on the table and up to others to try or ignore with no expectations.

It has been a very powerful and significant journey for me and I have really come across a lot of people who now know I am not to guilt them, smash them with a moral bat or ask them to do what I am doing from a moral high-ground!

As much as I would love to be trying to sell the message of ‘the best in the world is with less (when you get to choose)’ it is very difficult to tell people what NOT to do than offer simple small opportunities to change in their lives for the better of all. I have great respect for those people and organisations who are there to point the finger at consumerism, profit over people, materialism, etc and we need them for those who are ready to move along the spectrum into that realm.

I think if we can work from both angles of working inside out and outside in we can meet at a common ground that has everyone living with enough but not too much– that is my Global Wealth Project… not sure if I will have many followers though! This is leading on to something that has been a great part of this Live Below the Line experience – how to advocate without making people feel crap – next episode…

My accommodation for the night!

Life on a boat seems pretty luxurious but it pretty simple when living on one - just beautiful!

Simply Enough or Simply Not Enough?

Day 14

  • 8 km of walking after being too wet for extra riding around Whistler 😦
  • Breakfast: two slices of homemade bread with ¼ banana smooshed on top
  • Lunch: leftover pasta from the night before
  • Snacks: four slices of cut apple at the Tamwood presentation and porridge pancakes
  • Dinner: half packet of instant noodles at 9.30pm after the Squamish presentation

Definitely made up for my downfall the day before with very simple eating! Also had two wonderful presentations – one at Tamwood International ESL school in Whistler and one a community presentation in Squamish with a great turn out and a fantastic vibe!

My blog title for today ‘Simply Enough or Simply Not Enough’ is a great choice of thought and living that came into my head while walking with my Live Below the Line stomach…

We kind of have two ways to look at our lives when thinking about this:

  • Simply enough – with the basics in life we can be happy and fulfilled; or
  • Simply not enough – no matter what we have we can never be satisfied

The simply not enough interpretation can only be made if we are not faced on the extreme end of poverty where you might not have enough food, water, health, education or access to your rights.

It is not by chance that this popped into me head while I am two weeks into Live Below the Line (minus the damn beef jerky from two days ago!). Live Below the Line puts you completely into the headspace of simply enougheven when you go through hunger, tiredness, frustration and the occasional delusion.

Most people would think for Live Below the Line you would be of the mindset of simply not enough BUT Live Below the Line teaches you that you can have more with less and we sometimes don’t need all these foods or things to be ‘happy’.

I have been lucky that simply enough has been my life for many years now. It is something I feel very fortunate to have achieved and not only through hardship but through real and concrete experiences and happiness.

Some of the simple things in life are usually the best. A shared meal with friends is all anyone can want really...

I am sure that more people would be happier with less – I’m not talking about caves, sticks and water to live on. It is about controlling life more, with less to control. For example – I’m bored, I’ll go for a walk; I’m hungry, I’ll have an apple; I’m stressed, I’ll work less tomorrow. I sometimes think we put ourselves into excess far too easily and often with work, time, money and satisfaction. This is starting to sounds a little Buddhist and Nirvana orientated but it isn’t a religion it is just a way of thinking, practicing and acting and receiving the rewards.

I knew Living Below the Line for five weeks and doing a bunch of physical activity around it was only going to be a positive, inspirational and learning experience for me as I continue to love more from less (just have to be careful not to excess). I am as fulfilled as I have ever been eating on less than $1.50 a day for food and factoring in some cleansing healthy activity throughout the day whilst working/volunteering/giving very rewarding Global Poverty Project presentations to schools and communities.

Maybe this is a slight rant here that sounds like it has come from someone deliberately starving themselves but it is with wonderful clarity and appreciation that I believe less is more. I also feel and live this when I am privileged to be in developing countries or perpetuating that lifestyle in developed countries with things like Live Below the Line.

House, transport and nature doesn't get any better than this - maybe a few friends. If my transport is my feet then I'm on a winner also.

Lastly it is that time where I can’t advocate this campaign enough so I really encourage everyone to take on the Live Below the Line challenge for five days May 7-11!

http://www.globalpovertyproject.com and find your way to the Live Below the Line sign up!

This fun little video sketch is also pretty on the mark with this sort of thinking as well: The High Price of Materialism – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGab38pKscw

Imagine you lived on $1.50/day and had twins…

Day 8

  • 5.5km walk to pick up bike, 36km ride to Coquitlam east of Vancouver in cold wet windy conditions and to a lovely warm shower at the end point!
  • Breakfast: steal cut oats, bit of bran, a few flax seeds, orange peel and boiling water
  • Lunch: 2 minute noodles to warm me up after my ride
  • Dinner: pasta spirals with bok-choi and a roasted ½ sweet potato in onion broth

I was so cold on the bike ride as being hungry the cold really gets in your bones and it is amazing how much food warms me up very soon after eating.

It’s very interesting to be looking at the developed world through Live Below the Line eyes. Yesterday I got back on the bike for a short trip of 36km out to eastern Vancouver to stay with my ex-girlfriend, her husband and beautiful 10 month old twin girls.

Alicia & Lexi

I had a lovely evening hanging out with the twins Lexi and Alycia and hearing about life when you have two bundles of joy craving your attention and responsibility. What has struck me in hindsight is the big contrast to the way we care for our children and in particular infants in comparison to those in developing countries. I’m sure this will sound slanted to the poor but I mean for it to sound as though there is no right or wrong just different.

Shannon has had a tough 10 months in raising two babies at the same time. It would be hard enough if you had to just raise your first born but then double it with twins. It sounds like has had some good support around the place from institutions, grandparents, friends and of course her husband but she said the greatest and most valued support came from Facebook where she was able to connect to a network of mothers with twins. Here she could have her questions answered and feel ‘normal’ as she was only experiencing what anyone else in her position would be.

Having been fortunate to live in developing countries and in particular my year in Ethiopia where I lived in a teachers compound with many young children, I got to see how children are raised when you don’t have all the technology and infrastructure. Things like baby carriers, toys, disposable nappies, etc. What I saw was that it is a village that raises a child. All the mothers live close together in small housing making space an issue but also a blessing. While one single roomed house is being cleaned the child goes to the neighbours house and then vice-versa. All cooking duties are shared. Play time is with other children of similar age and very independent.

Shared childcare Ethiopian style, kind of like community school
In western culture we tend to shut ourselves off from the world when we have children to look after them. For me it seems it is harder on the guardians and maybe less enriching for the children as they have their own set of everything and have to fight parenting battles on their own and in a less shared and supported way except for when someone visits or we have to go outside for support.
It is all an interesting concept but for me this is where I have the upmost amount of respect for the way of life in developing countries as it seems more humanistic, shared, community orientated and pure than an artificially sculpted concept of what we think it should be like when we have greater access to income and wealth. I idolise this more simple and shared way of life knowing that I have health care, education, clean water, food security and employment as I need which of course those in developing countries don’t always have.

I’m trying really hard to not make value judgments in this particular blog today, just to offer a display in the contrast to how it is done by those who Live Below the Line. I am not a parent, have no idea how tough it must be and am not anti-western culture. I have just been lucky, I feel, to have experienced a very different way of life that is at the front of my mind as I recreate that existence eating on less than $1.50 a day.

Parenting is tough no matter where you are and there is no right way so the biggest respect to all parents anywhere in the world – especially those with twins!

Pretty cute eh!