ABOUT NIKKI THE MANIFESTO
In a word, self-directed.
Fall 2006. I was 20 years old, living in an apartmento in the beautiful country of Costa Rica. "La casa blanca 1 Km al sur de la escuela". Or, the white house a kilometer south of the school. Costa Rican addresses are notoriously evasive. I was studying abroad for the semester at Universidad Veritas - a school of art, design, and architecture. Spanish lessons in the morning were followed by cooking or dance classes in the afternoon. Evenings and weekends were filled with artsy parties at the school, culture-soaked adventures around San Jose, and wild excursions throughout the countryside and coasts.
To top things off, in the midst of all of this beauty, I was bringing in around $1,000/mo. More than covering my costs of living. And unheard of for a traveler or college student. Shockingly, I had managed to find a summer job in Chicago that I could take with me to Central America. I used my laptop, headset, and Voice-Over-Internet-Phone software to do client intake for a doctor-lawyer team located stateside. I just used the internet connection at my place, or found an internet cafe if I was traveling.
This was long before Skype, and classmates thought I was a little nuts schlepping my laptop around. But, that's just me. And my reward?
I was living the dream. Choosing my own schedule and location. And simultaneously, using my strengths to have a real impact
Of course, study abroad doesn't last forever, and neither did the doctor-lawyer team I was working for. But, I returned to school a changed person. With that experience in my rear view, I began a journey towards self-directed income and meaningful work. It's at the heart of what I do - for myself, and for my clients.
For me, being self-sufficient is a further expression of that self-directedness. When the news is full of scary statistics about our food and our fossil fuel consumption is reaching awful heights, I find myself grasping for a life that I can feel good about. A life where I am in control of my destiny and my resources as much as possible.
Contrary to popular belief, not everyone in the Midwest lives on a farm. In fact, I did not grow up with any sort of self-sufficiency practices in my home at all. However, I feel fortunate to be here in the heartland, where the resources are abundant for those that care to look. It turns out getting back to our roots can be surprisingly simple. (Though simple does not always mean easy.)
Some things I am doing include making an effort ride my bike more, grow my own food, and capture resources like water, solar power, and waste. This is also a lesson in frugality. I'm trying to live with less and appreciate it more, and free up money to take care of debt and save for the future.
I'm documenting this self-sufficiency journey over here on my blog. I know that what I write may not be groundbreaking, but reflecting on my experiences helps me record the information, and just may encourage someone else to give this stuff a try.