Daily Life in a Yurt: Autumn

This autumn was all about getting back to quiet living for us. The summer is such a busy time, with the garden demanding full attention, holidays and my family in law staying at the house. Plus making my own wedding dress, and at the end of course our wedding. I felt like I hardly got any work done during the summer with all these distractions, and I was happy to get back into a working routine when Autumn rolled around. After the exceptionally hot summer it seemed the weather had returned to normal by September. The nights grew colder, the leaves turned into all colours, and we had those beautiful foggy mornings. Autumn is maybe my favourite season around here.

Daily Life in a Yurt: Autumn

With the quiet times the contemplation came back, too. We knew we’d spend another winter here in the yurt, and we got back to thinking about improvements we wanted to make and what we’d want to focus on. On the one hand we don’t want to move too fast, so we have time just to enjoy where we are. On the other hand, it seems like we are of an age where we need to decide things and move toward those. In a way, nature is kind of deciding our priorities for us: we want to have kids and we’re both in our early thirties. We went back and forth a bit on how hard we should be looking for a piece of land, and whether it should be land or a house. We couldn’t come to a clear plan somehow.

Daily Life in a Yurt: Autumn

This autumn brought change for Stef too: he landed a part time job as a front end developer. He has been trying to make the freelance long distance work for a while now, ¬†but it’s just not that easy. He decided he needed to get back on a payroll for a while to get his rhythm going again. Fortunately it worked out quite fast, and he now works for a Dutch company. It’s perfect for now. It’s nice to have a guaranteed income next to the patterns (which we have come to trust to work out, but isn’t quite steady). This gave us both some peace of mind. We live in such a way that we don’t need much money, but part of that is because we’re in the back yard of Stef’s parents. As soon as we’d move somewhere else our monthly costs will rise. With two incomes we could afford moving.

Daily Life in a Yurt: Autumn
Daily Life in a Yurt: Autumn

How and where, we don’t know yet. Even though they don’t exist yet, we have to take kids in account already. Do we want to raise them in a yurt or in a house, for instance? I’ve found a great channel on Youtube, by a family of 5 who live in a yurt the same size as ours. They live in Idaho and are living in a yurt while they build their own house. Their story is so recognisable. What really hit home for me was how Esther described¬†how in the beginning your enthusiasm carries you so far, but then you start to feel how much mental energy it takes just to be different. This is so true for me. I talked about this with a friend who is vegan, and she understood this very well. ¬†If you’re different than most other people around you, you can be asked to explain yourself and even defend your choices at any given moment.

Daily Life in a Yurt: Autumn

When it comes to making decisions, once you’ve ventured off the beaten track, you have to carve your path yourself. This gives us a lot of freedom, I feel like we have a lot more options than others most of the time. It also takes up a lot more energy. At the same time I feel a need to convince people that I’m not really that different from them, while not giving the impression¬†that¬†our way of living is better than theirs. The same as with veganism, people can perceive your story as criticism on theirs.¬†For me all this has been a realisation to mull over this autumn. Nobody is always certain of what they’re doing, but I feel that with this lifestyle you have to be more certain that others. It wavers when others question us. Fortunately Stef is stronger in this than I am, he has never given much about others opinions.¬†Add to this that we live in a strange country where we speak the language at a minimum, with unfamiliar systems and the customs, and a two days ride from our family and friends. This is another story that is too long to explore here now, but it adds up.

Daily Life in a Yurt: Autumn

I don’t mean to complain at all, we’re still happy in our yurt in France. It’s just that we have come to a different phase, and I want to be truthful about that.¬†It seems that things are not moving by itself anymore, we have to keep going on perseverance now. And at the same time still be open to the question of what we really want. We don’t have to persevere to prove a point. So maybe it’s no wonder that things seem to move slower than what others are used to who live busy lives. I think our mental energy is always partly occupied by our lifestyle in some way. We’re still positive about our future and our ability to figure it out and make it work, it just hasn’t taken a definite shape yet.

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  1. I’m always looking forward to your Life-in-a-Yurt-Articles, as it is a lifestyle I can really relate to. You seem a little disillusioned that your self-sustained life doesn’t seem to work out properly, but I think that it is great that Stef took on a payroll-job, as being self-employed in a creative field can lead to so many insecurities. With these being taken care of, you can be more at ease while developing the projects you are both passionate about (and you don’t need to become desperate about them). About the kids: They will love a yurt as much as a house, they don’t care about modern comforts (my 3-year-old mourned our 2-room-appartment for months after we moved to a much bigger and better equipped place). Of course, children heighten the pressure in terms of financial stability, but as you don’t know how your situation will evolve, I would prioritise having kids while still young. I’m in a similar place and I find that being a family really anchors us, especially through difficult times like trying for a fulfilling carreer.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Sophie. I’m not sure I’m dissillusioned though, we’re just discovering all kinds of nuances it brings. It’s not as simple as we thought beforehand, but then that’s the case with a lot of these things :) I think you’re right about the kids. I feel like having them might (will) change our priorities and make it more clear what we need. And I have no doubt they’ll love the yurt. I’m just not sure if I will be happy with this basic level of comfort once we have a baby.

  2. Such beautiful photos & a lovely thoughtful post too. A lot of people do prefer everyone to be the same as them – it’s reassuring I guess. I get asked semi-regularly why I don’t eat meat / plan to get married / just buy my clothes from the high street. As much as possible I ignore other people’s opinions (and that includes family, as they normally have the most to say!) about what me & Phil should be doing & do whatever I feel like. I hope you enjoy whatever you decide to do next & have fun plotting what that might be.

    1. Thanks Charlotte! Being different to any extent can bring up those questions. It makes people uncomfortable. In truth, it is one of the things I found the most difficult about being a vegetarian, since eating is something you do with others so often. Some haven’t really accepted it with Stef even, still finding it ‘difficult’ to cook for us after more than 10 years of his being vegetarian. I’m not anymore, I didn’t have sufficient reason plus I don’t like standing out. Which is at the heart of all of these musings I guess :)

  3. I’ve loved seeing your yurt life on IG, but this is the first time I’ve come over to your blog to read more. (I don’t have much time for blog reading right now, unfortunately).

    I *completely* understand what you mean about having to defend personal choices that are considered outside the norm. No one ever asks people why they have a 9-5 job, why they have a mortgage on a suburban house, why they got married and had 2 kids….it’s not a choice that you have to defend, so one ever really has to examine how they got there. As soon as you step outside that norm, not only you, but everyone else starts to question if it’s the right decision. I think that making family / home / career decisions in your 30s or 40s makes you a lot more confident: you’ve tried lots of things and have a much better idea of what makes you comfortable (or excited!!) than you did before. And you know that if you start something, and it isn’t quite right, you can change again. Life isn’t carved in stone.

    Quick story: when I was in my early 30s, and had decided that I should probably have kids sooner than later, I decided to take a 3 month leave of absence from work and travel around SEAsia alone while I had the chance. It was the perfect decision, but a lot of people scoffed at me. Some people *still* tell me how odd that was, and it was more than a decade ago! Then when I was pregnant with my second child at 39, I went to Botswana and South Africa to work with a research group until 36 weeks pregnancy – again, everyone thought I was nuts, but it was one of the best times of my life! I was treated like a queen everywhere I went ;)

    Anyway, my (unwelcome) advice is that life decision are hard, but not permanent, so give whatever you want a try and see if it works out, even for a little while. And I’d love to come visit your yurt sometime, if that isn’t too presumptuous!
    Vicki (anothersewingscientist)

    1. Hi Vicki, thanks for your comment! I think that is excellent advice! I love your story, and I completely understand you just went for it. It’s kind of why we went travelling two years ago too, we realised that if we wanted to to something like that, now was the time. I’m so glad we did it because it brought us here, and right now I feel more like settling than travelling. A lot of people told us they were jealous, and that’s probably why people scoffed at you too. We’re also both lucky to have found partners who want the same or let you go off by yourself. And I’d love to have you over if you’re around!

  4. My life is probably fairly conventional next to yours, but one thing I’ve learned in my 6 months of parenthood is that no matter what your choices are, there will always be someone who questions you. I’m fairly certain that my husband’s extended family, who all seem to have done formula feeding and disposable diapers, think I’m nuts for sewing cloth diapers and doing breastfeeding! You just have to go with what works best for your family, whether that’s a yurt or a house or eating vegan or whatever. And hopefully the people who matter most will respect your choices, even if they don’t agree.

    1. Aah yes, parenthood seems to be the time where everyone has an opinion and they seem to think they are entitled to tell you what it is. Or so I’ve heard :) We won’t let it take us off our path but it just takes up more energy than I thought.

    2. I like Becky’s approach. Though I must say, first know thy self, try thing find out what matters to you. I 55 and have collected 10 kids, 3 from my first Marriage, my wife’s first born, we had one together and adopted 5. I might have missed it ( but probably not) but my experience in the states has been do your own thing ;-) I would offer, my sacred view is you have one life and I have one life, what gives anyone the presumption to thing they can live theirs AND yours, whether by questioning you or telling you what to eat or how to live. We get one chance to experience this life, sometimes you learn more about who you are and who you want to be, by making your own mistakes but at least you have the freedom to find yourself.

      I really love the photos, all of them, and I love in contemplation… there is a season and a time for everything you need to do in life. mike

    3. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Mike. You’re right, you really shouldn’t let others stand in the way of how you want to live your life. To a certain extent. It just conflicts with how we’re also programmed to want to fit in sometimes.

  5. Hey Lisa, I showed your yurt in my Dutch class. We were discussing houses of the future. My students concluded (after seeing the yurt) that the most important thing in a house is a warm toilet. :) We were just wondering how bathroom needs are met in a yurt. (And I am jealous of your freedom without romanticizing it. I can imagine it is also hard work. Isabel (sewist and different as well)

    1. Haha, what a great conclusion. I do wish I had a warm toilet :). Well, if you have a complete set up, most yurt dwellers use a composting toilet. In an outdoors wooden shed, usually, so no heating in winter. You just have to dress warmly. I would rather have an outdoor toilet then a toilet in my yurt really, I find it more hygienic. For showering, some just use a tub and a washing cloth, but I’ve also been in a yurt with a full shower cabin in it. So it’s possible! We are in the backyard of a house so we use the toilet and shower there.

  6. I just ran across your blog while researching a “LEWENSTEIN” sewing machine that I have. As Christian Evangelistic Missionaries, my wife and I went to the Ulanbaatar area of Mongolia in 2016. We have many fond memories of visiting with numerous Mongolianfamilies in their yurts in the area that surrounds the city.

    Viewing the photos of your yurt brought a lot of those memories flooding back to us.

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