When I was a kid, my mom told me I’d scream if I was left in a sandbox. I’d cry if I stained a new outfit. I absolutely couldn’t stand being dirty. To this day, every time I stain a new outfit (which is literally anytime I put something new on my body), I still have this fleeting moment of disappointment.
Flash forward to spending summers at summer camp. At camp, being dirty was the name of the game. Intermittent showers... playing outside 90% of the time... running around in the mud, dirt, sand, you name it. Dirt-phobia didn’t stand a chance, and I loved it. I felt like myself — more focused on my alignment with the earth, than being attached to material "things."
I was practicing the yogic principle of non-attachment before I even knew what a "down dog" was!
Then after my junior year in college, I stopped spending summers in Northern Wisconsin, and I didn’t spend a ton of time getting dirty. In fact, I was the Style Editor of a women’s magazine, so my job was the exact opposite of getting dirty. I shopped a lot. Spent all my spare money on clothes. I was indoors most of my days.
Unbeknownst to me, that weird, unexplainable childhood phobia set back in. I was attached to all my things — and I clung to them, and I incessantly aimed to keep free of animals, dirt, and messes. At one point, my closet bar literally collapsed under the weight of all my stuff.
Enter: Off grid living.
People ask me all the time why I choose to live off grid (defined as without access to city sewer/water and off the electrical grid). Why would someone who owns three yoga studios, works part time for a nonprofit, and splits her time between Montana, Alaska and Wisconsin, and needs all the time she can get, live in a way that takes… more time?
Excellent question. (And yes, there are days when I ask myself that, too!)
Sure, it's hard work. Chopping wood. Waking up to 40-degree (or colder!) mornings when the fire in the wood stove goes out. Struggling to start a fire because the pipes aren't drafting. Hauling 7-gallon water jugs in a sled up a steep hill. Riding a snowmachine or 4-wheeler miles from where I park my car... in the rain, snow, ice, mud or shine.
But truly, the benefits outweigh the challenges by a long shot.
When I’m on the grid, I’m less aware of my consumption, less aware of my surroundings, and to be honest? Less likely to go outside as often.
This is why I love living off grid because it helps me feel like myself. I regularly appreciate the wind. The birds. The moon cycles. The snow and rain. My days — and power source — are governed by the sun, and my survival is dependent on my own will, instinct and desire. I get that feeling I got at summer camp, year-round!
And if all those good vibes require some extra time? I’m willing to pay the price if it means I can feel the earth under my feet and see the stars overhead.
Originally hailing from Wisconsin, Mollie is a cheesehead transplant to Northwest Montana, with degrees in Retail and Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Today, she lives off the grid, half the year in a Tiny House & half the year in a yurt — both of which she and her husband, Sean, built by hand. Nonprofit Executive Director by day, Mollie also owns and teaches at Yoga Hive — a chain of community yoga studios in the valley.