Living a simple life means being more self-reliant, more resourceful and taking responsibility for your actions in regards to the environment and with other people. It means taking ownership of your life and holding yourself accountable. And so it is here that a new door opens.
Evelyn Vincent, a landscape designer while living in PA. held true to her beliefs that clients did want something more significant in their backyards, thus she created garden spaces that beckoned people as well as wildlife. She holds certificates in traditional Feng Shui, Backyard Wildlife Gardening, and Space Clearing. Creating beautiful Sacred Space in homes and in gardens allowed her naturally talented artistic abilities to shine.
Evelyn says, “I wanted to bring something unique to my landscaping business, so I studied Feng Shui, Space Clearing, creating Sacred Space, Dowsing, Qi Gong Healing, Labyrinth Design & Facilitation, and organic landscaping, to further my talents. At the time, I wasn’t certain how these things would all tie together because it seemed like I was only pursuing the things I had an interest in learning. One day, it all fell into place and I could see clearly how each piece was a part of the whole. It was at that moment in my life that I realized when we follow our hearts and instincts the Universe works with us. At one point in my life I found that I could easily say, my life has exceeded my greatest expectations. I can still say that today.”
As a lifelong organic gardener and nature enthusiast, Evelyn has always held the environment and fresh food in high regards.
“There’s nothing more rewarding than a client brought to tears of joy upon seeing the transformation of their once drab and virtually lifeless backyard, or to sit in silence listening to snowflakes falling upon trees in a forest while cooking dinner on a campfire,” says Evelyn.
“It’s sometimes the things that we refrain from doing that bring us our greatest rewards and our deepest connections in life. While we may never know what it must have felt like to see the now extinct woodland buffalo that once called North Carolina home, or the old growth forests of the eastern states with trees so wide in diameter that would take 20 men holding hands to encircle one, or see the sky overhead blackened by the numbers of Passenger Pigeons which helped to create the fertile soils of Pennsylvania… when we lose these precious living things we’re losing a part of ourselves too, our being.
“I think all indigenous people must have known that if humans don’t live respectfully and in tune with their surroundings that the impact of species being lost forever meant great loss. In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to forget that our every action causes something else to occur. Living mindfully just might be the key to our success. In the words of Chief Seattle… ‘Man does not weave this web of life. He is merely a strand of it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.’”
Self-employed since the age of 18, first the owner of an Antiques business, then starting an importing business and working with individual craftspeople in SE Asia designing jewelry, Evelyn has enjoyed making a difference in the lives of others.
“That was an interesting experience,” said Evelyn, “to see these talented people go from near poverty conditions to buying land and building their own home was one of the more significant things I’ve witnessed in my life. I’ll never forget. Having that business allowed me to travel the world every year, I got to see some of the most amazing natural beautiful places and work with people who I would have never otherwise met. It, like many things in my life, got me thinking in directions that I don’t think I would have gone. Perhaps, when looked at from a particular attitude, we are able to discover the subtle nuances of our hearts and minds – and through that bring into our lives things that might never have been. I think that might be the reason why I switched my focus and line of work, I began to realize that ‘one’ person can in fact make a significant difference in the world. That’s how and why I got into the landscaping and now have a strong desire to use what I have learned and experienced in new ways.
“I learned a lot more about myself and other people while living in intentional communities for a year. As we reach certain stages in our lives, we are prompted to make changes. During this stage of my life I want to do more – more for myself, those living nearby, and much more in living sustainably. Being and setting a model of what could be… that which fulfills and touches our human needs in ways I’ve only begun to scratch the surface.”
Curt Siters is a webmaster and holds a degree in microcomputer engineering. Curt loves old hand tools and is collecting them to be able to build the old fashioned way. He has done landscaping and has been an educator, worked in factories and held positions involving graphic arts.
Curt says, “No matter what you do pursue it with a passion and do your best. If everything works out, fantastic! If it doesn’t, look back to discover what it was that didn’t work for you, your employer and/or clients. Don’t dwell on the negative – learn from it. Above all, no matter what, keep your attitude positive and you will never have an experience so devastatingly bad that it will ruin the rest of your life.
“Not all things from the past are perfect or worth repeating or using. However, everything from the past is good for learning or for gathering inspiration. It doesn’t matter if it is ancient beliefs, tools, art or whatever. The more you learn and experience the more you have in your ‘toolbox’ for your life and whatever confronts you.”
Since graduating from high school Curt has made a conscious effort to keep his belongings to a minimum by refusing to have the latest and greatest of anything and really has not had the desire to keep up with the Jones’. It is a desire to see exactly what he needs to live and still do what he wants.
“There is a lot of stress in life that makes life more complicated than it needs to be. I have seen that having the latest and greatest of anything, or the most of anything, is an endless trap and I know that our current economy relies on it but what would our economy look like if things we bought lasted a lifetime? If people didn’t have to spend hard earned money on replacing things or getting the latest and greatest they would be able to buy something new or different, take classes and help the poor much more than we do today. But I digress a bit. I don’t like to buy something only to have to buy it again in a short period of time.
“For example, my first monochrome monitored computer I sold to a friend after 5 years, I was doing desktop publishing and needed to get one capable of doing color. Five years later it was still in use. In 2005 I bought a seven year old computer and used it until 2009. It was capable of using current software up until that time – albeit it was slow. So that computer was fifteen years old when I sold it to someone who was looking for one just like it. After I sold it I bought a brand new one that should last me a good ten years or more. All the replacements I would have had to buy if I hadn’t chosen this line of computers has gone to other endeavors – such as classes, travel and more.
“Living simply with the minimum of stuff breeds creativity and keeps the mind sharp because you are always thinking. You think of things like ‘can I do something like that myself’ or ‘I need to do such and such but I don’t have the right stuff so what do I have that I can use.’ You can do this because you aren’t burdened with trying to keep up with someone else. You are free.”
Curt has traveled extensively throughout the U.S. (43 of the 50 states) and Canada (10 of the 13 provinces) but he keeps coming back to the Appalachian Mountains of his youth. The mountains hold a spell over him that keeps him coming back.
“I grew up the youngest child of two teachers, so during the summers we had lots of time together. One thing my parents did with my sister and I was travel. As a young child I read everything I could get my hands on, from science to history to biographies. Traveling further opened my mind to many more possibilities and ways to reference different things. I love to explore.
“I grew up in the Appalachian Mountains, the oldest mountains in the world with the second oldest river, in Central Pennsylvania. I have moved away many times but always come back. I have been to Southern California while in the Navy and came back. I moved to Delaware and came back. I moved to Seattle, after camping in British Columbia for three months and came back, but this time to the Southern Appalachians in Western North Carolina. I feel these mountains are very special.”
Curt’s passion is to see how to use technology to create and live a simple lifestyle and to see if he can find better, more efficient ways of doing things. He doesn’t mean using technology to replace what we do or to do it faster, but to help us do it better. He means to think creatively.
”Yes, I am a geek. I love technology but I also am enthralled with how our forebears solved problems. They were free. They thought for themselves and were very innovative. I came across a blog post a while back that had a picture. The picture was of something that had what looked like an old Singer sewing machine for a base and some kind of equipment on top. It was a power planer – foot operated! I have a friend who has a wrench that belonged to his great-grandfather from back in the 1930′s – it was self adjusting! It was a very simple design. On my favorite show, The Wood Wrights Shop, there is an episode where Roy Underhill was showing how to make simple window sashes. He used a plane made in America that combined several planes that were used in Europe. It wasn’t a complicated plane either.
“Simplicity is wonderful. It is amazing. Just look to nature. I have studied microcomputers, education and physics. The laws of physics, for the most part, are very simple. Look at E=mc2 (energy is equal to the mass of something times the speed of light squared) which relates energy and matter. Force can be calculated by F=ma, or force is equal the mass of something times it’s acceleration. Speed is equal to the distance covered divided by the time it takes to cover that distance. Simplicity.
“I bring this approach to whatever I do. When I was a ski instructor I took the teachings of the ‘Professional Ski Instructors of America’ and boiled it down to the absolute minimum amount of control and effort needed to teach someone to get them going. In one hour I could take someone who had never been on skis before and had them skiing the intermediate trails. One of my private lesson students was a 70 year old woman. I was able to get her to just below expert in one hour. When I do websites I approach it the same way – how can I code the pages in such a way that not only does it look good but is easy for the owner to use and anyone who may work on it after me doesn’t have to take a long time to figure out what I did.”
Spirituality did not become a conscious part of his life until the turn of the century. Before then it always was with him, just below the surface. When he camped he always did so with respect for the environment. When he walks it is with respect for others and the earth. He believes in something greater than us that we are part of and not separate from.
“Just like a work of art comes from, and is imbued with a bit of, the artist, we come from that which created everything we can and cannot see and we are imbued with a bit of it. If you were to remove that ‘divine spark’ we would not exist. Recently the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) in Europe may have confirmed the existence of what is called the Higgs Boson which theoretically is what makes energy ‘solid’. If this is the case then removing the boson would make the universe turn into nothing but energy and our physical bodies would not exist. The same thing with that ‘divine spark’.
“I believe that we have an innate ability to communicate with, or commune with, our creator. We just have to let go of our fear, like not being able to keep up with the Jones’. It is there for us, waiting for us. You can connect in a temple, church, synagogue or out in nature – it doesn’t matter. A lot of people ask the question why are we here? I believe it is to experience life and that our creator wants us to be creative and resourceful, to do as much as we can with as little as possible and to do it in a way that is respectful of others and the Earth, help those in need when needed and to be happy. The Ten Commandments are all about this.”
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