This article contribution is written by my dear friend Brittany Lynk. I consider Brittany one of my soul sisters. We have traveled to over 7 countries together, spent countless hours talking about the ego, the Universe, and what it means to be human. She has been to over 70 countries and plans to hit 100 before her 39th birthday. She recently celebrated her third year living out of a suitcase.
A Bruised Ego and Toxic Job Walk into a Bar...
It took a murder-suicide, getting kicked out of my summer homestay, and having a steady two-month eye twitch for me to take up my current peripatetic lifestyle, traveling from place to place and living out of my suitcase. With the recent celebration of my three year anniversary of this, hmm… lifestyle, I find myself reflecting on the journey.
How did this come to be? The short answer could be summed up as a bruised ego and a toxic job. In 2012, I was a facilitator for a group of 8 students from universities across the United States on a social entrepreneurial exchange program to a rural village in South Africa. It was hard. It was rewarding. And I thought I had learned a great deal through the challenge and meaningful moments of the experience. However, when evaluations came back, I took the constructive criticism personally. So when two years later in 2014, when another opportunity emerged where I felt I could “redeem” myself, I jumped at it. My intuition and logic suggested otherwise. My ego won and I was convinced this was what I needed to do.
I packed up my already minimalistic life, subleased my tiny room in New York, threw myself a party, alerted my freelance clients I would be gone a year and was off. No time like the present, right?
Stressful, fun, stimulating moments awaited me the first weeks back in South Africa getting ready for the new batch of students. This round placed 16 students in one community—quite the exponential increase. The students arrived, and excitement grew as we prepared them to move into the community to spend the next eight weeks living and working on social ventures with the community members.
Long story, short—the first night, two students witnessed not only domestic violence in their homestay but were propositioned by their homestay father hours later. The second night brought a murder-suicide across the street from another student homestay. By the ninth night, the staff was kicked out of their homestay so the “community leader” could hold control of the program. Even with so many wonderful people in the community, one power player could dismantle much of the good.
Somehow we all made it through the eight weeks, steady eye twitch not withstanding, after which time I looked my ego square in the eye and eagerly resigned. I could not authentically give my time, energy, and care to a program I did not believe in. And I was “enough”; I did not have to prove anything to others. I was accountable to myself. I had seen parts of myself I would rather not know were there, but now that I knew them, had seen them, had felt them, I could release them. And release, I did!
Home-full Living and the Gig Economy
But what now? Since I had cut my year-long contract short, my NYC room still had a subletter—I was homeless. Hmm… as a frugal adventurer and relentless silver liner, I saw a unique opportunity to try living out of my suitcase by visiting friends and family, traveling domestically and internationally, and hammock-camping in between work “gigs.” It soon became clear that I was not homeless, but rather “home-full”!
The itinerant lifestyle is not for everyone. Many people value routine, stability, and comfort: Saturday afternoon yoga classes, a cup where your toothbrush can always be found, and a closet of clothes to choose from on the daily. Everything shifted for me with life on the road. I could no longer plan weekly consistencies, go a few days without wearing the same shirt, nor could I always find my toothbrush. It became necessary to travel light and live in the moment, to trust the Universe, to feel the breezes of confirmation. It was my responsibility to focus on what really mattered—being wherever I was and with whoever I was with— and to leave room for serendipity. I had to learn how to radiantly acquiesce to the moment.
Since going through such a powerful and traumatic learning experience, I have found a deeper sense of contentment and happiness with the life I had previously felt restless in. I have found my secret to living the moments by, yup, living the moments instead of worrying about what comes next and how I must achieve greatness. Now I enjoy instead of worry. I experience what is instead of thinking about what might be.
As an active participant in the gig economy, I make my living virtually as a freelance graphic designer with BLynk Creations, my one-woman company, as well as offering on-site home/office/life/estate/anything-you-want organizing, and on-the road contracting as an International Visitor Liaison with the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program accompanying international visitors around the United States for 3-week professional exchange programs.
In between these on-the-road programs and on-site consulting gigs, I fill the days with meaningful moments visiting family, friends, visitors from my programs who are now friends, and soaking in the powerful energies and beautiful vistas our world offers. With a hammock in tow, I sling my backpack over my shoulder, tighten the straps, snap the waist and chest belts, and head out for whatever is about to happen. And whenever there are trees, up goes the hammock.
Weightless and Swinging
I always knew I liked the feeling of being in a hammock. On trips to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area on the border of Minnesota and Canada, I skipped the tent, and slept directly in the hammock. However, I had never analyzed why I loved the feeling until it became part of my lifestyle. Then I realized swinging in the hammock was an embodied experience of my emotional and spiritual journey. Every time I drop into a hammock, I feel a deep sense of release, of weightlessness, of defying gravity. What a feeling! In those moments, I am only there—the wind blowing me to and fro, my child-honed swing skills getting the hammock to sway back and forth, a book in my hand, a thought in my head, a simple yet profound awareness of the subtle sensations throughout my body.
People often ask how long I will continue to live out of my suitcase, when I am going to settle down. The only answer I have is, “Until it doesn’t feel right.” And right now it feels right. I aim to observe my ego, follow my intuition, and enjoy the weightlessness. I am valuing the moments where I am welcomed into the lives of others, where I am hiking up mountains and fording rivers, where I am cheering on the winner of a grass-cutting competition, where I am listening, laughing, and living out loud—where I am swinging in my hammock.
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” –Henry David Thoreau