We’ve all the the feeling, at some point, in our lives where we’ve thought ‘what the f*ck am I actually doing?’ My fu*k it moment was when I got on a plane to Costa Rica where I met my Prince Charming. We are currently living happily ever after. It’s neither the time, or place, to tell my story but if you want to read all about it you can buy my book here!
If you’re not smug as shit like me, then perhaps an alternative lifestyle is something you could look into. Life’s unforgiving carousel relentlessly goes round and round and round until, eventually, we pop our clogs. Hum Drum-ness, Groundhog Day, monotonous tasks can become all consuming. Take the laundry basket for example, how accomplished do you feel when the basket is empty. I feel triumphant. It’s so short lived because before bedtime the basket is half full (or half empty) again. But I’m not talking about the natural boredoms, some people have stopped the carousel. Not only did stop it, they jumped off it straight into the river…
Why I ditched city life for boat life
Okay so it wasn’t quite so dramatic – she moved onto a barge but when I saw Charis’ story, I had to share it.
‘In January 2021, during UK lockdown no. 3, I moved out of my rented two-bedroom flat in affluent North Oxford onto a knackered 68ft narrowboat. Currently, the boat & I are moored up on the river on the outskirts of the city and the other morning I watched an egret fishing from my living room.
Living off grid
What prompted a 40 something woman who had spent almost 20 years in the city to move onto a tiny floating space amidst nature? Many things. The alternative lifestyle seed being planted when my partner of almost a decade and I split up and I could no longer afford the flat. I sublet a room to a lovely Spanish couple, he was an incredibly tall, laid-back chef who moves very quietly, she was a tiny dynamo who made so much noise it was like listening to a tornado approach and was obsessed with cleaning (I am not). It was an amusing couple of years living with them. They made sure I was well fed and happily helped look after my cat, Babushka, so it worked. Until it didn’t.
Burying my head in the sand
I had taken a wage drop after stepping back from hospitality management and to be completely honest, I was drinking a lot which costs money and it wasn’t long before my situation quickly became financially unviable. I did what all sensible people do, buried my head in the sand, and drank some more because I couldn’t see a way out. And even though I knew what I was spending on booze would make quite a difference to my financial difficulties I simply didn’t acknowledge it. Not drinking was completely off the table.
I continued to struggle until push came to shove and the landlord let me know he needed to have building work done. I knew I couldn’t afford to rent a flat on my own anymore so I felt that I had two options (a) find a room to rent which would probably mean having to give up Babushka or (b) leave Oxford, which at the time I didn’t want to do.
Fortunately for me, a friend offered me his boat to live on for a few months… it’s been six months so far and I am loving it. Waking up surrounded by nature daily is pretty magical. I moved on to the boat because I could no longer afford the rising costs of city living and in turn, I have been given an experience that is invaluable.
Boat life has grown my confidence, boosted my resilience, made me more aware of my own resourcefulness, and is teaching me to look after myself, all unexpected bonuses. I have stopped drinking (136 days and counting at the time of writing), I’m gradually dealing with my finances and mentally I am in a much better place. Would that have been the case if I had continued with a fast-paced city way of life? I’ll never know, but what I do know is that I have fallen in love with this way of life, it’s given me so much!’
You can follow Charis’ boating adventures on Instagram here
After struggling for years with her identity, battling low self-worth and unable to find where she was meant to ‘fit’ in the world, Carolyn Hobdey embarked on a process of deep self-discovery; it led her to leave the corporate world behind and focus instead on helping others to bring about an alternative lifestyle.
Today Carolyn is the Founder and CEO of MayDey Limited. She works to share and guide others through the ‘How To’ process that she’s discovered along the way. Living in North Yorkshire, in her spare time, she trains in boxing & weight-lifting, sings in a choir, learns Latin & Ballroom dancing and is a car enthusiast.
Carolyn’s alternative lifestyle story
‘I used to have a definite idea of what ‘success’ looked like. The big job, the house, cars, clothes, holidays, perfect relationship/family… When I abruptly lost all of that mid-2018, I was forced to reassess who I was and what I wanted from life. As I began to put back all those totems of success, I had a creeping unease. It eventually made me realise that none of those things had made me happy.
I knew that I wanted – needed – something different. I was a classic people pleaser; I’d spent decades dimming my light, but all it’d done was make me feel trapped. Not just in my life, but inside my own body.
It took a year to determine the alternative. To see the world beyond the corporate bubble that I’d occupied for 25 years.
I’d worked in Human Resources for the world’s largest employers and recognisable brands. Don’t misunderstand me, it wasn’t all bad – I had amazing experiences, met brilliant people, grown, developed and travelled. I’ll forever be grateful for what that time gave me and I’m not saying I’d never go back. But I’d grown weary. I’d worked relentlessly and, despite its ‘tea and tissues’ image, HR is tough. You see every aspect of the human condition – the good and the bad. I was tired. Tired of trying to persuade grown-ups to behave properly.
Writing our own script
Instead, I wanted to use my story to help others. For many years my friends had been encouraging me to write a book. After my life implosion I took the plunge. I shone a light into the dark corners of life and talked honestly about what it meant to be human – the failures, self-doubt, mistakes – all the stuff you might rather no-one knew.
It became the platform for a conversation about the conversations we have with ourselves. Talk about self-talk. Speak about mental, physical and emotional health. To talk about how we have it within us to change the things we don’t like about ourselves and our lives. That we can all achieve a well-lived life – if we just take some simple steps to understand what that means to each of us. To write our own script.
What I feared most about leaving corporate life was feeling isolated. What I have found is how much less isolated I feel. The only person I ‘compete’ with is me. There’s no politics. I spend time with other small-business owners who understand my journey and give selflessly of their time and support.
Now ‘success’ is using my life change to help others change theirs.’
Carolyn’s book, Redefining Selfish, is out to buy now.
Have you had enough? It’s never too late you know. We might be in our 40s but you know what Lenny Kravitz said, It Ain’t over ‘Til It’s Over. Would you consider an alternative lifestyle? Comment below and connect with us on Instagram here to keep the conversation going.