Today on “The Small Life” we have Amber’s inspiring story. After divorce and debt, Amber and her “TinCan” are picking up the pieces and in the process, making a simple and lovely home. Take it away, Amber!
Hi, I’m Amber. I am 42 years old, and I live and work in central Arkansas. I am a bookkeeper and I work in HR, Safety and Compliance. On the side I am a photographer, artist and blogger. I would love to eventually transition to do these things full-time or at least into something I can do more flexibly while traveling. For now I work for and with some great people at my day job. Since work is stationary, my home is too. I currently rent a space in a local RV/Mobile home park. It isn’t my dream location, but it works well for now. My goal is to be able to spend more time traveling in the future (either on the road in the TinCan or by using her for my home base for even further destinations). Simplifying my life and living in the TinCan is enabling these dreams to become much more attainable— hopefully in a year or two. It is amazing how much freer I feel having embraced this simple lifestyle and letting go of so many unnecessary things. I want a life full of moments and experiences not things. I think I always wanted this kind of life, but I didn’t always recognize that I did. Fear of losing my “sense of security” and asking to many negative “What ifs” held me back.
So then how did I actually end up simplifying and living in a vintage, 1970 Airstream? Let me just say it took some life upheavals to get me on the right track. Several years ago I found myself picking up the pieces after going through the dreaded d-word…divorce. I relocated to Arkansas and spent a couple of years trying to keep up a similar lifestyle to what I was used to. I made some not so great decisions and accumulated more debt than I like to admit. After a few years, I worked my way up to a better job, but I was working all the time and not happy. I realized that I could keep working ridiculous hours to achieve what society says is normal, or I could make new choices that would allow me to be much more in control of how I spend my time. I really liked the sound of those new choices. Therefore, I downsized; first to a studio apartment and then to my beloved TinCan.
I have long drooled over Airstreams, but never really thought I would be brave enough to embrace living in one full-time. That changed with a find on eBay and a quick drive to Ohio in April 2013. I had researched a lot online about full-timing, but I had no actual experience of ever even camping in an RV. Thus, the drive to get her was a little nerve-wracking. What did I get myself into? However, it was love at first sight. From the moment I stepped foot inside her, I knew I was home. Fortunately, the previous owners of my TinCan took very good care of her. She was in lovely shape for her age and didn’t need any extensive repairs. I did spend a few months painting, decorating, replacing window seals, stripping clear coat, and simply making her more my own before moving in October 2013 when my apartment lease was up. I’ve done a few more projects over the year and 4 months I have lived in her. I still have a long list of projects to be completed as time and the budget allow. I find it is a pleasure investing my time, money and energy into something that is mine instead of throwing away rent every month.
My only regret about embracing this simple life and moving into the TinCan is that I didn’t do it sooner. It has been one of the very best decisions I have ever made. My free time is much more relaxed, and I am able to spend more time on things that are important and fulfilling. I am happy to share my story in the hopes that it might help others gather the courage to simplify their lives and reach for the lives they really want. I know reading the stories of others helped me gather that courage too.
Thanks, Amber! I admire your courage, tenacity and grit! And that’s what small living is all about! If you want to hear more about Amber’s story, check out her blog, Auntie Am & Her Big Tin Can and check her out on Instagram @airstream365. And remember, if you have a small space that you want to share, email me at asmalllifemelanie at gmail. com. -Melanie