Van Vlog!

Here are all my van vlogs in one playlist!

 

I’ve not written as many articles recently, but I’ve been BUSY making video. Check out my Symphony For Happiness Channel for more!

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When The Shit Hits The Relationship

do young people in love ever stop and ask each other the really important things about marriage? Do any of them ever ask whether you like to sleep with with window open or closed?*

With Conscious Speed Dating on the up, and dating apps more popular than ever, the trend is on for people being clear about what they want, before they even have a partner in mind. One friend said to me “I’m done with first meetings. I’m asking potentials to apply and then they have to get past my detailed questionnaire.”

Unromantic as it is to put one’s desires in bullet points, when I think about my windows open/closed wants in a relationship…they are all about the SHIT.

Honestly, it’s not that I want shit, it’s just that the good stuff doesn’t tend to need stipulating. That stuff just works. I don’t want to specify. Let it be a lovely surprise! But what I’ve learned is that living in small van (as I do) and relationships share a similarity: in both cases, the key to happiness lies in what gets done about the shit.

I’ve got my shit, and you’ve got yours. Point 1: Accept that.

When we get together the shit will hit the relationship.

I’m not looking to the impossible task of getting over all my shit so that I can have a shit-free-relationship. I’m not looking for the non-existent person who has no shit themselves.

Having shit is called being alive.

AND

When we get together the shit will hit the relationship. Point 1: Accept that.

Ok we love each other. I’m going to take that as a given otherwise I doubt we’d want a relationship. We probably have a lot in common and like doing stuff together. Great. Sorted.

Now for Point 2.

In my ultimate relationship, we both have the desire and ability to:

  • Look at our own shit when it comes up
  • Look at each other’s shit when it comes up
  • Love ourselves and each other in that.

This is harder that it sounds, right? It’s ok. We don’t have to get it right all the time. The point is for this to be the number one aim. It’s what we’re striving for. When one or other of us gets off track, or gets lost, we know that between us we want to find our way back to that.

Essentially, it’s this: “I want our relationship to be a place we can heal and grow,” because that’s what looking at the shit is. Like I said, we’re not always going to get it right, but we’ll get better and better at it if that’s our common goal. Another way of putting it is “since we love each other, AND ourselves, we’re putting our healing paths at the centre.”

One of the most important realisations I’ve ever had is this: we’ve all got trauma and we tend to repeat patterns. BUT this isn’t because we want to punish ourselves, it’s because we want to heal. We’re trying to do it again until we get it right, until we properly look at the shit, and heal it.

We can’t just do this by ourselves, or in theory. We have to do it in practice, with people.

So yes, the draw to repeat patterns is strong, but that’s only because the drive to heal is strong. It’s the drive to be free after all. It’s life calling us to be more alive. What could be stronger?

The key is, not just accepting this as a downside of falling in love, but cherishing it as the most precious gift in having relationships. Let it not be something we’re dragged kicking and screaming into in an oh-god-the-shit-has-hit-the-relationship way, but something we’re consciously inviting in. Let’s say to each other “I’m so grateful that I have this wonderful love with you which is so joyful that I feel safe to go through the pain of healing.”

When I look at any close relationship now, romantic or otherwise, I ask myself two questions.

  1. Which parts of my loved one’s healing journey are most present now and how can I best support them in that?
  2. Which areas of my own trauma are coming forward to be healed as a result of this person loving me and how do I bring all of my awareness to those?

When the shit hits the relationship, rather than saying “this means it isn’t working,” I’d prefer to say “this means it IS working. Our love must be strong or the shit wouldn’t have hit.”

*from Sinclair Lewis Remembered

For more information, my top recommended reads are:

Getting The Love You Want

Families And How To Survive Them

-Kimwei

Also check out the Symphony For Happines Vlog

… and connect with me @:

facebook.com/kimweidotcom

Music @:

kimwei.com

youtube.com/kimweidotcom

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Digital Nomad Life in the UK: 9 month review

Someone: What’s it like living like you do?

Me: Easy and difficult, but in all the right ways.

Autumn is certainly here. I’m sitting on the bed in my van, which is covered in the Sami tribe’s finest reindeer skin, wearing three layers of wool. The light is dimming and I’ve lit a single candle. It’s 11C indoors according to the wall-mounted thermometer. Life is currently slow, stable and peaceful. I’ve no source of heat in my vehicle and no plans for a winter let or similar but I’m strangely un-phased by the uncertainty.

This update is to give a snapshot of my life, living and working “houseless” in the UK. The new term has started. I have one full day’s Skype teaching, which in theory I could do anywhere in the country, or the world, but I’ve found that rock-solid-stable internet connections are hard to find (I hate to say it, but Virgin are the only ones I trust). As a result, I usually end up working at the college itself in Exeter, where I’m generously provided an office for the day. There’s also an admin day, but this is more flexible and can be done from anywhere, including my van through phone tethering.

When I first moved into this lifestyle of van+improvisation, I had imagined myself travelling all around the country, sleeping in a different place every night. Not so. As it turns out, I orbit Exeter and enjoy the beauty of Devon. My van is not equipped for full time living, so I often stay over with a handful of friends on rotation, on a basis that works for them. This is something I call “docking” and each relationship is individual and always evolving.

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Cat-sitting the most affectionate cat in the world.

I’m loving this way of life and I’m not thinking of giving it up any time soon. Why? Well, maybe one way to explain it is this: it hit me only the other day that my annual income is currently the same as it was when I first entered the working world 10 years ago. Yet, back then I was renting and struggling for money. I distinctly remember putting a sign up in the post office asking if anyone had spare allotment veg because I couldn’t make my grocery bill. Just think what a struggle it would be to live on the same money now in the same situation?

 

Now, I live without rent. I am careful with money and although I undergo what other people might call hardships, such as sleeping in an unheated van, I am able to do many of the things that I love. For example, I can to afford a 5-7 day trip away from Exeter every 6 weeks. This would have been out of the question back when I was renting.

It’s worth noting however, my earnings are not based on a 40hr week. My Skype teaching role is roughly 20hrs, 30weeks per year. Maybe another 10hrs per week go on my non-teaching paid work – gigs, recording, misc, self-employed promotion. Working part time, may result in low earnings (for a professional) and therefore Nomadism, but the lower hours also give me time in my week to be creative. This is invaluable.

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Minimal wardrobe – happily takes up 1/3 of my 40ltr backpack

Another factor that gives me more time is the inherent minimalism created by nomadism (though my friends would argue this is also my character). Wait a minute.. minimalism creates more time? Yes it does. Having less stuff means less time spent sorting it out, fixing, replacing it etc. It also means being able to afford higher quality stuff on the same budget, since you’re buying fewer things, which means they last longer, which means less time spent shopping. I can’t imagine going back to dealing with having more things, in fact I often crave the simplicity that even less would bring.

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My office for an hour or so – under a tree outside the train station. Spot The Dog: an essential

Sometimes I long for the “ultimate” everything – the best lightweight laptop, moulded in-ear headphones, flashy camera and high performance clothing that would no doubt half the weight of my backpack. But, in fact, my honed minimal amount of mid-range, half-decent kit is really very functional. I’d also hate to have to turn down little gifts from my friends because I’d decided to be super-strict about pack weight. I know a lot of minimalists go that far.

So that’s about it for now. 9 months in, all is going well. Life is much more stable and grounded than I had imagined, or perhaps I’m just comfortable with the uncertainties this life brings. There are challenges (like what on earth do I do when my van is at the garage?), but I guess they are the challenges that I welcome.

-Kimwei

kimwei.com

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Kimwei on BBC Radio Devon’s Pause For Thought: Gender & Non-binary

This week I’m talking about gender, being non-binary and gender stereotyping in a series of Pause For Thoughts for Laura James’ Early Show on BBC Radio Devon. There will be 7 in total, so stay tuned and remember – nothing’s binary.

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Van Living Offline: If It’s Not On Instagram, Did It Really Happen? 

IMG_3808Usually I’m the odd hippy in the corporate world, working as a university lecturer on Skype, living in a van/house-sitting. Now that summers on, I enter into being the odd Digital Nomad in the world of offline-van-dwellers and travellers. Alternative lifestyle blogs are unusual because people are usually either doing it, or writing about it, not both. As I know from my yurt days, it’s hard to get online when you’re off-grid.

A quick visit to any festival van field shows me a different world. Whilst my colleagues are often shocked to discover that my Vansion neither has a water tap nor fridge, rock-n-roll bed, nor toilet, this setup comes as standard for van-dwellers who self-build. Why would you want to replicate a house in a van? Fridges need power. Water tanks are a hassle compared to bottles. Fold out beds are for holiday makers, and lastly, when you live a in 65sqft box don’t poo in it!

What’s inspiring to me about chatting to the folks who live almost totally offline, is learning about the wide range of lifestyles available. It’s so easy to think that you need to be online to make a living. What’s rule one of starting your own business? Answer: get it on social media of course! That’s what we’re used to thinking anyway. Even during my £0 Challenge of 2014, I survived largely by making sure I stayed online. Yet there are alternatives.

As musicians go, they all outstrip me; of course they do. Full time buskers are hot as hell on their instruments because they play for hours per day. They don’t have space in their packs/vans for tons of sheet music, but they don’t need it because they are constantly learning new tunes from each other. I only have to sit with a van-dwelling busker for 5mins and they’ll teach me a song so we can play together. With that and seasonal work, they get by more than fine.

As travellers go, I met some super-tramps who can sleep anywhere without a tent, hitch-hike anywhere and get there before you, build their own benders at the drop of a willow, and skip-dive like their in Mission Impossible. I thought I was experiencing a collision of worlds when I realised how much more extreme that collision must sometimes be for offline hitch-hikers:

Me: Thanks for the great meal Jake. Lovely to have loads of veg after a few days travel where it’s hard to get it.

Jane: Yeah me too.

Me: You too? I thought you just travelled from organic farming community to organic farming community.

Jane: Well, yes but… via service stations.

This reminds me of the folk I met who were hitch-hiking and ended up stranded at a motorway service station for so long they set up camp in the woodland just off the carpark.

 

Jane, incidentally, who can survive in the wilderness for months on end using only stone age tools she has made herself, is soon to be flown to Germany to “perform stone age living” at an immersion project, in the strangest mix of modern and ancient worlds I have ever heard of. She also told me a secret: “I’ve got a smartphone now.”

There is a myth that the offline world doesn’t really exist. If you can’t google it, or there isn’t a photo on Facebook to prove it, did it really happen? 

My income is online; I straddle two quite disparate worlds… and I like that (“I love my hybrid nature – no binary can contain me!” – Meredith Tea ). But it’s refreshing to see people making their way in the world through offline networks, or at least a real mix between the two. The online world isn’t as dominant and powerful as all that: whole worlds still function under its radar.
Over the past few years, I’ve given up so many things I thought I needed, and have felt freer each time. Being immersed in the offline world, even for a short time, inspires me to ask “What more I could free myself from?”… I’ll let you know when I have the answer.

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Summer Van Living

Summer’s here and I’m finding myself drawn to the river more and more, spending less time in houses and more in the van. Partly, university has finished for the summer, so I’m not tied to a router for teaching (on Skype), and partly the weather’s great. 

It’s time to set up the van more as a living area than purely the sleeping/storage area it was before. Thought I’d share my developments with you. 

Over the weekend I visited a T4 with a proper conversion – pop top, running water, fold out bed. “Ah” I thought, “this is why my life doesn’t work so well”. In contrast, I’ve just got a short bed, and a set of cupboards. I do have a gas ring and leisure battery though. 

Today I set about an improving on my already chocka set-up. But to my horror, I actually needed to add MORE stuff; to devote cupboards to food, kitchen stuff, 5ltr water bottles and other living items. How to make room? 

In the end, I decided to give up a portion of the bed, leading to this conversation with a friend. 


You can see on the right where I’ve put a load of stuff – that used to all be bed. 


It was a real pinch trying to find space for everything, but my favourite new discovery is that the van came with an in-built shoe rack all along! 


There never seems to be anywhere to put my guitar away, but maybe it being constantly in the way will make me get it out and practice more. 


Will keep updating on how the new setup goes. I would still like to be able to find a way to wash myself or record music out here, but it’s been liberating to find that the weather is warm enough for me to use the world as my living room, for work/play/practice. Roll on summer! 

-Kimwei

Kimwei.com

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Why We Hate People Who Vote Differently To Us

There’s a saying in most businesses, you can have it: Good. Cheap. Soon… pick any two.

goodfastcheap1-1

Ideally, you want all three, right? But seeing as this isn’t an ideal world, presented with that choice most people will quickly decide what their priorities are. If you have money to spare, you may as well choose Good and Soon. If you need it Cheap and Good, you’ll wait.

How does this relate to voting? Well, I’m not saying that these different options represent different political parties; the analogy is about decision making.

So why are we so angry with people who vote differently to us?

Reason 1: Different Priorities

Votes are just decisions based on priorities. If someone makes a different decision to you, i.e. votes differently, this might mean they have different priorities.

The only problem is, their vote also affects you. They are making a choice based on what they want, which means that what YOU DON’T WANT might happen. No wonder it’s easy to get angry about this! It’s like someone else deciding what you’re going to have for dinner for the next four years, only much more serious.

Reason 2: Different Information

However, the idea that votes are purely based on priorities is slightly flawed. What if people are making their voting decisions on largely incomplete information?

What if, someone doesn’t know that one factor exists?

It doesn’t matter which one, but let’s say “Fast”.

fast-doesnt-exist.jpg

Well, they are obviously going to always choose Good & Cheap.

What if you then choose Good & Fast?

You can see this:

good-fast

But, person who isn’t aware of Fast can only see this:

only-good.png

They will think you’ve pointlessly chosen Good but Expensive; the information you’ve based your reasoning on isn’t available to them. They will think “This person is an idiot!” and you’ll think they are an idiot too, for not choosing Fast when it was available and clearly important!

This is the reaction we have when we see people voting based on ignorance. Brexit especially brought this out, as people voted Leave on the basis of totally wrong information, such as that the UK would have more money and a stronger economy. The greater the ignorance a vote is based on, the more anger it generates. “Doh! You just voted AGAINST yourself AND me!”

But ultimately, voting is not a simple problem, it’s a complex problem. The Good/Fast/Cheap model works best for simple problems such as the procurement of some printed flyers. There are definitely measurable variables, and a definite measurable answer.

Reason 3: Different Morals

The final reason we hate those who vote differently to us is because they often hold opinions that we actually believe to be amoral. Some people believe in giving equal financial opportunities, and some don’t. Some are in favour of demilitarisation, whilst others are strongly against. In both the examples given above, it’s possible for both sides to see the other as not just wrong, but damaging. Take the latter: both could righteously say to each other “So you want a war do you?”

 

In truth, politics is a complex problem with no clear answer. We disagree. We get angry because we disagree. We get angry usually because of injustice, but we disagree wildly on what injustice is. We’re like the housemates who always fight about the washing up, because although everyone agrees that the house should be kept clean and tidy, everyone has a different idea of what “clean and tidy” means. This is why we are angry, but also, why we have government.

To quote my favourite stand-up philosopher Matthew Hammond, “Even if we were a company of angels, without government, war would descend. Why? One simple reason: I am not you.”

-Kimwei

Also check out the Symphony For Happines Vlog

… and connect with me @:

facebook.com/kimweidotcom

Music @:

kimwei.com

youtube.com/kimweidotcom

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Ask A Digital Nomad: How Does Your Life Actually Work?

The most common question people ask me is “how does it work being a Digital Nomad?” “Where do you do laundry?” and “Where do you live exactly?” are popular too.

On reason I haven’t fully answered this question so far in a post, is that I hadn’t answered it in my life! The way I live will continue to change and evolve, but up until recently there were still major problems I hadn’t solved. There was so much stuff in my van that I couldn’t use it as a room, I lacked places to record music, and the van bed wasn’t actually comfortable.

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Van – a bit too full for comfort.

That mostly sorted now, so this is a practical post for those of you who like to geek out on alternative lifestyles, possibly with a mind to try it yourself.

Method: Creating a plan A & B for everything

When I started this incarnation of houselessness, 3 months ago, I’d worry if I didn’t have either a solution that would all the time, or a million backup plans. For example, when it came to internet access (VITAL) I thought I wouldn’t be happy unless I could get it in my van. As it is, I’ve never needed to use the internet from my van – there have been plenty of other spaces I can use.

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It’s possible to get internet in the van, but it’s very slow.

So, nowadays I feel pretty secure with a simple plan A & B.

E.g., Laundry

Plan A: Stick my few clothes in with a friends’ washing, in exchange for something or other

Plan B: Hand-wash / launderette

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Spring brings new laundry drying methods.

Although I feel secure knowing plan B exists, in 3 months I’ve hardly had to hand-wash, and never laundrette.

Having a plan B frees me from worrying about my needs, so I can focus my attention on the people in my life and our relationships. I love the way in which this lifestyle brings me closer to my friends and wider community, through asking and exchange, but I prefer the vibe that comes from me asking out of choice/preference rather than need. That’s why Plan Bs are important.

Plan A usually involves a person, whilst plan B is usually an independent solution. As shown:

Workspace

Plan A: Use a friend’s house as an office.

Plan B: Wifi cafe / wifi in the van (v. slow)

Plan A is more favourable, fun and social, but plan B is also workable and fine.

So, here are my plan As and Bs for most aspects, which hopefully quells your curiosity.

Eating

A: Eat with whoever I’m docking with, and contribute in some way.

B: Eat out / supermarket picnic / in the van

I’m not in my van enough to justify stocking it with food, but I carry a food-bag containing non-perishables such as tins, cheese and hardy vegetables if I’m between van and “docking”. When travelling van-less I carry snacks in my Life-Bag, and my next meal. I’m willing to eat cold or raw food quite a lot, but cooking in the van is also possible.

Sleeping

A: Docking / Housesitting / Van

B: Van

My “Sleeping On The Floor” experiments have helped me to become much more flexible about where I sleep. In this case, I’ve put van under plan A and B, as sometimes it’s a pinch to sleep in it, and other times it really is my number 1 choice, especially now it’s spring. I’m very lucky because so many people have welcomed me that I’m regrettably even having to turn down house-sits sometimes.

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Learning to sleep on the floor has many advantages.

Washing Me

A: At someone’s house

B: At a service station / swimming pool / gym

Amazingly I haven’t had to use plan B yet, and the longest I’ve gone without a shower is 2 days. Prioritising staying clean is very, very important when you’re nomadic, trust me…

Exercise

I have a 10min routine I can do each morning no matter where I am, but beyond that I haven’t got a schedule together yet.

Music Practice

A: At someone’s house

B: Outdoors / In van.

Now it’s spring, outdoor spaces are a wonderful resource, however houses are still better. The van is a last resort: I hate playing sat down.

Recording Music

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In session with Mo and Greg, at Mo’s place.

A: At someone’s (quiet) house / studio

This is the only thing I don’t have a plan B for, and that bothers me to an extent. On the other hand, despite feeling insecure, I’ve actually been able to record enough. Guess we all need to feel vulnerable in some areas of life.

So there you have it. The only thing I’d like to improve on at the moment is finding more spaces to record. This happens so infrequently that when I do get to a space, I have to work very quickly, and this is hampering me a bit. But all in all I’ve been amazed by how welcoming my friends and community have been to me and my current way of moving through the world.

-Kimwei

Also check out the Symphony For Happines Vlog

… and connect with me @:

facebook.com/kimweidotcom

Music @:

kimwei.com

youtube.com/kimweidotcom

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Nothing’s Binary: The Song & Beyond

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted here, but don’t worry, I’ve been busy producing plenty of other content for you to enjoy in other mediums. Check out the Symphony For Happiness Vlog and Kimwei’s music Youtube to see what I’ve been up to in the last month, including my 7 day vlogging challenge, and plenty of new music videos.

In the past week, this original song which I recorded as a duet with Billy Bottle has been doing really well on Facebook, with over 6k in views and 100 shares. We created the video to co-incide with Exeter Pride (13.05.2017). It’s about being non-binary, but also celebrating LGTBQ+ as a whole. This goes out to anyone who seeks to be seen for who they truly are. When we accept each other, we love each other, and when we love each other we change the world.

We’ve been overwhelmed by the response and thrilled that the message has been so deeply received. We believe that expanding beyond the binary notion of gender is not just relevant to those who identify as trans, but to everyone, because we are all affected by the expectations of a society that sees gender in binary.

Now it’s time to take the phrase “Nothing’s Binary” even further. We want to put on events, entitled “Nothing’s Binary”, which are celebrations the full gender spectrum. We envisage a Post-Binary world in which anyone can freely inhabit any part of that spectrum and be seen, accepted and loved. Please get in touch if you’d like to be involved.

Please do keep sharing this video, whether on Facebook, Youtube, or this post itself. You can also view/share this info through kimwei.com. I’ve created a special “Nothing’s Binary” page at kimwei.com/nothingsbinary

THE SONG: Click HERE to download for FREE!

THE MUSIC VIDEO:

THE VLOG:

-Kimwei

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Kimwei on Pause For Thought (BBC Radio Devon)

 

I’m proud to present my set of four Pause For Thought pieces from Jan 2017, available as a free download from kimwei.bandcamp.com 

Am looking forward to doing more some time in the future.

I based the content on some articles here and general themes, including Why I’m Spiritual But Not Religious, my £O Challenge , and being a Digital Nomad.

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