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FAQ

(feel free to ask more questions in the comments)

Why are you online (you shouldn´t be)?


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First of all:
Since moving into the woods I´ve realized that people seem to have very strong opinions about how it should be/how we should be/how we should act/think/communicate.
Why?
I think it´s because moving out is in contrast and therefore “has to be” the opposite of living in society. I think that´s why.
I often meet this  line of non- argument: “Since you live in nature you should be spiritual, grounded, happy and detest technology”.
Well. I´m not and I don´t.
As if technology is impure, dirty, and modern people aren´t spiritual, grounded or happy.
It´s says a lot actually…. if you look to the way we´re “supposed to be” when we live like this.

My point being: I refuse to take the role, live the fantasy, be the opposite- since I believe this very thinking is what fucks it up for all of us.
Polarized.
Either/or.
With us or against us.

We are who we are and we live as we please. We´re not pushing a lifestyle. We´re not selling anything. We´re just trying to negotiate with society, with modernity, with ourselves.
I´m just just a woman trying to make amends. I´m just a woman seeking out an alternative.

This is very important to me and I find myself repeating it again and again.
We are NOT fulfilled, authentic, whole or happy, we havn´t found “the good life”.
I think “the good life” is a lie. I think life is supposed to suck, sometimes, I don´t believe in paradise.

But I DO think this lifestyle is better than the one we had before. Better for us and yes, for the planet. I think the modern lifestyle is unsustainable for both the planet and for most of the humans. There. I said it.

Second of all:
We´ve become pragmatic. More than anything.
It´s kind of clever this internet. It gives you access to information and youtube videos. We were not experts when we got here. We need to learn stuff. Plus I´m a writer. This is wired into my existence. I need to communicate. I do not feel guilty about this however I admit that it is hard to administrate the internet. The first year here we lived without internet in the cabin and I often look back on that year and I miss it.

Third of all: Why are we supposed to be “holier than thou”, consistent and “better”?
I think this narrative is suppressing and I wont comply. There´s so much bullshit in the world already lets not create unrealistic stories.

I am not a consistent human being. I do not try to be. As Walt Whitman put it

“Do I contradict myself?
Very well.
Then I contradict myself.

I am large.
I contain multitudes”

That was the long answer.
The short answer is this: It´s how we earn our money. We have decided that we can´t live completely without money (= gasoline, coffee ect) so we need to get some and this is how we get some.

Why do you share your story/why are you in the media?

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  1. Because you wouldn´t know that some sort of alternative existed if people like me didn´t tell the story.
  2. Because I´m an attention-whore/because I can´t stop being a storyteller/because I´m haunted by this weird need of selfactualization, recognition, succes.
  3. Because, allthough this began as a definitive selfish move (”get away, get away, before we die, run to the hills!”) we have become rather concerned with the more ideological, ecological and political challenges our world faces. Rising social inequality, injustice, facism and hate… to stay silent is to betray our moral human duty.
    Yes. That IS how I see it.

What does it mean to live off grid?


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Living off grid means different things to different people.
In my opinion living off grid means being AWARE of what grids we are connected to and actively choosing between them (the electrical grid, the road networks, the money grid, the communications grid ect).
See, all grids have a price. And all grids have their advantages.
We are off grid (electrically) but online (communicationwise).
No biggie.
The first year in the forest we detached ourselves from as many grids as possible but as we became more and more pragmatic we “opted in” and “opted out” according to our needs, wants and ideologies. As I said: we negotiate.To us the off grid life means doing as much as possible ourselves. Taking down our own trees, making our own fires. It´s a framework for our thoughts. We want to be independent. We want to be free to choose.

How can you take part in a society that you are so critical towards?
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Think about it.
Think.
The consequence of this question is imperative.
(you can only be a part of society if you accept and reinforce the status qou?)

Here´s a link to a text I wrote about society.

What role does loneliness play in your current life compared to in your old life?
symetric world
It´s a good question and it´s kind of hard to answer.
I don´t think we´ve ever been more social than we are here in the forest- which came as a big surprise to me.
In the summertime our land is buzzing with guests, woofers, volunteers. We often hang out with our neighbours, help each other, eat dinner together… but it´s never planned, it´s never organized, scheduled and it dosn´t have the element of “forced sociability”.
See, we came to the forest because we´re a little strange. We´re a little off and a little weird.
Out here it´s ok… which makes it a lot easier to hang out with people!
Yes, and sometimes it is lonely and boresome for the kids and sometimes, during winter, we get the cabin fever. Everything has is ups and downs. It´s the intensity of all of these feelings that make us stay here.

What do you miss most about civilization and Denmark?

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Hehe. Well. We´re still a part of civilisation, we´re still a part of modern life, I think we are all born into a cultural and normative context, it´s in our heads, we can´t escape: we are all children of our time.
I miss kebab and french fries and all the cultural events (that we never had the time or the money to attend anyways), live music and such. There is something absolutely stunning about the feeling of being a flock… together with other human beings.

What about the kids?

The kids are doing fine. Sebastian and Victoria does not live at home anymore, they´re educating themselves on a swedish “folkhögskola”. They don´t want me to take a lot of pictures of them so that´s why I seldom share images of them.

Silas attends school now and Sigurd sometimes hangs out in the daycare (to learn swedish and such).
Our first year in the forest was magical, we sat around the fire each night TALKING to eachother. We needed that. And the children were taught basic humans skills (building a fire, building a house, how to kill a rooster) it gave them selfconfidence and a real sense of teamwork.
The first year was also extremely hard. It was hard. No doubt about it. But it was worth it and I know they are proud of what we have accomplished. Together.
See our story in pictures here.

Regarding the logs for your house… how did you do it? Did you take down the trees and let them dry before you build the house?

everybodys helping

We´ve buildt two houses.
The first year we took down trees and built the house with them directly, but the trees were dead, killed by an evil beetle, and stood like normal trees, only they were bone dry.

Jeppe notes: “However they got wet while we built and the house settled a lot. Too much really.
I would build with green wood if I were to do it again, and simply leave ample room in the notched corners and around windows and doors for the house to settle and shrink. That’s what people used to do, and it works well. Also green wood is so much easier to work with than old dry logs…”
Due to various reason (which you can read about in my book) we decided to leave the original log cabin and build a new one. This is the house we live in now. It´s buildt out of the material of a very old cabin that we took down plus whatever scrap material we could get our hands on.
Jeppe is dreaming about building a third house.
What are your visions for the place you live now? Do you rent the land, are you still Danish citizens, do you want a larger community?

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Our vision is to become as self-sufficient as possible. We´ve realized a couple of things though.

1. We can’t be self-sufficient with coffee, chocolate, sugar, salt spices ect and we are not ready to live without these things.
(I do believe however that we must all lower our standards of living as a result as climate changes and social unrest, I think this imperative and I admit that not being willing to live without the above is an expression of double standards)
2. We have slowly moved from a vibe of “cabin in the woods” to a vibe of “small homestead”.
This is not necessarily what we want (to run a small farm) which is also why we have chosen to not have larger animals anymore (instead we buy meat from our homesteading neighbour).

Regarding the community. We´ve learnt a LOT about this and the current situation is this: we do not expect anything from anybody. We adore our neighbours, we like to hang out with them, we help each other but building community is not our number one priority, we like the metaphor (and the pragmatic sensibility) of the neighbours.

We are swedish residents and Danish citizens.
We do not rent the land. We are allowed to live here for free.
How about the Captain, what happened to him?

He inherited his money and drifted away on a sailboat. I often think about him.

How about the future- do you think about it or is it one day at a time?

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Yeah, I think about it. I know that we can never go back to a “normal” lifestyle again- but I also know that it hardens the soul and makes you feel unfree if you live through long-term plans.

Do you want to be self-sufficient in the future?

We thoroughly enjoy working in the garden, making our own produce, collecting wild edible plants, canning, drying ect. but there is also a sense of necessity to it and a sense of resilience.
So yes. We want to be self-sufficient but, as mentioned above, we don´t think it is realistic FOR US to ever be completely self-sufficient. We like to trade and barter. We like to have the time and energy to also write and make music.

Why have you chosen not to move to one of the preexisting eco-communities?
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I think these places tends to mirror society too much. And more often than not you need a lot of money to buy or build a house and there are all kinds of rules, regulations and pressure to conform and eat together ect.
I respect what the ecovillages are doing but we also needed to take a more fundamental step.

Did you finish your first house and does anybody live there?
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Yes, our friend lives there and plans to finish the building this summer (the upper roof needs fixing and doors and windows needs to be attached to the frames that we made)

PS. You should really buy my book. It´s a good book. It´s honest.

 

13 comments on “FAQ

  1. Janne Bulow says:

    How do you celebrate Christmas in the Woods?

    Like

    1. andreahejlskov says:

      Actaully our christmas traditions have changed a bit- every person in the family on recieves ONE gift. We do not have the money to have a “traditional” christmas with gifts everywhere (and we dont like the panic and stress that all of these gifts impose on our christmas evening) so we came up with the solution of one gift per person (we gather all of the money from relatives also to put into buying one package per child). We, the adults, dont get any gifts and we´re fine with that.
      Also the whole scene of christmas has changed a bit. We take it very easy.
      🙂

      Like

  2. Alaverdi says:

    Danes are a tribe for better and for worse. This is probably a survival trait for a small population. So leaving the tribe is somewhat betrayal. And yes – when you talk about it publicly then you will be seen as provoking and rocking the boat. Or even worse you are seen as a hero. This is a hard role to take on.
    My family and I have chosen a somewhat different life style. And I recognize many of the questions you have had during your speeches. I trust that you will know what I mean and I will not need to elaborate.
    And yes – we live abroad and our daughter has no clue of how to get on and off a public bus in Denmark. She does not like lever paste and black bread and so is considered picky in Denmark. But the DR julekalender – she knows about poverty, refugees. She knows them. As friends in her everyday life. What is more important?!

    Like

  3. andreahejlskov says:

    Thank you! I´ve been thinking about this comment for the last couple of days. You´re right.

    Like

    1. Alaverdi says:

      Thanks, Andrea. I am glad it was useful. Just like your book is to me. Big time. Now that I re-read my comment then I can see that I felt very strongly about it! I should probably have phrased my point more diplomaticly. But then – statements are what makes food for thoughts. Not vague formluations.

      Like

  4. Maria Gripenberg says:

    Hej Andrea! Såg dej nyss på tv, och håller med dej fullständigt i allt du säger om detta samhälle. Jag har nu själv gått i dessa tankar att bryta sej ut i detta så kallade välfärdsystem. Pga den falska trygghet som detta inlivar. Blev både glad o inspererad av att höra att det faktiskt finns människor som vågar bryta sej loss! Det som gör att jag tvekar är hur? Man kan överleva o ge sina barn mat för dagen utan inkomst. Du sa på tv att ni klarar er på 8000kr i månaden, det hade jag oxå gjort;) men hur får ni ihop till dessa 8000kr tacksam för svar mvh Maria

    Like

    1. andreahejlskov says:

      Tack så mycket. Jo. Det førsta året i skogen klarede vi os for 4000 kr. – barnpenge och freelance (jag jobbar som skribent/forfattara och foredragsholdere). Det var for litt for os, lidt for jobbigt så nu er vi på omkring dom 8000 kroner. Indtægten er den samme: freelance, foredrag, min bog. Små tjenester. Bytteøkonomi. Gaveøkonomi.

      Vi har ingen FAST indkomst och det er dét som er jobbigt, at du inte VET hyr du skal få pengene om tvo månater (men ja, den falske trygheten er inte betre, tycker jag) … men vi holder på. Vi kæmper. Och oldar rigtig mycke mad sjelva.
      Jeg skrev liten gran om det her: https://andthepioneerlife.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/the-decision-that-we-continue-to-make/

      Like

      1. Maria Gripenberg says:

        Tack så mycket för ditt snabba svar. Ja jag antar att man får tänka till rejält, planera och tänka ut ett sätt som gör att man får lite pengar till det nödvändiga. Tack igen för ditt svar mvh Maria

        Like

  5. Malene says:

    Kære Andrea,
    Jeg så for noget tid siden en artikel i et dame blad, Alt for Damerne tror jeg det var, om dig og din familie og jeres liv i skoven. De nævnte din bog og jeg tænkte “DEN skal jeg bare læse”…jeg fik den i julegave, dvs. næsten – boghandlen bestilte den hjem, så jeg fik den denne lørdag og jeg var færdig med at læse den søndag nat kl. 01! Jeg vil ønske dig tillykke med din bog. Den er yderst velgjort. Udover at det er en spændende og lærerig beretning, så kan du noget med ord. Særligt dine ord omkring følelserne og afmagten og lykkerusen og om alt det hårde og om det man føler indeni og som man ikke altid får sagt. Og om at tvivl på om man er mor på den måde som man ville ønske man var, om at vælge. Og om at TURDE! Ja, som du nok kan fornemme, så er det bestemt ingen hemmelighed at din bog har sat mange tanker i gang hos mig. Jeg befinder mig for tiden i et limbo. Et vaccum. Alle døre står på vid gab, alle tanker og ideer er tilladte… men følelsen af at være fastlåst i “sovs og kartofler” er kvælende….! Vi er glade for vores hus og vores hjem, men til tider er det også en spændetrøje. Jeg er sikker på at du forstår. Og én bestemt tanke vender hele tiden tilbage til mig… “Det farligste er at have erkendt noget, men ikke at gøre noget ved det…”
    TAK fordi du har skrevet din bog, delt din historie, inviteret os indenfor i dit liv. Om end kun for en stund. Jeg ønsker dig og din familie alverdens lykkelighed.
    Kærligst Malene

    Like

    1. andreahejlskov says:

      Tak fordi du tog dig tid til at skrive til mig! Det betyder alverden. Sammen står vi stærkere 🙂

      Like

  6. Lovely web page, really appreciate your honesty and the way you tell it. Found your blog from seeing your post in The More beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible FB group. Glad you caught my attention.

    Warm wishes
    Tracey x

    Like

  7. DM says:

    I just spent the last hour reading your blog. I appreciate the honest way in which you tell your stories. Choosing to move away from that first home you built in the wood, to your current situation too a lot of courage and fortitude. There are so many random thoughts in my head right now… thank you for taking the time to share your journey via the Internet. ..signed, a kindred soul, 1/2 around the world in Iowa

    Like

  8. I was inspired to re-read this blog because I saw that an Iowan had commented on it. I am an ex-patriot Iowan. I have now lived in California for more than I ever lived in Iowa. But as Neil Young said “all my changes were there” so I still have a strong feel for Iowa.

    Anyway, when I re-read this blog I was reminded how much I like your blogs and especially the early ones. Listening to your stories about how you got there are very inspiring.

    Like

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