Saturday, January 14, 2017

Meet Magda

How can I explain what people like Magda mean to me?!
There are just no words.
There are also no words to describe people like her. Not only does she speak right from my Soul, she also is one of the most amazing and interesting human beings I have ever "met".
Her lifestyle is inspiring and her words make you brave.
  • Introduce yourself
Hi. I’m Magda or Magdalena. I live in a one-room cabin in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with my husband and business partner, Michael, and our dog, Shaney. I haven’t always lived here. In fact, much of my life has been spent living somewhere else. I started my journey in Warsaw, Poland where I was born and then life took me to a whole multitude of places, including over 15 US states. For years, I considered myself semi-nomadic, moving every 3-6 months. These days, I consider myself a die-hard Westerner and plan to live-out my days in this very cabin. It took a while, but I think I’ve finally found my place.

  • Tell us briefly about your professional background and how you came to where you are today.
I’m reluctant to talk about myself professionally because I’ve spent much of my adult life defying a professional existence. A while back though, on my quest to become a writer, I went to a 3-year graduate program for poetry and it almost killed me. I love to learn, but I felt out of place in the box that academia often feels like, so after finishing my degree, I stopped writing, bought 5 acres in the middle of nowhere and my husband and I built a 120-sq foot off-the-grid cabin. I needed such an extreme experience to cleanse my mind of “the academy.” It took a while, but I returned to teaching, but only this time around, I teach exclusively online, which helps me to maintain my way of life, yet engage with my students in a way that fosters my creativity and honors who I am as a person without having to ‘sell my soul’ to any kind of institution. I also co-own a business with my husband, Mountain Trucker. When I’m not grading essays, I’m creating linoleum block prints and sewing hat labels by the fire.
  • What’s the story of where and how you live?
My husband and I met on a rutabaga farm on the coast of Maine in September 2001. Shortly thereafter, we packed up my Jeep and took a long road-trip across the United States in search of wide-open and unpeopled places -- the kinds of places that have always appealed to me most. That road trip seemed like it lasted for 14 years, that is, until last year when we found this cabin in the mountains and discovered that this is where we belong. Up until that point, we were (as I said before) semi-nomadic. We crisscrossed the United States over two dozen times and spent countless months and months and months living in the back of our truck while exploring the American West and all of its wild spaces. It was a grand adventure while it lasted, but we got to a point where we needed some kind of rootedness. That surprised me as I’d never ever felt rooted, perhaps an outgrowth of being a political exile back in the early 1980’s. But this little 600-square foot cabin, surrounded by 14,000-foot mountains is just what we need. We’re only six miles from town where we have a grocery store, a brewery and a couple good restaurants. Otherwise, our time is spent almost entirely outside, which is why we live here. We came for the mountains, for quietude, to drown out the constant din of a loud-loud world.

  • What does a typical day look like for you?
I wake up, sit by the woodstove and drink my coffee. Then it’s off to the mountains for a few hours to explore with the dog. If the trails are dry, I’m running. If the trails are snow-covered, I’m skiing. When the long winter evenings set in, I become more creative and produce more illustrations and work on designs for our business. Somewhere in between being outside ...and being outside (smile), I chime into the classes that I’m teaching. Luckily my teaching schedule is flexible, which means it caters to time spent in the mountains each day.
  • Are there any challenges to the way and where you live?
Even living in a pristine setting like we do, I find that my demons haunt me. By that I mean that I have to work hard to resist being a jaded person, a person who feels disheartened by the state of the world. The mountains give me sanity, a sense of self and balance, but when you live remotely sometimes you become detached from the realities of the world and this can either sensitize or desensitize you, depending on who you are. I’m a sensitive person. I’m an introvert who winces at the plethora of global injustices. I think the biggest challenge of living here is trying to balance the peaceful and quiet existence that I safeguard so much with a conscientious awareness and activism that allows me to be a good global citizen. I don’t want to be detached, but at the same time, I’m trying to honor my limitations as a person. I know how much I can and can’t handle.

  • How did your family and friend react?
Ha. I’m almost 40. My family and small circle of friends have known me long enough to know that living here suits me (and Michael) perfectly. It wasn’t always an easy road and it was often met with quite a bit of resistance because I’ve always been pretty independently-minded and felt on the fringe, but if there’s one thing I’m skilled at, it’s standing alone and living according to what feels true and right. I won’t give that up for anything and usually that’s something that folks can respect, even if they don’t agree with what you’re doing. On the flip-side, a cabin-in-the-mountains seems to be something that a lot of people long for these days, you know, a simpler way of life. Most people don’t disagree that a simpler way of living -- especially when chosen deliberately -- is full of mind-body goodness.
  • How are you similar to/different from your family/friends?
Of the people who are closest to me, we have enough in common to help us feel connected, but I won’t deny that I’ve always felt like an outsider, never part of the mainstream. In fact, what’s often ‘mainstream’ feels like a slow death to me. These days, I try not to dwell too much on human differences since it tends to feed my social anxiety. Instead, I try to just stay true to who I am and live an honest life. If that serves as a magnet for human connections, I welcome that, but as I tend towards (and appreciate) being an introvert, I find that the fewer people I have in my inner circle, the better off I fair. It’s a hard truth that took me a while to accept about myself, but at long last I have.

  • What words of advice would you offer to folks wanting to live the life you do?
Stay true to yourself. Honor your uniqueness. Protect your right to living a FREE life. Time is more important than money, so safeguard your time. Say no to things that don’t matter. Deny materialism beyond that which allows you to live in modest comfort. Spend as much time outside as you can. Listen to your gut and trust that the path you want for yourself is the path that you deserve and follow it, no matter what anyone else thinks.

  • What’s up next for you?
You know, I consider this question a lot less than I used to. When I was younger, I was obsessed with the future at the expense of the here-and-now. These days, a slower and less future-oriented unfolding of my life feels right. Maybe that means that I’m more content than I ever have been before. Maybe that means I live in a good place surrounded by good people. I mean, yes, I have desires to continue to travel and explore, but for the first time in my life staying put feels good. One day, I’ll get around to publishing something, maybe that manuscript of poems from my grad school days, but for now I like waking up and not worrying about tomorrow. I like not being obsessed with accomplishments. I also know that I live a deliberate life so if next month I want to jump on a plane and revisit Nepal for few weeks or months, I will. I also know that if I want to hide-out in the mountains for the next few years without doing a goddamned thing, that’s exactly what I’ll do.
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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing Victoria and Magda. It sounds like you have always been true to yourself and have now accepted it. I love it. xo