Back to basics
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Back to basics in the boonies

by Ashley Ballard


Recently, I’ve had an indescribable urge to strip myself of all the things I’m “supposed” to have. By that, of course, I mean material objects that better my social standings and modern “conveniences” that, ultimately, hurt my body in the process. There’s only one problem: I grew up in Orange County… as a pop singer.

My Orange County was a mecca of consumerism, as it is for many who live there. Designer anything was a must regardless of how much you had in your bank account. And regardless of how much you had in your bank account, you pretended that it was chock full of goodies. If you didn’t have money, you were a stain on the proverbial orange curtain.

Don’t get me wrong; we had a blast! It was pure freedom, until the bank statement came. Add on top of my environment, the nature of the pop industry. It’s very important to be wearing and doing the “it” thing of the moment. So, naturally, I did my best to keep up with the Jones’s. It took a lot of time, and a lot of cash.

Until about a year ago, I had floated through life, enjoying the fruits of the labor of scientists and inventors everywhere. Until, some bad news propelled me into a whirlwind of research on health and the environmental impacts of my everyday life. I became a quasi-conspiracy theorist overnight and was hell-bent on making some changes.

I began eating cleaner and trying to reduce my big ass footprint on the earth. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. I was a sponge and suddenly felt that my family and I could do better.

How? By growing our own food, using only renewable energy sources wherever possible, recycling anything we possibly could, and just getting to nature.

This is so not me. I barely ever liked going outside, up until recently. I was more than happy to be inside for all of eternity. I can’t say what has changed, but nevertheless, my family and friends have been left a bit perplexed.

I mentioned, recently, I wanted to move off the grid to a plot of land on a mountain somewhere. I don’t think most of them believed me. But, I’m dead serious. I don’t really get it either. I mean, can I really do it? Can I live bare bones in the boonies? I’m from Orange County for crying out loud! I barely ever planted a flower, let alone my own food to feed my family!

I’ve been doing a lot of research on sustainable structures in which to live. I mean, it still has to be pretty, after all. I can’t give up my taste and aesthetics and become a complete mountain woman. I just can’t. I still want to feel comfortable in my own home. Much to my surprise, I can build a gorgeous home whilst still being completely “green.” I’m excited. Nervous, but excited.

I really enjoy pushing myself out of my comfort zone. It gives this worry-wart a real rush. I’m just worried it’s so far past my previous line of acceptability that I won’t know which end is up anymore. Will I still feel like me, or will I be an alien in my own body?

Thankfully, with technology being what it is today, I can still be in the music business, even though I’m not in Hollywood. Home studios are much less expensive than they used to be and sessions can be done online through apps like Skype and Dropbox.

But, what about human interaction? Will I miss it? Will it make my family closer, or will we always be at each other’s throats? I doubt many friends will revel in making the long journey for a visit. I’m a fairly shy and introverted person so, as long as I’m with my family, I’m ok. I just can’t say the same for them. As my children age, I highly doubt they’ll be content hanging with mom and dad on Friday and Saturday night. I certainly don’t want to be “The weird family that lives on the hill.”

That being said, I believe everything happens for a reason and that we can’t walk around complaining about issues in our world without making a valiant effort to correct our own shortcomings.

So, maybe, I’m supposed to be this new person taking on this new frontier of acreage to sow and weed. This could be a real turning point in my life. I’m a little scared to take that leap.

I keep saying to myself, “If we don’t like it, we can always move.” But I want to succeed at this. I want to be a change for the good. I want to feel like I’m making a difference for more than just myself. I want to make the world better for my children.

There are certain things I know I can’t give up, i.e. the phone, internet, running water, electricity… indoor plumbing! But I’m hoping that the changes I do make will somehow cancel out the bad and leave me with zero impact on the earth.

I don’t know. I’m still figuring out the math, and it was never my strongest subject…

Ashley Ballard

About Ashley Ballard

Ashley Ballard is a recording artist and mother of two. Visit Ashley on Facebook and follow her on Twitter

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