How to claim back my life – Liselotte Roosen im Interview

liselotte-roosen-portrait-2

Auf meinen Streifzügen durchs Netz habe ich vergangene Woche die 33-jährige Holländerin Liselotte Roosen kennen gelernt, die zurzeit in Trondheim ein geldfreies Leben lebt, indem sie während ihres Promotionsstudiums Lebensmittel rettet. Als ich mich in ihren Blog Liselotte’s Adventures vertiefte (den sie erst vor wenigen Wochen begonnen hat), wusste ich: Diese Frau bitte ich um ein Interview! Ich bin sehr dankbar, dass Liselotte sofort zugesagt hat, all meine Fragen zu beantworten – und dies hat sie auf eine so offene und tiefgehende Art und Weise getan, dass ich selbst dadurch sehr stark angeregt wurde, noch radikaler über lebensverändernde Maßnahmen nachzudenken…

Weil mir so viele Fragen eingefallen sind und Liselottes Antworten so umfangreich wurden, habe ich das Interview in zwei Teile geteilt: Den einen Teil lest Ihr hier – den zweiten Teil lest Ihr drüben in meinem anderen Blog nordlieben.de.

I am a bit curious about your daily life. Maybe you can describe a „normal“ week, your Mondays, your weekends: For example: How many hours (per day / per week / per month) you spend with Dumpster Diving and organizing your moneyless life? In a way it is a kind of „work“, isn’t it? The time a farmer spends in growing his own food is the time others have to work to gain the money to buy the food – and this time you invest to „save“ the food. 🙂

My weeks are pretty busy 🙂 I pick up food at two shops every day now, even on most Sundays. I go by bike, because I don’t have a car. I use a bike trailer to transport all the food. Normally I pick up around 40 kilos of food a day, but sometimes up to 100 kilos. A trip to the shops takes about an hour or up to three hours if they have a lot and I have to do several rounds.

Now that it is summer, there is especially a lot to pick up, probably because a lot of people are on holiday. One week I biked 150 kilometers just for food pickups, transporting at least 240 kilos of food (but probably much more)! The food pickups and the distribution of the food take up most of my evenings, which means that I don’t have much time or energy to go dumpster diving nowadays. Only on Sundays I sometimes get a day off when the shop doesn’t have anything that day. On most weeks, I still manage to dive once or twice a week though. And of course during the day I work on my PhD, although I do consider the blog and the diving/donating to be a part of this as well, considering the topic of my PhD. I am even hoping to create a research project around this at some stage in the future.

Even though I don’t have much free time, I find that being able to give so much good quality food away to people who really need it and helping the environment in the process, is a very rewarding experience. It always makes me feel incredibly grateful that I can see firsthand how my actions enrich people’s lives. This is definitely the fuel that keeps me going.

How do you spend time with friends or family without spending money? No more cinema, pubs or concerts? And if so, do you miss anything? 

Luckily, I have never been that interested in concerts, pubs or the cinema, so I don’t really miss anything. I prefer an interesting conversation with a friend, going for walks in nature, or just spending time together in any place, no matter where or what the activity is. To me, the connection is more important than the activity. What also helps is that I don’t drink alcohol (or use any other substances), so that makes my moneyless project a lot easier too. So I can’t think of anything I miss… On the contrary: I have felt richer and life has seemed much more abundant since I went moneyless. The biggest bonus has been living from gratitude.

With money out of my life, I have been focusing on much more valuable things. I have become more creative in how I give to others, including to my friends and family. This has also made me more thoughtful and aware of their likes and needs. And when I see free stuff being advertised or find something special in a dumpster that any of my friends would enjoy, I pick it up for them. The smiles and joy it brings are truly heart-warming.

On your about-page you write „However, society as we know it (and as we have created it) provides little time and opportunity for connecting and tuning in with the earth. This is why I feel that many people, including myself until recently, have lost their way.“ How would you describe this sense of being lost?

At many times in my life I have felt uneasy about certain things, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was or what I could do about it. For example, the concept of ‘work’ bothers me, but not the idea of contribution. I see contribution as a basic human need, but the way this idea has been translated into society does not always seem helpful. And yet, I didn’t see a way out until recently (although I still have a job now, but I see now that there are other ways). I didn’t know what I could do about it or how I could do things differently. So in that sense, I was lost. And that resulted in that I unwillingly accepted and even contributed to the status quo, simply because I didn’t know another way.

I also always felt that the world was too crowded with too many people and not enough room for nature, other animals and plants. But I did not know what to do about it, other than making the decision not to have any children of my own. I did have a dream to build an ecohome one day with a vegetable garden, where I could live a self-sustainable lifestyle. But I was buying into the belief that I couldn’t do it right away; I felt like I needed a lot of money to be able to do that. I needed money before I could make a real difference. And even though I was doing things like saving water by having shorter showers and eating a mostly plant-based diet, it didn’t feel like I was doing enough. It didn’t feel like I was contributing anything on a larger scale, beyond myself.

At least an ecohome would be something more permanent. It could change the structure of society. People could live there after me. Anything else I did seemed fleeting; more like treating the symptoms instead of fixing the structural causes. I felt like I could do so much more, but I didn’t know what it was or where to start.

How did this state of being affect your motivation?

That uneasy feeling (knowing I could do more but not knowing what to do) kept me very unmotivated to actually do much for the environment for a long time, even though I was convinced that something should be done! But my thought processes were very constricting most of the time. “There is nothing I can do”. “They make it impossible”. “It is too difficult”. “Why would I make such an effort for only small results if no one else seems to be doing anything anyway? What is the point?” This is how it felt at times. It felt impossible to do anything meaningful and the world seemed to be heading for total destruction and chaos. And it seemed there was nothing I could do about it.

Did something special happen in your life to shift your perception?

The turning point for me came when I learned about dumpster diving. It showed me how easy it was to make a big difference in a very short time: Not only did it have immediate positive effects on the environment (preventing good quality food from ending up in landfills) and on my own life (saving a lot of money), but also on the lives of others, because I could share my finds with them. I suddenly felt like the most generous person in the world. Suddenly, my life was no longer just about me: it was about truly caring for others and truly caring for the earth.

My life had a clear purpose and I knew what to do to make a big difference that was positive on all levels. My capacity for empathy expanded and I felt more alive than I had felt for a long time. Caring for the environment no longer felt restricting or pointless; it became meaningful, fun and rewarding. I felt expanded and inspired; which fueled the motivation to keep going but also to share this experience with others, who were perhaps also feeling held back at times by a strong sense of defeat or hopelessness.

Of course there are still moments when I feel hopeless and overwhelmed by all the sadness in the world. But I always remind myself at those times that whether or not humans will evolve beyond their current state as a species is not the point. I do not define my success in terms of getting other people to think like me. Success for me is living authentically. I want to do what is right for me, and stand up for what I believe in. This is also the only thing I would like to encourage and inspire in others: To do what matters to you, without letting society (or any person) get in your way! So whatever it is that is important to you, do it. Don’t wait for society’s approval.

Did your experiences as a psychologist / therapist over the last ten years influence your view or your decisions?

It certainly gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about myself and about other people. But I could never find a lasting sense of fulfillment from my work as a therapist. I always felt like I was just scratching the surface, treating the symptoms and yet never managing to get to the root cause of problems. At times I even felt like I had to come up with strategies for people just to make their lives ‘more manageable’, while the way we are expected to live our lives is completely unnatural. No wonder that so many people struggle.

We have to work almost every day, often doing jobs we would not necessarily choose or enjoy (but we all have to do ‘something’). We have to earn a lot of money in our lifetime just so that we can have a place to live and get fed (so apparently these are not basic human rights). We are taught to look outside ourselves for security, approval, love and acceptance, for the sake of our survival. In fact, most of us are made into very dependent creatures. After all, have you learned to survive in the wilderness? We never really learn to look after ourselves. Why is that, and why do we accept this as normal?

What if you could learn to survive in the wilderness and find a way to live a fulfilling, meaningful life, without chasing the illusions of modern societies… No job, no unnecessary possessions… Would you be willing to give up the comforts and securities you think you have now, in exchange for lasting freedom? I know I would, in a heartbeat.

What does „to claim back my life“ mean to you exactly? Can you describe that a little bit more in detail?

It means making my own decisions and not the decisions that are silently expected of me. But it also means becoming more and more independent; finding out how to live as self-sufficiently as possible. This means learning about all areas of life: what to eat to stay healthy, how to catch and filter rainwater, how to build a shelter, how to grow food, which wild plants are edible, and so on.

What is a helpful first step towards a sustainable change in one’s life? Do you have a special tip for someone who wants to make such changes in his / her life but feels captured in his / her circumstances?

If you feel inspired to make changes, start today! Don’t wait until some future date, because the future never comes. (Tweet this!) Tomorrow will always be tomorrow. The only time to change is now. And it is possible to make some changes today! Just start small. Write down some things you would like to change and brainstorm ways to make it fun and rewarding for yourself. Make it exciting. Choose something that doesn’t make you feel restricted, but enriches your life in some way (and/or the lives of others).

This is why dumpster diving was such a great place for me to start: it did not involve ‘giving something up’. Instead, I gained a lot (lots of good food and discovering the joy of giving!). I felt like the most generous person alive! Giving away expensive cakes, pies, bread and other baked goods. Expensive types of meat, cheese and delicious vegetables. All kinds of stuff. It brought me a lot of joy.

So find something that you might enjoy, and take a friend with you at first if it seems scary. That makes it a lot easier and more fun. I wrote a guide on dumpster diving that might help you get started, if you want to try it out.

foodsharing-trondheim

And if you decide you also want to donate food, always practice food safety and donate responsibly. That means only taking meat and dairy products when they are still cold, storing them in the fridge as soon as possible and until they get picked up. And always give the person who picks up the food at least the following information:

  1. Where the food came from
  2. In what condition you found it and how you have stored it so far
  3. Tell them to smell and check the food for safety after opening the package
  4. Tell them consumption is at their own risk, because the food may be expired
  5. When in doubt, they should throw it away.

If you don’t know that much about food safety or how to check whether food is still edible, then it definitely helps to know a few people who know more. They can help you get started. And of course, the internet can also provide a lot of information. After experimenting with foods for a while, you get a feel for when foods are still edible and when they are not. If you don’t really want to start with dumpster diving, but rather with something else, like saving water or eating less meat, just treat it as a challenge first! This really helps to get motivated. First you become aware of your current habits, and then you set yourself a goal. For example: no meat for 6 weeks. It is a fun way to test yourself! If you make it challenging enough, you will see that you will get creative very quickly in finding solutions to things you previously saw as ‘obstacles’.

Is blogging about your challenges and adventures a special form of art?

According to my own definition of art, my blog would indeed classify as a special form of art, although I know that many artists (and non-artists) would probably disagree with me. But to me, the purpose of the blog is more important than its definition. The main purposes of the blog are (in no particular order):

  1. To remind myself daily of the things that are important to me; so I use it as a self-motivator.
  2. To uncover my truth and find ways to live my truth within society as it is right now.
  3. To be a role model to others and (hopefully) inspire others to stand up for what they believe in and to live their truth.
  4. To question things that society may consider ‘normal’ and to show alternative ways of living.
  5. To create an online network or community of likeminded people where we can exchange ideas about doing things differently, and where we can support and encourage each other along the way.

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Neugierig auf mehr von Liselotte? Sie ist offen für Freundschaftsanfragen auf Facebook. Und hier findest Du den 2. Teil des Interviews mit Liselotte Roosen auf nordlieben.de – unter andern mit Antworten auf folgende Fragen:

  • Wo und wie bist Du aufgewachsen?
  • Wie hast Du mit dem geldfreien Leben angefangen?
  • Gibt es viele Gleichgesinnte in Trondheim bzw. Norwegen?
  • Wie funktioniert das Prinzip der freien Kühlschränke genau?
  • Glaubst Du an eine europaweite oder gar weltweite Minimalismus-Bewegung?
  • Wie geht es weiter, wenn Du den Doktortitel (PhD) in der Tasche hast?

the-time-to-change-is-now Kopie

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