Minimalist Autopilot

airplane-autopilotMake coffee at home and bring to work and money on purchasing it out. Make enough food at dinner to have leftovers for lunch the next day and save money on going out. Upon getting the mail throw junk mail right in the recycling bin. These and so many other daily practices which I started doing some time ago I rarely think about anymore as they have become second nature, or on auto pilot.

The money I save each month on being frugal is being sent to the mortgage company to pay down the home loan or simply being placed in savings. I don’t think about it, I just do it.

I don’t even have to think too much about items to purchase as I have become accustomed to rarely shopping at all. If I need something I just order it online. I really don’t like going to places like the mall as I get stuff overload too quickly. When I have to purchase consumables like tooth paste I purchase enough to last a few months and keep a stock on a shelf in the garage to reduce the amount of times I have to purchase it again. This cuts down on trips to the supermarket thus reducing gas mileage and give me more time to enjoy life.

When something is dirty I simply clean it, if an area becomes slightly cluttered I attack it. My mind is constantly looking for area’s of our home that may need further minimizing.

Very rarely do I have the need to save paper documents as anything that I may need to save is simply scanned and saved as a pdf both on my computer and in the cloud. When I need to find something it can be be done with a simple search by pressing some keys on my keyboard rather than going through the file cabinet.

There was a time not so long ago where I learned these practices to make life a little easier and I started practicing them. I would have to constantly think about them and felt pretty excited about practicing them. I have come to a point where I rarely think about these things as I simply do them as they are things that are just a part of my life now.

It seems that when we start practicing things each day it leads to a natural pattern of thought where these things become auto pilot. They simply get done.

I have found that because of these practices I feel less stressed. I don’t worry about things like the future because I know I am doing the best I can to secure it. I have more time to do the things I enjoy doing even if it means I have the time to simply do nothing. I don’t worry about things anymore like the car breaking down because I have enough set aside to fix it.

Living the simple life can actually be very stressful at first but with daily practice it can lead to a life of peace. Of course there will always be stressful situations and problems that we have to deal with but by reducing or eliminating those things that we create ourselves cuts back on most of them. It takes time to stop bad habits and start practicing good one’s. It takes effort and a great deal of mindfulness but over time these things will become second nature and will go on auto pilot each day without even thinking about them. We wake up one day and realize that we don’t think about them, we just do them.

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Exercise and Diet: Finding my way back

e257b4bbd1bed22f81eff5827b717694So after weeks of not working out I am finally starting to build myself back up again to start working a daily routine. It’s tough finding may way back but with knowing that I am totally responsible for my own health I can’t simply turn away from daily exercise. A summer cold, a bee sting that blew up like a balloon for days and then an accident of cutting my finger while chopping vegetables threw me into a daily routine of sloth.

My weight has gone up and so has my daily fasting glucose and I am ready to get back on track. Once again I am going to build a routine in which I am going to increase the number of weight bearing exercises each day but cut down the sets to just one. I will be performing this routine on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays while committing myself back to a walking routine on the treadmill on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Sunday will be a day off.

While dedicating just one hour each morning to these rituals I will also be concentrating on getting back to a low carb type of diet. With strength training I will of course be increasing my protein intake slightly to protect the muscles I have built and decreasing foods that readily turn to sugar.

I am building an excel spreadsheet that will become a weekly schedule to follow and have it posted in the garage/gym to jot in numbers each day. As of right now I am not setting any goals for myself other than simply following this routine.

I will not post daily results on this blog but I may write one weekly post about my progress. Since starting this blog years ago I have gone through so many different routines as I have changed how I workout and how I eat. I have come to the conclusion that it’s really all about doing some type of exercise and watching what I eat. Ready, set, GO!

Posted in body building, diabesity, diet, fitness, food, health, life, mindfulness, minimalist, paleo, primal, simple living, stress, type II diabetes, walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Melting Clouds

Melting Clouds vlcsnap-2014-11-28-12h15m37Nothing on the schedule, no where to go and nothing to do. I find myself just lying on the grass the local park staring up at the clouds as so slowly pass through the sky. The weather is a perfect temperature and my mind just seems to relax. I let go and there is nothing in the world more important than just being. Any nagging thoughts about anything seem to move past with the clouds in the sky.

Moments like this are rare but I remember them like they were just yesterday. When was the last time I felt this way? No future, no past. Just the peace that lives somewhere in the recesses of my mind that has always been there but rarely recognized in this fast paced world I live in. Always another thought, always another distraction.

There are times in this life where we must learn to walk away and melt clouds.

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Problem Solving

problem-solving-headerThere are so many problems that pass our way each day that beckoned to be solved that sometimes it becomes confusing as to which one’s are ours and which one’s are not. The truth is that we cannot solve all of the worlds problems and some problems we simply have no business trying to solve.

This is one of those area’s where I am starting to let go as I seem to be an avid problem solver and too easily attempt to make other peoples problems my own. Sometimes I can be too quick to give advice when it was never asked of me and other times I see something that is just wrong and try to right it.

I suppose that growing up at a pretty young age placed me in a position early in life where I had to make some pretty tough decisions and learn from the many mistakes. The one thing about making a mistake is that after it has been made and I realize that it was a mistake I tend to over analyze the situation and try to figure out what the right thing should of been. I will dwell on that mistake forever and vow to never make the same one again.

It is obvious enough of the importance of allowing other’s to solve their own problems and not take away the process they must go through to find solutions. It is the essence of developing both maturity and wisdom. One of the best ways to help is to offer tools where another can discover information that can lead to their own problem solving. Offering tools rather than giving advice tends to allow people to utilize their own minds and gives them the freedom to continue on a path to solving a problem rather than getting a quick solution.

Another way to help other’s solve certain problems is simply by lending an ear and listening without judgement. Sometimes I need to vocalize the difficulties that I may be facing but really don’t want to hear someone else’s advice. This is an area where I can to learn to keep my mouth shut as many times I have gone through a similar problem and can offer good advice.

Making the worlds problems our own makes for a pretty stressful life and there are times where I simply have to turn off the world. At times I don’t want to watch the news or listen to the complaints of others. Sometimes it is difficult to turn off that voice in the back of my head that is constantly trying to solve problems that I have no business even thinking about.

The human race is and has always been a series of problems as we live in societies where interdependence is an absolute. Not only do we want to personally find solutions to our own problems but we want to find solutions for our whole group or tribe. Which so many people with different thought patterns and beliefs it can be difficult to put solutions into effect even when they are discovered. It has always been this way and will continue to be this way until the end of time. Historically answers to problems have either been forced on a population by leaders selected to manage a group or the problem simply is allowed to exist without being solved. Problems like homelessness have been with us forever and don’t ever seem to be solved. It is with problems like this where rather than solving a problem a solution would simply be what is they best way to live with it. How do you even approach solving a problem where an individual believes so strongly that it is honorable to strap on a suicide vest and blow themselves up to cause the terror and deaths of members of another group of people who are not like you?

But this post is not about solving all of the world’s problems. It is about finding my own personal solution of distinguishing between my own personal problems and the problems of others. The truth is that most of us really don’t have a whole lot of problems that we ourselves didn’t create. We create problems all the time without even realizing that we are creating them. Most of these problems we create stemmed from a decision that we made based on the emotions we felt at the time. These emotions we feel at times can drive us to do some pretty stupid things at times that put us in a position that we don’t need to be in. I suppose that the answer to solving the problem of creating new problems is to simply think it through before committing to action.

new-seven-sins-12610-02thinkerLust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. These are the seven deadly sins and in most cases are the emotional source of the problems we create. Before making any decision it is important to stop and really think if we are making a decision based on our emotions or have we actually did our homework and are making the decision based on logic. How will this decision effect my life in the future?

Even if situations where we feel that we are under pressure to make a decision it is important to remember to walk away and find a quiet place to really think about what we are about to commit ourselves to, or figure out if there is an actual need to make a particular decision at all.

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The Simple Life

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Mindfulness Matters

mindfulness_poster_UKDid you ever notice that there are certain people who we just enjoy having conversations with simply because they actually listen to the things we have to say. People who practice this fine art of conversation whether they realize it or not are practicing something called mindfulness.

Did you ever notice that when you are fully immersed in a project you are working on and when you look up at the clock hours have seems to passed by your are in the flow which is also another state of mindfulness.

Mindfullness is a state of being here and now by not allowing other distraction to come into play in our minds. There are so many times in my life when I just can’t shut down all of the passing thoughts in my mind. It get’s to a point where they really becomes more of distraction than anything else. I also notice that during these states of chattering thoughts going through my mind it is easy to makes a mistake.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon taking a course on Lynda.com called Mindfulness taught by John Ullman. I learned a great deal about this thing we call mindfulness and how I can practice it on a daily basis to improve just about every aspect of my life.

I learned that all I have to do is notice the state I am in, acknowledge these thoughts and start concentrating on the breaths that I take. Breath in, breath out. Breath in, breath out. And allow those thoughts to pass. Then get back to the task at hand.

We are pretty much programmed with many of these thoughts that pass through our minds and many are lesson we either learned, or rules we created in our minds through the process of growing up. There are times when we are justified in feeling fear like walking down a dark alley at night, but most of the fear we feel each day is unjustified and if repeated can cause much stress and even physical harm over the long run. By simply noticing these feelings of fear as they arise and really thinking about what is going on in our minds and figuring out where this fear is actually coming from we usually learn that it is something related to a particular time in our past where we experienced an uncomfortable or even embarrassing situation. Our mind tries to protect us from feeling this way again.

When we learn to turn off these passing thoughts and really start to notice everything that is around us we can truly get centered in the moment.

Meditation being the final step in mindfulness is acquired by sitting, concentrated breathing and staying in the now. Future thoughts and past thoughts are simply allowed to flow as we observe them from the outside like watching a waterfall. We can see the water flowing but we are not a part of the flow.

I have decided to make mindfulness a part of my life each day and will strive to start noticing the patterns of my thoughts. I want to send out thoughts and words of love and compassion rather than those of hate and negativity. I want to learn to find joy in every aspect of my life not just the one’s I believe I have control over. Where ever I go there I am and I am sure that there are glorious things to take notice of.

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Let’s Keep it Simple

I am lifting weights this morning and it feels good. It has been over three weeks since being sick with a nasty summer cold and then stung by a freaking bee. Today I am back on track and pushing through a full set of exercises.

One of the toughest things to do is building up enough self motivation to get back on track, but today is the day. Woo Hoo!

I have decided that exercise, diet and dealing with type II diabetes are things that I must deal with each and every day. I love keeping a log book to track my efforts but am finding that writing about such things each day on a blog can get both tiresome and repetitive. If is for these reason that I am choosing to write more about other things in my life because I actually enjoy writing about them rather then writing content that I feel I have a commitment to writing.

keep_it_simple_wallpaper_by_tomsoncze-d77oh5vLet me get back to the theme of my blog that being how I have decided to start living a life of more simplicity and less stress once I turned 50 years old. Although life will continue to throw challenges and sometimes curve balls my way I am learning to lesson the emotions attached to certain situations and find solutions to solve problems then move on.

Let me write about those simple things that bring me such joy whether it is a walk in nature ore the sparkling eyes of a grandchild. It is that time of life to take the time to smell the flowers growing in the meadow below me, it is a time to breath.

Even those things which are financial in nature which present themselves as an energy force in my life need to be celebrated when managed properly. A home filled with laughter is so much better than a home filled with things. A minimalist lifestyle in itself is it’s own reward and life as life can be measured through a collection of memories of time well spent with family, friends and loved one’s rather than measured in the type of car I am driving or the size of my house. It is these things and much more that I find great pleasure in writing about and I will try to seize every opportunity to put these moments into words.

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Stung by a Bee

bee_stinger1I am simply walking past a bush when suddenly out of nowhere I see a bee darting towards me at record speed to push it’s stinger through the skin of my forearm. I have been stung before but this time is different. It almost seems that the bee was on an assignment to attack. I pulled the little devil out of my arm and quickly ran inside to remove the stinger and clean up the point of contact. No big deal right?

My whole forearm became ablaze with red itch skin and although the initial pain was minimal the aftermath is driving me crazy. Two days later I find that I still have the same condition and decided to go and get it checked out. I told my doctor that I didn’t understand as I have been stung dozens of times before in my life and never had this type of reaction. Take 20 MG prednisone for five days and it should clear up.

Now as I look out into my healthy garden after work and see all of the bee’s buzzing around doing their job I am swayed from getting too close. My search for vegetables ready for picking happens in the early morning now before the bee’s set out to collect their pollen.

oNIH8I don’t know if this bee one protecting it’s hive or it was just me who got in the way of it’s flight. All I know is that I have never been stung like this before.

I suppose that it is Bee Season and as I work outside it is something that I will have to be mindful of as to not stir the nest.

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The Minimalist Game never ends

garage-sale-artI finally completed the project of cleaning and rearranging the garage and once again have discovered that there are things to either sell, donate or throw away. Going through the file cabinet I also noticed that there is a ton of paperwork that I can scan and shred. The garage seems to be the catch all area of the the home where things end up that I don’t want in the house anymore or are placed before making a decision as to whether I want them to enter my home. After so much time it ended up becoming a real mess.

One of the changes I made was dedicating one plastic shelving unit to items I like to buy in bulk. Toilet paper, paper towels, dish detergent, soap, laundry detergent, tooth paste and so on. The only items that will go in this shelving unit are those that we actually use day in and day out. The one thing I like about this idea is that it takes the guess work out of shopping for these items. I would rather shop for a few hundred rolls of toilet paper several times a year rather than just a few every weekend.

I have been able to get all of my tools into a central location and moved the rest of the garden tools out to the shed in the yard. A place for everything and everything in it’s place.

The one thing that inspired me to clean it up and make some changes was that I wanted it to feel more like a gym. I was able to move things around but in essence it still feels like a garage. The one single thing I distaste most about the garage is that I have to keep a large recycling can, garbage can garden debris can and glass recycling bucket in it. As I live in one of the center units of a townhouse complex I don’t have access to the yard from the outside. We are not allowed to keep these buckets out front and the only other place for them is in the garage. They take up a lot of space and can tend to give off foul odors at times. I call it a design flaw when these buildings were developed.

The whole thing about the garage is that just when you think you have downsized to a comfortable level it is easy to start saving crap again and if you are not careful can quickly end up with a mess. Minimizing never ends.

The garage is my dumping grounds but I know other’s who use an attack, basement or even an extra room in there house. We all have an area like this, but I believe that with a little more discipline I can start learning that I don’t want to spend days cleaning and going through stuff. I have to quickly make the distinction between the things I want to keep and the things that must go and act on them. A home with less is a home with more and that includes these dumping area’s.

I still have a lot of work to do like once again going through all my tools and making a decision to only keep the one’s I actually use. I did this once before and ended up keeping a great many that I thought I may use one day. That one day still has not arrived and I think it is time for them to go. I still have items laying around with question marks on them and have lost been forgotten. They too need to go. Yes, it is true. The Minimalist game never ends.

Posted in debt, emergency, family, finances, fitness, health, life, marriage, minimalist, simple living, stress | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Living in a Van

7f64f34390dc8a2efdc6d3f8537f835dI just finished read a book on my kindle called “Minimalist Living, How to live in a van and get off the grid” by Mary Soloman. So with this title in my mind you must be asking, “Billy, why are you thinking about living in a van?” Well, actually it has more to do with many of the people I encounter each day living in cars, vans, rv’s and motorhomes. As many of these people I meet are college graduates I wanted to understand a little bit more about what makes them tick.

It seems that between my interactions and lessons I learned from reading the book many young people are discovering this lifestyle because they cannot find affordable housing and it is the only solution to paying off that mountain of debt they have created. It’s certainly not an easy lifestyle as they are missing many of the conveniences of living in a bricks and stick home. Things like bathing and eating each day along with using a bathroom are certainly a challenge. Many face great dangers like thieves and wild animals in their travels where there is less security than there would be in an apartment. But on the other hand there are great lessons to be learned about life as they take on the world as newly born pioneers and with the ability to travel they get to experience different places and cultures.

As I did some more research I learned that the RV lifestyle seems to be taking off in all age groups from these 20 somethings all the way up to senior citizens. This culture of rolling travelers is certainly not new, but recently in the last few years seems to be really growing. It seems that for most it is about affordable housing while there are still those who search for adventure. As commercial campsites can be expensive many try to find refuge of parking on the streets of the city closest to the current job they are working. This is where it becomes a problem for me. As a Code Enforcement Officer it is my job to respond to complaints of people boon docking in neighborhoods. In fact all across the country most cities and towns have similar laws that don’t allow people to camp on the street. It is my job to educate them on local laws and move them along.

Historically there has been many problems attached with people living in vehicles like crime and drug addiction. Many people feel a sense of fear when noticing a vehicle parked in their neighborhood and I believe this fear is justified. I have personally encountered situations like this and have had to call in police to assist.

As I put myself in the same situation in my mind through empathy I think a lot about what I would be doing if in the same type of situation. If I had to make the same choices of living out of a vehicle what would I do and where would I be. The one thing I would not be doing is living in a City as there are just too many dangers attached to these area’s. I would probably be moving from farm to farm working as a farm hand to earn enough to pay of those school debts. One of the advantages are obviously fresh food and a quiet, safe place to sleep at night.

As an older person struggling to make ends meet I would probably purchase a larger vehicle and find the most affordable place in the country to park it and live. I might even change my locating from time to time to find new experiences and opportunities.

In either case what I find most interesting is that this type of lifestyle is yet another practice in living a minimalist lifestyle where downsizing isn’t just an option but a must. It is also interesting how we seem to evolving towards this type of lifestyle versus that of one living in the McMansion in the suburbs. I don’t know if it is so much the socio economical struggles and pressures people are feeling or just a lost sense of freedom but the whole movement seems to be picking up steam. Just doing a search on Google for an image for this post gave me what seemed like unlimited options.

What about you? If put into a situation where being part of the rolling home movement wasn’t an option where would you be right now?

Posted in adventures, camping, debt, family, finances, food, fun, growing up, life, minimalist, simple living, work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments