Simple Living Prepared

bf-quoteThere is no secret that along with many of my beliefs of a “life lived simple is a life worth living”, I also consider myself to be somewhat of a prepper. Not a prepper in the sense of a “Doomsday Apocalypse” stereo typical warrior, but one who believes that as a man it is my responsibility to ensure that my family is safe in the event of an emergency by being “prepared” in advance.

I live in what is considered to be an earth quake zone and there are news features I see on the TV probably once every several months about how scientists are predicting that we are due to see an earthquake in our region of the world. This is just one case scenario and I can think of at least a dozen more for being prepared.

As always my perspective on these thoughts are those of a man over the age of 50 and in many ways may be different from those who are younger than I. My children are grown and many live in different parts for the country than I, but it is my personal belief that it would be impossible to help anyone if I were dead. As a Nurse Practitioner my wife would be a huge asset to contributing to the saving of lives in such an event, but again, she would be no help to anyone should we not survive.

Survival is a human basic instinct and the one thing that increases our chances of survival is being prepared. Many folks who live out in rural area’s of our country in most cases I believe are living a life which requires many skills for survival that I don’t currently possess. As a city dweller my options are certainly limited to my geographical location and I have to keep this in mind. I don’t have chickens laying eggs each day for breakfast but I do have a small victory garden where I have produced a great deal of edible vegetables that can be canned over the winter. This brings in the most active thought of mankind. Something that we verbalize internally each day and sometimes outwardly, “What do we Eat?”. To answer this question and many more it is my intention to spend the next year creating a sequence of articles on the things I am doing to be more prepared in the event of an emergency. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences that you have had to assist me on building this plan of readiness and hope and pray that there will never be a reason to act on it. I do enjoy living a simple life and starting today I am taking actions to make sure that I can continue to live this way for a lifetime.

Posted in blogging, emergency, family, food, gardening, growing up, life, minimalist, nature, Oregon, prepared, primal, simple living | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

A culture of FEAR turns RED

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It certainly has been many days since I have written a post and for many good reasons. I have always been careful not to include my political views in my posts as I find they create a great amount of controversy. As of lately since the close election day I have found myself enthralled in thoughts of the current climate of our country lost in dissolution of understanding what is going on.

I can’t say I was raised with traditional values but at an early age I adopted certain rules into my life that I believed would guide me. Obviously the ten commandments were the first set of rules I accepted as being righteous and just. I believe in a higher power but have always questioned certain things that I have read in the bible.

The second source that I hold dear to my heart is the US Constitution as have always believed that a free man is a happy man as any man or women living under a life of limited choices by rules created by a Central Government takes away from the feeling of true liberty. When people feel that decisions are being made in the name of retribution to certain corporations who have supported candidates rather than what is in favor of a majority of it’s citizens than the feeling of corruption gives way to the feeling of confidence in those we have elected. Our forefathers understood this when they wrote our Constitution.

There have been many more throughout the years that have guided my through my life like many of the words of the Buddha with lead me to understand my responsibilities to myself along with responsibilities to others.

Between these sets of rules or guidelines I also agree with the rule of law. We all have certain rights that allow us the freedom to find success in what ever it is we chose to do, while understanding that others have the same rights. As all humans are different in nature there are times when a rule of law needs to reach out to protect the rights of all individuals from becoming victims of the other’s overstepping certain rights.

I believe that there are a great many who believe the same things that I believe and without many of these rules of humanity our nation would certainly perish. For many years now I have sat an watched brutal killings throughout our nation along with unruly riots on our streets thanks to the help of media groups striving for higher ratings. When a sense of Justice is replaced with the reward of being noticed on social media by being unjust then people observing this behavior question the current climate of Justice itself. I have watched crime after crime being committed in all of our neighborhoods across the United States. I have felt the pressure of higher taxes and higher cost of medical care. I understand the feeling of losing a job and the difficulties trying to replace it.

As I strive each month with the task of eliminating current debt in my household I watch our national debt rise each day. I see our children acting like they have no future as they seek to find opportunity to create a life that they can feel secure in. For them the same set of rules have been taken away and replaced with something new and falsely promising. I talk to seniors who believe that their social security benefit that they rely on will one day go away.

Whether or not our leaders realize it or not, they have created a culture of fear and uncertainty with the help of technology through media sources. There are certainly no guarantees in life, we all know that, but when people come together for the common good of all it leads to a feeling of security. This is the reason why the United States of America has been so successful and as a people so blessed. No one likes the feeling of fear and with the tools they currently have in hand will always find a way to return to a feeling of peace, morality and security.

With a two party system in this great country of ours the feeling of fear has lead to the decision that both have been great contributors of all of the problems we now face. For the first time we have elected an independent, although masked as a Republican. I believe that both parties have moved so far away from the original beliefs and doctrines that the Great Framers of our nation have created that both have suffered great loses. People do not want to live a complicated life built around structures of complexity and controversy. No, most of us just want to live a simple life where we feel secure in our homes to spend quiet moments with the ones we love. We all understand that freedom comes at a cost, but no one wants to suffer that cost for limited freedom. We want to feel that we are all equally paying that cost but too many times have witnessed others benefiting without contribution.

Fear leads to change and it appears that change right now is inevitable. We all come from different walks of life. Different cultures, different religions and different skin colors and different belief systems. We are all granted the freedom to believe what we want to believe and all of our differences is what has made our nation great. We must always put our differences aside and understand that we are all citizens of the greatest country in the history of mankind and come together and unite in those basic principles that we all hold so dear. Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

With so much controversy erupting throughout our nation over this election I do expect my words to be taken out of context and smeared by many but I also anticipate many understanding the same reasons for writing this. I have no political party and declare myself an independent as I have never felt reason for representation based on the direction in which I vote. I may have voted either way, that is for me to know and I have the freedom to keep my vote private. I am just an outside observer who’s opinion means very little. My thoughts and words are my personal perspective on the outcome of this election and in no way represent any affiliation to anything others than my own experiences in life. Your thoughts may differ and that’s OK. We are all a part of this mishmosh we call home.

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Hitting the Weights Today

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Today is my first day back with working with weights and they sure do feel heavy. I am working my chest today and started out with a 300 lb. bench press and was barely able to get 10 reps up. Just 3 months ago I was throwing up a 350 lb. bench press for 3 sets all over 12. I am sure it won’t be long until I am back to where I left off, but in the nature of taking it easy I will balance my efforts to try to remain controlled and learn to accept “good enough”.

This is no easy feat as it become so easy to compete against my last workout, but it is something that I will have to accomplish. If anything I want to be toned not big. I want to maintain a level of muscle strength that will lend a hand in the process of getting older in a healthy way. Just get into it, knock out a few sets and get out all within 30 minutes. Done.

The issue here is not that of looking good although I certainly like looking healthy, it’s about getting my blood sugars numbers down, trimming this 36″ waist and restoring a level of energy that can only be accomplished through exercise. My mind has been getting sluggish and my posture is slouching. Getting old gracefully means that exercise has to be performed on a daily basis. It doesn’t have to be crazy competitive exercise, just exercise.

So the question now is what is good enough. I know that I have reached points in an exercise where I was stuck at a particular weight forever but through increased effort I was able to pass my limitation of weight. I remember when I thought I was only capable of bench pressing 200 lbs but pushed and pushed until I was able to move up a few lbs. at a time. I think good enough would be learning to accept the weight your working with and forgetting about that extra push. If I am able to comfortably perform 2 sets of 12 reps at 300 lbs. then this can become my normal routine. It means I have reached a peak and it’s OK to accept that peak rather than fight it.

I shall call it preventative maintenance. In just 10 years I will be 65 years old and will be welcoming retirement. In most other aspects of my life I am making progress as far as paying off my home and saving for retirement. I have dreams of traveling the country with my lovely wife in a motorhome and dream about seeing all of the wonders of this country. There is no guarantee’s in life but if I am not taking to proper steps right now to prepare for a healthy retirement then what good would all of the other efforts make. And even if I end up dealing with a disease one day wouldn’t it increase my chances of survival if I am the healthiest I can be?

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Return to the Workout

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According to my records that I have written down in a notebook it appears that the last time I actually worked out was back in August which is close to 3 months ago. I figure that with my fasting blood sugar numbers over 100 and my body weight over 190 lbs. it is high time I got back on the horse.

I stopped working out because I was having problems with my gut but with a slight increase in eating healthy carbs and a probiotic I have been having less problems than before. Another reason why I stopped is because I was taking the routines too far towards competition. It is so easy to get caught up in always trying to out do the last workout and at my age (55) my body doesn’t have the same healing power it used to.

As I move into the world of the morning workout I have to be very mindful of the fact that I am working out for just one reason and that being just getting a mild amount of exercise each day. I am not trying to build muscle, I will not have the need for protein supplements, and I will not be competing with previous workout numbers. I will be performing cardio to keep my heart healthy and resistance exercises to maintain muscle mass and bone density.

Of course I would love to burn fat but I know that fat burning is more about diet, meal timing and fasting. The workout is simply the motivation for these three.

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I have designed an excel spreadsheet with a routine schedule for a ten day period. It includes 5 resistance daily routines for each muscle group along with 5 cardio routines. Once I complete the ten routines I simply start over again. This means that with resistance exercises I shouldn’t be working more than 3 muscle groups per month.

I have set up the resistance schedule for 2 sets of each exercise, however I will be working just one set for the first month or so. Cardio should never move past 30 minutes and I will slowly build up to that starting today with a 15 minutes walk.

So today I did my first mile and although it didn’t feel like much I know that it was actually enough for the first day. During the first 15 minutes I cranked up the speed gradually then dialed it down for a 5 minute cool down period.

Progressively I will slowly reach a point where I get to a fast 25 minute walk with a 5 minute cool down. Yes, today is day number one and I welcome the workout back into my life.

Posted in body building, diabesity, diet, fitness, food, health, intermittent fasting, life, mindfulness, minimalist, simple living, stress, type II diabetes, walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

More Change

azz2lknje6qwru8aifd7drtpkhmw2kgq-largeIt is the morning after a historical Presidential election and based on the numbers it appears that more people favored Donald Trump over Hilary Clinton. Does this really mean anything? Americans have lost faith in its Federal Government a long time ago. It has been obvious for a long time that we have a two party system that hasn’t done much of anything other than make themselves wealthy or wealthier through granting political favors in exchange for personal opportunity.

Just as the last president built his campaign on “Change”, our new one has done the same. Very rarely do I ever see any President making any positive change in those things that matter to me. I pass people each day living on the streets who suffer from mental illness with little opportunity to find the help they need on a long term basis. I see people struggling each day with a history of debt because it’s just too damn expensive to live on their current salaries. I see thousands of people in just a small community suffering from addictions which cause many others to suffer along with them. I see anger and violence all around me with the force of an ego which has gone into overdrive.

We have people who contribute to the great machine and I see others who live off of the machine. I see social problems that are dealt with by scheduling a meeting with no real results. I listen to great men and women chatter through speeches about problems which need to be addressed but again a solution is never attained.

We as a people find great pleasure in the sharing of the problems of our world as many turn to the TV to listen to the problems of others. The truth is that most of these problems are the very same problems that people suffered thousands of years ago. It appears that suffering is a human condition that no single human being can help.

As each of us suffer in different ways the bottom line is that it is always up to us to make certain changes to lessen the effect. People enter into relationships where they believe that they can help another change only to discover that it is only the individual who is suffering that can bring about the change needed to eliminate such suffering. Their is no magic pill that can cure a smoking habit, only the decision to quit smoking and their is no other person who can bring about change unless we ourselves make the decision to change.

Most of us want a better life for ourselves and our families but the promises of an individual seeking the office of President of the United States will not create the changes we need to discover that better life. If I am smoking two packs of cigarettes a day at the cost of $10.00 per pack how can I complain about money when I am spending $600.00 dollars per month on the habit? If I am not eating correctly and exercising how can I complain about the cost of healthcare? When I don’t pay attention to the people voted into office on a local election what difference is it going to make to me who is leading our country?

Voting for a President is an honored obligation and a tradition which allows us as a free nation to decide our leader, but no matter who is elected to office it will not change anything about how I live in my little circle of the country. Even those social problems that need attention are addressed through small communities then later brought to the attention of a larger government to provide funding for the solution to the problem. No, one single human being sitting in the oval office is not going to bring about change to the problems we deal with on a personal basis each day. These problems are ours to figure out and address as we learn or discover solutions.

True change is very personal and each of us has the freedom to make better choices about our individual lives.

Posted in blogging, body building, debt, diabesity, diet, family, finances, fitness, food, health, life, marriage, mindfulness, minimalist, Oregon, primal, quit smoking, simple living, stress, type II diabetes, work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

This is the Next Best Thing

fast-pacedI am still here in New Jersey two days after my daughter’s wedding, which by the way was incredible. I am not here to write about the wedding as I believe that these family matters should be shared amongst family and friends and I have certainly expressed my endless joy on a more personal level with the the shake of a hand, a kiss and hug and face to face communications.

While living on the West Coast of America has given way to people finding incredible joy in the simpler things in life it is sad to say that here on the East Coast many things have not changed. It seems to me that more people are still seeking happiness wrapped around the pursuit of money and the things money can buy. I have noticed even more larger McMansions being built here, more expensive cars and trucks and the incredibly selfish attitude of people driving on the roads all trying to get places with little disregard for others they share the road with.

Now I know that not all people here share this way of life, but from what I gathered so far it appears that the majority do. I also know that not all who live on the West Coast share the spirit of minimalism and community, but it seems that more do the same way that more share the spirit of protecting the environment.

It is certainly a fast paced way of living here on the East Coast where conversations are so brief that words shared amongst others seem insignificant and meant strictly for a moment of the recognition and not truly for need of knowing others. “Hi, how are you?” “I’m well, how are you?” “I’ve got to go.” “Me too.” “Take care.” “You too.”

Everyone is constantly rushing off to the next thing while not understanding the current thing. There rarely is anything more important than the people in our lives and when we simply have little time for those people we have to ask ourselves if they really are a part of our lives.

People ask me why there are so many coffee shops in Oregon. The truth is that it has less to do with coffee and more to do with people finding opportunities to sit down and have a meaningful conversation with others. I mean how much do we really know about each other from a tweet or a Facebook post? No, quality time spent with others gives people a true outlet to express themselves in a meaningful way while also lending an ear to the thoughts and dreams of others. This art has been around since humans learned to communicate and is simply a human need. While in the pursuit of other things that leave us little time to actually communicate we find that there is an emptiness that leads to problems which are difficult to understand. I believe that there are a record amount of people seeking counseling not because they are crazy but just because they have the need to sit down, relax and express themselves for an hour.

I am so happy that I had the opportunity to spend some time here in New Jersey as it has certainly confirmed my reasons to seek out a simpler way of life. The stress I left behind is still here and maybe always will be. There is nothing wrong with the pursuit of success as this too is a part of being human, but living in a society where there is little time to turn off the machine will take it’s toll on us living this way year after year. Being so closely attached to the signals that flash in our eyes each day sending messages to us that we are no good enough if we don’t have this, or not worthy enough if we don’t have that can send us into a cycle that makes us question our very existence. A life where our best friend is our smart phone leads to an existence of loneliness where we have to ask ourselves, “Does anyone really care about anything other than themselves?”

The message I have for those here on the East Coast is simple. Turn off the TV, put down the phone and plan real time with those closest to you, especially family members. Find a quiet place to look into each others eyes and just talk until your heart is content. Practice this on a regular basis and start to realize that the next best thing is already here.

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First Day back in New Jersey

After a long flight from the West Coast to the East Coast of America we finally touched down in PHL. Southwest treated us well although my tailbone is in fire from sitting so long on an airplane seat.

We picked up our rental card from Enterprise with no problems and drove to Toms River, NJ and checked into the Ramada. First things first. Jersey Pizza and a bottle of beer. Ahhh

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There are just certain things some regions of the country do better than all of the others. For New York and New Jersey it is without doubt pizza.

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In funk before the wedding and plans to get out of it

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It’s been a while since I wrote my last post. I feel as though I have gotten into some type of funk lately. The truth of the matter is that I myself have caused this funk that I am in. I can’t remember the last time I worked out and my diet has moved into an area that I don’t even want to discuss.

In early November I will be flying from Portland to New Jersey to celebrate the marriage of my youngest daughter. I have been spending a lot of time, money and energy in preparing for this event, while my day job has been getting more challenging. I have left little towards eating right and working out.

The first day after I return to Oregon I vow to get myself back on track with both eating a healthy diet and a daily workout regimen.

The one thing that I have learned over the last several months is that my body at times is screaming for exercise. Not a lot, but just enough to do things like assist in processing food and increasing the oxygen to my brain. These thoughts I will keep in mind as I delve back into it.

As far as food is concerned I have practiced both a vegan and paleo lifestyle and have decided that the best diet for me would be a combination of both. Fresh, non processed meats with fresh vegetables. I will avoid the white stuff and stay on track with the colorful stuff and dark green. Sounds simple enough? You know it’s never that simple but I believe that I can figure it out.

As far as work is concerned I have always found it to be challenging no matter what field I am working in. The reason for this is that I actually give a shit about doing a good job and strive to find better ways of competing tasks. I put this stress on myself but know how to control it when it gets overwhelming. I will need to start making some adjustments.

Posted in diabesity, diet, family, finances, fitness, food, growing up, health, life, marriage, meditation, mindfulness, minimalist, simple living, stress, type II diabetes, walking, work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Acceptance

I call myself a minimalist but there are yet times where I just want to buy something. I don’t need it, I can certainly do without it but there is just that urge. I have been guilty of this a few times this year and those same items are sitting alone untouched and unwanted.

71hcobmllcl-_sl1000_A really cool iPhone wallet that snuggles my iPhone, 12 credit or ID cards and cash seemed to be the perfect answer to combining my old school wallet with a source of protection for my iPhone. The problem came in when I put everything in it only to realize that it doest fit in my pocket.

And how about a folding bluetooth keyboard so I can blog right on my phone… Well that never happened. This too sits amongst the island of misfit toys. 71i1mjxxedl-_sl1500_

I do have a fascination with technology and find myself attracted to certain accessories that seem to make perfect sense at the time only to give way to the thoughts of “Why the hell did I spend money on this thing?” A small military style backpack that turned out to be too small to tote my lunch to work each day has found a comfortable spot in my closet with dreams of serving a purpose one day.

In the end all of these items always seem to find a 51jodmbq78lway to the garage sale one day pile only to give way to more lessons learned about those things that entice me. The truth is that there are very few items that ever bring me joy. The joy is felt in the unpacking of these items as a rush of excitement comes over me like a young boy on Christmas morning.

It is Saturday morning and as I sit before you at my computer reviewing items I received in my email box that I normally receive on a daily basis from Amazon my thoughts give way to other things that I believe that I need. As the weather turns a bit colder I think about new flannel shirts and possibly a new pair of boots which both I don’t need yet. Most of the time I don’t think about these things, but there are a few times during the year where my thoughts give way to the belief that I needs things. The truth is that I really don’t.

Even though I know without any doubt at all that at this point in my life there is very little that I actually do need or desire there are those times where I am looking at things that I don’t normally look at. Why? What are these feelings really all about?

The funny thing is that when I recall the thoughts of reasons for making certain purchases in the past it seems that I look forward to the reactions of others when they see me with these items. Is is feeling of acceptance amongst my peers that creates these triggers? I know as I child I was forced to do without the same things that other children had do to our family’s financial situation. Today I have more things in my life than I ever dreamed I would one day have. I own a house with I am slowly but surely paying off at an accelerated speed, a wonderful spouse who shares many of the same values as I and incredible children and grandchildren that bring an immense amount of joy to my life. I am doing the things that I love like gardening and spending a great deal of time in nature in a part of the country that surrounds me with beauty. I have a job I love going to each day and am surrounded by fellow workers who I love working with. With all of this how can I still fall back to feelings of insecurity at times and seek out items that I believe to close a hole in my soul that really doesn’t exist? There are certain scars left from my childhood that never seem to go away and rather than simply accepting those those things as being insignificant they seem to come back to haunt me and drive an urge to purchase certain things that bring me no joy at all. In the real world there is no item that can make us feel like we “fit in with the in crowd.” The “In crowd” doesn’t even really exist. We are all just individuals with the same feelings as anyone else and for all of us constantly searching for the feelings of acceptance we will never feel truly accepted for the things that we own.

It isn’t until we truly discover just who we are and align ourselves with other’s who share the same values to the point where just sitting down in the act of conversation with others who acknowledge us as a fellow human beings that will understand true acceptance. The iPhone wallet just doesn’t do it.

With these thoughts in mind it makes me think about the reasons that I work out. Do I keep myself in good physical condition or am I doing for the acknowledgement of others? Ultimately I know it makes me feel better on a daily basis but I have to admit that I love to occasionally hearing a compliment from other’s. Even though I strive to keep my ego in check there are times where pride seems to drive my intentions. What about my hairstyle or the car I drive? I have so much to be grateful for in my life yet there are those times where my thoughts are driven by the possibility of hearing that compliment from others. That child mind of mine is still alive in a 56 year old man and I don’t know if after all these years it will live on inside of me until the day I die. Does it live within all of us? Are any of us truly free of those feelings and experiences we lived through as a child? I just don’t know…

And what about theses posts that I write on this blog of mine? I am truly writing for me as a source to express myself? I love checking to see just how many people hit that “like button” or have commented on the words I share. Don’t we all? How often are people checking their Facebook status or Twitter to see if they how may acknowledged their latest post? I tend to believe that we are all at times seeking acceptance from other members of the circles we belong to and in the age of information the acceptance of others. It is the same prize as the prize of one acknowledging that cool new item we purchased. In a sense it is all pretty much the same.

Posted in blogging, debt, finances, fitness, fun, gardening, growing up, health, hiking, life, marriage, meditation, mindfulness, minimalist, nature, Oregon, simple living | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

A Good Idea

bright-ideaWhile still in the working world it seems we count the days that lead us to another weekend. Here it is Friday already and I have to wonder exactly where the week has gone. Monday morning I will look back and ask a similar question about where the weekend has gone.

Time moves pretty quickly and hind site sometimes leads us to believe that there is nothing significant found in those days before us. The truth is that each passing day is filled with amazing things that we may end up talking about at the end of that day, but then we just let those thoughts pass to prepare for the next day ahead.

As I don’t seem to have the time to even write a post in my blog at times I find myself here thinking about keeping a journal. But when? How? Although I feel that keeping a record of things that are a part of my life each day, how difficult would it be and how long would it take to write these things down? I came across the idea of keeping a photo journal where by taking pictures of places and people can stir memories of the events each day. Sounds like a wonderful idea, however during the course of my day I have the opportunity to meet some pretty interesting people and discuss some pretty exciting things. How would it be possible to ask someone who I just met if it is OK to take their picture?

Maybe our minds are setup in a way to record these things just the way they do. The truth is that it is very rare that I actually go back and read something I have written as I am always pursuing something new to write. Maybe I don’t need to journal my life but I am certainly glad that many have done it before me as great books have been written from the words written down in a personal journal. Maybe those events each day are kept and only show themselves when we need to recall them while others simply never need to be recalled again. Maybe, just maybe the grey matter inside my head is the best journal I have and there simply is no need to keep tabs.

Instead I have started a journal of idea’s. As thoughts come to me each day I write them down, then ad them to my idea journal to build upon later. I find this to not only be a pleasant experience but also a way of using my mind in a positive way to be creative. I love being creative and find that when I am in this state of dreamland time seems to pass even more quickly. We have all experienced this state of mind with the simple question, “What would I do if I hit the lottery?” An idea journal is something I love to go back to time and time again to re read the thoughts I have written and allow my mind to expand a little more. How many idea’s pass through our minds each day that we simply forget about by the end of the day?

We see people in distress and immediately our minds start working as to a solution to the problem they face. Sometime we don’t offer our idea’s as to the timing may not be right, but at the least our idea should be recorded and built upon in the future as it just may lead to a solution that could help many. We notice that they way food is being served or prepared at a restaurant and think to ourselves that it should be done a different way. How many things do we notice that could be done a little differently that would benefit many? How many times have we questioned ourselves as to why we do something a particular way but just don’t have the time to think about doing it a different way? All of these thoughts can eventually give way to some pretty important changes in our lives once written down, observed and thought upon on a quiet Saturday afternoon. Do you think that an Idea Journal is a good Idea?

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