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.

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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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End of the Day

Upon arriving home yesterday I knew I would have to walk around the corner to check the mail in the rain. Although it wasn’t raining too hard I knew I would still get wet and it isn’t quite cold enough to have a jacket on.

I did it anyway and pickup up my mail. As I came back around the corner to go to my house I noticed this in the sky above. Kind of made my day complete.

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Live a Gentle Life

thegentlelifebannerThe terms so often used like “Simple Life” or “Minimalism” seem to come with a distinct set of rules that apply to the process of reaching a point where we arrive at what I call a “Gentle Life”. In the end I believe this is what we all strive for.

All the things we do like ridding our lives of stuff, spending less money, and building a new bank of time where we can actually find peace in the moments of each day are really just steps we take in finding the path to the “Gentle Life”.

But what exactly is the gentle life and why do we all strive to reach it?

How many of us rush through meals each day trying to find the fastest prepared foods to gobble down so we can rid ourselves of the feeling of hunger? Isn’t the truth that we would all love to actually have enough time to sit down and eat foods that we actually like to eat and enough time to slowly enjoy the taste of the carefully prepared meal? The truth is that most of us feel pressured to just get the meal over with and get on with our day. We know that eating slowly is gentler on our bodies and lowers the stress we feel during our work days, yet very rarely do we feel that we have the option of doing it.

We live by a life of lists of things we must get done each day, whether these lists are created by our employers, our loved ones or by ourselves. We all have lists. Do we approach these lists as being monsters out of control that we can never seem to get through or do we select things on our lists that we can accomplish in a reasonable amount of time each day? Given past experience and amount of time in each day we all know what we are capable of getting done yet seem to always strive to do more. We create a sense of stress in our lives over these crazy lists rather than approaching them realistically. We never think that it is possible to actually remove items from our lists or figure out ways of delegating them at times. It is actually possible to take this monster of a list of things to do each day and find a way to tame it to the point where it is actually gentle. Even if we set our sites on accomplishing just half of what is on our list each day sometimes we find that there is actually enough time to get a couple of other items accomplished which actually becomes a bonus to what we have already completed.

I used to drive to work each day in a total panic about fighting traffic to get to work on time. I would usually listen to the news filled with harsh stories of daily tragedy and feel even more stirred up upon arriving to work. Today my ride has become a gentle one. I still face traffic but by electing to leave 10 minutes earlier I have discovered that it doesn’t bother me because I know that I will arrive on time. I have also elected to listen of relaxing music or my favorite podcasts during my drive rather than all of the negativity that the news brings. I have created a “Gentle” commute each day and I will never change this. I get to work feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.

I get up early and enjoy a healthy breakfast, prepare a healthy lunch and actually spend the whole lunch hour taking my time to enjoy it and sit down to dinner with my wife to slowly eat and talk about our day. I have learned to eat “gently” and find gratefulness in the food I eat and also the preparation of it.

I sleep well each night for a full 8 hours as I refuse to take any daily problems to bed with me. Sleeping is my time to regenerate the energy I will need to take on the next day and I have learned to do it well. A good nights sleep is a gently nights sleep.

One of the great stressors in life is debt. I have learned to work towards ridding my life of all debt and strive in my finances and spending habits to gently work towards this goal. We all have bills to pay but creating more also creates more stress. Although I am not completely debt free, the progress I have made gives way to the thought that I can be. This brings great joy at the thoughts of actually owning most of my paycheck one day and the new options I may have.

I have learned that working out like a maniac each day doesn’t make one healthier. It is a balance of gentle exercise practiced daily rather than striving to compete with the results of the last workout. It is all about daily movement and doesn’t have to be a sporting event although I would rather play tennis with a friend than walk on a treadmill.

I am learning to spend more time in nature by getting out to hike some of the glorious trails I live near. My back yard raised bed garden has become my playground as creating my own foods from the forces of nature fill my soul with a pleasure that is indescribable. Whether it’s the feel of the soil or the the soft wind blowing gently upon my face there are certain things that can only be found in nature that give way to the feeling of belonging to something greater than ourselves.

I am spending less time dwelling on the past or stressing over the future. The gentle experiences I am capable of embracing in this present moment is what is important. Life can be what we believe it to be when we actually take notice of all of the incredible things that surround us.

I think less about what people think of me because most of the time it is really just about what I am perceiving what their thoughts are. I think more about the energy I am sending out into the universe and simply allow other’s to simply be. I am less critical of other’s as I understand my own life but can rarely understand what motivates others in acting the way they do. I know just like me they too have their own lives to figure out and where they are may not be the same place I am in life. When they say or do things to anger me I simply smile and walk away as I know they have certain untamed emotions that at times need to get out.

I am working to figure out many more ways of creating a more “Gentle Life” with all of the tools I have read about and started practicing in books and posts about minimalism and simple living and many more from my own thoughts of my life. Sometimes there are certain aspects of living simple that are simple to others but not to me. I found myself in this situation recently when I had to go out and purchase a new suit. The old one was in great shape as I rarely wear a suit but given that I had lost weight during the summer I ended up donated some clothing that I felt I would never wear again only to discover that I have put on muscle weight through working out and needed a larger suit. Sometimes the things that we do don’t always make sense in the future. I am learning to not give into the excitement of an initial idea that I believe makes sense. Instead I take time to actually think about the idea and how it would apply to my life. For me purchasing a new suit is not a “Gentle” experience and I could avoided both the stress and the money spent on a new suit if I had simply left the old one in the closet.

There is so much more to the “Gentle Life” other than the things we own. It is the way we treat others or allow others to treat us. It’s about making a conscience choice of constantly moving towards positive things while avoiding negative things. It’s about learning to laugh each day both at the world and ourselves. It’s about analyzing the events in our lives and determining if they are worth getting upset over. It’s about giving up control when the truth is that we really have no control and learning to accept those things. It’s about knowing that every aspect of our lives is subject to change and by being prepared to accept these changes we can approach them gently. Our lives were meant to be lived in a gently way most of the time but we have seemed to create ways of making them not so gentle. It’s time to discover or rediscover this feeling of gentleness.

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Service to Others

bryant-mcgill-time-service-others-4f8hYesterday I met a woman of 79 years old who tended to the needs of a beautiful home and yard. My purpose for being there was to respond to a complaint of overgrown natural growth at a property next to hers. It turned out that the property did get cleaned up and this woman allowed me to view the progress from her yard.

As we spoke she talked about the neighbors getting together to help other’s out in the neighborhood who may be going through tough times to help them keep up with the job of property maintenance. She said she couldn’t even find a young man who would be interested in helping her maintain her own property even at a decent salary of 13.00 per hour. She wondered where the real men have gone.

old_man_mowing_the_lawn_royalty_free_clipart_picture_090612-183135-508048This moment in time brought me back to another moment in time as a child. Up until the age of around 11 I distinctly remember going around the neighborhood with my Great Grandfather cutting lawns and doing small maintenance jobs to help out the neighbors who were getting up in age. As a retired man he spent a great deal of time taking care of his own property and when he ran out of work to do he would volunteer his work to others. I never knew him as a young man and don’t know if he was able to do the same for others while raising a family and working 8 hours each day but understood that helping other’s was important to him.

He would awaken at the same time each morning and get to work around the house at the same time each day. Then he would break for lunch at exactly 12:00 each afternoon only to return to work at 1:00. As I think about it I feel that he was probably mimicking the work schedule he once had during a time before retirement.

Pop Pop took what he knew and his time to a level of service to others after retirement and I knew that it brought him great joy. He had something in his heart that seemed to simply want to help others. This is the same spirit that I believe exists in all of us though sometimes it doesn’t seem like there is enough time in our own lives to reach out to others. What I learned from being a part of Pop Pop’s life was that just spending about 30 minutes each week to complete a task for someone who may not be capable to completing it themselves is more valuable than money. This man I called Pop Pop passed away one day in his sleep but left behind some important lesson’s in life that I carry with me always.

The question I pose here is there someone in my neighborhood that needs just a little help as they may be struggling with illness or simply finding the time to get things done because they are working two jobs while raising small children? What difference would it make if we all found just 30-60 minutes out of each week to reach out to someone in need? I have attained many skills throughout my life and am capable of many things. Is there a service I could bring to another out of the simple responsibility of not just living in a community but also servicing the community I live in?

We all love receiving a gift at times, but what brings more joy to my heart is that of giving a gift to others.4553573098_14f4341e9f

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Don’t get hit by a Car

When I first moved to Oregon I had to transfer my drivers license to the new State. In doing so I read the Motor Vehicle Drivers Manual which is pretty much the same as any other State across the nation with a few differences. The one difference which totally blew me away was the fact that if a pedestrian stopped out into the road anywhere a driver must stop and let him/her cross. This seemed to make sense at first although  in most the State’s the pedestrian would be considered breaking the law by J-walking. In other words pedestrians are supposed to cross roads where designated at crosswalks.

I heard it from the horses mouth one day as I watched someone step out into the road and say to his friend, “See, we can cross anywhere here. The cars have to stop it’s the law.” Meanwhile cars are breaking hard and swerving to avoid hitting the young man and the cars in front of them. This law creates a false illusion in many minds that it is “Safe” to cross the road anywhere. Since living here for more than 3 years I have seen countless people, sometimes at the rate of a few each day, getting hit by cars. Since I read this law back in 2012 I believe it has changed to the point where it only describes driver’s responsibilities when approaching a crosswalk but people are still walking out into traffic and getting hit by cars.

This is what I learned as a child about crossing the street.

-If you are going to cross where there is no crosswalk (which you shouldn’t do) make sure to look both ways at least 3 times before stepping out into the road. Don’t cross half the road and stand in the middle waiting for the other lane to clear.

-At a crosswalk make sure you lock eyes with the driver so you know that he/she knows you are crossing. Driver’s are naturally distracted at times by many things and you really don’t know what they are paying attention to unless both you and the driver acknowledge each other. Never assume that the driver simply see’s you.

-If you are walking at night try to wear bright clothing. The headlights on a car illuminate bright colors like yellow.

-If you walk out into the road where there is no crosswalk and you get hit by a car, it is your fault, not the driver.

-Don’t be distracted. Put the cellphone away, take the headphones off and really pay attention to what you are doing when crossing the road. Your life depends on it.

As a driver here in Oregon I always assume that most pedestrians are stupid and do not understand these things I just laid out. The Portland area of Oregon has one of the worst traffic problems in the country, yet we also have an incredible amount of pedestrians and cyclists. In a perfect world all three would have separate routes of travel where they do not cross each other, but I don’t see that happening any time soon. (Jetsons). So until such time while the driver assumes the responsibility of watching for pedestrians, the pedestrian also needs to assume the responsibility of avoiding getting hit by a car.

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Fall gives way to thoughts of new ways of Community Gardening

Healthy broccoli plants growing in raised beds in a vegetable garden.

Healthy broccoli plants growing in raised beds in a vegetable garden.

As the vegetables growing in my raised bed gardens are giving way to fall I am slowly cutting things down to start preparing for next years plans. This seasons yield of crop wasn’t as good as last years as we had many grey mornings throughout the summer and the fact that I planted three weeks later due to an extended trip to Florida, yet I still managed to produce enough food to enjoy throughout the season but didn’t quite produce enough to can to make it throughout the winter. The Pacific Northwest can have some pretty tricky seasons given the differences in sunshine and rainfall.

This time of year brings about different emotions as I am sad that the gardens are ending yet happy to not have to worry so much about tending to their needs each morning before work. To every season turn, turn, turn.

2df8195246ae24bfa11607c287d53f50I have learned some valuable lessons this year like the fact that plants like squash and cucumbers need more space to thrive and I will be looking at building crawl screens next year to allow them more room to grow up. Last year I developed an automatic sprinkler system where one single sprinkler head rotates to cover all of the gardens. The problem is that in doing this my lawn was getting the brunt of the H2O and stayed wet most of the time and grew to a point where at times I needed to cut it twice a week. I will tweak this system for next season by installing small sprinkler heads right into the raised bed gardens to create more of drip type system.

My thoughts on building a neighborhood network of raised bed gardening is still fresh in my mind and over the winter I will build on the idea to try to bring people in to a small organization where each member will have two 4’x4′ gardens where they will grow just one type of vegetable, or maybe two depending on how many members join. I love this idea because it gives each member the opportunity to become an expert at growing just one or two specific species of plants. We will all work together to assist each other in the construction of these raised beds along with putting together self watering systems. We can also pool our money together to get better prices on things like organic fertilizer, soil, peat moss, vermiculite and canning equipment and books. I figure that we could all meet at a specific location each Saturday to share our vegetables and stories.

gardening-for-kidsI believe that this form of community gardening allows for each member to learn at a comfortable pace those specific vegetable they will growing and takes away the pressure of gathering at a specific location of a large garden somewhere in the neighborhood which has always been the traditional model of community gardening. Many times the older model leaves people behind as several members seem to want to take complete control. With this new model Allen can become the Tomato King and Sandra can become the Queen of Lettuce. It builds both pride and a personal respect for nature and community as each member thrives in ways of caring for their own back yard garden. And what better way is there of teaching our children the values of both nature and community? Not only will we share gardening stories but also sharing recipe’s, meals and experiences.

With the simple fact that we all live in a city where large yards are rare this idea also solves the problem of needed space for larger gardens. Rather than moving out to the country where larger lots are available it is much easier to simply utilize the little bit of land we have and share the products. Most of us who live in Cities live here for reasons of convenience. We are closer to work, closer to neighbors should we need help and closer to the stores we shop at.

This will be one of my projects over the winter and I will share more thoughts and progress each step of the way. Happy Fall Season to everyone!

Posted in diet, family, flowers, food, fun, gardening, growing up, health, life, mindfulness, minimalist, nature, Oregon, paleo, permaculture, primal, simple living, stress, vegan, vegetarian, work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Rollercoaster of Life and Minimalism

rollercoaster01-770x395I could probably talk about minimalism all day long with all the physical mechanics involved in reducing life down to just the basic necessities the same way that many posts and articles are written on the subject. I could talk about getting out of debt, getting rid of stuff and living in a smaller house. There are so many aspects of this lifestyle with so many physical steps we can take to reach a point where we believe our life is more manageable and we learn to lead a life with less stress. I am not going to discuss any of these today although I do feel they are important elements in this thing we call Minimalism.

Today I am going to discuss the real reasons behind making such a decision that sparks us into a life of less. It’s all about being human. Our basic needs like water, food and shelter seem to be what most believe are the necessities in life but the truth is that there are a few more that make us whole. These needs being that of finding ways to be creative, socializing with our fellow humans, exercising, and of course the most important is to love and feeling loved are all a part of what makes up the human experience. We have the need of being accepted into a particular group as we need to feel that we fit in somewhere in this world we live in. There is also the basic needs of spending time in nature, exploration and discovery.

We have built great empires across this world and developed a system that requires us to sacrifice much of the time we have to guarantee us those basic needs are met,  but learn over time while we are fulfilling our needs for the basics we are left with little time for the others. We find ourselves on this vicious roller coaster where we look out into a world where we know there are things we are missing in our lives. Whether it is spending more time with loved one’s, or just a little quiet time to learn to play a guitar, dance, paint or write it always seems that those passions are always and arms length away but we just cannot reach them.

Year after year we do our part to ensure that the engine that drives this rollercoaster keeps working and revolving as this machine needs constant attention. But what about the attention we need as humans. What about the needs of our very souls that cry out in the middle of the night and urge us to get off this machine and break free of those things that keep us from our human needs and desires. Life must be more than just this position in a factory that keeps those cogs moving.

Many find security in living in a world that promises survival and false promises of happiness and may live their whole lives in this manner only to look back at those things that have been lost and long gone. But there are also those that are reaching out in desperation to find certain hacks in life that allow for time away from the machine by slowing things down a bit and there are also those who have discovered ways of getting off this rollercoaster altogether to live off the grids of corporate entities that bind them.

There are driving forces behind those who seek to discover a simpler life many people are finding ways to simply reduce the amount of time they need to spend on the machine and increase the amount of time they need to fulfill those other needs that we have been taught to forget about. These driving forces combined with our will and creativity have sparked this new revolution we call Minimalism. Even those who have not yet made any moves in their lives to discover a simpler life are still thinking about it. Always thinking about it.

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Don’t Like Debt, Not One Bit

debt-ball-chainSigning a legal contract and promissory note to borrow a specific amount of money at a specific interest rate over periods of time happen each day. It is what makes banks and investors wealthy and what affords us the opportunity to purchase things like homes, cars and other things that we simply don’t have enough money to purchase outright.

I have done it, you have done it as it seems the world revolves around this industry of banking. I really don’t like it much as I always feel that the amount of hard earned money I pay out each month in the form of interest is money that is simply being thrown away. But what can I do about it? I certainly don’t have a few hundred thousand dollars sitting in my bank account to purchase a home.

This my personal belief when it comes to borrowing money and I know that it is not the same belief of most. I believe that once I enter into any type of contract where I must pay back money in which I have borrowed, it is important that I do it as quickly as possible. I could take out a 5 year loan to buy a new car and be quite comfortable with the small payment each month but living with the fact that I am still in debt absolutely drives me crazy. So instead I figure ways to add as much money to my monthly payment as possible. I do this each and every month until the debt is paid in full. I do the same with my mortgage each month.

Over the years the act of borrowing money has become less personal and more business like, but for me it is still very personal. It’s like borrowing a few hundred dollars from a friend and I have been in this situation a few times in my life. When a friend out of the kindness of his heart has enough trust in me to know that the same amount of money they lent me will be returned as promised then I call this a very personal act. It is my obligation to do the right thing by paying back that money as quickly as possible. This is the same way I feel about borrowing money from a bank. I don’t like being in debt… Ever.

What about credit cards? I have one that I use for many things. A bill comes at the end of the month and I pay it in full. It is a convenience as a throughway of moving money from my bank account to whatever it is I am purchasing. Unfortunately these days not all things are easily paid in cash so tools like credit cards become the norm. The secret to having a credit card is to make sure that you never make any purchases that you can not pay off in full when the bill arrives. It is too easy for some folks to make a purchase they cannot afford and then pay the credit card off a little bit each month at a painstakingly high interest rate. Wasted money. With a little patience in putting away enough money each month to reach a point where you have enough money to purchase that item is the way to go. Credit card companies depend on the belief that you want it and want it now and are willing to pay the interest to get it. I don’t like debt, not one bit.

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Looking Ahead at Right Now

wpid-leaves-7883As I turned 50 years old I really started embracing the minimalist lifestyle for many reasons. One of those reasons is that of self preservation. I started to realize that I have but a short 15 years to try to set things right. What I mean by this is that I see too many people move into the age of social security with nothing but a monthly social security check to live on. Meanwhile they are still living with a monthly mortgage payment, credit card bills and car payments they are obligated to pay each month. I quickly realized that I had to make certain changes and I had to make them quickly. The vision I see and I am sure most folks see in retirement is that of a less stressful life, quiet days spent doing things of pleasure, not pain.

Making a choice to retire should be a choice but I see too many working way past an age that is comfortable to work. There are many who simply love their jobs and are just not ready to retire at 65 and usually push for the age of 70, but there are far too many others who simply do not have that choice and have to continue to work to make ends meet.

There are other’s who have done all of the right things to prepare, but have had some type of life changing event that caused them to lose everything or just about everything like an expensive medical procedure or the lose of employment. My heart goes out to them as I do understand that there really is no guarantee’s in life. But for the majority who find themselves in a situation where retirement is just not possible because of certain life choices that they have made like overspending, living a life of thrift or gambling I am less sympathetic to them but more sympathetic to their children who will have to bear the expense of these circumstances.

At the average age of just around 45 most families are setting there children out into the world, trying to pay for college and thinking about downsizing there homes. It can be an exciting time of life while at the same time their parents are reaching or have reached the age of retirement. Many complain of having there children living at home too long after they should be ready to move out into the world, but there are also too many who are having their parents move in with them because of the heart felt obligation of caring for them. Personally, as a parent I never want to be in a situation that would add this type of burden on my children.

At 55 years old I have made a significant amount of changes in my life through the adoption of minimalism and/or living a simply life. Financially life has turned around in just 5 short years and I am heading in a positive direction towards a life of retirement. Many of the sacrifices that I have made turned out to not be sacrifices at all. I concentrate of paying off debt while putting away enough money for the future. I shop very little and only do it to obtain things that I really need rather than things that I want. Cooking at home over going out to eat has increased my level of appreciation for the foods I eat, while gardening and providing fresh foods for my home has given way to an appreciation for nature. Most of the time the food I eat at lunchtime is leftovers from the night before.

Every single dollar I earn and spend has a certain value to it now that it didn’t have before. I no longer collect things and find greater value in collecting dollars that I know will help me out greatly later in life.

As I set out to make changes in my life for reasons of self preservation I discovered these same changes truly enhanced my life right now. Without many of the stresses like trying to put on a show for the Jones’s I have learned that living a simpler life also brings about a greater sense of happiness and joy. Besides, it won’t be long before the Jones’s find themselves in bankruptcy court. I have found that one of the greatest benefits I have discovered is that of lost time. While I was spinning my wheels to try to keep up with the latest fashions and trends it seemed that time was getting away from me. There never seemed to be any time to really do the things in life that I really enjoy doing. Today I have time to read, time to relax and time to spend in nature. Rather than an expensive outing I now prefer a quiet day at the beach or in the mountains. Even a quiet day at home is not a burden.

live-small-to-live-big_final_72At the age of 50 discovering the simple life was the greatest thing to ever happen to me later in life. I wish I had known more about this at a younger age, but life is what it is and we are where we are for whatever reasons. I am now a minimalist for life and these lessons I have learned will also give way to a lifestyle I will lead in retirement. Peace.

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