Red Flags lead to the Treadmill

redflagsTeetering at nearly 196 lbs and watching my blood sugar rise each day I am suddenly seeing red flags rise all over the place. It has been almost 4 months since I stopped working out and allowed the winter to creep into my soul. Normally I find myself weighing in at about 10 lbs over my normal weight, but with this cold winter it has been difficult to force myself out into that cold garage and get on that treadmill of mine.

Well, those days are over. I am back on track and although I am simply walking a little over a mile each morning I am already starting to feel the changes in both energy during the day, sleeping at night and my scale showing lower numbers.

One of the most difficult things to do after a long winter is getting back on track with a steady workout program. I am starting out slow and progressively working my way back. For just 20 minutes a day each morning I find it easy to push myself to just doing that one isolated exercise. In my case it is just walking. It is still cold out there in that garage but I find that I can bear a simple 20 minute walk. This is something that I forget each fall as my body becomes less interested in exercise and more interested in packing on extra fat to make it through the winter. I should have been doing this all winter long even if it was just 3 days per week.

Anyway, I am shooting for the goal of finding my normal weight again with just a 20 minute walk each morning. As we get closer to the Spring Season I will discover all of that natural energy to start adding a few weight bearing exercises and get this body back to where it should be. Fit and trim.

Posted in body building, diabesity, emergency, family, fitness, health, life, minimalist, primal, simple living, type II diabetes, walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Another Brother

the-lost-brotehrs-logoIt certainly has been a while since my last post as I have been keeping myself busy. Between preparing this taxes for 2016, Studying for a new certification and just going to work each day I have had little time to even think about writing and I do miss it.

My mom and myself have created a habit of calling each other each Saturday morning as we live 3000 miles away. Usually our conversation are about what has been going on in our lives over the past week. For me it’s usually around events with grandchildren and the latest topics in the world. For Mom it’s usually about birthday, holidays and reminiscing about things when I was young. She is a big NY Giants fan and loves talking about the football game.

Today we spoke and she told me that I have an older brother who I never knew about. This certainly changed our patterns of conversation and I had so many questions. My brother was born two years before me while my Mom was just a teenager. When she became pregnant she was sent away to a home to live and have the baby and where this service also found folks to adopt the baby. Pretty much my Grandfather would not allow my Mom back into his house until the baby was born.

For all of these years she thought about the baby and always wondered what had become of him. Thanks to modern technology, computers and social media my brother was able to find her. They spoke on the phone and are meeting next Saturday.

So as I sit here and write about this I am trying to put together my own thoughts about having an older brother. My brother’s Dad is not my Dad. This was something I wanted to know, but it really doesn’t matter much. Does he look at all like me? Does he have any of my same mannerisms?

What is funny is that as Mom broke the news to me my first reaction was that of joy. I have his email address but will wait a day before contacting him as I need to completely get my mind wrapped around this. My heart is already there and I want to contact him right now. But I really need think about the fact that I am actually shocked that I have an older brother. At 55 I didn’t think anything in the world could shock me anymore, but here I am pondering thoughts of so many questions I want to ask.

Posted in family, life, simple living | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Career Survival – Constant Act of Recreating One’s Self

aaeaaqaaaaaaaavpaaaajgrhnjbmndhiltq3owytndc3yy05mzq4lwjlymfmmdqzzdcymwAs I move into a new year and continue to take the silent vow of simplicity I once again find myself filled with staying busy. My career choice leads me in directions where the act of “recreating oneself”, is a constant. I find myself sitting next to a stack of books and an online training course to pickup yet one more certification to ad to my skill set of constant new requirements to advance in my field. With just 10 years away from retirement I find that I am still reaching out to sources to move forward the same way I did when I was 30 years old.

Career life doesn’t end just because you are getting older. In fact I am finding that the older I get the more I have to pay attention to staying on the same track I did throughout my life. It is a constant battle in the act of becoming the best you can be at what you do. Technology is constantly changing the same as new regulations change as time goes by. To not stay on top of these things is the same as allowing myself to become obsolete in my field as I can just as quickly be replaced by one who has a stronger desire than myself towards success.

But the truth be told I actually enjoy doing these things that keep me on track and love the opportunity to learn and apply new things. I have also discovered that by taming other aspects in my life I actually have more time to spend working on self preservation. One of the thoughts that keeps playing over and over in my head is where these skills may take me after I turn 65 or 66 2/3. I have no idea what our society might be like in ten years. Things change so quickly and the one thing I have learned is that there is no guarantee to anything anymore other than eventual death.

I don’t know if my pension will be debunked as I see so many plans falling apart and retiree’s being left without the assurance of receiving a monthly check after retirement as promised. I don’t even know if Social Security benefits will still be around in ten years. These things are under constant threat which leaves me with only one option which is taking things into my own hands.

I have the next ten years to prepare for these things that will leave me with the option of either continuing to be employed in my current field or move on to self employment where the knowledge and skills that attain will be marketable in the future. My hopes of course are geared around the thoughts of everything being OK, but if they are not I must be prepared.

My health is also something that I have to take complete control of. Eating healthy food and getting a decent amount of exercise will assist me not only on a day to day basis but also during an possible event of sickness. Healthcare is not really labeled correctly. Healthcare as we know it is actually “Sick Care”. True healthcare is built around the things we do each day that help us stay healthy.

I have but some simple choices that will help to remedy any possible unfortunate circumstances. Continue to save, stay healthy, continue to pay down debt and continue to reinvent myself. Right now I have the opportunity to create my own future. For if I don’t the future will ultimately create me.

Posted in debt, diet, family, finances, fitness, food, growing up, health, life, minimalist, prepared, quit smoking, simple living, work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Hello 2017

new-years-day05It is that time of year again where the calendar starts all over again with the bringing in of a new year. Here we are crossing over that grey line that divides the year 2016 and 2017. It is a time to sit down and look at the year that passed and think about all of triumphs, victories, failures and disappointments. We set new goals for ourselves and formulate plans to achieve these goals. Personally I believe these are things we should be doing each and every day of our lives.

For each morning I awake, the new day before me is New Years Day. I look back at the day that has passed and consider the things that made that day successful and also the things that I did that weren’t in the best interest of my future. You see, I figure that the best time to make adjustments is now. Before getting into a rut of negative behavior I try to catch myself and ask the question, “If I continue this where will it lead me?”

During certain cycles of time and nature there are good days and bad days. Life certainly is not perfect and following certain patterns of behavior tends to lend itself to an overall feeling of either pleasure or pain. There are times where I practice things that bring momentary pleasure but only lead to extensive pain. For example: If I drink too much alcohol I feel pretty darn good at the time but the next morning tells me that maybe I shouldn’t have drank so much.

Yes, as humans we get bored and tend to find things that we believe will bring us joy only to discover that the joy we experience is just temporary and their may be certain penalties to face in the future.

As one who practices a life of simplicity and frugality I sometimes find myself making certain small purchases that I believe will enhance my life only to discover that these purchases end up sitting on a shelf. At the end of the month when I am considering the amount of money I have saved to place towards to paying down debt I often think about the cost of that item I have sitting on the shelf. Why did I purchase it? Wouldn’t that money be best served being added to my debt pay down figure? I don’t make these types of purchases often, but when I do I always find myself asking the same question… Why?

And how about that cup of coffee at Starbucks? I make the best pot of coffee this side of the Mississippi, yet there have been too many times where just out of shear laziness I decide to leave the house in the morning without my mug of coffee. And yes, there are times where rather than bringing a can of soup to work and and a sandwich I find myself eating take out only to feel the pains of that food later in my belly, not to mention the pains in my wallet from the cost of that horrible food.

This is certainly one of the area’s I will be working on this year as I continue this journey to becoming completely debt free. I don’t have a budget and never will. I know many people swear by keeping a monthly budget to help them stay on track while most financial advisors preach lessons of this practice. For me I simply track what I spend and then continually analyze my spendings and try to come up with better solutions. One of the solutions I have come up with recently is buying in bulk. This not only feeds my desire to spend less but also lends to my nature of being prepared.

The truth is that money is only worth the buying power it possesses to acquire the things we desire. On the top of this list of course is food, shelter, water and security. Human survival is always first and foremost although through many conversations I have with people it would seem that other things are more important like transportation and entertainment. Sometimes I get the funniest looks from people when I explain to them that I am trying to pay off my mortgage. These are the same people I know who will be reaching out for help should we experience a natural disaster. I wish I could discover a way to teach them to start practicing a little self reliance.

The source of acquiring income to fuel these needs is yet another area of my life where I am constantly thinking about each morning. Just as life changes so is it that our jobs and/or careers change. I have to be vigilant in keeping up with all of these changes and constantly have to consider how to re-invent myself to match what the market is demanding of an employee. This year I will be focusing on education and acquiring new certifications that better equip myself for the possibility of a better position or the possibility of a job loss. As always I will practice being the best I can be at doing what I do to lesson the chances of a self inflicted job loss.

Just like 2016, the new year will be a sharp focus on keeping my eye on the prize. I am increasing the amount of money I will send to the mortgage company each month as I have reached a certain level of savings that lends itself to the feeling of security and the ability to make it through if something was to go wrong. Meanwhile I will question each and every purchase that I make with a 30 day rule. If I still believe it to be a wise purchase after 30 days then I will buy it. If not then I will let any thoughts of that item leave my thought pattern.

I will continue my small circle of kindness pattern that I have practiced most of my life. I treat all people in my circle with kindness and love. Those people that I truly believe don’t deserve my kindness and love I will mentally eject from my circle of kindness. I know in my heart that there is no possible way to help all people in this world who need help, but when people form small circles they are better equipped to have the resources to help one another. There is no room in my world for evil and hatred and I will never reach out to help another who possesses these negative qualities. This may sound selfish to many but it is something I believe in. No rewards for bad behavior! Sorry, but it only encourages more bad behavior.

As a warrior of peace I will continue to do whatever in my power to protect good people from the many dangers in society today. I see entirely too many people turn their backs on certain situations where sometimes it simply calls for a loud voice of reason to make things right. We certainly do not live in a victimless society and sometimes all it takes is for a few good people to stand up to those who attempt to create victims.

I anticipate 2017 to be a good year in many areas of my life. I will spend more time in nature and continue on my path of gardening. This will be the year that I start practicing canning those vegetables that I will grow once again in my raised bed gardens. This year I will develop a drip watering system for my gardens that will be controlled with a timer. I will attempt to try and get out for a nice mountain hike at least every other week and visit many of those waterfalls I love so much.

I will attempt to reach out more to family and friends I have that live all across this nation and develop a plan to stay in touch. Life moves too darn quickly and before you know it you realize that you haven’t spoke to someone in over 6 months. The truth is that we all get busy just trying to tame our lives each day and sometimes it requires a little extra effort like scheduling time to talk about our lives with loved ones.

With the cold weather it hasn’t been easy getting out to the garage to work out lately but I will be vigilant in finding a way each day to get a certain level of exercise to maintain my good health. As the weather warms so will my desire to commit to spending 30 minutes each morning either on the treadmill or working the bowflex.

I will continue to show my spouse all of the love and affection that my soul can find. She is the most important person in my life as I find so much love and joy each and every day of this incredible marriage. She is and will always be my better half and I love her with all my heart. There is just one reason for practicing all these things that I believe in and it is her.

For 2017 my resolution is the practice New Years Day each and everyday of this year.

Posted in body building, debt, diet, family, finances, fitness, food, gardening, growing up, health, hiking, life, marriage, minimalist, Oregon, prepared, primal, simple living, walking, work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

30 Day Emergency Stay at Home Plan: Food

getty_rf_photo_of_full_pantryIt’s another cold Saturday morning as I sit once again wait for the doorbell to ring and my Survival Coach John to arrive. Today John will be reviewing my plans for having enough food to survive 30 days without leaving my home.

I will lead with a quick review of the situation at hand as their is no public utility services available such as electric power, natural gas, water, internet and TV or trash pickup. This is all due to a small earthquake that shook the region and has severally damaged many of the major connections to all of these services. Roads are damaged and trying to get out of our neighborhood is impossible.

The doorbell rings and I quickly move to answer it as I know that John’s time is limited to just 15 minutes for each session. “Good morning, John.” “Good morning, Bill.” “Bill, we left off last Saturday with the topic of water supply, how have you done so far with this topic?”

Wow, I didn’t know we were going to do a review but I told John that I followed his suggestions and have an ample supply of drinking water along with a method of saving grey water. John said “excellent! As discussed last week water is the most important detail of your 30 day journey.”

John said, “Let’s move on to the subject of food.” Most people are under the impression that survival is all about long term food storage with products like Mountain House foods. These are typically dehydrated meals that can be placed into 5 gallon buckets and have a long shelf life of sometimes up to a year. This is fine if you are the Dooms Day Prepper type, but I am hear to tell you that unless society completely breaks down there is no need for these things. What we are going to discuss today is a simple plan of food storage for making sure that you and your family can eat the foods you enjoy each day for a total of 30 days.

John handed me a blank notebook and gave me a new homework assignment. Bill, I want you to first go through your refrigerator and pantry and write down exactly what foods your family eats on a typical day. This would include all three meals of breakfast, lunch and dinner. I also want you to write down a few items which you consider “treats” like snacks.

This not about trying to store a bunch of food that you will never eat and one day have to get rid of and replace, but more about storing more of the foods that you already eat. After you have formulated this list I want you to go through each item that you know will not store due to lack of refrigeration or freezing. Remember, you will not have the power to run a large cooling device such as a typical refrigerator or freezer. Of course this wouldn’t be true if you had an alternative source of energy but this is a subject we will discuss in the future. But for now find those items and figure out a way of coming up with an alternative. For example fresh fish can be replaced with cans of tuna fish or canned salmon.

Next I want you to dedicate one full page of this notebook to developing a meal plan for just one day. Do the same with a total of 30 pages and you should have a good idea of what your food storage should look like. Just remember these are foods that your family is already eating and will continue to eat. For example: Most families make a meal out of a pound of spaghetti and large jar of sauce. The problem is that we purchase just what we need for a week, but if we simply purchase extra or enough for a month then we are on the right track. Basically you will creating your own store right in your home of those foods you already eat. As I remember you set up shelving in your garage just for this purpose. The foods in your store will be foods that you will use and resupply even when there is no emergency.

After you develop your 30 day meal plan I want you to sit down with your family and discuss each meal with them. Is this food really something you will eat each day for 30 days, and will you actually enjoy it. With all the entertainment we have filling our homes our daily meals are just something of a routine we go through each day. Without all of that entertainment our meals will become the highlights of our day and it is important that there is a certain level of comfort in each meal.

Now we are going to quickly get into the subject of meal preparation. I want you to research a few things before purchasing any cooking tools. Camping, RV’s and food preparation in the early 1900’s. A food heat source is obviously the gas grill we typically have in our back yard but do you have a way of making something like pancakes on it? Does it have a side burner for boiling water? Do you have enough propane to make it through 30 days?

Most RV’s or Motorhomes have a stove/oven combination that utilized propane. Many junkyards that have these old retired campers on them would be happy to sell you one of these stoves for just a couple of dollars. Imagine having the ability of baking your own fresh bread so you have something to put your peanut butter and jelly on.

As you go through your 30 day meal plan I want you to actually think about what you will need to prepare each meal from cooking sources to pots, pans, utensils. Can you use paper plates and plastic forks and knives instead of using your precious water to wash plates and metal utensils. It is up to you.

Remember, I am not here to tell you exactly what to do. Each family is different and a plan of attack has to be carefully developed by the family. You and your family might not like breakfast cereal where another family could eat it for breakfast every day.

One other subject I want you to think about while developing your meal list is the fact that you cannot have any left overs if you have no way of storing it in a cool place. I highly suggest making sure that you are preparing just enough food for each meal without going overboard. The last think we want to do is waste precious food.

Bill, that’s all I have for you today. Work on that meal plan and we will meet again next Saturday to discuss our next subject. “Thanks John, I certainly have a great deal to think about” “I look forward to meeting with you next week and discussing developments of the subject of food.

Posted in blogging, camping, diet, emergency, family, food, health, life, marriage, minimalist, nature, prepared, primal, simple living, stress | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Frugal Holiday Gift Wrap – Upcycled Cereal Boxes

Posted in simple living | 9 Comments

Have a Green Christmas

One of the reason’s I shop at Trader Joe’s is paying fair prices for quality food products and I have another. Inexpensive wrapping paper!

traderjoeswrappingpaper-opt

As most supermarket chains don’t carry paper bags anymore I found reason to utilize these paper bags to wrap gifts this Holiday Season. My personal experience as a kid growing up in the 70’s can also attest for the excellent protection they offer to cover school books and you can’t beat the price. If you don’t shop at Trader Joe’s see if your local supermarket still uses paper bags and have a Green Christmas.

Posted in art, debt, family, finances, food, fun, life, mindfulness, minimalist, nature, simple living | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Choosing the Simple Life

With recent winter events here in the Pacific Northwest the road conditions have been pretty rough. Even driving an all wheel drive SUV hasn’t been easy. During these times my mind quickly moves to thoughts of providing a little more safety like that of a large truck. It wasn’t long before I was looking at a 2013 Ford F-350 at a local dealer. This, I believe to be my dream truck as my visions of survival quickly turned to visions of desire. I could of traded in my SUV and purchased that truck right there on the spot as my heart beat increased with each passing moment that I checked out that big beauty of a vehicle. It was no longer just a truck, it was a Red Rider BB Gun. I visioned myself driving this awesome truck as friends observed me in this raging machine. It was any man’s dream of testosterone on wheels.

I could have picked it up at incredible deal of just $33,000.00 dollars and with the trade in and some money down could have actually driven off of that lot with a minimum monthly payment. As I thought about the total cost of such an item I quickly returned to reality.

For many years now I have been on this mission to rid myself of all debt. First all those damn credit cards, then the auto loans. All gone. And most recently paying of the mortgage which I am making incredible strides with each month. Yes, each month brings me closer to attaining this dream. I quickly drove away from that dealership with these words pounding in my head, “Stay the course,” “Stay the course.”

ford_f350_forest_grove_1960000447021344760The sacrifices I have made of personal desire to fulfill the dream of being completely debt free shall not be in vain. Although I am getting close to 100,000 miles on that SUV it still runs as if brand new. Even in bad weather it gets me to and from work each day and is very reliable. What more could I ask for. If I were to allow my desire to run unattended and easily signed some paperwork that would have made me the legal owner of this big truck would that decision made my life any easier, or hinder my plans of a debt free life.

There will no doubt come a day where I will be able to make a decision on making such a purchase without the worry of sacrificing my plans for the future. Right now is just not the time. That little voice in my head simply says, “Wait for it, Wait for it.” Your time will come.

Once one can claim victory over consumer debt, which includes a mortgage, the quicker life has the ability to change the way we think about the things that we actually do own. How many hours of labor and time out of our lives do we dedicate to the cost of the items we purchase?

I will probably never stop thinking about becoming the owner of that Ford F-350, but my day will come. Life can be this way when you chose the “Simple Life.” We all have a few items on our desire list but by placing “Debt Free Living” in the number one spot on our list keeps us fueled up to keep pushing hard to get it done. Even as a prepper I believe that our number one priority is breaking away from the chains we currently live in and get that debt paid off.

Posted in debt, family, finances, growing up, life, marriage, minimalist, simple living, work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

The Essential Prepper’s Library: 25 Books Every Prepared Family Should Own

I will have to add several of these books to my library. Thanks Survival Guy!

TheSurvivalPlaceBlog

This is the essential prepper's library - do you own all of these books?:

By Daisy Luther – The Organic Prepper

Preppers tend to be relatively old-fashioned, and one thing that most of us have in common is a yen to own physical copies of information that we find valuable.

While ebooks are popular, inexpensive (sometimes even free), and take up zero space, every person who preps knows that those tomes of information might not be available in a down-grid situation. Your library will only be accessible until your Kindle dies. But when you have all of those books on the shelf, you can access the information over and over, for as long as your emergency lasts. (Plus, I just really prefer physical books.)

There are tons of other great books out there, so if your favorite isn’t included on the list, that doesn’t mean that I found anything wrong with it. The following list is of the books that I personally own and have…

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30 Day Emergency Stay at Home Plan: Water

waterSaturday morning yielded yet another knock at the door and a visit with our survival friend and expert John. “Good morning John”, Good morning Bill”. “You know these visits are just 15 minutes long Bill, so lets get started”.

I led John back into the garage which is the area I have started setting up as a survival storage area. John jumped right to the subject of water. “So Bill, you want to be able to bug in at your home here for 30 days”. “The first thing that we have to consider is the amount of water you have on hand as you probably know that a human can survive weeks without food but just three days without water will lead to a quick demise of you and your family”.

Here are my recommendations:

1 Gallon of water for each person per day

There are 128 fluid ounces in a gallon, or 3.7 liters when you count up those sports bottles you have on hand.

“Wait a minute John, my wife and I don’t drink a gallon of water each day”. John said, “Maybe not but if you take into consideration others things you typically do like wash yourself, wash your clothes, brush your teeth and use the toilet then the average amount of water you should have on hand is a gallon per person”. I responded, “Oh yea, I forgot all about that stuff as I mentioned about making a pot of coffee.”

John looked down at his clipboard and said, “OK, lets go over just one typical day and see where it leads us”. First off you will probably be cooking at least 3 times per day, which includes your pot of coffee you mentioned. While you will still have food left over in your freezer to cook for the first several days it won’t be long before you will be relying of canned foods and staples. Most staples us water to prepare. Potatoes, rice, pancakes, biscuits… well you get the idea.” The bottom line is that you will need water to cook.

“You will need so much water to wash your body and of course you know this doesn’t mean the typical hot shower that you are used to. You need to brush your teeth every other day I suggest washing your clothing.” Wow, I never thought about just how much water we use each day. “Oh, and by the way you will also need a place to hang your clothes to dry.”

I said to John while we are stuck inside our home what do we do with all of the left over water from bathing, cleaning and cooking? “Ah”, said John. “This is where the the term Grey Water comes in. All of the water that is left over is going to utilized to flush your toilets”.

“Toilet water use can vary significantly. Older toilets can use 3.5, 5, or even up to 7 gallons of water with every flush. Federal plumbing standards now specify that new toilets can only use up to 1.6 gallons per flush (GPF), and there are high efficiency toilets that use up to 1.28 GPF. I see that you have one of the newer models so a little over 1 and a half gallons should be enough to pour into your toilet that will cause it flush. If you have more than one bathroom I would also suggest utilizing one of the bathrooms for going No #1 and the other for going #2. The toilet you use for urine can probably wait to be flushed every 4th use.” “Based on the number of times we typically use the toilet you can imagine how much water you would have to have on hand if not using grey water.”

“I see that you have bottled water on hand for drinking” “That is good but I want you to consider a few other options. There are inexpensive products on the market from camping water bladders, large drinking fountain bottles, or just sanitized gallon milk jugs that can be filled up right from your own tap.” “You can also invest in drink water tablets that shock the water and kill any bacteria that may build up like a swimming pool.”

“Well there you have it Bill, my 15 minutes are up and it’s time to move on to my next client.” “I want you to think about all we discussed today and actually place yourself in this situation in your mind.” “There are tools you will need to accompany the water supply you are building up like wash tubs, basins for brushing you teeth and washing your body, and cooking tools.” I thought about all of these things and remembered that I have a camping coffee pot, but John is right I have to think about those other things too like a tub to wash my clothes where I can manage to save the water for toilets flushes. The bathtub just wouldn’t be an option.

Thanks John for all of your help. I will see you next Saturday? “Yes, 10:00 sharp.”

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