Tag Archives: growth

Ups and Downs in 2017

It’s been a while since I wrote about my decrappification activities.  To be honest, I had a bit of a lull in that regard.  I suppose it’s like a lot of things in life, in that you can’t be going full steam ahead 100 percent of the time.  If you try, inevitably you will get burnt out.  That seems to me to be a good way to inadvertently sabotage your efforts.  On the other hand, you don’t want a slowdown to lead to stagnation.

This past year I had mixed results.  For three things in the plus column, I migrated the majority of my reading to my tablet, using Nook, Kindle, and Acrobat apps.  This cuts way down on the number of magazines and books I have to deal with either for storage or recycling.  (While I agree that there is a tactile advantage to books, everything has a cost.)  Second, I went completely vegan in January of 2017, so my eating got a lot more thoughtful-by necessity as well as purpose-and streamlined.  Third, I purged some of my accumulated winter clothing of times which no longer fit well or which I have not worn in the past year.  I got rid of the equivalent of two large laundry baskets of good clothes which went to charity.

For three things in the minus column, being honest, I’ve become a bicycle hoarder.   That’s not a bad thing per se, but I rebuilt a full suspension mountain bike for winter road use, adding it to my old non-suspension mountain bike and vintage 10 speed road bike-three bikes for one person.  (For the record, I’ve been told that the appropriate number of bikes is (N + 1) where N equals the number you have at any time.)  Second, I’ve come to realize that I have way too many duplicate tools, especially wrenches and sockets.  So, a project in the near term will be to winnow out the duplicates and pass them along.  Third, silly as it may sound, I have accumulated an over-abundance of tee shirts and socks, so it’s time to purge.   The tee shirts I can pass along or donate, and I’ll figure out a way to repurpose the used socks.

As Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “Our life is frittered away by detail…simplify, simplify.”.

Simplify, simplify, simplify.

The (Elusive) Simple Life

I want to live a simple life, I really do.  But sometimes it just seems to be a pipe dream.  There is always something coming along to derail my plans, efforts, and progress. It is so easy to get distracted and forget my accomplishments, or fail to realize I have alternatives.

I feel like I am always working on my 100 plus year old house.  For every repair or project I finish, there’s always another and another and another.  On the other hand, I’ve gotten a lot done.  I’ve insulated, re-sided, and re-roofed the place.  My big projects before winter are to finish some foundation repairs and replace a couple windows.  Everything else is sheet rock, paint, and cabinetry with a little easy plumbing thrown in.  So, maybe it’s not so bad.

I’ve been trying to avoid getting wrapped up political issues, as it just raises my blood pressure and little else.  The problem is that no matter where I turn, I’m inundated with the scandal-du-jour.  It transcends party lines and geography.  I find as much political annoyance locally as I do at the national level, with no end in sight some days.  On the other hand, there is so much in life which brings me peace and joy.  My church, my friends, my family, my pets, my exercising, my hobbies, and so on.   When the political dross shows up in my Facebook feed, TV or e-mail I can just scroll past, change the channel, or hit “delete”.

On balance, there are many more things in my positive column than my negative column.  I just need to learn to adjust my focus.

There is something good in every day.

What Motivates You?

I strenuously exercise on a regular basis because I want to be healthy.  I eat vegan because I don’t want animals to suffer on my behalf.  I decrappify  because I want less stuff cluttering up my house and attention.  I do 90 percent of the repairs on my house to save money and frankly, because I can.  So there you have it, the motivations for four of the big ticket items in my life.

Here’s the thing:  motivation is all at once personal and situation-specific.  At the end of the day, each of us must identify that which we value and how much we value it.  For example, if you want to lose weight but aren’t willing to move a bit more and eat a bit less, you like the idea of losing weight but you aren’t motivated enough to do the necessary work.  I lost count of the number of times someone has told me they’d love to drop a few pounds, but when I suggest easy ways to start, they balk.

They are not motivated so much as they are wishful.  Well guess what, there ain’t no genie in a magic lamp here.

It isn’t just weight loss, either.  Anything that can or should matter to you (and I leave it to you to make that distinction) is subject to motivation.  And, that which is subject to motivation is also subject to its loss.  So how do you find and maintain motivation?  Here is what works for me: keep the reason I started something in mind (I keep my “before” photo on my fridge to remind myself why I exercise), I participate in online accountability groups for support and feedback, I view challenges (like home repairs) as opportunities not limitations, and I don’t let setbacks define my level of success (speed bumps are not the end of the road).

So, what motivates you?

A bear chasing a cyclis-that's motivation!

       Motivation isn’t always this obvious-luckily!

Spending Less Than a Little

In the June issue of Success Magazine there is an article which poses the question: can you spend money only on essentials for one month?  As written in the table of contents “No fancy coffee.  No new clothes.  No eating out.  Nothing fun.  Do you have the self-discipline to go a month without spending money on unnecessary items?”  Wow…nothing fun?

I honestly don’t know if I have that kind of self-discipline.  Thinking about it, here is what I come up with as “necessary”: basic food for me and my cats, prescriptions, soap and toilet paper, mortgage, utilities, gasoline for commuting to work, and my church offering.  So that would mean for me foregoing my weekly dinner out with friends; three takeout coffees per day-black, no sugar; no purchased snacks during the day; no comic books, movies, or Amazon Prime video rentals; no impulse purchases; and so on.  I admit that while I don’t buy a lot of new clothes (hardly any unless something wears out, in fact) and other household items, I also don’t pay a lot attention to my “nickel and dime” expenses.  As an aside, that is clearly an outdated phrase!

I’m honestly not prepared to go a whole month on a no-spending spree.  I will though commit to keeping detailed track of my expenses for a week beginning when I wake up tomorrow.  Care to join me?

A little bit at a time will eventually add up to a lot.

Intentional Living Thoughts

Living an intentional life draws from many elements.  Simplicity, thoughtfulness, and self-awareness come immediately to mind.  As I continue to seek to live a more intentional life, I find that I am almost always on the upward slope of a learning curve.  Certainly, I’ve had my share of setbacks.  We all do.   It’s not an easy and natural condition for most of us, this intentional living.

I am reminded of a scene from The Empire Strikes Back, in which Yoda describes Luke’s lack of focus.  “This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was.  What he was doing.”   Focus is a major aspect of intentional living.

It is a good thing, to plan for the future and to be prepared.  The inverse is, it isn’t good to ignore the present in favor of the future.  If you are going through a tough time seek support and help if needed, and persevere, rather than ignoring the issue and hoping tomorrow will be better.  Tomorrow can be a better day for any of us, but in my opinion it takes an intentional effort on our parts for this to come to fruition.

I enjoy listening to and reading from John C. Maxwell’s works.  I’ll close with a quote from him: “Intentional living always has an idea. Unintentional living always has an excuse.”  I urge you to have ideas, not excuses.

Mindfulness is integral to intentional living.