One of the stories I can vividly remember my father telling me years back was related to his pride at managing his money in retirement. At the time, both my father and mother lived on their social security and some modest savings held in a 401k. Dad frequently bragged that he lived better, traveled more, and seemed to have more fun than many of his friends who retired with big homes and generous pensions. From my perspective, at least at the time, their lifestyle seemed more humble and restricted than I felt necessary. Yet now, less than 20 years later, I recognize that their simple and minimal lifestyle afforded them tremendous benefits that millions of other “hope-to-be-retirees” could learn from—including myself. [Read more…]
A common theme on this blog is simple living and minimalism. Those topics are all about letting go of stuff and clutter in our lives so that we can all better focus on what really matters. If you do a Google search you’ll see tons of books and blog posts around the idea, including a recent best seller called, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. And while all of that focus on cleaning up your space is important, most of it ignores how cleaning up your thinking and what goes on in your mind is even more vital. Call it magic or merely life changing, once we learn to empty and let go of the chatter and mind clutter, chances are good that the exterior space around us will be equally free of distraction. [Read more…]
I keenly remember my mom working a garden in several of the homes she lived in later in her life. One was little more than rock and gravel patch of dirt, yet she managed to harvest a few tomatoes and zucchini in spite of the inhospitable ground. And while I always enjoyed the taste if she had any extras, my life was far too important and fast paced to even imagine having the time or interest. Now here I am so many years later, spending time nearly every day nurturing tiny green plants in my care. Though it’s taken a while, I’ve gradually come to realize that many of the hidden benefits my mother harvested from her garden went far beyond the obvious. In fact, after reading up on the benefits of gardening I’ve come to realize that this simple action might be a cure for what ails many people, as well as the planet herself. [Read more…]
The Internet is full of posts, articles and photos of people who are embracing a more minimal lifestyle and promoting the Small House Movement. Just Google if you’re curious. One guy has remodeled a trash dumpster and now calls that home. Others are living in RV like structures with only 200 to 300 sq. feet. Even though some of these homes are adorable and decorated to make the most of small spaces, there is only a minority of us in the U.S. that will ever embrace that lifestyle for any length of time. But that doesn’t mean that the focus on a small (er) home isn’t worth promoting. In fact, my experience has convinced me that it was one of the best moves we ever made. [Read more…]
As most of you know Thom and I have been mainly self-employed since we got together over 37 years ago. Fortunately, we are currently more financially secure and wealthy than we’ve ever been throughout our lives. Are we rolling in money? Not hardly. But not a week goes by that we don’t hear how so many others are stressed about money, how difficult are these economic times, and how financially things seem to be getting worse everywhere in the world. So what makes me feel so good about money these days? It’s probably because Thom and I take a money SMART approach to our finances. [Read more…]
A few days ago while having dinner with friends I asked about their plans for the weekend. In an ever-perpetual dancing mood, I mentioned that I had noticed on Facebook that a new band was scheduled to play at a local hangout. But I was torn because I had also read in the local paper that a new exciting restaurant had just opened offering incredible free tapas for any who came by. Even then, I was curious if my friends had heard of something else that might be more fun or interesting. That’s when they all looked at me and simultaneously shouted, “STOP!” Then my dear friend Larry turned to me, put his hand on mine, and said with concern, “It sounds like you’ve got a bad case of FOMO—Fear of Missing Out!” Immediately, I knew that the best, and maybe the only cure, was to return to the mindful practice of simple living.
I’ve been writing about the value of sustainability, simplicity and minimalism for over six years. Because it’s a big part of living SMART, I’m always on the lookout for ways to introduce new people to the idea and explain the value and incredible advantages that such a perspective offers. Maybe that is why I synchronistically stumbled across the word “essentialism” during a recent Internet surf about how to create more meaning and purpose in a person’s life. Author Greg McKeown uses it frequently in his best selling book, Essentialism—The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. And after reading the book, it’s possible that Essentialism just might be a new and better way of describing what so many of us seek when pursuing minimalism or a simple life. [Read more…]
Several months ago a neighbor in her mid-sixties lost her husband due to a heart attack. Even worse than dealing with the unexpected loss and heartbreak of losing her life partner, is her torment with stress and anxiety because of her debt and lack of resources. Unfortunately, she’s not alone. A recent article by CNN Money confirms that most Americans as are deeply worried about their financial future. According to CNN Money, “The Great Recession may be over, but a Great Insecurity seems to have emerged in its wake.” What’s going on here and what can we do? Perhaps a focus on simple living is the way to eliminate the anxiety and stress that so many feel today. [Read more…]
Okay I’ll admit it—Thom and I enjoy tales of the supernatural. For years we watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer on television. Together we’ve seen all sorts of movies and shows about werewolves, vampires, aliens and all sorts of bizarre characters doing all sorts of strange things. Most of them are pure entertainment. However, one of the more sinister creatures is called a succubus. While never fully fleshed out in most episodes, it needs little description. Simply put, a succubus is something that sucks out the very essence and joy of a person in all sorts of horrifying and painful ways. When you think about it, oppressive debt feels exactly the same. The good news is that just like how Buffy knew ways to slay vampires, there are at least five ways any of us can rise above even the worst sort of debt succubus on the way to a happy life. [Read more…]
Last week I noticed a very suspicious looking blemish on my cheek, and I started worrying. I was especially nervous because when my mother was my age, she developed skin cancer under her right eye. Then several years ago my sister Ann had an angry looking sore on the back of her leg that wouldn’t heal for months. Even though hers turned out to benign, the experience made for some anxious times. So it didn’t require much imagination on my part to convince myself that my blemish could require a big chunk to be cut out of my cheek, scaring me for a lifetime. Or worse.
Finally, after waking up in the middle of the night with worry on my mind, I called the dermatologist. Although he couldn’t see me for a week, I realized that I could continue to allow fear and worry to control my life for the following seven days, or I could do something else. But isn’t that choice something we all face every day in this thing called life? Fear and worry? Or peace and happiness? We decide. [Read more…]