The Decision to Start the Journey

I am thinking of trying this blogging thing again. I'm not very good at reporting or writing articles, but I AM stepping onto a journey that I think will be interesting to review back on down the road. Perhaps that will help motivate me to write about some of the upcoming experiments and changes.

Most journeys start at some kind of decision made after facing some kind of challenge. Our challenge happens to be when we finally decided to have the roof redone. It's been leaking at a few of the windows, and we have rotted floorboards along the north side of the single wide mobile home we live in. This summer it was finally time to start getting those things fixed. We hired a roofing company, paid the deposit. While waiting for them to schedule the work, R started digging around at the floorboards, I assume to see the extent of the damage. Digging into the floor led to digging into the walls led to ripping off siding. We panicked. There's a LOT of rot.

We tried to figure out our options. Sell the place? Tear it down? Clamp down on our expenses and pay it off in a few years so we can sell it?

As we're considering our options, R rips the house apart enough to see that the damage, while major, is fixable. So he begins fixing the north side of the home and roof frame, and I? I come down with a wanna-rip-my-head-off toothache.

Something's gone wrong with a 22yo root canal that was capped about 6 years ago. The infection was pretty extensive (am still fighting it off). After reviewing our options, we figured the best path would be extraction and implant. It's a lengthy and expensive process. Everyone has opinions on this, usually based on their own teeth and their own dental issues. And while the mere thought of that much money being spent on one tooth makes me cry and wilt inside, I know that there are consequences for the other options down the road that would increase the costs eventually. So we're choosing to head off those consequences by just straight up doing the extraction and implant now. (I still cry about it, though. *sigh*) Oh, and my state supplied insurance won't cover any of it, it's all out-of-pocket.

So now we have R working his regular job, coming home and spending the rest of daylight working on the house, getting that side done and the roof frame fixed so the roofers can finally come in and reroof it all. When he can, he visits his father who's recently started chemotherapy. And I'm barely helping due to the pain and druggedness. The poor guy is burning candles at both ends. 😦

Somehow near the beginning of all this he came across Tiny Houses. Tiny homes built on trailer beds, often less than 200sqft. I DID say tiny. With all the work and money he's put into fixing this house issue, he could be finishing off a tiny house soon. Think of it…much less maintainance and expenses.

We've been watching youtube videos on them, which leads to off-grid living ideas, which have led to the journey we've entered, and hence this portion of my blog.

We talk about if we could live in one, what changes we'd have to make, which ideas or designs seemed interesting, etc. We talk about the problems faced by tiny housers, and how to maybe get around those problems. We've even talked about converting the master bedroom here into a studio so we could live in it while renting the rest of the home.

We'd have a long ways to go before we could even seriously consider making this kind of lifestyle change. For example, i have struggled with clutter and hoarding of notes and books for many years. I won't go into too much detail on that (right now) except to say that I have gotten rid of over half my stuff, and our home is still too crowded and cluttered. I would have to get rid of at least 75% of what I have now, before we could seriously consider getting rid of more so we could fit into a tiny home or the “studio”. There are definitely other things at play, but I won't get into them here as this post is already long.

I have, however, decided that I will proceed from here on as if we ARE moving into a tiny home. And further, as if this future tiny home will primarily be run off-grid. And so begins our journey…or at least mine. This truly is “The Beginning of the Rest of My Life…”

 

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Fulfilling and Value Aligned Activites

I finally got to read through the book titled Radical Simplicity by Jim Merkel.  It’s worth a read for those who are interested in simplifying their lives.  Otherwise, the title alone will likely stop even a casual looker.  He basically takes the reader through a few different calculators for estimating the size of their ecological footprint, estimating a size based on their values, and figuring out one’s true hourly wage (which covers all the off the clock time and money which you put in just so you can have that job).  In this way the reader decides how much simplifying they want to do, and even in what areas they’d prefer to do it in.  Everyone’s final draft will look different, as it’s catered to them.

Despite the calculators, however, there’s nothing there to really help you figure out HOW to simplify the things you want to.  What I, personally, got out of it was a way of categorizing and evaluating my activities and money spending.

This morning I started a list, writing down the activities I do during the day.  Currently I’m writing them as/before/after I do them.  I then have 6 categories to choose from for each activity:  survival/health, comfort/luxury, connect, earthcare, peoplecare, return surplus.

For example, getting dressed and hopping onto the PC both counted as comfort/luxury activities.  Clarifying some butter and eating a breakfast of veggies + cheese counted as survival/health activities.  Handwashing my clothes and hanging them up to dry counted as earthcare activities because I used human power, minimal water, and air for drying instead of electricity, thus reducing my ecological footprint and costs.

Then, for each activity, under their category, I evaluate if the activity fulfilled me and if it aligned with my values/goals.  The evaluations are increase it, decrease it, improve the method, and ok as is.

So, for example, putting on a sweater this morning instead of turning up the heater I evaluated as ok on fulfillment (i got warmer), ok on alignment (not using more electricity fits with my goal of trying to reduce costs and footprint).

Another example, the handwashing and drying of my clothes got ‘improve it’ on each part, as it’s a process that I need to refine to better suit feeling fulfilled by doing it, and better alignment with my values.  I do feel that I need to streamline the process better.  And eventually figure out how to reuse the dirty water.

Using the PC decreases my fulfillment and doesn’t align well with my values.  I’d like to improve how I use it and decrease how often I use it.

Yes, after reading that, it all seems so complex.  But it’s more complex to write it out than to actually do it. Basically, the evaluations help me easily see which activities I’d be happier cutting back on, and which I’d be happier continuing or improving on.

I figure this is a good start on simplifying my life, and start working towards aligning myself with my values.

Do Your activities fulfill you? Do they align with your values?  What purpose do they serve in your life?  Would you prefer to increase them? decrease them? or find ways of improving some of them?

Guiding Principle: Mind&Body as Resource

About a month or so ago I read an interesting article on a blog.  It brought up how our minds and our bodies are our greatest resources.  I’ve been mulling over this ever since.  And have decided to use this as one of my Guiding Principles to help me on my path.

Humans wouldn’t have survived, nor grown to what we’ve become without our minds and bodies.  Such an obvious statement, yes?  But take that to a more personal level.  You wouldn’t have survived, nor grown to what you’ve become without your mind and your body.

I wouldn’t have.  It was my body that got me out of the messes that my mind had gotten me into.  And my mind that got me out of the messes that my body had gotten me into, lol.  Stuff may have helped, but if it weren’t for my mind knowing how to use the stuff, or my body’s ability to manipulate the stuff, I wouldn’t have survived, nor grown to who I am now.

Stuff will come and go.  It will break, burn, get lost, get stolen, etc.  Regardless of what happens to the stuff, my mind and body are my greatest resources.  Stuff can be replaced.  My mind and body can’t.  (Not for me, at least.)

Have you ever refused to loan some thing to someone, because they aren’t the kind of person to take care of it?  Have you ever gotten annoyed with someone who wastes or damages a precious resource of yours?  At people who don’t take care of theirs, nor others’, Stuff?

Yet, how many of us don’t take care of our own most precious personal resources: our minds and our bodies?

I’ve spent too damned many years, trying to salvage a mind that I had considered damaged.  Mostly I had viewed it that way because other people had wanted to use it for their own personal gain, regardless of the damage they caused by using it in a way it wasn’t suited for.  I had lost trust and confidence in my own mind.  Yet it was this same mind that has kept me going, has kept me fighting, and has found creative solutions and options for myself and others.  My mind may not be a resources for a certain group of people/organizations.  But it’s certainly one of my own, personal, greatest resources.

I’m taking back my mind.

Some people may not agree with it.  Some may say that I’m being selfish, or lazy, or living off the work of others.  Yet, by taking back my mind, I’ll actually be able to give back to the community.  Not by making someone else richer, nor by letting them drain me of my resource, but by making the community itself richer, and helping others to find their own resources.  And thus, this resource of mine becomes ever renewable.

In similar token, I’ll be renewing my body as a precious resource of mine.  I have come to rely on Stuff, rather than my body and mind.  I have allowed my body to become weakened and sickened.  Part of this comes from our cultural habits/expectations.  Part from our natural incline towards conserving energy.  We want to conserve our own energy for survival, and by doing so we come to rely on using the energy of others, even of Earth’s non-renewable resources.

Over the next month I will work towards relying on my body more, for meeting physical needs, rather than relying on Stuff or non-renewable resources.  Why do I need an electric rechargeable toothbrush when I can use my own muscle power?  Why do I need an electric dishwasher, when I’ve got two hands of my own, and a good cloth?  Why do I need a car to get me to a grocery store, when I can have a garden?…

Oh wait, see, there are some things I’m not yet ready to rely on my body for, not just yet.  If I lived in town, I wouldn’t need a car to get me around.  But I don’t live in town.  And the nearest bus stop is just over 5 miles away.  AND…my back isn’t at the point that I can walk 5 miles each day like I used to.  I get excited when I can last half a mile without overwhelming pain.  And the road to get to the bus stop?  Not safe for bicyclists.

However, I have a mind that can help me find a solution.  One that follows the Guiding Principle of using my Mind and my Body as my Greatest Resources.  And while I may not be able to find a perfect solution for everything in my life, at least the combined solutions will be an improvement.

And I can’t help but imagine how our culture, and the world, might improve, if each person relied more on our minds and bodies, rather than on Stuff.

 

btw, the blog mentioned above is:  http://artofgreatthings.com/2009/10/a-guide-to-self-reliance-minimalism/

 

 

 

If Someone were to walk into your home…

…would they immediately recognize what was most important to you?

…would they immediately recognize your priorities in life?

…what would your home say about how you spend your time? your energy? your focus? your life?

The 4 Most Important Areas of Life

I can’t seem to find it again, but a couple of weeks ago a blog I had read mentioned figuring out what the 4 most important areas of your life were.  These would be the areas you’d pour most of your attention and energies into.

Why 4?  Well, 4 is an arbitrary number.  The idea, however, is to see which areas are the most important, and which are…extras or superfluous.  As individual humans, we have only so much time/energy within ourselves.  Are we using that time/energy towards things that are important to us?  or are we using it up elsewhere, leaving little for what is more important to us?

So I sat down and listed the areas that were important to me.  I then went through each one and compared it to another asking:  If I could have (A) but not (B), or (B) but not (A), which would I choose?    The winner got a point.  And then the areas were ordered according to how many points they got.  The most points was obviously more important to me than those with lower points.  Then I went down the list (higher to lower) and asked myself if this area was something I could be happy without.  Surprisingly, I wound up with 4 areas in life that are important to me, the rest wasn’t that important to me.

The 4 areas I wound up with are:

  • Richard (attached to him are playing board/card/rpg games, and a personal aspect of our relationship)
  • something I refer to as “Toward a Gaian Mind”, which will be something I’ll post plenty about on this blog
  • raising my daughter
  • connecting and spending time with friends

Those are the most important areas of my life.  They are, in essence, what the ‘rest of my life’ will be about.

What would YOUR most important areas of life be?

Which areas of life are important enough to you to spend your time/energy on? and which are adding little to your life while using up your valuable resources?