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Why Only You Can Make It Happen

kljlkI found this video recently that I really liked.  It struck a cord on many levels for me; as a tiny house person, as an entrepreneur, as a location independent / digital nomad.  The video introduces the concept of “learned helplessness” which standing on this side of tiny house (living The Tiny Life) is all too clear to me now.  I now wonder if there are other areas of my life that I just am assuming are the way they are, things that I’m blind to?

What I Know & What I Hope

I’m writing from Portland today, still here after an amazing time at the Tiny House Conference that happened about a week ago.  On Saturday I went to brunch with Laura LaVoie and Matt, where we were chatting about the amazing opportunities we experienced because of our choice to live tiny.

It struck me how lucky we were, to be sitting around a table on an extended vacation sharing a meal with friends.  I all a sudden said “what a gift” and began to share this gratitude with Matt and Laura, we all took a beat to reflect on this gift we have been afforded.

So today I wanted to share what I know about you and what I hope for you.

I Know…

The Tiny Life is a life that anyone can achieve with enough perseverance.

I know YOU can persevere through the doubt, the fear, the questions, and the hard days.

I know the life you can achieve will inspire you, drive you, and open doors.

I know you will value relationships over money, but you’ll have both in abundance.

I know you’ll be empowered when you realize (or realized) the truth: this is MY life.

I Hope…

I hope all you reading this have that moment when you say “I’m going for it”.

I hope that you appreciate what you have right now and fight hard for what you want in the future.

I hope you build a life that inspires you and others; One that others only dream of.

I hope you get to sit around a table with friends and say “what a gift”.

 

 

My Minimal Wardrobe

As of late there has been many articles about how Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Barack Obama all keep a very minimal wardrobe; I was also glad to see a few articles about how women could achieve this too.  A minimal wardrobe is, in my opinion, easier socially for men to achieve than women, but certainly possible and many do.

There are many reasons to have a minimal wardrobe, for me its about saving time and reducing decisions.  Studies have been done that show the more decisions we make, the worse we become at making good judgements and the more it wears on us.  So things like “what shirt should I wear today” can actually impact our abilities later to make the right call on critical decisions later in the day.

So here is my wardrobe:

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This is almost everything for when I’m traveling, when I’m at home its identical, but instead of 7 days of clothes, I have a total of 1o days.  The only thing not shown here is one jacket, a pair of dress socks, a button down shirt, and a pair of dress slacks.  I dress up once a year, so I keep those items in a garment bag in a hard to reach storage space.

  1. 7 charcoal grey short sleeve shirts
  2. 7 white undershirts
  3. 7 pairs of socks
  4. 7 pairs of underwear
  5. 2 pairs of jeans, 2 pairs of shorts, 1 winter hat
  6. 1 blue long sleeve shirt
  7. 1 workout shirt, 1 pair basket ball shorts
  8. 1 shirt to sleep in, 1 pair of flannel sleep pants

This has been a really great setup for me because I can just reach into the specific drawer and without looking, grab what I need in a flash.  The shirts I get are very comfortable, they are plain so they don’t have graphics or logos, and they aren’t too expensive.  At worst they cost me $10 new, sometimes I can get them on sale for a little at $1.50 from Khols.

Other things to note are I have all the same socks.  This means I don’t have to pair them during laundry, I know I can grab two socks and they’ll match.  For shoes I have one pair of sneakers, one pair of hiking boots, and one pair of dress shoes.

I’ve also have washed these clothes individually with hot water and a “color catcher” sheet, this let me remove any dye that might bleed into the whites.  So now when I do laundry, I can do it all in one batch.  Once or twice a year I’ll run an all white batch and bleach it heavily to keep the whites, white.

When I am traveling, I use packing cubes which keeps things neater and makes it easier to find things.  They’re really just square/rectangle mesh bags that you sort into them.

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I travel a good bit of the year so having this translate to a easy pack is important.  The plain shirts and jeans help me blend in a little bit better as a local versus an American tourist.  The packing cubes I use are made by ebags.  I’ve heard good things about Eagle Creek too.  My suitcase is an Osprey Porter 65, which is suitcase that has pull out shoulder straps to become a backpack.  I like it because instead of being top loading like a backpack, it opens up on the front panel so when you put it on the ground, it fully opens and things are very accessible.  The backpack straps also tuck in so they are out of the way so that when in the airport, the straps don’t get caught in rollers etc.

 

 

Living In The Moment

This past weekend I had the fortune of watching my sister get married it was an amazing weekend, but the week leading up to it started off pretty tough.

I had been working for weeks to get ready for the Tiny House Conference because once I saw my sister walk down that aisle, I was off to Portland.  It meant that I had to have almost everything in order before then.  I was feeling good, a little stressed, but good.  I had nailed my to do list and was even doing some bonus things when I walked to my car…

IMG_3379The window had been smashed in and quite a few things had been stolen.  I had hidden my backpack under the seat, but apparently the thief still spotted it.  In that bag was $800 of really important things for the conference, my check book, but thank goodness, not my laptop.

I was angry.  I was upset.  I didn’t have time to deal with this right now.  What I had been working so hard for during the past year felt threatened.  Not that the Conference was in jeopardy, but the bag stolen symbolized one thing to me: my tools to write, to podcast, to build the movement.  I felt like these tools and what I do were cheapened; what cost me $800 of hard earned dollars to do what I loved, was being hocked at a near by thrift store for a few bucks.

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This was compounded by the fact that since I was leaving so soon, I might not be able to get the things I needed before I left and once I left, I didn’t know exactly where to have things shipped.  Needless to say, emotionally I was in a bad place.  A darker place than I’ve been in for a long time.

Anger-Quotes-14This angered me even more, because in the end it wasn’t just money, it wasn’t just the tools for what I love doing, it was the worry, the fear, that I would carry that anger into the weekend where I would not be able to fully appreciate and be fully present in the biggest day in the life of someone who I care about.  I felt like that was what was robbed from me.

 

 

It was then and there that I resolved myself to not let that person who smashed that window take this amazing moment in time from me: seeing my little sister walk down the aisle.

I had no idea how I was going to do it, but I knew I had to figure it out.

I took some time, of which I really didn’t have to take, to think about this.  How do I deal with this anger?  How do I deal with this fear?  How do I deal with having to spend $800 plus few hundred for the car to be fixed?

I remembered a person from my past who once shared the notion of Paradoxical Gratitude, the idea that when something bad happens to you, you look at the positives of what surrounds it.  An example would be: if a loved one dies, you focus on the fact that you have living friends and family that are there to support you in your time of need.

I liked the premise of this and it stuck with me over the years, a tool in my tool box to help me be grateful for what I did have.  It was time to use that tool.

I thought to myself:

  • How amazing it was that I had built a life for myself that I had the money to weather this storm.
  • How I patted myself on the back for my ability to roll with the punches and get things done.
  • How thankful I was that my mother had time to drive down to the car dealership and we then spent the afternoon together.
  • How cool Macy Miller was about me saying I needed to take a few weeks off from the podcast when I shared the files of 5 podcasts and all my podcasting gear had been stolen.
  • How fortunate I was in life, how I had a house, a job, a car, friends and family.

These were the thing I repeated to myself over the following days.  I had to make a concerted effort to push myself out of that darkness and into a place where I focused on gratitude.  It was hard.  It is easy to fall into a place of anger when we feel like we have been wronged, but I knew the stakes were too high.

Then came the day of the wedding.

My sister and I are pretty different people:  She loves clothes and shopping, I buy multiples of the same shirt and hate every minute of it.  I went to a liberal arts school that shunned greek life and had no real sport teams; she went to a bigger school and joined a sorority where she went to all the games with her sorority “sisters”.  Despite all our differences, we get along well and I’m proud to call her my sister.  She would correct me and say “your favorite sister” a running joke because I only have one.  So I was very excited for her because I knew how important this day was for her and thus, it was important to me.

I was standing outside, looking down at grounds where the wedding would happen and was mindfully saying what I was grateful for to myself.  The wedding was about to start and then something clicked in me.  The focus on gratitude had paid off.  I was standing with my brothers, my father, the groom and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect; it was a great day!

The wedding kicked off and I saw my little sister, my favorite sister, get married.  She struggled to hold back the tears as she said “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward”  and I wasn’t much better.

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My parents, my sister and her now husband.

The night went quickly after that, sitting for dinner, being rushed back out for more photos, going back in for the first dance, and then getting to see so many family and friends.  My face hurt from smiling when my head hit the pillow at 3am.  A good day…. no, a great day.

So I wanted to share this story to encourage you to live in the moment, to foster gratitude in your life, to making conscious decisions in your life to deal with the anger, the fear, the doubt, the negativity and go to that place of happiness.

– Ryan

 

5 Things You Can Discard Today

Stuff. Collection. Keepsakes. Junk. Clutter. Call it what you will and spell it how you may. It is still a four-letter word in the tiny house community. Stuff is one of those multi-description things that has the ability to hold you back, weigh you down, and otherwise keep you from true freedom! In the book Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk writes: The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after you lose everything that you’re free to do anything.

Storage Unit

Yet still, getting rid of stuff can be difficult at best. There has been conversation before about the freedom’s gained by downsizing but for us it was about taking the things we loved so much and sharing them with others. We weren’t actively using them so why not let someone who would use them, have them. Doing so allowed us to have a more peaceful, clutter-free home and helped our transition into a tiny house a much easier one. Hopefully following these tips will allow you to experience the same freedom.

1. Kitchen Drawers

Doesn’t everyone own and use two sets of ice tongs and a minimum of four ‘sporks’ from your favorite Taco Bell? If this is you perhaps you should consider paring down. A good way to do so is to institute a 3-bin system. This systems consists of two boxes and one drawer. First empty out your kitchen drawer into the first box. As you use each utensil place it into the second box. If you need to use it again take it out of the second box, use it, and return it to the drawer. It now warrants enough usage to keep. Anything that remains in box two or box one at the end of a pre-determined time get discarded.

2. Coffee Mugs

Service of four and two for guests. That is pretty much all you need. Beyond that you can purchase mugs for about $0.25 at the thrift store. Then you can use it and discard it again and not feel guilty for the purchase.

Coffee Mugs

3. Receipts

Yes, it is wise to keep gift receipts in case someone doesn’t like something, won’t use something, got multiples of something, or the gift is dysfunctional. However, if the receipts are just general purchases there are more efficient and space-conscious ways of keeping receipts. Consider a program/App like Evernote or a scanning program that typically comes with a new printer.

4. Periodicals

Magazines have become a decorating accessory through the years. No guest room is complete without a stack by the bed and on bathroom is ready for guests without a small library. But if the year is 2015 and the periodical is from 1999 chances are it is out-of-date and of little interest to anyone. Consider changing out magazines and even books with newer, more fresh material that is more enjoyable to read and more current in its topics.

Magazines

5. Electronics

The nostalgia for a Motorola pager is great. All Jedi know that. However, the user for one is non-existent. This applies to Blackberry’s, Razr flip phones, Kyocera brick phone, and Sony Walkmans. De-cluttering is not limited to the kitchen. eJunk is a very real problem and it seems the average family has quite a collection of useless devices. Perhaps the problem is not knowing how to dispose of them, parting with them after such an initial expense, or just said nostalgia, after all. Fight the urge though and gain space back by permanently burying that coveted 5-disk changer that was once so popular.

Your Turn!

  • Do you have a problem getting rid of things around the house?
  • Is your kitchen the first place clutter builds up?
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