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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?

New Year’s Resolutions

So for many years I’ve written about how you shouldn’t have new year’s resolutions.  How you should focus on what you have accomplished, not what you don’t yet have.  There are a lot of good reasons to not set goals at new years, but this year I decided, all that be damned, I want to make a list!

Now to be fair, some of these are goals I’ve already set, they are just a reaffirmation to myself.  After this post I’d love to hear your goals and tips for reaching goals!

Goals are important things, they bring a focus to your life, they allow you to determine how to prioritize things.  It can make decisions simpler: “does this action get closer to my goal?”.  They can also be used to achieve a much larger goal, by breaking that big goal, into smaller steps.

The list of goals could be a bucket list, a list of affirmations, it could be new year’s resolutions, what ever form or name you use, there are a few key things to consider.

  1. Write your goals down and post where you’ll see them daily
  2. Make sure your goals are specific, concrete and realistic
  3. Have deadlines.  Someday almost always turns into never
  4. Make them worded so you can objectively know when they are achieved

Looking back at 2014 I am really happy with what I achieved, there were some really big wins for me.

The first was I able to write and publish a book through a publisher and see it on the shelves in Barnes & Nobel.  The book also just hit number one on Amazon for two categories, making it the top tiny house book of 2014.  You can check it out here.

Another big goal for me was to travel to and live in another country.  For this, I choose Croatia for a lot of reasons, you can read about it here.

In 2014 I decided I wanted to read more fiction.  Most of my reading has been non fiction and I felt like I was lacking in reading fun stuff.  So I set myself to read more fiction this past year, in the end, I read 41 fiction books.

Finally and most obviously, I moved into my tiny house!  It’s been great finally getting to live in it and life has changed a lot for the better.

So for 2015 my goals are going to look a bit different from last year because I’ve now hit my three largest and toughest goals on my bucket list.  Plus living in a tiny house has opened a lot of doors for me: financially I have more funds to make things happen, time wise I have a lot more free time and how I meet my obligations have become a lot more flexible, and finally I now can work from anywhere, so I can be anywhere (with my tiny house or otherwise).

My Goals For 2015:

  1. Have an awesome Tiny House Conference in Portland and meet a lot of cool people doing it!
  2. Take at least one extended vacation: road trip across the US and/or live in Budapest/Berlin for 3 months.
  3. See my sister walk down the aisle: She is getting married in March
  4. Start a new business in order to diversify my income
  5. Find or start a Mastermind Group

My Long Range Goals:

  1. Sail from Florida to Mexico, arriving to see the Giant Sea Ray migration
  2. Do a river boat tour down the Danube or Rhine
  3. Go see the fall colors in New England
  4. Go on the Trans Siberian Railroad in luxury class
  5. Learn to play the harmonica
  6. Continue being self employed
  7. Pay with cash for my next car

Your Turn!

  • What are some of your goals?
  • What are some tricks and tips to achieve your goals or keep motivated?

My First Winter In A Tiny House

After getting back from Croatia I’ve been learning a good bit about living in my tiny house in the winter.  This December in Charlotte has been breaking records left and right for how cold it has been.  Most mornings when I wake up it’s been in the 20’s which is very cold for this time of year.

The real issue for me has been right now I’m running off a generator and propane heater for my heat.  Soon my solar panels will be installed and I can shift to my mini split.  The generator has been working well, but because of how energy intensive the heater is and how cold it is, a full tank will only last about 3-4 hours.  The propane heater works great too, a 1 lb propane tank will last about three hours.

My strategy has been mainly to heat the house up for about an hour while I get ready for bed and then shut things off.  With the propane heater, its a “catalytic” heater that while is technically a flame, it is more efficient and doesn’t use up as much oxygen as a open flame would.  I don’t want to leave it running when I sleep because of it being a flame and also the danger of low oxygen.  The heater has a low oxygen detector that will shut it off if it comes to that, but I don’t want to chance it regardless.  Once I fall asleep, I’m fine until I wake up anyway.

One thing that I’ve learned is that the floor is always cold.  Being on a trailer there is obviously an air gap below the trailer.  I know a lot of people have used skirts for their house, but I’m not a fan of the look and its not windy in my location, so I’m not sure how effective it would be.  It may come to be installing a skirt of a sort, but I think I’d like to start with trying an area rug.  I think this might be an easy way because I noticed that when I stepped on a piece of cardboard that I happened to have on the floor, it seemed to do a pretty good job of feeling warm on my bare feet.

So far it’s been a pretty cold winter in my tiny house.  That’s about to change.

Very soon a solar panel system is going in that will change my heating situation drastically.  I will have a huge battery bank that will let me run my mini split and keep my space heated and on a timer, without the danger of an open flame or running the generator.  The timer will be really helpful because I can drop the temperature when I’m asleep nestled under my covers, but then ramp back up right before I wake up and have to get out of bed.  I’ll also be able to set it to maintain a minimum temperature, which will be nice because I can keep it a reasonable temperature, but not draw a ton of power.

The other thing I’ve noticed is since its been so cold outside, I’ve been inside my house more and wanting to go outside.  Nothing really bad, but I’ve been so used to be going for long walks and just enjoying the weather since its so much warmer in Croatia, right now its a little too cold to just spend time outside.  I have been spending some time at the gym, at cafes and I also went out and bought an outdoor fire place to have a fire pit at my tiny house.  All of these have been great for handling this need to get up and do something.  I think this will subside when I get power setup because I can then get internet hooked up and set up my desk.  That will help a lot.

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