Tag Archives: Simple Living

Five Things You Should Quit Doing Today

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There hasn’t been much excitement around the Turtle lately. We’re in between trips, it’s rained nearly constantly this summer, and we’re both working hard to build our businesses. So I don’t have any great camper mishaps to share with you on this (hopefully not for you) rainy Friday.

As I sit here with my cup of coffee and watch water trickle down the windows in my tiny corner office though I do have some advice. You’re welcome to take it with a grain of salt or two Ibuprofen, it’s your choice. Here it goes…

Sometimes you have to quit before you can start.

There are things that we all do every day that can really get in the way of making life changes and doing big things.

There’s the obvious stuff, quit spending so much time on Facebook and go do something important instead. Quit eating so many miniature Kit Kat bars and go for a walk. Both of those were directed at me today by the way.

Then there’s the not so obvious stuff, stuff you may not even know you’re doing. You may have to really pay attention to realize what you need to quit.

If none of the things on this list apply to you then congratulations, you’re a robot.

Quit Doubting Yourself

You’re not too old, or too overweight, or too busy. Those are excuses your mind dreams up because you’re really too scared.

There’s a boy in our town with only one arm. I’m not sure if he lost the other one as a baby or was born without it, but now he’s around eleven years old and just as capable as any other little boy, and some grown men.

He’s also one of the best baseball players I’ve ever seen. He can catch a ball in his glove, throw it up in the air while simultaneously dropping his glove on the ground, catch the ball back in his bare hand, and throw someone out at second before some of the other kids even realize what’s happening. It’s pretty awesome to watch.

Kind of makes all our excuses invalid, doesn’t it?

Quit Procrastinating

I thought I would write about this later, but I guess I’ll get it out of the way. Badda bing.

Seriously though, 90% of the time when I put something off there’s a deeper reason for it. It’s not that I just don’t want to do it. Usually what it means is that there’s a step in the process I don’t fully understand or am afraid to do.

And nearly every time that I finally make myself sit down and tackle the issue it takes such a minimal amount of time that I can’t believe I put it off that long.  Especially when putting it off resulted in a late charge, missed deadline, or some other equally yucky thing. That just irks me.

Quit Trying To Make It Perfect

Most of the time done trumps perfect. I think the only exceptions are brain surgery and rocket science, and you should skip this if one of those applies to you. I’m flattered, but you probably have better things to do anyway.

Get it done, get it out there, and then work on making the next thing you do better than the last.

Quit Building Things In Central Park

In his book Start Jon Acuff talks about the concept of what Central Park does for New York City. It’s this huge patch of green land in the middle of a bustling city, kind of out of place really. Obviously they could find a thousand things to build in that space, there could be more offices and apartments and probably a great pizza joint. But they don’t. Because they need Central Park to keep the city working properly. Central Park is a break in the middle of the crazy. Not to be confused with Central Perk, which is what formed my opinion of Jennifer Aniston and all coffee shops.

Jon goes on to say that everyone needs their own Central Park. A space to rest, time to think and breathe. If you’re constantly rushing from one task to the next without spending a minute in your happy place you’ll quickly wear yourself down. Just like good design your mind requires white space to be effective.

Quit Forcing It

I’m talking to myself here. I worked hard yesterday… I stared at my design program tweaking pixels for nearly 10 hours with very few breaks. I wrote and did chores and caught up on lots of things.

And I’m feeling it today. I’ve had writers block all morning, I’m having trouble focusing and I just feeling scattered. And now I really just want to eat mini Kit Kats and watch Friends.

I know that pushing myself to do great things today won’t work. I’ll get frustrated and instead of getting in the ‘flow’ of work I’ll have trouble making my thoughts show up right on the screen.

So instead I’ll focus on small tasks. Things that have to be done – emptying my inbox, doing the dishes, website updates for a client, maybe just one tiny Kit Kat. These things don’t require a huge amount of thought on my part, but I can get them done and out of the way so tomorrow I can do big things again.

What have you quit in the name of simplifying or doing big things? Are you looking forward to relaxing this weekend or is that when you get things done? I’ll be catching up on Season 4 of Breaking Bad before the premiere Sunday night… if the rain will let the satellite stay on!

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Don’t You Miss Your House?

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The reactions we’ve gotten since we sold our house to move into the Turtle have been mixed. Split down the middle between those who think we are crazy or broke, and those who would love to do the same thing.

We’ve made other choices along the way that people apparently think indicate our current lack of sanity as well, like selling my paid for car.

No matter how they feel about it though there are certain things it seems everyone is curious about, because we get asked the same things regularly. Things like…

Don’t You Miss Your House?

The short answer is a simple no.

The longer answer is, yes we loved our house. We built it ourselves, it was a beautiful wood sided house on a lovely tree covered hillside. We had 5 acres of shaded land and a gravel circle driveway, a nice shop and a building for the band to practice music in. A screen porch with a hot tub and outdoor TV was the last addition we made a few years ago. Who wouldn’t have loved that?

But with a house comes a multitude of responsibilities and chores. Cleaning and resealing siding, weeding and replanting beds, new gravel for the driveway, decluttering the shop and yard, cleaning the gutters, mowing the yard, mopping the floors, keeping rooms decluttered and clean even when you aren’t using them, treating the water in the hot tub, paying for 3 satellite boxes that you don’t use all the time, planting and harvesting the garden, dusting and cleaning the things you’ve bought to fill the rooms you aren’t using… I could go on and on.

The result of all that is very little relaxation. You try to sit on your front porch and enjoy the afternoon, but instead you end up thinking of all the things that need to be done. You decide to hang around the house on a lazy Sunday to do a few things and before you realize it the entire day has been given to cleaning and taking care of things, and you haven’t even had the chance to enjoy them.

There were many days that I would have big plans for enjoying the day, but first ‘I’ll just clean the kitchen real quick’. That leads to mopping the floors because they really need it, and now Marty is mowing the yard so I should go clean out the beds so they look nice, and the next thing you know it’s 5pm and I’m tired.

It’s just a fact that with more stuff comes more responsibility. Our days are our own now. We still have to work of course, but the other stuff, the maintenance and cleaning, doesn’t take up the rest of our time anymore. We bought a small boat, and if we want to go to the lake for the morning we will. We’re planning short camping trips without thinking that we really should be doing something else. We can sit outside and relax without those nagging little voices.

So back to the simple answer. I loved our house, but not nearly as much as I love my peace of mind, my relaxed evenings, my possibilities for the future. And on top of that, I love my new house. It’s cozy and comfortable, with everything I need in it. I don’t regret the trade a little bit.

Isn’t It Hard Living In Such A Small Space Together?

This one probably varies from person to person. But for us it’s not much different than how we lived in the house.

We used around a quarter of our 1500 square feet before: the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and den. The other areas were used occasionally at best. We’ve had to change things up a bit, like coming up with new morning and night routines because we went from two sinks in the bathroom down to one, and learning how to cook in a smaller area. But after two and a half months things are flowing along pretty smoothly now.

You obviously have to both be on board with the move, but having a narrow doorway or smaller closet shouldn’t be grounds for not being able to live with someone, in my opinion anyway.

I have been surprised though how many people have the initial reaction of “Oh there’s no way we could live in that together, we’d kill each other!”. I’m seriously starting to wonder how many couples actually like each other.

Luckily we do like each other, because I wouldn’t advise living in 350 square feet with someone you don’t like. In fact I wouldn’t advise living anywhere with someone you don’t like, but that’s not a topic for this post.

What Do You Do If It Storms?

Obviously in light of Monday’s flooding the answer to this has changed a little. Before Monday my biggest worry was high wind or tornadoes, which aren’t that uncommon in Tennessee. Depending on where we’re parked though flooding is something that may come up from time to time. Most campgrounds are pretty flat, and a lot of them do have some kind of water near the sites.

What we do if it floods is the same as someone living in a stick house, we leave. The advantage we have in that situation is we can then move our house to higher ground so the same situation doesn’t happen again. In fact Saturday we’re moving, again, to the next row over (so we can face away from the evening sun), and that site has even less risk of flooding than the one we’re in right now. Had we had more notice we could have even moved before the flood ever happened, but what happened Monday was a flash flood. It came up too fast for us to do anything. If we had been parked beside a river that started to rise more slowly though we would have been able to get out of harms way.

As far as wind and tornadoes, of course it is a valid concern that a high wind or tornado could take us out, and we pay attention to the wind more now than we did in the house. If the weather warrants it we’ll leave and go to the main building, or even a friends house if we have enough time. This is no different than living in a mobile home, which so many people do. We know the limitations of the Turtle, how much wind we can take before needing to leave. We have good radar and weather alerts on our phones, we pay attention, and we take it seriously. That’s really all anyone can do.

Do You Miss Your Stuff?

This one’s a lot like the house question, and the answer is the same. Actually, I miss my stuff even less. I can’t even remember half of what we’ve sold or given away over the last few months. It’s amazing how much stuff you can accumulate when you have the space to do so.

We didn’t go full throttle minimalist either, we kept the things we thought were most important to us. To make the cut they had to either be well used or well loved, and the result is that I now know where every single thing I own is. I appreciate the things I kept more than I ever did, and I don’t feel any nagging guilt from knowing I have so many things that I never even look at, much less use.

It does come with a few complications, like if something breaks we’re less likely to have a suitable replacement stuck in a closet somewhere. On the upside though we can usually buy a little bit better something to replace it with if we need to.

Are You Just Going To Travel Full Time?

Not yet.

Lots of people do start traveling full time when they make the move, and while that sounds awesome the rest of our lifestyle isn’t conducive to that right now. There are kids to be near and yards to cut, so for the moment at least we won’t be leaving for an extended period of time.

This part of the conversation normally includes a confused look, where the person I’m talking to is trying to figure out why I would move into a tiny moveable house without the intention of traveling… why not just stay where I was at? I refer you to question one.

Truth is, we do plan to travel and have more fun, and are already doing so more than we ever did before. In the last 9 years we have been on less than half a dozen real trips, not counting the time we spent working on the road. If we weren’t spending the weekend working on someone else’s house we were working on our own. There just wasn’t time to go.

So far this year we’ve already reserved campsites for two trips this summer and are planning two more. We’re going tent camping over the July 4th weekend and visiting a national park in August to check out a giant yard sale they have in the area. We get to go to the lake with the boat now, or take a day trip around the state to see something new. We plan on taking two or three short trips a month, because with the tent or the camper it costs us virtually nothing to stay several nights in a new place. If we even want to stay a month in a different place we can and will.

Travel doesn’t have to be a full time thing, you don’t have to leave for months at a time and move around the country. You can take lots of shorter trips, go hike or see waterfalls, explore neat little towns and find hole in the wall restaurants, find a festival that’s three hours a way and make a weekend out of it. I’m sure other parts of the country are the same way, but I feel lucky to be in an area with so many state parks, lakes, and things to see. The hardest part is deciding where to go.

We were planning a cross country trip that I had hinted at in some posts, but the circumstances around that didn’t work out. It was a bit of a ‘working’ trip to move someone out there, and now they’re staying here, so we weren’t upset. And now we can take the money we would have put into that and use it for our other adventures… and a boat, which we obviously already bought.

How Do You Get Your Mail?

Ours is quite a bit easier than someone traveling full time. We just pay for a post office box, which is a little over $20 a year. There are services available to people who aren’t in one place for an extended period of time, places that will receive your mail and then forward it to where you are, or scan it in and email it to you. We haven’t had to deal with that yet, so I can’t offer any advice there. If we have bigger packages coming or need a physical address we use the campground address for now.

What About Internet?

Ask me this one later, because this morning my internet situation isn’t the greatest.

Most campgrounds provide some sort of WiFi, but it’s not always very reliable and with multiple people using it at one time the speeds can be slow. Because I work online we use a Verizon Wireless MiFi to have broadband internet, and normally it suits my needs just fine. We do have data limits though, and this month we’ve gone over those once already and may use up the overage allowance as well. This is an abnormality, if it becomes a regular thing I’ll up our plan and avoid the usage fees. Because of the limits and slower speed we can’t stream TV, which is disappointing, but not a deal breaker… we do have satellite after all.

It’s not the ideal situation, but it’s the only one I know of that will work where we are. I’ve seen other options similar to Verizon but without data limits, but they don’t offer coverage here. For now this works fine for me most of the time, but if I find a more reliable high speed option I’ll be all over it.

I can already think of several other questions we get on a regular basis, but this post has gotten lengthy already so I’ll save those for a part deux.

If you full time or live ‘differently’ are there questions you get asked a lot? Do you get mixed reactions or are you just known as the guy that lives in a van down by the river? Don’t you miss Chris Farley? I do…

Why Sometimes You Should Ignore Yourself

I really didn’t want to walk this morning.

I missed yesterday, so I knew I needed to, but I just wasn’t in the mood.

I was tired, it’s cloudy and still muddy from yesterday’s rain, and I just wanted to hang out at my desk with a cup of coffee. I wanted to ignore the voice in my head saying I feel better when I walk and instead listen to the other one which was loudly listing everything I have to do today and asking me to pass the creamer.

So I compromised, I put my shoes on to make a loop around the campground. If I didn’t feel like going any further at least I would have done something. Just as I suspected though, about halfway around the loop my negative voice wandered off and left me alone to keep going.

I very nearly didn’t go though. And if I hadn’t compromised and just gone, even though I didn’t feel like it, I wouldn’t have run up on this awesome little girl on the side of the road.

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Say hello to my little friend.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, or if you’re just so smart you’ve picked up on it, but I really love turtles. I think they’re beautiful, fascinating prehistoric creatures. I once had the privilege of watching sea turtles hatch on a Gulf Coast beach under a full moon and it was one of the highlights of that trip for me. I’ve been known on more than one occasion to shut down traffic to shoo a snapper out of the road or move a box turtle. wpid-IMG_20130606_080806_479.jpg

So running up on this one, which I believe was laying eggs in that hole she dug out, made my day. It really is the little things ya know.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I watched her for a good five minutes, taking pictures and sitting really still while she moved around and eyeballed me.

The point is that If I had listened to myself and gotten right to work this morning I would have missed out on seeing something that you don’t get to see every day, unless you live on a turtle farm (do those exist?).

I also cleared my mind, checked out some wild roses blooming, and sorted out the things I have to do today. Even though it seems counterproductive I always get more real work done when I slow down and take a little time. Not busy work, but real work… designing, writing, creating.

Whatever helps you unwind, I suggest you take a few minutes for it today and see the results for yourself. Instead of rushing from one task to the next stop and take some time to do something that makes you feel good. Whether it’s walking, reading, yoga, drinking coffee quietly outside, or zombie paintball, just carve out a little time and do it.

Notice the little things and enjoy them while you let your mind wander. You might not get as excited over a turtle as I do but I’m willing to bet the results will still be worth it.

Camper Cookin’ Vol. 1 – Depression Cake

I’ve been thinking lately about how my cooking habits have changed since we moved into the Turtle. I don’t have as much counter space or cooking area, and when the weather is nice we cook quite a bit on the grill instead of inside. We still eat most of the same things, but how we prepare some of them has changed.

So I’ve started collecting recipes for one dish meals, foil pack recipes for grilling, and low prep dishes. I thought it might be helpful to share some of these as we try them so you can enjoy too! This will probably be an occasional series, as we try something new I’ll post the recipe and my review of it.

This one I can’t take credit for, I found it floating around on the internets, but it is so absolutely perfect for whipping up in a tiny space that I had to share it. It’s a recipe that reportedly became popular during the depression due to the necessary rationing of milk, eggs, and butter. I don’t know how true to the period it is because I’ve seen other recipes that called for boiling down raisins and other fruit instead of adding sugar, but this one is so easy that I’ll definitely be making it again.

This cake is made in one dish, with ingredients you probably already have, and turned out better than any box cake mix I’ve had. I was really surprised at how easy it is to make and how moist it turned out. I’ve tried made from scratch cakes in the past, and usually they are more trouble than they’re worth, so I always go back to the box. This one took me about 8 minutes to put together including taking the pictures. Unless you include the 20 minutes I spent refilling our propane tank, because we only run out when I’m trying to cook something and Marty isn’t here.

By the way, I hope you’ll excuse the poor photography… I took these with my phone and was in a hurry to get done and put together some sausage and veggie foil packs for dinner. I’ll share those next time!

Depression Cake

1 1/2 c. All Purpose Flour
1 c. Sugar
3 tbsp Cocoa
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt

1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp White Vinegar
5 tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 c. Water

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Mix the dry ingredients together in an ungreased 8×8 baking pan. Keep mixing until it turns a nice chocolate brown color.

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Dig out 3 dents in your dry mix, two small and one larger.

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Pour the vanilla and vinegar into each of the smaller dents and the oil into the larger one. Enjoy the creepy cake face that occurs at this point.

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Pour your cup of water over the whole shebang. Say buh-bye to your creepy cake face. If you’re really feeling funny make screaming noises as he disappears.

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Mix it all together, smushing any little pockets of dry stuff until it’s all nice and moist.

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Taste the batter, because it’s quite delicious.

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes and test with a toothpick, if it comes out clean you’re done. Mine came out perfect and didn’t need any extra time, but ovens vary.

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Ice, top with powdered sugar, or just eat plain like we did.

Enjoy!

The End Of An Era…

I guess the guy working the back door at Goodwill was understandably a little overwhelmed when we let down the trailer door.

After all, he seemed to be working alone, on a quiet Sunday afternoon, and who has a yard sale on Sunday anyway?

People that don’t want to load all their stuff up again, that’s who. People having their second multi-family yard/moving sale in one month.

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Dozens of empty totes

We didn’t have as much stuff this time, but it was still enough to fill seven folding tables, one 10 foot clothes rack, a piece of plywood balanced on sawhorses, two tarps on the ground, and multiple totes just opened up for your digging pleasure.

We started Thursday evening setting everything up, and ended up with a pretty good looking yard mall comprised of five pop up canopies and an improvised clothes rack. Friday morning we opened for business, and it was just a big blur of eating and selling until Sunday afternoon. We hadn’t planned on continuing into Sunday, but honestly we never do. Once you’ve unloaded everything and arranged it in the yard it’s hard to not succumb to the ease of just leaving it out one more day, hoping for a few stragglers to stop by and give you a little more money for things you don’t want anymore.

Saturday afternoon in a valiant attempt to load back up as little as possible we decided Sunday would be dirt cheap day, with everything being priced at $1 or less aside from one small tarp of things we knew could be sold online for more.

Signs were made, Facebook posts were issued, and the plan went into action. We did okay on the $1 sale… I think if we had tried it on Saturday it would have been a bigger success. You just don’t get a ton of traffic at Sunday yard sales in the south, and you do get the occasional dirty look. But I don’t think we were quite there yet Saturday.

By about 2 o’clock Sunday we were all completely worn out, so when a heavy shower popped up suddenly we decided to call it a day. We had already gone through and pulled out anything that would be worth selling online, so after one more quick walk through (I did rescue two shirts I might want for my fall 33) we boxed and bagged up the rest to donate.

That’s when I started having mixed feelings. At first I thought it was about letting go of everything, because now it would all really be gone instead of sitting in boxes in the trailer. But looking around I realized it wasn’t about the stuff, I had gotten rid of it all for a reason.

It took me a little while to realize where the mixture of relief and unsettled was coming from. But once I knew that it wasn’t regret for letting go of so much I was okay to just keep packing boxes and trying to figure it out.

Part of what I came up with might sound a bit greedy, but I doubt I’m the only one who feels this way. It was a little hard to let go of the potential money we could have gotten if we kept everything for ‘just one more yard sale’ instead of giving it away.

That’s what we’ve done in the past, we’ll get through on the last day and decide that we have enough good stuff left we should just let it sit and have another sale later, in a few weeks or months. The problem with that is at a certain point your return on investment starts to shrink. With lots of $10 and $20 items there was a good return for waiting and doing it again. But when you’re down to things that might have sat dormant through all the previous sales, and you’re selling them for $1 or less, you’re spending more energy loading, unloading, packing, arranging, cleaning and storing stuff than it’s worth. It becomes as much of an energy drain as taking care of all that stuff was to begin with.

Secondly, it also feels a bit like the end of an era. The end of our big yard sales, no more hanging out and socializing all weekend with friends while we sell, no more sitting under a shade tree while people hand us money. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a ton of work and I always end the weekend exhausted, but there’s something really fun about it too. Without all the excess stuff we’ll have to find other reasons to hang out… I think a celebratory cookout might be in the near future.

But most of all it brings to an end the last five months of selling off our excess stuff. We really started in January focusing on getting rid of it all, we’ve sold tons on Craigslist and Facebook, negotiated furniture into the sale of the house, and had yard sales to sell the small stuff. It’s been a huge focus of the first part of this year, and it’s nearly over. It’s almost a bittersweet feeling.

We still have a few things left from the house to sell… our mattress is too big to fit in the Turtle so it has to go, and a leather loveseat is waiting to be re-listed on Craigslist, plus one small tote of items I pulled out of the yard sale.

But for the most part, it’s all gone. We’re down to what we really need or want, and there are no more areas where things sit unnoticed waiting to be decluttered. If it’s in the Turtle or in a tote in storage I know what it is and why it’s there.

I have my 33 clothing items here in the closet and one large tote in storage waiting for the next swap, that’s it for clothes and shoes. All the dishes and cooking stuff we own fits in our kitchen, and the same goes for the bathroom, den, and outside stuff. In storage I have long term files and business paperwork (2 small totes), one Christmas tote and one tote of fall decorations, my wrapping paper, a few odds and ends like a small desk I refinished by hand and a large antique basket that I don’t have room for but don’t want to let go of, and two totes of heirlooms and truly loved things. And oddly, that feels like a lot. Even though it’s probably less than an eighth of what we had at the house.

We looked around yesterday and realized we can now fit everything we own that isn’t in the Turtle into our 6×12 closed in trailer, maybe with room to spare.

It’s a bit of a weird feeling, as this is the first time in my adult life that I’ve had so little, but at the same time it’s exciting. It’s like starting with a clean slate. I don’t have to worry that I’ve lost or forgotten something, I have everything I need and most of it is in use at all times, and if I desperately need something in the future I just imagine I can find a store that sells it. It’s sort of like another small weight has been lifted now.

So that’s how we ended up pulling up to Goodwill on a Sunday afternoon with a trailer full of boxes and bags. We filled three of their rolling carts and piled the rest inside the door. It wasn’t all ours, I’d say it was more like 50/50. But it was still enough to make you a little sick thinking about all the money spent on stuff.

What about you? If you’ve gone through this process or are going through it now have you had similar feelings? Do you miss anything you’ve sold?

Project 333 – 2 Months In

So, I seem to be doing Project 331… or maybe 313, I’m not sure.

Tomorrow brings the end of my second month living with less clothes. And evidently I’m both better and worse at it than I thought.

I was prepared to confess how big of a cheater I have been, and I still am a bit, but after writing this post and re-writing my list to share with you I realized that during the excessive swapping this month I’ve actually shorted myself by two items. Challenge accepted.

Regardless of the amount I have though, I’ve still swapped more than the three items that were laid out in the original challenge, and I’ve cheated twice as well. So here we go… allow me to rationalize myself to you in order to excuse my terrible cheating.

It’s been one month since my last confession.

First off, there was one pair of jeans that I had originally kept for the sake of variety because I was going into an office every day. With no office in the foreseeable future I decided to nix those, and since the weather has warmed up substantially I decided to swap out my heavier North Face jacket and another jacket for two more t-shirts. Swap Numero Uno.

I’ve also found that my wardrobe changed a bit when we moved to the campground, as you might expect. I started this with one pair of denim shorts, a pair of overall shorts, and a pair of capris. That was my normal summer wardrobe, and last summer it was fine because I was inside working quite a bit, plus we lived on a shady hillside. Here, however, I’m outside a lot more. And while our actual campsite is shaded the rest of the park stays pretty sunny. I walk in the mornings and at night, carry my laundry over to the main building, take my work outside for much of the day, and most evenings we sit outside relaxing until nearly time for bed.

Over the past two months I’ve also discovered the wonder that is silky feeling running shorts. These things are awesome! I started out with just one pair that I walk in (remember workout clothes don’t count), but they’re so extremely comfortable that I wanted a black pair to wear with t-shirts, which led to also finding a pair in grey cotton. So I’ve added two pairs of shorts, and to do so I got rid of more shirts. Swap Numero Dos.

Let me preface the next part of this story by saying that I should know when we leave the house to take a change of clothes, a passport, and an overnight bag. Just sayin’.

Really though, we’re pretty spontaneous, and a short trip to the store sometimes turns into a 14 hour journey. As did our trip to Wal Mart on Saturday. We had already been out all day at yard sales and a little local festival (found a $2 duffel bag for the upcoming trip… woot!). So we came home, spent approximately an hour on an impromptu clean-out-the-basement-and-wipe-bird-crap-off-the-car session, and headed out again about 4 o’clock to pick up a few things from the Mart.

Long story short, Marty ended up playing music with some of his friends at an annual Memorial Day party until nearly 2am. In the gap between watching bands play in the park in Lewisburg and going to the party the temperature changed big time, and I had left in shorts and a tank top! So to avoid freezing to death or having to go the whole opposite direction for a pair of pants and my cardigan the decision was made to steal clothes from the stash of Non-333’s I have in a tote in storage for now. The aforementioned dark jeans and jacket made a much appreciated brief appearance, but I’m happy to say as soon as we got home I stacked them in a dining room chair to head back to storage. Cheat Numero Uno.

Last but not least, yesterday I put on the blue and coral running shorts that I usually only walk in, went for my walk, and got so busy I forgot didn’t want to change back out of them. They’re just so comfy… Cheat Numero Dos.

So, 600 words later, I’m a terrible cheater! However, I feel a little justified in the fact that my entire lifestyle changed twice in the last two months. Once when we moved to the campground (we had only been here a week when I started this challenge), and again when I left the office. I feel like future quarters will be a little easier now that I’m settled in.

I do have one problem though, and maybe you guys can help me out. Our weather here is pretty unpredictable, last year it warmed up at the beginning of March and didn’t cool down again until November, this year has been rather cool some days in May still. In April when I started this we were still having 30 degree mornings and mild days, while this month we’ve had a mix of 90 degree days and 60 degree days, some cold nights and some warm. Next month I imagine will be pretty hot.

I needed my North Face jacket when this started, but after about a month it was taking up valuable real estate that I needed for warmer weather attire. It’s probable that I won’t have to swap as much the next time around, so I could keep it as one of my three swap items, but you just never know around here.

So, if you’re doing The Project too, how do you handle the weather changes in spring and fall? Do you live somewhere that summer starts in any random month between March and June?

In case you’re really bored or just curious, I’ve added my updated list below for your perusal.

My Current 33 31

  1. Aviators

  2. Brown leather purse

  3. Reeboks

  4. Brown t-strap sandals

  5. Reef flip flops

  6. Rubber boots – White Nike tee

  7. Favorite Silver jeans

  8. Dark jeans – Black running shorts

  9. Holy capris

  10. Denim Shorts

  11. Denim overalls

  12. Coral sundress

  13. Pink dress

  14. Blue strapless sundress

  15. Dark blue tank

  16. Grey knit tank – Brown and Coral North Face tee

  17. Green racer back tank

  18. Grey racer back tank

  19. White tube top

  20. Green v-neck shirt

  21. Light blue t shirt

  22. Orange baggy T-shirt

  23. White t-shirt with cool back

  24. T-shirt with leaves

  25. Mesh t-shirt

  26. Titans t-shirt

  27. White T-shirt with blue flowers

  28. Brown 1/2 sleeve shirt – Gray running shorts

  29. Brown cardigan

  30. Grey merona pullover

  31. North Face jacket (Will swap out later)

  32. Hangout t shirt

  33. Under Armour visor

How To Get A Little Better Every Day

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Sometimes it takes just the smallest shift in perspective to change how you go about your day and help jump start real change.

Everyone has something they would love to make happen, but most never take the steps to get there. They sit there day after day, unhappy with the situation but unsure if they could ever change it, so they do nothing. Maybe it’s because of fear, or not knowing where to start, or maybe it just feels like real change is too hard. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re working towards a goal, no matter what it is.

Maybe you want to be debt free or a size 4 and you feel like it’ll take you forever to get there. Maybe you want to declutter your house, simplify your life, or build a business but you don’t know how to even begin. All you can see is the huge gap between where you are now and where you want to be, you don’t see the thousands of steps that will help get you there.

You start to think one decision won’t matter in the long run because the task you’re looking at is so big. Today doesn’t feel very powerful when it could take years to get where you’re going. That’s when you start making bad choices, because if today doesn’t matter then the choices you make today are miniscule compared to the huge goal in front of you.

But what if instead today is all that matters?

Unless you’re in the waiting room about to have liposuction or have just won the lottery you’re probably not going to drop 3 sizes or be debt free by the end of today, but you can be in a little better shape than you were when you woke up.

You can choose to go for a walk, no matter how short, or to not spend $4 on a coffee, or to take one small bag of unused stuff off to donate. You can choose to do things that cause you to make just a little forward progress. Even if it doesn’t feel like it will make a difference at the time, it will.

All those little choices add up, and winning is almost always the result of being born Charlie Sheen making small intentional choices every day. You don’t have to make the right choice every single time, that could cripple anyone with indecision. All you have to do is make sure that the net of your choices at the end of today has made you a little bit better in some way.

Your life is the sum total of your days, which are the sum total of your decisions, and those days are going to pass regardless of how you spend them. You can either sit idly by and wish things were different, or you can use the time you’ve been given to change for the better.

You could…

  • Get out and go for a walk around the block. It may be a short walk, but it’s a lot farther than you would have gotten if you’d stayed on the couch.
  • Eat a little something before you leave the house if you’ll be gone for several hours, that way you won’t spend money eating out.
  • Put a $5 bill in a jar. Next time you have a $5 bill, put it in the jar too. Only put fives in the jar and see how fast it adds up.
  • Take everything out of one drawer, separate it and decide what goes back in the drawer. Get rid of the rest.
  • Read an article on something related to your dream. Google is a wonderful thing.
  • Want to start a business? Decide to do one thing every day to get started – read articles, find your domain name, set up a price structure.
  • When you run up on something in your closet that you don’t love or don’t wear much, take 3 seconds to take it off the hanger and put it in a donate/sell box.
  • Start planning a trip if your goal is to travel, even if you don’t have the resources to go yet. Doing the research will make it more real in your mind and give you a good idea of what you’ll need.
  • If you want to be a writer, start writing. Sit down for 20 minutes and just write the first thing that comes to mind.
  • Clean up. If you’re anything like me you’ll be more motivated and feel better at the end of the day if your space is clean.
  • Say no thanks to a commitment you don’t want to take on. Just one for now.
  • Say yes to something that scares you. Push yourself to go outside your comfort zone and see what happens.
  • Set up a budget so you know how much money you really have.
  • Take a class. One class on something you want to learn how to do. Or even smaller, just research and find that one class so you know what’s out there.
  • Do something totally unique to your dream or goal.

Incidentally, the majority of this post was written in my head while taking a short walk this cool quiet morning. More often than not I think you’ll find that one good choice leads to other things falling into place. I always feel more productive when I walk in the morning, I have more energy to make better choices, and I nearly always clear my mind enough to be much more creative the rest of the day. It’s worth far more than the few minutes out of my day that it takes.

All you really need to focus on right now, at this moment, is making one decision that will ensure that tonight you are just a little better than you were this morning. Not perfect, just a little better. Don’t worry about getting it all right, one day your choices will have become habits and you’ll be able to look back and see how far you’ve come.

You don’t have to sell your house, run a marathon or win the lottery to get started, you just have to start. One day, one hour, one choice at a time.