The Trip that Changed Everything

Beach On Our Cali TripIt was the spring of 2013.

Driving south from Eugene, Oregon,  Sheryl and I wanted to stay with family the first evening in Santa Clara, California, and then begin what we hoped would be a little adventure trip.  The plan was to drive down the California coastline along Highway 1.  We would take our time, visit lots of new sites, and go as far south as Santa Barbara.

This was an area of California neither one of us had taken the time to see. It was full of scenic coastal towns and beautiful beaches. It was to be a week devoted to  spending  time together experiencing places yet undiscovered.

Generally, we knew the towns we wanted to visit, as well as the types of sites we wanted to see, like the old Spanish Missions.  We intentionally kept planning to a minimum, however, so as to be open to new adventures.

After starting out from Santa Clara, we drove west across the coastal range to Santa Cruz. We enjoyed a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk, taking in the sun and sites.  We devoured lunch in Capitola a few miles south, and then meandered along Highway 1 toward Carmel by the Sea.

We soon stumbled upon an out-of-the-way RV park a few miles south of Monterey.  Saddle Mountain RV park is tucked into the side of the green, forested hills of Carmel Valley.  It is perched halfway up the side of the hill in the trees, and affords MDX at SADDLE MOUNTAIN campgroundspectacular views of the valley.

It proved to be the perfect little hideaway to relax and regroup before the next day’s adventures.   We decided to make the park our home base for a few days. We then explored the area, riding bikes in Seaside, hiking coastal trails south of Carmel, and driving up and down the coast to visit new sites each day.

At this point I need to rewind the story just a bit.  After leaving Eugene, Sheryl and I had begun listening to podcasts on the drive down.  We were soon in the midst of discussions about de-cluttering one’s life and living more intentionally. We listened to life-changing podcasts like “Simple Life Together” with Dan and Vanessa Hayes, and “This is Your Life” with Michael Hyatt.  We would both listen and discuss, listen some more and discuss some more.  Before long we realized we needed to make some big changes in our lives.

It’s funny how time, circumstances, and attitude, can come together and coalesce into something unexpected.  Much of the time we spent driving around that week was done while listening to the friendly,  encouraging voices of people  talking about editing out the meaningless, excess stuff in life, so that time and resources could be spent focusing on the things that really mattered, like faith, family, friends, and the experiences along the way like the journey Sheryl and I were on.

After arriving back in Eugene, we did not immediately decide to sell our large house  and embrace simplicity. However, the seed had been planted. The rest is our unfolding story.

My fondest memory of the trip?  Deciding to get out of our comfort zone. It was liberating to re-experience simple pleasures. We laughed at ourselves trying to camp in the back of our car.  We had to muffle our giggles as we would  struggle to get in and out of the side door from a prone position in order to plug the extension cord back into the outlet. Even battling the lumpy misshapen mattress was an exercise in creativity and overcoming.  Each trip to the bathroom in the dark was like being a junior explorer. We loved it!

We rediscovered that our fondest memories turn out to be life’s  simple times. You remember them with a smile, because the experience was shared with the person you love, engaged in a mutual adventure.

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Can you think of a time in your life when you suddenly saw things differently, because of a realization, or a change in circumstances, or because the time was simply right to move in a different direction?

We would love to hear about your  experience in our comments section.

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Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Defining a Simple Lifestyle in 10 Words or Less

Simple Life RebootWhat is a simple lifestyle?

Time and again I have seen how a thoughtful, concise explanation of values and objectives permits even very different people to understand and relate to one another.

As an attorney, I make my living with words. You can imagine my consternation on the occasions when I have been unable to come up with a meaningful definition  of the journey to a simpler lifestyle.

I resolved to find a definition.

One of the primary challenges in defining the journey is that it is different for each of us.  Fellow travelers include pastors,  young families,  solo world travelers, students, tiny home dwellers, entrepreneurs and retirees.  Fellow travelers’ world views are varied and include a broad spectrum of  faith traditions and theoretical concepts such as intentional living, life design, life editing, simplicity, minimalism, and margin.

Nonetheless, in spite of the spectrum, there are unifying concepts.  Therefore, I continued my quest for a functional definition in the manner of most attorneys,  by reviewing quotes from authorities:

Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist described the journey this way:  “… the intentional promotion of the things we value most and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.”

The “Mins“, as they are affectionately known, Joshua Field Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus of  The Minimalists defined it this way: “… a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth and contribution.”

Richard Swenson, M.D. explained that creating margin was the objective of the journey and stated, “Margin is the space between our load and our limits and is related to our reserves and resilience. It is a buffer, a leeway, a gap; the place we go to heal, to relate, to reflect, to recharge our batteries, to focus on the things which matter most.

Antoine de Saint Exupery defined the objective this way: “Perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.”

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Now,  a wise author would end this post with St. Exupery’s quote – but I promised a definition in 10 words or less, so I must continue.

In our quest to develop a working definition, it has become clear that the travelers are  a  “work in progress”.  The journey is not to attain a status or condition, or to arrive at a destination.  Rather, fellow travelers are intentionally pursuing a life lived in greater conformance with faith and priorities.

And while it does not remotely capture the complexity and beauty of the intentional-simple-minimal-margin lifestyle,  our working definition of our Simple Life Reboot journey is:

Making Room for That Which Matters Most

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 If you enjoyed this post and would like a more comprehensive description,  please see our “3 Key Principles of Simple Life Reboot“.   Also, please let us know how you would define the journey in the comments section below.

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Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

The Challenge to Change

Hawaii II    2009 080“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new.  But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful.  There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.”  – Alan Cohen

When was the last time you avoided making a change in your life?

This might be a harder question to answer than you think, as we tend to retain memories or regrets of the directions we did take, rather than ponder the ones we did not.

We all have ingenious ways of talking ourselves out of change, sometimes without even knowing we are doing it.  Sometimes this resistance to change can be a safety mechanism, but far too often it can cause us to stall, resulting in opportunities missed, and possibilities unrealized.

In the Spring of 2013, when Sheryl and I decided to simplify, downsize, and create more margin in our lives, we made the decision to change because we imagined a better way to live.  Looking back, it seems we came to the decision quickly, deliberately.  But as I think deeper on it, the need to change had been present for several years, stubbornly ignored and rejected by both of us for a variety of reasons.  The speed and deliberateness of our actions was due more to a tipping point having been reached, as we finally recognized how circumstances around us had changed.

Dr. Edward Miller, dean of the medical school and CEO of the hospital at Johns Hopkins University, reports that even when heart patients are told by their doctors they will die if they do not change their habits, only 1 in 10 patients actually change their lifestyle.  It seems that for a vast majority of us, even when we are given information we can believe, from credible sources, we resist change.

John Kotter, Harvard Business School professor, upon studying dozens of organizations in the midst of the economic upheavals over the past few years, makes the observation that “behavior change happens mostly by speaking to people’s feelings.”

According to Kotter, even with people who pride themselves on being disciplined,  rational analytical thinkers like engineers, scientists, doctors, and lawyers, the most successful change occurs when problems or solutions are seen in ways that impact emotions, not just reason.

MOTIVATION TO CHANGE

“Change before you have to.” – Jack Welch

Dr. Dean Ornish, professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, says that change depends on people seeing beyond the facts and beyond their fears.  According to Ornish, “…information is important but not always sufficient.  We also need to bring in the psychological, emotional, and spiritual dimensions that are so often ignored.”

If we have nothing better with which to replace the status quo, we eventually lose momentum and slide back into the comfortable habits of old.

Real change does not take root until we can tap into the emotional vision of a brighter future.  Envisioning the magnificent possibilities – that is what empowers us, the thing that sets in motion our reason to embrace change.

What is holding you back from envisioning a brighter future and making the changes that need to occur in your life that will allow you to focus on the things that matter?

“Things alter for the worse spontaneously, if they be not altered for the better designedly.” – Francis Bacon

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Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

 

 

Reclaim Your Inner Athlete

DSC_0005Sheryl and I have decided it’s time to dig out our running shoes and begin rebuilding what is left of the legs that carried us across the finish line at the Hood to Coast relay race with friends and family in August of 2012.

We are inspired by the fact that regardless of age, a high degree of fitness can be reclaimed with steady and determined effort.  The only thing holding us back is the willingness to commit. We know, however, that here in Eugene, Oregon, running capital of the world, birthplace of Nike, gravity is defied every day.

Here at Simple Life Reboot, we believe that our ability to care for others is related to our health.  Even if we make great strides in other areas of our life, our progress and impact on others is compromised if we neglect our health and fitness.

Now, I am not a professional athlete nor a credentialed expert, but rather a 50+ year old who has “been there – done that“.  What I offer are some suggestions to help those who want to kick off the dust and reclaim the athlete within. Maybe I can help get you to the “start line” sooner without the missteps I have made.

Rest, Exercise, and Diet:  each play a crucial role in our health.  In this post, I will focus on starting an exercise program. The following is a highly adaptable approach, setting forth the basics of a walk-to-run program which is both enjoyable and sustainable long term.

HOW TO START

SET A TIME

Walk every morning. We start early, start slow, and go short.

We have learned that walking early every morning sustains routine,  prevents schedule interference and starts our day off right.

WALK

Start by walking a short distance, a loop is preferable.

At this early stage you simply walk, not run.  Keep it short.  Distance and difficulty isn’t the goal at this point.  The goal is to establish the habit of doing it every morning without fail.  You are waking up the body by getting it used to more activity.  You are laying a foundation, strengthening ligaments, tendons, joints, and muscles, and preparing the body for the next level of training.

WALK-TO-RUN

As you progress, begin to add run sections.  For instance,  a section could be from one lamppost to another.  Starting out,  the ratio could be 5:1,  five sections walked for each section run.  As your fitness improves,  the ratio shifts from walking to running, for example 1:5.   As progress is made,  walking can be a brief scheduled rest interval .

MAKE IT FUN!

With a Partner – If you have the luxury, train with a partner.  This increases enjoyment and helps with motivation and accountability.

Talk / Listen While You Walk – You may want to use your training time to talk with your partner.  It can also be a great time to listen to your favorite podcasts, TED talks, audio books, music, etc.

With Your Dog – Our furry friends need exercise too.  If “Fido” is a possible candidate,  he may be one of the most appreciative training partners out there.

Try Running Apps – There are many useful mobile apps that can make your walk/runs fun and interesting.  Consider trying out one or more of the following:

Nike+  This app tracks duration, distance, and speed and has many other bells and whistles.  It is capable of creating challenge times, goals, and interactions with remote friends.

Zombies, Run!  This app invites you to participate in your own adventure by escaping a pack of hungry zombies!  This app can be unsettling early in the morning before sunrise, but is also quite fun.

MapMyRun  This app is all about tracking your route, as well as distance, calories, elevation, and even your nutrition for the day.

REGISTER FOR AN EVENT

Commit to maintaining the program for a set period of time.  A great way to stay motivated is to register for a 5k or other athletic event scheduled to occur at the end of that period of time.  After the event,  consider committing to another training period and event.

KEEP US UPDATED ON YOUR PROGRESS!

As we train, we will update you on our progress. We encourage you to share the steps you are taking to become more fit  in our COMMENTS section.

Happy Training!

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Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com