SLR 074: Why Roughing It Can Be So Much Fun!

Simple Life RebootLike many, I spend my fair share of time and effort trying to avoid physical discomfort. An example would be my strong preference for a comfortable bed.  So, why do I fondly remember sleeping on that bumpy mattress jammed in the back of our car on that California trip?    (Read:  The Trip That Changed Everything!)

Maybe because life is an adventure, from beginning to end.  Those moments in life that offer less than comfortable circumstances, can also prove to amplify the experience and transform us if we let them.

Our family often jokes about “embracing the horror”.  This is our way of encouraging one another to accept an unpleasant condition for a greater purpose.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes it’s a failure.  But – when it does work… it can be pure joy to experience.

The D.C. Downpour

In late summer 2008, we traveled to Washington, D.C., on a family vacation. The plan was to see as much of our nation’s capitol over three days,  then rent a car and head south to visit historic sites.

We took the subway from the airport to our rental.  Emerging from the subway, we walked 7 sketchy blocks to find the little house.  As we arrived, a huge thunderstorm broke.

We all scurried inside to escape the downpour. Within seconds, our second oldest son turned around and stepped back out into the rain.  We all stood watching, perplexed.

It didn’t take long before his younger brother ran out to join him.  After all, what’s a little rain on a warm summer day on the trip of a lifetime?  They wanted to experience it all, even the rain.


We all enjoy smooth sailing, but think about what might be gained if we were willing to embrace less comfortable circumstances.  Is a rough patch all that separates us from the life we seek to live?   (Read:  The Challenge to Change)

As we get older, many of us tend to avoid discomfort like the plague.  We perceive this as responsible, mature behavior.  But maybe there is something to be learned from those youngsters who were more concerned about the experience than the associated temporary discomfort.

Watching my sons cavort in that D.C. downpour spoke to me about my approach to life.  I decided to embrace the moment in all its fullness… so I did what any responsible father would do…. I joined them!Simple Life Reboot



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SLR 073: The Exquisite Beauty of Living Simply

Simple Life Reboot“It sure seems like you’re working pretty hard just to ‘simplify‘ your life”,  a somewhat skeptical friend observed.

He was, of course, right … though I did not want to admit it.

Fortunately, we both had other pressing commitments, otherwise I would have had to acknowledge that taking steps to simplify our life continues to be anything but a smooth or simple process.


In moments of doubt, it helps to reflect upon why a commitment to the essentials is worth the effort. The “why” can be summed up in one word,  “beauty”.  We are simplifying in order to live a beautiful life.



Leo Babauta sums it up this way:

“The point of simple living, for me, has got to be:

A soft place to land

A wide margin for error

Room to breathe

Lots of places to find baseline happiness in each and every day.”

Simple Life Reboot



It is slowing down and making the time to luxuriate in the smile of a loved one.   A shared moment.  A hearty, belly laugh.

It is contentment, gratitude and peace.

It is commitment to something greater than ourselves.



Simple Life Reboot



It is the clearing out of the useless things in our lives so as to focus on our priorities – our God, our loved ones, our potential.

It is personal weeding and pruning, so as to make room for the development and sharing of our unique gifts for the benefit of others.

It is the maximizing of our potential.   As stated by the poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

In character, in manner, in style, in all the things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.


….  and that is a very beautiful life indeed.


Originally posted on


SLR 072: The 5 Essentials of Being Nimble

Simple Life RebootNimbleness is the ability to pivot, to adapt to new circumstances and keep moving.  It is achieved, primarily, through the creation of margin in our lives.

In this fast-paced, unpredictable world, our ability to remain calm, constant, and in control is in direct proportion to the resources and options we can muster at any given time.

So, to be nimble, create margin in your life in the following 5 essential areas:

1)    Financial margin

Financial margin occurs when you can pay all of your monthly obligations and still have funds left over to put towards long-term goals, including the all-important emergency fund (a savings account built up as quickly as you can reasonably accomplish – the equivalent of 3 months of income – with the goal being at least 6 months set aside).

Having financial margin is a liberating thing!  But achieving it is not always easy.

Far too many of us have saddled ourselves with homes, possessions and other obligations which are greater than what we need or perhaps, can afford.   While they might seem like a desirable possession, they can become more of a burden than a blessing.

The good news! 

Financial margin is possible!  Getting out of the habit of overspending  is achievable!  It may take some time, but you can begin making progress TODAY.

For information on what options are available, we encourage you check out   We like Dave’s philosophy, his approach, and his practical advice.  We get nothing from you going to his site, except the satisfaction that we have steered you to a resource that changes lives.

Addressing the problem of financial margin is a MUST in order to become nimble.  For too many people, a big mortgage or student debt may be the main culprit, but other problem areas can exist,  like eating out too often, or buying items we don’t really need.  These things sap our finances, time and energy.  Many of us spend money on stuff that makes us feel better short-term. It is a temporary salve we apply to the worry, pain, and stress we feel.  It’s not a fun place to be, but we don’t have to accept it as a permanent condition.  Once we recognize the problem, and that there is a clear way out, it is only a matter of time – we WILL muster the willpower to extract ourselves from the overspending prison we’ve constructed for ourselves.

DO IT…for yourself, and for your family!
2.  Time Margin

Simply stated, time margin occurs by limiting obligations and by reducing activities that are not constructive or restorative.

For many of us, debt determines our workload.  Working longer hours may be taken on to pay down debt. Unfortunately, what often happens is that as we earn more, we spend more, defeating the original purpose of working the increased hours.

To achieve time margin, we must have the ability to easily pay our monthly obligations without overworking. 

Lower your monthly obligations until the above-mentioned condition becomes true. Then, you will have more resources for the things that matter most.

3)    Energy margin

Our bodies are biological engines.  Understanding the mechanics of these miraculous machines informs us as to why we might be low on energy, and what we must do to generate more.

If you are like most people, your energy reserves are constantly running down.  Building an energy reserve can be a challenge.  We can create an energy reserve by working on 5 key areas:  sleep, fuel, muscle strength/endurance, core endurance, and metabolism.

Sleep – Far too many people skimp on sleep in order to get in some “play” time.  We seek distraction from the day’s fatigue.  But increasingly, we sacrifice sleep to get our distraction fix.  We then end up even more fatigued and  unable to perform well, often needing to work longer hours to accomplish the same work.  The vicious cycle then repeats.  Staying up late also leads to a more sedentary lifestyle as we become more tired and sleep deprived.  We can also put on weight when we eat a second meal late at night before we finally go to bed, or snack during the day to “prop” us up when feeling short on energy.

Fuel – Many of us fail to eat nourishing food, whether due to fatigue, time pressures, or due to a short-term craving.  In addition, we routinely trade the time it takes to prepare healthy food for a diversionary activity, necessitating the consumption of something “easy”.  Sheryl and I have both struggled with these challenges.  But what we have found is that with a small amount of effort, and a modicum of planning, preparing and eating a good meal is possible.  Our taste buds and habits adapt quicker than one might think.  And when we stop dumping garbage into our engines, we begin to see and feel the results – a contented body happily purring along.  Take the time and effort to put high-quality fuel into your engine, and enjoy new-found energy!

Muscle Strength/Endurance/Core/Metabolism – Our bodies achieve the greatest health and balance doing physical work.  Without regular exercise, our muscles shrink in size, strength and endurance.

I often imagine my body responding like electrons do as they move between levels.  Electrons orbit the nucleus, and only exist in incremental energy states, or levels.  The higher the energy input to the atom, the more levels the electrons jump.  But the electrons can also act rather “resistant” in that they really don’t like to get excited.  After reaching the higher energy state, they soon drop back down to the lower level where they started, unless some additional energy influx occurs.

Muscles reach higher levels of potential in much the same way.  The more energy we put in, the stronger they become.  But muscles are not electrons, and can only strengthen so fast. The energy we apply to them, the load, the reps, the sets, must increase or intensify in small increments over time.  If our muscles never get worked, they remain in their lowest potential state, requiring little input of energy to operate.  But in this lower energy state, they never demonstrate their extraordinary potential.

To achieve energy margin, we must build up our body’s reserves by strengthening our muscle potential.  If we do this, our body is prepared to walk a long distance,  lift a heavy load, or engage in physical work or play, as circumstances arise.

4)    Learning margin

When under stress, whether it be financial, time related, or any number of circumstances we face on a daily basis, we tend to function in survival mode.  Under stress we become careful, reactive, and perhaps fearful.  To be open to learning new things, we must feel safe and secure.  Creating margin in our lives affords us the time, and the safety, that permits us to read, study, and absorb new  knowledge.  With margin, we thrive, and enjoy virtuous cycles of growth, satisfaction and higher capacity to learn.

5)    Emotional margin

When we lack margin in the 4 essential areas listed above,  we experience a loss of personal power.  We might even feel out of control, beset or even desperate.  This state can eventually lead to emotional debilitation and an inability to enjoy relationships and experiences.  We may also become isolated and emotionally numb.

When we create margin in these areas, however, particularly with finances, we can enjoy the moment and envision a better tomorrow. We experience new possibilities and have a greater capacity for generosity and thankfulness.  We feel in control, that we are making progress.  In this environment of having margin, we become nimble.

The Power of Nimble

When we foster the 5 essentials of being nimble, our relationships thrive, because we are safer and more secure.  We are no longer in survival mode, but rather in flourish mode.

Now, that’s true power…the ability to meet the challenges of life and make a positive difference in the lives of those we love.


Originally posted on



SLR 071: The Value of Nimble

Simple Life RebootThe oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.
–H.P. Lovecraft

Change is something people have always resisted. It’s something we fear and try to avoid, even knowing it is inevitable, part of life, itself.

Today, change is occurring at a pace never before seen in history, making it virtually impossible to predict the future. Whether it’s the work we do, the products we buy or produce, or the laws we rely upon, the life we lead increasingly resembles a Picasso painting rather than a paint-by-numbers.

It seems we have created a world of disruptive innovation, a term coined by Clayton M. Christensen, in his book, “The Innovator’s Dilemma”.

Disruptive Innovation:  A process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.

And while such an economy is dynamic and exciting, it seems no sector is safe, not lawyers, doctors, accountants, or taxi drivers. While change has always been part of our economy, creating new products, new companies being formed, the difference, now, is that the speed at which products, companies, and even whole sectors, are displaced, is outstripping our capacity to react and to cope.

So, what is the solution?

Our ability to adapt, to pivot quickly when circumstances dictate, has never been more needed than it is today.

Consider what mind scientist John Medina says about human history and our ability to adapt:

“How, then, did we go from such a wobbly, fragile minority population to a staggering tide of humanity 7 billion strong and growing? There is only one way. You give up on stability. You don’t try to beat back the changes. You begin not to care about consistency within a given habitat, because such consistency isn’t an option. You adapt to variation itself.”

Being Nimble

We believe that personal and financial nimbleness is a key factor in determining to what degree we retain control over our circumstances, and still maintain the level of safety and security we desire.

Nimbleness occurs when we have fewer physical, emotional, and financial obligations, weighing us down, when we are able to pivot and keep moving without losing momentum and power. When we have the time and inclination to learn, to think, and to grow.

As a practical matter, being nimble looks like this.

The 10 Qualities of Being Nimble

1)    Financial margin
2)    Time margin
3)    Energy margin
4)    Learning margin
5)    Career margin
6)    Family margin
7)    Living-Space margin
8)    Physical margin
9)    Emotional margin
10) Vocational margin

In our list, financial margin comes first, because without it, the other goals become more difficult to achieve. With financial margin, however, the other qualities become easier to reach.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by life, by debt, by the sheer speed at which the world is changing, you are not alone. We believe the steps we can take to become happier and more adaptable in this environment, includes understanding and adopting the 10 qualities of being nimble.


Originally posted on