Hi and Welcome To Simple Life Together!
Let’s face it…life can be pretty hectic. All the stresses of trying to balance careers, family life, and relationships can be pretty overwhelming. But how can you live a simple life when you’re surrounded by all the trappings of the 21st century society? Well, that’s exactly what we’re trying to do!
Running From The Law
So…a little bit about us and how our journey began. We’ve moved a lot. Seriously, A LOT! Vanessa has moved 27 times in her life and Dan has moved 19. That’s just how it is when you’re running from the law. OK, just kidding about the “running from the law” thing…Vanessa is from a military family and later spent a decade as a military officer, too. Dan was also in the military for 27 years and retired in 2010. So that explains all the moves. We got married in 2005 and, naturally, had to blend together all the “stuff” each of us collected through the years that we’ve been hauling all over the world. We both had fully established homes on our own and Dan had been married previously so we kind of had two of everything! As far as we can tell, that “blending of homes” was the catalyst for our journey of simplicity and scaling back (and strangely enough, also when we started getting Christmas cards from Goodwill!).
The Plan to End All Plans! Almost…
As people in relationships tend to do, we started really talking about the the future. Not the “what do you want to do for dinner” future…the long term future…like how/where do you want to live when we retire, what kind of house do you want, planning for the kids’ future, etc. We decided that we wanted to make the Texas Hill Country home and started looking for some land to build our “dream home” someday…2500 sq feet with enough space to keep all our “stuff” and live “large.” As fate would have it, we found just the spot! It was a hair under 4 acres and backed up to a 9200-acre state nature preserve! It was our “dream property” and we quickly bought it, waiting for “some day.” We weren’t in a rush to build, but when it comes to land, as Dan says, “They’re not makin’ any more of it!”
Well, time went by and we had two more moves. We lived in Florida for a couple of years and while we loved being so close to Dan’s family, we also looked forward to returning to Texas one day to begin the adventure to build our “dream home.” But Dan started having some second thoughts when we were in Florida. He didn’t share them all at once with Vanessa, but he was starting to reconsider what life would look like after he retired from the military. I guess everyone gets a little more contemplative when they’re facing a tremendous life change like retirement. While he loved his military career and was incredibly thankful that he had the privilege to serve for so long, he was looking forward to something different, too. He wanted time to take a more active role as a father and husband, and above all, to be “present” for a change.
The Meaning of Life. Well, More Like “What’s Next?”
It was also during this time that Dan began devouring podcasts and books that would change the path of his work life, too. Tim Ferriss’ first book The Four Hour Work Week was a huge influence; not because Dan longed to work less, but because it showed him what was possible and had some great tips/techniques for “hacking life.” It got his gears moving. Dan Miller’s 48 Days Podcast and his book “48 Days to the Work You Love” were more great sources of information and hope. Cliff Ravenscraft’s multiple podcasts, especially his Business Tech Weekly podcast with Andy Traub and Podcast Answerman podcast were downloaded to Dan’s iPod the second they were uploaded to iTunes! All of this new information began to swirl around in Dan’s head and guided his decisions for his post-retirement path.
Self sufficiency, entrepreneurship, new technology, and simplicity became Dan’s focus. As his ideas for the future changed, it was time to bring up the subject of “the future” again with Vanessa…who this whole time still thought of the 2500 square foot “dream home” as the future. Dan began to plant the seed of living a simpler life over the next few months and throughout the year. It was time to go through Michael Hyatt’s Life Plan worksheets (which we would recommend for everyone to at least read through). Together, we both came to the same conclusions.
We would live by our tenants of:
- Faith: What guides us and carries us along the way
- Family: We’ve been blessed with an incredible extended family
- Fitness: We have to take care of ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually in order to care for all the other things.
- Finances: Money doesn’t buy happiness but enables opportunities for us, our kids, and others. It should be respected, not worshipped.
- Freedom: We look to live a life on purpose and with meaning…free from the pressures of society and free from being slaves to our possessions. A life of simplicity will help protect our freedoms, but a life of simplicity doesn’t come easily…it’s all about preparation. And Dan always says the best place to meet is at “The intersection of Preparation and Opportunity”
We decided that our future would have the following attributes, God willing:
- We would continue to live within our means
- Work toward paying off all debt (including mortgages)
- No revolving debt, ever
- Live in a small home, ideally 1000 sq feet or smaller that is energy efficient, beautifully designed, lives large, and can be shuttered during travel without worries
- Travel when we want, taking the kids’ school schedules into consideration
- Determine how, where, why, and with whom we work
- Never, ever stop learning
- Live our “dream life” now, enjoying the present, respecting the past, and enthusiastic about the future
- Share our blessings with those we love
- Give back. This podcast is part of giving back. We hope it helps in some way.
- Have fun! We both find a way to have fun no matter where we are. We think the best fun is when it’s not at anyone’s expense…but it’s healthy to be able to laugh at yourself and with others. And I guess we do “rib” each other from time to time…but we have way too much respect for each other to let it go too far!
So, How’s It Going So Far?
Well, now Vanessa has a thriving practice as a Professional Organizer and gets to help people simplify and organize their lives at home and work. She’s been featured on Lifehacker.com, HermanMiller.com, and lots of other sites, as well. You can check out her website at GetSimplifized.com for a nearly endless supply of great tips and videos. Dan has enjoyed his retirement and now consults with (mostly small, but some medium sized) business owners. Just to be clear, the businesses are either small or medium, not the business owners…they’re all sizes. Dan focuses on businesses in niche industries and helps them infuse technology, media, branding, and customer engagement into their sales funnels. The best way to connect with Dan is through Google+ and Twitter.
C’mon…All The Cool Kids Are Doin’ It!
So, we hope you join us on our journey toward a simple life in the modern world. Listen to the podcast as we share how we try to simplify day to day tasks, organize our lives, edit our possessions and evaluate our priorities. Maybe you’ll discover for yourself what really matters most in your life. If nothing else, you’ll certainly have a laugh or two as we share our experiences, offer some simplifying tactics & strategies, and talk with others who are also on the road to a simple life together.
Oh, and we know…sometimes you’re laughing at us, not with us! It’s ok…we’re having a BLAST doing this together! Join us!