SLT029: Beginning Our Simple Journey, & Finally an “About Us” Video

Honestly, we had other plans for this week’s show, but we got a bit sidetracked. Here’s how:  We finally got around to doing our “About Us” video for the website! When we first started the show 6 months ago, we put in a placeholder that said something like “we’ll be doing a About Us video soon.”  Well,“soon” apparently is relative!

We had a “found” day this week as we were supposed to close on selling our land but the closing date fell through…now we’re scheduled for tomorrow.  So, we figured, let’s do our About Us video! And as we worked through what we wanted to talk about, the whole back story of how we got to this point came flowing out.


Our Combined Topic: Beginning Our Simple Journey

Now, we’ve talked about some of this in some of the really early episodes of the show, but we thought it was time to cover the whole back story. We thought maybe some of you would find it interesting to know how we got here and maybe some of you would see your story as a lot like ours, in some ways.

Besides, as much fun as we have with the show, we want it to be more than just “The Tech Guy and Organizer Show.” That stuff is great and has its place, but there’s more to living a simple life in the modern world than that. And there’s more to us, too. So we figured, let’s tell our story.

The “Lead Up”

So, this is how it goes:

  • We’re a retired military family

  • That included lots of moving, our schedules dictated to us by the mission, etc

  • That said, we wouldn’t change our lives in the military for anything!

  • We both have experience in the corporate world

  • We were living the typical American consumer-driven lifestyle.  You know….that typical “deferred retirement” lifestyle where you work until you’re 65+ then hopefully are still healthy enough to enjoy retirement. You work 5 days or more straight to pay for your 2 days off…dreading Mondays so much you get the Sundays night blues. Note: Learn more about “deferred retirement” and planning your lifestyle from Tim Ferris’s fantastic book The 4 Hour Work Week

  • Started our lifestyle businesses:  Vanessa is a Professional Organizer, Dan does business development for select clients.  Still, we were on that deferred retirement track. But in the meantime, we subconsciously had been downsizing and simplifying our lives based on life events…like getting married…having another child….going to a single income household by choice so I could stay home with the baby…moving twice…etc.

Beginnings of Change:

But even though we were making some positive changes…

  • We were still following the deferred retirement rules.

  • We had dreams for our big Dream Home

  • We even bought the perfect lot to build it on overlooking a state natural area! It was going to be big and beautiful!

  • And it was going to have all the latest stuff…we were going to do our part to help boost the down economy!

  • But in the backs of our minds the wheels were already turning.

It’s Out There!

And it all changed one day on a trip to Portland last year for a conference.

  • As we were on final approach into PDX flying right over the river by the airport, I leaned over to Vanessa and said….”I’m not sure what we’ll take back from the conference this year, but I know this… I really, really want to simplify our lives.”

  • And there it was….verbalized…out in the open….and we were both on board!

  • From that point on we really started to question and evaluate our life together and what it could look like.

  • And that’s why we shot our About Us video in Bandera, TX along the Medina River.

  • We love to go there and just float in the river, with the cypress trees providing us a little shade and a cold drink to quench our thirst on a hot Texas day.

  • One day as we floated in the river we decided we wanted more days like this…where we could just drop what we were doing, grab some tubes and enjoy.

  • It’s hard to do that while running the Rat Race…so we opted for something different.

  • We planned our work around our lifestyle, not our lifestyle around our work.

Really Getting Started:

As we began to reshape our Life Plan with a focus on simplicity in our lives, we wanted to find a community of people to learn from and share with. But honestly, we felt sort of “caught in the middle.”

  • On one side we have the vast majority of the Western World which is caught up in all out consumerism

  • On the other side there’s minimalism which we feel some attraction to but just aren’t there yet.

  • We fall somewhere in between. We do like “stuff”…but good quality stuff, and not in excess.

  • We like…simple!

The Start of “Simple Life Together”

So that’s why we started the show and the website….

  • To share our journey with others interested in simplicity

  • What goes right, what goes wrong

  • Share tips, help each other out along the way, motivation, inspiration

  • We can challenge each other with things like Edit and Forget It

Expect Some Bumps in the Road:

So, if you’re getting ready to simplify, know this:

  • Others won’t get it:  Check out the “Crabs in a Bucket” story in

    • Example: Bank insisted on planning for long-term retirement, not understanding that we ARE retired

    • They wanted us to save long-term for our “dream home”

    • Our reality is paying cash for our “dream home” in 5 years!

  • Don’t be surprised if people tell you “You’re missing out on the best money making years of your lives.”

    • Who says?

    • We work with great clients who we choose to work with because we believe in them and their cause, they pay us fairly and it’s on win/win terms.

    • We decide our schedule and my commute from home to our World Shedquarters is 19 steps.

    • We’re there to take the kids to school, pick them up, go to their important life events…and just be present.

    • And we can do family fun time when we want.

    • Feels like to us we’re getting to enjoy the best years of our lives now! And we have enough money to get by, thanks!

  • I’m sure some of you have heard this before. It’s an old parable from an unknown author about business and living what some might call a version of the American Dream. For those who’ve heard it before, bear with me. For those who haven’t, here goes:

The American Dream

An American businessman was standing at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American  complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.

“How long did it take you to catch them?” The American asked.

“Only a little while.” The Mexican replied.

“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” The American then asked.

“I caught enough to support my family’s needs, señor.” the fisherman said.

“But,” the businessman then asked, “What do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine or cerveza and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senor.”

The American scoffed, “I have a Harvard MBA and you sure could use my help. Here’s what you should do. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds you buy a bigger boat and hire a crew.  With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a whole fleet of fishing boats.”

“Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own can factory. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “If you work hard enough, you could do it in 15-20 years.”

“But what then, senor?”

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO (Initial Public Offering) and sell your company stock to the public! You’ll become very, very rich, you would make millions.”

“Millions, senor? Then what?”

The American said slowly, “Then you would retire and enjoy life. Maybe move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and cerveza and play your guitar with your amigos…”

Now, we’re an All-American family…but that’s not what we’d call our dream.

But that story does kinda sum up why we’ve chosen to live the way we do.

And so, with “simplifying our lives” as a lens, over the past year, here are some of the results so far:


  • Really focused on the 5 Pillars we’ve talked about in earlier episodes: Faith, Family, Fitness, Finances, and Future

  • Made things more within reach. In the deferred retirement plan we:

    • Planned for a someday retirement in our (then) big dream home

    • Actually bought land for our dream home at $35K per acre

  • Now under our current lifestyle we:

    • Have definite and defined goals and timelines within 5 years

    • Sold our land (actually closed tomorrow) and using some of the cash for short term business goals, some for medium-term personal goals

  • Have gotten used to the fact that essentially we’re “working retired”…doing what we want to do.

  • We’ve designed our work around our lifestyle and not out lifestyle around our work

    • Even just having that mentality takes some adjustment.

Now that’s not to say we’ve done everything right!  So let’s discuss some victories and some challenges…

  • Things we’ve done right:

    • Begin with the end in mind… Why? Because you can define your goals and develop a roadmap to reach them!

    • Paying off debt

    • Edit and Forget It…really helped us rid of some of our excess. Reached 2013 things and still going…
  • Struggles:

    • That feeling that we “should” be working or doing more. Is that just programmed into us???

    • Not finding a lot of people that understand our goals and desires

    • Vanessa: Trying not to brag about how good it feels!

    • Dan: Overcoming the “man thing” that I should be working at a job bringing home the “big bucks”

    • Vanessa: Feeling drawn to minimalism but knowing that I still like “new stuff”

    • Dan: Wanting to go smaller and smaller. I’ve been hooked on watching videos of “tiny houses” and smaller homes.

So, I guess that’s why it’s called a journey as we’re having little adventures along the way. For all of you who’ve joined us here on the show, it’s great to know we’re not as alone as we felt at the beginning, that’s for sure. It’s great to have like-minded folks to share with and learn from.

That’s the backstory. Hopefully if you’re considering your own journey it’ll give you some insight, understanding, or maybe even some inspiration as you chart your course.

Thing Segment

Vanessa’s Thing: Spending time with family floating on the river!

Dan’s Thing: Our British Berkefeld Water Filtration System, aka “The Berkey”

  • It’s this stainless steel urn system where you pour water in the top and goes through these ceramic filters and the lower urn fills with fresh, purified water.
  • We use it at home and we’ll be taking it camping, too, so we’ll always have fresh water.
  • They claim you can even fill it with pond water, etc, and you’ll still have fresh, potable water.
  • Best of all, the family loves the taste of the water and especially Sunshine (our lil girl) seems to be drinking lots more if it!

You can check out our new About Us video here!


              Google Drive Tutorial

images-1Yay!  The Google Drive Tutorial is now available for purchase! This tutorial is just over an hour long and focuses on all the fundamentals of how to use Google Drive for creating, sharing, and storing  documents using Google’s free, full-fledged office suite. This tutorial will be available at the discounted price of just $7.99 until 30 June 2013, when it will increase to $9.99. Either way, it’s a bargain! In this introduction, you’ll learn how to create text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and even forms and surveys! So, don’t wait to pay full price! You can have immediate access to Dan’s 1 hour+  windshield tour of Google Drive right now! Simply click here or go to Plus, if you’re not completely satisfied I’ll give you your money back. So, no clutter and no risk…simple!


Support Charity Water Through Your Purchases

British Berkefeld Water Filtration System, aka The Berkey

Google Drive Tutorial

The Edit & Forget It Challenge

The 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris

The Crab’s in a Bucket Story

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6 thoughts on “SLT029: Beginning Our Simple Journey, & Finally an “About Us” Video

  1. First, I want to tell you that I just gave away another almost 20 bags/boxes of clutter, bringing my grand total to something between 70-75 – not counting the stuff I ended up throwing out! (Another gold star, please, LOL!) Sorry I haven’t been counting all the individual items.
    And I’m not done! Before we move next spring, my husband will eventually be downsizing his wardrobe, we’ll get rid of some artwork we have on the walls, sell off/freecycle some furniture, and I’ll go through Benjamin’s toys again.
    I love that Mexican fisherman story! When I first read it in The Four Hour Work Week, my heart leaped within me and I thought, “That’s the way it’s supposed to be!” The Western culture has everything so backwards. We are so consumed with stuff and money that we die twenty years earlier than we should from the stress of the modern lifestyle.
    It’s funny – I just started listening to the Tiny Revolution podcast (about Tiny houses) and gotten inspired! I would never be truly happy in anything under 500 square feet – I need room to dance and to move around when inclement weather forces me to stay indoors – but it’s totally changed my perspective to see that three people living in 1000 square feet is totally doable and enjoyable. I’ve always known in my head that it could be, but listening to people’s stories about living in tiny houses has made the idea true in my heart.
    Our son is the reason we are not going any smaller; he is very active and needs to be able to run around the house when it’s dark or the weather is bad.
    Keep up this great podcast – it’s so fun to listen to your ideas and couple-banter. 🙂

    • Wow, Emily, it sounds like you are making amazing progress! I may just run out of Gold Stars if you keep up this pace!

      Yes that fisherman story shows up in lots of places and it is always inspiring to me, as well. I’ve struggled with feeling like it was “my job to have a job” (and still do sometimes) but I know that since this is my only trip through this life I owe it to myself to really make the most of it. It’s been a lot of effort to set our lives up so we can work how/when/with whom we want…and still feel secure in our financial future. Of course, we’re still working on it (it’s a journey after all) and starting the show gave us a bit of the accountability we needed.

      It’s cool that we share an affinity for tiny houses. Vanessa does get concerned that I might decide to do that, but like you, we need just a little more space for our kids. Maybe some day though 😉 I do have a playlist of some of my favorite “small” (vs tiny) homes on our “Curated Content” page thata you might want t check out some time.

      Thanks so much, Emily! Great to hear from you again!

  2. I enjoyed this podcast and it reminded me of why I began listening! There are so many tidbits you share that are just what my husband and I are working our way through. The tiny homes – my husband is drawn to their efficient use of space, yet I cringe at the thought of something under 1,000 sq ft. Becoming a slave to your dream home – how I wish you were speaking to me a year ago! We moved into our “dream home” last summer and it has become a nightmare…so hard to keep up with its needs, which is now the focus instead of the desert beauty that surrounds us. Hard to find time to just sit and enjoy the views. After your podcast, we’re confident that selling our home is the right thing to do. And Dan, thanks for sharing the fisherman tale…it so wonderfully defines what we want to achieve. We’ve titled our mission: Freedom 45! We’ve got 3 years to go and you’ve helped me get on board with my husband’s plan and encouraged us to outline our plan. I get it now. THANK YOU!

    • Wow! So glad you enjoyed that episode! I know we go off into the “tech stuff” and organizing areas a lot because we use those things to help us simplify, but this episode was a trip “back to the core” for us. Sounds like it really hit home with you guys.

      Vanessa and I were just talking about your story and we think it’s PERFECT that you named your mission! That ROCKS! As for your timing vis a vis your current home and your true dreams…I know it must feel frustrating to really figure it out after you already purchased your “dream home”. That’s how we felt with our land. But we decided that sometimes we just have to go through something before our eyes are opened to what is truly right for us. Not just what we “want” and not just what we “need”…but what is “right.” It sounds like you’re closer and closer than ever to knowing what’s “right” for you…and THAT’S the sweet spot.

      By the way, your explanation of becoming a slave to your dream home is exactly the ambush I felt like we were walking into. I’m so glad we “saw the light” this time…often times in the past we hadn’t.

      Thank you, Dayis, for taking the time to comment. It makes us feel even more validated in our decision-making process. Please keep us informed as you go about Freedom 45!!!! (LOVE IT!!!) So glad you’re with us on this, too!

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