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The Essentials of Life

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wash d.c.Happy Weekend to you all!  I normally don’t post anything on the weekends, but I wrote this on Friday and I just didn’t see any point in having it sit around gathering dust.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

Henry David Thoreau
I love those words by the Father of Simple Living.  “The essential facts of life”…..and what would those be?

I submit to you my interpretation of what is essential….once we get past the need for food, water, and shelter, my belief is that love is essential for a quality life.

“I searched for love my entire life, only to find it within myself.”

Keep it simple my friends.  Love yourself.  Love your family.  Love others.  Do those three things, and you have no need for three cars, 6,000 square feet of living space, and a garage full of useless possessions.

Think about that this weekend, and blessings to all of you.


Reflecting About Miranda Lambert and the Simple Life

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writer's digest and chickens 002I was watching a Youtube video of Miranda Lambert singing “Automatic” the other day.  No, I don’t usually sit around watching music videos.  J  I wasn’t that familiar with Lambert, and I was curious as to why she is so popular.

So this song is about simpler times, back in the old days before technology took over our lives, and back to a time when community really meant something.  Some of you may not even remember those days; some of you know exactly what I am talking about.

I have written often about growing up during the 50s and 60s, and how much simpler it was then.  For sure we had our problems, but the pace of life was much slower for sure, and for me….just me speaking now…it was a more enjoyable time to live.

So I started wondering what happened? How do we fast-forward fifty years and find society living at a break-neck pace today?  How did that sense of community disappear?

I don’t think there are any easy answers.  I think consumerism played a huge part in our little drama.  I think society got caught up in the possessions game, which led to overspending, which led to working harder just to break even.  The family unit slowly disappeared with more divorces…with both parents working just to make ends meet….less supervision of the kids….

And on and on we go.

Bev and I made a decision to go simple and we are living that decision.  I understand that our lifestyle isn’t for everyone.  People do love their big houses and multiple cars and a garage full of possessions….I get that.  The fact that it isn’t for me doesn’t mean I’m judging anyone.  But for us, none of that is important.  I could make more money tomorrow if I wanted to return to the rat race….but why would I?  I’m happy today.  I don’t have much but what I do have is priceless.


Happiness is All About Perspective

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wash d.c.Happy Friday to you all.  I took a few days off from this blog because, well, I wanted to.  I have way too much to do getting my novel ready for publication, and blah, blah and more blah.  But I’m here now so let’s do it.

I wrote an article the other day about living life to the fullest while we still have time. It occurred to me today that living life to the fullest has a different meaning for different people.

When I was younger it meant balls to the wall and experience everything possible. I climbed mountains, and played sports with reckless abandon.  I traveled extensively around the United States, and even lived in Vermont for two years.  I bounced from one experience to the next like my hair was on fire, and I gave no nevermind to finances or planning for the future.  Money was to be spent, and when I was younger that meant spending on having fun.

Those days are gone.  Money is needed, now, to survive, and there is very little left over to spend on travel or expensive adventures.  Still, I live life to the fullest.  Bev and I have carved out a loving relationship, and we find joy in the simple things.  A walk around the neighborhood means as much to me as a trip to Europe.  Holding each other during a popcorn and movie night is as good as a night on the town.  Watching our garden grow is as thrilling as standing on top of Mt. Rainier after a long, hard climb.

It really is all about perspective.  The older I get the more I am convinced that love is the key to happiness.  Where there is love there is contentment.  Where there is love there are riches beyond any monetary measure.

Yes, I am living an ordinary life now, but it is an extraordinary, ordinary life, and I am at peace with it.

I wish for all of you the same peace and happiness.


Finding Happiness in the Unconventional Simplicity of Life

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teacherHappy Friday to all of my friends out there in the cyberworld.  What shall we talk about today?

I’m coming up on four years since I quit a full-time teaching job and started on this path as a writer.  One day I just decided I had had enough of the working world.  It helped having my principal call me unprofessional, but honestly, before that fateful moment, I had been giving serious thought to just quitting… I have her to thank for that. J

Was I afraid?  There was about a ten minute window as I was leaving the school and driving home where my hands were shaking.  What had I done?  How could I just toss away a decent-paying job?  And benefits?  Was I mad????

But then a calm came over me and I really was at peace with my decision, and I have been ever since.

The simple truth was that I was not happy and I needed to make a drastic change so that I could enjoy life once again….and I was willing to risk it all for that happiness.

That’s why I’m such an advocate for the simple life.  I have had the “good life” of possessions and six-figure income, and it did nothing for me other than raise my blood pressure.

I have no idea if you are happy. I hope you are.  I hope you haven’t gotten yourselves trapped in the spending game and can’t find a way out of it.  I hope you have an escape plan so that you can start enjoying the art of living simple rather than just survive.

Life is good today.  I cut back on my expectations.  I surrounded myself with love.  I believe in my abilities and I’m just crazy enough to take risks if they seem worth taking.  Hey, what’s the worst that can happen to me? I fail and then I get up and try again.  Been there, done that, and written the book. J

Have a great weekend!


A Simple Weekend in My Life

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writer's digest and chickens 002Happy Monday to you all!  This is by far my most creative day of the week. I take weekends off from writing, so by Monday my brain is overflowing with ideas.  Let’s get started so I can relieve some of the cranial pressure.

The name of this blog is The Art of Living Simple, and that’s exactly how we spent our weekend.

On Saturday we went shopping for seeds and a couple grape bare root cuttings.  Then we came home and prepared the soil, dug some holes, and got everything into the ground.

Sunday began with a movie, and then we came home and built a bamboo grape arbor and put up another greenhouse.  All were simple designs and were made from materials we had at home already.  Nothing fancy but all highly functional.

We squeezed in a couple good walks around the neighborhood, talked to quite a few people, and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company.town_246

This is my life.  Simple?  I’m sure it would appear to be for many people.  Boring? I’m sure for some this appears to be a real yawner.  For Bev and I, though, our lives are complete and so very satisfying.  We work in the soil. We establish friendships.  We continue to build and support our community, and we continue to feed off of our love for each other.

The art of living simple… really is an art form, and it gets better as we practice it.  We began as novices.  We are now journeymen.  In time we just might become master craftsmen.  J

Have a great week!


Bamboo Makes Great Garden Trellises

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Happy Friday to you all, and if it is Friday then that means my thoughts turn to gardening.  It is, after all, that time of year for many of us.

In case you’ve been living under a rock and missed the news, I’m into frugal.  I’m into cheap.  I’m into recycling old items and making them work time and time again in the yard.  And today’s topic is about reusing bamboo in the garden.

Last year Bev was out running an errand and she saw a pile of bamboo on the side of the road with a sign that said FREE!  Needless to say, she picked it all up. There must have been fifty pieces of bamboo in varying lengths, but most of them were about six feet long.

That was at the end of the summer so we didn’t do anything with it last year except put it in a dry place, but this spring we are ready.

Bamboo makes a great trellis for tomato plants, beans, peas, etc.  There are a number of ways to make the trellises….one way is three poles tied together to make a teepee structure.

You can also use three or four poles vertically, then tie off a few horizontally, like in this picture.trellis

Or you can get creative and do it your own special way.  All you need is the bamboo and some twine.  No pounding nails or screwing screws.  We can put one together in a half hour tops, and if you take it down at the end of the growing season and put it somewhere dry, you’ll get three or four years out of it before you have to make a new one.

trellis 2

See if your neighbors have any bamboo growing. I’m sure they will let you have some the next time they trim.  The stuff grows like weeds so you shouldn’t have any problem getting some.

That’s it!  Have a great weekend and Happy Gardening.


Have You Hugged a Garden Lately?

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loving life on a hikeHappy Hump Day to you all!

Before I begin, I’d like to remind you that Earth Day is April 22nd.  It’s kind of a big deal for anyone interested in protecting this planet, so I thought I would mention it.

I am encouraged by what I see lately.  There seems to be a growing movement towards the simple life.  More and more people are finally coming to the realization that when we die, they don’t back a Uhaul truck to our gravesite and unload our possessions.  What is really important in life, namely love, family, compassion, and character….there is no price tag on any of it, but the rewards are gardens 009

I have mentioned on several occasions that the city I live in, Olympia, Washington, is very accommodating with regards to self-sufficiency.  There are few restrictions in this city.  People can have vegetable gardens in the front yard if they choose, and how many cities do you know of where that is allowed?

We also have a plethora (I love that word) of community gardens around our city.  People work with their neighbors to grow organic food, and what they don’t use they share with others.  If that sounds like utopia to you, then see what your own city has in the way of community gardens.

I am all about community. I do not believe the problems that plague our cities are going to be solved by the Federal government. I believe that change must happen in the neighborhoods across this country. We need to return to our roots and start looking out for each other.

And it starts with us.

Have a great day my friends.  I’ll be writing and taking care of our little urban farm…and doing it all with a smile on my face.