The Reduction of Things

This idea of a reduction of things, is not my idea.  When I was writing the “Ease of Living” post, the first area of my life I decided to tackle was too many “things”.  A google later and I landed on the The Minimalists blog.

Their story is amazing and awe-inspiring.  These two guys got rid of everything and not to sound overly cliche, gained everything.  The stresses and self-induced worries their things were causing them was too much, and needed to go.

I feel the same way.

Things have started to mean the following to me:

  • Things take time to use them.
  • Things don’t get used, and are wasted.
  • Things take time to take care of.
  • Things take up space and cause clutter.
  • Things are supposed to make me happy when I buy them.  They rarely do.

Why do I have all these things when they make me feel so disappointed in them?

Well..  Here’s the problem…

I am really good at buying things.  Like really good.

The research that goes into my purchases is fun to me.  I love reading about the hottest this or the latest this or the newest this will complete your life.  I study them.  I know all about them.  I buy them.

But then they get put down, and they don’t get used.  They take up space and they clutter my life.

I need them gone.

Enter The Minimalists blog, and the Minimalist game.  How do you play the game?  Well…  On the 1st day of a month you get rid of 1 thing.  On the 2nd day – 2 things, the 3rd day – 3 things and so on.  You can sell the things, donate them, or just throw them out.  No matter, they have to be gone.

I started in July.   I started with this red rolling cabinet that not many months ago, I just had to have.  I needed it.  I bought it.  It has since taken up precious space in my workshop going unused and stressing me out about how I wasn’t using it.  Well it’s gone, and I feel better.

On the next few day’s I went easy and cleaned out my closet.  I have never been much on clothing and getting rid of the ones I don’t where was easy.

And now on day 4, it’s getting hard.  I’ll post an update with what I get rid of as I go along, but it is tough!

Stay tuned….

Monthly Adventures – May

Well….  It happened.  We missed a month.  May was the end of the school term, my nephew’s high school graduation, and the height of Cason’s T-ball season, and we just flat out couldn’t find a time to go.  I realized this was happening sometime in the last week or two of May and was just deflated by it.  We only made it 4 months?  Pathetic.

But then, I got an email from a friend who is a local photographer and he sent me the below picture of Cason and I.  Cason had gotten a base hit and I was high-fiving him after making it to first.  This single captured moment put the wind back in my sails.  I may not have been on an adventure where we went out of town, but I did wrangle 12 kids ranging from 3-6 and teach them the game of baseball.  In my opinion it was a 2 month adventure that spanned April and May.  These kids taught me to calm down, relax, and be flexible.  That is something I always need a reminder in.

Although I do want to get back into the monthly adventures and I really look forward to them, I’m not overly depressed about missing this one.  What we did here was just as important, in a different way.  At least 4 days a week I got to hang out with my kid and his friends, and most of the time I got to be a big kid with them.

Ease Of Living

This morning’s commute consisted of 30 miles of uninteresting blacktop, a thermos of hot coffee, and a podcast.  In other words, the drive was just like yesterdays and more than likely, just like tomorrow’s.  I have been on a Tim Ferriss kick lately as I really enjoy the way he deep dives into what makes people tick and how his guests become world class at what they do.  This morning’s guest was Alex Honnold, a world class climber.  This guy lives the dream.  First and foremost, he lives in a van. Sounds crazy to some, but to me, that is THE life.  He also climbs mountains all over the world and does some very amazing things – thousands of feet off of the ground.  I really enjoyed hearing about his life, training, background, etc, but there was one thing in particular stuck out in my mind.  That one thing is that he tries to keep his life simple so that he can continue to do things that he is passionate about.  I think the way Honnold said it was he tries to maintain an ease of life.

I love that idea – an ease of life.

That simple thought spurred a deep conversation inside my head and consumed the rest of my commute.  My life sure doesn’t seem easy at times.  In fact it feels chaotic, crazy, and hard most of the time.  Now, I know I don’t have sponsors who pay for me to wander around the world climbing mountains living out of a dope van, but I also feel life doesn’t have to be hard.  Which leads me to this…

Why is it hard?  What causes the craziness and the chaos?  Most importantly; What would life look like if it was easy?

To be completely honest, I don’t know all the answers to those questions, but I think I can narrow it down to these categories:

  • Things
  • Money
  • Time

Things… Let’s start there.  Myself, and my family, have a LOT of things.  Too many things.  What would happen if I had less things? Well, I would have less things to take care of for one.  Secondly, I would have less things to feel like I had to make time to use, and that might lower my anxiety about never having time.  Yes.  I think, things are a great place to start.

Come back for Money and Time, we will get to those later, but standby by for “The Reduction of Things”.  It is going to be epic.

 

PS.  Here is Alex Honnold’s sweet van, and Tim Ferriss’s site.  Check ’em out.

Monthly Adventures – April

For the month of April’s adventure, I drug my family to cheer me on in a trail half-marathon. Palo Duro Canyon hosts a half marathon that I have entered the last two years.  The race is a blast and a good time for me to catch up with old friends that also compete in the race.  It was also the perfect excuse to take the camper out for the first time.

Because of T-ball games we would not be able to leave until noon on Saturday.  The drive to the canyon took just shy of 3 hours and was relatively uneventful.  Driving is one of my favorite parts of road trips because Erica and I have nothing to do but simply talk.  We catch up more on those long drives than any other time in our lives and I always look forward to it.

We arrived in camp late in the afternoon and after checking in, got the camper setup in our spot.  It was a warm afternoon and we went out to explore.  Although I have been to Palo Duro Canyon many times before, Erica was not as familiar with it.  I drove her through the course as she would be able to meet me at aid stations that crossed the park road.  We finished up the afternoon with a short hike down a trail close to camp and made our way back to the camper for grilled hot dogs.

I hooked the grill up to the camper’s propane system and couldn’t get any gas.  Hmm… Weird.  I tried the stove inside the camper, no gas there either, nor at the water heater.  Was I out?  Bottle seemed full…  With no way to really troubleshoot or fix any issues we proceeded to eat cold hot dogs and turn in early.

The kids had fun “wrestling” in the camper bed.

The wind howled throughout the night and the canvas shook violently at times making it difficult to sleep easy.  The kids slept great, but Erica and I didn’t fare so well.  After a few hours of poor sleep we woke, fed the kids breakfast and made ourselves some coffee.  I started my normal pre-race early morning routine of coffee then water then coffee and choked down half a dozen Fig Newtons.  At about 7:15am we made our way to the starting line.

Somehow, a couple of years ago, I convinced my oldest friend, Matt to do a trail race with me at Palo Duro and we have done them together since.  We met up with Matt and his friend (my new friend) Jack at the starting line and joined the other runners getting stretched out and warmed up.  While the more serious of the runners jogged around and drank water or other hydration drinks, Matt and I drank coffee and caught up for a few minutes.  One last trip to the restroom and we joined the other runners at the starting line and listened to last minute instructions from the race director.

The last few minutes before the gun goes off I am filled with nervous energy and anxiety.  I am pumped for the run and dread the next couple of hours all at the same time.  I wonder, why am I doing this?  I scan through the spectators and think they are the lucky ones.  They get to watch this but not participate, I want to trade with them.

Then the gun fires.

We take off, and something primal takes over as I fall in line on the narrow width trail as we leave the parking lot.  Immediately I remember why I do this.  I remember the calm that overcomes me as I realize for the next two hours I have no phone, no responsibilities, and nothing to do but put one foot in front of the other and follow the twisting trail up and down the God’s beautiful creation.

It sounds so beautiful and so serene, and it really is, most of the time.

The first aid station was very early into the race and most grabbed a quick swig of water and carried on their way.  Erica and the kids yelled for me and I waved at them as I cruised by.  To this point the trail had been tame, with no big climbs.  The next aid station was about 4 miles away and the trail in between climbed for most of the way before dropping back down to the canyon floor just before the aid station.  A mile or so into this section I met a local who knew these trails very well.  As we exchanged small talk he told me he ran this same trail 3 or 4 days a week.  I followed him.  He knew when to jog up small inclines, when to walk on the bigger climbs, and when to let it go on the downhills.  We made great time and had great conversation.  Somewhere along the way he ran into a friend of his and decided to stop and talk for a while.  He wished me good luck as we parted ways and I continued on to the canyon floor and the aid station.

Coming into this aid station I knew I was at the halfway point.  I had forgotten my watch and had no idea of the pace I was running.  What I did know was that at halfway through this race, I felt great.  I stopped to refill my water bottles and talk to Erica and the kids while I ate an energy gel.  I really look forward to seeing my family at the aid stations and was in no hurry to take off again, until Erica laid a bombshell on me.

She non-nonchalantly told me I looked like I was doing really well in the race.  I responded that yeah I felt great.  She responded with “no not like that, you are only like the 5th person that has come in here.”

WHAT?  I gotta go.  A quick high five for Cason and I was off again, all alone on the trail.

How could I be 5th?  I wasn’t really racing, I was just running.  She must have been wrong.  The knowledge of my position gave me a renewed hop in my step and the next 3 miles breezed by.  Another quick aid station visit and I was on the home stretch to the finish line.

Out of nowhere right around mile 11 a wall popped up.  I ran smack into it and my legs refused to continue moving at a tempo quick enough to call running.  I walked, ate an energy gel, took a drink of water and took stock of where I was.

I wasn’t physically hurt, and I was less than 20 minutes from being done.  I could do this.  I began walking 100 steps and running 200.  Another mile ticked by.  By now, I had recuperated myself enough to know that in less than 10 minutes I could be done.  A couple of guys had passed me and I tried to keep up with them.  I just couldn’t do it.  I was OK with that.  I had to be.

I ended up crossing the finishing line in a time of 2:16:27, 2nd in my age group, and 9th overall.  By far my best finish in any race I have ever done.  Saying I was stoked by these results is an understatement.

We all hung around for a few hours and enjoyed hot dogs, chips, and LOTS of water as we relived the race with old and new friends.  Plans for the next race were discussed and we packed up to head home.  Exhausted but happy.

PS.

In the end of October the park hosts a 20k that I have run before, and done OK in.  My new goal is an age group win.  I think with the right mix of training and being able to complete the entire run without walking, I can pull it off.  I like a challenge.

Stay tuned for my workout plan I will come up with in the next few weeks.

Monthly Adventures – March

For March’s adventure, Cason and I grabbed my Dad to come along on a day trip to fish in White River Lake.  White River is about 45 miles from our house thought scenic country off of the caprock.  The short drive was just long enough to spend a few minutes catching up with Dad and get one more mug of hot coffee in me.

Once the entry fees were all paid we decided to try fishing from the shore on the east side of the lake.

After an hour or so of not having much luck we decided the crappie house on the west side of the lake might be worth a try.  We loaded back up and drove back around.

As usual, within a few minutes, Dad was catching fish and I was watching him do it.  Nothing new here as he ALWAYS catches more than I do.  My excuse this time was that I was helping Cason and not really fishing.  Cason and Dad both had a great time reeling in small catfish and a few bigger carp.

The crappie house has both inside and outside fishing.  Towards the end of the morning Cason decided to try his luck inside by himself.  Not long after he went inside I heard, “Dad! Dad!” and ran inside.  Cason was reeling as fast as he could and you could tell there was something on the line.  Finally he pulled up a monster, the first fish he had ever caught all on his own.  The smile on his face clearly shows his pride and excitement.  That 4 inch fish meant more to all of us than any other fish that day.

Shortly afternoon we ate a tailgate sandwich  and spent a few minutes wondering around the area by the lake marine before heading home.  The drive home was uneventful but very enjoyable with the conversation of Cason’s huge catch and old stories from Dad.

The March adventure was short, but one I will never forget.

 

Monthly Adventures – February

An unseasonably warm day in February found all 4 of us on a day trip to the Abilene Zoo, about 2.5 hours down the road.  Getting away for a day was very welcome in the hustle and bustle of our lives.  The kids made easy work of the drive down, sleeping most of the way.

We arrived at the Zoo about 11am and the weather was perfect.  It was a bright sunny day, but just cool enough to need a light jacked to fend off the slight breeze.

The Abilene Zoo is just the right size for small kids.  You can see everything there is to see in a couple of hours without rushing or wearing yourself out.  There are a wide range of animals that can be seen.  My favorite has always been feeding the Giraffe’s.  Unfortunately, the Giraffe enclosure is being completely rebuilt and they are adding a baby.  We will definitely make our way back for that.

We concluded a walking tour of the zoo with a train tour.  Train’s are one of Cason’s favorite things in life and we never miss an opportunity to hop on board.  The 10 minute ride was perfect for us to have a few more smiles and spend a couple more minutes together.

From there it was out to the parking lot to make a sandwich for a late lunch.  While Kenna ate, Cason and I became pirates at the outdoor park next to the zoo.  The park is now safe for all as all bad guys have been thoroughly defeated.

As all good things do, the day had to end.  We loaded back into the car and cruised home.  While the kid’s watched movies or slept, Erica and discussed our next adventure and life in general.  What a wonderful day away.

Bonus Adventure – The Freedom Wagon

Erica and I have considered getting a camper of some sorts for years.  We have looked off and on and always decided against it for one reason or another.  Most of the time our decision was based on not being able to find something that fit our parameters exactly.  That list consisted of the following

  • Ease of use.
    • If we bought a camper it had to be simple.  We didn’t want something that took too much effort or was too hard to pull.
  • A Bathroom
    • I know, I know.  Why do you need a bathroom if you are camping?  We wanted the ability to hose the little ones off at the end of the day and also a way to potty train on the road in a couple of years for Kenna.
  • Clean
    • Most of the used campers we looked at in our price range were in bad shape or very dirty.
  • Price
    • Price and Condition had to line up.

With all of these requirements we decided a pop up camper would be the best solution for us, and the search was on for something would fit the bill.  In a couple of weeks I had found a 2008 model a few hours away at a dealership.  After a few phone calls and email, the camper was purchased site unseen.  I was a little nervous about it but very excited at the same time.

The following weekend I made the trip to get it and everything was perfect.  I was very impressed with the camper, the salesman, and the dealership.

The Freedom Wagon! Hitched up and ready for the drive home.

Hopefully lot’s of adventures to come will include our home on wheels!

Monthly Adventures – January

For the last couple of years we have taken a family ski trip to the mountains a few hours west of flat west Texas for my birthday.  I took Cason skiing for the 1st time last year for a half day and those 4 hours were not near enough for him.  This year we booked lift tickets for a full day at Ski Apache in Ruidoso, NM and had an absolute blast.  The weather was perfectly cool and clear and the snow was great for the beginner runs we were on.

Although I feel like I am rushing life and it already goes by too fast, I am ready for Kenna to be at the age where we can ALL go do activities like this.  Even though we were missing the girls I will never forget the time Cason and I get to spend together.  He is growing up WAY too fast.  His pure childlike joy inspires me to live a little more in the moment and be present in everything we are doing.  Just look at this smile caused by the simple act of sliding down a mountain on two boards, to get back on the lift and do it again.  I don’t think he quit smiling for 8 hours.

Erica and Kenna didn’t have it all bad.  We stayed at the Inn of the Mountain Gods which is a beautiful resort overlooking a lake and white mountains as the backdrop.  They had a day of roaming the resort, taking naps, and sampling the great restaurants.

For our first monthly adventure, it was a wonderful trip.  We all had a great time. Stay tuned for February’s adventures!

2016 Resolution – Monthly Adventures

I have never been a big believer in New Year’s resolutions.  Like most, I have made them, and promptly failed at them.  What I do believe in is striving to change myself for the better all throughout the year.  I don’t think that constant change is necessary, but when I decide that something is not as good as it could be I think life is too short to not look at what can be done differently.

Right around the first of the year, Erica and I got to talking about a few things.  In no particular order, our conversation meandered through a lot of topics.  These topics included how short life is, having experiences instead of “things”, and many many more.  As we talked through what we felt a good life would consist of we felt very overwhelmed.  These topics were HUGE!  We started whittling the magnitude down to something we could handle without feeling overpowered by it.  The idea that we were finally left with was that of monthly family adventures.

In our idea, these adventures could be a few hours, a day trip, or perhaps several days.  Whatever it was, it just had to be a time that we could get away and enjoy some time together as a family.  Spending time together at twelve times during a year surely couldn’t be that hard!

Planning began immediately for a January trip.  The excitement was building!

Our Very Own Blog!

Welcome to beyondthedriveway.com!

This blog is going to be our attempt to document our family’s search for a life worth living.  With two careers and two children our lives have become a chaotic mess.  Erica and I seem to always be in a race to get one day wrapped up and finished so we can get ready for the next to begin.

Well.  Not anymore.  We are tired of it and looking for more.

Enter the blog.

What better way to take control of your life than to put it on the Internet for all the world to see?  Starting now, the plan is to use this site as an outlet of things we are struggling with and our victories as they come along.

I am very excited to finally get this blog going. It has been on my mind for a very long time.