Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Living and Working Remotely

I came across a thoughtful article today at titled “A New Workplace Manifesto: In Praise of Freedom, Time, Space, and Working Remotely” by David Heinemeier Hansson, coauthor with Jason Fried of the recently released Remote: Office Not Required. I don’t usually quote others so liberally on my blog but the article really resonated with me so here are some of the more salient points.

As Hansson writes, “While working remotely obviously frees you from the dreaded commute and the interruption factory of the office, it also lets you pick where to live…Liberating yourself from the geography of work opens a whole new world of opportunities. It lessens the necessity of looking forward to retirement to finally live your life.” Linda and I coined the term “pretirement” to describe our lifestyle of living and working in special places.

Hansson further suggests, “It’s time to reject the false dichotomy between work and luxury…So what if we could have both? What if we could retain the stimulation of work and also embrace the true luxury of non-deferred living? That’s the inclusive truth that more and more people are finding in working remotely.” Linda and I have made it a point since day one to celebrate the present, as it’s all we’re guaranteed.

And Hansson concludes, “Working without the commute, without the shackled office, and living in the place of your dreams…sounds like a science fiction utopia. But it’s very real indeed. It’s the future of luxury, and it’s called remote work.” I couldn’t agree more and I love living and working remotely.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Living Large With Less

The other day I had the pleasure of giving my father-in-law a tour of our place during his quick visit to historic Franklin. Of course, he is very familiar with our minimalist journey and thus knows as well as anyone what we have jettisoned en route to arriving at our latest destination.

So it was ironic when he later commented with a smile over a cup of coffee regarding our nicely furnished, newly leased home, “So much for minimalism.” To which I replied with a smile of my own, “We like leasing spacious places furnished with antiques and artwork for less than we paid for our own place.”

Somewhat understandably, when people hear the word “minimalism” they typically think of living a lesser lifestyle in a qualitative sense, which may be one version of it, but not the one we espouse. The type of minimalism my wife and I experience is living with less in a quantitative sense, which in turn allows for a higher overall quality of life for us.

In fact, our minimalist journey has been a progressive one, with us literally moving from one level of accommodation to another, and all for the same relatively modest amount. If only to indicate what minimalism is not, I’ll divulge that the estimated property values of the four places we’ve leased thus far have ranged, in $200,000 increments, from $400,000 to $1 million.

Also, each place we’ve leased without exception has not only been furnished but has to varying degrees also included utilities. And the furnishings, including appliances, linens, towels, dishes, pots, pans and utensils, have been as nice, or even nicer, than anything we used to own. To those so disposed, I heartily recommend considering the minimalist lifestyle. For my wife and I at least, it is “living large with less.”

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sedentary Stuff Syndrome

I read the other day about a phenomenon called “sedentary death syndrome,” the chronic condition caused by sitting too much, which contributes to all sorts of ailments. The antidote, the article suggested, was simply to get moving, and that is good advice. Moving, in all its forms, has a way of helping us shed the excess in our lives, whether it is bodily weight or the weight of stuff.

As I’ve posted here earlier, my wife and I adopted the motto of “minimize to mobilize” during the process of paring our possessions in order to move as frequently as we liked. But whether or not that is your intention, you can benefit from living with less stuff. I share about our journey in an article titled “Is Your Stuff Holding You Hostage?” in the latest issue of Facts & Trends magazine.

As one reader commented, not everyone is interested in mimicking our mobile lifestyle, but the point I mean to make is that we can all benefit from living lighter, whether or not we opt to go mobile. For the dozen years preceding our radical downscaling we lived in the same house in the same town and so our stuff gradually grew to pack our humble abode. As much as we strived to live simply, our lifestyle became a sedentary one by virtue of our not moving every couple of years or so, as we had before building our house. Minimizing stuff helps you maximize life and avoid sedentary stuff syndrome.

Monday, October 07, 2013

To Be or Not To Be

In the immortal words of William Shakespeare, “To be, or not to be, that is the question.” I am a big believer in the power of living in the present and the only way to do that is to focus more on being than doing. Busyness has an insidious way of weaving itself into our lives to the point that we forget there is another, better way to live. Believe it or not, each of us has the power to either accept or reject the encroachment of busyness in our lives.

How? You may ask. By identifying the absolute essentials in our lives and structuring our time around them. If you are like most people, you’d say you value your faith, family and friends, but how you spend your time tells the tale. For example, is church attendance or other faith centric fellowship a given in your life? If not you may need to examine how vital faith is to you. We often give lip service to our beliefs but our lives don’t lie.

I mention faith as a foundation because I have found it indispensible to living a life centered on being versus doing. And it is important to point out that I am not talking about religious striving to become a better person. The type of faith I mean is one that rests in what God has done for us through Christ and ceases from senseless activity. Many people apparently believe that “busier is better” judging by their crammed calendars but racing against the clock is a fool’s errand.

Years ago I spoke at a church about the need for believers to “work smarter, not harder” and I will never forget the look on the pastors’ faces. It was as if I spoke a foreign language, one that they simply could not comprehend. It was a truth they failed to identify with. Time has proven the value of the statement in my life and they have suffered the consequences of not heeding it. As I’ve said before, God made us human beings, not human doings. His name is I AM and we are created in his image. To be, that is the answer.