Travel lite and travel right!

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness”

Mark Twain

If you were travelling for 12 months what would you put in your backpack?

I’ve just returned from travelling for 4 weeks. For that trip I packed:

  • 3 t-shirts
  • 1 pair of sneakers
  • 1 pair of sandals
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 1 sweatshirt
  • 1 hat
  • 1 small towel
  • 1 cloth
  • one lite rain-jacket
  • wallet
  • passport

On the first flight I wore one of the pairs of shorts (total 2), one of the t-shirts (total 3) and a pair of simple homemade sandals. I carried a hoodie sweatshirt, my wallet, my passport and a book that I continuously traded on my journey. I’d also wore a baseball cap. If I was travelling longer I won’t have taken anything else.

As it was I pretty much packed everything that I own right now accept my laptop, some kitchen utensils, my house, and my bicycle. A small pack with a few items makes travelling low stress and it’s not a major if the airline loses your bag.

I find airports an amazing place to really appreciate the burden of possessions. You see families with 8 or 10 suitcases that are too heavy to handle. The families are on holiday, but boy you’d never know it by all the huffing, redfaces, swearing and stressing.

I like to live simply and so I have no other option but to travel with less and when I see those reminders it helps me stay the course.

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Simplicity level-up: healthy teeth

“Teeth are always in style”

Dr Seuss

If you want to go next level simplicity you need to do some research on alternatives to must have personal items. As an example – brushing your teeth with toothpaste and a brush isn’t essential for good oral hygiene.  It’s just the accepted convention of our time.

In your lifetime you will use around 750 disposable plastic brushes that aren’t all that disposable at all. They will take about 500-1000 years to decompose in landfill (10 times the length of your life).

Commercial toothpaste also contains fluoride which many people have a problem with.

The alternatives to a plastic brush are:

  • Your finger (handy!!)
  • A wooden brush
  • Chewing the root of a fibrous plant to physically remove plaque and bacteria
  • Use a paper towel or a cloth to wipe your teeth
  • Use a waterpik
  • Floss instead
  • Add salt and/or baking soda to water and swish it in your mouth

If you’d like to avoid fluoride:

  • Install a reverse osmosis water filter or brush with bottled water
  • Use a non fluoride toothpaste (usually available from organic or wholefood stores)
  • Brush or wipe your teeth with baking soda or a salt water solution

Do some of your own research and try a bunch of alternatives.

At the very least you’ll have skills to cope with the situations where you’ve forgotten to pack your brush and paste.

The primary signal: trust your vibes…

“To live content with small means; to see elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable and wealthy not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly…This is my symphony”

William Henry Channing

Vibrations are extremely important in determining the quality of our experience because everything is just vibration.

We live in a universe founded on vibration.

We know this, but we don’t know this.

In a dark part of the city we may tell a friend that we have a ‘bad vibe’. When things aren’t working we seek harmony and we are comforted by the universal sound when we encounter it.

If our ears were better we would hear the stars singing to us. I’m not being poetic. They really do sing. There is a special branch of science that listens to the noise created by the vibration of stars.

Everything in the universe is energy and vibration. The heartbeat of the planet is 7.32 Hz called the Schumann Resonance. Birds, bees and other living creatures all resonate with the same pulse. Like us creatures large and small become disoriented and sick when the Schumann Resonance is masked or distorted. We too are creatures of this planet but we build our nests in cities with so much technology (wifi, radio, microwaves, cell networks, home phone handsets) that it is impossible to detect the 7.32 Hz waves that give us good health and vitality

The invisible is all too easily ignored as we build our cities and homes, but vibration is the core of all things.

Every atom in your being vibrates at a frequency of yup you guessed it – 7.32 Hz. This frequency is the who of your cells which in turn is the who of you.

Someone who is depressed has a slightly different vibration from someone who is contented or happy. We might say of the happy person ‘ah she is so vibrant’ reflecting our experience of her ‘energy’. Likewise you’d say about a depressed bod – they have bad energy or a bad vibe. This isn’t just a figure of speech. It relates to your sense of the vibration of their atomic energy. Vibration is what you know or feel, but you aren’t consciously aware of exactly what it is that you know or even how you know it.

We can create a better reality for ourselves by raising the frequency of our own vibration to be in perfect harmony with the natural universe. This is not a new age goofball idea. I don’t own crystals. I can’t commune with the dead and I’ve never had an astral projection (whatever that is).

Becoming aware of vibration is just a simple strategy for relating to life in a more simple way. The best way to do this is to find stillness, silence and nature every day. Find space and listen to the gaps between sound. Starting to listen for the silence in between the sounds is incredibly hard having spent your whole life deliberately and then unconsciously tuning it out. Look and seek out experiences that help you better understand the vibration in your environment. Vibration and combustion (of energy). This is everything.

Growing your awareness of vibration decouples action-reaction and allows you to be more present, more peaceful and more contented. I always knew I liked nature though. It bought me calm and peace and I’ve always known that contact with nature was fundamental to my own happiness.

This probably all sounds like horseshit. It did to me at first and that is why I ignored energy and vibration as the fundamental truth of things for many years.

Voluntary poverty as a way of life


“In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of”

Confucius



If you want to work, but don’t have a job it can become an incredible challenge to survive in this world.

If you do have a job, and if you work as much as you can, you may still find it is an incredible challenge to survive in this world.

When you are poor or middle class you are so fully distracted by the day to day challenges of living that you never consider the gross inequality of the social structures that enslave us.

Things are set up so that you have just enough so that you will continue to accept things the way they are (how ever little just enough is for you).

Comedian George Carlin quips that the function of the poor is to scare the living shit out of the middle class so they keep going to work. Personally I think he’s dead right.

But what if instead of being afraid of the poor or of being poor you redefined it in a way that is more empowering.

You could for instance view voluntary poverty as a state where your have conquered your desires.

Poverty then could be seen as a means to unshackle yourself from the anchor of ownership. This way of thinking breeds within you a freedom to become an intrepid everyday adventurer that lives life on your own terms. There is no time to worry about being poor when you shift your gaze to the endless and exciting possibilities of your freedom.

Alternatively, you could consider yourself a penniless aristocrat like some sort of rake of old London town. This is kind of how we view ourselves. Landed lady and gent with property but no way to pay the rent!

Personally what scares the shit out of me is not the thought of being poor. I am infinitely more scared of continuing my life as a corporate slave eeking out a benign life of buying new stuff then going back to work to pay for more storage space.

There is nothing to fear in voluntary poverty. Our own experiment in impoverished living has bought us more joy, connectedness and happiness than working 7 till 7 ever did.

Work sucks and you’re way too clever to be some bozo that has no other alternative than trading your life away.

Embracing poverty is the fastest route out of the rat race.

Catching up on your reading: the workplace edition

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader”
Margaret Fuller 

I love to read. When I didn’t work so much I read a lot. Recently I’ve been pulled back into working full-time and like most working drones I’m too tired to read at night plus there are so many chores and tasks that it is hard to find the time.

The solution is to become a professional reader. Now I’m not talking about reading as a profession – like a proof reader or something like that. I’m talking about reading books while being paid to be work. Reading while working is like a stolen kiss. All the sweeter.

Here are 6 thought starters…ways to steal a few pages or chapters while you are on the company clock:

1. Pickup pocket sized books and read them in the loo.

2. Print out a few pages of an ebook and just read it at your desk. I find it helps if you stop occasionally, look thoughtful or do a few calculations on a calculator every so often. It all helps to create the illusion that you are engrossed in a serious business text.

3. Take lunch at 11 am and read for your break. The office canteen will be empty. So will local cafes if you feel like luxury coffee. I find this works really well for office productivity too. The quietest time at the office is between 12-2 pm when everyone takes lunch. If you have a break at 11 am you will have good quiet time to get massive amounts of work done. This leaves the rest of the afternoon free for reading 🙂 .

4. Travel reading. If your job involves travel you can read in airports, hotels and between meetings. Don’t feel the need to do any prep reading before meetings. Instead enjoy your recreational reading and then just turn up mentally refreshed and wing it at the meeting like everyone else.

5. Meeting reading. Find a despicable colleague (mine is code-sign ‘exciting new product’) and invite them to reading meetings. We already have 4 in our frat club. My dream is that one day my whole team (11) will become involved. My fantasy is that one day even the team leader, who is also just a job slob like us, might join in. God knows he needs some perspective.

6. Get a screen guard (under the guise of avoiding eyestrain).  Screen guards block people’s ability to see your monitor unless they are directly behind you. Once you have the screen guard fitted just bring in a bunch of ebooks on a usb drive and read until you strain your eyes for real. Best not read directly off the internet. Most companies employ spy monkeys who watch your internet usage.

Got any other tips? Click the comment bubble underneath the title and share!

Furniture hacking

“A clever person commits no minor blunders”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

Furniture hacking is the art of reconstituing old pieces of furniture into something new. It’s part of the wider upcycling movement and an excellent example of bricolage. A skilled furniture hacker will tell you that it’s entirely possible to furnish your house almost free. The costs come in buying fasteners (bolts, screws, nails) and in transportation. This assumes you have some skill or are willing to learn and thus able to avoid labour costs.

We’ve (as in the royal we, actually they were made by Ms Simple) already upcycled two bedside tables and a coffee table. As we move through our house decorating we are starting to think about what furniture we want to make. This follows from our work on the outside of our house to improve the overall value of our property (maybe 🙂 ).

Furniture hacking is something we are both into. We’re always on the hunt for interesting and industrial nothings to turn into shelving. I’m building a child’s park bench out of scrap. We’re considering doing something arty with old bike wheels in our hallway and we have a few other old disused pieces of a machine that we unearthed in our garden. Neither of us know what it was. The debate about what it will be is almost equal to the debate about what it once was.

Our bathroom is probably one of the better rooms in our house, but I’m trying to convince Ms Simple to let me do something like #29 on this upcycling site. Upcycling taken literally!

The thing about upcycling is that you are only limited by your creativity. Skill is not a limitation because in simply trying you will improve your manual abilities. There are also some really good places to find cheap and free furniture hacking starter kits (by which I mean dilapidated furniture to reinvigorate).

Places to find starter kits include:

  • Your rubbish dump especially if it has a recycling swap shop.
  • Freecycle.org
  • Friends, family and neighbours. You’d be surprised what people throw away because it is ‘so last season’ and if you let them know you might be interested they will supply you with their hasbeens.
  • Second-hand and opportunity shops.
  • Schools, churches or business sales.
  • Sports clubs, council or community organisations.
  • Timber recyclers.
  • Businesss liquidations.
  • Storage unit disposals.
  • Skips (one of the best places).
  • Businesses that you supply or frequent. For example our village coffee shop gave us 3 used coffee sacks because we asked for them and they were going to be dumped anyway.

For many people furniture hacking lets them use the thousands of dollars worth of tools stashed in their shed. For others it can be a bit intimidating to figure out which end off the handdrill to hold.

If you are unsure of your abilities don’t let that stop you from giving it a go.

1. It doesn’t matter if you f**k it up. Your materials are free and it was someone else’s rubbish. You will learn a lot in failure. Your next piece will benefit.

2. It is easier than you think. You might discover a talent that you can turn into extra cash selling your furniture to people without the skill or time to do it themselves.

3. You get to be as creative as you like. Imagine living in a house with furniture that is an expression of yourself rather than of some boring corporate bog standard designer that had their ideas built in Taiwan by slave labour.

So we reckon just give it a go. What you can make out of a pallet? Could that container become an interesting lampshade? Why not make that old mower blade into a glass top table?

Upcycling is seriously good fun and slightly addictive!