Remembering a fun hike

I have to give Joe Ulmer credit, he stuck to my pace the whole ~30 miles of our Knobstone Trail adventure this past weekend. A dozen stories to be told… for now, a bit of his Instagram feed.

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new menu option: journal.

journal every day.

Journaling is popular, and for good reason. A simple way to increase your well-being is to cultivate the practice of being grateful. Hence, many influencers encouraging writing several entries into a gratitude journal each day. I’ve taken it a step further.

Getting your life pared down to an ideal human scale and pace requires getting yourself out of auto-pilot mode and paying attention to several important areas. If you look at my menu bar, you’ll see a new entry:

journal.

When you click on it, it will take you to a form that will guide you through the several topics important to living at “HS&P.” While some are partial to pen and paper, and others have their own journaling app, I added the journal section so that those who wish to, could use it to establish the habit. If you eventually migrate to another means of journaling, great! Adding an entry also allows you to go in and see what others have written. Use this as a means of inspiration and sharing others’ successes.

Will you give it a try?

If it seems a tad voyeuristic, just remember that in writing for public consumption, keep the most personal details to yourself and use general descriptors and pronouns when mentioning others. “DW” or “DH” instead of your spouse’s name.

It is best to establish the habit at the same time every day, meaning when your journal will end. That will normally be at the end of the day, and you’ll add your journal entry before going to sleep. But if you are a morning person, or an afternoon person, simply add yesterday’s entry today. Too easy, right?

Click on the menu bar’s journal. tab to get started.

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Tiny thoughts on homes of all sizes

 

Tiny houses are becoming more popularGimme Shelter

Having a roof over our heads has always been one of a handful of human goals, and over the millennia we have perfected the art of turning a house into a home. And until recently, those homes were small. For good reason.

Smaller houses are easier to heat and cool. They are easier to maintain. Most importantly, they cut down on the urge to buy things we don’t need. Finally, they emphasize that there is a big, beautiful world out there full of gardens, parks, and well…nature!

We have always taken care of the important things first: Food, clothing, and shelter. And beyond that, connection and purpose. We could toss in a handful of modern advancements that augment those to round out the picture a bit, but I’ll use the acronym the military uses for assessments in stability and support operations, SWEAT-MS:

  • Sewage
  • Water
  • Electricity
  • Academics
  • Trash removal
  • Medical care
  • Safety

How do those elements affect us?

Many people who are considering tiny houses also want the freedom to be able to go “off the grid.” This can present a problem if your little abode is in town.

Everything here at small. slow. happy. deals with human nature, scale, and pace. That includes houses. I have said before that I’m not interested in dictating to anyone what size their house should be. The other side of that coin is that since you’re here, you may be interested in making your life conform better to human scale and pace. That may affect your housing choice.

Most cities also force you to hook up to the city water and sewer and perhaps even electricity. I’m not saying that is a bad thing, but if you want to collect rainwater instead of having city water, or rely on biomass alone for heat, the utilities will inform the local government and they’ll kindly inform you that you have to play their game.

My point here is for you to check the rules of the game with your local government before making a decision that could come back to bite you. But also be an advocate, right where you are, for alternate means of attaining the same result.

Living in the county instead of the city can distance the reach of government, but that puts you further away from popular services. If you’re aligning your life more closely to human scale and pace like me, it can increase the number of services you’ll have to learn to provide for yourself.

Are you prepared to learn those skills or to travel longer distances to obtain them?

If you have had experiences like this with your tiny home, or even in your thoughts as you wrestle with the decision on whether to downsize, leave a comment below.

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Grounding myself by the water

As you have figured out, I stop quite frequently at Bryant Creek Lake on my way to work. When I come around the curve south of the Morgan Monroe State Forest entrance on Old State Road 37 on workdays, the little gravel patch of a parking lot calls to me.

I discovered the place while on a training hike with my son last year, before I even started working at the university. He and I are going to complete a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in a couple of years.

The lake also appeals to the resident geese. As the sun is coming up, or has just come up, they are energetic about starting their day – honking to each other, calling to their neighbors gliding through the air and dipping their wings in the water as they negotiate a place to land.

So does the beaver who many mornings makes a show at his displeasure that I’m standing on the shore with my trademark tumbler of scalding hot coffee. He will do a forward flip, planking his rigid tail even with the water to make a loud “belly flop” sound.

Being there even for two or three minutes sets the tone for my day.

Do you have a place like my lake where you can ground yourself in the morning?

Tell me about it in the comments box!

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Giving up

Several people have asked me what I’m giving up for Lent. They ask me because I’m Catholic and they have a morbid curiosity. To be honest, I hadn’t even picked anything between Ash Wednesday this past weekend, but since I’ve been wanting to do something really bold and austere, in the way of “dude, that is simply not possible!” austerity, I’ve decided to remove every remnant of fun from my life until Easter.

What I’m saying is that I’m giving up meat and beer.

Don’t choke too hard, friend. I can do it. Mostly because my diet until Easter will consist mainly of whiskey and beans, but also because such self-discipline is good for the soul. Yeah, there will be great side benefits since giving up these things falls nicely in line with living small, slow, and happy, but that is hardly the point at this point.

Console me in the comment box below.

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Yellowwood State Forest Bench Build

Boy, talk about relishing the opportunity to get all small, slow, and happy! I spent the day with new friends from the Knobstone Hiking Trail Association, walking pieces of bench up steep southern Indiana hills, enjoying leisurely conversations about the history of how Indiana’s hiking trails were built, and eating cold sandwiches at the dam by Scarce O Fat. Check out the video and let me know what you think.

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And now a word from our sponsor

The great folks at NatureRX have put out a series of Nature ads that have me belly laughing. Getting out in nature, as you obviously know, is one of the best things you can do to incorporate human scale and pace into your life. Humor is another. Click and laugh, I’m sure you will get a kick out of it.

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Top five habits: #5 Connection

building connections with others
Connection has everything to do with our relationships, but more importantly, it has to do with the quality of our relationships. Today, I want you to consider something, and I don’t have any science or research to back it up, but I do have that feeling in the pit of my stomach.

And you didn’t even know that stomachs had pits!

Consider this: Auto-pilot relationships normally proceed from a certain point of origin, and the way we treat others when we ourselves are in auto-pilot mode is highly scripted. There isn’t much thought put behind them, and we are mindlessly lobbing tennis balls without even caring if they make it over the net.

While it is true that we should be others-focused, that focus originates in us. I repeatedly say that I am the only piece on the chessboard whose moves I get to decide. I’m the only actor on the stage whose lines and movements I control. But here is the great thing…you don’t have to react in auto-pilot mode. A good life is rarely the result of what happens to us, but rather how we respond. Respond as a person who is fully alive in the moment.

Good relationships should be treasured. But this is where I differ with others who often selfishly say that we should abandon those who don’t serve some ultimate purpose in our lives. Maybe their negativity kills our vibe. Maybe they refuse to let us move on in our own lives, whatever that means. Or maybe they know too much about our “former lives.”

You know what? I don’t throw people away. I never have, and I never will. And I hope you don’t either, because it is a rotten thing to do. Our lives aren’t meant to be one pleasant stroll through a wildflower garden every single moment. Sometimes things are downright rough and bruising. We live in a fallen world, and we are fallen people.

Connection that doesn’t throw people away looks something like accompaniment through life. I state in Human Scale Happiness that I’d rather accompany people than be their judge. Yeah, sometimes we have to get all Judgy McJudgerson if someone is going to make a really dumb decision or harm themselves. But most of the time I would rather accompany a person. When we judge, we usually make a break with the person we judged. Isn’t it nearly impossible to continue to nudge people in what we believe is the right direction if we’re no longer walking with them, accompanying them?

Did you ever watch The Big Lebowski, or see a T-shirt with Jeff Bridges mug on it with the saying “The Dude Abides”? What I’m talking about is kinda like that. The Dude is an interesting character who doesn’t always make the right decision, but he does abide. Abiding is kinda sorta like accompanying.

In your relationships, your connections, always make an attempt to know where the other person is coming from. You’ve heard the saying about walking in someone else’s shoes? I’ve always said that you should always walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before judging them. Why?

Because then you’re a mile away, and you have their shoes.

Kidding. When you are maintaining less than desirable connections, remember that their attitude and possible deficiencies aren’t about you. They don’t refer to you, they always refer back to their origin. And unless that origin truly is you, you can settle down a bit and breathe.

Their attitude or negativity isn’t about you, even when it is. Why? Repeat it with me again: Because it doesn’t refer to you, it refers back to it’s origin.

You can learn more about active constructing responding, about being an irresistible connection, about being an outward focused person who strives to give others what they are owed, and about short-circuiting auto-pilot mode and being a mindful friend.

But for today, think about your relationships as connections that you choose to value and develop with imperfect people in a fallen world.  Don’t throw anyone away, but rather see yourself as a valuable gift to be given to others. Nobody else can be the person you are to your connections. So be.

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Motivation

You may not be able to get everything done today, but you can do one thing!

Do your one thing today.

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Take the Unsumer Challenge

I added a new page to the website today, after spending quite a bit of time in the basement getting rid of stuff I’ll never use. The tab is at the top of my home page, and it is titled “Unsuming.”

Want to join in the fun as I get rid of meaningless stuff? Tell us what you got rid of! Here’s how it works. The Minimalists (dot com) have a 30 day minimalism challenge, where you begin on the first day of the month, and on each day, you get rid of enough stuff so that the day of the month is the total. On the thirtieth day of the month, you’d get rid of 30 things.

In the Unsumer Challenge, you add up the numbers in the day of the month, and get rid of that many things. And tell us about what you trashed! The highest number of things you’ll get rid of on any given day is 11. That being the total from the 29th of the month.

Does it sound like fun?

Click on the Unsumer tab, or just go ahead and click this link.

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