Six months ago I was searching for new music on my streaming app of choice, and found @JFM and @RyanNicodemus hosting a podcast called #TheMinimalists .  I had never been exposed to minimalism, but I was in a season of paring down my own footprint I’d made in the world.

So I started listening, and taking notes.

The ideals and notions they shared were numerous, but one thing they cautioned each listener with was one important piece of advice – “our recipe may not work for you, yours will probably be different.”  The more I listened the more their advice made sense.

It didn’t take long to begin minimizing the areas of my life I had already started working on, but I managed to keep momentum constant.  Making a few lists of each area to stop, start, and continue.  Not all things had to go, most did though.  I won’t try to paraphrase the actual advice they gave, listen for yourself, but I will offer my own curated advice from my journey for paring down, based on one word.


Two syllables, and can have a myriad of meaning depending on the person and the context of where a person is at any particular moment.  My freedom came after the removal of distractions, visual, personal, emotional, and financial – in that order.

Visual Freedom.

I started removing apps from my phone which kept me looking, checking, and watching for updates and notifications.  I silenced all phone app banners and notifications from the few apps that remained.  I spent more time looking around noticing the world around me, and not my phone.  This also let me move about my life without my phone more, or in airplane mode if I do have it with me.

The TV, and Apple TV was easy.  This one deletion gave me back days and weeks back to my life.  A little simple math on the back of an envelope let me know leaving it unplugged was next best move.

Visual stuff on all of the flat surfaces I was used to passing by each day, that didn’t serve a single purpose.  The thing was just there.  Set in the same place each day doing nothing.

I read much more now, that is a fact.  I read on my phone, and laptop depending on where I’m at geographically.  The other benefit to not giving away your time and attention to something with no return.

Personal Freedom.

In some of the podcast episodes there was a notion of  “doing things we’re supposed to do“.  I’ll be the first to say I like patterns and practices, in my line of work we do things we’re supposed to do based on reliable patterns.  Instead I started doing what interested me and working around things I was passionate about.

To get started, I sat down and made a list of things I like to do which won’t cost me a cent to go out and do.  I started there, and slowly added to the list, eventually bringing other things into the list like #LessIsNow in Tampa, concerts, long weekends away from home, and trips to the north to spend time with my family.

Emotional Freedom.

I discontinued making time for things that would emotionally unbalance me at work, at home, and with people.  Specifically with people, the now famous @JFM quote goes like this, ” you can’t change the people around you but you can change the people around you.”  That’s what I did – the time I invested in this one aspect has paid big dividends.

Not all values need to be in alignment between two people, or a group of friends.  However, if I was spending one-way time and effort on relationships, and left them behind in good standing in case any of those folks decided to reach back at some time in the future.  So far, nobody is reaching back and I’m totally cool with that.

Today, I have some new friends, and I’m playing in a band again.  Both came at the same time.  I’m not certain, but I’m thinking these two additions wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t made a few changes I’ve mentioned previously.  Music is like oxygen for me, playing music is like hearing your favorite song for the first time, over and over.  It can appropriately alter my mental state quite easily with the right song at the right time. Always.

Financial Freedom.

All of the above freedoms mentioned fed into this last freedom I’ll mention.  Walking around in airplane mode and deleting the hotspot I thought I needed for work and vacation led to a simpler and less expensive plan for my phone.  I use far less data, talking is basically free – and now my cellphone bill is less than a third of what it used to be.

Over the years I had accumulated five different bank accounts.  My old train of thought was to put away pockets of money in each of these bank accounts and because I didn’t pay attention to them, they’d grow if I forgot about them.  This was just another way in my mind of hoarding without a return on any of the money I wasn’t seeing.  I closed all of the accounts and use one account now.  The bank I ended up with had financial products I use for myself, including home and auto insurance.  There’s savings if have both in one place.  This was some of the criteria I used to make the decision.

Credit card debt.  I didn’t have a lot of unsecured debt, but I had my share and it was nagging at me long before I started paring down.  Now 95% of the debt I had last year is gone.  Rob Bell shared a quote with Ryan, which appeared one of their episodes – “every weight you’re carrying around, you picked up.”  This was what I did, each debt was a like a boulder with a handle on it I couldn’t easily let go of.

Black Beauty.  Of course my motorcycle has a name – the name landed on it the day I made the purchase.  It was a planned purchase but I couldn’t pay it off quickly after I purchased it.  The dealership’s financing group has a really cool option.  As the amount owed decreases – so does the monthly payment.  I didn’t buy into that, I always made triple payments each month, but the burn on the amount owed was lagging more than I liked.  When they day came (early in my own journey) to list all debts and make a plan, this one would be the largest and the last.  I didn’t think I could enjoy riding more than I already did – now that it’s payed for I do, I enjoy riding much more.  Of course I still have to pay for care, feeding, and insuring “The Thing” – but now it’s a “want to do”, not a “supposed to do”.

All of subscriptions, Netflix, Hulu, Showtime, etc. were discontinued as well.  I didn’t know which ones I valued, if at all, since I just sat and randomly binged-watch during the evenings.  I still haven’t brought any of them back in and I still have a Prime subscription which I use for books, a few movies, and TV shows – but nothing like it was.

Local and global contribution is much easier now – there’s more to go around to charitable organizations


It took two guys at Goodwill about 15 minutes to unload my contributions.  The back of my truck (payment) was full, as were the back and passenger seats and floors.  The thought that passed through my mind at that moment was “the weight is not worth the wait”.

The ride back from Goodwill felt good, and walking back into my apartment felt different.  All of the visual clutter and stuff, had been dealt with.  This first load took about a three weeks to build up.  Now, I have a small donation basket near the front door for the things I choose to minimize.

What I brought into my new place was the 10% left from the first major contribution.  I’ve since added some new pieces and paid for them as I bought them.  So far, I’ve purchased a small living room set, a 4’x6′ grease board, two lamps, an Amazon Echo, and the last piece arriving tomorrow is an adjustable standing desk.

I have the opportunity to work from home from time to time, or when I really need to block out the distractions (visual, auditory) I get a work.  Visual and auditory distractions just kill the work/critical-thinking buzz most times.  I’ve setup part of my home to allow me to work as much as necessary, when needed.


From a few of the lists I had made, I started to enumerate the voids I would be creating in my time and attention as I removed things from daily life.  To prepare for the voids, I created a void-filler list and scheduled each of them to fill in different parts of my days, evenings, weekends, and holidays.  This helped me to stay on track with the outcomes I’d planned for myself.


I had planned to move into another newly constructed high-end apartment, because that’s what I do.  I didn’t want to live in something that was “used”.  It didn’t quite work out that way.  I moved to a place I love to live which gave me a one hour commute to work.  However, I got twice the square footage at half the price of the apartment I was planning to move into.  This added to the snowball of paying off debt as well.  And I feel like I’m walking into an AirBNB every time I come home.

Weekends feel like a vacation, and long weekends feel illegal I enjoy them so much.  One of the “big” items on my list was to move away from the congested areas I’ve lived in, and around, greater Orlando.  As anyone can imagine, or knows first-hand, we’re another city with local and tourist traffic issues.  For many reasons I won’t list, I wanted to move away from this, understanding I’d be giving up some conveniences.  It all has worked out – not without a few hiccups and hitches but nothing to move somewhere else.

Instead of hearing sirens, loud traffic, crotch-rockets, and construction traffic I can sit on my patio and hear the occasional cow mooing and birds singing in the trees.  There’s a fire station near the entrance of this community, and I’ve not heard a fire truck siren once.  I can walk outside at night sometimes and see something light up the sky heading into orbit from a Cape Canaveral launch pad. There are hundreds of street lights to impede the night sky here.  It reminds me a trip to Arizona – when you look up at the sky it feels like you can see all of the stars.  This is what I see when I look at the night sky.


These are only partial details from my recipe and journey.  The one thing I did do was only work on one thing at a time – no multitasking, none.  Start one thing, finish one thing – move on to the next thing.

I reached a place where I wanted to share something about both for someone else who might be starting, or contemplating something similar.  That said, I hope this adds a little value to someone, somewhere.








The Florida coasts of a few great areas on our coasts to surf.  If you’ve been to, or seen a competition in person or online the pros make it look easy – so much there doesn’t appear to be much effort in riding a wave or pipe back to shore.

Before the surfer stands on atop the first wave they’ve got to leave the shore, and paddle out.  For the next 60 – 100 yards, they are poking the board’s nose and themselves (“punching”) through the breakers, and smaller waves until they get to a place where they wait and watch for the next big moment on the water.

A couple of things I thought of recently relating to leaning into uncomfortable situations (ones I would tend to avoid) and unpleasant circumstances, I wanted to share.  Maybe with someone who tends to ignore or avoid moments of discomfort.

The first step is to leave the shore, the uncomfortable place where we decide to flee or face what’s been handed to us by life, the universe, our boss, our parents, or the car that just nearly ran us off the road.  With many things recently I have decided to leave the shore and paddle out into a series of breakers, or a place of discomfort.  As an INTJ I’m perfectly suited to avoiding these things, and in the aftermath measuring, refining, and defining how to avoid them in the future – a reaction, or just being a bit more reactive and passive to what I need to reckon with.

The initial response is not to paddle out and punch through the wave about to cause some measure of reaction.  Once you start to paddle out, the breakers are small.  Problems seem much larger than they actually are most times but while you’re paddling out head on and into the first breaker, you’ll have a wide lens to it for what it actually is – maybe smaller or exactly what you expected.  When you punch through an actual breaker you’ll hear the water rush, feel the force of it all over you – in the silence of the ocean. Most times we feel adversity this deep in our being.


When you come out of the other side – one thing remains true, it wasn’t permanent, it was temporary.  What we believe in our minds to be storm surge sized wave, wasn’t  – it was just a breaker.

Personally, I have had to remain inside the wave until I was ready to come out of the other side – YMMV from mine but what does deserve consideration are a two things I now spend more thought on.  The circumstance’s true size and weight, and the outcome I would prefer.  From there, I try to find the steps to manage the outcome and then put my energy and focus into the outcome – not the circumstance.

As you paddle out further and punch through the small ones, you’ll experience some larger ones.  You’ll manage those the same way you found to manage the many smaller ones – this is called “practice”.  You’re practicing the idea you understand the gravity of a situation and the fact it’s temporary.  And while you’re practicing you’ll punch through larger breakers, and waves until you’re sitting on the water watching the next wave you want to ride.  Yes, the wave you want to ride. At this stage you’re cherrypicking the wave you want to ride because not all things need to be dealt with by you. You don’t need to own them or bring them into your life unless you choose to.  Or to use the current analogy, you don’t need to punch through someone else’s breaker(s).

The endgame here is to ride the wave after you’ve punched through many smaller breakers and waves, back to shore.  The place you first left, and felt most comfortable.  After a day, week, or month of punching through breakers and waves you’re hopefully more prepared and balanced to manage larger waves than you thought you were capable of riding.

The work involved with paddling out can be heavy and difficult.  The ride back to the shore can be effortless and more rewarding when you’ve conquered the wave by being on top of it, instead of having to punch through it.


Natural Florida Color

In a previous post, I mentioned a ride I took out to see some “Old Florida”, I was visiting Circle B Bar Reserve.  Quite a bit of foot traffic for walkers, hikers, photographers, and birders along with a momentary gaze into what a large portion of our state looked like in another time.

Even with poor lighting, on my walk I took about ~100 shots, and paired it down to just a few.  I can see much better photo ops with morning light – it’s on the list now.

2018-01-14 15.38.06

Anhinga (more here)

2018-01-14 15.38.25

2018-01-14 15.40.572018-01-14 15.48.362018-01-14 15.55.522018-01-14 15.58.552018-01-14 15.52.472018-01-14 15.54.27

2018-01-14 16.01.11

Hmm… not sure.

2018-01-14 15.50.54

Purple Galinule

2018-01-14 15.46.12

Snowy Egret

2018-01-14 15.47.58

Great Blue Heron

Meaning not Purpose


When someone speaks about their own spirituality it may or may not speak to our own free will.  That’s ok.  We certainly don’t need or appreciate megaphones on the street corners telling us how incorrect our lives are.  At least I don’t.  When ever I see these folks downtown, I challenge them face to face.  And try to correct them – their approach is always old testament – not the new one.  Both testaments have circular references to each other – but the new was built on the old one, further the new one exists because of the old one.  That’s was the path – or the way I always understood it.  The “megaphone” aspect of ministry has always been more noise than signal.

First (enter denomination here) of (enter city’s name here).  To clarify, I was never denomination first.  Is any authentic person denomination first? Denomination wasn’t even second for most of my younger life.  I was myself first and this enabled me to be different in many people’s eyes.  I was, and am, still perfect with this notion.

I was maybe fourth or fifth denomination.  Mathematically, I was 1/5 religious denomination and 4/5 me, the authentic 4/5 which may have made others question me or make others uncomfortable when they were around me.  I grew to accept that about them – but now I realize I was more worried about what folks thought about me, more than I should have.

As time has gone on, being around other authentic people and learning about their authenticity has helped me lean into my  own.  Leaning into this wasn’t always easy for me, but over the last 8 years I’ve own and accepted who and what I am.  It’s not the bar that’s raised in from of me that I had to clear or reach – there’s not longer a bar – the bar was pushing me to be the things I thought I was “supposed” to be.  NONE of that worked for me and just caused immense pain and emotional scarring.

Experiences, friends, education, and self awareness helped me find and understand the puzzle pieces of myself which form an amazing picture of me – not the bar I thought I had to clear.

As I move through the rest of my life some puzzle pieces will get replaced because of changes in my physical or emotional geography.  This grande picture will just get more definition, clarity, and color.  This is how it’s working for me now, and I don’t see any changes coming soon.

Pull The Rope


When we think of pulling a rope, we might be thinking of a tug-of-war, or swinging on a rope over a lake’s edge.

This isn’t the case for this post.  I’m referring to the Andon cord used at the NUMMI plant almost a decade ago on it’s assembly line.  This is what the line worker is doing in the picture above.  Incidentally, this is also the new home of Tesla’s assembly plant.

As a result of pulling the rope the entire assembly process stopped, completely.  The line supervisors were immediately notified a particular line station having a problem.  This did two things – it kept defects from entering a vehicle before it reached final assembly, and it empowers the entire plant.  Anyone could “pull the rope”.

The andon cord is one of many Lean Manufacturing attributes and principles used in many different spaces, healthcare, software development and engineering, to name a few.

“Pull the rope” for me is about stopping or ending production of outcomes which stem from waste in my own life.  Things I’ve wasted over the last few decades have been time, money, and opportunities.  I recently created some space in my life by decluttering material and mental things.  This gave me the opportunity to look at the “waste” (also another Lean attribute) in my own life to see which outcomes I must avoid.

I began to pull the rope when I saw those outcomes materializing in my day.  And I have been diligent about stopping those outcomes for the most part.  This is mental muscle I need to train, it will get stronger with practice.

The result was being more intentional with my time, resources, and opportunities.  Being the INTJ I am, I created a whole plan on my birthday this year and didn’t deviate from it.  How could I keep from deviating?  I saw many better outcomes from this plan.

We know no plan is perfect, and I’ve tweaked this plan as I learned more about the exact outcomes I wanted, and more importantly, why I wanted these outcomes.  The what and the why didn’t always meet when I put this plan together – I just knew I needed to pull the cord on some things, and cut the cord on many others. I did modify the plan, but only when I learned more about the what or the why.

Are there things in your life you need to pull the cord on?  I don’t know, but you probably do.  And if they’re things which manifest themselves into waste you may want to start with those.  To clarify, when I refer to “waste” I wasn’t necessarily thinking in terms of landfills and septic tanks – the Lean definition of waste is something that doesn’t add value.  In this context it would be something which isn’t adding value to someone’s life – stress, relationships, finances, etc.  Those three things are top of mind for me.

For me, pulling the rope has added a lot of value to my life in the short term.  I only see it getting better from here.  I hope it can do the same for you.



Big Red Button

Nope, I don’t mean “be right back”. If so, I would have said that about three years ago when I last posted last, which would have been a lie. Instead I’m referring to the big red button.

Years ago, when we wanted or needed to reset a computer or server, we’d simply say “time to hit the big red button!”, or simple BRB. Times change, and so does the context in the way we use acronyms.

My BRB moment came in late September of this year, a few weeks before my birthday. I came to a point in my life, later rather then sooner, where I understood some change was needed. I wasn’t sure what, but there was something inside pushing for change. How did I know this, or how did it manifest itself? Many things felt disrupted, disturbed, off-center, and (not or) incongruent. Things I enjoyed in the past seemed to be much less enjoyable – and I looked forward to them less and less.

So, to quiet this feeling I started paying attention to what had been going on around me over the last few years. As I mentioned, this happened just before my birthday, and every year I do a 3-4 hour retrospective on my life. On the afternoon of birthday I list in detail, what could I start, stop, or continue. This years list was longer than usual, much longer than the one from previous years. This immediately told my journey need to change – and it did.

Since that time I’ve been executing on the plan I gathered from the start/stop/continue list – and respecting the subtle cues I realized from the previous year’s start/stop/continue list.

I spent some time this morning reading all of my previous posts, and I realize even more the journey is very different than before. And this is a good thing, we become less passionate about things over time – totally normal. The trick for me was I didn’t notice soon enough.

This is where the new blog posts you’ll read, start from. I have 7 topics including this one about this journey, and the recipes I came up with or borrowed from other writers, bloggers or something that influenced me to some type of “aha” moment. Trying to be my own best critic about successes and failures, maybe… something will strike a chord in you as well.