Living intentionally

It is interesting losing everything you own overnight. It is not how most people imagine becoming a minimalist. The complete and utter destruction of property. All that was known and enjoyed going up in smoke. Poof!

But that is what happened. With the Tubb’s Fire in October, my family found themselves without a home, without a wardrobe, without all of the toys we once had. This is devastating but also quite liberating.

Now we are 3 months out and slowly rebuilding our life. We are finding a sense of stability and reimagining our future. We are living intentionally.

What does it mean to live intentionally.

I think it is different for each person. For some it may be curating the perfect home. The perfect decor for your living room.

For others it may be a focus on their career. Trying to climb up the corporate ladder or the political sphere.

For some it may be a life closer to God, their religion, or other higher calling.

Still for others it is retiring early and living your days as you see fit. These are the FIRE types who are doing amazing things. Traveling the world, volunteering in their community, and raising their children as co-parents to mention a few.

For us, as for most individuals interested in minimalism, it is simplifying our lives. Determining how we can decrease the number of things we have to do. We don’t aim for this goal because we are lazy. No! We do it to focus on the thing most important to us, our son and each other.

By simplifying life, we will have less chores to do, less bills to pay, less clothes to wash.

We will focus more on each other and our son. Do some self care which has been sorely missing in our lives for the last year. Work out more, including stretch. Travel more (though work can limit this some). Hike more.

Part of this experiment was not purchasing a TV after the fire. We went for 3 months with no television. It was nice. We talked more, and man did we have a lot to talk about while planning post fire. We went to bed earlier. Overall we felt better. Our new rental has a TV, so we will need to be diligent about not watching it every night. So far we have watched an hour or so most nights.

For me, I am enjoying not having a lawn to care for and a home to maintain. My prior home was 3200 square foot and quite burdensome. We now live in a 1800 square foot home and other than simple things like changing air filters and light bulbs I have no home care duties. This is huge. Before I spent time planning my orchard, mowing my yard, thinking and rethinking how I would like to renovate my home. Now I have none of these thoughts. They are things of the past and it is liberating.

My next goal is to finish up plans for debris removal, rebuilding plans, and overall finalizing some insurance items and old home items. This has been a 3 month long time drain. An important one, but still a time and energy drain.

From spending many nights itemizing all of our possessions for the insurance company. Yes room for room even down to the Q tips. To deciding on an architect and interviewing multiple builders to even determining if rebuilding is good for our finances and our soul, we have been fully engrossed in this process. Luckily we are at the end of it. Insurance has come through on some payments and there are some negotiations to be had. This part of our simplification will soon be done. Hopefully by the end of January if all goes as planned, but maybe even a bit into February.

Then comes repurchasing of stuff. This is the big one. How do you accumulate stuff in life while wanting to maintain a small footprint. While not following a deliberate plan, I am basically ensuring that everything I purchase has more than a one off use. (Actually since I wrote this, plans have changed. I joined the Happy Philosopher in not buying anything this year.)

My clothes thus far consist of 8 dress shirts for work, some slacks and khakis (also for work), socks, a pair of brown shoes, workout sneakers, and casual sneakers. I own 1 winter coat and no suit yet (soon to be purchased). 2 pairs of belts, 2 workout shorts, 2 pairs of pajamas, and 1 swimsuit. There are also the 4 short sleeved casual shirts and an assortment of t-shirts. Man now that I write this, it seems like a lot.

Outside of clothes, other things are easily kept to a minimum. A printer, laptop, some printer paper. This is what I am doing. My wife has to figure out what she wants and is nesting to some degree. Our kitchen has the household gadgets she wants but not too much. Our son has toys and books, but has already donated some gifts provided to him. When you look around we really don’t have that much, particularly in comparison to most families, but it still feels like a lot of stuff.

Still we are conscious of our purchases and accumulation of things and will likely not accumulate too much. The last 3 months was a massive accumulation time frame, but this too shall pass.

Going forward I hope to follow the basic investing strategy of Keep It Simple Stupid, but expand it to my life in general. We will move past a 3 fund portfolio and live a 3 pronged life- Family, Fitness, and Finances.

Family– I will continue to make time for my son and wife first and foremost, then my brother, parents, and in-laws. Keeping my own predilections and biases out of our relationships, I will focus on the time together and quality of that time.

Fitness– It is time for self care. To follow my 3 pronged approach to fitness: Cardio, Strength, and Flexibility. Most are good at the first two and terrible with stretching. Before moving to Cali I was quite flexible, but have reverted back to stiff, aching, middle aged man.

Finances– We are on the high speed train this year. I am taking some insurance money and slowly deploying it in the stock market. I paid off all of our loans except for my mortgage and a 0% car loan. One of those will be gone soon too. I am front loading my 401k contributions and taking advantage of a after-tax account through work. And of course, work falls under finances. Having a stable job, particularly after a natural disaster where many lost their jobs over night, is a blessing. I am grateful for my work. It pays well. I help people. I have good co-workers. While I may many things I want to do with my time, I also appreciate that I can be a physician part of that time.

So what about you? What are you doing to live intentionally and what does that mean to you?

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I am a Dad and Doctor trying to find financial freedom by owning my dollars and debts. Helping dads with their finances so they can focus on the family.

11 thoughts on “Living intentionally

  • February 13, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    “We do it to focus on the thing most important to us.” There’s no greater statement. THAT is EXACTLY what it’s all about. Sorry for you that it had to present itself in an all-consuming fire of everything that you deemed important, but fascinating in the reality that your loss to the fire created a realization in you of what’s REALLY important. You’re in a fascinating journey, and I think of you often, Dad. Praying that your journey back to “reality” gives you the opportunity to realize what’s really important, and your life’s trajectory is forever changed by what you’ve gone through.

    Powerful post.

    • February 13, 2018 at 7:46 pm

      Thanks Fritz and you are absolutely right. Changed for ever and for the better if you ask me. Tomorrow is a new day and new beggininga. I hope we get to meet some time in the near future.

  • February 11, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    I know this is not going to come out right. But I am almost jealous of your house fire. Hitting the reset button and building back from the ground up while focusing our your current mindset is a hard choice to make, but the fire means it is a reality whether or not you would have normally pulled the trigger. Sometimes fate forces our hand.

    • February 11, 2018 at 12:11 pm

      Not wierd. It’s maybe wierd that in many ways it is liberating. It is all in the mindset. For some people I know it is a terrible state because so much was tied in their life built around their home and stuff.

  • February 10, 2018 at 11:54 pm

    I’ve been following you since the Tubb’s Fire and I find your story very inspiring. It’s remarkable that you remain so positive and feel liberated after such devastation. It reminds me of the quote from Fight Club: “It’s only when we’ve lost everything, that we’re free to do anything.”

    You are now free to do anything and live your life intentionally exactly how you want to. Family, fitness, and finances are excellent things to focus on.

    I’m living intentionally by focusing on the same 3 F’s too! 😀

    • February 11, 2018 at 6:02 am

      I have been enjoying it. I am Tyler Durden. It has awaken possibilities in our life when before I kind of felt stuck. It will be interesting to see where it goes. I am excited to see how your blog develops too…buy nothing challenge accepted and frugal living continues!

  • February 10, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    My fire taught me it’s not so much about minimalism as it is about boundaries and discipline in the environment. Buy exactly what you need no more no less and buy it when you need it. I bought 2 high end suits. 3 dress shirts. Some golf shirts, 3 pair of pants, 2 sets dress shoes. It’s all I need. It’s 20 years later. I virtually never wear that stuff except for church, business meetings, or a wedding. Underwear and running shoes gym clothes rotate in as they wear out. I essentially live in workout clothes or scrubs.

    My wife wanted a multitask mixer for the kitchen. I bought the best consumer grade device for several hundred that wore out in 3 years. I bought a commercial grade device for twice as much, that is 20 years old and as good as the day it was new. We call it the kitchen tractor. I bought a $1500 consumer grade tread mill that wore out in a couple years. I bought a $5000 gym quality treadmill that is 24 years old and has 12,000 miles on it.

    The Zen of that is, my job is to construct the environment in a way that actually fits the need, not just an immediate cheap substitute that approximates the need. I can’t give my wife everything she wants but I can damn well give her what she needs. I did the same thing for my kids. My daughter wanted to play piano. So she started with a keyboard, then as she proved interest and determination, a used Baldwin entered her life, as she got really good, I studied grand pianos and bought her a Kwai grand which is a top end Japanese brand. She also got interested in recording and started a youtube channel. So I bought her a video camera she made 150 videos of various compositions and wound up with 1500 subscribers and a whole number of friends from across the world that shared her interest. Not just pianists but all kind of talented kid musicians and they spurred each other on in performance. She is now completing her degree in music and does weddings on the side (side gig). She also got interested in photography and took some training in high school. I bought her a camera and then a better camera plus lenses for graduation. Her photography has won 3 awards with cash prizes and she taught herself how to market her photography business by learning how to code web pages. Second and third side gigs.

    The point is it’s not about things, it’s about creating a environment where creativity, learning, enjoyment and growth happens. I did the same for my other daughter, set up a playpen where she could grow into her skill set and push on through the boundaries. She’s very entrepreneurial and also a photographer but with a very different style than her sister. A different way to think about the Zen of minimalism. All of this was mindful. My payoff? I get to watch them grow and create their futures.

  • February 10, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    Your story, reminded me of something analagous, but on a tiny scale. Me and two college friends were trout fishing in my fishing boat. We were careless and got swept into some white water rapids. The boat filipped and sank and much of our gear was lost. Everyone survived, so we were fortunate. As a lifelong angler whose tackle box was now in Davy Jones locker I had to start over. What I noticed was that it only took about $50 to replace all my lures even though I had lost hundreds of dollars worth. Why? Because I only used about 10% of the baits I had owned, the ones that worked. I suspect that is true for my clothes and other possessions too. Only I haven’t faced the loss of them like you have.

    • February 10, 2018 at 12:48 pm

      Pretty wild huh? Humans accumulate a lot of stuff particularly as they are figuring things out (figure your 20s or when you start a new hobby). Then we know what to use and it makes things way easier and cheaper. Just being the necessities. Glad you made it safe and consider the tackle box a sacrifice to the trout Kings.

  • February 10, 2018 at 4:23 am

    Thanks Kristine. There is something quite freeing about not buying stuff and owning stuff. No clutter. No fear of packing if we need to meet me. Honestly our largest area and most painful area to pack would be the kitchen when time comes to move. It is quite freeing indeed.

  • February 10, 2018 at 4:21 am

    The less stuff you have, the less space you need, and the more freeing it is at the end of the day. It makes a huge difference in quality of life to live a more minimalistic lifestyle. I’m with you on that front! Glad you’ve been able to sort out most of the insurance and rebuilding processes.


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