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?