Archive for the 'simplified lifestyle' Category

More Depressing News About the Housing Market

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

U.S. Housing Rebound to be Prolonged: Harvard Study

By Lynn Adler

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Record foreclosures and limited access to credit will make it harder than usual to rebound from this U.S. housing market slump, the worst at least since World War Two, according to a Harvard University study on Monday.


This isn’t the news anyone in the real estate industry wants to hear, but I can’t say I’m surprised. My gut feeling is that we will not see a real thriving RE market for another 5 years, or so. That said, I think it’s time we Americans re-evaluate our continual striving to trade-up and take on more debt. Maybe this go-round with a depressed housing market/economy will allow us to ease-up on ourselves and be happy with what we’ve got?

Would you rather have a really big house, or really big life?

Any opinions on this? Please share.

To read the entire Washington Post article paste this link into your browser:


How to Save Money on Gas

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

These days it seems like every other headline has to do with the high price of gas. This one from The New York Times caught my eye: Greased Lightening, an op-ed by a young man who converted his car to run on biodiesel fuel.

People are desperate for alternatives to the high price of gas. Even my brother has mentioned that he’s thinking of altering his car to run on biodiesel fuel (AKA - french-fry grease). My father sent away for a manual on how to make his car run on hydrogen extracted from water. Apparently, it’s not that hard to convert your car to run on restaurant grease and a lot of people have done it, but I’m not sure about the simplicity of the water/hydrogen conversion; in-fact it sounds downright dangerous. I envision my parents’ garage exploding when my Dad accidentally splits a hydrogen atom or something in the process. Anyway, he hasn’t said anything about it for a few weeks, so maybe he’s given up since the manual was over 150 pages.

According to the Greased Lightening article, while converting your car to run on biodiesel fuel isn’t hard, it’s the picking-up of the nasty smelling stuff, lugging it home (without spilling it), heating it, straining it and storing it that sounds like a big pain in the neck. Plus, the writer says that when his car runs it stinks like a garbage truck on a hot summer day. Ugh.

Since I can’t see myself driving a car where I have to stop and wretch from the stench every few minutes, I’ve decided that the best way for me to deal with the high gas prices is to keep it simple and do what I can to increase my gas mileage. Here are few things I’m doing to extend the times between refills on my car:

1. When I go out I plan a route that will take me past several stores/stops at one time.

2. When I get stuck at a train crossing I shut the engine off.

3. I emptied out my trunk of all extraneous items to reduce the weight of my car.

4. I’m checking my tire pressure to make sure they aren’t low - as that reduces mileage.

5. No more speeding – it burns too much gas.

6. I’m only using the air conditioner on the hottest days - 90 degrees and over.

7. I coast downhill and to red lights now whenever I can. (If you’re behind me don’t bother honking – If you want me to go faster you’ll have to get out and push my car.)

If anyone has any other gas saving tips – that will not make anything smell like garbage – please share.

To read the article in The NYT from June 9, paste this link into your browser:


How to Be Healthy Wealthy and Wise

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

I’ve come across a lot of articles recently that say good health is tied into the cycles of the sun, or what are known as circadian rhythms. Could it be old Ben Franklin was on to something?

For a long time I’ve been trying to get to bed earlier so that I’ll get up earlier. I really enjoy that quiet time in the morning before there are many cars on the road. I love the stillness and banter of birds at the feeder on my deck. I find I do my best writing and thinking at that time too. An hour can slip by before I notice. It’s a time ripe with endless possibilities as the day awaits stretched ahead of us.

The problem I have is that I go to bed too darn late every night and miss many an awe-inspiring morning. I’m either staying up late to finish an article, watching that hilarious rerun of Seinfeld I’ve seen at least 5x but can’t turn-off, or just checking my email - for the 100th time. In any case, all these critical can’t be missed distractions prevent me from bounding out of bed when the sun rises.

From what I’ve read, artificial light from lamps, televisions and computers cuts into sleep time interfering with our sleep patterns which creates a state of perpetual jet lag. (To read more about this check out When you think about this it makes sense. After all what is jet lag? It’s when our internal body clock, or circadian rhythm, is not synchronized to the time where we’ve traveled. Our biological clock depends on the cues of light and dark to regulate not only sleep but a host of hormones that affect our health. Lack of sleep is also known to be a contributing factor to obesity. One study even showed that workers on prolonged night shift duty had a higher incidence of cancer.

A few weeks ago I managed to get to bed and be up early for 5 consecutive days. I felt better than I had in a long time and got everything accomplished on my to do list energetically and with ease. I thought finally I’d licked the burning the midnight oil habit forever. On the 5th day I had an obligation that kept me out well past my new 10 pm bedtime. In the morning I forced myself out of the bed at sunrise anyway but felt like a zombie all day. There’s nothing like lack of sleep to make you cranky and a mental dullard. The next day I slept a little later and went to bed a little later until after a few days I was back to my old routine of staying up until midnight. But, the memory of how exhilarated I felt at getting up with the sun stayed with me.

I have a number of very good friends who are natural early risers. And, while their eyeballs roll to the back of their heads at around 9:30 pm, I have to admit they are among the most productive people I know. Their houses are always spic and span; you’ll never find a dirty dish in their sink, and the best part is they get up and exercise every morning no matter what even on vacation – and that I truly admire.

In light of all this I’m planning to try my ‘early to bed and early to rise’ experiment again. This time I want it to stick, so I’m going for 30 days - since it takes that long to change a habit. I want to use that time to meditate and exercise and write before I have to start the work day. No more wasting time on self-sabotaging distractions. So, I’m apologizing in advance to anyone who’s with me when my eyeballs roll to the back of my head at 9:30 pm.

Too Many Obligations – So Little Time

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

“There is no question that people in the Western world can become consumed by work, travel, family and all kinds of demands and distractions. This is true for so many of us that we can often find ourselves unnecessarily irritable at the mention of another demand. Even when we plan to slow down, we can still become drawn into activities because we are habituated to doing so.” Science of Mind Magazine, May 2008 p.46

You know, I AM irritable these days.

Stress is one of those things that creeps-up on you little by little. At the time you join a new club or volunteer organization you have great intentions and your enthusiasm is high. You’re not thinking about how rushing to another meeting a few times a month will affect you. But, after adding layer upon layer of new responsibilities and commitments to our lives the pressure to meet them all puts a big squeeze on the time we have to just be.

When my Toastmasters group approached me to be the secretary I said no. We all have but 24 hours a day and just 7 days a week, so shouldn’t we be focusing on the pursuits that support the vision of our lives we’re working to create? Years ago I would have felt it impossible to say no to taking on the position of secretary, but not anymore.

This got me thinking about an aunt who always said, “Why not?” when asked by family to join them in an outing. She was always ready and willing to visit family, or when she was younger to entertain family in her home. She seemed to enjoy her life. Why is that? I think it was because she wasn’t so over committed and pressed for time that in between commitments all she wanted to do was be alone so she could decompress.

At times I don’t even want to answer the phone. I feel stretched too thin. Phone calls are stressful because in sales they’re never ending - plus many clients haven’t a clue of how that one last call at 9:30 pm could possibly push you over the edge. For parents it may be one more request by a child, or cleaning the counters of crumbs – again or finding dishes in the sink – again. In any case, downtime which is so underrated in our society is quite necessary and healthy. Without enough downtime I tend to go to the other extreme by pushing away all commitments even ones that might be fun.

That being said I’m thinking a lot more these days about the commitments I’ve taken on. Part of maturing is learning to say no. I think it’s healthy to disengage from activities that no longer contribute to creating the life you desire. Sometimes in order to ‘keep on keeping on’ we have to move on.

Unplugging From Materialism is No Easy Task.

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Pure Divine Love is no meek priest OR tight banker. It will smash all your windows. And only then throw in the holy gifts. Hafiz, I Heard God Laughing

Since my last post I received an email and one comment regarding selling my house that I wanted to address since both had to do with “letting go of stuff.” Here are the excerpts:

“One question you could perhaps ask yourself is - If the market were strong today would I definitely sell? Is it just the fact that the market is down - or is it really that you do not want to give up living in the house? I am in the middle of reading Eckhart Tolle’s book that Oprah has been doing the online class for (A New Earth - Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose). It’s really thought provoking.”


“I think that your dream was a clear sign that you need to let go of the house and move on to your passion. Trust that things will fall into place to support that choice, which I hear is the one you want to make.

Actually, what you are teaching others is to not make “stuff” the focus of their world because it doesn’t feed the soul. The house that you have become attached to is actually “stuff” too. It is weighing you down with responsibility and making you very unhappy. My advice is to let it go, sell it, get out from under it. There really is no right timing–follow your heart–your passion!”

First, thank you both very much for your insights. I agree that my dream was a clear sign to make the career change.

It’s also true that I’ve become attached to this house. I can go on living here as long as I stay in my current job where my earning potential is greater – and that’s what is weighing me down. Originally, I’d planned on selling after my prepayment penalty expired, and I’d finished the renovations. But, when the market stalled in 2006 I decided to wait to see if it would pick up again and that’s why I’m still here, plus by then I’d developed another attachment - making a profit on the sale. So, the slow market does play a factor in my reluctance to sell right now. If the market were appreciating this decision would be far less difficult. Now, I’m hoping to break even – a new attachment.

I’m almost finished reading A New Earth. I’m finding it much easier to read than The Power of Now. I haven’t done all the online sessions with Oprah and Eckhart, but the ones I did view answered many questions. His explanation of how our egos need to create attachments and identities to stay ‘alive’ is really an eye-opener. I’m working on peeling away the layers of attachment I’ve developed. It’s not an overnight process. Knowing your attached is the first step; detaching takes getting used to.

Over the years I’ve read books by various authors on the topic of awakening from the illusion of the ego, but understanding something intellectually and living it are two different things. It takes mindfulness and a deep spiritual maturity. The first big detachment I experienced was leaving a private banking career to go back to school. It took me years to detach enough to make that decision. The greatest tool I found to date is meditation. Without it I don’t think I could have detached from the identity of my former career. All I can say is that I still have a long, long way to go, but I view each day as an opportunity to try again.

To smashing windows!

P.S. This house has 35 windows if you count the garage.