Back on the Map

Greetings from Savannah, Georgia! My last correspondence came from 35,000 feet somewhere over the Pacific Ocean on my way to Manila, the capital of the Philippines. That was last October and I was in the midst of transitioning between jobs, learning things about myself, and satisfying a thirst for exploration. Since then, I’ve moved across the country, co-authored a New York Times best-selling book, and … Continue reading Back on the Map

Novelty vs Routine

​​Somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, my feet are clad in thin, mass-produced, green tea-colored slippers courtesy of EVA Air. And I love them. I never wear slippers back in the States and couldn’t even tell you the last time I owned a pair. But on my flight to Taiwan, nothing seemed more alluring than partaking in this delightful custom. For far too many flights, my feet have been held hostage to the routine familiarity of American footwear. They shall be swelled and stifled no longer. On this trip, I think I’ll try something a little more novel.

Continue reading “Novelty vs Routine”

Pack Like a Minimalist: Tom Bihn Synapse 25

After two years of research and planning, I’m delighted to finally be writing a minimalist packing post. For me, travel packing is a complex and enjoyable optimization challenge. Volume, weight, material, functionality, and style are all taken into account when I plan a domestic or international adventure. To this end, I’ve complied my packing list and thought process below for my latest trip.

Continue reading “Pack Like a Minimalist: Tom Bihn Synapse 25”

How I (Literally) Downsized My Apartment

For much of this minimalism journey, I’ve been challenging the limits of material possessions–constantly evaluating what provides me a happy and modest life. For the health of myself, the planet, and my communities, I’m choosing to be more conscious of what I buy and own. To that end, I’ve moved into more appropriate spaces based on my needs. With less than one week remaining on my current lease and feeling quite lean, I took on a unique experiment. Rather than reducing my possessions, I decided to reduce the space in which I lived. After selling our final piece of furniture on Craigslist, I physically shrunk my livable space nearly 70% to a frightful 314 square feet. Continue reading “How I (Literally) Downsized My Apartment”

Create Your List of Core Values

Feeling directionless is a common occurrence these days. Luckily I’m not absent of directions per se; I’m simply unsure of which direction to run. Perhaps direction-confused is a better way of phrasing it. Whether bred from intentionality or sudden necessity, facing these existential questions is never easy. In these moments of uncertainty, I return to my list of values–or the principles in which I’ve decided to orchestrate my life–for guidance. Crafted from a space of clarity, I recorded my values to help direct all decisions: accepting a job, starting a relationship, or purchasing a product. The goal is not rigidity, but authenticity. Continue reading “Create Your List of Core Values”

The Challenging Questions of Public Transit

I love when small events create profound change–or the potential for it. In a short instance, previous notions are erased and rewritten with a whole new narrative. I recently experienced one of these moments while reading Jarrett Walker‘s book Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives. For the first time in my professional life, I sensed a great amount of compatibility with an occupation. My engineering background, design skills, and profound passion for developing community overlap so beautifully with transit planning that I couldn’t help but gobble up each page with fervor and inspiration. Backed by decades of transportation consulting, Walker gives life to the basic principles of designing and evaluating public transportation systems. Written for the layman, Human Transit provides the reader with four fundamental considerations in which every transportation agency should ask themselves. For my own learning and with the hope of spreading his teachings, I detail Walker’s conclusions in my own words. Furthermore, I relate these four major concepts to events you may experience while using public transit. Continue reading “The Challenging Questions of Public Transit”

Go Paperless with Google Drive

 

Paper hasn’t always been around. In fact, the wood-based pulp used ubiquitously today only came into production during the 19th century. Every year since then, tons (literally) of paper is created, consumed, recycled, wasted, or used to scribble passing thoughts without…well, a passing thought. In some doctor offices, physical records are still a way of life. To others, paper is an epidemic rearing its ugly head in the form of valpak or Red Plum circulars. (Those packets of coupons drive me nuts!) Some think eBooks are ruining paper’s true purpose–literary art, while others opt into credit card e-statements with zeal. It’s clear that paper has become an easy way to document and transmit endless amounts of information. In becoming more intentional with all my possessions, I realized I had a pulp problem of my own. Continue reading “Go Paperless with Google Drive”

Low-Cost Furnishing: The Multi-Year Craigslist Experiment

Today, all across the country, people are moving their belongings from one residence to another. Perhaps a new job has them headed for Atlanta, or maybe they’re interested in experiencing the charm of Portland life. Even empty nesters–people that haven’t moved in years–are downsizing. In each of these scenarios, folks decide what material possessions make the cut, and what doesn’t. As I go through the process of leaving my third post-college residence, I can’t help but reflect on my experience furnishing living spaces. Just like books, there are numerous methods to sourcing our appliances, tools, and furniture. After more than two years, I’m here to share the results of my multi-year craigslist experience. Continue reading “Low-Cost Furnishing: The Multi-Year Craigslist Experiment”

Let’s Start Talking About Net Worth

A few months after graduating college, I entered the American workforce wide-eyed and full of wonder. I was receiving a steady paycheck and retirement benefits for the first time in my life, and I mused about the ability to live free of financial anxiety. Or so I thought. I was surprised to learn that earning a living doesn’t necessarily translate to a worry-free middle class existence. In fact, I discovered many of my peers spent a lot of time discussing how expensive life can be, why I should never have children, or oversharing their own financial snafus. It became very clear that everyone wasn’t thinking about debt, savings, and their financial health in a practical way. Knowing this, I took an honest look at my fiscal condition and resolved to educate myself on a few basic principles. My first order of business: eradicating debt. Continue reading “Let’s Start Talking About Net Worth”

Discover Your Local Public Library

I define frugality as achieving similar results, for less. Less money, less time, and less energy. In turn, more of these resources are made available for the important things in life. Driven not by laziness, but optimization. This process of thinking is critical for designing an essential life. For example: how can I maintain my current social life, for less? How can I eat delicious foods, for less? How can I get direct access to the incredible minds of authors from around the world, for less? The last of these can be answered with a wonderful resource known to many, but used by few: the local public library. Continue reading “Discover Your Local Public Library”