Wednesday, August 27, 2014

If It Is To Be, It Is Up To Me!

I love the simplicity of that ten word statement comprised totally of two letter words. There is a lot of power in those words. I haven't been able to find the true origin, but the first time I heard it was in the early 80's from Alexandra Armstrong, an accomplished and highly acclaimed Certified Financial Planner and investment professional from Washington, DC.

The ten words are often applied in a motivational context relating to career, professional and business success. However, the words can be applied to any facet of anyone's life. They certainly apply to making changes in your life to realize whatever dreams, goals and missions you have established for yourself including making whatever life changes you need to make to achieve your definition of living free.

A Case In Point

I meet a broad spectrum of people on-line and in person. Meeting people is one of my primary motivations for my particular version of a living free lifestyle. For example, this past weekend I attended the Veteran Speakers Retreat (VSR) in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania. VSR is an event I have attended for more than 20 years. It was my privilege to be the coordinator and run the event for the past 12 years. This year was the first year I attended as a "civilian," a plain, old participant, again.

The event was held at the Allenberry Resort, the location of the Bass Fly Fishing Hall of Fame. To make a long story short, I was cutting through the museum to join other members of the VSR group that had gathered in an informal hospitality area. As I passed through the museum, I noticed an attractive, middle-aged woman looking at the exhibits. I passed a pleasantry with her that developed into a conversation and I learned why she was there and about her. I invited her to join the rest of the group and she did. When I returned to base camp from the VSR I received a nice note from Cindy inviting me to visit her when I might make it to State College, Pennsylvania sometime.

Cindy was there to meet a member of the VSR group and ended up meeting a lot of the group. She is looking for something that the statement, "If it is to be, it is up to me," applies. She drove about two hours just to meet up with one of our group and gained more than she anticipated by meeting many more people who inspired her and made her trip more worthwhile.

The Fear Factor and Living Free

I have been communicating via email with another person I'll call Sam to protect his privacy. He has been going through some serious emotional and psychological pain in his life due, primarily, from his description, to an extremely toxic marriage. An experienced RVer, he wanted to downsize his personal life, leave the toxic home environment, get on the road and "live free." We've had numerous interactions over the past month or so. He'd write to me and ask questions about the kind of lifestyle I've been leading, my motivations, the logistics, etc.

So, now he's ready to make the leap. The downsizing is done. The behemoth RV, downsized to a smaller, more efficient unit more conducive to a single nomad. He's packed up, BUT . . . he wrote me:

". . . I feel like a little boy not wanting to leave home. Going out in the big bad world feeling homeless for some reason and scared I won't like the little Chinook as it is so much smaller and wondering where the heck I am going to park. You see with the big motorhome I just  dry camped in parking lots on the way to Yuma and then we were always in the RV Parks. I am actually afraid and feel helpless although I have a roof over my head and have a small pension and should be financially OK like you and me talked about. What a S***ty feeling, buddy."

There it is, again - "The Fear Factor." Been there, many times. And, I'll bet you have, too. He's giving up a home. He's leaving the "comfort zone" of a relationship, that while extremely toxic is actually, in his mind, more comfortable than facing the "unknown."

The Reply

Here was my reply to him . . .

"Hi Sam,

Believe it or not, I just spent time with another Sam. He is an American born in the US to Dutch parents who took him back to the Netherlands when he was two years old and where he lived through the Nazi occupation and some brutal times. After the war the Dutch tried to conscript him into the Dutch Army and send him to Indonesia. But, his parents took him to the American consulate, since he was actually an American citizen, and enlisted him in the US Army. He got to the US, learned English and built several very successful businesses. He's 84 now and lives with his 84 year old wife (a humor writer and humorist/speaker) in Laguna Beach, CA. 

So, think about this other Sam and what he went through in his life - almost taken by the Nazis because they thought he was a Jew, left the country he grew up in without knowing a word of English even though he was a US citizen, came to a foreign country - his actual homeland, and learned the language and made a success of himself.

So, Sam - seems to me your situation is a piece of cake compared to this other Sam. Whaddaya think? It was FDR who said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." And the only way to overcome whatever the fear is, Sam, is to face it head on. None, but a minute percentage, of the things we fear or worry about ever come to pass. When they do, they are usually far less onerous than the scenario we painted in our minds. You can say we are our own worst enemy - or as was stated by Walt Kelly in his Pogo comic strip, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

So, Sam - whatcha gonna do about it. The biggest challenge to making the jump to living free is breaking out of your comfort zone - and those comfort zones are often your own Hell on Earth. However, so many seem to perfer burning in their Hell because of this "fear of the unknown." So, pose yourself this question: Life is about as bad as I could ever imagine it could be, so what could be worse?

If you can actually make a list of things that could be worse than how you're living now - write them down on a piece of paper. Then, take a picture of your wife, current home and the area you live in. Crumple up the photos and the list you just wrote, light a match and burn them. 

Then, take a look at your birth certificate and just think - you were born to be free, not to live in a prison of your own making or a Hell that someone else created for you. Realize you are being given a free pass to live life on your own terms. Your sentence of bondage and unhappiness has been commuted. You can pick and choose to live any way, any where and any how you choose. And, if you don't like one way you've chosen, you are free to make another choice and you can do that over and over until you find whatever works for you. 

Talk about the greatest gift anyone could ever receive - Your FREEDOM! I know (and so do you) hundreds or even thousands of people who live their lives in self-imposed prisons and a bondage in Hell (toxic relationships) because they fear the greatest gift, the most natural way of living - FREEDOM.

You have a Chinook. They're in demand. They hold their value. If you find the Chinook is not right for you - CHANGE IT! But, give it a chance, first. You may find that living small with a small footprint, small carbon footprint, a certain degree of stealth and the ability to freely go where the 40' behemoths can't go is exactly what you want for your freedom. And, think about all the money you're saving that you can use for all kinds of other things on the "Life List" you need to start creating. A Life List is similar to a "Bucket List" except it's a positive version. It's not about doing stuff before you die, it's about doing stuff to live for. 

Remember the Nike slogan - "(Don't Think) Just Do It!" And there is a short sentence made up completely of two letter words - that should be your mantra - "If it is to be, it is up to me." 

So, aim the nose of that Chinook in any direction and drive - no matter where you end up, you're going to find interesting people, places, things, etc. And . . . you'll be amazed at how many people are going to tell you they envy you and wish they could do what you're doing. Unfortunately, they can't! The reason is because they'd rather stay in their self-imposed prison and the Hell of a relationship and/or job they are in. They fear the unknown and would rather stay in Hell. 

See ya down the road, Sam."

Remember, if YOU want to live free - "If it is to be, it's up to me." Make that one of your mantras and affirmations.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Do You Have A Round TUIT?

Do you have a "Round TUIT?"

I do! I was sorting through another box of "Stuff" the other day, in my ongoing quest to downsize and
minimize (yep - I'm still at the process that seems never ending). In the box, I found a brass, stamped, flat, coin shaped object with the capital letters "TUIT" debossed in one side. The other side of the coin shaped object is irrelevant.
So, it's shape is round and it says "TUIT" on the object - why, that makes it a "Round TUIT." So, what the heck is a "Round TUIT," anyway? I can't spend it. It's not heavy enough to be a paperweight (and I don't have much paper anyway). I haven't seen a lot of these, so my guess is that most people never get a round tuit.

Aha! Do you get it? I finally got a round tuit - or maybe you'll get it if say I finally got around to it. Cute, huh? So, what's the purpose behind a "Round TUIT?" It's simply a tactile and visual aid to remind the bearer of such an object that it's time to get around to it.

At first I was going to toss it in a plastic Ziploc bag that I had already placed currency and coins from New Zealand, the Bahamas, China and a few other countries. I was going to store this bag (now taking up much less space) with other items in my "Chest of Life." However, on second thought, I reached in and removed the Round TUIT and decided I needed to have it in my pocket as a constant reminder to myself and an object lesson for others I meet along my travels. So, it's now in my pocket.

Getting A Round TUIT or Getting Around To It!

Getting around to it, whatever "it" is, seems to be a big challenge for most people. This is directly related to procrastination. I'm actually creating a group for chronic procrastinators called Procrastinators Unanimous. Yes! I said unanimous, because it seems that just about everyone I know is a procrastinator, including yours truly. I'll get around to it, starting the group that is, tomorrow.
Seriously, I'm sure you are planning to get around to it on many things in your own life. Take a few moments (and it shouldn't take longer than that) to make a quick mental list of all the things you plan to get around to. I'll bet if you took a half hour, your list would be longer than you ever imagined it might be.

Didn't Have Time OR Didn't Make Time?

You may have never pondered this concept. I never had until I was about 33 years old. A young man, 32 years old, a business associate, who was becoming very successful taught me this lesson. We were meeting at a hotel in Pennsylvania with a group of other business associates and Tom, my friend, had asked me to do something before I came to the meeting.

We all met up at the hotel and Tom came over and asked me if I had taken care of what he had asked me to do. I responded by saying, "No, I didn't have time to take care of the matter." Tom was disappointed because I said I would take care of his request and I failed to comply. He responded by saying, "You didn't have time OR you didn't make time to comply with the request?" Obviously, I didn't make time. That was an important lesson to me and I've not forgotten it in the 36 years that have passed.

I was fortunate. Tom taught me that simple, yet, profound concept before he died only a few months later in a plane crash. I learned other extremely useful things from Tom before he left this planet far to prematurely. Another very profound thing I learned was from his tragic death. Never count on or put off the things you REALLY want to do until the future because your future may end later today or tomorrow.

When Will You Get A Round To It (a Round TUIT)?

So, when do you plan to get around to your "its?" What are your "its?" Are they downsizing, economizing, minimizing, cleaning up toxic relationships, finding your true "occupational" calling and changing from the drudge job, moving to a location more in tune with your inner physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual and financial needs, hitting the road and traveling the world or the country or any number of other things that will define your choice of "living free? Are you going to join my new Procrastinators Unanimous group when I finally get around to forming it or are you going to make the time and get around to it, now?

I'm going to search out a source of "Round TUIT" coins and have a bunch made up for me so I can make them available to people like you and others who would like to have this tactile, visible reminder that it is time to get a Round TUIT. Stay tuned and I'll let you know when I have them available. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Your Freedom

What would your life be like if you were able to enjoy completely living free?

The catalyst for this post was a comment I received from one of the many professionals I know and continue to interact with from my varied professional career. Here is the comment and I quote it, "Quite the life you're leading, Ed.  I'm envious of your freedom."

I appreciate the comment, but I wonder why so many people are "envious" of my freedom. I honestly haven't done anything all that unique, courageous or heroic. I simply reached a point in my life when I made a conscious choice, a decision to change my lifestyle. Life is all about choices. We've been making them ever since we were infants. You probably don't remember, but you probably made the choice not to eat those gosh awful looking and tasting  strained peas they called "baby food."

So, why would anyone be envious of a choice I made, unless . . . he or she is not happy, content, fulfilled or feel free with the choices he or she has made for his or her life? I do not pass judgment on anyone else's choices. Believe me when I say, even though I've essentially been self-employed all my life (except for a period of conscription when I served in the U.S. Air Force - a choice - for four years), I made choices that limited, restricted and curtailed my freedom, happiness, contentment and feelings of fulfillment.

Even today, I'm not completely free and while I'm usually happy, by choice, I'm not always happy or feel completely fulfilled. It's a process and there are lots of obstacles to overcome on this journey for me and everyone similar to me. Being envied doesn't may me feel freer, happier, more content or fulfilled. It simply leaves me wondering what I can do to assist other people to find their own freedom, happiness, contentment and fulfillment. As the old saying goes, "it's different strokes for different folks." I don't have your answers. So, let's play a game of . . .

What If?
I'll pose a series of questions. You simply answer them honestly for yourself, you don't have to send the answer to me, unless you want to. Be completely honest with yourself. Don't consider how your spouse, children, parents, siblings or friends would want you to think. These are your true answers only for yourself. And, please notice, I didn't provide you with any examples. This is a "Big Boy/Big Girl" game. You know the answers, just be honest with yourself. 


1. What would your life - freedom - look like if you could live any way you personally choose?
2. What laws, regulations, restrictions, limitations, rules, regulations, etc. would you choose to limit any impact on your life?
3. Who, if anyone, would you choose to share this freedom with?


1. What would you choose to do to sustain yourself if you were free to choose any path or endeavor you want to?
2. How hard would work or, better yet, enjoy this endeavor of your choosing?
3. How much time per day, days per week, weeks per year would you commit to this endeavor you enjoy?


1. Where would you choose to live geographically - consider region or country in the world, region of that country, specific state or province and city - or would you choose suburban, rural or outback?
2. Would you consider being nomadic and traveling throughout a state, province, region, country, continent or the world?
3. Would you consider simply being in a fixed location or migratory moving between two or three predetermined locations with the seasons?


1. Who would you include in your living free world - a spouse or partner, married or not, children, other relatives, friends, etc.?
2. What kinds of relationships would you choose to have?
3. Who would provide the revenue for your sustenance by paying you for your chosen work endeavor?


1. How would you travel if moving through migratory cycles or you chose to be nomadic traveling often and across large areas?
2. What would it be if you chose some kind of motorized conveyance - a car (what kind), a truck or van, an RV of some kind that could double as your home, a motor scooter or motorcycle?
3. Would you use public transportation, rental vehicles, bicycles, hitchhike or any other ideas?


1. What kind of shelter would you choose - traditional house (how large and what kind of construction), a tiny house, an apartment or condo, a yurt, a tent of some kind, an RV, a structure of your own design and construction, a shelter of some other kind?
2. How much room would you require for yourself or yourself and anyone living with you?
3. What kind of community would your house be in - a traditional neighborhood, on a farm or ranch, on a large amount of very isolated, primitive land, in a commune, cooperative or apartment complex, would there be any considerations as to age, gender, religious beliefs, nationality, race, interests, etc. of others around you?


1. Would you live simply?
2. Would you live frugally?
3. What would your hobbies, interests and passions be?

The Stuff of Life

1. What stuff would you eliminate from your life?
2. What stuff will you need to maintain a balance between freedom, happiness, contentment and feeling you are living a fulfilling life?
3. What stuff will you want that isn't a real need, but will provide that little extra zest to your life?

What If?

So, there you are. I have given you 24 questions to answer. These are not all the questions that one could apply to this game. You may have others that are more relevant to yourself. Feel free to add them or replace some of mine with yours. These are not difficult questions to respond to if you know what you really want from your life. However, they can be very difficult to answer if you're answering what you believe your spouse, children, parents, siblings, friends and other people, society in general and the government expect from you. Maybe it's been a long, long time since you've dared ask yourself any questions like these.

This "What If" game is only for your personal edification. What if you really could make all these choices (and, by the way, you can) the way you and only you would want to live? Knowing what you know now after experiencing however much life you've lived, would you be in the same occupation/job, have chosen a different educational path, married the same person, live where you live, etc.?

Yes! IF you actually play this "What If" game, you may end with some feelings of discontent, realize you're not nearly as free as you thought you were, are not truly happy, but just going through the motions and do not feel like you are fulfilling your life as it should be lived. But, if you have read through this article before answering the questions, you may not want to actually play the game. However, if you do, and you find that you haven't been true to yourself, remember, you don't know how long you actually have on this planet.

If you're single and have no children to be responsible for, you may want to modify some of your life by making some new choices. If you are attached to someone else in some manner, marriage or otherwise, perhaps you should allow that person to also play the same "What If" game. Maybe you'll find areas of common ground and areas you can easily compromise on. Maybe you'll find that you're both discontent, feeling trapped, not happy and missing the fulfillment boat. And maybe you'll find you've been cheating each other and your children, etc. by not being true to yourselves and each other.

Everything is about choices. Everyone has to make them. They are not necessarily good or bad, depending on your own perspective. And, of course, not making a hard choice is itself a choice. Don't envy people who have made choices that you view as making them freer, happier, more content and seemingly living a fulfilling life. You can't evaluate your life by anyone else's. But, you can make choices for your own life to bring you to the same place based on your definitions of freedom, happiness, contentment and fulfillment. The choices are all yours.