True Underdog Story

As most of you know, I went to Kenya a couple months ago. On my return flight I briefly met a young guy in his mid 20s, I don’t even know his name, but for sake of this post we’ll call him Phil. Let me help paint the picture of Phil. He’s tall and lanky. Not homely but not dashingly handsome. He doesn’t really have a sense of fashion, he’s the type to throw on whatever’s practical and comfortable. He’s very friendly and likes to talk but he’s no smooth talker with the ladies. Getting the picture?

Well, we got into a conversation after getting off our flight about what he had been doing in Africa. He told me that he was there because for the past couple years he’s been watching Man vs Wild and thought what Bear Grylls does on that show is so cool. Now, most guys would agree that Man vs Wild is a cool show and as men, most would want to experience a “manly” adventure like that. Unlike most guys, though, Phil actually acted on that impulse and decided to take his own trip across the world and have the adventure of a lifetime.

As he was telling me his stories, I couldn’t help but smile. Here’s a guy who probably wasn’t the coolest guy growing up and he doesn’t have a prestigious job or much of a career. However, he just went and travelled throughout a number of countries in Africa and did some amazing things like going to remote tribes, scuba diving, and visiting ancient ruins. I can only imagine how fulfilling this made Phil feel having grown up with his background.

I don’t care how uncool or dorky people think Phil might be, he has some of my highest respect. This guy has grown up being the underdog, and like all underdogs, Phil had a dream. But unlike most people, underdogs and non-underdogs alike, Phil made his dream a reality. To me, that’s cooler than the best dressed, best looking, and smoothest talking guy on the block.

Phil broke free of his inhibitions. I hope his story challenges you to do the same.

On Spontaneity and Having Fun

Living simple is suppose to create happiness and freedom but sometimes that’s not enough. In my case I’m living more simple than ever before and yet I’ve noticed a significant diminish in my “cheeriness” level. If you asked me what’s wrong, I couldn’t tell you. Everything had actually been going in my favor. Yet something was missing in my simplistic lifestyle.

Even though I’ve set up my life to where everything I do is something I enjoy doing, it still can become an enjoyable routine. Every once in awhile there’s a need for spontanaity. Notice I said spontanaity and not just having fun. Because in my life everything I do is fun but there’s a certain level of normalcy about it and it’s all penciled into my schedule. I had a New Year’s Eve party at my house which was fun but it was still run of the mill because I had to plan it.

New Year’s Eve differs from last night when I just went out to eat with some friends, kicked back, and shot the breeze. Then after that a group of us got wind of place with a local band and went there for awhile. It was so relaxing and I felt that it being short notice made it more special than something being planned and thought over.

So what am I trying to say? Just don’t get caught in the tracks of your life. Every once in awhile leave space in your schedule not to be a couch potato at home but to text some friends and see who wants go to do something. What’s fun for you is probably different than what’s fun for me, but the point isn’t what you do but that you take the initiative to do something. After all, isn’t that part of why we’re trying to be simplistic so that it frees us up to live more of life? What good are those efforts if we don’t take advantage of those new found freedoms?

New Year “Resolutions” 2011

I wrote in my Christmas greetings how last year was all about getting established, and this year is going to be about building on that foundation in a number of ways. New Year resolutions are overrated, I’m more about New Year principals. I have a number that I pulled and made my own from Jonathan Edward’s resolutions.

Here’s my main goals I’d like to see happen in my life this year.

  1. Redefine Christianity for my life. (If you want to know what that means, keep reading my blog this year)
  2. Come to an end on my minimalist (not simplicity) journey (I’m well aware that my journey will restart if a variable changes in my life such as getting married, moving, etc)
  3. Find my own apartment
  4. Graduate Paramedic school

Here’s a link to a list of what I call my “Life Rules“.

Top 10 Posts Worth Reviewing in 2010

It’s been a great year being able to write on this blog, and it’s been neat to see how it’s grown since its inception. Based on how many people visited, here’s a list of the top 10 most visited posts on Live [Simply] Free. Happy New Year!

10. How to Prepare for Minimalist Travel

9. Setting Up to Live Extraordinarily

8. The Ultimate Trick to Waking Up Early

7. A Look At What I’m Packing | Mission:Kenya

6. Traditional Minimalists Live in a Bubble

5. Reply to: Carry Less Stuff

4. The Harris Family Lives Simple in Kenya

3. Christmas Greetings 2010 from Andrew Randazzo

2. Not Your Average Minimalist

1. Oh The Places You’ll Go

Christmas Greetings 2010 from Andrew Randazzo

It’s been a good year, the best in my life actually. So much has happened in the past year that it feels like it’s been 2yr. A year ago I graduated from college and was determined to transform my life. It all started with this idea of simplicity and minimalism, and everyone thought I was crazy and that it was just a passing fad. People still think I’m crazy, but now a year later, people are getting the idea that this isn’t just a passing fad.

I started a 1-year internship in January with my church, Calvary Community. It really turned out to be mentorship and it was a huge personal growing experience more than anything else. I also had the opportunity to be baptized in February after realizing I hadn’t been baptized after my true conversion back in high school. Some of the more visible things I did during my internship included organizing fellowships and putting together a kid’s Bible camp.

I also got a job working at Apple which was a great experience and really broadened my horizons in a lot of ways. That job also helped me really get connected to people and things going on in this area. Coming from school where I had built up a large network, now I was back at square one. So, one of my goals was to build up my network.

The beginning of the year was a challenge as I transitioned out of college mode into the young-working-adult-phase. It was a whole new world to me as I learned how to interact and relate with other people in the same phase of life and also the families in my church. I also began defining my life by narrowing down my activities to a few specifics. So, over the course of a year I’ve devoted myself to my church first and formost, my job, and blogging. I also picked up a couple hobbies including swimming and wake boarding.

In the Fall, I made a career change and moved from retail to the medical field as an EMT for an ambulance service. This is the field I plan to pursue. I went through a rigorous application process to get into Paramedic school, and God blessed by allowing me to get in and a full year of medic school starts in January of 2011.

Part of my life transformation was composing a motto for my life, and mine says “Life is what you make it to be, and I choose to live extraordinarily.” There has not been an exception to that, and I can say that everyday of this year has been an incredible adventure. One of those unique adventures was traveling to Kenya for a month in November. The first half was spent by myself and the second half was spent with a group from my church. I documented everyday of that trip and you can read more about some of my crazy stories at Mission:Kenya.

Near the end of this year, I’ve been asking God to put some godly friends into my life, and He has been faithful to that request and I’m beginning to build a core group of friends. So here I am, finally planted in my new phase of life and ready to take on the new year and keep moving forward. Now that I’ve got my feet on the ground, hopefully this coming year will be my time to bloom.

Here’s some pictures for everyone. You can click on them for descriptions. I hope all of you will have a sensational up and coming year. God bless!

Traditional Minimalists Live In a Bubble

This past month has been very eye open­ing in my quest for min­i­mal­ism. One of the biggest things through­out this jour­ney has been defin­ing what min­i­mal­ism is to me. So speak­ing of defin­ing, let me define what I mean by “Tra­di­tional Minimalism”.

Tra­di­tional Min­i­mal­ists — those who try to pair down their items to as few things as pos­si­ble includ­ing items of sen­ti­men­tal value; com­mon themes exist such as the “100 Thing Chal­lenge”; seek­ing to obtain sim­plic­ity through shun­ning materialism

Off the bat, it would seem that I am try­ing to accom­plish the same things, but I would strongly dis­agree by argu­ing that there is a foun­da­tion dif­fer­ence between Tra­di­tional Min­i­mal­ist ™ and Chris­t­ian Min­i­mal­ists (CM). I’ve writ­ten about this before in my post “Not Your Aver­age Min­i­mal­ist”, so I don’t want to rehash every­thing. But to sum it up, TM is focused on self sat­is­fac­tion while CM is focused on God and get­ting sat­is­fac­tion through serv­ing Him.f

The rea­son I say TMs live in a bub­ble is because the expe­ri­ences I’ve had this past month has led me to real­ize that I will never be able to obtain that lifestyle and accom­plish cer­tain goals. For exam­ple, I’ve been in the process of mov­ing out, and one of the big rea­sons is so I can exer­cise hos­pi­tal­ity. There is no way I can expect to have peo­ple over if I only own 100 things. I need kitchen­ware for cook­ing and serv­ing, and I need fur­ni­ture because not every­one I’ll have over is young like me and can sit com­fort­ably on the floor. Those are just a few examples.

Also, for those of you who aren’t aware despite the num­ber of posts pre­ced­ing this one, I’m cur­rently in Kenya. I’ll be here a month and this is a look at what I packed. I feel my pack­ing list was well researched and I did not over­pack in the slight­est. Every­thing I brought has been crit­i­cally use­ful, and on the flip side I feel there is noth­ing I don’t have that I wish I had taken.

That being said, many of the things I packed were bought specif­i­cally for this trip and are not things that would be used on a reg­u­lar basis (if at all) in Amer­ica. So, my list plus the other things I have at home exceed 100 things, but there’s no way around that. Sure, I may not be able to just pick up and every­thing, put it in a back­pack, and move when­ever I want. But at the same time, I enjoy a bit of stability/​establishment and I have the abil­ity to do things that some­one with 100 things couldn’t do.

Maybe I can’t put all my belong­ings in a back­pack, but I’m still in a posi­tion to get up and move any­where just as quickly (liv­ing in Kenya is a good exam­ple of that with only 3wk notice). I also have the means to live any­where in a world with items such as solar charg­ers, water puri­fiers, and the such. A TM couldn’t do that.

Do you see the irony? TMs attempt to live sim­pler lives and by so doing live more freely, but really they’re lim­it­ing them­selves in what they can do. I live with a lit­tle more and my pos­si­bil­i­ties are endless.

I really believe that the focus shouldn’t be on how many things a per­son has, but really on the value that is placed on pos­ses­sions. You’re going to hear me harp on being con­tent rather than try­ing to obtain a spe­cific goal because things change in life, and we can’t always keep the same objec­tive. I’m going to have to have more stuff when I get mar­ried and have kids, and though I will try to live min­i­mally, I don’t want that to be the mes­sage I con­vey to my kids. I want them to hear that in what­ever sit­u­a­tion they are to be con­tent (Phil 4:11).

That’s why the baby boomers com­ing out of fam­i­lies who were in the great depres­sion are so mate­ri­al­is­tic. And now my gen­er­a­tion is the by prod­uct of those mate­ri­al­is­tic fam­i­lies, and we many of us have swung to the other side of being min­i­mal­ists, and if we’re not care­ful to teach the right prin­ci­ple, our kids will swing back to the other side of materialism.

I don’t want to be a TM like Everett Bogue or Leo Babauta. I want to be a CM that fol­lows bib­li­cal prin­ci­ples that are bal­anced and have the right moti­va­tion. Because Jesus said, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32), not simplicity.

Minimalism in Action

It’s been a little quiet on this blog because I’ve been writing vigorously on a temporary blog called Mission:Kenya. Yes, it’s finally time to put my Not Your Average Minimalist into action. In 3wks I’m heading out to Kenya for 1 month. There, I’ll be using the skills God has forged me with to minister to churches, orphanages, and whole villages.

My main objective is to take my medical skills and teach villagers basic things like CPR and first-aid since there aren’t any hospitals that they have immediate access to. I’ll also be working with a midwife and supposedly help deliver a lot of babies. How many people am I going to be working with? The numbers we’ve been told are going to be up in the 5000-6000 people range.

I’ll be taking a small amount things with me that should all fit into my Osprey Aether 70pack. More info about my trip and the planning stages will be coming. For now, you can visit my blog specifically set up for the trip.

Nine Quick Tips to Identify Clutter | Zen Habits

I found these questions really helpful as I peruse my stuff on occassion. Sometimes we keep things just because we’ve had them for so long, but when you start asking these 9 questions, you realize that there’s no point keeping those things.

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, writes,

As I sifted through our possessions, I identified nine questions to ask myself when I was confronted with a questionable object. This list helped me decide what to keep and what to toss, recycle, or give away.

Read more…

Minimalism Begets Manliness | The Art of Manliness

One of my coworkers sent me an article written over at The Art of Manliness blog. Reading the article was a feel-good movement for me. I’d encourage everyone to at least browse it over.

Some of the most influential men in our collective history subscribed to a philosophy of minimalism. The greatest thinkers and doers of our civilization intuitively grasped the incredible benefits of keeping things simple. They quickly recognized the awesome power of reduction and used it as an invaluable tool for the construction of their lasting legacy. Throughout their careers, they emphasized a singular focus on the essential, not just in the physical sense of material possessions, but also metaphysically as related to matters of the mind and spirit.

Read more: