Category Archives: Minimalism

Five Things I’ve Learned About Ultralight Lifestyle

Over the last month or so I’ve made some huge progress toward adopting ultralight philosophy into every aspect of my life.

Here in the front country it’s not all about weight. Some of what I’ve worked toward has been lessening my financial expenditure (having an ultralight expense ratio).

Taking care of my body with the same care I would show to a cuben fiber shelter. Treating myself like the high-performance piece of gear that I am. Metaphorically speaking…

Here are a few things I’ve learned:

1. I enjoy the extra time! Selling my desktop computer and having my laptop die within the same two weeks opened up huge amounts of time. I sit here typing this blog post on my iPad Mini 2, the same device upon which I earlier was reading an in depth account of the causes of the Great Recession.

Ultralight in the front country means having an ultralight load on your time demands. It doesn’t mean doing nothing but, rather, finding what is exactly worth taxing your valuable time and doing only those things.

2. I’ve been able to reconnect. Getting rid of FaceBook meant reestablishing deliberate and thoughtful correspondence with intentional people. Even before deleting FaceBook, as I reached out to people to get contact info, it was nice to be intentionally communicating with some lost friends, rather than just commenting on their statuses.

Now, when I have something worth sharing, I send it straight to those to whom it matters. It feels much more clean and appropriate.

I’ve also been able to reconnect to things which matter to me. I’ve had more time to choose what to do with and I’ve filled it with things I enjoy. Walking to the library and perusing the shelves, reading books of topics as wide as motorcycle repairs to personal finance.

3. I feel more focused. Having less distractions on my schedule and around me physically leaves more room for me to focus on things that are truly important.

My to-do list today is about 12 items long and arranged on the Reminders app of my iPad (I’ve tried a few other apps but none seem to offer me any real value). I have the to-do list scheduled out so that i can get as much done as possible on one of my few days off.

4. There is little pressure. I have more time so I can go to bed a bit earlier, wake up a bit earlier.

I can shave each morning and enjoy the simplicity of a fresh shave with a clean razor (I’ve recently started shaving my head regularly). My drive to work is lazy, I never exceed the speed limit and watch as other cars shove part me to make it to their cubicle on time. Walking in to work I take it slow, enjoy the cold mountain air on my head and in my lungs.

With few financial pressures and absolutely no debt, it’s pretty easy to manage money. I work a job I love, make a very meager income, but still have more saved and disposable than most people I know. Of course, my “disposable” income I also save and will be happily investing while others are out buying 30’s of PBR.

Having ultralight finances and schedules means more time to enjoy the day. Just as we all love having a little more time to enjoy the morning on the trail with a hot drink in hand. Having a lighter, simpler pack, means more enjoyment of the trail. It’s no different in the front country.

5. I have room to make changes. From better time management and productivity, to exercise habits and long desired travel. With ultralight finances and schedule it’s so much more simple to find room for things I’ve always wanted to focus on.

Since I was a kid I loved video games and I still do. It’s a habit that’s stuck with me since I got addicted to the first Poke’mon game. More and more, however, in the past years I’ve begun to realize I’m wasting time. Finally, a month ago, I sold my very expensive gaming computer (along with a huge library of expensive games).

Why did I sell it? Not because there was something wrong with it. No, the computer was fine, and I took a huge loss financially on my investment.

I had been arguing with myself for ages to keep it because I’ve already spent so much on it. The other part of my brain, however, knew that playing games was slowly draining my potential.

Finally I just pulled myself up by the bootstraps and made the change I knew I really wanted to see. I wanted to move forward with my life more than I wanted to level up characters.

I wanted a positive direction for myself so much that I was willing to loose somewhere in the ballpark of a grand to get rid of a perfectly fine computer.

I’m glad I did.

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Continuing the Ultralight Lifestyle

It’s been roughly a month since I’ve taken my disjointed passion for ultralight backpacking and brought it together with my interest in the concept of “minimalism”.

I’ve bought into the idea that minimalism is, roughly, defined as “removing all unnecessary clutter from ones life”.

This has lead me to get rid of two pair of skis, an old pair of AT ski boots, helmet, extra set of bindings, desktop computer, and laptop (well, almost).

I have shoved a great deal of my clothing into a box, leaving only enough for exercise and evening relaxation. Exactly one pair of jeans and two t shirts for every day life. To be fair, I spend the vast majority of my days in a ski instructor’s uniform.

My early 2008 MacBook Pro died a month ago and I was planning to trade in in with Apple’s recycle program. They were to offer me $0 for it and, considering my tendency to tinker, I decided to try to fix it. $6 later (for thermal compound) and a two evenings of work (one to tear it apart, one to reassemble) and I have a perfectly functional MacBook Pro again.

Turns out the solution was to bake the motherboard in the oven @375º for 7:30 minutes.

Anyways, with very few exception, I’ve spent the last month selling a lot of shit and accumulating as little as possible.

I’m moving back to a simpler way of doing things.

I’ve started waking up earlier to shave (head and face) with gel and a razor. It has become one of my favorite parts of my day.

I have more time in the evening to organize. Set up to-do lists, reminders, get in contact with people, and organize work and professional items.

I’ve been able to start playing footbag more often again, one of my on-and-off hobbies over the years.

I’m really looking forward to getting rid of my iPhone in May and going back to a basic talk and text phone. I love the simplicity and freedom I’m finding in every day life without being plugged in.

I’m able to save a huge percent of my income (expecting to save well over 50% this month) thanks to reduced consumption and increased awareness of my own personal finance.

I rode the bus in to work the other day (something I don’t do often because it’s absurdly logistically challenging) and it afforded me an nice hands off morning to listen to Dave Ramsey’s podcasts on finances.

Much like in the wilderness, excess items slow you down. They take up space in your pack. It takes longer to find the things you really need (rain gear) when you have to sort through three dry-bags of camera equipment and charging cables.

In the front country we don’t notice them. Even those of us accustomed to going with less while hiking often don’t realize how much stuff we have.

I have never been a chronic shopper, I have never held a cent of debt, I travel often so it prevents me from accumulating much.

Even so, after really focusing on fusing ultralight with minimalism… well, I’m curious to see how far this can go!

Going Facebook Ultralight

Well, after some planning and experimentation I’ve officially deactivated Facebook.

That’s right, Facebook, I don’t need you.

I found out the following in the process:

I really want people to know how cool I am by putting up pictures. No, seriously, it took me a while to admit this to myself. It’s really cool though because now I can purposely take photos of certain things and send them to people I think will appreciate them. Instead of just posting them on Facebook to get likes, I can share meaningful content with people I enjoy.

I used Facebook as a status symbol often. It’s painful to say it, but most often my Facebook posts would be sharing something badass I’ve done. There have been a few times in the last week where I’ve wanted to write up a status and realized I have no Facebook. It’s actually been really liberating. No one knows where I am or what I’m doing, I’m just doing it for myself. No one else.

• I can do anything at any time I want and no one cares. At first this thought seems kind of depressing. I go skiing on my days off and appreciate the beauty of the day. Mostly I just enjoy it myself and work on my personal skiing. If something is particularly worth noting or sharing, I’ll send a photo to a friend via message or call them.

• It’s actually taken a huge weight off my shoulders. I spend most of my time away from my childhood friends and family. Up until now most of them watched my doings from Facebook. Now, if I do or accomplish something particularly noteworthy I might tell those of them who are closest. Everyone else has no clue what I’m doing with my life. I like it.

• Facebook won’t actually let you export your contacts in any useful way. Before I deactivated, I downloaded a full copy of everything that’s ever happened on my Facebook (including contacts). That file lives on Dropbox, out of sight. Before leaving, I posted several statuses announcing my decision and imploring friends to send me their phone numbers and emails if they wanted to stay in touch. Some in particular I reached out to. Now I have a contacts list that is very deliberate and refreshingly clutter free.

I am really looking forward to moving toward replacing my iPhone with a basic QWERTY style slide out phone (always have been my favorite). I am rather reserved with my use of the iPhone compared to some but even so I find myself all too often seeing the world from the other side of an iPhone screen.

Getting rid of Facebook was an awesome first step I would encourage anyone to take.