Katie In Finland Episode 8: A Trip to Kuopio

In this episode, Katie and Berin discuss visiting a city they’d never heard of before, seeing a wooly mammoth, and eating pulled pork pancakes with Moomin.

5 Quote Friday: Oprah Winfrey Quotes

Oprah Winfrey is not my favorite person, and I am not a huge fan. On more than one occasion she’s backed the wrong horse, spreading bad information and giving a platform to people who have arguably done more harm than good. That said, I know that she has served as a source of inspiration for millions and has put a lot of good into the world. I believe that her intentions are good, even when her actions have been off the mark. Here are 5 quotes that constitute solid life advice, no matter what your opinion of her might be.

Oprah Winfrey Quotes

Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.”

Minimalism is about clearing away things you don’t need to make room for the things you want — possessions, activities, careers, relationships. Sometimes you can’t do that automatically. You need to drive a beater car or sleep on a crappy bed while you save up for something better, you have to deal with roommates or live with parents until you can afford your own place, you have to work a job to pay the bills while you keep working for that dream job.

The thing you fear most has no power. Your fear of it is what has the power. Facing the truth really will set you free.”

Fear is often one of those thing you need to get rid of to make room for what you want. There’s nothing wrong with fear — it informs you that what you’re doing involves risk and the possibility of harm. You mitigate fear with facts and preparation, to decrease the risk and minimize the probability of bad things happening.

Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

The goal of minimalism isn’t to have less things, it’s to have the right things. You should appreciate what you have, and slowly eliminate the things you don’t need. Gradually replace the things you don’t appreciate with things you do. Focusing on what you don’t have can be destructive. I disagree with the “law of attraction” nonsense that gratitude brings you more, because more should never be the point.

I don’t believe in failure. It is not failure if you enjoyed the process.”

I’ll add that it’s only failure if you stop there and refuse to let it be a learning process. If one thing doesn’t work, figure out why and then try something else. The only failure is in giving up.

When you’re doing the work you’re meant to do, it feels right and every day is a bonus, regardless of what you’re getting paid.”

You need to be doing something with your life that feels right, regardless of whether it’s your job. You can work a crappy job to pay the bills, but you need to spend your non-work time either engaging in your passion or doing something that moves the ball forward toward your goal. Having that sense of fulfillment and happiness will make the crappy job easier to deal with. Ideally you’ll either end up in a job related to your passion, or at least in a job you can endure.

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Katie In Finland Episode 7: A Year in Finland (Part 2)

In this episode, Katie and Berin discuss what it’s been like living abroad for a year, how it’s changed their perspectives, and whether they want to continue living in a foreign country or not.

My Productive Unproductive Summer

Finland

At the end of the last school year one of my wife’s advisors asked what her plans for the summer were. Katie responded by outlining the work she hoped to achieve on her thesis. The advisor responded with a bit of shock and horror and asked, in all sincerity and with no sarcasm intended, if Katie understood what the concept of vacation meant. We are, after all, in Europe, and should be leveraging all of the opportunities that opens up to us. Europeans also appreciate the necessity of recharging one’s batteries periodically so that you’re healthier, happier, and more productive.

My Name Is Berin, I’m A Workaholic

During the school year, I don’t get to see Katie very often. As a teacher, she was working ridiculously long hours that stretched before and after the school day, doing prep work, writing lesson plans, and grading papers. As a student in a Master’s program, when she’s not in class she’s reading, doing research, working on various projects, and writing papers. I see her for breakfast and, if I’m lucky, she’s home for dinner before she disappears back into her work.

This works out well for me, because I am a workaholic. I love what I do, and I’ve managed to wrestle a couple of hobbies into a way to earn a modest living. Laying down a daily word count, wrestling with spreadsheets, producing Gannt charts, these are things I will do as gleefully as other people binge-watch Netflix or scarf down junk food. I am an Emergentile Subgenius; I get a great deal of slack from getting things done.

During the summer I try to slow down a bit, so that I can spend quality time with Katie while I have the opportunity. When I work, I  tend to get into a flow state and tune out everything around me, including her. This leads to me feeling that I’m ignoring her, even when she insists that she doesn’t feel ignored because she’s on the other side of the studio making art or working on craft projects.

What I work on are things that don’t require deep engagement on my part — short pieces of writing, strategic planning, mindless but necessary tasks. It’s beneficial because the longer I defer working on a project, the more it soidifies and works itself out in my mind, and the greater the itch to get back into that creative flow state becomes. When the fall comes, I’m more than ready to go.

No Paid Vacation For The Self-Employed

The downside of this is that when I’m not working, I’m not making any money. I have backlist products out there still earning for me, but not at the same rate as when I’m putting out new products and hustling to snare new clients. Being self-employed means I don’t get a paid vacation. Te nature of summer means that we spend more than normal, as we do special things and splurge a bit because we’re outside the normal work-and-school box. The money flows out faster than it flows in, and this raises my anxiety level. It’s why I don’t do downtime very well.

My Productive Unproductive Summer

Once Katie starts school again, I will be functionally alone for days at a time. This frees me up to dive into an uninterrupted creative flow state, where I can easily crank out at least 5,000 words per day or more. Because I’ve done all of my homework, outlined everything, and beaten my project plans into submission, all of my work will essentially be filling in the blanks. It’s as if I’ve spent the summer setting up all of the dominoes, and all I’ll need to do is give the first one a tap to set everything in motion. Being unproductive, in other words, has been incredibly productive, because when I jump back in it will be more than full-time, I will be hungry and motivated, and the road ahead will be clear and free from obstacles.

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Preparing For What Comes Next

bluesky

My summer has been spent plotting and scheming, writing and re-writing business plans, doing research, making lists, and getting ready for some hardcore work this fall when Katie goes back to school. You’ve probably noticed that this site changed its name a few days ago. Depending on how you read the posts here, you may have noticed that the layout has also changed, and certain pages are either missing or behaving strangely. It’s all part of a master plan, which I’ll be unveiling in detail over the next few weeks. I’m getting ready to take this site in a slightly new, more focused direction.

A Minimalist Abroad

The running theme of my life, I realised, is minimalism. Doing more with less, clearing away clutter to make room for what I really want, finding the most efficient way to achieve things, and using limitations to spark creativity. We were able to move to Finland because we’re not encumbered by stuff,  I run a small business on practically no budget, and I keep our cost of living low by managing my needs and wants.

What I really want is to have a site that is a useful resource for readers. Whether you’re looking for creative inspiration, trying to run a business, or just seeking ways to streamline your life, there will be something here for you that you can leverage to improve your own quality of life.

The “abroad” part won’t be so much travelogue or tips for living as an expat so much as a continue remind of what can be achieved by being focused and utilizing minimalist principles. Living abroad was a big, hairy, audacious goal that my wife Katie and I had, and we achieved it. That serves as proof that we can achieve nearly anything, and so can you.

Caution – Man At Work

Back in Ye Olde Days of the internet, when sites were incomplete or undergoing revision, bloggers would post cheesy construction-themed graphics asking begging the reader’s forgiveness for the (temporary, in theory) messy navigation and broken links. It became a terrible, tasteless faux pax, a thing that simply wasn’t done, very quickly. Don’t launch new things until they’re ready to be seen, and keep things behind the curtain until then.

Unfortunately, as a sole proprietor, I can’t always do hold off on big projects until they’re completed to perfection. It’s a lot like trying to repair an airplane while it’s in the air; it would certainly be easier to land, but it’s not always possible. Rather than doing a complete site overhaul all at once, I’m going to be fixing a little bit here and there until it’s where I want it. If I pulled it all down until it was done, I’d be offline for months.

The advantage of doing this gradually is that I can bring you along for the journey. I can talk about what I’m doing, and why. I can get your feedback, and we can talk about what you’d like to see. You get to be involved in this remodelling project.

Preparing For What Comes Next

The next couple of weeks are going to be focused on fixing up the site, rewriting some pages, adding some core content, and getting things ready for what comes next. The official soft reboot of the site will be on Monday, September 7th, when I’ll begin rolling out new, in-depth articles on topics related to minimalism, creativity, and surviving in the modern world without losing your mind.

There will be greater integration with the weekly podcast that my wife and I do, Katie In Finland. There will be a bit more integration with my company’s website, Asparagus Jumpsuit, not to plug my games or discuss the ins and outs of publishing but more generically to share my experiences using minimalist principles to run a small business.

There will also be a series of ebooks and, eventually, a print book offering up my experiences and advice on applying minimalism to every aspect of your life, collecting and expanding upon the posts that will be appearing here.

Don’t Miss Out – Subscribe!

A Minimalist Abroad covers everything you every wanted to know about enhancing your life using minimalist concepts. Topics include reducing clutter, enhancing creativity, doing more with less, living the life you want, working with greater purpose, finding inspiration, and more. Get great articles like these when you subscribe:

Complete the form to subscribe by email today!

Or subscribe via RSS.