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40 pounds of steel.  That’s what I’m working with here.

Most people probably think I’m crazy for getting a bike so heavy, and maybe they’re right.  I will admit that the first thing that attracted me to my Schwinn Suburban was the shallow stuff: it was old, had moustache handlebars, and made me feel like I was channeling Joan Allen in “The Ice Storm” when she’s riding down that blacktop, the wind rushing past her after she’s stolen some crap from a little drugstore.  Granted, I’m wearing a helmet, don’t have the groovy bellbottoms, and haven’t stolen something since the summer before 10th grade at Valley Fair (and I don’t desire to steal anymore, in case you’re wondering).

But more than just being pretty cute and really freaking heavy, my bike taught me a lesson:

SLOW DOWN–You don’t need to go fast all the time.

For some people, that’s not quite a revelation.  For me and other folks who always feel like they need to be somewhere NOW, it really is.  Because when I’m riding my bike, whether it be on the road with cars or on the Midtown Greenway, people of all ages on bikes are passing me. ALL. THE. TIME.  And that’s OK.

I used to feel bad about having people pass me (and sometimes still do–I’m fighting it, though).  Now I’m more or less OK with it because I take in what’s around me rather than feeling like I’m in a race.

I get the chance to look at:

  • a variety of flower gardens along residential streets and on bike paths
  • the shapes of trees and their gnarled branches
  • the leaves in all their amazing colors lying in the street
  • painted and graffiti art on the sides of buildings
  • the sunset (but not the sunrise–I’m not there yet 🙂
  • greeting fellow bikers with a smile and a “Hi” (I can’t see if car peeps are smiling or not because of their windshield)

When you treat your bike like a car and are always rushing from place to place, what’s the point?

I get it if you have to get somewhere and you’re running late, but is everyone around me running late?  Maybe so.  I think that’s pretty sad since it seems like people have just traded one form of transportation hustling for another.

Not everyone is going to agree with me on this one, and that’s OK.

What  I do hope is that people start slowing down and start taking life in.  We have beauty around us, even if we forget to look for it.*

So let’s take some steps together to slow down (for those who aren’t in a time crunch):

  1. Start off your trip by closing your eyes and breathing in the outside air (maybe don’t do this if you’re in a heavily polluted area) and breathing out.
  2. Snap on your helmet (hipsters, you too).  I care more about your life than how cute you look, and you do look cute.  But how cute will you look when your brains are splattered on the pavement?
  3. Start pedaling slowly.
  4. Put the brakes on when you find yourself speeding up, trying to compete, or feeling inadequate.
  5. Keep your riding at a leisurely pace.
  6. Look around at what you’ve been missing 🙂

P.S. When someone passes you, shift your focus from keeping up to taking in what’s around you.  Look at the sky or at the different yards passing by.  If it’s night, just breathe and keep on keepin’ on.

So for today, breathe in, breathe out, relax, let your shoulders drop, and take a fun ride for yourself and no one else 🙂

*Now, this doesn’t mean I’m some short-sighted Pollyanna who thinks everything around us is beautiful (sometimes we need to see the foreclosed, boarded-up houses) or doesn’t know our planet–no, WE–are in trouble.  Because we are.  I’ll get to that in a later post and what we can do about it.

Cooking School for the Inept

Yeah, I’m jealous.

Some people can pick up leftovers in the fridge and whip something together like nobody’s business.  For me, trying to learn how to cook is like pulling wisdom teeth.  Sure I used to watch my mom cook hamburger or bacon with the occasional, painful pinpricks of grease splatter landing on my arms, but I never actually partook in the learning experiences.

In short, it wasn’t required of me and I was too impatient to learn.

Being eight years old, it’s not surprising that a girl who was essentially raised on processed foods, MTV, Nickelodeon, horror movies and rapid-fire advertisements (which look like molasses compared to today) would have an attention problem.

But back to the topic: for all those people who got a chance to learn from their parent(s) this essential and usually money-saving skill, I look at you with bittersweet envy as I struggle to prepare something that isn’t from a box due to lack of creativity and laziness.

So imagine me, cautiously excited, when I came across Jules Clancy’s cooking blog Stone Soup and her notion of “minimalist cooking.”  Previously, I would’ve thought that the term was an oxymoron but now, here I am and I’ve made one of her recipes from her free ecookbook (Pasta with broccoli and pine nuts–I am seriously a beginner as you can tell), minus the pine nuts (the organic ones at my co-op go for $32.49/lb!).  And it’s freaking delicious!

The fact that she’s released another minimalist cookbook (this time charging for her work, rightfully so) means that I’ll definitely be buying it, since I’m new to this whole (minimalist) cooking thing.

So, one more step for me on the path to reskilling (relearning basic life skills that prior generations knew by heart).

What are you doing to teach yourself to be more self-sufficient and frugal?

So much has happened since I first wrote here back in April of this year (yikes, that’s awhile ago).

So let me back up and help you to catch up.

Things I’ve done this year (so far):

  • Put off writing on this blog and in my various journals *insert rueful smile here*
  • Volunteered for a close (but failed) Governor primary campaign
  • Read “Little House on a Small Planet” by Shay Solomon, which changed the way I look at housing (1200 sq. ft. for me and Dan would be great)
  • After reading Solomon’s book, found Transition Culture (and the Transition Network)
  • Found the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company website (after I’d seen it a few years ago) and again changed how I think about my housing wants and needs (Forget 1200 sq. ft., 800 sq. ft. would be perfect!)
  • Realized there was a whole tiny house movement and found out about a really cool woman who made a tiny house for herself the sustainable way (with salvaged materials!)
  • While looking for info about Dee Williams and her Tiny house, found an awesome blog about minimalism
  • After finding said awesome blog, moved on to finding other cool minimalist blogs and now I’m addicted to finding more and more of them (not very minimalistic, huh?) 🙂

So that brings me to right now.  And the little nagging voice that started before I was going to write this post and went away shortly after I kept typing.

“Stop writing…You’re only going to embarass yourself…Why are you writing a tedious, self-indulgent blog?  Who do you think you are?…”

How many of us let this voice derail us?  Like some folks, I’ve been letting this voice dictate me for too long.  It would’ve been really easy to let myself off the hook writing this entry because of the fear gripping my chest and just say, “Eh, why don’t I just look at some more blogs, facebook, read a book, etc., etc.”

But that’s what I’m trying to push against.  Wanting to live life on my terms rather than the internal and external forces that tell me to “settle” for what I can get and self-destruct my creativity.  So I’m finally catching on to what I have to do to be more creative and follow my dreams:

Don’t think about it–just do it.

(Sidebar: Will that phrase ever be usable again without immediately thinking about Nike?)

So in order to prepare myself to follow my creative and entrepreneurial desires, I’ll be rereading “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway” while also reading other blogs and books (“The 4-Hour Workweek” by Timothy Ferriss) that address these fears and dreams.

While I push through my fear again and again, I’m transitioning to a new way of thinking and doing.  Transition Towns, the idea of reskilling, and learning how to “play well with others” in a community setting will be a big part of this new way of thinking.

I will try to update this blog at least once a week, if not more often, to include relevant new skills and ideas I’m learning for a peak-oil economy. I hope you join me!

I’d also love it if you shared skills you know (or want to know), too, since I believe in the power of learning from each other and not just so-called “experts” in the field.

On that note…

Here we go!

Start Again

Hi!

I’m Kim and this is my first attempt at learning how to actually blog.  Oh god, I was so scared about learning how to do this all on my own.  I’m not a luddite, but I don’t even know how to tweet!  I just recently learned how to deal with RSS feeds, which made me feel pretty accomplished (Hah!  I know, welcome to the 21st century 🙂 )

This is my first post from 3 different blogs I’ve tried to start before (Blogger, Livejournal, and now WordPress).  So I’m going to give this one a shot and see if it takes 🙂

The reason I decided to start this blog is to chart my path of learning and to remind myself to go on adventures and play with life.  Otherwise, I won’t have much to write about and definitely won’t have much to look back on when I’m on my deathbed.  And I definitely don’t want to have regrets!

For quite awhile now I’ve looked at life as something that is tiring, irritating, and full of hate and hateful people who don’t care about anyone but themselves or their small circle of friends and family.

I’m going to try to turn that around, not just for the sake of being positive and turning a blind eye to the problems around me, but to change my perspective from a woe-is-me type to an action-oriented approach.

There is a small library of self-help books that I’m tackling and I’ll be talking about my opinions of those as I go along (“Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway” by Susan Jeffers, “Add More ~ing to Your Life” by Gabrielle Bernstein, “The Anti 9 to 5 Guide” by Michelle Goodman, “it!” by Paula Froehlich (I’ve read this before), and “No B.S. Sales Success in the New Economy” by Dan Kennedy (sometimes I’m a sucker for self-help in the business sphere, go figure).

So since I’ve felt powerless for most of my life, I’ve decided that I need to change and change starts NOW… and I’m ready 🙂