The 2016 Election has certainly been a doozy for anyone that has followed it. With division and dissent at what feels like an all-time high, it’s easy to become jaded with the entire political process. Most Americans believe that Washington doesn’t care about them and their needs. It’s all corporations, special interests, and lobbyists running the show. No one considers the struggles of the average American and their community.
We’ve all seen the headlines crediting the revitalization of cities to millennials. Yes, those pourover-sipping, blanket-scarf-wearing, bicycle-riding young people want easy access to jobs, culture, and community. They want walkable neighborhoods, fancy coffee shops, and boutique stores selling artisan crafts. Where’s the easiest place to find all these things? Surprisingly, it’s not where you would expect.
Nine months ago we discovered The Minimalists and fell headfirst into intentional living. The philosophy appealed to our habit of binge cleaning our apartment every few weeks. Clutter stresses us out, especially when it takes over our tiny apartment. We knew decluttering would help us confront our weak spots (like the black hole that is our closet), as well as get rid of useless junk that doesn’t bring value to our life. What we didn’t expect was the impact minimalism would have in another area: our finances.
Lately we’ve noticed something strange. At least it seems strange to us. A lot of folks seem to be staring down at their phones. Like all the time. It’s increasingly common to see people watching YouTube videos on the subway rather than reading a book or newspaper. People walk into oncoming traffic because they’re busy checking their email. Selfies and tweets get round-the-clock coverage on cable news networks.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with these occurrences. Social media is an important source of communication for millions of people. But the fact that the average American spends 40 minutes per day on Facebook is rather alarming, especially since there’s hundreds of social media apps out there. Are we the only ones that think this is weird? Have we gone full-throttle minimalist?!
We did our first camping trip of the fall! Sadly, it rained for two whole days. As in we only saw the sun for maybe an hour. We knew what we were getting into when the weather predicted downpours all week, but we signed up for our campsite and committed to our romp with the outdoors. If we’re going to camp, it might as well be muddy and nasty!
We learned some important lessons during our trip. It turns out that camping is hard. Especially in bad weather. We hope these tips will help other aspiring campers that are intimidated by the wet stuff. If we can survive in the rain, so can you!
We live on the top floor of our apartment building. The roof has a cooling unit for the building’s A/C that makes a constant whining sound. Imagine someone blowing a vuvuzela into your living room 24/7. The offending noise lasts from April through November, and despite repeated attempts to get the issue fixed, we still suffer through it year after year. We told ourselves we didn’t mind it. Temporary discomfort isn’t a big deal. Every apartment has its quirks, right? But even as we try to ignore it, the noise has been slowly breaking down our sanity.
We didn’t realize how bad it was until recently. One Sunday morning we woke up, lazed around in bed, and noticed it was quiet. Unsettlingly quiet. It took a moment for us to notice the buzzing sound had stopped. A weight lifted off our shoulders. This is what silence feels like! We could open our windows without the droning noise assaulting our ears. Music didn’t have buzzing mingling with the bass line. Our moods dramatically improved. For two blissful hours, we saw what it’s like to not have that noise disrupt our lives. We experienced what it would be like to improve our surroundings. And most importantly, we learned it was worth it. That weekend kicked off the hunt for our new apartment. Without it, we may have continued to live in discomfort even though we deserve better.
The enigmatic “morning routine.” I am a firm believer that what you do in the morning sets the stage for the rest of the day. At that, I believe in the old mantra of “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” It may be more or less disproven as a scientific thing, but psychologically, I think it gives me the boost I need to take on the day.
I used to think I was a so-called “night owl,” because that seemed to be what all the cool people were doing. The people I talked to online would be up into the wee hours of the night, so I figured I should be one of those people too. I ignored the fact that I felt awful every morning, shrugging it off as a part of the night owl complex. As it turns out, I was so miserable in the morning because I was a closet morning person.
As summer winds down and everyone packs up their beach towels and bathing suits, we are digging out hiking gear from our closet. Since our region is horrendously swampy in the summer, we prefer to do our hiking in the fall. No one wants to sweat through 90% humidity for 8 hours!
Last year we dipped our toes into this hiking business. We were hiking newbies (and out-of-shape newbies, at that) who were intimidated by the more challenging trails. We stuck to some local trails near our home that seemed interesting, but nothing too advanced. Naturally, we instantly caught hiking fever. We discovered that breathing some fresh air and working up a sweat is our favorite way to spend the day. It didn’t matter that we were only 20 minutes outside the city. We were surrounded by trees! Deer were just chilling a few yards away! There’s a whole natural world outside our doorstep! Just imagine what’s 100 miles away? 1,000 miles away?
Alright, so you have to shave so you don’t scare children on the street. You want to have coffee in the morning so… well, so children on the street don’t scare you. You want to listen to music to relax on the weekends or evenings, and you need to work out because health is paramount.
So now you have a razor. Maybe you got it from Dollar Shave Club, I hear they’re the new hotness. Or maybe you have the Gillette ColdFusion Supreme™, or maybe you have some torture-device looking metal contraption with 2 motors and a “clean” function on the base that it docks into to charge every day. You walk over to your coffee maker with 8 buttons, a dial, and stunningly, a digital analog clock. It has a replaceable charcoal filter and makes a solid 12 cup pot.
Now you have a subscription to Spotify. You have your Sonos speaker system and your phone with the LTE plan so you can stream from the cloud. You have a wireless receiver in your speakers so you can cast music from anywhere. Amazing! Now you can take your music and go to the gym with that premium membership. You can hop on the exercise machine that moves every which way and get to working up a sweat.
If you asked us six months ago what our ideal next living space would be, we would have said a 2+ bedroom, 1,800 square-foot townhome. We’ve lived in apartments for the past few years, and we felt like it was time to upgrade. We are grown adults that deserve a second bedroom! We would have no trouble finding a townhome or condo that’s a little further away but with twice the space (maybe even a yard for our future dog!). After all, we can afford our rent now. Why not pay a little more for some luxury?