Cafes, Farms and Whole Foods

A growing trend in the Midwest is a return to healthy living, whole organic foods, and fresh produce.

Growing up in Wisconsin, I consumed dairy products with every meal. When I developed a dairy allergy a few years ago, I struggled to adjust to both a meat and dairy free diet.  Luckily for me, a vegan restaurant opened up in my town where I was able to eat everything on the menu.  Since then I began exploring Wisconsin in search of vegan food and found cities like Madison to be a lively, health-conscious city that offers ethnic cafe’s, organic teas, street musicians and natural essential oils and herbs that are grown and sold locally.

During a recent visit to the Midwest, I found colorful farmer’s markets and natural good-hearted people who not only enjoy healthy whole foods but who also enjoy drinking craft beers and fresh cheese curds straight from the factory.

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Quirky Cape Cod

Cape Cod offers the best of two worlds, one world for nature lovers, and another world for those who love adventures to quirky villages full of colorful people.

On a recent trip to the Cape, I fell in love with Provincetown and its multicolored buildings, artsy atmosphere and flavorful residents.  The mix of natural calm and vibrant energy permeates the east coast, creating a fun, positive vibe for passing tourists.  For outdoor lovers, there are several options including walking on breakwater rocks to Wood End Lighthouse, biking, hiking through giant sand dunes, or kayaking on the Atlantic ocean.  For urban dwellers or city lovers, options include hanging out in eclectic cafes, partying at night in flamboyant cabarets, or eat healthy greens in one of the many vegan or vegetarian restaurants in town.

The Cape offers the best in outdoor activities and energizing city life, with a twist on fun, quirky and outrageous adventures.

 

Diversity of LIfe

“Life is like a tomato.  When it falls to the ground, it begins to rot.”  Dooley explained, “Life rots unless we experience different things and have new adventures.”

I was inspired by Dooley’s perspective on life, being a man who celebrates diversity. Dooley currently teaches inmates in prison, helping them to achieve their GED diplomas.  He expressed that his inspiration is to help redirect prisoners lives.  He said he always goes to work being “hopeful” and said that he retains hope in difficult situations.

In the past, Dooley worked in the wool industry in Boston, the fish industry in Los Angeles, and in New Mexico where he worked in politics with Ralph Nadar.  Now he lives and works in southern Florida.  Dooley said some people say that he doesn’t know what he wants, but he said this is false because his goal is to experience the fullness and diversity of life in many ways. Dooley has run the Boston Marathon six times and bikes 20 miles a day on average.

Dooley has a great attitude towards life and says that his message is to “Stay positive and move forward.”

Unlike the rotting tomato, Dooley’s life is full of life and flavor!

Minimal Abundance

Living abundantly minimal sounds like a contradiction, but it isn’t.

Having recently relocated to the tropics, I have been envious of people who have mango, coconut, orange, lemon and lime trees in their yards. I often see mangoes rotting on the ground, with the exception of birds and other small animals that eat the fruit, I wondered why people did not give their mangoes away for free.  Isn’t it better to share your abundance than to waste it?

Yesterday I drove down a new street and saw a box of mangoes on the side of the road with a sign that said, “Free”.  I quickly pulled over and walked across the street and excitedly picked out four large mangoes.  I was grateful to the person who was offering to share their abundance with random strangers. There was even a pair of men’s shoes there for the taking.

Later I thought about how living minimal, doesn’t mean you can’t live abundantly, in fact, the opposite is true.  Living minimal means there is more to share with others!

This morning I drove back to the box of mangoes and left a thank you note to let them know how grateful I was for their kindness and generosity.

My goal is to live minimally and abundantly. Think about your own abundance and what you can share with others, whether it is your garden, your clothes, your wisdom or your time.  You probably have more to share than you realize.

Happiness is a mango lunch!

A Minimalist Journey

My journey began in 2016 with the sale of my own 4 bedroom home, followed by clearing out my parent’s condominium in Florida and large split level home twice in the Midwest.  I then spent the next two years living with my parents caretaking, with my stuff in boxes in storage.  Recently, I relocated across the country and made the decision to reduce my belongings and downsize as I prepared to move into a small two-bedroom condo.  Having gone through the process of selling, sorting and giving away items so many times over the past two years, I realized that the more stuff I had, the larger my burden was.

Although I had shipped my belongings from the Midwest and downsized considerably, when I arrived in southern Florida, I was informed by the trucking company that my belongings were delayed and would not arrive for almost two weeks, leaving me to live in an entirely empty condo with no bed, table or chairs.  At first, I thought it would be ok, a minimalist adventure, something that I had wanted to do for years, so I mentally prepared for minimal living.  I had a few dishes, one pan, five tops and five pants and one pair of shoes that had developed a hole in the toe that I would wear for the next two weeks.

In the beginning, the emptiness felt like freedom, but then the stark white walls and ceiling began to feel like a hospital as I had nothing to make me feel grounded.  I love color and earthy things like plants and rugs, so I tried to embrace the emptiness although I had moments where I struggled to feel at home, as I had no sense of belonging or personal items to make it my own.

Over time, I started to enjoy the simplicity of not having a lot of stuff to clean or pick up.  Life became easy and effortless in my newfound space.  I cleaned and reused the same dishes for each meal, I reused my towels, I only had a few items in my closet and the space became liberating to me.  I was no longer focused on stuff but spent my time focusing on meeting new people and engaging in activities that were meaningful to me.

Then the day came when the truck driver called and said he would arrive at 8:00 am the following morning.  I was excited to get my things back and missed my furniture.  The truck arrived on time and the driver and workers started to unload.  With each and every load of boxes that they carried in, I started to feel my energy drain and a heaviness settle over my soul.  After several hours of carrying in boxes of all shapes and sizes, the small two bedroom condo became crowded and filled to the ceiling.  I had even downsized before I came but had not realized how small the condo was.  I started to feel suffocated and quickly missed all of my open space I had been living in.

When the movers were done, I signed on the dotted line and picked up a yoga matt that wasn’t even mine.  Somehow not only did I end up with a household full of stuff, but I also had other people’s belongings as well.  I felt the heaviness physically and felt like I was living as a hoarder.  I knew that I couldn’t keep all the boxes, nor did I want to, but I didn’t want to even think about opening them or touching them that day, so I left the boxes alone and went outside for a long walk, mainly to get away from the stuff.

I later made the decision that I did not want all that clutter and that I had spent too much of my time accumulating things in the past.  The stuff had to go, so I made the decision that I would not spend any more time shopping.  If I brought something new into my house, something else would have to leave. I had briefly spent a week living a minimalist lifestyle and had grown to love the freedom and ease it brought me.  The next day I began to open boxes and with some help, I was able to donate all of my unwanted items which included kitchen appliances, dishes, candles, artwork, clothes, shoes and other unneeded things.

I came to the conclusion that although I wanted to live a simple minimalistic lifestyle, I also needed to have a few of my own belongings to connect with or to help me feel grounded so I decided that a few larger pieces were needed, but a lot of the smaller items that had no significance would have to go.

My personal situation was still somewhat in transition as I searched for my place of belonging.  During this time, I applied for a job in Arizona.  I decided that if I was offered the position, I would have to cut my belongings in half again, as this would mean shipping my belongings over 2000 miles, a costly and expensive trip.  So box by box, I began my journey into minimalism and felt lighter with each box that I unloaded and left my home.

At this moment, I do not know what my future holds or what direction it will take me, but I do know that wherever I go, I don’t want my life and home to be filled with stuff, but want it to be filled with people, love, peace, joy, and happiness.

If you decide to begin the journey of minimalism, let me help you take the first step.  This journey may not be easy in the beginning, but through the process, you will learn about yourself, become free from the past, and find that your life becomes lighter in ways that you could never imagine.