Yard Sale Reflections


Welp, we are officially adults!

Yesterday, we completed our first yard sale. We had perfect weather, and, thankfully, we made much more than we’d hoped for! In fact, we made what we’d hoped for in just one day. And the second day exceeded even that!

Okay, enough about how rich we got from our yard sale… You know how it is, when you rake in all that cash from selling your junk…

In all seriousness, though, we had a really good time doing a yard sale and are thankful that we did it. Aside from getting some extra cash, and minimizing some of our material possessions, two things stuck out to us from this experience.

First, we were reminded of the reality that getting rid of things is freeing. I remember one of the first ideas that grabbed me, while listening to The Minimalists, was the fact that so many Americans have so much stored away, when people could actually use it, or possibly even need it. I remember thinking through what we had in our basement, and how we’ve hardly used any of it in the four years we’ve lived here.

As we began to process through this idea of Minimalism and how having fewer possessions allows more time to spend on what really matters, we became more and more aware of how much stuff we had. And we aren’t even 30 yet! It’s crazy how quickly it can invade and nearly take over.

But getting rid of things frees us not only from the upkeep of our possessions, allowing us to spend time on what and whom really matters. There is something special about selling or giving something away (that you no longer use or that no longer adds value to your life) to someone who gets a lot of joy from it.

For example: we sold a toy that our son never really cared for to one of our neighbors, and many times since then, we’ve seen the mom and child playing with it across the street.

Joy is found in giving.

The second thing that stuck with us was the fact that yard sales bring communities together. In fact, we have lived here for over four years, and we did not know the majority of the people that came to our house. We met some really great people that we would have never known about had we not have had a yard sale. We had many great conversations, as well as some intense laughter.

Because of this, we decided that if we ever move, we want to have a yard sale quite quickly, so that we can meet those who live near us.

In the end, yard sales are tiring and very time consuming. But, while I hope that it isn’t very soon, I look forward to the next one.



The Dumb iPhone Challenge


Recently, I’ve come to recognize my overconsumption of technology. Of course, I am typing this on my computer, but what I am specifically referring to is my cell phone usage. My cell phone sits in my pocket or on the table beside me almost all day long, no matter where I am.

And, if you know anything about the Enneagram test, I am a 5. I am the type of person that wants to know everything about everything. If I come across something that I don’t know, I go straight for my cell phone, easily becoming engrossed and obsessive about understanding it, blocking out all that is around me. My wife is the one that usually has to point this out to me, saying something to the tune of: “Caleb, your obsessing. Be present.”

On top of this, we have an 18-month-old in our home, which leads me to realize, on a daily basis, that time truly is special. If we are not intentional with our time, we can quickly miss out on what actually is important. With every little beep, buzz, and vibration, we can become inundated by the tool that was made to help us, not control us. 

As I began to recognize this issue in my life, I ran across the Siempo Phone on Kickstarter. While I considered purchasing it, and still maybe will, I realized that I could probably set enough restrictions on my iPhone to somewhat mimic the Siempo Phone. So I began removing apps and changing the restriction settings, removing everything that I could spend a significant amount of time on.

Now, not everyone struggles with this. If you do not, then more power to you! But that is not me. And if you are like me, I want to challenge you to dumb down your smartphone, for at least one week.

As mentioned elsewhere, true minimalism is about minimizing the unimportant in order to maximize the important. Minimalism does not, and should not, stop with your possessions in your home. Our goal is to be intentional in all areas of life, in order to flourish as human beings.

The Dumb iPhone Challenge

For one week, refrain from using your cell phone to access social media, web browsers, or any other app that has a stream or feed. Personally, I went from nearly 100 apps to about 30. The only remaining apps that use data on my phone are basic apps that I am unable to spend a significant amount of time on.

What’s great about this challenge is that you can mold it to best fit your needs. Whatever the case, be sure to look at every single app, always asking, “Does this app help or hinder my effort to be intentional?” Really think about each one. Think about your relationships. Think about your goals. Think about your passions.

This will look different from person to person. For example, some people may find it easy to get sucked in to email, but personally, I only receive about 1 per day.

Challenge: Complete

After having completed this one-week challenge, I have decided to continue with it. Making my phone a Dumb iPhone has had numerous positive results. Here are five:

  1. More Time for Goals – I was really surprised by how much more time I had this week. Rather than browsing the internet or reading blogs in the evening, I was able to read books and write blogposts, which are, in fact, two of my goals for 2017.
  2. Be More Present – As this was one of my intentions with doing this challenge, I thought about it a lot. I was able to notice when I would normally turn to my phone, which reminded me that I desire to be remembered as someone who is not only physically present, but mentally and emotionally present as well.
  3. Better Relationships – Of course this was only a week-long test, but even during that amount of time, I was able to realize how much my phone hindered my relationships.
  4. Better Sleep – This is not a joke: I slept better this week than I have for a while! Rather than sitting in bed, researching ideas and topics on my phone or scrolling through my social media outlets, because “I wasn’t tired yet,” I went to sleep.
  5. Longer Battery Life – This was a welcomed surprise that I had not even considered. But during this entire week, I only charged my phone 3 times (as opposed to 7)!

In the end, I am extremely grateful that I tried this experiment. Let me know if it is helpful to you! Best of luck!

Clothing for Acceptance


Why do you wear the clothes that you do?

Not that long ago, I realized that my style came not from what I love and enjoy, nor from what made me happy or made me feel comfortable, but from my desire to be accepted.

This acceptance-focused style was not a newly developed issue, either. In fact, I can remember when I was in middle school, and how I wanted Abercrombie & Fitch clothes, because that is what the “cool kids” wore. In high school, I tried to fit in with the “cool musicians.” In college, I tried to look like I didn’t really care what I wore. And in graduate school, I started dressing more formally.

However, while I was in graduate school, I remember coming to this question: Why? In fact, it was after an interaction with one of my mentors. I talked to him about the fact that everyone at this school dressed quite professionally. He responded, “Yeah, I would never do that. I’d be the only one wearing athletic shorts and a t-shirt.”

It was at that very point when I realized I was doing this out of fear. My mentor was not intending for me to come away thinking this; he was only acknowledging his hatred for dressing up. But that is what it did. I began to realize that I was dressing a certain way because I feared that others wouldn’t accept me for who I am. I feared that I wouldn’t fit in. I feared what people would think of me. 

Dressing a certain way to make friends is something only middle schoolers do, right? No, I think this is something that many of us struggle with, even if our conscience has hidden that reality from us.

Acceptance is a human craving. I think that some of us crave it more than others, probably due to the way that we were raised, or our current lifestyle, but it seems to be a very natural desire for all people. We want to be known. We want to be loved. We want to have friends. Community is needed for flourishing, but not at the expense of becoming someone you are not. Of course becoming someone you are not is not always a terrible thing (e.g., a thief who wants to become a benefit to society), but conformity and betterment are two different reasons that one changes; thus, one needs to realize why they are seeking to change. 

With all of that said, though, I do have some friends who see clothing in a different light. They do not see clothing as a response to their desire to be accepted. Clothing and style for them truly does bring them joy and adds value to their lives. Therefore, this is not an argument against style and nice clothes; rather, it is about the reason behind wearing the clothes that you wear.

Why do you wear what you do? Are you seeking the approval of others? Do you wear certain clothes to attract attention? Do your clothes actually add value to your life? Has your style changed with your needs or because of those that are around you? Has your desire for acceptance led to conformity?