The Home Gym

I admit that in the past, I would rather not join a gym if I had to pay a monthly membership. We had free gyms in the navy – even on ships so I didn’t see the point of paying for something I could use for free. Fast forward to a few years after retirement. Now I live over an hour (with light traffic) from the nearest military gym.

Solution: my wife and I joined a gym for 9.95 a month but it’s only 2 miles away.

Do I really need to join a gym? Yes, and that’s only because I would get better organized with my schedule if I had to go to a certain place to do something. Kinda like we go to a workplace because the environment provides us with the ready resources and the skilled coworkers that make us productive than working from home.

We can do our own Home Gym. First we buy the most expensive weight set and gym equipment. A recycled rubber floor mat to absorb the shock and put on loud music on speakers. The we can wear the latest perspiration wicking clothing and a big floor or ceiling fan. Presto – a home gym. That was a joke, by the way!

By home gym, I mean the minimalist way. We can use our body weight for the exercise – like sit ups, planks, push ups and the famous burpees. With dumbbells or kettlebells, we can do arm, bicep, tricep, back and shoulder as well and squat exercises. With barbells, we can do more weight training. With a sturdy bar, we can do pull ups or chin ups. I mean, we can do so many things limited only by our imagination.

Just within our (and your) neigborhood, we can jog, sprint short distances or do distance running without ever seeing a treadmill. Don’t forget the fun of riding bicycles.

Our objective is to avoid sitting down watching TV while eating three times the recommended calorie intake. We know that as we look back decades from now, we will never regret that we didn’t watch enough TV.

The regular gym has so many advantages though. First the equipment – some of them are more expensive than 10 years worth of gym membership. Second, the variety of equipment – I mean there’s just a lot of equipment to use to vary the workout. Third, there are trainers available – if we are so inclined – to teach and monitor if we’re doing the right exercises.

For minimalist, a home gym can still provide the basic exercises needed to stay fit. But if we want advanced fitness (tailored to our needs), nothing beats a regular gym.

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Where Do We Waste Money?

I was reading an article from http://www.cheatsheet.com the other day and in it is something about where Americans waste their money. As you know, I’m totally opposed to gambling because it is a losing proposition for the average guy or gal. Someone even called gambling “tax for the stupid” because a gambling place is always designed to win (mathematically and in reality). But gambling is barely discussed in that article.

In the actual article or post, the money-wasting categories were divided into different generations:  Baby boomers, Generation X and Millennials. In this post I will try to simplify it and just point out a group of them common to all generations. It is in no particular order. I think we can add a dozen more to this but we don’t have to. We can use the list to check whether we have something we want to change.

Here’s the List:

Eating out

Drinking Alcohol

Cigarettes

TV cable subscription

Bottled water

Entertainment

Hobbies

Car or Gas

Credit card interest

Expired or uneaten food

Hobbies

Streaming services

Let me give you some little footnotes on some of them. These are from experiences, some are not necessarily mine – but it may be helpful.

I remember the days when we drank out of drinking fountains with filtered water. These days there are many good filters out there, that can filter tap water way better than commercially bottled water. There’s even some that filter viruses, bacteria and fluoride.

I cut off cable TV subscription and it was one of the best decisions ever. No, we don’t miss regular programming. We pay for some streaming services which is a whole lot cheaper than going to the movie theater or paying monthly cable bill.

About cars – someone wrote “buy (not lease) the best car you can afford and keep it for a long time (at least 7 years). I think that’s a good advice. Good gas mileage in a car saves hundreds of dollars a year. When gasoline prices go sky high (like in 2008), many full-size trucks can be bought at a bargain.

Alcohol probably gets millions of people in trouble and causes many fatalities especially if taken just before driving. Enough said.

I think the best way to quit smoking is cold turkey. It will be hard the first few days, but it is much better than buying nicotine patches because it still cost money and puts poison in the body.

Entertainment expenses uses up tens of thousands of dollars per year for some people. We don’t really need to be entertained every single waking hour, but high pressure and advertising at every corner makes us think that we “deserve” to be entertained, after a hard day’s work. Do we, really?

One of the ways to avoid interest rates on credit cards is to avoid buying things we don’t need and cannot afford, to impress people we dislike.

Hobbies: I like to do have many hobbies, but I’d rather concentrate on the ones I like most. Two hobbies is my limit. It’s less expensive that way and I still don’t have excess time to do them all.

Maybe when I semi-retire?

These are just some of the stuff that’s worth mulling in our minds over and over. Is it a necessary expense?  Maybe we’ll have a fuller life without those things mentioned above? OK, it’s not maybe – it’s for sure. But even a small decrease amounts to much. Eating out one day a week less equals $600 savings a year. Maybe more.

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Minimalist Me

The other day I was reading an article about two minimalist guys – I think they are called “The Minimalists” on their website. Then I happened to watch a documentary on them. It’s kinda interesting. If you are interested, please search for them. It’s a liberating lifestyle – they don’t have to rely much on materialism to live a fuller life.

That got me into thinking about my own place in the world of minimalism. Am I a card carrying member of minimalism? I guess we’ll find out. Don’t take me seriously in this post. It’s a light hearted banter about living a simpler life.

Here’s my take on my attempt at minimalism:

I read about this guy who owns more than 60 suits? Wow, that’s more than my entire wardrobe. He was a fashion writer, but 60? In comparison, I have one. I guess that qualifies me to be a minimalist.

The other day, I was contemplating about getting a new pair of shoes. Instead, I ordered replacement outer soles and contact cement. I decided to become a cobbler – at least for one of my shoes so I won’t have to buy a new one. Minimalist at heart, good ol’ me. I have a feeling that this outer sole will come off my shoes within a few weeks so we’ll see.

For almost 8 years now, we used jelly glass jars or pickle jars as drinking glasses. We use them as lunch containers sometime too. They are also great containers for things you wanted to be able to see without opening the container, and they are free.

This year, we are taking a vacation from vacations. We may have some time off from work but we’re not going anywhere where we will spend $$$.  Minimalist moi indeed!

I plan to continue to be absent from any sporting events in person and watching on TV this year and in the years to come. That will result in hundreds of hours saved per year, and more rest or productivity from yours truly.  Hundreds of dollars saved is the icing on the cake. Sometimes I read sports articles and I am secretly happy that I don’t know some of the sports figures discussed.  Minimalist forever!

In case you haven’t noticed, the paragraphs above are a feeble attempt to qualify me as a minimalist. Am I really? I could tell you dozens of things that I do that are not minimalist in nature. For example: I eat good – the only thing stopping me from eating five full plates of dinner is it’s a sin (and the dire consequences, health-wise).

I wrote this hoping maybe it will serve as an inspiration to those thinking about becoming minimalists. People can be minimalists in their own small way – maybe buying a fuel sipping car (I don’t like them because they’re not quick enough), or shop daily for groceries to avoid wasted food (I’m too tired at the end of the day), or don’t eat out anymore (but many people love to eat out).

Find your own path to minimalism and enjoy it!

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Love Thoughts

It’s the new year! I can’t believe it’s now 2017. It’s the second month already. I still remember 2007, even 1997 – but that seems too long ago now. I thought of making some notes on LOVE to start the new year. Why Love? Because LOVE makes the world go round (literally – I’ll explain later).

These notes are random thoughts. Every paragraph is a different thought than the next. They may interconnect or they may not. Whenever a thought comes to mind, I write it down. Then I made this post.

The whole universe can be summarized in one word:  Love. It is the reason why human beings exist. It is the same reason why we continue to thrive despite the imperfect world we live in. It will be the reason someday to keep loving.

A difficult form of love is Tough Love – people think that if you are tough on someone that means you don’t love them. Au contraire! Some people still think that loving someone means telling them only what they want to hear – instead of what’s good for them.

Love is like a drop of water that creates outgoing waves. The outpouring of our personal love should reach the persons closest to us first:  spouses, children, grandkids, parents, siblings, friends and relatives, employees, employers and finally, other people. It can’t be the other way around.

Someone said that the opposite of love is not hate, but apathy or indifference. How about selfishness? Most of the problems in the world would be solved if 99% of the people are unselfish. That would be impossible in this world. But the ones that LOVE make a big difference.

God’s love for us is what turns the world. Yeah, there are forces (gravity, centripetal and centrifugal, etc.) there that makes it possible. But who made those forces? The same forces can be changed by God – in fact the world can literally turn back in time and it did happen. Not convinced? With the world wide web, it’s very easy to research.

This is the month for Valentine’s day. I always think why do we have to designate a day for Love? Does that mean it’s ok not to love our spouses, etc if it’s not designated as the day for Love? And why wait for that day to spend quality time or give gifts. Every day is a day fit for loving. Let’s love daily!

I like this format so much that I will cut it short, that way you may read it now instead of waiting for another 200 words before I post.  That’s loving, isn’t it?

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My Need To Improve

I started writing this just before the last few days of last year. I might as well title this as “New Year’s Resolution” but that would be too obvious. Days passed by, I still could not figure out how to organize my thoughts but I kept on coming back and editing and finally, four weeks later…

We all need to improve, right? What do we need to improve on? There’s many facets of our lifestyle and behavior that immediately comes to mind. However, it’s only us that can honestly say which ones are subject to improvement. Without an honest assessment, it would be regression on a slow slope to mediocrity and below.

Let me start by patting myself of the back for improving on a few aspects of my life last year: namely, going to bed early and getting up early. I also got rid of watching sports on TV (I don’t watch sports in person either because it is an expensive undertaking). We got rid of cable TV also which gave us hours of productivity.

It took me years to really get into the changes stated above. I always had it in the back of my mind that to do those changes but it still took me approximately 2-4 years before I changed each habit. The intent was there, all I needed was the proper timing to make it work. It finally happened after we moved to a new place because I got so tired from moving that I chose sleep over activity.

For this year’s improvement, I had to figure out what I really wanted in life:  Time, Health, Relationships, Financial Independence (in no particular order).

From those values, I picked a few things that will enhance it.

Here’s my short list. Short so it’s doable, yet has significant positive impact.

Bible Reading

I need to read the bible more because this is one of best ways to get closer to God. I used to go cover to cover every year. Did I think I will be able to fully understand it after the first two years? No, I thought that it would give me a little familiarity for future intensive reading. The last few years I handpick the books (mostly New Testament) I want to read each year. Problem is I give myself too little to read. Goal:  One Chapter of 3-5 Books per night.

Exercise Consistency

We started a comprehensive exercise program a few months ago by joining a gym. This is just a matter of maintaining our physical fitness by going a few times a week. We do mostly 30 minutes sessions – any longer takes too much time and any lesser does not do much. Bottom line: one year at a time – consistent physical exercise by gym workouts and bicycling.

Austerity

I have discussed how we managed our finances and given advice on how to save on things and to spend wisely. I want to dive deeper. Why austerity? Because we really don’t have control on our income. But we definitely have control on income received. We become financially better off by strictly controlling our expenses. Target:  Concentrate on saving and cutting expenses daily.

There, I laid it out in the line for all to read. That makes me accountable for those goals. I’ll give you an update just before the year ends.

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Praying How

In the past few months, my family and I have prayed almost relentlessly for my granddaughter Addy who was born prematurely. It was a hard experience and I can tell you that many hard experiences is what my life seemed to specialize in.  Only this time it was harder.  Almost everyday was a harrowing experience and it took a toll on our health.

Thank God that she’s now better. There are still issues that a normal baby goes through but I believe the scary phase was over. In the last few months I did the most intensive praying ever in my whole existence. Dozens of people did the same thing (some of them unsolicited). Thank you to all who prayed!

How did I do the praying? There is a pattern which is outlined in the Book of Matthew. It is also known as the Lord’s Prayer, or simply “Our Father”.  I have prayed it dozens (hundreds?) of times in the past yet I only learned the pattern not too long ago from Pastor Doug’s sermon.

I only copy the pattern but I don’t repeatedly pray the Lord’s prayer itself. I try to vary my vocabulary as if I’m composing a love letter to my wife (but I still have ways to go in this area).

The first thing is praising and thanking God for the major things. Anyone’s list will be significantly different from mine but one common thing to be praiseful/thankful for is Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

Who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name, Thy Kingdom Come – These phrases emphasize that we are praying to the only true God who resides in Heaven; Hallowed means Holy; His Kingdom will someday be here on Earth.

Thy Will Be Done – God’s will is to give us eternal life – His enemies have the opposite objective. But He gave us free will so we’re free to love Him back (or love His enemies).

Ask for forgiveness. For what? There’s quite a few things we do that offends God.  We can start with the Ten Commandments. Which ones did we break? Contrary to popular opinion, we don’t need another person to ask God for us to forgive our sins. We go straight to God for forgiveness, with a contrite heart. And yes, we must forgive our offenders too.

More gratitude for things that went right – for the day starting and ending productively with minor glitches. Also, gratitude for the things that went wrong – at least we now know how to fix those mistakes and avoid it in the future.  More thankfulness for life events, accomplishments, ideas, materials things – there’s literally hundreds of things to be thankful for.

I ask for strength, wisdom, guidance, protection and endurance. I even pray for my daily subsistence even though I know that He will provide – because I want Him to know that I’m totally dependent on His grace.

The prayer list next: Pray for spouse, children and grandkids (if you’re blessed with one or a dozen already). Your Family first before everyone else. Then your parents, siblings and their families. Then more families and friends and whoever else requested you to pray for them. I ask for them the same thing that I asked above: wisdom, guidance, protection, endurance. I also add enlightenment and a softening of the heart to accept the Truth.

Prayer lifts us up closer to God. Like I told my wife, my granddaughter drew me closer and made me love God even more.

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With Great Gratitude

This year was the most hectic year in our lives.

We started the year with my wife and I getting sick at the same time. It lasted about a week. It’s bad enough to get bedridden. It’s worse when your spouse is also bedridden and not able to take care of you. We passed that one, thank God!

Plentiful blessings went our way. The amount of blessings we receive year after year are unbelievable sometimes. Not in a materialistic sort of way but rather in amazement that were getting blessed with so much.

We’re thankful (with credit to my sister in law M.A. who texted this last night) for the things that we didn’t receive. It is a truly a blessing.  For example, if I won a $100M lottery – I consider it more of a curse than a blessing. Of course, I might change my mind if I actually win. I don’t buy lottery tickets so there’s zero chance it will happen!

We are thankful for having a rather pleasant life. I mean many things can go wrong yet they don’t. The other day I had a flat tire while driving at fast freeway speed. I still drove for another 7 miles before deciding that it’s time to pull over because there was a “blap-blap-blap” noise coming from the tire.  Eight years ago was my last flat tire before this one. The 2008 flat tire event happened within 50 feet of a tire shop. How cool is that?

Among the many highlights of this year was the birth of my granddaughter who was born prematurely. Premature babies need an immense amount of care and love just for them to survive. Everyday we experienced peaks and valleys of emotion. By God’s grace and through the prayers of numerous prayer groups, churches, friends and families, our miracle baby got through those trials and is ever improving.

We’re grateful for the trials that God allowed to happen in our lives. Without it, we won’t have patience, perseverance, wisdom and an understanding of how God operates. It helped (and is still helping) us to optimize and prioritize our time and resources. It allowed us to be completely dependent on the Lord

Trials give us character. Prayers lift us up to God. Every good thing comes from Him. We have nothing but Praise!

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

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