Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Welcome to My World . . . Five Years Later!

It's amazing how time flies. It has now been just over five years ago that I began this Living Free blog. Wow! Where does the time go? According to the blog posting count, I have posted 244 times and this post makes number 245. This doesn't take into account the 100 Photo of the Week posts in addition to the other 245 posts. I have written enough words to fill at least six average size books by today’s standards. Obviously, a lot of what I’ve said is, at best, the musings of someone in search of something and probably to be categorized as not much more than drivel. But, I do hope some of what I have posted here has stirred something in those who have stopped and read it. My intent was not and still is not to change anyone (other then myself, of course) but possibly be an inspiration to anyone else seeking something and, perhaps, not sure how to go about it or has been held back by fear.

So, as I have done before, I’m revisiting this original post to consider the growth and changes I’ve experienced during the five years (actually, 62 months) since it first appeared. I’ve truncated most of the paragraphs from the original post. You can go back to the very first post, Welcome To My World!, to read the original post in context. My updates will be in italics.   

This blog is about exactly what the title states - “living and working free.” Now, to make sure this concept is perfectly clear, I DO NOT mean living FOR free nor working FOR free. I mean living and working freely under our own rules, terms and conditions for our lifestyles and workstyles. And, it is important to note that there are no rules, terms or conditions carved in stone that tell us how we should live or how we should work. The only rules are those that we each establish for ourselves in our own hearts and minds . . . unless we adopt the rules, conditions and terms that others may want to impose on us. Nothing new here except I shortened the name of the blog to “Living Free . . .” since I believe it encompasses both living and working free. I stand with this original premise and continue on this course.

My postings here are going to be based on MY feelings, opinions, concepts, wants and needs. What I say may or may not apply to you – or perhaps only parts of what I say may apply to you. So, do not, under any circumstances, consider anything I say here to be gospel. What I say only pertains to me and my life. The operative word in all of this is “FREE!” Again, I stand pretty much on these same premises. However, as I’ve looked over many of the posts during the five years, I notice where I’ve detoured onto some tangent that may have seemed off topic. Some of that is because I felt like I had to attempt to keep posting something and apparently didn’t feel I had much to say at the time. Also, some of the tangents were about things that, for whatever reason, were bothering me or impacting me at that time. No apologies for that. It will likely continue to occur as something a bit a field catches my attention, riles me or I just feel I need to explore. Bear with me if you can.

This is beginning as a blog. A podcast will follow very shortly. Obviously, NO PODCASTS, yet! Remember, I’m an industry veteran in the recording and broadcast industries. I can’t even guess at how many programs, productions, etc. I’ve created of a very broad variety over my career. This should be easy-peasy for someone like me. Here’s the truth – and it’s hard for me to swallow – as much as I love recording and creating program content . . . I’m burned out. I’ve been gathering some recorded materials, but I just can’t muster the motivation to get off the starting block. Don’t take that to mean it isn’t going to happen. On the contrary, it will happen and it will happen when I know it’s exploding inside me. What I’ve been learning and experiencing and the people I’ve been coming into contact with totally amaze me and it just keeps getting better. So, standby!

Money is not the only measure of success. You can't buy happiness with money, but it can make life more comfortable. Everyone needs some amount of money to sustain whatever lifestyle he or she chooses. The real issue, too often, is that we don't determine what REALLY makes us happy and fulfilled. This remains a central theme of my current living free philosophy and I don’t see it changing.

So, we tend to center ourselves around the JOB and the largest amount of MONEY we can get and while we spend 30, 40 or 50 years of our lives slaving at some job that, statistically, is unfulfilling to more then 70% of the workforce. Our most valuable – actually priceless – commodity is slipping by virtually unnoticed UNTIL we reach or pass middle age and wonder where all the TIME of our lives went. It's actually obvious – it went to making money, too often trying to keep up with the Joneses or buying into the latest greatest trends, fads, gadgets, doodads, etc. One day, we will realize all of this has just accumulated as so much “stuff” and we are now in the warehousing business. When I wrote this original post I was still living on the ranch with so much accumulated stuff that it made me feel like the walls were closing in on me. Neither the stuff nor going home brought me any joy. The house was simply a place of shelter. Since that time, if you’ve read along with the progress in this blog, that has all changed. November 1, 2008 was my emancipation day and I’ve not had a fixed residence (home) of my own since then. It is the most freeing thing I’ve ever done.

So, living and working free means determining in your own mind and heart what is REALLY IMPORTANT to you, creating a lifestyle that reflects what really fulfills you and sets you free to enjoy the TIME of your life. It means finding work that you find fulfilling and you can enjoy and even be passionate about. Sure, you may not earn a six figure income – or maybe not even a high five figure income, but how much was the second, minute, hour, day worth that just went by. Can you buy another second of time . . . or a minute, hour or day? Time is my most valuable – and priceless commodity. I am really no longer willing to sacrifice my priceless time to do anything that I don't want to do, don't like doing or just, in general, find to be a waste of my time. This was my quest, my journey, and my adventure when I set out on this course change. Has it been smooth sailing? Of course not! Nothing is ever exactly as you’d like it to be when you make a major change in your life – getting married, getting divorced, having kids, kids leaving the nest, changing jobs, losing jobs, changing career fields, retiring and all the many other changes we’ll experience. I continue on my quest along this pathway.

So, that's what this blog is all about. I'll expose you to ideas, concepts, opportunities, lifestyles, workstyles, people, places and so on. I very much invite your comments and if you have something you'd like me to post as part of this blog – submit it to me at ed@edhelvey.com. This is still accurate and, while I attempt to contain my rants, I do let off a little steam once in a while when something gets to me. I’d love to see more comments in the comment section of the blog and get your feelings and input, though. I often receive comments via emails directly to me and I very much appreciate them, but I believe other readers can and would benefit from your thoughts, too. I eliminated my “rules for commenting” because I found that they were not needed. Those who have commented have done so intelligently and kindly. (With the exception of my last post titled "Comments on Comments." With growth in readership comes growth in spam comments.)

In closing this first, introductory post, I want to give credit to a book and its author as my inspiration for this blog. The book is Working Free: Practical Alternatives to the 9 to 5 Job by John Applegath. I have not had the opportunity to return to Durham to visit with John and friends again, but I fully intend to. John and I keep in touch from time to time and I continue to learn more about him. Unfortunately, John was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, to which he has attributed many of the challenges he’s had to deal with over the past several years. Regarding republishing John’s book, as these five years have gone by and I extricated myself from my book-publishing career, a career that I was never enamored of, I find myself less and less interested or inclined to publish anything for anyone in the future, except myself. Perhaps some other publisher may take on the project. Perhaps another author may collaborate with John to update and expand on the work that John did and that so encouraged and affirmed me in my own life. Only time will tell.

Another person you'll hear from and whose book also was an inspiration is Barbara Winter, whose book, Making a Living Without a Job: Winning Ways for Creating Work that You Love, is still in print, I believe. I did finally meet Barbara, but it was in Sedona in the spring of 2010 not in the summer of 2008 in Las Vegas. I found her to be a total delight. She is a vivacious, energetic, inspiring woman who lights up any room she enters. While I’ve been meandering down my own path, overcoming some of my own challenges and tripping over my own feet, I haven’t kept in close touch with Barbara. However, I fully intend to cross paths with her again and share ideas and experiences and I know I’ll gain more insight and inspiration from her when that happens.

Another book that I've added to those that have been very influential to me in my journey of living free is by the late Harry Browne and is titled, "How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World: A Handbook for Personal Liberty." Like John Applegath and Barbara Winter, I would have loved to have been able to meet and converse with Harry Browne. While I didn't agree 100% with everything in his book, it probably represents the closest thinking to my own about personal freedom and I commend it to anyone who feels they are not free or not as free as they feel they have the right to be.

I eliminated the entire last paragraph of the original post because it was just a lot of yada-yada.

Five years after beginning this blog I am a very different person. I was uptight, burned out, unmotivated and pretty much a waste of human protoplasm at that time. As you could tell from my early posting in 2008, I was really searching for something. I was not free. I was not happy. I had no real picture of a future for myself. It was hard to wake up and get out of bed every morning. Really, it was. I was one of those people that Thoreau wrote about when he said “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Something had to change and it had to change drastically and soon.

A lot HAS changed. I got rid of the mass of my “stuff” (which is documented elsewhere in this blog). I’m still working on the last 15% (procrastination still plays a role in my life). I eliminated the businesses – both recording and book publishing. The book publishing wasn’t that hard to let go of, but I kept dragging my feet in letting go of recording, a real passion for me for 50 years. I eliminated the house and land (ranch) that no longer served a real purpose for me and had become an albatross. I eliminated the vast majority of my overhead (80% overnight, as I like to say and I've retained this low overhead with my "Vow of Frugality"). I eliminated my debt. I’ve also retired from all but one group and I'm in the process of retiring from that group this year. I've also cut ties with people and organizations that created stress, frustration and other negativity in my life.

On the moving forward side of the ledger, I eliminated Winchester and the state of Virginia (after 26 years) as my place of residence. I established a new residence in Box Elder, South Dakota where I can be from, but not actually have to be at. I’ve made several significant road trips including a cross-country trip from the east coast to the west coast and back, for the first time in my life. I covered about 7,000 miles on that trip including many states I’ve never been to before and saw many things I’ve never seen before, except maybe from 35,000 feet in the sky. I spent a month living in Florida during the winter of 2011. I parted with my trusty, loved and reliable Cadillac Seville and replaced it with a small, economical Ford Focus hatchback only to have a deer destroy it in the mountains of North Carolina. This resulted in my purchase of the van I’m continuing to convert into a motorized covered wagon. I downsized from my dream of a 40’, diesel-pusher motor home with about 300 sq feet of rolling living space to the 50 sq ft that the van allows me.

Additionally, I’ve met and made an incredible number of new friends, some in person and some to rendezvous with somewhere, someday through various on-line groups of people who share various facets of my values and philosophy. I’ve learned a fantastic amount about people, places, things and life.

I learned how easy it is to fall back into a new comfort zone by spending three of the last four years of my time in two locations – Winchester and the northern Virginia area (Falls Church/Fairfax). Having great friends is a blessing. Unfortunately, their very appreciated support actually enabled me. I have to be very careful of that. Currently, I'm based at my "Eastern Base Camp" at a friend's house in a small, rural, slowly dying, small town in West Virginia. I've also been establishing other base camps in other parts of the U.S. including California.

 I’ve also learned more about balance, taking life, small stuff (and it’s mostly small stuff) and myself too seriously. I’ve also learned how adaptable I am. I can find ways to make the best of just about any situation. I feel free. I am happy. But, best, and perhaps most, of all, I no longer identify my life with “The mass of men who live lives of quiet desperation.”

I also continue to evolve the blog. That’s as it should be. The blog grows and changes with me. I'm preparing to expand more of the content available on this blog and I'm preparing to relaunch some of my earlier blogs. There is a lot more to come in the future.

So, Welcome to MY World - five years later. It’s better then it’s ever been and continues getting better all the time. This past January actually was like another rebirth for me. I'm finally regaining most of my creative juices, motivation and ambition. I thought for quite a while during the preceding years since I left the ranch at the end of 2008 that I was so drained and burned out that I'd never be productive again. However, something finally clicked this past January and I'm re-energized. It's a fantastic feeling to have my mind and my body back in a fully functional mode again.

Thanks for traveling along on my journey. I hope I’ve been, in some small way, an inspiration for you on your journey. I still have a lot to learn and a long way to go and I hope you’ll continue along this exciting road with me. Who knows where I’ll be at the six-year mark or at the eight-year mark. And, I hope to meet you in person along the way.     


Tinabeane said...

Wow five years! That is great!! I recently found your blog and look forward to following your journey and reading about your downsizing and road to freedom process.


Ed Helvey - Professional Nomad said...

Thanks, Tina --

Welcome to my world. Enjoy the journey and I hope you gain some ideas and tips for your own journey along the way.


Shelley said...

I love this post Ed summarizing your growth over the last 5 years. I love this "Money is not the only measure of success. You can't buy happiness with money, but it can make life more comfortable. Everyone needs some amount of money to sustain whatever lifestyle he or she chooses. The real issue, too often, is that we don't determine what REALLY makes us happy and fulfilled." So, so true. I too feel like that quote from Thoreau, feeling that at age 44, I have not yet 'figured out' what truly makes me happy and what I am truly passionate about. I do know being a 'sheeple' is not one of them! I loved reading Ernie Zielinski's The Joy of Not Working many years ago and it sent me on my path of searching and seeking. I have traveled across the US and have given up traditional work and have accomplished a lot of goals, but now I am trying to figure out WHAT I want my 3 children's lives to look like and with one with a chronic illness, it is extra challenging. He has ankylosing spondylitis and because of his limitations, we have not done all I have wished. I am hoping new meds. will help while I continue to seek natural answers to his healing. So kudos to you and I enjoy reading your blog!

Ed Helvey - Professional Nomad said...

Thank you so much for your kind words, Shelley --

I'm glad I've been able to be of some inspiration to you. You've made the major step - recognizing that there is "something" out there for you that will fulfill your life and make you happy. But, I also recognize the huge challenges you have and continue to face. Raising a family in today's world is challenging enough, but having a child with any kind of special needs/medical challenge certainly puts you in a special class of your own.

You will find your rewards and freedom and happiness because you have already made important steps in that direction. And, you'll have a special place reserved for you in Heaven for your special challenge.

Thanks for following the blog and I hope I continue to earn and deserve your time to read it.