A Place To Begin

2014-05-27-17-14-342Hello and welcome.  I’m Kara, voice behind this blog that I originally started to write about finance and frugality, travel and exploration, growing food and preparing it.  What began as a fun hobby has become a lifeline for me; a tool for plotting course and keeping the destination clear toward simpler living.  It’s no longer just about those things, but the reasons why they’re so important.

An Honest Realization

I turned 40 last summer, which for many, is a common time to reevaluate life.  Not only did I find myself in that contemplative mood, I was also faced with an unexpected cancer diagnosis that caused me to take a hard look at the life I’d made.  Rather unfortunately, I found a life that was not by design, but a series of reactions.  There was much good, and also much chaos.

I didn’t want to continue living in the stressful, bursting-with-too-much-everything rat race.  If someone asked me before my diagnosis what I would do if money and time were no object, my answer would’ve been: nothing.  I was exhausted from striving most of my adult life, yet unfulfilled and no better off than when I’d begun.  How could I have let myself get so depleted? How could I prefer nothing?

The answer is the same as for most people.  Little by little, you trade freedom for credit cards, car payments, mortgages, and the black hole that always seems to swallow up more money than seems possible.  Add to that kids, spouse, work, school (for me) and all the other life obligations.  And of course, there was the time wasted trying to distract myself; mindless online searches, TV watching,  shopping and feeling guilty about what I should/shouldn’t be.  I was nickel and diming myself just as badly with time as with money and I was so, so tired.

Beginning Again

Instead of going to bed – which is exactly what I wanted to do – I began fighting my way back.  I was done with over-commitment, too little sleep, maxed out credit cards, unhealthy eating, stress and the feeling that there was more to life…tomorrow.  I faced all of it, and an illness, determined to make the life I wanted.  I was lucky; the cancer was caught early and, after treatment, I’ve got a good prognosis. This isn’t a blog about cancer, though I may mention it once in a while.  It’s about a journey to freedom.

Me and my guy

Over the past year, we have donated, sold or trashed half our belongings.  We’ve paid off $25,000 in credit card debt and we’re learning creative ways to maximize savings.  Why do all this?  Because life isn’t about closets filled with fast fashion or sloppy spending on things that are forgettable.  We’re learning that, as a representation of our precious time and effort, money is important, but not in the ways we’ve been taught.  Money can be the facilitator of rich experiences, good memories and freedom to choose the lives we want, if handled properly. We should spend money in ways that reflect the value of our life moments it cost to earn it.

It’s funny now that, after getting rid of so many of the things I had actively worked so hard to bring into my life, I don’t miss them at all.  Instead of full closets and cupboards, I have a full bank account.  I used to wish I had the money and time to travel and fund experiences.  Now, with room to breath, I can go, see and do all those things I used to dream of.  The trade-off is so worth it.

Each day is filled with decisions, and many of them seem like they don’t matter to the bigger picture.  But, no matter how small, our time and money mean everything to whether we make it to our destination.  These are the things I write about; simple meals, intentional spending, and time-efficiency.  Because it’s through these things that a beautiful, simple life can be built.

Thank you for stopping by.  I know that there are many ways to spend your time and many blogs to read.   I hope my story and path provide some clarity and intention for you, and that we can walk together for a while.

Your friend,