Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I don't need what I have

I've just finished reading The Man Who Quit Money (by Mark Sudeen) which describes the journey of a man who saw how money, possessions and materialism were a burden. He now lives in a cave, dumpster diving and finding ways to survive without begging, but also without holding a job or relying on government welfare. I'm not there yet - and probably never will be, mom, so don't worry - but it made me look back and realize 3 key points in my life that caused me to stop and think: I don't need what I have.

Many of us can relate to this one. Each time you move, you look through your heaps of possessions: old college textbooks, trinkets that sit on your shelf and take up room, clothes overflowing out of every drawer, power tools you've used once, and relentless piles, closets, and garages stuffed to the brink. With every move, I skim down a little more yet still stubbornly hold onto things I haven't used for years. I've furnished a house and everything that comes with that, now sitting back in Colorado mostly being unused. I've had friends ask (as I wander around the country) if I've considered putting things into storage? Here's the deal: if you pay to store your stuff, you have too much. By the time you get it out, it's going to be outdated, damaged, and you've probably forgotten what you even have in that tin room an already bought another one . Plus, if you've lived without it for years already, you can live without it forever. Take the tax write off and donate it, or sell it on Craigslist. 

Waldo Canyon Fire Evacuation
Spoiler alert: I didn't loose my home or any possessions in the fire (although sometimes I think it would have been an easy, clean start to lose it all). However, I was evacuated during the fire. I went from watching it on the news to being told I needed to evacuate immediately. I scurried around the house with my video camera in hand, trying to quickly capture my possessions on film for the insurance company. As I went through each room, skimming past my mounds of stuff, I suddenly stopped and thought: there is nothing here that is so important to me I can't live without it. Sure, there are memories and expensive toys, but nothing that really mattered. With that realization, I was on a different mission to only grab things that would be a pain in the ass to replace like my passport, laptop with important files, and social security card. I barely filled half of my Mazda 6 (R.I.P Mazda - it was totaled in May 2014) with some basics that I could survive on. It was a long emotional day, not to mention the fact I went to a friends house upon being evacuated and an hour later was evacuated from there as well. He was gone (actually fighting the fire), so now I had the task of trying to figure out what HE would want and packed up random items from his house only to drive further east to another friend's home where I lived for 4 days. The best moment of that crazy day filled with moving my stuff all around the city, was when my friend came back safely from fighting the fires, not all the stuff I have "saved" from burning. My most vivid memory of that day was watching him walk up the driveway, covered in soot and smelling like campfire. I went outside and gave him a huge hug, telling him how glad I was he was home safely.

Living in Seattle
I still haven't decided if this is a temporary or permanent move, but when I had the opportunity to live in Seattle for 3 months in an apartment in Capitol Hill, I jumped on it. Again, rifling through stacks of meaningless clutter, I filled about half of my silver Mazda 3 with basics that I needed to live for 3 months. I'm living just fine with a suitcase full of clothes, a few kitchen utensils, and basic hygiene products (you're welcome Seattle). 
You have to understand too I'm somewhat of a pack rat and my mindset is typically "I could use this sometime, I just don't know when, so I'll hang onto it" but my mindset changed with each of these experiences. Sure, there are things I miss in Colorado like my piano and guitar, my bike (which i would have brought if I could have), and my printer. I learned to make sacrifices instead, perhaps a little less convenient, like walking to FedEx/Kinko's to print my resume instead of printing it in my living room. 

Overall, it's the realization that the things I miss most are not things at all - the things that are most important are people who I left behind. I've had to change my focus and realize no matter where I end up, the less selfish I can be and the more I concentrate on relationships, loving others, and connecting to them will result in more happiness than I could ever gain from sitting around my house with my stuff. It's a general apology and a commitment to changing my priorities, so prepare yourselves. If my possessions help someone else, I'm ready to give, donate, and provide to others without limits. What "thing" could possibly be more important than people? If the things you're holding onto can be a tool to help you show love, connect with and bless others then why do you still have them?

Thanks for listening to my deep thoughts - if you want some lighter humor you can check out some of my old blogs of other life lessons, which may inspire a laugh today:

Monday, May 11, 2015

New server job at local gastropub in Seattle

Well, I found myself a job. I haven't worked since I left CBA in November and it's been a good time for me to figure out what's next, travel and relax. But all good things must come to an end.
I've been looking for a server/waiter job and they're actually pretty tough to find here in Seattle. Mostly, because they all want you to have 1+ year of experience and I haven't worked in a restaurant since college (yes, I was Chuck E Cheese for those of you who didn't know. That's another story - here are 4 posts of mine that will shed a little light on this amazing experience). Other than Chuck E Cheese I worked at Chick-Fil-A and Cracker Barrel in high school and college, for about 3 years total between the jobs.
I'm now a server at Traveler Montlake
Anyway, I found a restaurant about 5 minute drive from my apartment and they were willing to hire an inexperienced server and train me up. I went in for a "working interview" and when the bartender suddenly got sick and went home, it was just me and the manager serving the entire restaurant. She told me I could go home, but I asked if I could stay and help and it was a good thing. We were totally slammed and I got to do just about everything: pour beer, run food, learn the restaurant POS system very quickly and more. By the end of the night, she appreciated what I did so much and saw the fact that I picked up on things quickly, was good with the customers, and had good common sense she offered me the job. The restaurant is called Traveler Montlake, a gastropub located in ...you guessed it...Montlake, an area of Seattle.
Traveler Montlake fireplace at the back of the restaurant
It's about a year old, and make the Thrillist list of Seattle's Best New Restaurants.
So here's the weird thing about Washington State: all servers are required to take a course and get a food handlers card, plus their MAST certification (Mandatory Alcohol Server Training). Eight hours later of online training and useless information like where warning signs need to be posted in a restaurant, I now have both permits (oh, and $30 in fees). I've heard the theory that since there's no income tax in Washington, this is a way for the state to bring in additional money, but regardless, some of the training was helpful especially for someone who hasn't been in the restaurant business for a while.
I'll be working there Wednesday and Friday nights (they're only open from 4pm - midnight) and hopefully pick up some additional shifts in between. It should be a good change- I was in much need of a self-esteem boost and motivation to do something. So, thanks to all those who prayed and had best wishes for me finding a job. I'll keep you posted!