Eliminating Life's Artificial Ingredients

Estate Sales – Your whole life in one go.

I just popped by an estate sale because  I find them fascinating. It’s like someone’s whole life is put on display for sale.

Many people think I’m a fundamental minimalist. Their point being that I’m supposedly some ascetic materially.

That’s hardly the case. I say, have and keep what brings you joy, you use, or you admire. That’s it really. Once anything causes stress, distraction, is in the way, then  reconsider its place in your home and life.

What I find fascinating is that it takes lifetime to build up all those things we have in our home, then something will drive us to do a fire sale, hire someone to oversee it, and get it sold.

It could be a divorce, a death, a move overseas, a lost job. Something great, or something sad.

A lifetime to acquire, then gone in one weekend.


Does this tell a story? Was it purchased on a trip to exotic lands, or an impulse purchase Pier 1 Imports?


Let’s have a chat by the fire.



Their man cave. I sold or gave away mine.


What would happen if you had to sell nearly everything you had in one weekend? Would it be fun, stressful, overwhelming, or depressing? Would it be liberating? Or would you miss everything?





06/30/2015 Declutter The World, Minimalism, Money

Kick out your Roommate

Every day you come home, and your roommate is still there. Never having even left the house to do something productive.  You begin to dread coming home, because you know your roommate will ALWAYS be there. Just sucking time, space, and energy.

Don’t you want to live with a roommate that inspires you? How about a roommate that helps out around the house, makes it a nice place to live? Wouldn’t that be nice? Instead, you get nothing.

Is your roommate just taking up more than their fair share of space? How does this happen? Maybe you let it happen.

It’s time to kick out your roommate.

Why would you hold onto a roommate that makes your home life miserable?

This roommate is not a person. It’s all your extra stuff.

All your stuff that you no longer use, you no longer love, or no longer even belongs to you.  Your stuff is a link to the past, keeping you there instead of moving forward in your life. Your roommate wants you right where you are, they’re not going anywhere, so why should you?

Kick them out.

Look at your stuff and have a heart to heart talk with it.

Stuff, we’ve been here together for a long time. But I’m not happy, it seems like it’s a one-way relationship. I do all the work. We should move apart. I’m staying, since I’m paying the bills. I carried you and all your stuff in,  and I’m gonna carry you out again.”

See, how easy that was?

Remember that feeling when your roommate is gone for a few days, and you have the house to yourself? Imagine that feeling every day!

Start by clearing out your stuff, kick it out, and make it find a new home.

How about you, do you have too much stuff in your home? How does it make you feel?

05/03/2015 Declutter The World, Minimalism

Buying a Life.

This view brought to you by the letter E, for Experience.

Sometimes it takes a stressful experience, trauma, or urgent situation that starts the process of removing the materialism in your own life. Sometimes you achieve enlightenment without any negative stressor.

All I know is The Tribe is Growing.

People are starting to say no to more stuff. Keeping up with the Jones’ matters less, and better times and a fun life take precedent over new stuff.

I look back at times when I really should have held back, such as buying house. A choice largely driven by envying my peers who had already jumped into the home buying fray. Buying a house is usually a lousy investment.

A few years later, a divorce, and a house full of stuff I didn’t want anymore, snapped me into Get Rid Of Shit mode.  Over a year and a half, I sold, gave away, donated, or tossed about 90% of my stuff.

Every thing that left my house was never missed, except for the most comfortable couch I ever owned, and a nice file cabinet. Do you know how hard it is to find a nice looking file cabinet?

It was the best thing I ever did for myself. My perspective on everything changed, politics, career, materialism,  relations with friends and significant others.  I honestly don’t care what other people own, it doesn’t apply to me.

When my friends complain about money being tight, I wonder why they keep buying new cars?

I want to collect experiences, not any more comic books. Which I sold for $110, worst return on investment ever. ,

Am I the only one who feels this way? Am I the only weird one who feels less stuff equals a better, simpler life?

Check out these folks.

  • This woman took away all her children’s toys. I loved it. Every parent should do this.
  • James Altucher threw away 98% of his stuff! Oh, the courage!
  • This guy just gave away nearly everything he owned .
  • This couple hit the big time, bought a bunch of stuff, moved to a rich neighborhood,  hated it, and decided to live with hardly anything, and live all over the world.


The recurring theme in all these stories is their lives became richer. Not their stuff, not their image, but their lives. Trading in stuff, and getting experience back, changed them and made them happier, and most importantly, it can be FREE.  It doesn’t have to cost any money to experience something amazing.

What are you going to buy next? 





04/09/2015 Habits, Minimalism, Money, Uncategorized

So I threw it out there. Do you need a hand?

Being minimalist, or always working at it (I just got rid of a two bags of stuff today), but I realized it might not be as easy for others out there.

They might be stuck. Too much stuff, where to begin, “This means a lot to me”, “I might need it again (yeah, in five years), etc. These, and more are scripts we tell ourselves, stopping the process to simplify our lives.

It’s not that simple to live simply.

I decided to help anyone that asked, but I had to offer first. I didn’t feel like cold calling my friends and asking if they needed help decluttering their homes.
I could imagine the conversation:

Lars: Tim, remember when II stayed at your house for the weekend. Yeah? Well, I think you have too much stuff, decluttering your junk will make your life a lot more enjoyable  and I can help.”

Tim: “Lars, you’re a freakin’ weirdo… I love my stuff… so I want to keep it, and yes, I know my kitchen knives are dull*. I don’t want to live like some monk, with nothing.”

* I have a thing about dull knives.

OK, so you can’t convince the ones that don’t want any help. So I decided to throw it out there on the world of Facebook and see if anyone wanted me to help them. For nothing.

I’ve been thinking about posting this for a while, and finally did.


“Send me message”? argh, the typo kills me .

The results shocked me:

47 Facebook likes, and 24 comments, and 8 people asked for help. Some are not near me, but I’m happy to go within a day’s drive as I don’t have a “real job” anymore. 

I’ve already met with one person, and gone to another friend’s house to begin decluttering.

I’m excited. More to come.

How about you? Do you have an burning desire to help or do something like this? How did you put the word out? Please share in the comments.

03/12/2015 Declutter The World, Habits, Minimalism

This Artificial ingredient was killing me.

“It’s like a Kafka short story…. You build something, and you can’t live in it, you just sit around guarding it.”

– Rodney Mullen in The Bones Brigade: An Autobiography.


I had been ingesting an unnatural, harmful artificial ingredient for over 25 years that induced stress, lack of sleep, and too much time away from what I love to do.

This ingredient, much like many others that Paleo/primal adherents shun, is relatively new in human evolution. With most foods on the Standard American Diet, it seems as if everyone is eating it, and see nothing wrong with it, despite evidence of its harm and their constant complaints about it. In fact, people love it when they stop ingesting it for a couple of days, then complain when they start again.

I didn’t start ingesting this ingredient until I was in High School, and then it was in small doses 2-3 times per week, at most.  Not much more. No major harm, but I like the results. In fact, in the beginning it was probably good for me.

Over time I took it more and more, and over the years I spent most of my waking hours ingesting it, on my way to get more of it, on my way home from taking it, or thinking about it.

Caution: Ingredients have been proven to be harmful to my health.

Yes, in my case, I am talking about working at a corporation. Being a corporate drone, or cog In the machine.

I’ve always had a strong work ethic, I was one of the first of my friends to get a job in High School. I loved the sense of responsibility, contribution, and not to mention, getting a steady paycheck.

Work starts as something you do to make extra money to pay the bills, or save up for something special, like a car. Eventually it becomes an overwhelming force in which you are trapped into with a great dependency, and a fear to keep it.

I’ve never been shy to seek employment, I’ve had the same role for the past 12 or so years, working in high tech sales and account management. Before that, I pursued everything from sandwich making, retail for many many, many  years, bartending, executive recruiting, bartending again, teaching elementary school, market research, consulting, customer support and some I can’t think of right now. These all varied in duration, but yes, I was multi-dimensional, and a quick learner.

The Money was good.

Over the years, as I settled into account management and sales,  I did well, sold a lot, and made a decent living. More money than I ever expected to make. That’s fine, I enjoyed it. In fact, I enjoyed it a bit too much, as instead of growing, and pursuing something I love, I focused on protecting what I had. I was scared to lose the status I had attained, even if it was making me miserable.

Over time, especially the last two years, I found my role slipping into putting out fires, dealing with system issues, client turnover, a whole maelstrom of issues that weren’t what I signed up for, nor suited my strengths. So many moving parts, and NEVER being able to let go. I envied the people with jobs they could let go in their mind once they walked out the door.

For me, that was impossible. I would wake up in the middle of a Saturday night, stressing about a client’s technical issues, on whether I would make my annual quota, to an implementation that went awry and is taking up too much of my company’s time and money.

This artificial ingredient was no longer providing the taste and nourishment I needed to thrive. Lately, I became less effective at my job, in a way, I was checked out, stressed, unhappy, and dreaded every working day.

Is a corporate job an artificial ingredient? Should we all be jobless bums?

I think that modern corporate job, in all its facets is an artificial ingredient that counters a healthy life.  You may thrive in a corporate environment, and wonder what the hell is wrong with me. You may be right, but I’m not going eat something that makes me feel lousy. I wouldn’t want you to do the same.

Some people, like those with celiac disease, can’t take a bite without immediate harmful reaction. For others, the cumulative effects compound over time. Like someone who finds their metabolism slowing down, and gaining weight over the years. You find out you can’t eat like you used to during your 20s.  I was the latter. I put up with the grind for years.. but slowly felt its effects adding up to a unhealthy, miserable situation. Whereas others had an immediate reaction, or never even took a bite of the corporate-life diet, I was able to handle if for a long time.

I live in San Francisco, work in Silicon Valley. The day to day grind, commuting, working late hours, being rushed out of the home in the early morning, drinking coffee to stay awake, looking forward to Friday, the typical break room exchange on Mondaymorning:

Q:  “How was your weekend?”

A: “Not long enough”,

Is that a way to live?

Maybe you thrive at your job, and makes you healthy and happy… but I wasn’t. I don’t know if anyone really is happy. If you are, good for you. I can’t tell you what to eat. If it makes you feel good, then do it.

The Intervention:

Yes, I kept consuming this harmful ingredient, was practically addicted to it, and wanted to ensure my next fix/paycheck didn’t stop. I liked making my next fix stronger by selling more and getting bigger commission checks.

But, someone saw I was no longer healthy, happy, and thriving, and staged an intervention.

I was laid off. “Lars, we’re going to cut you off.

I felt an overwhelming sense of relief, gratitude, and excitement for what’s next. The best part, I don’t exactly know what it will be. I have ideas, and I’m going to pursue them diligently and smartly, applying what works, and discard what doesn’t.

I was too hooked on the money income, and just coasting through it to make this change on my own.

The money made me complacent in pursuing my passions, dreams and what areas I am really good and talented. 

What’s Next?

Am I going to stop working?

No, I’m probably going to work harder than I ever have in my life. But I’m going to be working for me, for what I love, how I can help people, and move my life into something that leaves me feeling alive at the end of the day, not worn out emotionally.

How about you? Have you been given a clean break from your harmful corporate job diet? Did going cold-turkey help, or did you get back on the treadmill? What worked for you?


02/19/2015 Artificial Ingredients, Money, Primal Living

Stand Up!

I’m trying to stand as much as possible these days. I’m not linking to any studies, but there’s plenty out there, go find it.

So, going forward, I’m standing during the scenarios

  • Riding the train to and from work (30-50 Minutes each way)
  • Working from home. (laptop on dresser)
  • Socializing with friends.
  • Anytime it’s not awkward.

How about you? Trying to stand more, walk more, sleep more?


01/05/2015 Uncategorized

Declutter debt

I bought a house in January 2008. If you followed the news, you know that was a bad time to buy as house values plummeted shortly thereafter, even in Silicon Valley.
I decided to hold onto it, as I figured it was an investment (I feel less so these days), and kept it after my marriage ended in 2010.
The loan was both a 30 year fixed rate, which I refinanced twice, and a $60k home equity line of credit (heloc). The lender even sent me a debit card so I could draw money against the equity line. I never did that, and later I received a letter stating basically “Um yeah, you don’t have any equity so you can’t take any cash out.

Too funny. Sort of. That’s fine. I dislike debt and didn’t want to take on any more.

So I paid that heloc down as fast as possible, right?
Umm no. I chipped away at it here and there, but no serious progress, and in 2 years I paid down about $5,000.
In 5 years I paid down a total of $7,000.
I really tapered off paying for 3 years
I’m still sitting on $53k worth of debt as of last year.
I sorta kept the heloc out of mind. The payments were small, around $200-250 so I didn’t think much of it.
But that was just the interest that I was paying every month. I was barely cutting down the principal.
To my regret, I never ran the numbers on how much I would pay in interest over the years. I knew this stuff, because I pride myself in paying off my credit card every month because of the interest charges. But I was not looking the same way towards my heloc.
I ran the numbers on a site called (No affiliation)
Paying the minimum would cost me over $100,000.00 in interest. I just about flipped.
This big mountain of debt was weighing on me, taking up space in my brain, but i was also ignoring it.
I set a goal in March 2014, that I was going to get it from $53k to below $40k.
I hit $39,811.00 just this month(December 2014)!
How did I do it? I looked at recurring expenses I could eliminate and apply it to the loan. Even the $7.99 a month for Netflix wasn’t spared. I didn’t think “Oh, it’s only 8 bucks a month. No no deal.”
No, I thought how much interest would I save over time for those 8 bucks a month.
I don’t know that number, and don’t care.
I just want that debt gone ASAP. I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay interest of $100,000!

How about you? Have you neglected a debt and made up for lost time? Or were you smart, unlike me and tackle it head on from the beginning?

12/26/2014 Money

New Focus – Less Stuff Equals More Awesome Life

I’m always going to focus on living as minimalist as possible, or at least how it works for me. Paleo, primal, or ancestral eating is a big component of who I am, and likely will be that way for the rest of my life.

At some point, I’ve gotten rid of as much material stuff as I can, what then? Do I go on a super minimalist adventure, limiting myself to 100 total items?

Nah, that’s not for me. One thing I’ve learned, is getting rid of the junk in your life, be it needless crap, toxic relationships, bodyfat, etc, it creates a vacuum. That vacuum is a perfect opportunity to fill it with awesome.

Awesome what?

In my case, I’ve taken up new interests such as improv, writing, making tons of new friends, educating myself on being a better, more confident person than ever before.

It’s been fun. I’m going to continue sharing and exploring minimalism, and sharing what gifts arise from living that minimalist lifestyle. Where desire for things is replaced with reaching personal goals that money can’t buy.

Stay tuned, and let me know how minimalism has changed your life.


09/03/2014 Habits, Minimalism, Primal Living

New life in a smaller, better place

I now live in a 350 square foot 1 bedroom apartment in San Francisco.

Nothing helps to reinforce my minimalist principles more than forcing myself into a place 1/4 the size of my previous home. The trade off in less space is paid with living in a vibrant and dynamic city.

I’ve rid myself of so much stuff over the past few years I actually need to buy more stuff to furnish this place.

  1. No Sofa
  2. No Dining table

I love it. It’s the perfect fresh start, and I don’t mind other than the hassle of buying and hauling it home.

Many folks out there hold on to their old stuff, imagining how they’re going to use it again. In my case, it was much better to get rid of it, and start anew. If you don’t need it now, make sure if you really need it again. Might as well as clear it out. Will the old stuff work in the new place? Likely not. Toss it!

A tiny new apartment also equals no dishwasher, hardly any cabinets, and next to no counter space. I love those things very much.

This is making my cooking technique even more minimalist, and keeping recipes as simple as possible. Today my braised pork is made with only seven ingredients.

No Dishwasher also makes me limit my dirty dishes. I could easily get a lot of take out, or convenience foods to keep dirty dishes to a minimum. But I’d rather keep my cooking approach to simple, whole, and of course paleo/primal meals, while not making a huge mess. Another challenge! I can’t wait to share more!

Limited kitchen space has forced, or rather, inspired me to revisit all my cooking appliances….  extra whisks, ladles, spatulas, cutlery, measuring spoons ,and mixing bowls… tossed!

Next steps are setting up a hanging pot rack and more hooks to keep what I need, where I need it.

Stay tuned!


02/18/2014 Minimalism, Primal Living

Minimalism is a Luxury

Minimalism is simple in concept, yet more difficult in execution.  It took me a while, but I realize now that minimalism is a luxury.

How so?



n. pl. lux·u·ries

1. Something inessential but conducive to pleasure and comfort.

2. Something expensive or hard to obtain.

3. Sumptuous living or surroundings: lives in luxury.

Well, I’d say the first two definitely apply to minimalism. As I mentioned before, it took me a while to realize that Minimalism is indeed a luxury.

The past year I’ve spent a lot of time and energy parting with unneeded possessions. I also rented out my house (The rental market in Silicon Valley is ridiculous) and have been living as a bit of a vagabond. I’m still employed of course, but have been working in New York, staying with friends there, and now house/dog sitting back home in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Now that I’m a minimalist, doesn’t mean anyone one else is, nor everywhere I go.

The last time I spent any time in a minimalist environment was before moving out of my house in May 2013.  I bring very little with me, but I find  I’m surrounded by material excess and hardly any breathing room no matter where I go. In New York and back here in CA, every place I’ve stayed has too much stuff in my opinion.

Minimalism, so far, has been “hard to obtain”.

Being a minimalist by choice, rather than lack of financial means, is more proof that it’s a luxury.  I have the luxury of getting rid of things by choice.  I don’t have to choose between buying a new pair of shoes or a jacket. Well , I bought them both, and then got rid of them both, eventually! So yes, maybe the pursuit of minimalism is an upper –middle class indulgence. So what? Eventually we all learn that things do make us happy.

How about you, have you achieved an optimal minimalist lifestyle, only to see it disappear the second you leave the house?  Have you stayed with friends or family and wonder why they have so much stuff you can’t even unpack your bags? Please share in the comments!




08/10/2013 Minimalism