Month: August 2016

If You REALLY Want to Be Free…

Photo source:

Without a second’s hesitation, I rate these two people as the most inspirational role-models for intentionally creating a lifestyle. When I found that there was an interview with the two of them, I had to watch it.

These guys are successful by every definition. Why? They will tell you much better than I can. Read anything they have written and you will see how they research and apply expert knowledge. It’s truly inspiring.

Click the link and watch the video on Tim Ferris’ blog if you are interested in publishing/writing (even if you don’t there are some gems). If you want to know how to be free, read their books.

Money Money Money

August 11th-19th 2016

A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that tax money is due back soon from Australia. With it, the realisation that now is a better time than most to start really committing to the tiny house build. A few things happened as a result: 1) Using the plans I have, it was possible to start pricing it out; 2) the magnitude of what was about to be done became clear; 3) second-guessing my ability to build a house with no help or supervision; 4) realising that starting on this now would forgo the other unique opportunity to head further south for any sort of extended period to spend time with my younger sister and get to know her kids.

1) It is easy to let the costs get away if you’re not careful; 2) and 3) perhaps I should learn a little more first; 4) maybe this is the time to get down there. In short, I started looking for excuses to put the build off for now, but still work towards it. The emerging plan is to head south with the intention of finding some work as a builder’s labourer. A bit more hands-on building work and the know-how of people who build properly instead of just rigging stuff ad hoc, as I do now. If I’m still lacking by the end of the year, it might even pay to enrol in a zero fees’ course in construction run by the Southern Institute of Technology.

But that’s a year… in a fairly grim, cold part of the country. It would mean moving in to an actual house and likely using a fair chunk of the money I had earmarked for building, so I’m not overjoyed about that possibility. In essence, it would mean putting my plans on hold.

So there is a missing part here. How would I best be able to invest and grow money while creating the best chance to improve skills for the house build and a sustainable life? The last thing I need is to sink into student debt once more (‘zero fees’ still isn’t free- materials for a building course are significant- nor are living costs) and time available to work will be limited by study.

The ol’ noggin is in creative overdrive at the moment, as it gets free reign to play with ideas. If you had a reasonable chunk of cash but no real savings stream, how would you proceed? That is deliberately vague, as a ‘reasonable chunk’ for me is undoubtedly a pittance to any real money maker. Still… ideas are wonderful things because they spur on the development of more ideas. Feel free to comment or email your thoughts.


Even over the course of writing this blog, plans have been made, unmade, edited and reviewed. They’ve been re-formed in a number of permutations, wending through the winding pathways of a muddled mind. Partly because I postponed posting it, mind you. It didn’t feel right finishing at the paragraph previous to this one. Something felt amiss. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m putting a lot of stock in those gut feelings this year. It’s been a gradual release of an illusion of control, which has not been easy to undergo. It’s exhausting!

Between that paragraph and now, a few things have happened: 1) a portable housing block up for sale around the corner came to my attention; 2) bought a cheap four-wheel drive truck; 3) a major sponsor called to short-list my idea for The Longest Walk in their sponsorship program; 4) I received the first draft of the first illustration for my first book.

How did these things affect plans? Well, they rocked the boat. That’s for sure. The housing block was listed on So, while I also checked out the block itself in person (it was alright, but not the one for me), it led me to check out other portable building options. The concept of taking an existing structure, making it mobile (or taking a mobile structure) and modifying its interior came to the forefront of my mind. This seemed less likely to be disastrous if it was less than perfect. Furthermore, prices and types of cabins available, make it likely that one could get a custom trailer-based foundation made, put a portable office/sleep-out on it, make modifications to include ablutions and/or kitchen facilities and still come in pretty reasonably-priced with a portable house… that my 4×4 could tow. All of a sudden, a year-long construction course seemed excessive. Although it would still provide extra skills to bring into a community.

The call from the sponsor and seeing the illustration though, were reminders of the passion I feel for The Longest Walk and made me wonder how that might look from a different start point… with a potential income from the book. What if everything comes together just in time? What if I really CAN manage to do it all at the same time? Granted, the tiny house ends up on the back-burner for a while, but so too does my exploration get to continue.

In fact they all flagged the fact that I am myself at the mercy of far too many external influences. I’m allowing that. They reminded me that freedom is about choosing one’s own path regardless of other factors. Recent events helped turn to logic as well as consult my intuitive compass.

Logic says I really can’t know where The Longest Walk might head, despite reasonable predictions. Logic says if it doesn’t happen before something anchors me down (as with heading south to spend quality time with my sibling and her spawn), it may not happen at all. Logic says that the tiny house is more a matter of practicality than a driving passion, while The Longest Walk is coming from deep inside. Logic says one extreme, while eco-focussed and sustainably grounded, is quite ego-centric. The other extreme is bigger than me and focusses on a greater good. But logic also says (as does the very wise Mr Michael Stone Esq.) that going with the flow can only take us so far. We eventually have to commit to a course and follow it.

All-in-all, while there are still a couple of months and plenty of room for movement, a plan seems to be forming me rather than the other way around.

Weight Loss and Freedom

(Source: The following is a classic keyboard warrior rant, allowed only by the exclusion of actual human interaction. You have been warned

So, this post was prompted by a short, offhand conversation during a bike ride… which was followed up by an email to consolidate my conversational partner’s opinion ‘that diet was is more important than exercise in weight loss’… which resulted in my own long-winded and highly opinionated reply. It looked a little like an essay and I thought “Meh. I’ve written it now anyway, why not share it with more people”. And thus we find ourselves here.

“[The several articles cited in the first email focussed] on short-term effects [such as those from 15 week programs]. It’s well-documented that those who choose to try a ‘diet’ option become victims of the yo-yo effect [( )] . The reality is that when people focus on any one thing in isolation it is generally only a short-term fix. The body regulates to meet the new need.

What I was saying is that developing the HABIT of exercising is by far more important. Psychologically, it is the feeling of lack which gets people. The diet-based option inevitably relies on REMOVING something that the person enjoys and people are not good at sustaining that indefinitely. By far the more successful ones are the one that acknowledge this and encourage moderation and education about the content of food rather than exclusion. Also note that you will find whatever you look for as there is plenty of information for both backing both camps. Personally, I’d be interested in reading this one: (but I’m not about to order it), which focusses on the effect of changing thinking and the importance of beliefs in shaping behaviour.

[RE: the sources of articles- worth noting that they were still pretty solid sources and articles] Probably better off taking your information from scientific forums such as ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine)
and this position stand from the International Society for Sports Medicine

(Yes, I note the bias toward “Sport” in both resources, but that is where the money is channelled for research (because that is the realm which yields financial reward for the institutions), so it seems a far more reliable source than those that focus on proving that natural methods are the key. Even though I am well aware there is credence to these claims, the reality is that the research is sorely lacking when compared to the breadth available to organisations with more funding)

My opinion remains the same though that Occam’s razor is a poor way to approach anything other than research in this matter. Arguing which is MORE important is like discussing who is more dead out of two corpses. FYI, I didn’t even read these articles, so I have no idea which way they argue. My point being that the problem is the focus rather than the tool.

What I was saying on the bikes is that those who focus on diet are far less likely to succeed long-term, as even if they are on to a winning nutritional regimen, they hardly ever stick to it. Whereas if they develop the habit of including more physical activity into their lives and find modes they enjoy, the ADDITION rather than SUBTRACTION of things they enjoy is far more sustainable. Again, it’s remarkable how much this comes down to beliefs (both about the tools and the self) and psychological factors than the thing itself.

Note that I said modes they find ENJOYABLE too, which is another reason the scientific model is not particularly useful because very few studies I have seen focus on finding exercise modes and/or foods that are enjoyable.  Note I did not say COMPONENTS of foods such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats etc. As foods are far more than their component parts. Especially when we note the subjective nature of flavour even when the same flavour components and esters are present and the fact that food has a critically important social component also.

Granted, I did not explain this fully in the 15 second conversation we had. But that is a more balanced presentation of what my beliefs are about weight loss.

How’s your diet-based weight loss going btw? Also, do you ever ‘slip up’ and eat more carbs than you’d like/are prescribed to eat? My exercise-based weight loss regimen, which started when I was 16 years old and has persisted throughout the intervening 17 years nearly uninterrupted, is going well… Just FYI 😉

[RE: a suggestion to run holistic health programs here in Motueka] I know a trainer/gym owner friend of mine has a lot of success pitching whole lifestyle based fitness retreats through his company ‘Best Me’ in Wellington. Certainly would be an idea worth following up as an income stream as the tide has definitely turned toward a holistic approach to health in the mainstream and there is a heap of money in the industry. For myself though, it is that very psychological battle which turned me away from the fitness industry. I got sick of being people’s counsellor and watching them do one thing and say another. They lie to themselves to hand off the responsibility for their own choices to others. The information is out there for those who are ready to make a change. It’s abundant. People will use it when they are ready. Contributing to it feels a whole lot like wasting time to me.”

Firstly, I want to say that I kinda regret the little nudge I made in the penultimate paragraph. If you read this: Sorry. That was a low blow.

Secondly, the author of the prompting email also noted the importance of a whole systems approach. Really it was a pointless refutation to begin with. Lol.

However, once I am up on my high horse, I’ll ride it all the way home. How does this relate to freedom? Well, it occurred to me that many of the factors that determine the success of weight loss regimens are the same factors which determine whether we are truly free. The psychological aspects are the true determinants of success in any realm.

Purely by chance, I also received a link to this article through Taylor Pearson’s mailing list (the link will take you to his page if you’d like to sign up). His emails are often filled with useful information and ideas. The article talks about the other factors in exercise which are often not measured in the studies relating to weight loss. For me though, it is these (and other psychological benefits of exercise) which put the physical activity half of the energy balance equation far ahead in importance… and similarly why they are an important tool in success in other endeavours.

So there you have it. Now isn’t it time to get off the computer and do something? 😉


Another Update

August 6th

It’s been a while since I posted, so this is just a short post about stuff in general.

The rocket stove experiment has been abandoned for three reasons: 1) It wasn’t creating the draw it needed to be a useful cooking surface.Something to do with the size of the chambers and/or the tunnel between them; 2) the cooking plate kept collapsing because it didn’t have enough clay and was too big to support its own weight prior to being properly fired; 3) The area it is built on is about to be ripped up, so it will likely get damaged/destroyed anyway. So I stopped building before closing it off and building the chimney.

The rocket stove-turned fire pit complete with the last failed attempt at a cookplate being fired

Still… valuable lessons about earth building that I will take with me. The main thing was comparing the stability and integrity of different types of soil and the proportions of clay needed to give a good mix of workability, stability and insulation. None of it was particularly scientific, so I’m not about to claim expert status or tell you the magic ratios. I recommend playing with your locally available soils yourself if that is something you are interested in. For now, I have a great little set up  to burn paper rubbish and if I do want a little fire pit, it’ll provide a little shelter from the wind.

The new tarpaulin set up seems to be holding up even under some pretty strong winds, so that is a plus. The key things seem to be the abandonment of a central water collection point and a kind of twisted gable (near flat at the high side and in the centre with the outside corners down-turned) encouraging run-off over the corners. I can still collect water off the corners, but can’t gravity feed the shower bag. More importantly, it doesn’t catch the wind anywhere near like it was.

Mostly though, I have been planning the next move. It’s nearly time. While this set up is great, I feel it is important to get moving on learning the practical skills I will need in a sustainable community. Learning piecewise as projects have come up has yielded some benefit, but a more structured approach will give me more comprehensive understanding (specifically in construction and permaculture). More on that in a future post.

As always, there’s been a lot of time spent on addressing the psychological issues that will be key ingredients in either success or failure. I’ve posted several useful articles on the Facebook page recently. Pop over and have a look ( ). There’s so much we can learn about how our minds work, what limits us and effective strategies to become a more effective person. The more we address these issues consciously, the better-placed we are to succeed in any endeavours.