Category Archives: Way of Life

Vagabond Cafe

For those of you interested in my vagabonding experience across America I will be keeping a travelogue on a new blog entitled Vagabond Cafe.

Check it out – let your friends know or just ignore it as you see fit… but really… check it out.

Vagabond Cafe


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Vagabonding – Month 1 – Atlanta

I have hit the road.

After a month of deliberation and semi-planning I took off from Maine.  I landed in Atlanta December 8th after a few tribulations – losing my wallet, missing my flight, losing my book (on vagabonding) – and immediately headed out dancing.  A great relief.

My plan to travel has been spurred by many factors, but the principal one which gave me the idea to travel without a home was reading the Four Hour Workweek and coming to the conclusion that my life wasn’t really on any particular road and I was just doing what had been presented to me – not what I had chosen for myself.  I had lost my job, had multiple reasons to leave New York City behind not least the exceptional expense of living there, my ties of being in a relationship were over all of which created an opportunity.

Perhaps I should have done a bit more prep and research before I left, but I’ve spent almost a month in Atlanta (with a week trip to Asheville) which has served as a gestation period for my ideas and route through the U.S.

Things I would have prepared a little differently for:

  • wait an extra week or two to pad my accounts
  • get my motorcycle license
  • line up a bit more work in Atlanta (I tried this but it didn’t work out)
  • research vagabonding a bit more

If you are planning a vagabonding trip I recommend a few resources to start:

There are many more which would come in handy that you’ll discover on your own.  Starting with Vagabonding and Four Hour Workweek will definitely give a jumpstart to your dreams of leaving the assumed real world behind.

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Jazz Minded – Creativity from Wynton Marsalis

Garr Reynolds has a great series of posts (1, 2) on Wynton Marsalis‘s new book “Moving to Higher Ground: How Jazz Can Change Your Life” which has me itching to pick up the book.

The points Reynold’s brings out of Jazz’s mode of creativity as a method for creativity for design and for living I can personally testify to.  As a jazz dancer and amateur washboard player, the affect living in a jazz-immersed culture has drastically changed my perceptions of the world and of myself.

From the perspective of a new designer I had never explicitly brought together my understanding of jazz and the creativity of jazz with my far more limited understanding of design and presentation.  The notions of simplicity and accessibility coupled with the deep and intelligent naturalness of jazz make for a solid principle of design.

One of my favorite quotes that he pulls out:

“Our desire to testify through some type of art is unstoppable. A palpable energy is released when inspiration and dedication come together in a creative art. The energy is transformative in an individual who is innovative, but it is transcendent when manifested by a group. There are no words for the dynamic thrill of participating in a mutual mosaic of creativity.”

Wynton Marsalis

The notion of communal artistry is even more provoking for me as I meet and get to know more creative artists, teachers and people from a variety of fields.  The energy that I gather from being around like-minded artists who have had the influence of jazz in their life amounts to something unassailable by words alone.  It is an immersive experience where I feel enriched and have at my disposable a previously unknown font of creative energy.

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Transformation vs. Productivity

Stepcase LifeHack is featuring a 12 part series entitled “Towards a New Vision of Productivity”.  It hits out at the reshaping of the productivity blogosphere from a lifehacking pseudo-religious organizational madness filled with folders, post-it notes, beeping reminders, etc. into simplified mindful living.

Before embarking upon my own quest of restructuring and a new life of simple pleasures I dragged through a bunch of lifehack posts set up on rss feeds, sat at a desk with multiple moniters and multiple machines whirring underneath it for eight to twelve hours a day and yet ran myself dry mentally, emotionally, and physically almost every week.

Where the difference comes in is in transformation over productivity.

Productivity, as has been echoed over and over, is dead.  Long live productivity.  Productivity as a set of systems to create efficiency in our lives isn’t efficient unless we are effective in choosing the goals which produces the results we want in our lives.

No productivity system can put you in a zen like, meditative, or mind like water state. A calm, focused, and meditative mind leads to greater productivity, but productivity systems cannot create a mind like water. – Clay Collins.

Transformation is about reshaping our lives.

When we reevaluate the goals and purpose of our life, cut out the extraneous portions that are holding us back, and replace them with a simple mindful attentive life we can live in a much more meaningful manner.  When we have a mindful way of living we are far more productive than when our life is bloated with hours at a desk, associations that drag us down, tools that take more time than they are worth, and so on.

Transformation is what this blog is about.

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Daily Goals – A Minor Checklist

Many productivity and lifestyle design experts advocate using to-do lists, task lists, etc. to achieve important or mission critical (work related) goals.

My take is simple and open-ended for my daily life goals.

  • Learn something new
  • Do something different(ly)
  • Practice an existing skill
  • Connect with someone

Learning something new – add to your knowledge.  Learn a new word, find a new application of an existing skill, acquire a new physical skill or technical skill.  It’s about discovering something that you didn’t know before big or small.

Do something different(ly) – get out of your comfort zone.  Talk to someone you don’t know, order something different, don’t check your e-mail for a day, turn off your phone, take a different route to work or type of transportation to work.  It’s about breaking out of habits and opening doors.

Practice an existing skill – working on things you already know is a matter of upkeep and discipline.  Pick up that instrument which you haven’t played in weeks, put on your tap shoes, pick up the pencil and sketch pad and work on refining something you already have skill in.  It’s about reinvesting in what you already know.

Connect with someone – reach out to someone whether you know them well or not.  Call up an old friend or someone you have lost touch with, talk to someone who is having a rough time, or just sit down with a close friend for a drink and hear what they have to say.  It’s about establishing and maintaining relationships and understanding others.

These are my four things that I strive to do on a daily basis.  Regardless of whether they are life altering or barely noticeable and they are open to both ends of the spectrum – it gives me a set of things to aspire to.  If I don’t accomplish them all in a given day – there is always tomorrow.

What are things you do or want to do on a daily basis?  Perhaps you have a weekly set?

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If You Could Change Your Life – Would You? (Seth Godin’s Alternative MBA)

Isn’t that the very question what this blog is about to me?

Seth Godin just posted an opportunity that has me seething at the edges for its possibilities.  Change your life.

He is offering a six month intensive study onsite with him outside of NYC starting January ’09.  I’ve been talking change for a while, but this is something I could barely fathom coming my way.  It is the opportunitiy of the moment.

I have reservations about my qualifications – hell, I barely feel qualified to do half the work I do when I get that work – yet I refuse to count myself out before it is even decided.

I’m new to this game but that just means I’m fresh to the track.

I said I’m up for a challenge, are you?  Join me and apply.

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Get a plan?

When someone asks you if you have a plan, a “long-term plan” for what you want to do with your life, do you have an answer?

I stumbled through something like an explanation but really I don’t have one.

I have this goal to live my life the way I want to – without the limitations of what is expected – but it seems to mean I am always questioning what it is that I do.  I want to do so many things but I never feel that what I do defines me, no less what I do for money; so when I’m asked if I have a plan I don’t really have a good answer.  My answer should perhaps be – “yes, as of yet, always mutable and changing” – easy and straightforward right?

Perhaps I should go with a list of things I will do – they are all planned in some stage or another.

Things I do and will do in the future:

  • Dance – whether this is teaching, performing or competing, this is my passion, my art and my life blood.  I will always dance.
  • Learn – I always want to learn new things, whether it is SEO, direct marketing, grammar and syntax, Adobe Illustrator, PHP, tap dance, wines, cooking… I will always be thrilled to add another skill to my repertoire.
  • Technology – as a techonology hobbyist I am intrigued by all things related to new technologies, whether mobile phones (my iphone), laptops, new iterations of the latest Open Source Software, and more.
  • Information – I want to work with information – I want to work with the flow of information, how it can be structured, shaped and inverted, how it can be a catalyst for change.
  • Design – I want to work with design, whether it is with information architecture , the design of physical objects, the design of digital visualizations, etc., the design mentality appeals to me in its form and function.  It facilitates a creative yet technical production.  A joining of two halves of my interest.
  • Green – I am fascinated by the green movement and I feel deeply motivated to leave a better future for those around me, for those who will come after me, and for my own future.  This can easily be wedded to green technology, green information systems, and much more.  This is easily tied into my consistent mind of social responsibility, green is much more than just an environmental practice but an entire restructuring of the social, economic and political system which place at their core the bettering of humanity for both a short term and long term vitality.
  • Live Well – I am not frugal, I do not plan to be.  I want to live my life to the fullest of its potential.  This includes enjoying good wine, good food, good people and good experiences.  I don’t need the 150$ bottle of wine, but I’d rather have a glass of wine with dinner than go without it to save 10-20$.  I won’t compromise my quality of life now for some unknown better life in the future.

My goals in life aren’t necessarily connected to what I will do for money nor are they separate.  Perhaps my goal is to integrate what I will do with a fiscally sustainable plan that facilitates the pursuit, without the excessive waste of time, of my interests, whether they will earn me money or they will provide me with the excitement, fullfillment and life I desire.

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