One step at a time

Creating an enjoyable journey for myself and my family.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I’d like to make an observation or two about stuff. Having sold everything I own in the last three weeks I have a whole new perspective on the precious things we spend our time and money accumulating. We all have too much stuff.

We came into this world with almost everything we need: bodies, families, breathe and love. Our early caregivers gave us the other things we needed: food, shelter and water. Somehow, around the age of 3 we started wanting other things. It started out simply, like wanting a treat at the store, or a dress so we could look like a “princess.” By the time we got out on our own somehow that need for a few things morphed into an incessant and urgent need to have all kinds of things.

We have decided we need fancy things to eat, things to make us skinny if we eat too much, things to entertain us, stuff to help us calm down if we get too stressed, stuff to read, stuff to wear, stuff to keep us warm, stuff to keep us cold, stuff to learn, stuff to sleep on, stuff to keep our stuff in and (my favorite) stuff that we keep around just so we feel like we have enough stuff. This list could go on forever.

There is nothing wrong with having a beautiful home, and things you love. I think we’ve just gone a bit overboard. It’s time to stop and think about it instead of just continuing this inane pursuit of acquiring. The antidote to acquiring is to develop a sense that you have “enough.”

William Shakespeare said is another way. He called it being content, “Being poor and content is rich, and rich enough.”

As I look around my home at all the things that are left after having two estate sales I see all that has been deemed worthless by those who came through my home. There are hundreds, if not thousands of dollars worth of things still here. I spent the years of my life working to acquire these things, and in the end, they are worthless to me and everyone else. I’m not sad about this, but I do consider how my time and money may have been otherwise employed.

Time spent working and acquiring stuff could have been spent:

Serving my friends, family and neighbors

Staying physically fit

Finishing my degree years ago

Playing with my babies

Supporting my husband in his pursuits

Visiting with people I love


With so many reasons to stop earning, buying and consuming, why do we still do it?

Economists, historians and legislatures in the U.S. are quit clear about the answer to that question; If Americans stop spending and consuming our whole country stops functioning. So buy baby buy! That is the creed of America.

This interesting quote comes from the Richard Robbins of the Economics Department at the University of British Columbia.

The production, processing, and consumption, of commodities requires the extraction and use of natural resources (wood, ore, fossil fuels, and water); it requires the creation of factories and factory complexes whose operation creates toxic byproducts, while the use of commodities themselves (e.g. automobiles) creates pollutants and waste. Yet of the three factors environmentalists often point to as responsible for environmental pollution — population, technology, and consumption — consumption seems to get the least attention. One reason, no doubt, is that it may be the most difficult to change; our consumption patterns are so much a part of our lives that to change them would require a massive cultural overhaul, not to mention severe economic dislocation. A drop in demand for products, as economists note, brings on economic recession or even depression, along with massive unemployment.”

We are seeing this happen before our very eyes. It’s scary. When we stop buying things people lose their jobs. Maybe you have been experiencing unemployment or under employment in your family? You are not alone. The unemployment rate in the U.S. is now 10.7%. But buying more is not the answer. Law makers, companies and advertisers will all do their best to convince you that you should be spending more money on things.

When you find yourself thinking that you need more stuff for one reason or another, first ask yourself: why do I really want this? Chances are you are trying to fill a void. I have been in this position many times. I’ve gone shopping to find a new outfit or a book or a DVD because I had a bad day at work, or I was stressed, or I was bored. I was trying to fill a void. We do it all the time.

In our estate sales we had over 200 CD’s, books, and DVD’s. We ended up giving most of them away. They collected dust in our house for years before we came to this point. I’m guessing most of you can relate.

People keep asking me, “Isn’t it hard to let people come into your house and take away all of your things for pennies on the dollar?” No, it isn’t hard. I feel more free and more happy as each person walks out with their new treasures. These things are not important to me anymore. I am undergoing a, “massive cultural overhaul.” I crave clear spaces and a clear mind.

In his recent best-selling book, “It’s All Just Too Much,” Peter Walsh a famous clutter-busting pro wrote, “Your home is where you live, breathe, rest, love, eat, and create and there should be ample space and room to serve those needs.” He goes on to suggest that clutter gets in the way of living the life we are meant to live.

I think Peter Walsh is on to something. I am ready to discover what the “life I am meant to live” looks like. Apparently it’s in Japan in a 500 square foot apartment. I’ll let you know what I find.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Crazy Awesome

So you may have heard, we're moving to Japan in 19 days. So here's the explanation of how all of this came to be:

I've been working for an advertising agency for the past nine months and I quit that job unexpectedly on Tuesday. How I came to quit is an entirely separate story; a story I'll tell you all soon enough. For now, let's talk about Japan.

So I quit my job on Tuesday. Tuesday night I started looking for a new job. Isn't that totally me? :) I know I'm crazy. I checked all the usual places like, and craigslist, I even spoke to a few recruiters. Then I found the ad:

We are now recruiting in the Provo/Orem area for individuals who are interested in teaching English in Japan.

Have you ever thought about traveling to Japan? Well now is a great opportunity! We are recruiting for schools in the south part of Japan, away from the Tokyo area.

Teaching English in Japan can be a very rewarding experience and it pays well!


1-Must currently reside in the Provo/Orem area.
2-Must be a native English speaker.
3-Must have an associates or bachelors degree from an accredited college or university.
4-Experience teaching is desired but not necessary.

Most of the schools offer these amazing benefits:

1-relocation expenses 50%-100% paid.
2-salary 250,000 Yen to 300,000 Yen per month.
(The current exchange rate to dollars is $3081.50 to $3697.80)
3-apartments that are set up and furnished.
4-completion bonuses about 100,000 yen.
And many more!

If you are interested please submit your resume, and picture (optional, but strongly suggested in order to accelerate the hiring process) to And get ready for an experience of a lifetime!

I thought, "Wow, this would be SO cool! What if we did this?! How awesome!" I didn't really think much of it. I just emailed it to Adam and didn't give it a second thought. I hate pipe dreams and I hate wasting time so I didn't allow myself either before moving ahead with the job search. Then Adam replied to my email and said he wanted to learn more. I was thrilled. I started emailing the head teacher at the GEM school in Japan. I asked a million questions and got a million answers...I liked the answers.

Adam will be working full-time, I will be working part-time to accommodate more time with my kids. Our contract is for one year...we can stay longer if we like. Opportunities for advancing are sure to come. Our students will be less advantaged Japanese children generally between the ages of 2-8. We will be expected to manage a stressful schedule of singing head-sholders-knees-toes and playing twister. All children in Japan take English classes starting in 4th grade...but status and opportunities in Japan come to those who speak English, so all parents want their kids to speak as much English as possible, as soon as possible. If we want to make more money we can teach "private lessons" that involve visiting a student in their home or having students to our home to play with our daughters and help me cook or talking through simple everyday tasks.

Kids in Japan start school at age 3, based on March birthdays. Mia is 4, Teryn is 3 and her birthday is March 2. Nice. So I'll take the kids to school every day and pick them up and teach Japanese kids English while my babies are learning Japanese. Adam will work full-time. We'll have Sundays and Mondays off. We'll live in a 2 bedroom apartment in Kenonji which is subsidized by the GEM school. Many of the teachers at the GEM school are from Salt Lake, some have families, some are LDS. Those we spoke to have loved their time in Japan and don't want to leave. Others are there for the money; they've paid off all their debts, they save enough to live on for years after they leave, and others just love the healthcare and education.

We will be 12 hours south of the nuclear reactor, 10 hours south of Tokyo, 3 hours south of Osaka and right on the beach. We're told that the climate is similar to the climate in South Carolina. Humid and warm. We will try to adjust to a Japanese diet as soon as possible. We'll be eating a lot of rice and fish. We have American food outlets in our city including McDonald's and KFC! I quit my job but I could never quit KFC. We're told our money will disappear if we try to eat like Americans. We're also told we should bring our own shampoo.

We will each be bringing 2 suitcases. That's it. You all know I have enough shoes alone to fill 3 suitcases, so you can imagine just how much stuff we have to get rid of. Downsizing from our 2000 square foot home to a 400 square foot apartment should keep our needs basic. Our apartment is already furnished. Hence the need to sell everything we own. I think John Lennon would be proud, "Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can?" I can. I'm dying to see what life will be like without so much STUFF. I'm over it. I held my daughter tonight and let her fall asleep in my don't need any STUFF to experience that kind of peace and beauty.

We'll have use of the school cars and public transportation. We'll have free healthcare the first year, after that our healthcare is based on our income. Cool system...I'll report more on that after I've experienced it for a while. We'll get a bonus for finishing our contract, regular pay and money from Japan for raising our kids. Lovely. We will pay taxes for the privilege of living in this lovely country. 5-7%.

Our church congregation will consist of about 60 people vs the 200-ish we worship with now. About 20 of those are Americans. They have an English translator for all of us white folks.

Adam and I are planning to work hard on our Japanese while we are on this little adventure. We're going to buy the Japanese Rosetta Stone Totale asap.

If you want to learn more about the GEM schools, you can read blogs, watch YouTube videos or visit the school's official site. Here is a link:

There are millions of reasons we are moving forward with this plan. Here are some of those reasons:

To experience another culture first hand.
To simplify our lives.
To save money.
To learn Japanese and allow our children to do the same.
To free ourselves from material possessions and the American addiction to stuff.
To be with our children more.
To reply on each other.
To learn what really matters to us.
To live our dreams.
To learn. To grow.

Everything about this plan is kind of crazy, we know that. But if it wasn't suppose to happen it wouldn't be coming together like it has been. We both feel like this is what we are supposed to be doing. Having a sense of purpose is powerfully motivating and energizing. We are a team united by a common goal, dream and purpose.

Nothing else matters. Let the evolution begin. We hope you will send your prayers and blessings our way as we undertake this massive endeavor. We promise to do our best to keep in touch to share our stories. We will post photos on Facebook, videos on YouTube and naturally I will be blogging when I can. Thank you for all your support and well-wishes.