If time is money, how much is yours worth?

Time is money. That’s what we say in America.

I was reminded of that recently.

Back story: I’m curious about something, and being the methodical (read: nervous) individual that I am, I’m asking people for advice. I’m turning to friends, colleagues and random strangers on the internet to get their input.

I know when people ask me for advice I feel a little flutter inside. I think about how I’ve miraculously convinced one more person that I have life figured out. Score!

But alas, I don’t. And I don’t think most people do. But I do think some people have figured out certain parts of life more than others. Thus, I think asking for advice or help is beneficial. So that’s what I did.

But in my attempt to reach out to various friends, colleagues and people I admire, I realized how crunch for time the majority of us are. I’m one of them. That’s why I’m making a concerted effort to make time for relationships, but I’m also focusing on making time for the relationships that matter the most and learning to be OK with eliminating the ones that don’t. I’m keeping the essential and eliminating the unnecessary.

This is what I’m repeating to myself:

-Know that it’s OK to say no. It’s OK to say no to a possible commitment for my own well-being. I’m focusing only on what is essential for me, not what I’m told is essential.  I read a great article about this recently. Read it here.

-Remember that relationships matter, and I need to continue to cultivate that ones that I believe important.

-When I’m feeling stressed and like the world will collapse if I don’t check my email or check that next task off my to-do list, ask myself: will the fact that I let it go matter five years from now?

-Is this something I care about? Does it bring happiness and make me excited about the possibilities?

What do you tell yourself when you’re feeling overwhelmed or overextended? How do you deal with it?

 

Hiking Meso Vouna on Santorini

I didn’t really know much about Ancient Thira when I arrived on the island of Santorini during my recent trip to Greece other than it was close to my hotel and I wanted to hike it.

It turns out you actually hike Meso Vouna up to Ancient Thira. (Details — who can be bothered with them on vacation?)

Ancient Thira sign

I could have ridden a super large donkey — that I think may have been on steroids or some kind of weird hybrid donkey-horse combo — but opted instead for the walk.

Most of the time the gravel-path was fairly flat with a slight incline, but as I got higher, there were numerous rocks to climb and maneuver around.

About 600 feet up, I was able to stop at the tiny chapel of Panagia Katefiani, which not only offered a superb view of the island and the Aegean Sea, but also a picnic table for me to sit at and rest. Katefiani apparently means refuge, and it’s where people would go to hide out from pirates.

Church of Panagia Katefian

Church of Panagia Katefian

The brief respite gave me enough energy to push onward and upward, which in turn gave me the opportunity to see views such as this:

Meso Vouna, Santorini, Greece from Kristi Eaton on Vimeo.

I would have been content with just seeing this, but I wanted to get to the very top to see what pot of gold was waiting for me. Onward and upward.

Finally, about two hours after I started, I neared the top. I was exhausted, dehydrated, happy and sweaty.

Then I looked around and noticed something odd: there were a lot of people at the top, some of whom were definitely not wearing clothes for hiking. (The woman in her maxi dress and sandals really threw me.)

Turns out, people can drive to the top of the mountain from the other side! Insert Clark Griswold joke here.

I felt a little stupid, but I also felt a high from endorphins that I’m sure the car-driving, non-sweaty folks didn’t feel. I was definitely going to enjoy the glasses of wine by the pool later on that afternoon, I told myself.

I spent the next few minutes exploring the top of the mountain, including the entrance to Ancient Thira, the old community that was first inhabited in the 9th century BC and excavated about 110 years ago.  But it was closed. Because of a strike, so said a small sign hanging on the ticket window.

Insert another Clark Griswold joke here.

I laughed, and then I headed back down to soak up the sun by some water.

On the way down I saw some four-legged creatures.

People ride donkeys up Meso Vouno. They probably did not sweat like me.

People ride donkeys up Meso Vouno. They probably did not sweat like me.

 

This little fella led the donkeys up the mountain. I hope he gets a cut of the profits.

This little fella led the donkeys up the mountain. I hope he gets a cut of the profits.

 

What I don’t have vs. what I do have

Minimalism isn’t just being cheap. Some people think that, and I get why they would from the outside. But it’s actually just deciding what is important to you and doing away with all the stuff that doesn’t help you live a happier life.
I know that based on life circumstances some people need more than others. I also know sometimes people don’t need stuff, but they still choose to accumulate it just because they can. That’s fine.

However, if you’re constantly feeling stressed and like you can’t keep up, shedding some unused possessions may be helpful.

But be warned: certain things are seen as “normal” in our society. When you don’t have something considered a basic must-have, you may be looked at as odd or strange. It’s normal to have 100 pair of shoes. It’s not normal to only have three or four. It’s normal to buy the bigger, sleeker, shinier version of every item you own, even if the original item works just fine.

It’s not considered normal to go without a microwave. My last apartment that I lived in for two years came with a microwave. When I moved states last year, my new apartment didn’t have one. It was no problem for me because I never ate anything that required a microwave. But I got some grief for being in my late 20s and not owning a microwave. So I caved and got one. How many times have I used it since? Exactly zero.
It looks nice taking up half of my countertop space though. (Sarcasm)

This further helped me realize that I need to stop listening to what I “should” have in life.

Here are a few things I don’t have:

A house and mortgage I live in an apartment, and after seeing and hearing what some people go through with their homes, I’m not even sure I want to ever buy a house. Maybe that will change in the future, but right now I’m content with an apartment.

Debt This is partly due to hard work and my simple living and also partly due to circumstance.

Cable TV I did away with cable when I returned to Oklahoma about a year ago after I realized I was only using it to watch one channel. I’m not ashamed to admit it was Nick at Night. I also did away with paying a monthly fee for 4G on my iPad after realizing I only ever use it at home with wifi.

An ironing board, blender or toaster I do have an iron that my mom gave me a while back, just no board to use with it. How many times have I ironed my clothes? Maybe once.

Any single piece of clothing that cost over $100 to buy I think my most expensive item is a $100 winter coat I bought at TJ Maxx when I lived in South Dakota. I appreciate that people want to spend $500 on a purse, but I’d rather spend that on something else, like a flight to the Caribbean or spending a staycation at a swanky hotel

Here are some things I do have:

A TV with bunny ears to watch local programming Truth be told, I’m only really interested in catching news programs or “Law and Order: SVU” on TV nowadays, and even then, it tends to be while doing other activities, which is a habit I’m trying to break.

Basic furniture This includes a bed, kitchen table, dresser, coffee table, nightstand.

A gym membership I pay $10 a month for access to a gym.

A passport full of stamps Traveling and seeing the world is important to me, though I realize that people may have other passions.

A page from my passport.

My passport. 

What about you? Have you gotten rid of certain items you don’t use anymore? Have you ever bought something just because you thought you should, even though you didn’t really need it?

 

Bucket-list travel

A few years ago someone asked me why I liked to travel and see new places. They didn’t ask me because they were inquiring about the wonders of exploring someplace unknown and contemplating doing it themselves. No, they asked me in an incredulous manner — as in, why would you want to spend your hard-earned money on a week in a scary new place?

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Why indeed.

That’s me in Mykonos, a Greek island in the Aegean Sea. I recently got back from a trip there as well as the island of Thira (Santorini). Why Greece? I’d been thinking about Greece for a few years and decided to make it happen this year. Needless to say, I loved it (except for the crowds, which I did not like).

Traveling isn’t something I’m able to do as much as I’d like to right now now due to limits on my vacation time. Well, the the sort of travel I envision, which is multi-week jaunts to far-flung destinations around the globe. In place of that, I’m trying to explore more in my backyard. There are some quirky destinations and places I’ve never been to within a few hours drive of me, which I’ll be writing about in the future.

Why do I like to see new places? It’s exhilarating, fascinating and, most importantly, I think it really helps keep life in perspective. Your bad day seems a lot less consequential after visiting other parts of the world, even other parts of America outside of your neighborhood.

But back to Mykonos, because that is a far-flung destination that I was able to get to. Mykonos is known for its cRaZy partying, which I had every intention of experiencing, but I didn’t. I instead opted for low-key nights on the beach drinking wine. Priorities, people.

I stayed in the village of Ornos, about 2 miles from the main town — which is also called Mykonos. Ornos is a quick walk to Ornos Beach.

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Staying in Ornos was originally done to save money, but overall I’m glad I ended up staying there. That way, I went back to Mykonos town — which seemed an awful lot like New York City’s Time Square at times — when and for the length of time I wanted to.

And just like Times Square, the best time to visit the town of Mykonos is apparently early on a Sunday morning. That’s when the winding roads of Little Venice and the hulking windmills originally built in the 16th century were all but empty.

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Get this, though. I WALKED from Ornos to Mykonos. On my own free will to boot!  See, that’s one of the things about embracing minimalism. I look for little ways to save money that actually make for a better experience. I like being active and exercising, and rather than wait for one of the estimated 30 taxis on the island to come and pick me up or navigate the bus system so early in the morning, I instead got some exercise, saved a few bucks and got to see these sights:

Yes, that's a donkey next to a Greece flag.

Yes, that’s a donkey next to a flag of Greece. Perfection.

Mykonos strip mall

Mykonos strip mall

 

That walk and a hike I did up a mountain to an ancient site (details to come in another post) on another island were some of my favorite experiences of the trip.

Of course, I did use the bus system later on when I didn’t feel like being quite so active or when I went elsewhere on island that was farther away. But the bus was hot and crowded. And a girl standing next to my seat threw her water bottle on the ground like it was trash because she said she couldn’t be bothered with holding it any longer.

Luckily, after that experience I was able to go back to focusing on the important stuff:

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Don’t mind me. Just image crafting.

 

Minimalism travel tips:

-Walk as often as you can. When that’s not possible, take public transportation.

-But take cabs to and from the airport/dock to your hotel. This helps you get an idea of your surroundings, allows you to see how far you are from the sights or nearest town, and helps saves your sanity when you’re dealing with carrying luggage. Trying to maneuver luggage onto an overcrowded bus or train is not fun.

-Stay outside of the city centers. Accommodations are usually cheaper on the outskirts of town and may help you achieve more of your goals for your travels.

-Try to see sights early in the morning before the crowds wake up. It’s more peaceful and you get an opportunity to see the sights up close without waiting in lines.

What are your minimalism travel tips?

I’m back, baby! I’m back!

Since I’m a millennial and have an attention span of about 5 minutes, I tend to start, stop and revamp blogs a lot. Some of you may have remembered that I wrote a blog about attempting to overcome a quarterlife crisis.

I stopped writing that not because I successfully overcame the crisis, but because I started another project that took up a lot of my free time. (I warned you about my attention span.)

Now, I’ve started a new blog, one that I hope is a tad bit more forward-looking at life and looking on the positive side of things. (This is in addition to my photo blog, mainstreetamericaphotos.tumblr.com — check it out!)

For now, Curious Minimalist is basically going to be a catch-all, focusing on travel, minimalism, writing, pretty pictures and storytelling in the digital age. 

Please follow along with me!