Saturday, January 26, 2013

Going to Extremes

The television is off quite a bit in our home, not so much because I don't believe there is any quality viewing these days, on the contrary, we have a plethora of educational channels to choose from like the Science Channel, History Channel, Discovery Channel and so on.  We are so blessed to have these compared to when I was young.  Mostly are television is off simply because, quality programing or not, I just don't like the idea of hours of our families life being passed lounging on the couch watching television.  The world has so much more to offer.

Digital recording devises such as  DVR's have made it easy to record and save (or savor, depending upon how one looks at it) shows which we deem highest on our time allotment, and then allowing us the luxury of watching them when it is most convienent for us, without disrupting our otherwise busy schedules.

Recently I have discovered a fascination border lining on obsession with a certain genera of reality television.  Shows like Extreme Cheapskates, Extreme Couponing, Alaska: The Last FrontierAmerican Colony, and Doomsday Pepper's have become the staples in my viewing arsenal.  I wondered what was it about these shows that so mesmerized me.  While there are certainly bits and pieces of each episode that I could relate to or actual already apply in my own day to day life, I truly have no emanate plans to adjust my lifestyle in correspondence with any of those I watch on the programs.  So what exactly is my attraction to these shows?

After considerable  contemplation I came to the realization that I was clearly appreciating the strict choices they had made in the same fashion I find my self captivated each time the Olympics role around.  While I have no aspirations, either delusional or real to become an Olympic athlete, I can relate simply based on the common thread of as a human, desiring to become the best at whatever I choose to do. In other words, it is not the specific activity necessarily, although at times it can be, but instead the passion and perseverance with which they dedicate themselves in pursuit of their ideas and dreams that I find most captivating of all.   I admire that.

Additionally, I respect the way with which they admonish those that might otherwise try to derail them from there visions.  We teach our children to not worry about what others think of us, then we all grow up worrying about whether or not we are wearing the right clothes, living in the right neighborhoods, working in an admirable field with a fancy title, wearily going from one day to the next dancing a dance to please as many on lookers as we can.  We have become quite hypocritical like that.  Yet here, on these "extreme" shows, are folks that actually listened to the wisdom of their parents and more likely the voice inside them and took it to heart, choosing to find the joy within instead of seeking it through the approval of others and finding the best life lived is that of an authentic nature.

I relate to this notion of "walking to the beat of my own drum."  It can often be a difficult road to follow but, one I believe important for peace of mind and true joy, contentment and happiness.

Last night I was watching a program with my son and husband.  In it there was the stereotypical computer geek.  My son, Ethan, thought the guy was great and watched him with no relevance to the story line.  After a bit he announced, "I'm like that.  A mix between computer geek and not."  I laughed and agreed with his assessment, then I added, "Yep, and don't ever stop being who you are, no matter what anyone thinks." 

"Because there is only one Ethan in this world and there will never be another,"  came his response.  I couldn't have said it better.

But back to my obsession with these programs.

If you've been reading the posts in this blog then you've gotten a sense of where I stand on some issues, in particular finances and personal responsibility.  I figuratively pound my head at the foolishness that runs rampant in our society.  Fiscal irresponsibility and a welfare social state of mind which eradicates the passion and drive that is crucial for humans to thrive in a balanced life can completely and exponentially drive me into a heated tirade.  Enough with the excuses already people.

Take a look at the Discovery Channel program Alaska: The Last Frontier.  Anyone, and I mean anyone that knows me knows I would set up tent in the Sahara Desert before moving to the beautiful state of Alaska.  Yet, the way in which the Kilcher family for generations have built a homestead and learned to thrive off the land using their wits in that frozen tundra simply fascinates me.  And they are happy for goodness sakes!  How can someone get up in below zero temperatures, spend day after endless dark day hunting for food, fixing broken down machinery without proper tools and or replacement parts?  Everyday seems to me as one prison sentence after another; and yet, they are happy!

We have a continent full of folks who live in civilized communities where merely finding something to eat doesn't take weeks and months of planning, they have a moderate to comfortable home over their heads and things to entertain them from cell phones, to computers to gaming systems.  Additionally, more times than not people and businesses are within a walking or small driving distant for opportunity to work.  Still they drone on and on about how unfair life is and expect the "haves" to give them; the self-described "have-nots," some of that which the "haves" have earned.  I say we should send them all to Alaska to live with the Kilcher family for a year in the attempt they will return home grateful and thankful for what they have and hopefully with a new work ethic.

Or better yet, let's send them to live with the Hutterites at the American Colony, another isolated type of community were the day begins and ends with work, all geared toward a self sustained life.  Certainly it can be argued whether or not the Amish type living is a positive environment, but that is not of my concern.  For me it is more a matter of how efficiently each aspect of their communal life is executed.  For instance, there is a head cook, a head rancher, the money man (person in charge of finances for the community), someone responsible for the garden, etc.  I find it much like being in the military except they are pacifists.  So instead of training for war, they are training to survive on their own for generations to come.

Speaking of survival, Doomsday Preppers have worm holed a spot into my heart.  Can I just say, I get them.  How could I not.  I was raised with an X-Special Forces father, lived in rural Midwest and served in the Air Force myself.  I grew up shooting guns, fishing, hunting, skinning hides, gutting fish, gardening, camping, canning, dirt bike riding and on and on.  So, I get them.

Debate the validity of their reasons for prepping all you want, but in the end, they have a purpose in life, it gives them contentment and peace of mind.  They establish their plans, refining and executing with as much precision as their individual level of knowledge allows.  Again, I admire that.

Probably my most favorite of all the shows however is Extreme Cheapskates.  While some are quirky and others edgedy to the point their mental state of mind could be questioned, for the most part, I find them to be pretty normal individuals that just get IT.  Get what?  Get that they do not want to spend their every waking moment stressing about money or more specifically, the lack of.  That's right - they're also happy individuals!

I love how the Extreme Cheapskate folks make a game out of seeing how little they can spend and how much they can save.  I have found that to be the case with myself as well although not to their narrow level.  I'm a numbers person by nature, so calculating where I can save $10 here and there is fun for me.  When reducing your debt, saving money and becoming financially independent can be addressed from the point-of-view of a game instead of a begrudged lifestyle, it becomes quite fun I promise.  The best part of all, of course, is not the money in the end, it is the stress-free life it allows.  Remember, we only want money for the feeling we think having the money will give us.  Money in and of it's self is little more than a piece of paper, it is the residual effects of having money that we want most of all in our lives: freedom.  When you get this, as Extreme Cheapskates do,  then one can choose whether or not to go out and earn additional income on their terms.  It is an activity to be enjoyed instead of a make or break necessity.

Personally, I want to enjoy a higher level of comfort them the average person who appears on Extreme Cheapskates, however, the same financial principals of spending less and saving more still apply.  I recently read a great book called, "Money Secrets of the Amish" by Lorilee Craker.  In it the community lives by the motto: "Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make Do or Do Without."  Since reading this I reprinted it on a sheet of paper and taped to our refrigerator.  There is always room to learn.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Royal Announcement! JAAAG Resurrected From The Dead

Okay, maybe "royal" is pushing it a bit, but only a bit.  I mean, hey, if Kate can announce her baby bump, I can trumpet the rebirth of one of my babies of sorts.

So, your attention please....

"It is with much gratitude and excitement that I announce a resurrection like none you have seen since Indiana Jones entered the tomb of the Templar Knights and correctly selected the most convented secular goblet in all of history.  Without further ado, Bellas and Hotties, may I present to you Just An All American Girl 2.0!"

It has been almost three, YES three years since I put this baby to bed.  Since then much has change, happened and been lived and loved in my life.  I have so much more to share and explore with you.

Why bring the blog back and why now?  Truth be told I mourned the loss of Just An All American Girl like loosing the connection with an old friend.  In it's heyday it brought me great happiness, sharing my thoughts, joys, mishaps and triumphs with what turned out to be a group of followers who humbly could relate to some, and at times, even much of what I had to say.

Yet, as they say, life happened.  Days turned into weeks, then months and well, you know how that story goes.  Still, there in the dense fog of memories a light burned in my heart, fueled by passion, for the light tapping of computer keys, the spinning of words and the self banter of rambling wit.  I think I always knew somewhere deep inside I hadn't seen the last of my faithful blog; or at least I held a hint of hope locked away with a itsy-bitsy blinged out skeleton key that JAAAG hadn't fallen too far down the rabbit hole.

So why now?  The stars have aligned.  Seriously, I don't know any other way to say it than that.  The timing was right, but probably more influential were the thoughts roaring around in my head needing an outlet so as I could get a good nights sleep.  And here we are.

What, oh what can you expect from Just An All American Girl 2.0?  That, my friend, you will just have to wait and see.