Let’s Get Small!

I did it. I got small.

Not hobbit small.

HobbitSmall

Not even #VanLife small.

Nor Sailing La Vagabonde small:

But small enough that, as 2018 dawns, all of the essential Los Angeles possessions I share with my wife Rachel now fit in a cozy 1920s bungalow we are renting in Los Feliz. Each item thoughtfully handpicked for its joy or utility.

All the administrative and financial elements of our lives have also been streamlined (and rendered paperless) for ease of management and maximum flexibility — cataloged on two identical Aegis Secure Keys in case SHTF (Shit Hits The Fan).

Our remaining furniture is in storage, awaiting the New Zealand property we’re going to find/buy in 2018 with the proceeds from selling “Club O,” the Hollywood home we bought after I returned from “The Lord Of The Rings” in 2004.

But this is more than a Marie Kondo moment (though I’m a big fan).

Nor is it about plotting a cynical prepper escape from the US, Peter Thiel style.

The motivation for getting small is to enable an exciting new chapter in which we intend to have two homes (no mortgages) in two places we love: Los Angeles and the Wairarapa region of New Zealand.

Even without the Club O sale, getting small has meaningfully reduced our financial footprint so that we have new resources to save or apply elsewhere.

As importantly, it has allowed us to substantially reduce the amount of distraction, accumulation and related maintenance in our lives.

This five-minute Graham Hill TED Talk on the tyranny of stuff is a good primer.

Energetically and spiritually, the benefit of getting small has been the opportunity to better align daily life with my core values. By getting rid of my car (Rachel still has one) and moving within three miles of work, my commuting is a non-event.

And, much as we loved our Club O lifestyle, having a bigger house — at least in our case — tended to discourage adventures and breaking routine.

As importantly, there is now heaps more time for fitness, friends, meditation, preparedness projects, travel, blogging, and discovering/celebrating the creative artists who are my passion and livelihood.

It’s empowering to have your habitual behavior reflect your actual priorities. We are what we do, after all, not what we think or say.

And you don’t have to sell your house or upend your life to feel this empowerment. There are so many things, big and small, one can do to get started that yield immediate benefits and satisfaction.

To that end, as we’re now in a new home, in a new year, one of my 2018 resolutions is to create shorter, targeted posts on how I am specifically manifesting simplification and readiness in my life. One post per topic. Some posts I’m planning in the near term:

What’s In My Wallet And Why

Designing And Stress Testing Disaster Plans

Family Financial Readiness

Creating And Maintaining A Prepper Pantry

Urban Camping

Building A Bug Out Bag For Evacuations/Emergencies

CERT Training

Why I Run

Mapping Neighborhood Risks/Resources And Creating A Village

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this:

In boxing one often hears: “A good big man always beats a good little man.”

That may be true in boxing, but I don’t think it’s true in life.

Seth Godin, author of eighteen international bestsellers that have changed the way people think about marketing and work, presciently wrote in 2005:

“Big computers are silly. They use lots of power and are not nearly as efficient as properly networked Dell boxes.”

That’s straight up, pre Cloud wisdom.

How does this apply to #ReadyIsSexy, you ask?

Not to get too philosophical, but readiness is about more than provisions, gear, skills and planning —  though these make up a crucial baseline.

The fifth dimension is: community

That’s why the most important decision Rachel and I made was about where to move in Los Angeles. Our priority was proximity to a community of friends and an engaged neighborhood.

Thus our new neighbor in Los Feliz is my producing partner Jane Fleming. She is literally next door — indeed, she spotted the bungalow we now rent, and knew it would a match, before it ever hit Zillow. Now that’s leveraging one’s network.

Apart from the fact that we immensely enjoy each other’s company, the collective resources and networks of our adjoining homes are exponentially greater than the sum of their parts.

New hashtag: #CompoundLiving

More soon.

Until then, go small or go home!

 

Save Yourself, Save The World

How many airline safety videos have you watched — or ignored in favor of your Instagram?

Regardless, you could probably recite one from memory.

Naturally, this Air New Zealand epic is a personal fave:

The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made #AirNZSafetyVideo

Note particularly: “Secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others.”

SRT

Reflexively, that seems selfish. Caring for yourself before vulnerable loved ones?

Yet, logically we know: If you can’t breath on an oxygen-deprived airliner at 36,000 feet, accompanying children will have two problems instead of one.

Unless of course the kids don’t need help with their masks — because they already know what to do. From you.

This doesn’t require being Captain Fantastic (great movie). I’m certainly not!

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC | Official HD Featurette

It just means: if we want to save our families, our communities — even the nation or the world — we have to be able to save ourselves first. Then share.

This requires knowledge, planning, gear, skills, and practice. But you’d be surprised how little it takes to be more prepared than the average bear. In the posts and weeks ahead, I will be sharing specifically how I prepare, in all facets of my life, with links to related resources where helpful, hoping it inspires you to find your own ways.

Now I have some hardcore prepper friends who would say: Mark, you’re misleading folks. It’s great you have 50 gallons of clean water and three weeks of long-term stored food, but what if you can’t get home? Or the crisis lasts longer? Or there’s an evacuation? And what about the fact that you haven’t bought your Glock 19, so someone comes to your house with their gun and takes all your stuff? What then?

These are valid points. But, as Voltaire said: the enemy of good is better.

There are no guarantees. I live in a big city. Depending on the nature of the calamity, this will either make my survival efforts easier or harder.

Some feel the best way to save yourself is to relocate to where critical resources are less scarce:

How To Save The World By Saving Yourself

But, no matter where or how you live, you can still reduce the number of variables working against you and increase the number of tools and skills at your disposal. This is never a bad thing.

No one is disaster proof. But one can strive to be disaster resistant.

Yes, disaster readiness is serious business. When something goes wrong, and it definitely will, the preparations you’ve made and skills you’ve acquired — and the second nature with which you can put your plans and tools into action on behalf of yourself and others — could make a critical difference.

But one thing I’ve discovered firsthand: it’s easier to learn and retain readiness habits when it makes you feel good.

This is one of the reasons why high-end professional closet organizers are doing particularly well right now. In times of uncertainty or disappointment, the desire to feel mastery over some element of your environment is attractive: The Psychology of an Organized Closet

So let’s start with two simple things you can do right now — things I do in my own life — to be better prepared. They are simple. They make sense. They reduce variables. They will make you feel good for the right reasons.

WATER:

You can go weeks without food, but you can only last days without water — depending on heat and your level of activity.

In my last post, What’s In The Bag (And Why?), I shared how I plan for water on the move.

At home, you should store one gallon of water per person/per day. For as many weeks as space allows. In my case, as there are two people in my house, I never have less than 42 gallons at any given time (14 gallons/week x 3 weeks = 42 gallons). I usually keep 50 gallons because, well, I’m an over-achiever.

Now I am fortunate to have a garage, so storing ten 5-gallon Arrowhead bottles is not a challenge. But even having three days of stored water (for a family of four that’s only 12 gallons) at home makes you better prepared than many. Through filtration and purification, you can stretch your supply. More here: Emergency Water Storage

WHAT HAS IT GOT IN ITS POCKETSES:

I get teased a bit for schlepping my backpack nearly everywhere I go. Sometimes, particularly in certain work situations, it’s just not appropriate. But there are three things I never go without: a whistle, a good strong flashlight, and an emergency $50 bill.

In Los Angeles, where earthquakes are among the likeliest form of disaster threat, getting trapped in or under a building is a real risk. If that happens, you’re not going to want to shout yourself hoarse, nor will you want to use your precious mobile phone battery for light when you can use it to text for help.

My Fenix E05 85 Lumen LED KeyChain Black Flashlight is the size of a ChapStick, tough and bright. The Acme Authentic British Police Whistle by Metropolitan is loud and shrill, and honestly I just like how it looks. It also fits better in my trouser pocket than a standard coach’s whistle.

THE EMERGENCY $50:

Cash is king in a disaster. Your Apple Pay will not pay. I carry cash generally as a rule, but alongside smaller bills mostly reserved for car parkers or tipping my favorite barista, I carry an additional $50. One time it helped me get a tire patched at a cash-only mechanic well off the beaten path.

***

There is so much more where this came from! In the months ahead, we will continue to learn how to secure our own oxygen masks. In doing so, not only may we become one less person who needs saving, we could also have the opportunity to help others save themselves. Now that’s an encouraging thought!

 

My MacGyver Moment

My MacGyver moment, when it came, was not diffusing a bomb with a paper clip.

It was buying an old school Rand McNally street map at Book Soup.

Now I’m not John Goodman in “10 Cloverfield Lane” with a survival bunker under my yard, nor am I likely to be featured on “Doomsday Preppers.” But for years I have been a student of self sufficiency and emergency preparedness.

I experiment with gear, study and develop readiness skills, and try out different approaches to organizing my life — home, work, and travel — to be, if not disaster proof, at least disaster resistant.

The result is two parts Samwise Gamgee, one part Marie Kondo, if the bartender was Tim Ferriss.

I come by my passion for remaking my environment honestly. My mother, Maxine Ordesky, is a founding member of the National Association of Professional Organizers. At 82, she’s still a sought after space planner. My brother, Joel Ordesky, is an Eagle Scout and management consultant.

Back to Book Soup.

As part of my readiness jam, I periodically assemble customized “get home” bags for my friends. Filled with favorite tools and supplies meant to help sustain someone away from home for 2-3 days without much help in the event of an emergency.

My brilliant business partner, Jane Fleming, turned 50 this month. Which is why I was at Book Soup: buying a Rand McNally map of Los Angeles for the get home bag I was making her.

The nice cashier with the nose ring, and the book club junkie behind me in line, marveled that paper maps still existed (they’re not easy to find), and what on earth could I possibly want with one in the era of Google maps.

I momentarily felt very AARP (I’m a proud member).

The paper map is so that Jane can navigate home when mobile, GPS and Wifi fail, and if fires or infrastructure collapse make familiar routes impassable.

A paper map also indicates areas of risk and resources. Universities, for example, can be hazards during a fire or earthquake due to toxic materials in research labs or chemical engineering departments.

Conscious of oversharing, I braced for Book Soup eye rolls. Not a one. In fact, Nose Ring Cashier and Book Club Junkie looked at me like I was MacGyver.

In that moment, I realized that Ready Is Sexy (see what I did there?). Because it’s empowering, fun, mind expanding, and physically challenging. It incorporates elements of curiosity, mindfulness and spontaneity; health, diet, fitness and travel; civic engagement, financial planning and personal security; and relationships and family.

As importantly, at at time when the world feels so divided, readiness — at least the way I practice it — celebrates and encourages the power of community as a hub of shared wisdom, compassion and resources.

So I’m going to practice what I preach, and hopefully start building a community here on this blog. Welcome! It’s going to be fun.