Learning to break free, and understanding how to stay free.

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Keep on Truckin’

Things continue to go well in 2013. I’ve accomplished two of my biggest goals for 2013. Neither in the order I outlined earlier in the year, but they were still monumental nonetheless.

The first big check being that my truck is now fully paid off. I was hoping to pay off $1500 in credit card debt then pay at least half of my truck. What happened? I got an offer I couldn’t refuse. Another credit card company offered me 18 months no interest on balance transfers. It only made sense to transfer the credit card balance and focus solely on getting my pickup paid off first. All in all I paid my truck off 20 months early.

Number two, I flew to the other side of the world! A good friend of mine was working on a cruise ship for a while. She had a long stop in Venice, so I bought a plane ticket and met up with her for a few days. Aside from getting stuck in the Miami airport for 21 hours due to missed flights from rain delays the trip was amazing. My friend and I ate a lot of great food. I did a bunch of walking and exploring and turning down random corners. Took plenty of pictures. The whole trip left me wanting to travel even more. Especially to the Alps. I got glimpses of them as I flew into Italy. They were very picturesque.

Sadly, for the majority of the year I haven’t been attentive to my fitness needs. Being a world traveling artist who still works full time hasn’t left much time to cook or to focus on my fitness goals. While I haven’t really put on much weight, I haven’t lost anything either. To keep myself on track I’ve signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon in November. This covers two of my goals for the year. Training should also help me get in a better routine and help dictate that I eat better.

Since this year has been moving so quickly I’m already planting seeds for 2014. I’m hoping to see even more rewarding progress with my leatherworking and take my traveling even further. It will be great to see what more I can accomplish as I push myself.

August 14, 2013   No Comments

Life at Light Speed

I’m really astounded that March is already ending. Barely blinked and I’m already 31. That seems to be what happens when life is in full swing.

In my last post I mentioned a few things I intended to have done by June, and since we’re halfway there I figured I’d interject a small update on the progress of those. I’ve done a little bit of each of them. Some debt has been paid off, visited one new city and one old, lost a couple of pounds and have had a little bit of conversation about some books I’ve read. I am unfortunately, doing very poorly in the exercise front. But otherwise, I feel that I’m on track.

So if I’m only scratching the dent of these goals, what have I been up to? A lot. Last year, when I was putting together my 30 Before 30 list one of the items I didn’t successfully accomplish was to have my art at a community market. I was sad to have not accomplished this one, but I moved on. Since then I’ve received a lot of encouragement from my friend Bianca to get off my ass and get myself in gear.

Bianca’s encouragement has been paying off. I set for myself a ridiculously high goal that would really test me and my capabilities as an artist. Last fall I told myself I’d sign up to have my leatherworks at MegaCon (the bigger Orlando comic convention). I had six months to get things in order. What happened in between then and now? I spent three months putzing around, and then three months going at full steam.

As it would turn out Orlando has a lot of markets that have popped up now. I can think of at least a handful of weekly markets and three monthly markets. Feeling only half prepared I signed up for one of the monthly markets to give myself a test run before Megacon. That day turned out to be really rainy and cold. All said and done I sold one item. This gave me enough encouragement to sign up for another of the monthly events. This second market was really windy and cold, but more items sold.

Since then I’ve been doing pretty well with the markets. I’ve also been receiving a lot of individual requests. Which I still need to work on being better at managing. As Megacon grew closer I realized two things; I’d gotten my ass in gear for making a local presence with my art, and that I had barely prepared anything for Megacon itself. Having a heavier than usual work load and fulfilling a large order I received from the World of Beer that my friend manages I wound up going into Megacon with random odds and ends.

Like I’ve been starting to see from the markets, people seemed to be a little surprised to see leather in an artistic form at Megacon. It has become very common, and a highly manufactured product in most people’s lives. Most people were very thrilled with what I was creating. Overall, I did six commissions during the event, and have since picked up a couple more from people who stopped by the booth. I feel that the whole experience was worth my time. I’ve been meeting so many great new people. I feel like things are really starting to take off.

A few weeks back I saw a quote a friend of mine posted, ‘Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week, to avoid working 40 hours a week.’ —@LoriGreiner. I’ve really started to see this side of that coin. I’ve gone numerous nights keeping myself up finishing work, whether it be for my office job, or with leather. But from the outside all you really see is a person slaving away. Now that I’m finding myself there I’m finding myself filled with a passion to continue to create. I’ll stop at nothing to make that happen, whether it be sleepless nights, or toiling away for a few more months in the corporate world so I can pay off my debts so I can focus on growing my craft unfettered by my past.

March 28, 2013   2 Comments

To Infinity…

Well well, here we are again. The beginning of a new year. We actually made it through the last despite all the morbid predictions. Now there is no excuse wallow in what ifs. It is time to keep moving forward and to do great things.

I didn’t intend to get off the writing bandwagon last year. However, life happened. Quite a bit. Nothing like getting lost on a mountain or anything. Wait, that did happen. Good news, I made it back safely! That was a hell of a weekend, and a completely separate story. I’m back now, and there is a lot going on. I won’t spoil it all in a single post, but I wanted to share with you my 2013 goals (not resolutions, I gave those up.)

One of the important things to emphasis this year is that I’ll be following the SMART plan for 2013. Each item needs to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Because of this I am breaking the list into a first half and second half goals.

January – June Goals:

  • Pay off the $1500 in consumer debt between my Capital One and Target Card.
  • Pay off at least half of the $5000 remaining on my truck loan.
  • Develop my core strength.
  • Visit at least one new US city (new metro area).
  • Get my body weight down to the low 170’s.
  • Talk more with others about the books I read.

July – December Goals:

  • Run a sub-5 hour marathon.
  • Visit another country, preferably in another hemisphere.
  • Visit at least one new US city (new metro area).
  • Develop my upper body strength focusing on chest, back and shoulders.
  • Pay off the balace of my truck.
  • Pay off the remainder of my smaller student loan, approximately $2600.
  • Get my body weight down into the 160’s.

These are all specific goals for common generic items; get in shape, get my finances in order, read more, travel more. Some of them need to be more specific still. Visiting another country in a different hemisphere, for example, leaves a lot of options on the table. Since this is a second half goal I think that it is alright for it to still be somewhat vague. I would love to go to Ireland. But there are many factors the first half of the year can have on that goal. Also, visiting another US city is kind of generic. I’ve already got plans to go to New Orleans, but I’ve been there before. I do have a trip planned to another city, but those details have a reason for being withheld currently.

I’ll address some of the measurable factors, and how I’m going about attaining these goals in later posts. One item I will need everyone’s help on is talking more with others about books I’ve read. It is all well and good to read a book, but if we don’t communicate with others regarding what we read we aren’t really growing together. You can find me on GoodReads.com. You can see what I’ve already read and if you read it too lets grab coffee or hang out sometime and talk about it, and whatever else is going on. In all I read 11 books (novels, biographies, short stories and audiobooks) last year. Those would be the best to start with as they are fresh in my mind, but any book is welcome. You can also see what I’m currently reading (Brave New World Revisited) and want to read and determine if it is something for you.

What are you getting started this year? What are you plans? I’m hoping for a lucky ’13, but I’m also following the adage that, “you make your own luck.”

January 10, 2013   2 Comments

My Worst Is Still My Best

Starting at the end of last year I began seeing many bloggers writing up various posts on goals. There are people who will argue that it is good to have no goals, especially as a minimalist. Then there are those who encourage them. Like many things in this world, I think they are like the tide and are meant to have high and low times. They should come in and go out of your life as necessary. Right now, in my life I believe it is good for me to have very concrete goals.

One of the big ones I’ve had for the past couple of years, since I started running, is to run the Boston Marathon. One does not simply run the Boston Marathon {Insert Boromir Meme here}. It is the pinnacle of Western runners, and an elite race in the world arena. As such, they don’t just let the first 30,000 people who pony up the cash enter the race. You actually have to 1) prove you can run marathon level distances, 2) do it in a pretty reasonable time.

Since I’m still pretty young I still fall in the 18-34 age bracket. The qualifying time for this age group is 3 hours and 5 minutes. To put this into perspective the top finishers at this years race were 2 hours 12 minutes for the men, and 2 hours 31 minutes for the women. Less than an hour gap from entrant to elite. My current marathon best is 5 hours 29 minutes. To add insult to injury making the qualifying time doesn’t guarantee entrance to the race, only that your name goes into the pool. They take the fastest qualifiers first, and on average you need to beat the qualifying time by 10-20 minutes to have good odds. So that means a time of 2:45-2:55. Which means I have to cut my time clean in half.

Now what does this mean for my goal of running the Boston Marathon? Is it impossible? No, I don’t think so. I only need to approach it in the right manner. I know that increasing my abilities to max effort will not get my pace up to the 6.25 min/mile I need to qualify for next years marathon. What I do know is that if I take proper care in my training that I should be able to complete a marathon in under 5 hours this year. My ideal time would be 4 hours 45 minutes. Which cuts 15% off my current time, or 25% of the difference of my best and what is necessary.

Now that I’ve been getting myself back into gear with my running I’ve been paying attention to my times a lot more. From what I’ve seen so far my maxed sustained mile is about a 9.5 min/mile, comfortable pace is a 10.5 min/mile and my slowest has been a 11.75 min/mile during the middle of the day in Florida heat. The slowest time is still better than my pace for my first marathon, and my comfortable pace will put me within my ideal time. Does this mean these will stay true as I add miles? I’d like to hope so, but I know better. I learned that lesson last year, which is why I had a 5.5 hour time instead of the sub-5 I was hoping to do.

This is where I find the importance of setting and understanding our goals. If you focus on the pinnacle you will lose sight of the best path. You will try to go straight to the top, and probably attempt a tougher path than is reasonably possible. By setting milestone goals you can achieve greater things, and have a higher success rate, while keeping your momentum moving forward.

Life is a marathon, and not a 100m dash. By training ourselves to effectively strive for each new mile we’ll make it through to our finish line. We won’t fall short, or give up because it is just to far or too hard. What are some of your big goals? And milestones that can help you get there?

July 11, 2012   No Comments

What Does A Minimalist Have Left?

In a recent post on Facebook I asked of my friends who had a folding table that I could borrow for a garage sale. My friend Tony, responded asking me what I, as a minimalist, still had left in my life that I could sell at a garage sale. Which as it turns out I have quite a lot left.

I never set out to limit myself to live with 100 things or less. When I began the process I wanted to ensure that what I owned was purposeful in my life. Part of the human condition is that inevitably we grow to the space we live in. For the past two years I’ve lived in a 1500 sqft home with 3-4 other people. Who’s stuff is who’s can get a bit diluted. My priorities in leading a minimalist lifestyle have not been the same as theirs.

Now, I’m planning on moving elsewhere, preferably on my own. This will mean two things, I can most likely do away with many items that have fit into the space I’ve had available. I may need to buy a few items (second hand where possible) to fill the gap for items that were mutually used; i.e. pans and dishes. Since I don’t know where I’ll be living yet it is hard to say what will be useful yet. I’ve been through much of the process of eliminating most items that I have no sentimental attachment to. I’ve also been slowly whittling away other items as I am faced with them but there is still more to eliminate.

So what did I actually have left that I intend on parting with?

  • Old college laptop w/ discs (harddrive no longer works)
  • Comics!! I’ve sold off a good number. I’ve sold off a couple hundred, but still have around 500 more.
  • Books! I’ve sold some to Amazon, some to Paperbackswap.com and I still have a bunch left. I’m keeping around 10 for now.
  • Poly-fil
  • Cigar boxes
  • Interesting bottles
  • Toy gun
  • Laptop charger (Not for the above)
  • Wireless router (two?)
  • Camping lamp.
  • Adventure helmets
  • Munny (Bub)
  • Games
  • Juggling balls
  • Puzzles
  • Alarm clock
  • Assorted electronics
  • Art File Drawers
  • Book shelf
  • DVD rack
  • Couch
  • Artwork
  • Records
  • Garden kit
  • Glue sticks
  • Envelopes
  • Zippo lighters (3)

During the actual sale we managed to clear through a lot more than I originally thought, but I was still left with more things than I realized I had. Oddly, I found that people will buy the most random things at a garage sale. On a whim I had put an unopened bag of glue sticks for a hot glue gun out on my table. Some guy bought them pretty early on. Said he remembered he only had one left.

I also found people’s attitude toward prepricing items to be vastly divergent. Most people seemed more willing to ask about a price if there wasn’t one on the item. There were some people that outright paid what was listed on the items. Since it seemed like more people were keen on buying items that weren’t prepriced I went ahead and removed all the prices. This led to other issues. I had one woman ask me about the price of the books, then stormed off when I mentioned specific prices for some books.

All in all, I was able to rid myself of plenty of unnecessary items. I was hoping to have made more money off what I did sell, but I did reasonably for a garage sale. Now to just find the new place and see what will be necessary there.

July 4, 2012   3 Comments

A Fresh Start

As fate would have it the proverbial reset button was pushed and cmgalvin.com must start anew. I’ve already typed up a bitchy post explaining all the details of why this has happened. That draft has since been deleted. After twenty minutes of writing I saw that what I was writing detracts from what I want to make of this blog. That is no way to start a whole new beginning.

For a while now I’ve titled my blog Life Better. I want to put more value behind that. I want to share actionable items of how you can make your life better, stories of how I’m making my life better, and possibly even the stories of people I meet along the way.

For those of you who have been reading for a while now, I appreciate you sticking around for this new chapter. If you’re just now joining us, welcome! I hope that there will be plenty for you to enjoy reading.


I look forward to all the good that is to come out of this.



June 15, 2012   1 Comment