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Rob Kaiser

9 years ago.

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This “Facebook memory” popped up today in my news feed while having coffee and relaxing on this long holiday weekend.  It is a long weekend on account of:

Independence Day, also referred to as the Fourth of July or July Fourth, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago on July 4, 1776. The Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and were no longer part of the British Empire.[1] The Congress actually voted to declare independence two days earlier, on July 2.

This is a photo I took of myself long before selfies were a thing.  I was working as a consulting utility forester, working with major gas/electric utility systems to address their vegetation management needs. Much of this involved working and walking alone to assess the terrain, habitat, and environmental conditions where the work needed to take place – it was a great job.  If you’re interested in learning more about this type of work, visit this site here.

There are so many times that I think about what activities I’ve chosen to engage in for a primary source of income over the years.  While the decisions I’ve made and the actions that I’ve taken have never resulted in what many would consider a large income stream – they have resulted in happiness and a good quality of life.

This year, I will turn 40.  As part of my personal wellness program, I see a counselor regularly.  One thing I recently observed is that I *never* find myself bitching or complaining about my work.  I’ve created a life where I’ve spent half of my years on this planet working outdoors during all seasons.  It seemed natural.

However, it wasn’t good enough.  For the last few years, I began voraciously “chasing my dream” of becoming the next rock star market farmer, permaculture farm designer, community organizer, green industry entrepreneur, writer, blogger, content creator, or whatever else I found myself focusing on at that time.

Much of this work was performed to my own detriment.  I pursued the “good cause” and failed to embrace many of these principles I stood and for and preached in my own life – specifically “self care.”  The article titled “Why Many Farmers Eat Like Crap” sums it up very nicely.  I began to hate my #hustle.

This year, I decided this year to step back from the pursuit of those dreams.  The reality is that many of those dreams were little else other than someone *else’s* dreams that I admired.  I’ve shifted focus to living the life *I* am living…now and in this moment. It’s all I’ve ever done and all that I know how to do.

One man whose dreams I was chasing was Curtis Stone.  I have nothing but the utmost respect for Curtis and the work that he’s done.  He’s a mentor and a friend.  He has always advised people to keep their ideology in their back pocket.  I’m going to take this a step further and suggest you put your dreams there too.

That’s not so say that you should leave them there, but sometimes it’s important to take time and reevaluate what you are chasing and why.  Sometimes, when we get so caught up in the #hustle, we lose sight of the life we’ve been actively creating for ourselves.  Let’s give ourselves some credit every once in a while.

Rather than tirelessly chase dreams, think about the dreams you’re chasing.  Why are you chasing these dreams in the first place?  What’s you’re purpose in life?  If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?

You don’t necessarily need to figure it all out right now, because it’s also very easy to sit around getting nothing done while contemplating your navel and the universe.  However, I do encourage getting these thoughts down on a regular basis.  This will help you identify the purpose in mission is your life.  The why.

Last September, I wrote a blog post titled, Three Primary Components of a Deliberate Living System.  This post and many others like it helped me determine my why.  Blog posts since then have been sporadic at best and the weekly email I used to send also seemed to lose its’ purpose.  It began to show in my work.

It bothered me, but I soon decided that I needed to do what’s best for me.  I needed to begin practicing self-care first.  All of this is relevant and culminates in the content of this long blog post that I find myself writing today.  It is relevant because the development and creation of Deliberate Living Systems was based (in part) on the idea of self-sufficiency, freedom, and independence.

As we read at the beginning of the article, “Independence Day, also referred to as the Fourth of July or July Fourth, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago on July 4, 1776. The Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and were no longer part of the British Empire.[1] The Congress actually voted to declare independence two days earlier, on July 2.”

As the forefathers of this country declared independence from the British Empire, I find myself continually thinking about ways that I wish to declare independence from the systems of support and the mindsets that I know.  I am my own sovereign being and I encourage each and every person that reads this to understand that this is the truth – but only if you want it to be and allow it to happen in your own way.  You cannot live through other people’s dreams…

…you must find your own.  You must find your purpose.  You must find your way.  You are creating your own Deliberate Living System.  The primary components that comprise your systems will change, but before you can recognize this as truth, you need to understand and identify what those components are in the first place.  I’d encourage you to take some time and do so this weekend.

There is no better time to celebrate Independence Day than to figure out what it is that you seek independence from and how and why you seek it.  Declare your independence today and celebrate the life you are actively creating.  Moreover, share it with someone and talk about what you’re doing to make it happen.  Have a wonderful and safe holiday weekend.

Live deliberately, my friends.

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The post "Independence Day" appeared first on Deliberate Living Systems.

 

Rob Kaiser

Objective

This series of blog posts will document and share my medical experiences.  I’m doing this for several reasons, first and foremost – after this most recent visit with the doctor, I’m realizing my memory issues are real and potentially getting becoming more serious than I initially thought.  Secondly, by openly sharing my experiences it may potentially help people.

I’d like to think that the way in which I write allows for a broad audience to identify with different things that I say or write.  On the same note, I’ve recently learned that what I say and how I say it can come across at times as offensive, harsh, or abrasive.  I also make no apologies for this.  My reality is that I’m (brutally) honest. I speak without a filter.  The beauty of the written word is that I can go back and edit my words much more easily than when spoken.

Historyepilepsy-brainstorm.jpg

Many people reading this may not know my story, so I’ll try and provide some background and context without going into too much unnecessary detail.  My name is Rob Kaiser.  At the time of this writing on March 08, 2017 – I am 39 years old, living in Medina, Ohio.  I was born and raised in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio.  For all intents and purposes, I lived an average childhood with amazing parents in upper middle class suburbia.  At the age of 13, the summer before going into the 8th grade, I was diagnosed with a chronic neurological disease known as epilepsy.

Epilepsy

As I do in many writings, I look at Wikipedia as a base line for something I am discussing – and I will do the same in this blog post.  As defined by Wikipedia, Epilepsy is a group of neurological disorders characterized by epileptic seizures.[1][2] Epileptic seizures are episodes that can vary from brief and nearly undetectable to long periods of vigorous shaking.[3] These episodes can result in physical injuries including occasionally broken bones.[3] In epilepsy, seizures tend to recur and as a rule, have no immediate underlying cause.[1] Isolated seizures that are provoked by a specific cause such as poisoning are not deemed to represent epilepsy.[4] People with epilepsy in some areas of the world experience stigma due to the condition.[3]

Treatment

Within the community of epilepsy, you will find many other ways to define epilepsy, but for the purposes of this blog post, this will suffice.  When I was first diagnosed as a child, the initial treatment was a prescription for Tegretol, otherwise known as Carbamazepine.  As defined by Wikipedia, Carbamazepine (CBZ), sold under the tradename Tegretol among others, is a medication used primarily in the treatment of epilepsy and neuropathic pain.[2] It is not effective for absence seizures or myoclonic seizures. It is used in schizophrenia along with other medications and as a second line agent in bipolar disorder.[2] Carbamazepine appears to work as well as phenytoin and valproate.[3][4]

Almost immediately, use of the medication was discontinued due to what is referred to as an “adverse event” (skin peeling off hands, loss of hair, falling out in patches on head, and severe itching that would leave me writhing on the ground.  The second option in my treatment was the prescription of (or as it is stated in my medical records, I was “initiated” on) Depakote, otherwise known as Valproate.  Per Wikipedia, Valproate (VPA), and its valproic acid, sodium valproate, and divalproex sodium forms, are medications primarily used to treat epilepsy and bipolar disorder and to prevent migraine headaches.[2] It is useful for the prevention of seizures in those with absence seizures, partial seizures, and generalized seizures. It can be given intravenously or by mouth. Long and short acting formulations exist.[2]

Side Effects

Historically, the dosages I had been prescribed would be considered a “medium” dose.  Blood levels taken twice a year indicate that I wasn’t quite on the “high” side, but also not quite on the “low” side.  In addition to making sure that the medication levels were deemed acceptable by the neurologists, levels of many other things are monitored due to what one of my neurologists has referred to as “the toxicity of the medicine.”

Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, and a dry mouth. Serious side effects can include liver problems and regular monitoring of liver function tests is therefore recommended. Other serious risks include pancreatitis and an increased suicide risk. It is known to cause serious abnormalities in the baby if taken during pregnancy. Because of this it is not typically recommended in women of childbearing age who have migraines. It is unclear how valproate works.[2]

Moreover, valproate (also known as the trade name Depakote, which I have taken for +25 years) decreases cognitive function (this is especially noticeable in my experience), negatively impacts metabolic functioning, and has the potential to cause premature osteoporosis.  In a nutshell, it is believed that high dosages of anti-convulsants (including Depakote) lead to decreased bone mineral density which may contribute to the early onset of osteoporosis.  There’s a vast amount of material to cite, and for the sake of the blog post I’ll simply guide you here, here, and here.

It wasn’t until I moved to California in 2011 that I began to learn about the severity of the side effects of Depakote.  Given the lifestyle I have led and plan on continuing to lead, early onset osteoporosis and liver damage do not sound very appealing.  As I age and approach 40 years, the benchmark of 50 years of age regarding closer monitoring of bone density no longer seems that far off in the future.

Health and Wellness

In the next blog post, I’ll share my experience of how I began experimenting with some alternative and adjunct therapies for the treatment of epilepsy.  To conclude this blog post, while the side effects of the medicine I’ve been taking for +25 years were always communicated to me, I suppose I never fully understood how these could affect me in the long term.  It took me 20 years to really begin taking my health and wellness into consideration.

We’ll pick up on health, wellness, and the stereotypical California lifestyle next time…

 

The post Chronicles of a Chronic Neurological Condition (Part 1) appeared first on Deliberate Living Systems.

 

 

Rob Kaiser

48 Days

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What does 48 days mean to you?

For me…today – 48 days is the length of time that has passed since I felt compelled to take the time and bang out one Pomodoro of writing (thanks FocusTime app) for a blog post.

To calculate the duration between two dates, I simply used this website here.  I frequent this site regularly and it’s very easy to use.  There’s your daily dose of nerd…you’re very welcome.

Deliberate Living System

Moving forward…as soon as I sat down this evening, I wondered what to write.  Previously, I had told myself that I would consistently write about one of the Three Primary Components of a Deliberate Living System.  These are the Seven Dimensions of Wellness, Permaculture, and Entrepreneurship – and you can read more about that in the blog post linked to above.

However, tonight – I wanted to wing it.  I determined the date and immediately I thought about the book 48 Days to the Work You Love: Preparing for the New Normal, by Dan Miller.  While I haven’t read this book in its’ entirety, over the past few years, I’ve run with a crowd that had a big entrepreneurial lean.  The Amazon description reads as follows:

In 2009, the U.S. unemployment rate approached ten percent. Today, when new work is found, it may not be traditional. Studies estimate half of the American workforce will soon consist of freelancers, consultants, independent contractors, entreprenuers, “electronic immigrants,” and so forth. Are you ready for the new normal?

The New Normal

Like you, I’ve been spendiss-think-outside-box-800x450-300x169.jpgng the last few years preparing for a new normal of my own.  Books such as this have given me the insight needed to continue thinking outside of the box.  This type of thinking I am referring to isn’t really the cliché corporate-speak “think outside of the box.”

The shift in perspective over the past few years has been a bit more complex than just some thoughts outside of said box.  Seeing as books like this gave me a little insight into this paradigm shift, I made sure to read them.  I couldn’t get enough.  Perhaps you could even refer to what I was doing was “paralysis by analysis.”  Then, the urge to “Get Shit Done” bit and I stepped it up.

Finding Balance

Not unstone-balance-300x158.pnglike my climb on the corporate ladder resulting in burnout after a few years, I experienced a bit of burnout while chasing the side hustle.  Conversations with friends who were doing the same turned from #hustle to #joyandhappiness.  Last year was yet another year full of growth and development of my very own Deliberate Living System.

The #hustle has been put on the sidelines for a little while.  More than a few projects have been put on the backburner.  I am making a conscious effort to live “life on life’s terms” – but not in a reactive and mildly negative way that it can seem like when Dave Ramsey speaks of this…but more of “life on life’s terms” to ensure I am able to experience the full beauty that life really is.

As we all pursue the path of our own individual #hustle…let us never forget to pursue the path of #joyandhappiness.  For if we forget to find the balance, we begin to soon become too involved in the details of our life, rather than look at our life as something to be experienced.  We may begin to lose sight of the forest on account of all the trees.

The post 48 Days appeared first on Deliberate Living Systems.

 

Rob Kaiser

Part 2 of A History of the Sunday Review is where we look at where we are now.  This is only appropriate seeing as we read about where we came from in Part 1.  You can read Part 1 of A History of the Sunday Review here.

As previously stated, the first installment of the Sunday Review contained:

  • What’s New in the Blog
  • The Great Void
  • Current Reading Material
  • What’s Coming Up This Week
  • (Lunar References)

Life on Life’s Terms

The reality is that the business and the lifestyle that Deliberate Living Systems was founded to embody wasn’t happening in the time frame that I wanted.  I was forced to deal with life on life’s terms.  I realized I am no different or special than anyone else.  Also, I realized that one of the best coping mechanisms I found was to share it all with you in the form of a blog.

Deliberate Living Systems was formed during a very driven time in my life.  During the past two years, I began to feel the familiar drifting feeling again.  Much of this was reflected in what I wrote.  The DLS blog lacked direction and blog posts encompassed a wide variety of topics.  Recognizing this pattern, I wrote about it and my observations in a separate blog post here.

Drifting vs. Driven

Continued reflection on this drifting vs driven element led to the creation and development of what I like to refer to as the Three Primary Components of a Deliberate Living System.  This blog post was important for several reasons.  It helped me identify what was important to me, and the best way that I could share this message and interact with YOU while doing so.  I wrote:

I am not interested in content specific to the green industry. I’ve struggled with explaining what Deliberate Living Systems is to people. It’s been challenging to accurately describe the mission and and vision behind Deliberate Living Systems.

A company formed as a direct action of attempting to implement permaculture into my life and the lives of others, the mission and vision has been equally difficult to define. The content created has validated this statement…in the best way possible.

While this is an admirable statement, sometimes I wonder if the reality is that when it comes down to business, people may actually WANT specificity.  However, I also understand that much depends on the particular circumstance and nature of the work.  One thing is for certain though…I am not ready or prepared to move forward with Deliberate Living Systems full time.

Originally, the idea was for the side hustle to become the main hustle.  While this may still be the idea, the time frames have changed dramatically based on the reality of life on life’s terms.  So, here we are, making adjustments to the original plan, improvising, and overcoming…but an even better way of looking at this may be best described by Bruce Lee, “Be like water.”

Be water, my friend.

Stay tuned for Part 3.

The post A History of the Sunday Review (Part 2) appeared first on Deliberate Living Systems.

 

Rob Kaiser

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(Photo Courtesy of: Caleb Schuster Photogrophy)

The very first Deliberate Living Systems email was sent in October of 2015.

After presenting at the 2015 Fall Farm Workshop, hosted by J&S Poly Farms – an email list seemed like the best way to keep in touch with all the great new friends who attended my Basic Fall Plant Propagation presentation.  It was a great way to keep in touch with everyone and give a big thank you to everyone who supported Steve Harbolt, his family and the other presenters.

Initially, I was slow to send emails with regularity for the remainder of the 2015 calendar year.  As we moved into 2016, I was sending weekly emails and sharing them throughout social media.  In January and February, I was invited to speak about Permaculture and subsequently began asking people if they wanted to be a keep in touch via email…and the community grew.

By mid-February, I announced to my core group of fans – that the email list was changing.  There was more interest in Deliberate Living Systems, and I decided to integrate the J&S Poly Farm email list with everyone else that attended speaking events, along with a few customers, and other people who had signed up on account of interest garnered via social media.

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(Photo Courtesy of: Launch and Hustle)

During the months of March, April, and May – the emails contained a good variety of content, and were slightly easier to assemble than regular blog posts, which was important, because time was something that I was lacking.  However, while the method of delivery may have been easier for me to compile, I felt that the emails were becoming increasingly difficult to read.

The more I learned, the more I wanted to share…but all of this content in an email was cumbersome.  Personally, if I can’t process an email in two minutes, it is turned into a task to be addressed at a later time (based on my task / project management protocol).  I decided to address this content in periodic blog posts, and then simply link to them in the weekly email.

Many of the mentors and people I had been following assembled their emails in a similar manner. I was trying to implement patterns I was noticing within my own work.  Some people who inspired changes to content creation and email delivery were Diego Footer, Geoff Lawton, Michael Hyatt, Paul Wheaton (via Permies.com), John Ackley, Daniel Vitalis, and Tim Ferriss.

I tried to assemble emails in an easy to read format, especially on a smartphone.  I wanted to provide as much information as possible, in an easily-digestible format, in a way that allowed the reader to access what they wanted, when they wanted, and how they wanted.  The result was the very first installment of “The Sunday Review” on Sunday June 19, 2016 (see here).

At that time, the Sunday Review contained

  • What’s New in the Blog
  • The Great Void
  • Current Reading Material
  • What’s Coming Up This Week
  • (Lunar References)

Stay tuned for more history on the Sunday Review!

 

The post A History of the Sunday Review (Part 1) appeared first on Deliberate Living Systems.

 

 

Rob Kaiser

If you’re not self-employed, what is your side hustle?

Do you even have a side hustle?  I didn’t until August of 2014.

permaculture_voicesDream

Less than six months after attending the first Permaculture Voices Conference, I finally put some visions and dreams into action and founded Deliberate Living Systems, LLC.

My permaculture mentors, Geoff Lawton, Mark Shepard, Jack Spirko, Diego Footer, and many others promoted the idea of profitable permaculture through entrepreneurship as the most effective way to fully integrate the ethics and principles of permaculture into our lives.

 

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For several years, I have had my name listed on the International Society of Arboriculture Find an Arborist website.  Periodically, I was able to get a side job as an arborist consultation.  It was a way to capitalize on a life-long skill set in the green industry.

The intense exploration of Permaculture, attendance at the first annual Permaculture Voices Conference in March 2014, taking a PDC in April/May of 2014 led me to thinking obsessively about permaculture design and application in the landscape…every landscape.                                                

 

dls_sq_borderHustle

In August 2014, I found myself observing and interacting with an arborist consult customer.  During our post-consult discussion, we began talking about landscape design.  By the end of the conversation, I had upsold a simple arborist consultation into a landscape design based on permaculture principles for their suburban lot.  Deliberate Living Systems was born.

Succeed

That winter, much time, effort and energy went into the mission and the vision of Deliberate Living Systems.  The broad vision needed to be refined.  There has been a lot of growth, development and transition since August 2014.  Much of that time was spent kicking myself over the failures that I made.  However, Joel Salatin has been quoted as saying,

The opposite of success is not filing, it is quitting.

Joy and Happiness

I’ve heard that people say, “If you trade time for money, you’ll never find freedom.”  I’m still doing this, but I’m working hard to change that.  Whether or not I’ll ever be able to fully do so, I’m not sure, but in the meantime, I’m working hard to find a way to do things that bring me joy and happiness while trading time for money.

  • If you don’t have a side hustle, what’s stopping you?
  • If you do have a side hustle, what’s driving you to continue pushing through adversity?
  • What keeps you putting one foot in front of the other on the road to entrepreneurship?
  • What does the road to entrepreneurship even look like to you?

Please comment below or email me here to share.

Share this blog post on your own social media below and keep the conversation going!

 

The post Entrepreneurship – Employment and Self Employment appeared first on Deliberate Living Systems.

 

Rob Kaiser

In a recent blog post titled, Three Primary Components of a Deliberate Living System[1], we read that these components are the Seven Dimensions of Wellness, Permaculture, Entrepreneurship.  Today, we’re discussing Social Wellness and Social Media.

Social Wellness

Social Wellness is the ability to relate to and connect with other people in our world. Our ability to establish and maintain positive relationships with family, friends and co-workers contributes to our Social Wellness.[2]

We relate to and connect with other people in our world a number of different ways.  Over the past century, these ways have changed dramatically.  Over the past few decades, the change has been even greater.

Currently we are experiencing one of the most monumental shifts regarding our own humanity.  This shift is perhaps most noticeable with regard to technology and human connectivity.  Connectivity with humans has become integrated with social media.

Social Media

Let’s examine the term “social media”

 Social:                                                                                                                                      Media:                                                                     

Screen-Shot-2016-10-30-at-10.25.23-AM-1024x466.pngscreen-shot-2016-10-30-at-10-26-05-am

 

 

Combined: Social media

screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-10-29-25-am

 

Personal Social Media Usage

I am a user of the following social media platforms:  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  The only accounts that are personalized to/for myself are Twitter and LinkedIn.  The way in which I use Facebook and Instagram is via business and/or organization pages, where I create and/or moderate the contact that is shown on those various pages.

Social Media Usage Experimentation

For years, I maintained a personal Facebook account.  I also struggled with my inability to effectively manage the way I used it.  I allowed it to be a tremendous time suck.  Accordingly, on two separate occasions I have “left” Facebook (aka “Hotel California”).

Facebook makes this very easy to do.  We have the ability to check out any time we like, but unless we actually delete our account, we can’t ever leave.  Disabling your account just puts everything “on hold.”  The first time I “left” was in mid-2012.

At that time, there were various reasons for doing so (if you’re curious, just comment below or shoot me a message here), and after approximately 8 months I re-enabled it.  The act of leaving Facebook was a great social experiment.  Try it.

Currently, I am in the process of another personal Facebook hiatus.  I left Facebook approximately 6 months ago and have enjoyed my time away from it.  Again, I’m still using business and organization pages, but very deliberately.

Over the past few months, I’ve received feedback on my decisions – both positive and negative.  Social media, and it’s integration in the lives we lead and the shift in the societal norm is really quite fascinating.  It’s easier to review this while slightly removed.

In addition to feedback regarding my presence (or lack thereof) on social media – there’s also been a lot of discussion about it with friends, acquaintances, and business partners.  Again, fascinating conversation on many levels for various reasons.

Have you experimented with the way you use social media?please-share-your-comments-below

 

If you have, I’d love to hear about it.  Please comment below or email me here to share.

Share this blog post on your own social media below and keep the conversation going!

 

The post Social Wellness and Social Media appeared first on Deliberate Living Systems.

 

[1] http://www.deliberatelivingsystems.com/three-primary-components-deliberate-living-system/

[2] https://wellness.ucr.edu/seven_dimensions.html

 

Rob Kaiser

43 Days

43 Days

It’s been 43 days since I last created and published content.

This has been weighing on my mind and quite frankly, stressing me out.

Until…I read a recent email from Casey Lewis.  In the email you can read here, he writes:

So about 6 months ago I realized that I could press pause, take care of me and my family, and come back to press play when the time felt right. I could come back to writing and creating new content.

This was important to me because I have a tremendous amount of respect for Casey Lewis.  For those of you who don’t know, Casey Lewis is a self-proclaimed “Author, Speaker, Podcaster, Realtor, Financial Coach and Amateur Adventurer.”

Casey Lewis and I first crossed paths a few years ago as we took part in something called “The Start Experiment” – which you can read more about in this great Huffington Post article here.  I was a part of Group 39 – a bunch of people who didn’t really know what we were doing, but we knew that we were doing *something.*  This was such a great experience and if you’re curious about why…feel free to comment below or email me questions at rob@deliberatelivingsystems.com.

In addition to the 43 days with no content creation, it has also been about 6 months of hiatus from social media.  Well – that’s not entirely true.  It’s been about a six month hiatus from Facebook as a personal user.  I still am active in the management of four different Facebook pages for various local businesses and organizations.  I’ve received some feedback on my lack of presence on Facebook in this way, both positive and negative.  It’s been something I’ve thought about a lot lately.

Deliberate Living Systems was created with a grand vision to help people create a systematic approach to living a healthy, positive, and beneficial life.  It’s been an rough and interesting road over the past three years, ultimately leading to a (another) sort of burnout around six months ago – much like Casey Lewis wrote in his blog post here.  If you haven’t picked up on it – I am a big fan of the work of Casey and have even hired him for some financial counseling last year.  Definitely check him out.

His discussion of burnout and taking a break from content creation resonated so deeply with me – largely because the quality of friendships and relationships formed over the past three years since the inception of Deliberate Living Systems, LLC has been of the highest quality.  In the development and implementation of my own Deliberate Living System, I have been blessed to have met and befriended people of the highest quality and character.  That’s right.  I’m talking about you.

You are one of the reasons that the 43 days passing with no content creation was stressing me out.  You are one of the reasons that my Facebook hiatus is something that I regularly think about.  You are part of the reason why I’m taking the time to write these words, because for everyone one of “you” that’s reading these words, there are at least a few more of us that are out there, that *aren’t* reading these words.  As previously stated, the grand vision was to help people live deliberately.

An integral part of my life involves a multi-faceted career in the green industry.  One of these facets has been farming, primarily tree farms and wholesale nurseries.  Recently, as I’ve begun to develop and create a Deliberate Living System – I became enamored with small-acre intensive market farming and permaculture. Over the past three years, I’ve worked to integrate market farming and permaculture into my life in addition to full-time employment at a wholesale nursery and tree farm.

To make a long story short, I went through a sort of burnout earlier in the year – part of the reason for taking a brief hiatus from Facebook.  Also, I went from creating content weekly to bi-weekly.  I paid attention to the format of the email, making a deliberate change to the ease of readability, keeping longer content on the blog posts (while still attempting to keep blog posts small and bite sized (around 500 words) for easy reading, something I will far exceed with all of this drivel today).

While actively farming on several different levels and working long hours on other various pursuits, my farming exploration led me to the works and teachings of Masanobu Fukuoka, who wrote:  “The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”  Ideas such as this, and improving the quality of life became paramount to the ideas and methods one incorporates into the development and creation of one’s own Deliberate Living Sysem.   That was it.

I needed a break.  I needed to work on cultivating my soul.  I felt beaten down.  Retreating for a period of time has been refreshing.  It’s allowed me to further connect with people who will more directly impact my life and given me the opportunity to connect with others in an effort to positively impact their lives!  Over the past 6 months and ultimately, over the past 43 days, I’ve engaged in periods of living and experiencing life in the way it should be experienced.  Real-time, as a human.  Live action.

Casey’s words encouraged me that it *is* possible to pick up where we left off.  Not only is it *possible* it is *critical* to do this.  Our work is never done.  Sometimes we need to take a break, just so we know where to pick up when we come back to it.  We never stop working, we simply reevaluate.  In blog posts in the past, we’ve talked about the ability to adapt, improvise, and overcome.  That’s no different here.  43 hours, 43 days, or 43 weeks, in whatever you do just pick up where you left off.

Don’t think about how much you suck that you’ve let this amount of time pass before doing (x), just focus on the fact that best thing you can do is take corrective action for that which you have or have not done and that time is NOW.  Stop reading.  START.  These words and the words of others will always be there for reference at a later date and time.  Embrace the #hustle

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s get back to writing…

Stay tuned.

 

The post 43 Days appeared first on Deliberate Living Systems.

 

Rob Kaiser

When doesn’t efficiency matter?

At this very moment, it is 8:54am. I just refilled my coffee after a phone call with Apple Support. I finally decided to call Apple Support after my computer became close to inoperable. The last thing I wanted to do was make a call to tech support.

That’s right…an actual phone call – to an actual human! Can you imagine?!3255284085_3693492174_o.png

If we’re doing story time, I might as well provide a little background to what prompted this brief blog post this morning. For well over a month, I’ve been ignoring a message on my MacBook telling me “Your startup disk is almost full.”

Ignoring the problem worked for a little while, but last week – my computer failed me as I tried to show a friend a site development plan. Documents were able to be viewed – but the embedded photos did not load.

Limited computer use this week allowed me to ignore the problem even longer. This morning, however – as I tried to prepare some documents for a breakfast meeting the problem continued. The problem could wait no longer.

After using an iPhone for the past few years, and subsequently purchasing an iPad, I was pleased with the integration. So pleased was I that I decided to make the full transition to Apple products with a purchase of a MacBook pro in December 2015.

In addition to this, I had purchased Apple’s version of an external hard drive system, known as the AirPort Time Capsule. “The AirPort Time Capsule (previously known as just Time Capsule) is a wireless router sold by Apple Inc., featuring network-attached storage (NAS) and a residential gateway router, and is one of Apple’s AirPort products. They are, essentially, versions of the AirPort Extreme with an internal hard drive. Apple describes it as a “Backup Appliance”, designed to work in tandem with the Time Machine backup software utility introduced in Mac OS X 10.5.[1]” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AirPort_Time_Capsule

While I have a very solid computer set up and system, I really have no idea how to use it. My coworker affectionately refers to Apple products as “tech for dummies.” Seemingly appropriate in this case – as that’s what I feel like, and is also a contributing factor towards procrastination in dealing with my startup disk.

However, in exploring how to deal with this, I was also reminded that I had purchased the extended AppleCare Protection Plan – giving me years of technical support, something I had conveniently forgotten about due to great performance.

Realizing this, I entered my information on the Apple Support website and received a phone call from Demetrius Norman (located in the Central Time Zone of the United States). Within minutes, he coached me through how to effectively deal with the problem utilizing the redundancy backup systems that I had previously set up.

This blog post may seem like nothing but a review for Apple products, and in a way, it is. However, quick reflection on this experience leads me to believe that this is just a real life example of how having effective systems in place can effectively save your ass when it comes to crunch time and getting results.

Time for breakfast.

Stay tuned.

 

The post Efficiency When It Matters appeared first on Deliberate Living Systems.

 

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Rob Kaiser

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When it comes to content creation, I often think about writing on topics specific to the industry in which I work.   While there may be some benefit to consistency of topic choice in my blog, specificity is no longer the nature of my business.

All too frequently, I judge my success on the actions of others rather than the accomplishments I have made in my own life.   Work in my daily life and thoughts shared here with you help me hone and refine my systems for deliberate living.

It’s important that we have role models and mentors, following the framework of those who we respect and value – but the idea is that we learn and adapt so that we ourselves can become the next generation of role models and mentors…it’s needed.

The content published here on this blog and via the email list over the past year and a half covered a wide range of topics. That was covered in detail last month in a blog post titled “Transition and Progress” – which you can read here.

The majority of the content created on the Deliberate Living Systems platform has been about taking active steps to live a more healthy, positive, and beneficial life. In large part, these topics covered four basic human needs:

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I am not interested in content specific to the green industry. I’ve struggled with explaining what Deliberate Living Systems images-11is to people. It’s been challenging to accurately describe the mission and and vision behind Deliberate Living Systems.

A company formed as a direct action of attempting to implement permaculture into my life and the lives of others, the mission and vision has been equally difficult to define. The content created has validated this statement…in the best way possible.

Looking back on the content that embraces the four basic human needs is a good start, but through direct action and deliberate living, we can do better. Expanding on the four basic human needs, we can read about the seven dimensions of wellness:

  • Social Wellness
  • Emotional Wellness
  • Spiritual Wellness
  • Environmental Wellness
  • Occupational Wellness
  • Intellectual Wellness
  • Physical Wellness

 

After much thought on the manner in which content has been created and delivered to you, I continue my efforts to ensure that it is done so in a way that is effectively read and processed, so that you can take away what is relevant for your own life.

At the end of the day, I enjoy sharing my life with you in this way and receive great joy when you share your journey with me. The community of like-minded people like us is growing. We are all taking active steps to deliberately improve our lives.

Blog posts will continue covering a wide variety of topics, but will focus on what I’ve identified as three primary components of a Deliberate Living System:

  • Seven Dimensions of Wellness
  • Permaculture
  • Entrepreneurship

Email format will continue being sent as “The Sunday Review” as it has been, but I will try to make a push in an attempt to get it back to a weekly email. Keeping the emails brief and to the point will be easier to create…and easier for you to read.

Please feel free to share this blog post with your friends and family via email or social media. The buttons below will hopefully make it easy for you to do so.

Also, please share your favorite blogs, books, podcasts, etc. in the comments below. I’m always curious so see what you’re reading. I love learning about what keeps your monkey mind entertained and all the various things that make YOU tick.

Many thanks and keep living deliberately.

 

The post THREE PRIMARY COMPONENTS OF A DELIBERATE LIVING SYSTEM appeared first on Deliberate Living Systems.

 

Rob Kaiser

Chronic Medical Conditions can be difficult to deal with.  A Harvard Health Publication article writes, "dealing with the pain and aggravation of a broken bone or burst appendix isn’t easy. But at least there’s an end in sight. Once the bone or belly heals, you’re pretty much back to normal. That’s not true for high blood pressure, heart failure, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, or other chronic conditions. With no “cure” in sight, they usually last a lifetime."  If this is the case, it is important to adjust and plan accordingly.

This article is intended for those interested in a different perspective on chronic conditions.  Much of this content will also be appealing to those interested in preparedness.  The preparedness mindset often has us living on purpose and with purpose.  More often than not, this causes us to live deliberately.  When we live deliberately, we maintain control over our lives. Frequently, these chronic conditions that ourselves or our loved ones suffer from make us feel as though we have no control over our lives whatsoever.  The control we can gain via deliberate living is incredibly liberating.

Not only is this control liberating, but it is also very possible - but we cannot do it alone.  For those who have a chronic medical condition or for those who have friends or family members with a chronic medical condition, we can benefit greatly if we allow others into our lives.  For various reasons, such as fear or pride, we may try to deal with these issues on our own.  While this may be possible, it is incredibly challenging.  We are all human and we have human imperfections but there can be strength in numbers.

While the support of friends and family is helpful, there are times where counseling could likely be of tremendous benefit as well.  I would imagine that working with a professional counselor could likely help find new and different ways to work towards acceptance of a chronic conditions. Working with others is great, but a counselor might help us find new tools to deal with the unique challenges presented to us on account of a chronic medical condition.

However, sometimes it takes a dramatic life event such as a hospitalization to facilitate such a change.  There are days where I wonder if this is the case for myself.  On October 1, 2013, I began to regain consciousness in the NeuroSciences Intensive Care Unit in a hospital located in Denver, CO.  Since then, my entire life has changed.  A close friend suggested, "make your mess your message" - and with that advice, I bring this article to you in an effort to share my experience with you and see the different messages we can take away from it.

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"Make your mess your message" resonated with me.  As I thought about what my friend had told me and prepared to write this article, I learned that this saying was coined by Robin Roberts.  Robin Roberts is the anchor of ABC's morning show Good Morning America.  She battled with breast cancer and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).  You can read more about her and her powerful story here.

While I don't have cancer or MDS, I do have a chronic neurological disorder known as Epilepsy.  I have had this condition for over 20 years, as I was first diagnosed in my early teens. As with many other chronic medical conditions, I was directed to see a specialist.  After trial and error, we found a medication that was most effective for the control of the seizures I experienced.  It is important to note that seizures are a symptom of epilepsy.  We will discuss this in greater detail later.

Once I became “stable” – I led a life not unlike most other teenagers in the suburbs in the 80’s and 90’s.  However, seeing as I had a chronic medical condition, my life was not like that of most other teenagers during that time.  In my particular case, epilepsy is not a debilitating condition.  Some doctors and nurses I have met drew parallels between the epilepsy I suffer from and Type 1 Diabetes.

Doctors typically suggest that we take medication regularly if we wish to experience minimal symptomsW_I_Page_01 of the condition.  While I cannot speak to what doctors suggest for conditions other than my own, I suspect that many people with chronic medical conditions have doctors that suggest they choose to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

Generally speaking, as long as people with epilepsy take our medication regularly and live a balanced lifestyle, we should experience good health.  I am in full agreement with this statement.  Each time I suffered a seizure, there were contributing factors that I could attribute to the cause of the seizure (forgetting medication, lack of sleep, low blood sugar, etc).  These contributing factors are simply patterns behind the symptoms of the chronic medical condition that factored into my life.  For years, I chose not to deal with and/or recognize the patterns that played a major role in my life.  We will discuss this in greater detail later.

During my teenage years and for the bulk of my adult life, I dealt with this disorder as little as possible.  As previously mentioned, I had to see a neurology specialist several times a year.  I did my best to take the medication to control the seizures, but often times simply “forgot” to take it.  Reflecting back on these times, I suppose the forgetfulness of it was part of the denial according to the Kübler-Ross model, or “the five stages of grief.”

Generally speaking, the Kübler-Ross model is a series of emotional stages that is associated with death and dying, hence the name of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross' book, “On Death and Dying” However, it is my opinion that chronic medical conditions can warrant extreme emotions and thus similar stages and emotions. The five stages of grief are as follows:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

Further reading on the Kübler-Ross model reveals that, “Denial is usually only a temporary defense for the individual. This feeling is generally replaced with heightened awareness of possessions and individuals that will be left behind after death. Denial can be conscious or unconscious refusal to accept facts, information, or the reality of the situation. Denial is a defense mechanism and some people can become locked in this stage.”

I was taking up hobbies that were not cheap and purchasing high-end equipment.  I sought thrills and adrenaline.  I would often times become interested in hobbies that would pique my interest enough to buy the new gear associated with them…only to quickly lose interest in them, moving on to something else that captured my attention.  It was as if the denial regarding my epilepsy was "...replaced with heightened awareness of possessions.”

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These behaviors put me into debt.  I didn't concern myself with the debt and really didn't think anything of it.  Growing up, the culture of debt and consumerism was as rampant as ever.  In college, it was simply more of the same.  Afterwards, I worked jobs that didn’t really pay well, but left me enough time to focus my attention on my newfound hobbies rather than the growth of my career.  Furthermore, I became quite the social butterfly and began attending lots of live concerts, parties with many late nights.

As I write this now and reflect back on my past, things begin to make a little bit more sense.  During my teenage years, I was angry because I didn't understand epilepsy.  In the same way, I suppose I also was in a state of denial because my condition "wasn't that bad."  This denial led to difficulty remembering to take my medication regularly.  Moreover, the challenges with accepting my epilepsy led to the accumulation of incredible personal debt and used frivolous spending in college and beyond to make myself “feel” some emotions that seemed to be lacking.  I lived far beyond my means and further went into debt.

The purpose of sharing the above information is that sometimes, when we are forced to deal with chronic medical conditions (or the reality of impending death or other extreme life circumstances), we may have a tendency to behave in a manner that is consistent with the Kübler-Ross model - at least, that appears to play into how it worked out in my own life.  As the years progressed and I matured, I took the necessary steps to deal with my life as it was.  The circumstances of my life included, but were not limited to, my medical condition.

As I began to accept my medical condition, I also began to understand that I don't have to let it define me.

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It is important to make the conscious decision to live life on purpose.  When we live deliberately, we maintain control over our lives.  When we maintain control over our own lives, we can experience increased peace of mind and many other benefits we may never have experienced before.  This is incredibly liberating.  This is also entirely possible...if you choose to live this way.

For those who have a chronic medical condition and/or family members with a chronic medical condition, I would suggest that you seek counseling in order to find ways to work towards acceptance with what it is that we are dealing with.  When we come to terms with what we must deal with, we can deal with it more effectively and efficiently.  We simply live life on                                                                              life's terms.

In the case of my own chronic medical condition, epilepsy, seizures are a symptom of epilepsy.  This is important because I take medication to treat the symptoms, rather than address the root cause of the condition itself.  While I am not suggesting that anyone should discontinue taking medication prescribed by their doctor, I am suggesting that we all begin looking beyond our doctors for treatments that include but are not limited to those that deal primarily with allopathic or traditional Western medicine.

Also, after having dealt with the condition for a substantial amount of time - I also grew to recognize, acknowledge and accept the patterns behind the symptoms of the condition that I have.  One of the best methods of treatment that I can engage in is very simple:  live a balanced lifestyle and life in a manner according to the patterns that one determines contributes to the negative aspects of one's lifestyle.  Ultimately, we do this through a consistent analysis of our lives in an effort to recognize the patterns, for better and for worse.

While these chronic conditions can be difficult to deal with and there may be no "cure" in sight, there are many different ways to view the conditions that we have or those that we love and care about have.  With a shift in perspective, we can gain the control we may have felt we never had.  We can experience freedom.  While these chronic conditions may last a lifetime, we can experience freedom for a lifetime as well...if you have the right perspective.

Rob Kaiser

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As we walk down the path towards individual freedom and liberty, it is critical that we take time to reflect not only on the successes we experience but the failures as well.  This process is not so much a focus on failure as it is recognition of the processes necessary to learn, adapt, and overcome.

A significant number of new business start-ups fail.  The Small Business Administration writes:  “Census data report that 69 percent of new employer establishments born to new firms in 2000 survived at least 2 years, and 51 percent survived 5 or more years.”  Eric Wagner, a contributor for Forbes magazine, writes that “…8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months.”

This article is not to debate the statistics of failure, but rather to focus on resilience.

Resilience-1-300x90.png.43a20f3964529fe8cc99bace6be21a20.pngBeing resilient is one of the most important qualities one can have, especially if you have chosen to walk the path towards individual freedom and liberty.  As a matter of fact, I believe that it is our inherent resilience that allows us to make the choice to walk this beautiful path.

With that said…why is it that so many people continue to conform to the restraints that society places upon us through various avenues such as the media, education system, political correctness, etc?

One of the primary reasons people continue to conform to these sets of standards is fear.  Our society has been conditioned to believe that it is not normal to think outside of the box.  We have been led to believe that living life a certain way is the desirable way to live.  More often than not, the way that we are living is not the way we truly wish to live.  At what point in your life did you reach this realization?

Moreover, when you finally did reach this realization – what did you do to change your reality?Resilience-3-300x225.jpg.653e8f1d6bcacb3af896dce7f489089d.jpg  I suspect that there are plenty of times where people reach this conclusion, but actually taking a step towards making a change can be terrifying.  We don’t know where to begin.  Furthermore, when we decide to take that first step…we often find ourselves walking on a road less traveled.

There comes a time, where we cross paths with another person who is actively changing their reality.
“Comes a time when the blind man takes your hand…Says, ‘Don't you see?’”

We begin to see.  We begin to wake up.  We begin to see that making that change is not only possible…but we begin to understand that making the change and experience the challenges that come along with living a life on these terms can be gratifying.  We regain our humanity.

 

Change is not easy, though.  For many of us, we’ve spent a lifetime developing habits.  We have developed behavior patterns over decades.  It is no small feat to begin re-patterning our behavior.  However, it can be done.  It all begins with the decision to act upon the thought that sometimes creeps in at the most unexpected times…yet never leaves once it enters your gray matter.  This very thought is what we ultimately desire to be.  These thoughts are resilient.

The last article I wrote for Brink of Freedom was titled, Growing and Cloning Blueberries 101, Part 2.   At the time I wrote this article, springtime was underway and my cloning experiment ultimately failed.  As a matter of fact, it was a colossal failure!  Looking back and reflecting on the cloning experiment back in May, there are a number of reasons why it wasn’t successful – none of which are really relevant at this point in time.  The important thing is that when I finally realized that the experiment was unsuccessful – I chalked it up as a learning experience and simply kept moving forward.

There were too many other things at stake for me to get hung up on one element of my life not working out the way in which I had hoped.  Failure is a critical part of success…though we have been led to believe differently.  As Pauline Estrem writes in an article titled, Why Failure Is Good for Success:

“Society doesn’t reward defeat, and you won’t find many failures documented in history books. The exceptions are those failures that become steppingstones to later success. Such is the case with Thomas Edison, whose most memorable invention was the light bulb, which purportedly took him 1,000 tries before he developed a successful prototype. ‘How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?’ a reporter asked.  ‘I didn’t fail 1,000 times,’ Edison responded. ‘The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.’”

The reality is that life is full of failure.  This isn’t an inherently negative observation…but it is realityResilience-4.jpg.b4105fd6f5585010320cc9febc51c47a.jpg.  If you read the statement “…life is full of failure” as a negative statement, this simply validates the observation that we have spent a lifetime developing behavior and thought patterns that encourage us to see this as a negative.  When we begin to reframe our reality and see it with a different perspective, we begin to see the truth that while reality is full of failure, reality is also full of success.  We also begin to experience more success when we realize that the resiliency of re-patterning.

My initial thought was to take the time and write about the various steps I have taken to re-pattern my life, but I have decided against it.  This article went down a path I did not expect it to when I began writing, which seems even more appropriate, given the content of the article.  However, I do want to stress that the change in our lives begins with the realization and understanding that resilience is key.

May we all begin to embrace the failures in life and view them as one of the thousands of steps towards success.  Let us understand that both our successes and failures will help us learn, adapt and overcome the challenges we all experience in life.  May we begin re-patterning our thought processes in order to reframe reality with the understanding that doing so will allow us to view life with a different perspective.  This will truly allow us to more effectively walk down the path towards individual freedom and liberty.

Rob Kaiser

In the previous article, we discussed USDA hardiness zones, frost dates, selection of plants with regard to early, mid, and late season harvest times.  We read about the various sizes of plants that one can purchase and begin growing.  Moreover, we touched on the importance of learning the history of the soil where we are growing our plants.  All of this is important to factor in when growing blueberries.

Again, I feel as though it is important to note that I’m not an expert in the propagation of blueberry bushes.  However, my professional background is in the field of horticulture.  During my studies in college, I remember that it took a significant amount of time to root woody cuttings (minimum 30-45 days, often 2-3 months).  Additional research and reading about taking cuttings of blueberries suggested  March / April as the proper time to take cuttings.

With that said, I decided to first take cuttings on March 22, approximately 8-9 weeks before the last frost.  That day, I decided to take cuttings from the canes that were being thinned out.  With each cane that was cut and “thinned” – cuttings were taken from the previous year’s growth.  From the plants that needed to have canes thinned out, I took cuttings from the plants that appeared healthiest at the time.

Not really thinking ahead and planning, I proceeded to take my cuttings on Saturday afternoon with the intent of “re-cutting and sticking” the cuttings on Sunday morning.  While in the field, I placed the cuttings in a plastic grocery bag and then placed it into the back of my Subaru overnight.  The temperatures dropped below freezing for a couple of hours and it is likely that the cuttings froze over night as well.  Whether this had anything to do with the success of the cuttings remains to be seen – however, it is worth mentioning and noting.

The following Sunday morning, about 18 hours after taking the cuttings, I began to “re-cut and stick” the cuttings.  For sticking the cuttings, I decided to mix perlite, peat moss and some seedling mix.  I was not very specific with the mix I created, but I would estimate I used about 40% perlite, 40% peat moss and 20% potting soil.

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I decided to mix up the soil in a clear Rubbermaid tote and then simply stick the cuttings in the tote.  The idea behind using the clear Rubbermaid tote was to create a greenhouse environment for the cuttings.

Below is a photo of the “final product” prior to actually sticking the cuttings.

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After I had my soil prepared, I gathered my cuttings, a sharp knife (I used a simple grafting knife, but any sharp pocket knife will do), some rooting compound (I used Bonide rooting powder, purchased at Home Depot) and a pencil for poking holes into the soil.

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The cuttings that I had taken were of varying size and lengths.  These cuttings were taken from the older canes that were being removed during the thinning process.  In order to record which bushes the cuttings were taken from, each plant where cuttings were selected from the thinned canes had white flagging tape tied to it.  I decided to make my cuttings a more uniform length.  I also decided to try varying lengths of cuttings.

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Most of the cuttings I took were taken as “straight” cuttings, but some of them were also taken as what is known as “mallet” and “heel” cuttings.  Mallet and heel cuttings are used for plants that might otherwise be more difficult to root. For the heel cutting, a small section of older wood is included at the base of the cutting. For the mallet cutting, an entire section of older stem wood is included.

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Straight, Heel, and Mallet Cuts

Regardless of what types of cuttings you take, cuttings should generally consist of the past season’s growth.  It is recommended that you avoid taking cuttings from plant material with flower buds, if possible.  Typically, you want to remove any flowers and flower buds when preparing cuttings so the cutting’s energy can be used in producing new roots rather than flowers. Take cuttings from healthy, disease-free plants, preferably from the upper part of the plant.

After pruning my cuttings to a desirable length, I used the grafting knife to make a new, fresh, cut at an angle.  Since these cuttings were from the previous day, I wanted a clean cut.  Also, a sharp and thin blade would allow maximum exposure of the cambium and “green” wood prior to dipping into rooting compound.

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At this point, I simply stuck the cuttings in the Rubbermaid tote.  I didn’t really use any rhyme or reason when I stuck them in the tote, I just did it.  My big pile of cuttings didn’t really amount to much and I was only able to fill up half of the Rubbermaid tote.

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At this point, I kept the plants covered in the Rubbermaid tote with the lid on them.  The plants were initially kept indoors for about three days, where they began to quickly bud out during the higher temperatures.  I decided that the quick budding of the plants was something that I probably didn’t want, so I moved them to the mud room– which was probably in the 60s during the day and in the 40s at night, receiving indirect lighting through a window.  Periodically, I would mist the plants with a spray bottle to make sure that the buds stayed tender and moist.  For the next two weeks, that is about all that I did.  After two weeks, the plants looked like this:

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It was at this point where I took another batch of cuttings.  The first cuttings were taken from the canes that were being thinned out.  This time around, cuttings were taken from the healthiest plants.  On each plant, especially the healthy plants, there was typically several shoots that grew rapidly, far above the rest of the plant.  In the past, we would prune branches like this and “shape” the plant.  In the nursery industry, this process is sometimes called “heading back.”  This process removes the terminal bud and encourages growth and development of secondary buds, resulting in a fuller plant.  It was typical to receive multiple cuttings from one pruning cut to the plant in the ground.

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One other thing worth noting in the photo above is the praying mantis egg casing.  Over the past 5 years, since we have stopped the industrial farming of grain (rotational corn, beans, wheat), we have seen a tremendous increase in the insect and earthworm population.  This is an indicator of the overall health and healing of the landscape through the planting of diverse food crops.

Once the cuttings had been taken, I did not wait 24 hours, like I did the first time.  I immediately returned home to make the cuttings a consistent length.  Like the first time, I used the grafting knife to make a new, fresh, cut at an angle to allow maximum exposure of the cambium and “green” wood prior to dipping into rooting compound.

After dipping in the rooting compound, I stuck several cuttings into a second Rubbermaid tote, but this time around I stuck 4-5 cuttings closer together.  The thought behind doing so was that as I “root pruned” the cuttings inside this second Rubbermaid tote, I would basically root prune each grouping of cuttings, effectively creating small “mini-plants” that would already have 4-5 canes to grow out.

Moreover, I wasn’t expecting 100% of the cuttings to take, and if I grouped my cuttings together in a cluster of 4-5, the likelihood of each grouping having several cuttings that took seemed higher, ultimately increasing the success rate of the cuttings taken during the second round.  Below is a photo of how I arranged the clusters of cuttings in the second Rubbermaid tote used:

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And finally, once all cuttings were taken, the Rubbermaid tote was sealed for about a week and a half.

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What has taken place during that time?

Stay tuned.

(What initially began as a two-part piece is becoming a longer series.   Thanks for reading and sticking with me during my experiment in cloning blueberries.  Please leave comments and questions below and I’ll do my best to answer them for you.)

Rob Kaiser

1-1248158243hym9.thumb.jpg.1395fa3f631e35d01bac7c41af41931b.jpgThis 2 part series of articles will cover our experience with the selection, cultivation and cloning of blueberry plants.  I would like to mention that I am no expert in the growth and cultivation of plants.  This is the first time I have ever attempted blueberry cloning.  At the time of my writing this article, I have taken cutting on two separate occasions and am documenting the process in an effort to share the experience with others and to learn from it and improve next year. When I first began reading about cloning blueberries, the multiple articles I read mentioned taking cuttings in the spring.  I live in Northeast Ohio – USDA Zone 6a.  Blueberries are hardy here in this part of the country and part of the reason we are growing them.  You can find more information about your hardiness zone and frost dates here:

 

USDA hardiness zones make a good baseline for learning about plants, but each property has its own set of variables which can greatly impact the hardiness of plants either way.  We can also create microclimates in order to facilitate the growth and development of plants that “aren’t hardy.”  We’ll discuss this more in future articles that are focused on permaculture design systems. In addition to hardiness zones, I feel it’s important to learn about the first frost in your area.  According to research I did, I’ve found that the average last frost in the area I live is about mid-May.  Paying attention to the first frost dates can help you get a better understanding of “spring” and how this fits into the time frame for taking cuttings in your area.  More information about frost dates can be found here:

USDA hardiness zones and frost dates are a great start to gaining a better understanding of your particular area.  With all that said, let’s get back to blueberries.  If you’re buying blueberries, you will find them available in one gallon, three gallon, five gallon or even seven gallon containers.  Plants are also sold bare root or as balled and burlapped shrubs. In 2010, we planted approximately 100 blueberry plants.  We bought them as “two-year” plants in a one gallon container.  We planted three different varieties:  ‘Eliot,’ ‘Patriot,’ and ‘Blue Crop.’  All three links to the varieties we use are from Stark Bro’s Nursery.  They have been a great source for quality information and quality plant material for many years.  I would recommend using their site as a resource for reliable information. We decided on these three varieties due to the time of the expected harvest.  ‘Patriot’ ripened in the early season, ‘Eliot’ was a mid-season blueberry, and ‘Blue Crop’ ripened mid/late season.   The idea was for an extended harvest season.  The plants have been improving proportionally to the soil improvement and, accordingly, we are producing more abundant harvests each subsequent year. Over the past few years, some plants have performed much better than the others.  Certain plants of each variety have performed better than others.  Moreover, certain varieties seem to be performing better than others.  For example:  throughout our rows, it appears as though the variety ‘Blue Crop’ is performing better than the ‘Eliot’ and ‘Patriot’ varieties. In the photo below, you can see the past four seasons of growth on this plant.  This is an example of a healthy ‘Blue Crop’ with other weaker performing varieties in the background, towards the top right of the photo.   The baseball cap is there for scale. 2013-10-30 16.54.52 This plant has been in the ground four growing seasons.  Purchased as a “two-year” plant in a one gallon container – this plant is approximately 6 years old.   What was planted as a 1-gallon plant could likely be sold in the retail market for approximately a 30-36” Blue Crop Blueberry for $40-50, depending on where you live in the country.   That seems like a fair return on investment. In the past, this area was traditionally farmed in grain.  Years of rotational plantings of corn, beans and wheat has taken their toll on the soil.  Obviously, under better growing conditions (healthy soil) – the plants would be healthier and have grown even better, but growing in less than ideal conditions demonstrates the resiliency of the blueberry plant as a species.   When we first planted them, we dug large holes and backfilled the compacted clay soil with peat moss.  Over the past few years, the moisture of the plants was closely monitored and they were fertilized with Holly-Tone each spring.  Holly-Tone is a product made by the Espoma Company.  I have used Espoma products in the landscape for 15 years.  Many of their products are organic and compliment organic methods of gardening quite well. 3 years ago, we began the process of pruning the plants and thinning the canes each spring.  This idea behind this was to maximize fruit production on the selected canes.  This year is no different, but since I have moved back home to directly help my parents manage the fledgling farm, I decided that, in addition to the annual thinning and pruning, I would make an attempt at taking cuttings and propagating plants.

2014-04-06 18.35.19 The original cuttings were taken on March 23, almost one month before writing this article.  The second round of cuttings was taken two weeks after, on April 6.  Photo documentation and a detailed write up of the actual cloning process will take place in the next article.  Stay tuned.

Rob Kaiser

Almost three months ago, I wrote an article entitled: Chronic Medical Conditions and a Shift in Perspective (Part 1).   The original thought upon writing the article was that I would be able to use my own experience with a chronic medical condition to write a short series of articles that could potentially provide people with some guidelines and suggestions towards finding effective solutions to dealing with the challenges that life can sometimes throw our way.   This article represents Part 2 of that series and a return from a medical leave of absence from Brink of Freedom.

I am hoping that sharing my experience, strength, and hope through this medium will assist people with overcoming any adversity that they deal with.  It is my opinion that, whether or not we deal with chronic medical conditions, we all have to deal with adversity.  We all have issues that we deal with.  We all have baggage from our past.  What defines us is the manner in which we deal with that baggage.  More often than not, a simple shift in perspective is what can allow that to happen.  With that said, I decided to rename this series of articles “*Life* and a Shift in Perspective.”

Part 1 of this series touched on several key points.  The most important point is what I like to call “deliberate living.”  Living deliberately is a concept I have written about at great lengths elsewhere – but for the sake of the article, we can simply say that “deliberate living” can be defined as living on purpose and with purpose.  In Part 1, we read that “deliberate living” can help us regain control in our lives.

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When we regain control of our lives, we feel empowered.  Often times, we feel as though we’ve lost control.  Regardless of the circumstances behind the apparent loss of control, the feeling accompanying it is awful.  If we are not careful, those feelings can become overwhelming.  Sometimes, the overwhelming feelings that can accompany the adversity that life can present us with can be too much, unless we are work towards equipping ourselves with the tools and skills necessary to deal with that adversity accordingly.  Learning this is one more part towards regaining control.

We also discussed the concept of “making your mess your message” in Part 1.  Personally, I believe that this is important to remember because, when we turn our challenges into our message and communicate that message to others, we frequently learn that our challenges are often miniscule compared to the challenges that others around us deal with regularly.  For example, for the month following Part 1 of the article, I spent a considerable amount of time reading about Epilepsy.  I shared much of what I learned in an effort to raise awareness about the condition.  My involvement in several forums gave me an opportunity to share my own life experiences with people who were just beginning to experience similar things for themselves.

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Some of the people I encountered suffered from epilepsy differently than I did.  Their seizures were of a different type or their seizures were more or less frequent.  The differences between our chronic conditions were less relevant than the commonalities we shared.  The bottom line is that the conditions caused adversity in our lives.  By “making our mess our message” and communicating among ourselves about our conditions – we were all able to discuss the individual things that we do to deal with all of this in a healthy, positive, and beneficial manner.

We also discussed the benefits of a healthy and balanced lifestyle in Part 1.  Over the past few months, I found that it can be very challenging to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle during times of adversity and stress.  While I didn’t touch on the specifics of what I was dealing with in the last article, it is important to provide a little back story.  In late September 2013, I went on a 5 day camping trip in the Utah backcountry with one of my best friends.

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Upon our return to civilization, I suffered from some “breakthrough” seizures and was taken to the emergency room at a Denver hospital.  The seizures were intense enough that I entered into a life-threatening condition called status epilepticus , in which the brain is in a state of persistent seizure.  I was sedated, placed on a ventilator and subsequently admitted into the hospital.  I spent several days in the Neurological Intensive Care Unit.

My life was immediately turned upside down because of the series of events that took place late last year.  The healthy and balanced lifestyle that I was living was put on hold for a few months as I took the time to recover.  Moreover, I had to make arraignments to reclaim my possessions that were scattered throughout three different states.  Ultimately, I ended up losing my job on account of the disability that I suffered from.  Compound all of the stress along with the holidays and the food – drifting away from “healthy and balanced” can take place in a short amount of time.  The important thing is recognizing and accepting this.

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When we have accepted that we have gone “off course” - we are better able to put together and ultimately execute an action plan to get back on the right track.   Acceptance of what is taking place is the fifth stage of grief in the Kübler-Ross model that we also discussed in Part 1.  We also discussed the culture of debt and consumerism in the first part of the series…initially as a coping mechanism – but it’s possibly worth mentioning again in Part 2 due to the expenses and bills incurred as part of the recent hospitalization.  What’s the best way to deal with all of this?

Ultimately, Part 1 of the series of articles focused on gaining control in one’s life and experiencing freedom.  It becomes easier to do this when we maintain the right perspective.  More often than not –this requires a shift in perspective.  Another prime example of a shift in perspective is this...during the past few months of trying to sort out my own life issues and challenges; I reconnected with an old college friend.

Unfortunately, our reconnection was due to the fact that his wife was dying.  She was a beautiful woman.  She had been battling cancer for several years.  Her family spent the holiday season preparing for her death.  Just a couple days after Christmas, she passed away at 34 years old.  She left her 36 year old husband and 6 year old son.  Witnessing this, I realized that, regardless of our own individual hardships, there is always someone else out there that is experiencing something a little bit more challenging and difficult than we are.  This is not meant to discount our own experiences…but the ability to recognize this is critical in order to be able to have the shift in perspective that was discussed in Part 1.

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To recap, “living deliberately,” making our mess our message, and striving towards a healthy and balanced lifestyle can ultimately help us gain control in our own life.  Gaining control helps us experience the freedom that so many of us long for.  More often than not, when we feel as though we are on the “Brink of Freedom” - it doesn’t take much to get us over the edge.  Sometimes, a simple shift in perspective is all we need to get us there.

Rob Kaiser

This article is the third of a series of articles entitled “A Shift in Perspective.”

This series of articles began in November with an article titled, “Chronic Medical Conditions and a Shift in Perspective (Part 1).”  At that time, I was trying to process and deal with the results of having spent a week in intensive care less than two months prior.  My initial thought was that writing about the series of events that occurred in my own life would be a good way to help others deal with similar life issues.  The reality is that writing this article better helped me cope with the challenges I faced with the very struggles I was facing at the time.

Without going into great detail, I realized that writing that article took time.  It was challenging for me to write.  There was an incredible amount of change taking place and the time and energy it took to write that article was considerable – though it didn’t really seem like it at the time.  At that time, I was on a medical leave of absence from work.

After much thought and reflection, I decided to take a medical “leave of absence” as a columnist for Brink of Freedom as well.  This was a difficult decision to make, as I made a commitment to Josiah Wallingford and all those involved with The Brink of Freedom – especially the readers.  I didn’t want to come across as a flake or someone who didn’t hold true to their word.

Josiah assured me that all was well and that my personal health and well-being was of the utmost importance and that I should take as much time as necessary to make the necessary recovery.  I am glad I took the time to do so.  Taking those three months to regroup and get my life back on track was likely one of the smartest decisions I could have made.  It helped to “put things into perspective.”

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In March of 2014, I returned to writing with an article titled “*Life* and a Shift in Perspective (Part 2).”  Part 1 of the series dealt specifically with chronic medical conditions and how they impact life.  Part 2 of the series focused on adversity in general and how we can overcome that adversity in our lives.  Whether it is a chronic medical condition, physical ailments, unhealthy relationships, financial burdens – the bottom line is that we all experience some sort of adversity in life that we wish to overcome…thus the change of the name of the series to “*Life* and a Shift in Perspective (Part 2).”

In this article, we discussed “living deliberately,” making our mess our message, and striving towards a healthy and balanced lifestyle, in order to help us gain control in our own life.  We read that when we gain control, we become better able to experience the freedom that so many of us long for.  Personally, I came to realize that, more often than not, a simple shift in perspective is all we need to get us on the road to freedom.  Thus…the final article of a three part series will be titled:  “A Shift in Perspective.”

In Part 1 of the series, we read about the Kübler-Ross model.  We learned that, the Kübler-Ross model is a written description of a series of emotional stages that is associated with death and dying.  Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ book, “On Death and Dying” covers what she calls the “five stages of grief.”

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

I’d like to add to this with a sixth and final step:  ACTION.

It is important to recognize and understand that these 5 stages of grief do not happen chronologically.  Like life, we experience these different emotional stages in cycles.  Like perennial plants, there is a cycle where the emotions grow and “blossom” – so to speak.  As the seasons continue, our emotional cycle bears fruit.  Sometimes this fruit is beautiful and delicious, other times…it is not.  While it is important to experience the emotions we have, we cannot allow our decisions to be based on emotion.

When we acknowledge each stage that Elizabeth Kübler-Ross talks about and learn more about this model, we also begin to realize that this model does not simply apply to death and dying, but it often times applies to all stressful situations to one degree or another.  Let’s refer to this stress “adversity.”

When encounter adversity, it often seems to happen at the most inopportune times.  When we are running late, we often times lose our keys or lock them inside the car.  Sometimes we let one of our bills lapse and we get dinged with a finance charge.  Sometimes we leave something in the oven too long and they burn.  All too frequently, we seem to be less prepared to deal with adversity than we wish we were.

Prepared Not Unprepared

This is a harsh reality to accept.  However, like the Kübler-Ross model, acceptance is the fifth step of the grieving process that we often go through when dealing with adversity on many different levels.  The first step in moving forward after the grieving process is action.  But…how exactly do we do this?

A friend of mine, Linda Andres, wrote this about taking action:  “Action is something that is taken all the way through the process [of grieving], even if that action is authentically accepting your tears or openly asking your questions, or finding a way to diffuse your anger in positive ways.  But it has to be more than a word to the person grieving.  The word needs to also be around the edges.  It just might mean someone else will step up to the plate and help with some of the smaller tasks during the grieving or healing process.  I think we short change the process when we key so much into motivating the action of the person in grief that we forget about motivating the action of those who surround that person.”

For me…learning how to take action after all of this was a seemingly slow and laborious process.  Prior to ending up in intensive care, approximately six months ago today, I had a very detailed plan in place with regard to my life, the direction I was headed and the time frame required for me to reach my short term goals.  Generally speaking, my life seemed to be “dialed-in” right before my visit to the hospital and a week in ICU.  Luckily, I have supportive family and friends that have helped me along the way.  Luckily, these friends and family helped me with “stepping up to the plate” the way Linda spoke about.

Over the past six months, I have dealt with a fair share of adversity.  I’m willing to bet that you’ve dealt with your fair share of adversity, as well.  If not within the last six months, then at some point in your life you have likely dealt with your share of adversity.  If you’ve been lucky enough to live life without a substantial amount of adversity, that is awesome!  However, not to sound like a negative Nancy or a Debbie downer, but Murphy’s Law dictates that the adversity is coming…it is important to prepare accordingly to best deal with it.

 

Slowly, but surely, we must continue putting one foot in front of the other.   We think about and repeat to ourselves all the silly clichés and quotes we have heard and read throughout the years.  For me, the most recent motivational and inspirational quote was spoken by Diego Footer during his introduction speech at the first annual Permaculture Voices Conference in March.  He said:

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase; you just have to take the first step.”

-- Diego Footer

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We’ve experienced the five stages of grief.  We’ve learned that, regardless of how we plan and how we prepare…life is meant to be lived on life’s terms.  We’ve learned that, regardless of the situation behind the adversity, we all deal with it and we can all learn from each other and how we choose to deal with it.  We’ve learned that a shift in perspective is essential to effectively dealing with this adversity.  This shift in perspective allows us to better observe the ebb and flow of how our plans change…because no matter how well we plan, there are only *two* absolutes in life:  death and taxes.  Change occurs in life.

Sometimes the change can be overwhelming.  When this happens, it is important to remember Diego’s words…and take the first step.  Sometimes this step is reaching out and asking for help.  This could be to a close friend, family member, pastor or counselor.  If you haven’t asked for help and you find someone offering it to you…accept their help.  Often times this is the best action we can take when faced with adversity.  More will be revealed once we begin to take action.

We will see that once we become receptive and welcoming to the change, we will begin to see the seeds of opportunity that lie within.  These seeds of opportunity within the change end up growing into what nourishes our minds, ultimately allowing us to overcome the fear associated with making the change.  This desire to make the change – or more specifically, the action required to initiate the change - becomes the driving force behind how we choose to live our lives.  We become the change we wish to see in the world.

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Stay tuned.

Rob Kaiser

Physical Fitness 101

101.jpg.911ea5617273ae06e6e2a208005dcb5f.jpgYou wish you were in better shape...but you don't know where to start.

You've been thinking about getting healthy for a long time now.  You may have even started a workout regimen once or twice over the past few years...only to have given up on it days or weeks later.  Perhaps you got off to a good start - but something happened.  You couldn't stick with it.  Does this sound familiar?  I know it does, because for years, I went through the same cyclical routine.  I'd get bitten by the fitness bug...work out for several weeks and then stop.

During these years, my weight fluctuated - but regardless of the shifts that occurred, I was still obese.  I would get to working out and I would drop a few pounds, begin experiencing the satisfaction of success and then...BOOM... I would "hit the wall."  It never failed.  I would continue on this path of health and well being for several weeks at a time; but each time I started with the workouts again, it was almost impossible for me to continue.  I grew incredibly frustrated.

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During this time, I chalked up my inability to maintain a workout regimen to "getting old" and the stresses of a "real job."  Never mind the fact that during these times, I still smoked cigarettes (one pack per day -> one carton per week).  Moreover, my diet was awful - full of processed foods and fast foods.  On top of everything else, I drank heavily and often relied on pharmaceutical-grade sleeping pills to get a good night's sleep.  After a while, I grew sick and tired of being sick and tired.

After several years of a maintaining a lifestyle like this in a job where I was overworked and underpaid, I experienced some fairly significant life events that allowed me to make a lateral move in the company I worked for.  The change in life events and employment would act as the catalyst behind one of the most significant times of my life...the beginning of a middle-aged man on a journey towards increased health and well-being.

The steps I took on this journey were very simple.  It is important to note that my journey to increased health and well-being DID NOT begin with physical fitness.  My journey began with my own personal physical health.  The fitness aspect of the journey came later.  First and foremost - I quit smoking.  I quit by using electronic cigarettes and the patch.  Most importantly, I had the desire to quit.  I finally reached the point where the desire to not smoke became greater than the desire to continue smoking.  This is when I was able to quit.

After I quit smoking, I made a point to change my eating habits.  Rather than try to eat "healthy" foods - I just made a point to begin buying food that was minimally processed.  In large, I found myself shopping on the "outside" of the grocery store and walking down the isles less frequently.  Most of the food I ate was raw and/or not processed.

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After a while, some of my friends who were into CrossFit and other exercise programs began talking about the "paleo" diet to me.  As I began to talk with friends and research this on my own, I realized that while I wasn't 100% paleo (I still liked to eat certain foods considered off-limits for most hard-core paleo folks), my diet was more in like with that which could be considered "primal."  The reality is that there truly isn't much variance in these diet choices, but the "primal" appealed to me more than the "paleo."  Generally speaking, I think if you were to embrace the concepts of either one, you would be on to the right track.

In addition to dietary changes, I began learning about vitamin and mineral supplementation.  For reasons that are beyond what I can elaborate on within this article, the addition of a good vitamin and mineral supplement to my diet was one of the things that really kicked the healthy living into high gear.  The objective here isn't to sell you on any particular brand, but I would suggest trying the Source of Life, Youngevity or even the Vitacost brand of vitamins and mineral supplements.  Personally, I prefer liquid form over pills.

Also, talk with friends and family who you trust, admire and respect.  Ultimately, keep trying and sampling different types and brands of products.  It is important to keep track of how these products make you feel and stick with the ones that work best for your body and the types of activities you are involved in.  However, first and foremost, focus on your diet.  Second, begin consistently taking a good vitamin and mineral supplement.  Begin an exercise program very slowly and consult with your physician before doing so.

motivationFor me, I began with a simple "Couch to 5k" training program.  Tools such as RunKeeper and MapMyRun can also be helpful.  Better yet, find a training partner!  While attending some meetup groups, I made a friend who was willing to train with me.  We agreed to work up to a 10k at first.  Once running that, we began training for a 1/2 marathon.  Upon successfully completing that, we ran a full marathon!  Having a partner is a great idea because it's much easier to stay motivated with a partner.

The bottom line is the belief that YOU CAN DO IT!  The belief and understanding that you can do anything that you set your mind to is paramount to your success on the road to increased health and wellness.  Surround yourself with positive people and it is only a matter of time before you begin exceeding your own expectations.  Thank you for reading this article and best of luck as you begin your own journey.

Rob Kaiser

health_wellness1.jpg.6f5bbd1a37b0c24c57fd44756d4a3414.jpgPreviously - I wrote about the importance of finding balance in life.

With all the stresses in our personal, professional and family lives, it is often difficult to maintain this balance.  Let's face it, life can be tough sometimes!  Often times, the mundane tasks of our daily lives are enough of a struggle.

All too often, we find ourselves bending over backwards in an attempt to please people in our family, our places of employment, our friends, and those in the communities we are involved in.  Regardless of the root cause of our stresses, these struggles take a toll on us.  Living life on life's terms pulls us in so many directions and it can be so challenging that we end up making sacrifices in one area for the benefit of another.

In the past, many areas of my life were sacrificed as I spent time preoccupied with climbing the corporate ladder.  I was so determined to grow my career that I lost focus on almost everything else.  Regardless of what was failing in my life, I always found something (or someone) to blame.

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Several years ago, I reached a breaking point with my health.  There were several contributing factors in life that made me reevaluate the status of my health and well-being.  After a routine physical with the doctor, several suggestions were made.   They were they typical suggestions you would expect from a doctor:

The new relationship helped me understand that it was necessary to find balance not only in relationships but in all aspects of life.  As I moved away from my family, I realized how important they were to me.  I began to realize that my career, while important – did not dominate my life in the way that I once thought it had.  I also began to realize that the more I learned about myself, the more I remembered how important spirituality was to me.  My love life was a no brainer, that was the big driver behind the realization of all these other things.  Trying to form a new community was important to me and ultimately I was taking strides towards improving my health and well-being.  I had quit smoking cigarettes soon after the wedding in September and by the time I arrived in California – I was a non-smoker!

While 2010 may have been the culmination of stress in my life to date…the year 2011 was the year I began to understand the importance of balance in life.  As we continue this journey together, you will learn much about the transitions that have taken place in my life as I struggle to find that balance.  My journey to find balance includes stories about health and wellnesshomesteadingoutdoor activities, and politics and economics.  The tactical and firearms element will be the least of what I can contribute to this website, but based on what I have seen thus far, there are several columnists and contributors who specialize in this arena and are much better suited to speak about these topics.  I hope to learn from them and increase my knowledge and skill set accordingly.

It is my hope that my life experiences to date, and the way in which I choose to share them with you all here, will be of benefit to you that read these blog posts.  I am humbled and grateful to have the opportunity to share my life with you and I look forward to the path that we will all walk together as we grow and develop the relationships and our community here on The Brink of Freedom.

 

Rob Kaiser

images11.jpg.e9712f6744275df2eec05f421d09a924.jpgThis past weekend, I walked into a Verizon store and asked to downgrade from my smartphone to a “basic” phone with a simple talk & text plan.  Why the sudden desire to make this drastic transition?  First and foremost, I have debt.  I am in my mid-30’s and I am still in debt.

We live in a nation of debt.  We are slaves to the lender and we grow progressively more reliant on other people and systems that are becoming increasingly less sustainable.  I challenge you to disagree.

If we were to engage each other in discussion about the sad state of affairs our country is in, one thing that we would likely disagree on is the cause of the problem.  Most people continue to argue on the cause of the problem and who is to blame.  We spend so much time bickering with one another that we fail to realize our cities are going bankrupt until those cities have reached the point of no return.

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This Map Shows How Municipal Bankruptcy Has Torn Through The US

We have been conditioned to look to the same systems that helped create the problem in the first place to provide the solution.  While I understand that many of these government programs have the right intentions, I’m quite certain that there is a reason the old aphorism exists about the road to hell and what it is paved with.  Rather than focus on the solutions we focus on the problems.

As Tyler Durden proclaims: "Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won't. We're slowly learning that fact..."

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Over the past few years, I engaged in a lifestyle that had me living out my own version of this story.  I slowly began passing through the various stages of awakening.  There are still days where I experience each and every one of these stages.  However, as time passes, the extent to which I experience the denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance become more tolerable.  It becomes more tolerable because there is only one person whom I have control over.  Myself.

When I began to accept this simple realization, I began to think differently.  Very quickly, I realized that action always beats intention.  I began taking active steps towards making a plan to live a different life.  I realized that none of this would take place very easily while I remained in debt.  As I continue paying down my debt, I realized that while I maintained this debt…I also maintained the luxury of connectivity.

Considering that I was just issued a smartphone for work in the form of a blackberry.  If I really needed instant connectivity, the potential existed through that.  While it certainly did not have the form and function of my beloved iPhone, the need was not there.  I simply could not justify it any longer.  The reality was that was once a luxury item in our society has suddenly become so very common.

We live in a country where we are losing touch with our humanity.  America is one of the few countries where the majority of people that live in poverty are obese, yet nutritionally deficient.  Moreover, we live in a country where the majority of people in poverty not only have smartphones but also likely have a flat screen HDTV or access to one.  America isn't a country.  It was an idea.  We’ve lost our way.

After making these observations over the past few months and years, it finally dawned on me that I need to edward-norton-fight-club-movie-Favim.com-234043-animationstop complaining and start doing something about it…otherwise, I am no different than one of the very people that cause me to shake my head in disbelief.  It is time for me to get my act together financially and pay down my debt.  I will remain without a data plan until my financial goals are met.

Nothing will change until I change myself.  No one will change until I change myself.  There will be no one else to blame until I accept responsibility and begin creating the change that I wish to see in the world.  If you are receiving this transmission…YOU are the resistance.  Join us.  Stay tuned.

Rob Kaiser

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First and foremost, let me just say that I am not a nutritional expert.  I'm an average person that has spent the last several years of my life learning about health and wellness.  While I have a background in horticulture, much of my plant knowledge is based on old-school ornamental landscape plants.  My interest in organic plants began several years ago and really took off when my parents decided to make a lifestyle change in their 60's with the purchase of 20 acres in rural Ohio and a dream to start farming.

This transition that my parents made helped kick-start the interest in organic gardening that was already in its infancy at that time.  Prior to their move to become farmers, I was working as an apprentice at a local farm in North Carolina learning different organic farming methods.  By this time, organic foods had become mainstream enough that most of us have come to understand that McDonald's is bad and vegetables are good.  Moreover, organic vegetables were better.  This is *almost* common knowledge.  There is still much work to be done here.

However, those of us who are "in the know" also understand that while organic is good...local is better.  There's been a movement over the past few years to "think global and buy local."  If you were to make a trip to your local Whole Foods or specialty store and get chatty with one of the people buying organic vegetables, they would most certainly agree with you that organic is better than conventionally grown vegetables and that locally grown vegetables are better than organically grown vegetables (shipped in from somewhere).  While most of us can agree on these principles...I'd like to share with you my opinion on why this is - from a nutritional standpoint.

While organic vegetables are good due to the fact that no "chemicals" are used - the reality is that many organic farms are little more than large-scale farms that also are capable of depleting the soil of nutrients.  When this occurs, you can end up with a fruit or vegetable that looks good - but doesn't really have a substantial edge with regard to the nutritional value it provides.  When you buy local...especially from your farmer's markets - the likelihood of your fruits and vegetables having a greater nutritional value is much higher.

This is partially due to the fact that many small-scale farmers utilize farming practices that are considerably less detrimental to the soil.  More often than not, they are not using industrial farming equipment to cultivate and harvest their crops and the diversity of the varieties of plants grown are higher and, quite often, tailored to the area in which you are living; unless your farmers' market has farmers that are buying and shipping in produce from other parts of the state...which is increasingly a common practice.

So...while, "buy fresh, buy local" is better than "supermarket organic" - there is an even better way to approach your farmers' markets, if you have the time and feel so inclined.  When you purchase food from your local farmers - ask them if you can stop by their farm sometime and visit.  This is a great way to see the way your food is grown and gives you an opportunity to see the actual soil from where it comes from.

Often times, farmers welcome people to come over and visit their farm operations.  Sometimes, they have an "open door" policyKresistance and you can simply drop by any time, but other farmers prefer stopping by on certain days of the week due to family, work, or perhaps other obligations and/or legal reasons.  Be respectful of your farmer and the manner in which he or she operates the farm.

Be wary of the farmer who is not welcoming of people visiting their farm...chances are, there is a reason that they may not want you visiting their farm.  This is not necessarily an indicator of poor farming practices, but it could be.  For example, my parents don't subscribe to the "open door" policy of farming yet, because we are a new farm and still trying to "figure things out."  The reality is that we're learning and a little self-conscious of our mistakes.

The bottom line is that, chances are, food purchased from your local farmers' market has a higher nutritional value than organic food purchased at the supermarket.  Moreover, if you can visit your local farmer and take a tour of the farm where your food comes from, then you build a relationship with the one that grows your food.  Not only do you ensure that your food has good nutritional content as well - but you ensure that your life has good substance as well.  Good food from good communities.

Resistance is fertile.

Rob Kaiser

In my personal blog, I have written extensively about the changes I am making to the way I live my life.  Many of the changes that I have made and continue to make revolve around my journey to seek balance in my life.  

To make a long story short, several years ago, back in 2010, I was living a completely different lifestyle.  At that time, I was working 60+ hours a week on average and traveling extensively for work.  Living the life of a road warrior, I regularly ate fast food and at restaurants.  I drank and smoked heavily.  I was taking my employees and clients out regularly - because "that's what managers do." Without going into great detail, the year of 2010 was the first year of what would become an incredible transition in my life.  For the first time in years, I decided to use some of my vacation time.  In the past, I would collect it and simply cash out at the end of the year.  I was always "too busy" to take vacation.  There was work to be done and damn it - I was the man to do it!  However, several years of this hectic lifestyle had me feeling burnt out. Not only did I feel like I vacation.  There was work to be done and damn it - I was the man to do it!  However, several years of this hectic lifestyle had me feeling burnt out. Not only did I feel like I needed a vacation, but it was suggested that I take one.

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I scheduled some time off to visit with friends at an old-time music festival in June of 2010.  Later on that month was the bachelor party for one of my best friends, who was getting married later that year in September.  As I reconnected with old friends, I began to realize that there was more to life than climbing the corporate ladder and achieving what society deemed to be "success."  In my efforts to grow my career and "succeed" in life - I began to forget about certain aspects of my personal life.During the months of July and August, the stress of life and the work environment had gotten increasingly worse.  I decided to put in extra time to "make up" for the time I had previously taken off.  I also wanted to put in extra time to prepare for the upcoming long weekend for my best friend's wedding in September.on that month was the bachelor party for one of my best friends, who was getting married later that year in September.  As I reconnected with old friends, I began to realize that there was more to life than climbing the corporate ladder and achieving what society deemed to be "success."  In my efforts to grow my career and "succeed" in life - I began to forget about certain aspects of my personal life.During the months of July and August, the stress of life and the work environment had gotten increasingly worse.  I decided to put in extra time to "make up" for the time I had previously taken off.  I also wanted to put in extra time to prepare for the upcoming long weekend for my best friend's wedding in September.

This was the first time in my life I was involved in someone's wedding.  Again, I felt as though these moments were the special moments that were truly important in life.I began to recognize the importance and value of relationships in life.  While we always talked about the value of relationships at work and through our leadership training...it always seemed false.  The relationships we engaged in on that professional level were strategic and a means to an end.  Comparatively speaking, the relationships that I witnessed and built during that year in my personal life contributed to my realization that most of the relationships in my professional life were simply nothing more than a facade in an effort to improve and grow the "bottom line."

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The wedding weekend was the pivotal moment where I truly realized the importance and value of relationships in life. It was during this weekend where I watched one of my best friends transition into being a husband.  Moreover, I reconnected with an old friend from years past.  We both showed up at the wedding single without dates.  We split the cost of the rental car and the wedding gifts.  We also spent a considerable amount of time together learning about each other and the direction our lives had taken us over the past 10 years.  We began forming a relationship of our own during that weekend.As this relationship continued to grow over the next few months, we began spending more and more time together and I began to realize that there was much more to life than the growth and development of my career.

I began to realize that the growth and development of my own life, and more specifically the relationships in my life, was considerably more rewarding than anything I'd ever experienced on the professional level.  It was remarkable. This initiated a number of significant life changes, ultimately beginning with the resignation of my current management position.During the past few years, I had worked hard, paid down my debt, and paid off my school loans.  Moreover, I had built up a fair amount of savings and, ironically enough, the savings that I had earned and built was just enough to fund a move across the country.  My girlfriend and I decided that in order to move forward with the growth and development of our relationship, it was beneficial to be with each other.

It made more sense for me to move, as the company I worked for had operations in Southern California (where she lived) and I would likely be able to make a lateral move out there and join our Western Operations.  This is precisely what I did in March of 2011.I share all this with you as the reader to encourage the importance of interpersonal relationships in all aspects of life.  Working to find the balance between relationships on the professional level and the personal level was something that I found myself trying to do.  Besides trying to grow and develop an intimate relationship on a personal level, I was trying to grow and develop new relationships on a professional level as well.  Moreover, I was trying to make friends and reach out in ways that I had previously failed to do.

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In the past, I was too preoccupied with climbing the corporate ladder and growing my career to focus on much of anything else.  The new relationship helped me understand that it was necessary to find balance not only in relationships but in all aspects of life.  As I moved away from my family, I realized how important they were to me.  I began to realize that my career, while important - did not dominate my life in the way that I once thought it had.I also began to realize that the more I learned about myself, the more I remembered how important spirituality was to me.  My love life was a no brainer, that was the big driver behind the realization of all these other things.  Trying to form a new community was important to me and ultimately I was taking strides towards improving my health and well-being.  I had quit smoking cigarettes soon after the wedding in September and by the time I arrived in California - I was a non-smoker!

While 2010 may have been the culmination of stress in my life to date...the year 2011 was the year I began to understand the importance of balance in life.As we continue this journey together, you will learn much about the transitions that have taken place in my life as I struggle to find that balance.  My journey to find balance includes stories about health and wellness, homesteading, outdoor activities, politics and economics.  The tactical and firearms element will be the least of what I can contribute to this website, but based on what I have seen thus far, there are several columnists and contributors who specialize in this arena and are much better suited to speak about these topics.  I hope to learn from them and increase my knowledge and skill set accordingly.

It is my hope that my life experiences to date and the way in which I choose to share them with you all here will be of benefit to you that read these blog posts.  I am humbled and grateful to have the opportunity to share my life with you and I look forward to the path that we will all walk together as we grow and develop the relationships and our community here on The Brink of Freedom.

Stay tuned.

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