My New Superpower!

For many years, my personal claim to superhero fame has been that I give off a ridiculous amount of body heat. Especially while sleeping. If you ever find yourself trapped on a mountain, or snow camping (voluntarily?), you’ll want me there as your own personal biological space heater. (Those of you who know me know that I’d have to be under duress or seriously bribed to be found sleeping outside in the snow.)

Like Rogue of the X-Men, my superpower is a double edged sword. As much heat as I give away, I keep none for myself. I am the champion of freezing my butt off while I keep my partner snuggly and warm.

But here in Denver, I have a new superpower! One that not only benefits my little family around me, but is actually useful to me as well!

The best part? This superpower is one that you can activate! But more on that later…

So what is this superpower, you ask? I can find anything in my apartment. The source of this power is simple: I packed my life into my Camry, to move my boyfriend, two cats and myself to Denver. Hard questions had to be asked: what do we need and what can we fit?

Somehow, we managed to pack everything we truly required, and still found room for some camping supplies and my electric guitar, both of which I was sure fell into the “there’s no room for that” category.

All this boils down to the fact that we did not bring all that much with us! And there is a direct correlation between how much schtuff you have and how easy it is to lose things.

And because I was pretty much the sole human responsible for making these decisions and packing the car (I mean, the cats helped a little), the reality is, if I don’t remember packing it, it didn’t get packed.

These days, if a question starts with, “Do you know where…” I can answer, “Yup! It’s right there!” It is enormously satisfying.

If you feel inspired to get rid of some of your “unnecessaries,” here are five things that might fuel your declutter fire.

Activate your Simplicity Superpower!

  1. Get rid of 5 things every day for 3 months! Big or small, innocent or insidious, let it go. This should be easy for the first couple weeks and get gradually harder. But seriously, let go.
  2. “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” This is true. I have found my very favorite sweater, my very favorite blouse and the only pare of jeans I have ever loved at a Goodwill. Thank you, whomever these items didn’t work for!
  3. Stuff that got tossed

    “Argh! Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!” Firefly

  4. Take a picture of it. Are you surrounded by precious, memory infused items that you cannot part with, but inevitably collect dust or are always in the way? Photograph it and save it digitally. It is the memory that is important to us, not the item itself.
  5. Be honest. Do you really think you’ll fit into that dress you rocked in high school? You don’t weigh 113 any more. It’s ok. Forgive yourself. And give it to a high schooler.
  6. Enlist an ally. This is huge. Other people do not care about your crap. Not even a little bit. Invite your most honest (and loving) friend over, put a glass of wine in her hand, and hold things up to her while she says, “keep” or “toss.” You’ll make some fast progress.

Spring cleaning season has passed, but autumn is the time for stripping away the things you don’t want to hibernate with this winter! (Physically and metaphorically!) This fall, get rid of the things that are no longer serving you.

Spend this winter feeling clean, and knowing where all of your stuff is!


I don’t see a problem with that (wherein our neighborhood bar is awesome)

There’s something about the interactions we have with strangers in Denver that’s hard to describe. It’s like whatever happens, it’ll inevitably be good.

For instance, this just happened: I walk around the block to our (awesome) neighborhood bar. (Best lamb burger I’ve ever had).

“Hey, I’ve got a weird request.”

That could mean anything, his eyes say. “What’s that?”

“Can you put on Fox Sports 1 at 8:00?”

“… Sure… Why, what’s on?”

“Timbers game. I’m from Portland.” I make a circular motion pointing at the dozen patrons scattered around the small place. “Nobody else here’ll be interested. Like at all.” I want him to know I feel silly asking, so I laugh.

“I don’t see a problem with that. ”


“Sure, man. Nobody else in here’s watching anything.”

“You’re awesome. Thanks!”

Finley’s in Wash Park is the place. (I’ve had like three lamb burgers in my life, ever. But believe me.)

Our Grand Nomadic Plan

A week and four days ago, Catherine and I vacated our apartment in Portland. We gave away or sold perhaps a tenth of our belongings, packed our most important things into the Camry, and put the rest in storage. (Thanks for the garage space, Moms and Dads!) Then we drove to Denver, Colorado, with our cats and our excitement.

We’ll be living in Denver for a total of two and a half months. It’s the first stop in what we expect will be a lifestyle of traveling around the world. Stay tuned for more on why specifically Denver, tomorrow.

The idea is novel, but pretty simple. When your work is Internet-based and not tied to a specific geographic place, you can work from anywhere that you have decent Internet bandwidth.

Now we are Digital Nomads

By choosing to live simply and carefully managing our finances, we can trade having lots of things for having lots of new experiences, without a significant change in our income.

We can rent cozy, fully-furnished homes anywhere in the world on flexible schedules, for about the same cost as rent and utilities in a traditional long term lease. It’s all made possible by Internet-based services. Airbnb connects us with new landlords. Directories like Yelp crowdsource local knowledge to help us find great places to eat, and attractions to visit.

This is not a vacation. We aren’t spending money we have saved up to adventure full time for several days, before heading back to the grind. We continue working full time to sustain our income, even as we travel. This lets us travel more often, enjoy local experiences during nights and weekends, and continue advancing our businesses and careers simultaneously.

This translates to living more simply (in some ways), being more mobile, seeing more places, and having more adventures. It’s a bit like retirement, without stopping work.

Itching to Travel

When we met two years ago, we were both interested in seeing the world. We shared a passion to make this happen for ourselves somehow, some way, and sooner than later.

Catherine felt she’d missed out by not studying abroad during college. She’s been wanting to try living anywhere outside of Oregon for years. She misses the sunshine something fierce during Portland winters, and would like to reconnect with her childhood home state of California. She also wants to see the country, and spend time in Europe, Southeast Asia, Latin America … name an interesting place, and she’s probably up for it.

And I craved the full time globetrotting-while-working lifestyle. I was introduced to the idea by colleagues in the WordPress field, where it is fairly common for teams to work remotely spread across the globe, and meet up a few times a year for workcations in far-flung places, to see the sights and collaborate on work projects in person. This has always appealed to me, because my idea of vacation includes work. Leisure quickly bores me. I want to chew on stimulating problems with a beautiful view by day, and to play hard with great food and friends in novel places at night.

Getting ready for this

So together in the last 18 months, we’ve read books and blog posts from people living the wandering life. They’ve paved the way for us with inspiration and insights.

We’ve learned about traveling light. (We have more of that to learn.) Catherine has mastered credit card mileage rewards like a boss. We’re working on building “passive income” (misnomer alert!) businesses. We’ve learned to make mail forwarding sane despite moving frequently. We’ve socked away some dollars in a safety fund.

Here goes!

Catherine and Matthew on a Seattle water taxi

Pandas. On a boat! In Seattle. Not quite as baffled as we look.

Travel Diary: Portland to Denver, Day 2


Yesterday: Portland to Denver, Day 1
From our Hotel at 9:00am, and drove around downtown Salt Lake City until we got a glimpse of the LDS temple. We decided that we are more impressed by the majesty of the Lake Oswego temple, but it was pretty.

Stopped: At a Starbucks at about 9:50am
Stopped: At In & Out for breakfast at 10:30am
Arrived: Our new home in Denver, 7:30pm


$3 at Starbucks
$54 on fuel (1 stop)
$68 on food (2 meals including a celebratory dinner, with drinks)
$125 total


It’s 9:50 and we are killing time in Provo. With two less-than-happy-cats in the car and 8 hours of driving ahead of us, you may ask, “Why on earth are you stalling in Provo??” I’ll tell you why…

Matthew has a bit of an In-N-Out Burger addiction.

When we spotted an In-N-Out from the freeway last night, Matthew almost had a conniption fit, and I thought he might try to drive across the freeway median to get there, but we still had a ways to go to get to our hotel and I wanted to get settled before getting dinner. But how about In-N-Out for breakfast? Which turned out to be the best alternative to the Gluten Fest 2014 that was the “hot complementary breakfast” at our hotel. (A feast of pastry, bagel, waffles, biscuits and gravy and cold cereal. There wasn’t even fruit or yogurt. There was literally nothing Matthew could eat.)

But not to worry! Because we had In-N-Out in our pocket! Except it doesn’t open until 10:30…

Option 1: Drive on to Denver, getting breakfast somewhere else, forsaking our last opportunity for In-N-Out until the return drive.

Option 2: Kill 50 minutes in Provo until Matthew’s crack shack opens.

Matthew pointed those big, begging, blue eyes at me, and Option 1 disappeared. I never regret eating In-N-Out. It is simply the best fast food, ever.


12 hours later, we have arrived in Denver and are fed, watered and settling in with our cats who seem not to trust that we are actually staying here. (This being their 4th home in as many days, I can’t say I blame them.) Our drive into Denver was stunning.


The gloriously ironic thing: one big reason Matthew and I picked Denver was for the sunshine. And our first approach into the city was grey, overcast and drizzling.

Go figure.