— WordCamp Philly (@WordCampPhilly) October 17, 2017
My first time as a WordCamp speaker. Talk about exciting, and gut-wretchingly nerve racking all at the same time. I survived, thoroughly enjoyed it and can’t wait to do it again. So much so, I’ll have an opportunity to do so in just two weeks time at WordCamp Philly on Oct 28.
Social Media Shoutouts
— Matt Ryan (@MattRy) October 23, 2017
— WordPressTV (@WordPressTV) October 23, 2017
Slides from presentation:
— Matt Ryan (@MattRy) October 14, 2017
I recently had a request come into the support desk regarding adding blog post featured images to the RSS feed for a customer site. I was surprized to find that this was not something that was provided out of the box with a fresh WordPress install. I opened Encycloppedia Google to see what nuggets of kowledge I could find.
I came across a post from xxx, popped the two filters into the functions.php file and bang, there it was. Those glorius featured iamges proudly displaying themselves in the RSS fee, just waiting to be gobbled up by any feed reader out there.
I verified that all was working using a couple of online services, but the quickest way I found is to drop the fee URL into the Firefox browser address bar. Come to find out, Firefox has a nice feed reader built right into the browser.
Check it out with this site. Open Firefox and add mattryan.blog/feed into a new tab. Pretty cool, huh? It’s not going to win any design awards but for my purpose, and any time you need to get a quick read of an RSS feed try it out.
The game is over. Time to take a step back and see how it all turned out. (Actually, it ended August 31 and this post languished in my ‘drafts’ folder for a month! Stuff happens. We move on.)
First, I want to point out that the sheer act of removing almost 1000 “things” from your home in 31 days is liberating. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, it doesn’t result in a spartan residence. Instead it left me with a strong sense of accomplishment.
I set a goal to do this, with my wife, and we did it. We finished an entire month of the #MINSGAME. If you missed our startup of this little game, you can read all about it here.
Our Instagram feeds are now stuffed with pictures of stuff that we no longer have. Well, I need to be completely honest on that point. We do still have some of the stuff, however, its in a box or a pile that has to be transported to either the local Habitat For Humanity ReStore, or taken to our neighborhood Thrift Shop.
N.B. As of publication of this post, all of the stuff really has left our abode.
Someday I’ll include an inventory of what has moved on, but suffice it to say we have a lot less stuff that hasn’t been touched in 5+ years.
I say that the process left me with a sense of accomplishment. True, but during the month, I will say that I did experience periods of elevated stress. Primarily toward the later half of the month when each day meant identfying 20, 21, or even 25 separate things to get rid of. With two of us doing it we had to make sure we didn’t overlap.
And then the inevitable “You’re getting rid of that?!
I can use that for . . . <insert future potential project idea here>”.
We worked through it. Much of the give and take we’ve been practicing the last few years. If something new comes into the house, then the same number of somethings old must leave the house. So it went with our #minsgame items. If I longed for one of the items in Carol’s pile on any given day, I had to replace it with something from my pile, which means I then had to find something else to add to my pile.
Fair is fair – even in #minsgame.
The stress was mostly self imposed – after all, isn’t most stress self-imposed? – and a daily conversation with myself about purpose and goals helped me settle down and get back in the rhythm of decluttering.
It’s kind of ironic that I am nearing the end of a web development project for a client in NYC offering lifestyle coaching and personal decluttering. As I begin to add more of her actual content to the website, I find myself reading her words and getting caught up in the mindset of cleansing – not so much from a body perspective, but more from a personal environment point of view.
Experience a cleansing of your personal space and reduce the stress associated with too much stuff. After all, how many times do I need to walk past that laptop shipping box from 2010 sitting in my office before I just put it in the paper recycling bin. Too many times; but no more. It’s gone, and with it the daily “I really don’t need to keep that box, do I?” question. There, one extraneous bit of self-doubt and internal judgement gone. Thank you #minsgame #day25.
Truth be told, I would do it again. Probably wait until after the first of the year though; I have enough going on right now.
But . . . the Christmas season is approaching. Do you think there’s anything we can get rid of in 27 years of accumulated Christmas decorations 😉
No, not the Olympic Games. The Minimalist Games! A different type of game, where you win even if you don’t come in first.
The brainchild of The Minimalists – Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus – this exercise in jettisoning excess stuff is just what I need at this point in my quest for living a more meaningful and stress-free life. Carol and I are doing this together, so that means by the end of the month, together, we will have reduced our possessions by almost 1,000 items. *Show my work. That sounds incredible!
As I write this we are on day two of #MinsGame. Carol has already done away with her two items for today – a pair of unworn and forgotten shoes (not quite sure if that should count as one pair or two shoes, but I’m trying to check my severe anal-retentiveness at the door for this). We both did our due diligence yesterday, day 1.
If you are so inclined, follow along as we try to regularly record our progress on Instagram.
I have been dancing around the edges of a more simplistic lifestyle for a while now, partially out of necessity, but more out of a desire to better appreciate things around me. The book, Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown, which I first read back in early 2014, got me hooked on the path to create a lifestyle of intention, focus, and purpose; devoid of excessive noise, stress inducing clutter and disruptive distraction.
As a solopreneur, by definition I work by myself, and full expect to remain so. I do interact with clients via calls, both voice and video, and lots of email. Since my clients are global (yes, I can say that now), I don’t do much in the way of face to face meetings. Regular monthly WordPress and Computer Society meetups keep me in touch with the human side of being a remote website developer. Without commuting and less meetings there’s more time to spend in the office. I need to find ways to decompress when its time to move away from the keyboard.
My wife and I are empty-nesters, our youngest having moved out about 17 months ago, so simplifying things is high priority. I really want to be able to enjoy this new stage of life. Simple life, reduced stress, more quality time, time to learn new things – I think this is a good point to find these things.
We had a yard sale about a month ago. It was wildly successful and enabled us to stuff our “minimalism fund jar” with lots of cash (mostly $1s, but hey, every dollar counts). More importantly, we were able to move physical “stuff” out of our house and onto others who could love it and re-purpose it for a new use. I don’t want to fill up my local landfill with my past, but rather move it along its life-cycle.
Our stuff has had a purpose here, in our house, and now its time for a new purpose, with someone else.
Many of the books I’ve read and bloggers I follow talk about surrounding yourself only with things that bring you joy – whether they be new things, or well used things – they should make you happy to see them, or at the very least, not bring about pangs of “I need to do something with that thing”.
Reduce the clutter and reduce the stress. That’s our goal. By the end of this month, if all goes as planned and we fully participate in our 31-day #MinsGame, the clutter will be reduced by 992 clutter-contributors. I’ll be real happy with that.
Gotta start somewhere …
496 things * 2 people = 992 clutter causers => approx 1,000 items outta here!
I hit a milestone today. 400 meditation sessions using the Calm app on my iPhone. Not too bad if I do say. That’s over a period of about 20 months or so.
- More patience
- Less stress when confronted with, let’s say, life’s frequent challenges
- Greater sense of what’s going on around me
- Being aware of today; less consumed with tomorrow
These are all good things for me, my family, and my business.
Having the ability of being able to take a step back a bit and breathe usually allows me to insert just enough time between ‘hear’ and ‘react’. That can make all the difference. Not that I was a knee-jerk reactionist before, but as a small business owner I’ve learned that I need to put time between when I first learn of a situation and how I respond to it.
I’m a solo-preneur. I work alone. Many days I have no direct interaction with client and other human beings outside of email and online chats. [Yes, please pity my wife for she gets the brunt of my cooped up desire for person-to-person interaction when she gets home from work most days.] In that environment, I find myself slipping into too much of an inwardly focused reaction template. Meditation has helped me by looking into myself and seeing what is most important. I must be present to what I am exposed to, while at the same time being aware of what the other person is being exposed to.
Meditation is good for my business. Through meditation I have learned to step back, add space and better understand the how’s and why’s of the situation presented to me.
Clients come from every possible perspective, I can see that. I’ve not been in business all that long, but I’m seeing new things every day. It’s all in how I react, how I embrace their needs, and most importantly, how I respond to them.
The more empathy in my response, the more likely that everyone will see the interaction as a successful one. One in which everyone’s concerns are heard, and appropriately responded to. I think that is the crux of small business. Approaching each and every situation in a personal, human manner. Let go of the corporate image, the crafted branding. Respond humanly.
One of the suggestions offered during the guided meditation I use is to “…let outside thoughts float by like clouds in the sky…”.
I find this suggestion helpful throughout the day to stay focused on what is truly important. Try it. Meditation may be just what your business consultant forgot to tell you.
Photo Credit: Logan Gorman
I couldn’t resist. My wife and I have a running joke based on a recent biblical reference flub that came up during the current presidential campaign circus. This past Sunday at church, the second reading was from 1 Corinthians and I looked at my wife and we both kind of snickered a little. Shared moments keep things going I guess.
It’s hard to get back on track when you begin a post tangentially like that. Bear with me. Here goes.
This past Sunday’s reading, from 1 Corinthians 10, ended with the declaration that we are not given more to deal with than we can handle; that the burdens we find ourselves carrying are ones we actually have the strength to bear.
This is most applicable right now. My business is 20 months old this month. Not old by any measure; but still operating. That’s a good thing. I absolutely love what I’m doing. I work with small businesses all the time, both mature small businesses and brand new I-have-an-idea small businesses. They share a number of philosophies, but the one that stands out the most for me is the persistence to move forward, to keep going and make it through whatever challenges they are now facing. They create. They adapt. They believe in themselves.
When I get to work with a small business its typically at a very positive time in their life cycle. For the mature ones, they are at a point where they want to make a change, to try something new, to freshen things up a bit. By ‘things’ I am referring to their website, since that’s what I do.
For the new ones, wow! Talk about positive energy. Ideas, dreams, confusion, fear, excitement, you name it, they are experiencing it. When I work with them, I get to experience this too, to a certain degree. I love funneling a bit of their creativity into their website.
And that’s the point. I get to experience a little of the newness, the excitement, the fear, the dreams, the it’s-time-to-tweak feeling over and over and over again with each new small business client I work with.
I need that. As a small business owner, I go through the ups and downs too. Two months ago I had my best revenue month ever; last month, not even close. Yesterday, one of my small business customers informed me that she had decided to take a break from her business for a while and wouldn’t be needing my services any longer. But you know what? It didn’t feel bad to me.
It’s not like a oh-too-recent time in my life when a corporate ‘leader’ came to me out of the blue and told me that “we’ve decided to go in a different direction and will not be needing your services any longer”.
No, it’s not like that at all. This small business owner was going in a different direction, a direction that was not going to depend on a functioning website, a direction that she needed to take to power through the challenges she was experiencing. I was happy that she was finding her way forward and that I had been a part of her path to this point. She was happy with the work we did together, and I am positive she will be an excellent reference going forward.
Entrepreneurialism, small business ownership, freelancing – whatever it’s called, is all about finding your way through. There are countless books out there on how ‘they’ did it, but it’s how you or I do it that really matters. Find the inner strength. Power ahead.
I firmly believe that I am not given more to handle than I can. I might not know how to handle it at this moment, but my heart tells me that I will learn it, come across it, be shown it, and a direction will be uncovered.
Onward and upward.
Now, where was I? Oh yeah. So two Corinthians walk into a bar, one says . . .