Values.

My favorite quote reads: “The very basic core of man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun” -Christopher McCandless


This quote comes from one of my favorite books, Into the Wild, by John Krakauer. I guess I love this quote because I feel that it speaks to my soul. It resonates deep within me. I am infatuated with the willingness and ability of McCandless to just leave it all behind, walk away, and live the life he imagined for himself. He had a mission, a purpose, and values that didn’t align with the lifestyle that he was living, so he changed his course. While this decision cost him his life, he lived with intent. He lived a life of value.

I am envious of Christopher’s freedom. I aspire to be brave enough someday to walk away from the meaninglessness of this life and to live only with passion. It’s why I am so attracted to the minimalist lifestyle. I want to find value in everything I do, each relationship I build, and all material possessions. McCandless was able to strip himself of all things that did not add value to his life. That is so amazing to me.


Since making my move to Vermillion, starting graduate school, and working in Sorority and Fraternity Life, I have discovered the importance of living a values-based lifestyle and what it means for me and the community in which I am part of.

Knowing who I am at my core, what values I stand for and believe in, and integrating this into practice daily is an important part of my minimalist lifestyle and holistic wellbeing.


I host a leadership series on campus as part of my graduate assistantship. Tonight I presented on values-based leadership and values-based living. Three of the core values that I live by are adventure, authenticity, and connection.

I value risk-taking, trying new things, and experiencing diversity. I live for genuinely cultivated relationships, and intentionality. I feel spiritually connected to the people, places, and things that I encounter. I value these connections and the mark they leave on my life.

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One of the things that I love most about working for Sorority and Fraternity Life is the values-based component of this community. Each chapter has different values that they instill in their members. Each member works to practice these values daily. The global Greek community values leadership, service, and brother/sisterhood. I appreciate this lifelong devotion and commitment to values-based leadership.

When I took this position, I didn’t know anything about fraternal organizations or their values and missions. I am still no expert, but what I do know is that I am a lifelong learner and am so excited to continue digging into my core and living out my values as I work with this amazing community of young men and women.

I look forward to exploring more of what it means to live a values-based life, and to be a values-based leader. I look forward to learning more about the values of Sorority and Fraternity Life, and the students that I advise.


As you go from reading this post to whatever else you were doing, reflect on what it is that you’re passionate about, who you look up to, and why. What are your core values? Are you living them daily?

Think about it. What changes are you going to make?

Big love,

-Joel

Simplicity.

As I mentioned in my Goals for 2017 post, I am trying to minimize and focus on living a more simple, and meaningful life.

I am wildly intrigued by minimalism and the thought of doing more with less. If you haven’t heard of The Minimalists, check them out.  Their documentary is viewable here as well as on Netflix and they have authored three books that share their journeys into minimalism (I recently purchased Everything That Remains, if anyone would like to borrow it).  I also subscribe to their podcast and I love it!  If you commute to work, prefer stories over songs when working out, or just need to change up the pace, give them a listen.

The thing that I love most about minimalism is that it’s different for everyone.  Every person has a different definition of minimizing, living simply, and what is valuable to them.  For me, being a minimalist is all about finding value in the possessions that I have.  While, I hate clutter, and don’t want to ever live in a way that allows clutter to rule my home, my journey is most importantly about building a relationship with the stuff that I do have and recycling-tossing stuff defeats the purpose of minimizing waste and impact, so donate, repurpose, etc., please-the things that don’t add value to my life.

I’ve always been a pretty simple liver, but I finally started my adventure into this minimalism thing when I was living back at my parents house over Christmas break.  Being home for almost a month gave me ample time to sort through the junk in my room at their house.  I haven’t used most of the stuff in that room for a large portion of the last five years, and I know they’re not using any of it.  My twin brother, Adam recently moved out of my parents house too, so our room now felt awkward, like somehow it was no longer ours.  It was weird to be sleeping in a room that now felt lifeless.

My door was still covered in pictures from high school cross country, and old Runners World magazine snippets that I had cut out for inspiration.  Clothes that no longer fit littered my closet floor.  Posters hung limply on the walls-with the exception of my autographed Switchfoot poster, which definitely adds value to my life, I realized these posters no longer represented the person I am today-so I tore them down and tossed them.  Cleaning my room and sorting the stuff that is no longer needed from the stuff that will be kept felt so good.  It made the space feel a little more like mine-if even only for a few more days.

Since coming back to Verm, I have tried to make conscious decisions as far as my relationships go.  Is this person, thing, or activity adding value to my life?  Am I happy with this?  Is this just taking up space-even though I have literally nothing in my apartment, it is still a thought that I have?  I love that The Minimalists define living minimally as living with only the things that you value.  To me that is the perfect definition of how I prefer to live.


I recently downloaded a book on my Kindle that is written by a worship group that I love.  I have been a big fan of Rend Collective for quite a few years now, and they just released a devotional book that supplements their latest album-I just had to download it.

What I love most about Rend Collective is that they release Campfire albums every few years.  They unplug from the world, pack up their bags and instruments, and head into the wild.  There they are able to get back to the basics and produce simplistic and meaningful music that reflects who they are as a group as well as focusing on the things that really matter to them.

The first devotional in this book is titled Simplicity (also a title of one of the songs on the album) and talks about the reason why they go into the wilderness to write music.  It talks about the beauty of nature, the wonder of the stars, and the fact that today’s society is so focused on things that distract us from simplicity-from what is really important.  There is a quote in this reading that I am absolutely in love with.  It reads:

Simplicity is the art of restoring a clear and unobstructed view of the things that really matter.

This quote struck me because it really defines the emphasis on value and relationships in the minimalism movement, and the reason that I am so intrigued by minimalism in the first place.  Removing distractions and going back to the basics-stopping to smell the roses, if you will-helps me to realize the things that are important to me and why I value them.


I am also reading a book called The Longest Race by Ed Ayres.  I chose this book because it is written by an iconic ultra-runner, and as you all know, I love running.  Ayres articulates how I feel about running and minimalism in a great passage from his book, which is actually the inspiration for this post.  It reads:

As the world gets more complicated, people become more appreciative of the things that remain simple-and few things do.  Running is in some ways the simplest of all sports.  All you have to do to run, is open the door and go out.

Ayres explains that one of the great appeals of running is it’s simplicity and I couldn’t agree more.  In fact, I am attracted to the simple sports-the ones with few rules, little to no equipment, and those that require very little coordination, competition, and grace, but lots of attitude, stamina, and heart.  It’s why I love running, swimming, and hiking…and have enjoyed dabbling in yoga recently, too.

Each of these sports requires strength of mind and character.  They are not for the faint of heart.  But they are simple, independent, and can be done by anyone who is able.  They leave minimal impact, require minimal conditioning, and can all be done at your own pace.

There are very few distractions in these sports, and because of that I am able to think, breathe, and focus.  I can focus on the things that truly matter such as spiritual growth, reconnecting with my environment, and listening to my body.

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Another huge aspect of simplicity for me is always remembering to #LiveLikeMike.  Check out this link to read his story.


I look forward to continuing this journey into minimalism and exploring what that means for my relationships with material possessions, food, activities, and people, and the value that I place on each of them.

If you have thoughts on minimalism, feel free to reach out and share.  I’d love to connect.

-Joel