how to reduce stress, anxiety, and fear with breathing

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(Disclaimer – read Thich Nhat Hanh, I’ve learned a lot about what I’m going to say through his teachings this past year.)

What’s something we do all day that if we did consciously would relieve stress, anxiety, anger and fear? It’s breathing. How often do we not pay attention to our breath? I can go days without taking note that my stomach is rising and falling with each breathe. Isn’t that a bit strange? Something we do all the time but pay zero attention too.

We’ve probably all heard about taking ten breaths when you start to feel angry as it will help you calm down and manage the situation better. When we calm down and listen to our breath and be in our breath, we begin to live in the present moment. We can begin to let our anxieties of the future and past fade away.

Your sleeping can improve!

Sleeping for me has always been tough, it’s been hard to shut off the mind each day. If we take time throughout the day to breath (AKA meditate), focus on the breath and the present moment we can let our mind relax and stop the thought cycle. Practicing this during the day makes falling asleep much easier because we’ve worked through thoughts and feelings throughout the day instead of only letting these thoughts consume us as we lay our heads down.

Where do our anxieties reside?

My anxieties reside mostly in the future and the past. I beat myself up for things that happened in the past or I dread certain things in the future. If I allow myself to relax, breath, and participate fully in the present moment, these anxieties are diminished. I realize everything is OK right now.

It’s hard to only focus on breath, what are some exercises I can use to help me?

Here are some sayings that I took from Thich Nhat Hanh that have helped me. Time your breathing for each sentence, it helps to slowly think the sentences but not say them out loud. Slowly, you can drop thinking about the sentences and totally dive into your breath. It’s like anything, the more you practice, the easier it becomes. Don’t beat yourself up for thinking other thoughts, just slowly come back to the breath.

1.
Breathing in,
I am aware of my in-breath.Breathing out,
I am aware of my out-breath.

2.
Breathing in, I follow my in-breath all the way through.Breathing out, I follow my out-breath all the way through.

3.
Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body.Breathing out, I follow my out-breath all the way through.

4.
Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I calm my body.

There are many more breathing exercises that I can share but these are a few good ones to start. Thanks for reading the blog and I hope these exercises help you like they’ve helped me.

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updates on the 1985 toyota van camper conversion

1985 Toyota Camper Vanwagon
Off Highway 89 somewhere.

If you’re doing a van conversion or some kind of camper conversion, I recommend creating a very basic set up to start with not a lot of screws or time spent doing it. This is what I’ve learned through various builds. You don’t know exactly what you want until you go camping, you spend time in it and become aware of your own needs. It’s hard to understand our needs in life and that’s the same for building out a van.

I realized I haven’t shared any updates on the my 1985 Toyota Vanwagon Mashin’ Machine. The van has undergone some changes since the original build. I’ve been lucky to take her on a quite a few trips this year and after each trip, I came back with a list of changes or supplies that needed to be added. This is another tip I recommend, when going on weekend trips, create a running list of what’s not comfortable, what would be nice to have, what you don’t need and so forth. You’d think you’d remember everything but after a few years of partying too hard, it’s best written on paper so I can revist when I’m back in a place I can make modifications.

I was able to keep most of the design from before (the folding bench seat and frame). I made a decision to keep the bench seat in bed formation all the time. This saved the hassle of not having to unfold or fold the bed every morning and night. I also gained a ton of storage room below. I made the drawer out of plywood and 2x2s then drilled a couple holes to put some rope through for a handle.

Bed Toyota Vanwagon 1985
This bed doesn’t interfere with accessing the engine compartment.

In the back of the van, I created a divider wall. This was now going to be the area for the electronics, fridge, stove, water, and other various supplies.

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Here is the back of the van, “the kitchen” with the divider wall.

Added 12v fairy lights, you can buy these anywhere from Amazon to eBay for 5 bucks or less. I really like them and I hope to put them on a dimmer switch. They are bright enough to read under, it also helps to run two strands across the van where you’ll want extra light. I did that in the back where the kitchen is and by the seats in the front where our heads rest and we can read.

Back of Van at Night w/ 12v Fairy Lights
Back of Van at Night w/ 12v Fairy Lights

58183079700__30657fda-ca19-4506-b305-392a7ca1a122Upgraded the stove from a Coleman two burner to a cast iron Camp Chef Ranger II Blind Stove. Stays in its place well, has a really night flame, and has a flexible hose for the propane instead of the rigid Coleman attachment.

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A mistake I often make is that before I participate in something, I get all excited about it and I start to research what I think is the best things to buy are and I start trying to figure out everything before actually partaking in that activity. For example, if you take up running, you may not want to research best running shoes, best water bottle, best visor (is that a thing?). Only after running will you realize what you truly need; shoes with more padding, a water bottle with a strap so it’s easy to hold onto, a visor instead of a hat because a hat makes you sweat too much. This relates to building out a van.

I have built out a truck camper shell (see other posts) and a cabover but each vehicle is different. Until I took enough trips in the van, I wouldn’t know what exactly I would need. Taking it slow and easy is the best approach, it’s about the process and not trying to get everything done immediately.

Complete list of revisions so far:

  1. Added a second solar shower (scored one for cheap on Craiglist). Also, it helps to have back up water as well as water to rinse dishes when dry camping.
  2. Added a shower nozzle to one of solar showers. (post coming)
  3. Created a divide for the kitchen and bed.
  4. Inserted plywood sheet to extend bed to the back of the seats.
  5. Made two large pull out drawers, one pulls out from the side and one from the back.
  6. Added a fuse panel. (post coming)
  7. Mounted the inverter.
  8. Added a storage shelf.
  9. Mounted an ARB awning. (post coming)
1985 Toyota Van Forest Road
Down some forest road.

my tiny sailboat – 1971 newport 16

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My “new” Newport 16.

After selling the last sailboat, I really wanted to focus on getting boat that I felt comfortable learning on. I wanted a sailboat that had a cabin for overnight excursions but I wanted it small enough to tow and avoid berth fees as I learned. Heck, my friend even poisoned my mind with taking a small sailboat to the Sea of Cortez for some Baja excursions, now who wouldn’t want to do that?

The checklist for the new boat entailed having a cabin, a trailer, being light enough to tow with my 85 Toyota Van and in being good enough shape to sail right away with limited to no repairs. I looked at the usual suspects, a West Wight Potter 15, a Compac 16, the Montgomery 15, and the Newport 16.

The Potter 15s are a really popular boat, one owner had even taken part in a transpacific sail to Hawaii on his. There is a small group in the Bay Area called the Potter Yachters, it’s a tiny sailboat cruising community that despite it’s names, allows other boats as well but the boat really does have a cult following. The next was a Compac 16, the heaviest of them all but some consider the most seaworthy of the group. There’s the Montgomery 15, a really beautiful boat but you don’t see as many and they cost a bit more. The last boat, the one I ended up buying was a boat I didn’t know much about. It had a small cabin, it seemed in good condition and came with a trailer, the price was right so I jumped on it after looking the few articles that were out there on the web. Most owners seemed to enjoy the boat just as much as any of the other small boats out there.

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Me hoisting the mainsail.

Next begin the journey of getting in contact with the boat’s owner. I text the owner, I called the owner, crossing my fingers all along that it hadn’t been sold. People who have experienced the Craigslist buying experience before know that it’s sometimes just as hard to buy something as it is to sell something. I began to come to grasps that the boat may have sold, the listing was old, I hadn’t heard back in a few days and that I should probably look for something else. Not soon after this realization, I received a call and a text from the owner. He was busy and hadn’t had the time to respond. I said I’d love to meet up, just tell me the time and place.

I drove down the road to San Pablo Point Yacht Club where the boat was stored and quickly found the owner trying to blow up the flat tire on the trailer with not much success. I walked up and asked him a few questions about the boat, he seemed distracted, slightly annoyed because he had a task in front of him he was trying to accomplish before the buyer showed up. It was at that point that I thought it might be good to introduce myself as the interested buyer and he soon warmed up to tell me about the boat while the high pitch sound of the tiny 12v air pump blew its heart out with not much success.

The San Pablo Point Yacht Club is an interesting place, it’s off the last exit before getting on the Richmond Bridge to head to Marin County. You’ll pass by old army barracks as you drive a winding road down the yacht club past the gun and rod club. When I finally made my way down the steep descent to where the marina was, I saw goats on my right and a yurt. Where did I just drive to? It felt like this place shouldn’t exist in the Bay Area where land is outrageously expensive and developers are quick to buy any land not maximized to its full multi-floor apartment capacity.

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Before cleaning.

In between him lighting up a rolled cigarette with his butane stove, we did end up getting the tire to inflate, it needed more forced air than the tiny 12v pump he was using. The guys at the shop near the marina lent us an air compressor that did the job. I gave him the cash and didn’t bargain for a lower price because I believed the price to be very fair. I then hooked up the boat and cautiously headed home.

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After power washing the deck.

The previous owner has been very helpful since the purchase of the boat with answering my dumb questions as well as offering to help me take it out and to learn the ropes (oops, I mean lines!).

The Details

Year: 1971
Manufacturer: Newport
Model: 16
Two quarter berths, a hole for a toilet, a retractable keel with a big cockpit, a fancy new rudder, fishing pole holders, a mainsail and a jib. What else does one need?

The Plan:

Learn to sail on it. Take it on overnight camping trips across the lakes and the delta.

 

this helps me every morning

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Thich Nhat Hanh has been a real positive influence in my life. I was in the library searching for a book on fear and I randomly stumbled upon his book and his teachings. I’ve now read 3-4 books of his and they’ve all taught me something valuable that I can apply directly to my life. I feel like his teachings have something for everybody and I can’t imagine someone picking up one of his books and not being able to improve their life in some way.

“Waking up this morning, I smile.
Twenty four brand new hours before me.
I vow to live fully in each moment and
to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh

This little mantra to say in the morning helps me bring attention to the present moment and to acknowledge that we are blessed to live another day. The last sentence brings attention to treat others with compassion, even if their views are different. It may seem simple but if I say it everyday, it does help me bring attention the present, to appreciate the day before me and to treat others with compassion.

i sold a boat and bought a new one

I ended up selling the boat I purchased to liveaboard for a variety of reasons. I have not given up on the idea of living aboard a boat. In fact, it’s an option for this winter coming up. I have learned some valuable things with the purchase of my first boat that I will apply to boats I look at in the future.

Why I sold the boat?
1. Too big to comfortably learn how to sail for me.
2. Timing, currently I still have to commute three days a week to work. With the commute during the workweek and adventures on the weekend, I was spending limited time on the boat.

Those are pretty much the only two things that were driving factors for me selling the boat. I really want to learn how to sail and it didn’t look like that was going to happen with a 33 footer.

A couple lessons I learned with my first boat.

  1. Sleeping. This is a big one. You must have a comfortable sleeping arrangement. If you’re a light sleeper like me it will be hard to adjust to sleeping on a boat with the lines tugging, squeaking and the halyards from other boats slapping their masts. This was a huge one for me. I couldn’t sleep in the quarter berth in the boat because of the way you got in and out nor could I sleep comfortably in the v-berth. Sure, I could get used to it but having a studio that I was renting close by made it easy for me to choose the studio rather than the boat to sleep in. Without the studio, I’m sure I would have gotten more use to it. I found it the most comfortable to drop the table in the galley to make a large bed where I could spread out. The downfall of that is having to construct and deconstruct your bed everyday. Maybe, I’m a baby but if your sleep isn’t great, it’s not going to spell success. Think about it hard before purchasing the right boat and make sure there is a place you can feel comfortable getting a good night’s rest. A fellow dock mate and friend said sleep wherever on the boat that you’re most comfortable.
  2. Regulating temperature. It’s hard to regulate the temperature in a boat. Often I found it too hot if I left the heater on but without leaving the heater on, it was cold in the morning when you woke up. I chose to not have the heater on during the night and use warm blankets. Then when you wake up, you can turn on the heater and deal with ten minutes of being cold.

What boat did I buy? 

A 1971 Newport 16. It’s day sailer or overnight sailboat with a couple quarter berths and it’s only 16 feet. I’m hoping to learn how to sail on this boat before moving back up to a bigger size.

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a failing minimalist

The dreams of traveling to other places by water is exciting. In addition to that dream, the thought of maybe living on a sailboat and focusing on what’s important and reducing the stuff I own is exciting. I’ve gotten comfy with space over the past few years. I haven’t been as diligent as I used to be with reducing the stuff coming in and the stuff going out. This transition to a sailboat will ultimately make me own less stuff but what I’m finding out is that when you buy a sailboat, you soon may be drawn to all the cool gadgets.

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Buster (mini-dachshund) in his new life jacket. 

As I read the Lin and Larry Pardey’s book on “Cost Conscious Cruising,” they make a point to get  a feel for the sailboat before buying all the things. Be on it for awhile and take it out and then see what you might want. I’m definitely keeping that in mind although I have spent a lot of money on items for the sailboat in the first week of ownership but I feel like they are essential to the boat and my mission.

1st week of purchases:
(2) SRM-27 Interstate Deep Cycle Batteries for Starting the Boat
(2) 200 Watt Solar Panels for Charging Both Banks of Batteries
(1) 40a Solar Charge Controller (ePever)
(1) Super Cute Life Jacket for Buster
Hasp to Lock the Hatch
Wind Muffs to Block Wind Noise for Camera/Vlogging
New Marine Charger to Replace the Broken One

I’m getting a little bit of anxiety bringing on all these new items and spending all this money in a short amount of time. I could probably say that the above items are a necessity to the boat running well and my dog staying safe but you should also see what’s in my Amazon and eBay cart. A composting toilet, fishing reel, maybe new pots and pans (you can’t have ceramic in a sailboat, can you?),  and other miscellaneous stuff that my mind is tempting me to buy.

These are the times I need to catch myself. I need to be careful as to what I bring on. I really need to wait a few days or a week before making a purchase. I can convince myself things are really necessary when maybe they aren’t.

Minimalism is a privilege, people tend to think about practicing minimalism more when they have the ability to purchase or obtain a lot of stuff. Not everyone has that ability. With that said minimalism goes beyond physical stuff, it’s ridding yourself of the mental clutter too. Something I could practice more as of late. I digress, but isn’t that life jacket cute on Buster.

i bought a sailboat

Before the survey happens, the buyer puts an offer on the boat. This is usually a technicality because the buyer adds language to the contract stating that it’s dependent on the survey. If it’s a boat, they’re going to find something in the survey so you have an out but with that said, you’r not likely to sign up for a costly survey if you’re not 95% on board with buying the boat.

As I wrote in my previous post, the survey came back relatively clean. There are some items to be addressed like painting the hull, replacing the batteries, and fixing the battery charger among other maintenance items but nothing too unexpected. With the write off from the surveyor that the boat from his eyes was not a lemon and structurally sound, I offered the seller a slightly reduced offer to address the issues. We eventually came to a deal and I now own a 1977 thirty-two foot Challenger Sailboat.

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Me and my “new” 1977 Challenger 32 Sailboat.

It’s the most money I’ve spent on something in my life and it’s not any more than a used car someone might buy. The final price we agreed to was 10,500 dollars. When I started to think about sailboats, I thought they were a lot of money, and they can be but I’ve learned it’s a lot about what a buyer desires in a boat and where they live that affects the price the most. Do I want a huge boat? Do I want my apartment but replicated on water? I wasn’t looking for that and fortunately in the Bay, there is a wide range of sailboats to fit whatever your needs.

I’m hoping to put together together a video tour of the boat as it is right now before I start to restore this beauty. I just find making videos daunting, even more than blog posts. I hope you continue to follow this journey wherever it may lead. This new project is exciting, now if I can only find the time to be on it.

Feel free to post comments or questions down below!

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My dad and I.