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El Paso, a wonderful place to explore!~Juan’s Perspective

As I mentioned awhile back, Juan and I relocated back to my hometown. Here is Juan’s perspective on our recent move and why El Paso is a great move for us. Urban Hobo is rapidly growing and can’t think of a better place to build this start-up fun company than here!

Shawn and I recently relocated to El Paso, TX from Phoenix, AZ (my hometown). For Shawn, the decision (and transition) was an easy one. Shawn was born and raised in El Paso and most of her close friends still live here. Since we’ve been married, we’ve visited at least once a year so I’ve had some exposure to the city and, an idea of what to expect.

When we informed every one of our plans, most of our friends and family (not living in El Paso) had the same initial reaction, “Why?” Some were downright scared, “It’s not safe!” “You’ll get shot by the Cartels in Juarez!” If you actually do some research (instead of believing the newspapers and tabloids), you’ll find that El Paso is one of the safest cities in the U.S. After analyzing the data myself, and comparing Phoenix to El Paso, it appears that only by the grace of God did we get out of Phoenix alive without becoming a crime statistic!(ha ha ha) And, El Paso has a VERY strong economy (the overall cost of living is much cheaper than Phoenix). Less crime, stronger economy, lower cost of living and much milder summertime temperatures! All positive reasons to live in El Paso.

Shawn is excited to be back and loves her home town. However, being familiar with the city she takes many things for granted. Conversely me being new to the city and region my perspective on things is slightly different. Furthermore, I’m an avid history buff. I’ve read a lot about the history of the area and have even had a chance to visit a number of historic sites within the region. Many of the sites where historic events took place that helped shape the state, the region and the Country, are within the city limits. Many more are a short car ride away. Besides the historically significant aspects, El Paso has so much more to offer. The culture is evident. Unlike many other Western/Southwestern areas, the culture in El Paso is alive! The Spanish, Mexican, and Southwestern influences are all around you. Not in a phony, tourist or commercial way. The city does not try to hide its heritage, rather it embraces it!

El Paso is a medium-sized city, but with a small town feel. It is also the largest border city in the world. El Paso is also home to Ft. Bliss (the Army’s second largest installation) drawing people from all over the United States. It is this cultural diversity that gives El Paso an energy that I’ve not found or experienced in other cities in the West/Southwest, Northwest or Pacific Islands. Something else I’ve noticed; the residents are much more polite and friendly. El Paso is the kind of city where quality of life is the number one priority.

As I settle in and learn more of my new home, I am finding that El Paso is not just a wonderful place to live; it’s also a wonderful place to explore!

 

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Tools…Juan’s Perspective

One of the things that gives our art work a unique character are the tools we use. These aren’t just any run-of-the-mill hardware store tools. These tools have a history. A soul. Many of them belonged to our parents and grandparents. We don’t simply enjoy using them because of their family history. It goes much deeper than that, because we each grew up using these very same tools. And, each of them has provenance. Each of these tools were used in a professional trade.

Here are a few examples of the tools we currently employ in our tin work. The two dollies were used by my Grandpa Smith in his Radiator/Body Shop in the 1920’s, ‘30’s and ‘40’s. Back when cars were made from actual steel. If you needed to shape a new body part or re-shape a damaged one, you would place the appropriate dolly behind the piece of steel and pound on the other side with a hammer, until the desired shape was achieved. These dollies are made from solid blocks of steel. After they were retired to my Grandfather’s personal workshop, I used them for many “important” projects when I was a kid. I even used them to pound out a few dents in friend’s cars.

One of the ball peen hammers belonged to my Grandpa Swinford. He used it in his carpentry business and I used it when I first learned to hammer nails (it was a lot lighter than a claw hammer and I hit the wood as often as I hit the nail, so it really didn’t matter if it was the right tool or not).

The other ball peen hammer belonged to Shawn’s Mother, Phyllis. She used it in her Art Gallery. Shawn spent a lot of time working in the gallery and used it to hang pictures.

Each of these tools were originally used professionally, for years, in artful endeavors. Over time they developed scars and wear and characters all their own. These very tools were used by our parents and grandparents to teach us skills and pass along a little bit of their knowledge. We are carrying on that tradition by using them in our own artful endeavors. Used together, they shape our tin work and give each piece a unique appearance and a little bit of history all their own.

 

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New Inventory at Urban-Hobo.com

 

Regrets-Juan’s Perspective

I ran across this blog post the other day and found it very interesting. It deals with the regrets people have at the end of their lives. It’s interesting, because they are all things that we recognize earlier in our lives.
However, in our quests for success, survival or what not, we push these thoughts to the side until a later time as we count other needs as more immediate or important. As this blog points out, by the time we decide to focus on these issues it’s often too late.
I found the summarization of point #2 especially relevant given all that’s transpired in the economy these past few years.  Hopefully you’ll take something of value away from this article and take some time to reflect on your life, so that you don’t have any regrets.

 

REGRETS OF THE DYING
By Bronnie Ware
For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.
People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.
When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:
1. “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.
It is very important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.
2. “I wish I didn’t work so hard.”
This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.
By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.
3. “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.
We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.
4. “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”
Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.
It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.
5. “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.
When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.
Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.
Shawn’s comment: In reading the article above…not one time did you ever hear about “STUFF”. Bigger house, cars, status, things…I could go on. It has everything to do with love of family, friends and self. My Mom always said…”Don’t wish your life away by wanting to be older. As you age the years start coming faster and faster and before you know it, you are past your childhood, teenage and young adult years heading to retirement.” Enjoy each and every day! Right size your life!
 

Bicycling throughout Phoenix and Paradise Valley AZ!



You recently read “Juan’s perspective” on our bicycling adventure over the weekend and what it means to him to enjoy a simpler lifestyle and riding bicycles….well it goes the same for me. As I mentioned just the day before, you get an opportunity to enjoy the world passing by at a much slower pace.

I could ride all day long every day if I could. Of course the Arizona heat does not make it optimal bicycling weather, however, Juan and I get up before dawn in the summers to get in as much of a ride as possible. Now….it is just beautiful outside and I can ride all day…

The coolest thing we saw yesterday was something I had never seen before and was so amazed at the beauty of this sculpture. Obviously someone left a bale of hay for him to enjoy and what beauty this gorgeous steed is.

Imagine all the parts and pieces of yesterday’s history form this magnificent animal, right down to an old sewing machine that was plucked out in the midst of sewing.

Vacuum cleaner, silver pitcher, old ornamental ironwork, egg beater, tractor seat and so much more are the bones and make-up of this beauty.

So, Juan and I decided to stop and take some time to enjoy this beautiful piece of art. I see that the artist did sign his sculpture…his name is Carlos Cobos. I tried a “Google” search on his name and the horse and did find where someone from Paradise Valley purchased this piece about a year ago.

However, it is not placed in their backyard hidden from the public…he is proudly placed at the corner of McDonald and Tatum for all to enjoy!

We stopped to enjoy…. and so we mounted our steal steeds and ventured on back home. It was a beautiful day.

 

Edit, Edit Edit and when you think you are done? Edit again!


To briefly update you….in my blog “Admit It! You Are A Proud Owner Of A Junk Drawer, Closet, Garage or in my case….a Room! I am looking to take this great precious space and turn it into a workable office and organized room. I am so excited as I have found so many options I can choose to help make this space become what I need it to be. From wonderful furniture like at Resource Furniture (PLEASE check out their site…some awesome space saving furniture) to other organized products dedicated to small spaces. In the coming weeks, I will spend some time on great resources and ideas you can utilize in your small space where you can live quite comfortably and enjoy a simpler lifestyle NOT be a slave to your home, mortgage, landscape, etc.

SO I am once again having a garage sale. Okay a carport sale as I do not have a garage anymore (wink wink smiley face). I am rounding up our little community and inviting other neighbors to join in for a weekend of “deals and steals”!

I truly thought that Juan and I were rid of the unnecessary STUFF alas we are not. Edit edit edit….constant editing of stuff and what’s important and cherished I should keep. I admit, at times as soon as I’ve cleaned up and organized an area….I start spending money to buy more STUFF! Figuring I have pared down too much…Nope…still too much stuff. Why am I saving this? Why not use the good dishes all the time, what am I waiting for? Enjoy these beautiful things.

Funny story…I’m sure I’ve mentioned in my past blogs.. In 2007 I lost the best friend and father a little girl (okay I am not so little anymore) could ever have. My Mom decided to downsize once again. Yes, she had a huge estate sale before and got rid of 40+ years of excess so she could move from a large detached home to a “Patio Home”. Now with her best man gone she decided once again to get rid of stuff and go smaller. She did a great job all by herself. I came over one day after the move and she had a chance to settle in. I brought over some sort of dessert and was trying to figure out which drawer she had placed her utensils. Surprised, I found the utensil drawer however it was not filled with the basic stainless steel stuff….it was her cherished sterling silver. I looked up and said “Mom, what the heck?…Your sterling is in here, why?” She looked at me “matter-of fact” and said “Mary Shawn, (yes, she likes to call me by my full name AND with a Southern accent) Why should I keep my beautiful sterling packed away in the closet waiting for a perfect dinner or event to use it. Every day I am here enjoying life is a perfect time to enjoy and use my sterling!” I could not agree more.

So is it time for an “Edit Session” at your house? Now’s the time before the holidays to have that yard/garage sale.

I’ll keep you posted as to the exact date.

 

So What If You Could Have a Little Place at the Beach?

For me and Juan….we love the west coast especially the beaches in Southern California. We took a break from the heat and spent some time down in Laguna Beach, Corona Del Mar, Newport, San Clemente and Dana Point. Yes, we spent time walking, sitting, basking and driving along Pacific Coast Highway viewing the spectacular ocean views and seeking out that perfect shell.

It seems you can tell who the tourist is and who the locals are. So many of the locals with their daily routines of rising before sunrise to hit the beach and make their daily pilgrimage up and down the shore taking in the calm sounds of the ocean and filling their lungs with the sea breeze air. It seems that all your troubles fade looking out towards the horizon as the fog hugs the shore and bluffs around you.


Small Church


I wonder how many people visit and wonder…”Wow I want to live here but how can I afford it?” “It’s too expensive!” Well, I have great friends that live here and love their life here. They live within their means and don’t have a need to keep up with The Jones’! Example…I have a friend (has been more like a brother than just a friend) that has been married for over 11+ years, has two beautiful  boys and a great life together. They are my inspiration, why????They live simply and in a small space. A two bedroom one bath apartment sitting on the bluff with Full Ocean views in every room! Some would say they sacrificed what? Extra space to store more stuff! Extra storage to keep things you really don’t want to keep but do out of guilt or laziness. I think they have it perfect! A perfect life in a great space with incredible views. Every time I see them or speak with them, they are blissfully happy. I think they figured it out….they get it.

I have another friend in the Los Angeles area that has done the same thing. She went small in order to have an incredible life on the beach in Redondo. Hopefully, I would like to “interview her” and get her perspective on her “small space living” and the incredible designs she has come up with in living in her space.

What would you give up to live at the beach? We had an opportunity to walk up and down the narrow streets in Laguna Beach and view some of the small places people live in for a place near the ocean.

Beach House on Legion St
Laguna Beach Cottage

It’s not about the size or the square footage…it’s not about the quantity…for me, it’s about the quality of life. Living small with a view like this? I would do it….would you?

 
 
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