Rain showers, warmer weather and more sun sparks all the new growth in the forest and fields on the acreage. Life in the spring is especially beautiful. Everyday I witness the all the bird drama, the turtles roaming and sunbathing, the snakes slithering in the grasses, and the neighbor's cats sneaking around.
For the past couple of months I've been foraging all of my greens and just the other day picked the first fresh spinach from the garden. I've located a nice patch of blackberry and black raspberry bushes and can't wait to try them this summer!
Most of my energy has been going to building the garden. We now have 3 thriving apple trees, Pawpaw, Nectarine, plum, cherry and fig trees that are now waking up and pushing out their new foliage. Our Pink lady apple tree even had some beautiful flowers already and a single bloom on the nectarine tree.
There's a great joy I've been experiencing in gardening. I wouldn't say gardening is a huge passion of mine. I've always wanted to grow my own food and if there was an easier way I would take it but, there is a an incredible joy watching the changes in the trees and the garden plants occur each day. It's amazing how much a plant and tree can grow in just one day.
The longterm goal is to eventually by growing 100% or very near that of our own produce. Eating fresh from the garden and forest all summer and fall, canning, freezing and and preserving for the winter and early spring seasons. Growing our own herbs and spices for cooking, seasoning and teas.
Already, the spring has been a busy time and I'm glad the busy will continue. A few more fig trees and berry plants are on their way and I'll be doing a mini tour of the acreage and garden on my YouTube channel soon once we're all planted.
Until next time, stay healthy and happy growing!
The dream is on full go mode now! I am 100% finished with my Chicago obligations and feel like I have escaped the cage that confined my wings. I can now draw my wings to their fullest span and fly in any direction I wish!
February was an excited yet challenging month. There was so much to do on the homestead as well as for my work and it was the last month of our lease on our Chicagoland townhouse.
The first half of February I was home in the country. For the weather there was a lot of rain but the earliest signs of spring are sprouting strong. The early moss, the shift in the sun and the arrival of song birds by the flocks are all present and gradually becoming abundant. Even the dandelions are beginning to show their appearance with early blooms. With winter in its final days here, it's been a wonderful season. Only a few snow dustings that lasted only in the morning and melted away completely by noon and many days warm enough to work in on the land, practice archery and my martial arts in just a flannel shirt, its the first full winter I have ever spent here and the first full season I have ever spent here. It was a wonderful winter experience.
The second half of February I had to head back north to Chicago and teach a seminar in St. Augustine, Florida.
I arrived in Chicago on Valentines day so I can spend the evening with Christy. (She's been up north with the kids helping her mom getting her house ready for the market and taking care of her dog while checking up on the townhouse making sure the important mail was collected and all that regular stuff.) Since I had to be up north for the closing of the townhouse lease I decided to run a weekend training intensive in my martial arts for my Inner Triangle group. We trained hard for Saturday and Sunday. It's always great to see the guys, get some intense working out in and burn those calories!
During the week, I hung out with my sister and went to dinner with my mom. Of course, I missed Christy and the kiddos and it is always wonderful to spend time with them. While I've been down south working on our new home, she's been up north helping her mom and keeping an eye on the townhouse stuff.
The second weekend I flew out to St. Augustine, Florida. My friend and student Kevin took the trip with me to assist and escape the Chicago winter for a few days. I absolutely love St. Augustine, FL. It is a small city/town where my student Chris runs our Kali Center Chapter group. He hosted the seminar and I had another full weekend of teaching and training.
After training was complete each day we hit the town. St. Augustine is rich with so much history. The fort is amazing and the first paved road in the country is in the that town and my favorite ice cream shop ever is on that road, peace pie! The beach is stunning and there's a power that only the ocean has. Christy and I have discussed many times that maybe one of these days we would get a small place there.
It was time to head back to Chicago. The second week there was the hardest. It was an emotional struggle. I felt trapped, like I keep getting dragged back into the cage. I've been dreaming about leaving the Chicago area since I was a teenager and since we purchased our new home at the end of October, every month I had to go back for something.
There's really not much for my introverted to do there. Driving is most stressful with dodging and avoided accidents every day and shopping is always competition with both other customers and employees. Compared to my new home town and being in other places throughout my travels, Chicagoland is a pretty unfriendly place. Of course there are some friendly and nice people but, the majority of people you come into contact with when out on normal routine stuff, like going to the store, they seem so miserable, unhappy and rude. Nobody smiles or even says "hi." And when you say., "hello" they glare at you with these beaming eyes.
I've always noticed this but, down south when I have to go to the store, everyone is so friendly, says hello and most employees are actually happy to help. I honestly think the two biggest factors are, the Chicago area's cost of living which is absurd and the lack of nature and the disconnection to it.
Down south there is access to an entire national forest the spans the width of the lower state. You can go anywhere for great hiking, camping and outdoor activities. Real nature! In Chicago, the closest nature is engineered forest preserves, which of course is better than nothing and I took full advantage of them while living up there but, you still have to battle the city noise and pollutions. Plus, the sleep isn't good. The nights in Chicagoland never get quiet, never get dark due to the light pollution and never get still.
I had an app for a while that measured my sleep through heart rate. I wore the wristband at both South and North locations and the readings where surprising! The results basically told me that I never got good sleep and likely for the past decades of my life in the Chicago area I've been sleep deprived. The results when I was south on my homestead? Complete 180. Even with a 5 hour sleep I would be in REM and SWS Deep sleep for three to even four of the five hours every single night!
I'm sure for some people, the city absolutely works wonders for them, but for this extreme default introvert, it's never worked for me. I spent my whole life up to now tolerating my life and now as of the end of February, we ended our lease on the townhouse and I got to say my goodbyes to Chicagoland. I gave my landlord the keys, got in my car and headed straight down home.
I don't mind visiting Chicago for a short time, no more than a night or two with great time lengths in between visits but, now there are no more obligations to go. There's nothing tying me down or pulling me back there. I feel liberated and like I can breath deeply. I feel like, even though I moved months ago, I'm finally really home.
What's next? Spring is coming and so now I have to remove the pool since it's in part of where the garden si going to go and then I have to build the infrastructure for the garden. I'm also going to make sure I spend time on some day hikes and maybe even some overnight hikes too.
Being outside and being surrounded by nature 24/7 is so inspiring and energizing. Each day I can feel my connection with nature getting stronger. My brother and sister-in-law, my dad and my sister are all coming down at the end of March to visit. It will be the first time my dad and brother have been to my home. Christy, the kids and I are looking forward to the visits.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. It's a bit longer than I usually write. I've wasn't as active as I would have liked to have been in February. I just wasn't really feeling creative and I know it was mainly due to the anticipation of having to go back to Chicago for two long weeks but, now I'm home permanently!
Please like and let's continue the conversation in the comments!
Wow! I cannot believe this is my first blog post of 2020. Month one flew by and it personally was an amazing month!
The family finally accomplished the big move. Moving all of our beds, couch, and home items from our Chicago suburb townhouse to our new home in the country.
January was a month of moving, cleaning, the start of home renovations and preparing for the spring projects coming up. There's a lot fo be done!
If you've been following my on Instagram @paulingramsaga and seen my stories you'll know that one of my favorite things it waking up in the morning, putting on a pot of tea and getting a morning story shot of my backyard. Everyday tells a different story. Some days it's sunny, others it's rainy, sometimes cold sometimes warm and occasionally we have some visitors of deer, turkey and so many birds!
The winter weather is a huge difference here. In Chicago it gets so cold with nasty windchills that prevent you from being able to do too many outdoor activities. Here, I've been able to practice my archery, go for amazing hikes, workout outside, do some yard clean up projects, open the windows in the house and enjoy the winter!
We haven't gotten much snow. Just a few dustings a couple times that were all cleared up by the afternoon but, we do get some rain! Lots of rain but, it's actually been quite pleasant.
At the end of January my sister came down to visit for a few days and she absolutely loved it here! I gave her a tour of the property, we explored the towns, hiked and did some archery. She was hitting the target even at 20 yards. Pretty good for a beginner!
I'm really looking forward to spring and the upcoming projects like the start of the garden, planting some of our first fruit trees. I'm really looking forward to planting some PawPaw trees! Stay tuned on the YouTube channel to check all of that stuff out!
This past week, I've also done something I haven't done for about 6 years or so. I picked up and plucked my harp! I'm so rusty on some of the tricky techniques but it's slowly and surely coming about. It feels so great to play the harp again. It's my all time favorite instrument and I'll be doing some of my own music in my vlogs from time to time and maybe even some fun creative music video stuff.
The focus for 2020 is to be and express more of my creativity. From videos, photos, music and other mediums it's all about exploration. It's a void I've been feeling in my life for quite some time now. I've been focusing on my work, my business work, for so many years now that I unfortunately neglected these other passions of mine. It's so easy to get caught in the trap like that and forget that life is so much more than just working and paying bills. It's necessary and essential to make the time for creativity and something I want to reconnect myself with.
If you haven't done so yet, check out my latest video on my YouTube channel of our "Big Move" (watch here) and please subscribe and leave a nice comment. I love reading you comments and replying to them.
Until my next post, get creative and explore the many doors of life. If you've been stuck in the constant working mode try to break out of it for a few moments each week.
Have a wonderful week.
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I'm so excited for the approach of the new year. It's a BIG one this time around as it's also the kick off of a new decade. 2020 is also that special code for perfect or precise vision and I'm using that as a point of focus for the new era that's about to begin.
Some big changes for the better has occurred throughout 2019 but even further back really.
I started my own business as a side thing back in 2007 during the time I was teaching fully at a martial arts school in Chicagoland but, it wasn't until 2012 when I went 100% solo. I left teaching at that school in November of 2011 and in January 2012 I opened my first location at the park district of my hometown. October the same year I moved into my own location and opened the first 100% total Filipino Martial Arts school in Chicagoland, meaning, we didn't teach any other form martial art, only Kali or Filipino Martial Arts.
This was a struggling time for me as I was trying to figure out how to build this business and really make it work to a point it could support me and my soon to be family. My student Tom and I would stay after class for many hours and many days as he would help me brainstorm the new evolution of my business which on September 5th of 2014 I launched and I didn't know at the time that this decision would completely transform my life.
It still took a number of years to get things really moving but fast forward to 2019 and a lot has happened in one year. The biggest thing to happen is moving out of the city and into our new country home which has been a somewhat secret dream of mine since I was a teenager. I say somewhat secret because only a few people close to me knew about this dream of mine. I really, didn't think it was something that would come true, at least not at this point in my life but, I couldn't be happier!
In October this year we closed on the new property, 22 acres of heaven on Earth for me! I know it's a big adjustment for Christy and even the kids, though the kiddos love running around like free wild little humans, but we all are excited about the awesome lifestyle changes like, gardening our own food and taking more control over our health, plus because the cost of living is so much less here we can plan on doing more traveling and showing the kids the amazing places that are in the US and maybe even venture internationally at some point.
Basically, I'm excited to give my family all the things I wish I ad the chance to do when I was a kid. Yes, I had many wonderful things but, I wish I would have seen the Grand Canyon and the Badlands with my family growing up. The best part is, no matter where we go we always get to return to our country home!
It's been a long journey and a long process to get here and I'm super excited to see where 2020 takes us!
It's been too long since I've picked up a bow and shot and I've missed the feeling and state of mind archery takes me too.
I've actually been thinking about archery a lot over the past few years and have been wanting to pick up my bow again. Since the move I wanted to make it a priority to get active with it again especially now that I have my own space to do all kinds of shooting!
What I love about archery and always have is the simplicity yet it's not easy. Of course anyone can start hitting the target at 10 or 18 meters in a short amount of time but, for me it's all about the technique, the form and process of each shot.
There are a number of type of archery but what I shoot is called "Instinctive" or "Intuitive" Archery. I use a traditional bow with no sights and no arrow rests so aiming must be more instinctive or intuitive than the archery viewed in the olympics and common sporting events.
There are a number of techniques to hold the bow, draw and release the string and each archer has their own unique variation of technique. The secret however is consistency in your technique. To be consistent in your shot means you must shoot the same way every time. You must hold the bow the same way, nock the arrow the same way and draw and release the same way. In other words, the archer must learn his or her own process.
This takes a lot of focus and persistent practice. This type of activity for me brings me into an ultimate state of being present. In archery, its just you, the target and the shot. You can't let any noises, glares, wind, weather or anything else distract you from the shot and this is what I love about archery!
I mostly shoot two different release techniques, Mediterranean (Split Finger) Method and Mongolian (Thumb Release) Method but, there are others I've been wanting to explore and learn such as the Slavic, Split Finger Thumb Release, and Native American techniques among others.
A simple tool and skill such as archery is so fundamental to us humans that I believe everyone should try archery. It's one of our earliest survival skills and it reconnects us with what it is naturally to be human.
I'm looking forward to building my own archery range here on the homestead. I'm also going to be putting a few weatherproof targets scattered throughout my woods that can be moved around.
Have you every tried archery? Would you every want to try it? Maybe should I do some archery videos on my YouTube channel? I'd love to hear from you and about your experiences or desires about this fascinating and ancient skill.
I needed to slow down and change my pace of life!
When I was a kid my fondest memories were being at my grandfather's farm in Wisconsin riding tractors, exploring the forest, fishing the pond and the fun longish drives to town. The night sky, the sounds of nature and being completely surrounded by a feeling of real freedom.
For the last 8 years I have been working every single day with a secret goal in the back of my mind to hopefully one day accomplish a dream I've had since I was fifteen years old. To one day leave the city and move to my own little place in the country side, garden my own food, meditate through my martial arts training and live a slower, quieter and more peaceful life.
This coming summer will be Christy and my 10 year anniversary that we've been together. When our son, Ares, was born my work went into turbo drive and even though I tried to be the best dad I could I missed so much of his youngest years.
It isn't easy creating your own business and building it up to not only support you and a family but also to the point where you can bring an old dream into reality. Now, I really understand what being grateful actually is and I am so grateful to all my students and supporters of my Kali Center andI'm even more excited to take that business to the next level and begin my new creations I have in mind.
With this new found gratitude I hope more people will enjoy my creations and maybe even get a little inspired to really go after their own dreams.
This week we started working on our garden house removing the old vines, roots and stumps around the house. It is truly a wonderful thing to see your family's smiles and working together, teaching and learning together.
When we were done for the day or wanted to take a little break we would go for a walk to the back pond or go see what was happening in the forest and watch the deer and the birds. Tractors, forest, ponds, nature... I am so happy I can give my family the wonderful experiences I had as a kid.
I know it may sound a bit strange but honestly, this has been the first week I've actually felt like a dad even after all these years.
I think the move to the country is going to be he best thing for myself and my family. I believe it will be a glue to bringing us closer together and to enjoy our time together and learn to be grateful for one another.
For the first time in my adult life I haven't felt a pressure of time. Out here everything can just flow naturally. It's okay if the weather isn't perfect or the sky is grey. It's these little imperfections that make these days so wonderful. The natural flow I believe life should be. It is so inspirational and my creative ideas are pouring in at such a rapid rate that I cannot wait to get started on the new projects to share with you.
Please if you would like to, continue to support me and my family on our new adventures by subscribing to my YouTube channel here and following me on my Instagram account @pauljingram and of course bookmarking my blog here. Also, please feel free to share any of my content, videos, blogs and photos. I do appreciate it and every little bit helps so much!
Here is a new video I uploaded to my YouTube channel where we are starting the first steps to our new garden which will be all edible plants and in the near future we'll also be planting a fruit tree orchard!
Thank you for taking a moment to read my blog post.
Talk to you soon,
We did it! We finally closed on our new country home!
Since I was a teenager I've been dreaming and talking about moving into the country on my own acreage and now that time has come.
We're not 100% moved in yet but Christy and I spent our first night and morning at the new house. I've been back and forth moving some things down and getting the first projects started. There's a lot of work to do as we convert our new property into our miniature homestead where we're going to grow our own food and I'll be building a training compound for my martial arts business where I can film entire new video series and host training events.
The sunrises and sunsets have been breath taking this Autumn here. The Fall colors are simply just stunning and every morning and evening we are greeted with deer, turkey and so many birds in our yard.
So far I've explored just about every inch of our 22 acres here in Little Egypt and have been enjoying the peace and quiet. Inspiration has been at an overload and I cannot wait to share everything with you right here and on my YouTube channel and social media as we continue to build our new homestead and venture out into the surrounding national forest.
We'll be back and forth for the next couple of months as we're celebrating the kids birthdays up north with family and spending these last year holidays with family as we complete our move downstate. In the mean time I'll be spending most of my time on the homestead working on some of these late Fall and early Winter projects.
The kids haven't been here yet but we're bringing them down for their first time next week after some round one birthday celebration. They're super excited and I cannot wait to see their reactions!
Follow my Instagram and Facebook page to stay connected with my quick posts, photos and video clips, my YouTube channel for full length videos on our projects on the land, home, home remedies, receipts and lots more.
Lasts and goodbyes are always bittersweet moments. As a take my last steps in this hike the reality kicks in.
It's a little strange saying goodbye to the place I grew up in but, at the same time I mostly excited. I've never felt home here and for the first time in my life I feel like I will have a true home.
Change is inevitable and necessary. For me, I couldn't imagine an abundance of happiness if I lived my entire life in one place, never exploring and adventuring. It's such an important part of life to discover the deeper layers of oneself and experience your possible potential in this life and amongst this world.
There are many new changes about to enter into my life and I'm getting more and more excited about them each day.
I cannot give any specific details as of yet but just bare with me for a few more weeks.
Change and even drastic changes in life are important especially the changes you have control of. I think it is important and necessary to create major changes in your life and create new adventures. We've all heard it before, "You only live once." but, are you living? I mean, really?
I've often asked myself this question. "Am I really living?"
For 35 years I've been living a life based on other people's expectations, teachings and knowledge and influences and for the 7 or 8 years I've been working nonstop in efforts to one day finally be able to make the decision to break free and go live my own life my own way and create my own influences.
It's been long, hard and with many disappointments along the way but, each day I just focused on the "one day." Everyday I would tell myself, "get out of bed today and just do what you have to do so that one day you will have the opportunity to do what you want to do."
Literally, for 7 years this is what I've said to myself just about every single day.
Honestly, there was a long period where I didn't think it was possible for me. I doubted that I would ever experience "my own" in my life and live and die unfulfilled. I don't know if the changes ahead will even fulfill me or provide a sense that I'm searching for but I do know I'm headed in the correct direction.
I've spent the last 12-13 years building a martial arts career for myself and the last 7-8 years building and operating my own martial arts business. I'd like to say it's proven to be successful and it continues to sustain and grow and is fulfilling to a point of I get to do something I truly enjoy, love and is a passion of mine and there is no actual end in sight of this part of my life but, there is so much more I want to try, do and accomplish.
I can't wait to start this new chapter in my life and I'm very excited to share it with you. This is the reason why I even started my blog and my second YouTube channel in the first place.
We'll be kicking it off soon and I hope you'll join me and maybe even get inspired yourself in one way or another.
If you haven't yet and would like to stay connected please follow my YouTube channel and social medias I have linked below where I'll be sharing my journey, processes and all the new things I'll be learning and experiencing!
Thanks so much and see you soon!
"Please, give me everything you know. I want to be a master!"
I cannot begin to tell you how many times each and every week I'm sent these words by people from all around the world. I also hear from time to time, "teach me exactly how you would teach your kids." The truth is, most people don't have the stomach for that.
Motivation will not in itself get anyone to achieve greatness. Greatness achieved comes from within. It comes from a devotion to and a drive that often is not explainable in simple words.
It is my belief that mastery, is never truly achieved. It is an idea to thrive for and an idea to dedicate oneself too. It takes a great amount of discipline to remain persistent enough in focus, effort and drive. In order to thrive a mastery towards something one must dig deep within their own depths and justify what it means and why it is something important one wants to have. Then you must be willing to be dedicated day in and day out to the necessary tasks and objectives, not the tasks you necessarily want to do and achieve but the ones you must do.
What one must do is not often what one wants to do necessarily. Especially when the tasks and objectives become day to day and year by year monotonous.
You must exercise thinking to go beyond the average, the good and enter an entirely new league. The daily routine must not be the normal routine of others. You must be prepared to spend a great amount of time in isolated study and research. You must understand how the skills and knowledge you wish to master move laterally across other skills and subjects to understand the principles at the rate mastery requires.
This level of dedication and discipline is not easy. Most will settle for good, or more accurately, good enough in their craft.
One must be connected to their craft which means searching constantly for a stronger connection with themselves. This takes an incredible amount of courage to face truths about the self that may have been wished to remain buried.
Mastery in anything goes hand in hand with disciple and stoicism. It is a dedication of hardship that is intriguing and even at times aspiring by the many.
A master with no discipline is nothing more than a mirage. A master without evergreen study for achievement is false.