“One Year Car-Less”

It has now officially been one year, that I have lived without a car! I now know, from personal experience, it can be done! It is surprisingly easy and at this point I have no intention of going back! Yes there are inconveniences, like slogging groceries in a backpack in the dead of winter…..actually, now that I think about it, that’s the only one! The benefits however, are amazing. Here are my top 10:

1. When I did drive, I did not have a car loan on my last vehicle, so I got off lucky with around $5K in car expenses a year. With car loan payments, that could easily hit $10K/year. That’s money in the bank.

2. I now have the coolest bike in the world with my Brompton! Check out their webpage – http://www.brompton.com – These guys have created a serious cult following!

3. I no longer have to be a taxi to my kids – I guess that isn’t totally fair as an empty nester, but if they were still living at home I wouldn’t be their personal chauffeur!

4. I walk or bike to work every day which means I get to listen to audio books and learn all kinds of new and interesting things.

5. I walk or bike to work every day so I get the added benefit of being in the best shape that I have been in years – and I get to eat ANYTHING!

6. My blood pressure, which used to be in the mildly hyper tensive range is now, at last check, 109/60 – Freaky low!

7. Did I mention that I am in the best shape I have been in years? I am running the New York City Marathon in November 2013 – I couldn’t have done that a year ago when I commuted by car!

8. Walking is like a moving meditation – I no longer suffer road rage; I have a clearer mind; I have a quieter mind; I am way more relaxed; and I sleep unbelievably well.

9. I have a much better appreciation for my city – when you drive you don’t see beyond the road and the traffic around you. When you walk or bike, you truly experience your environment and the people. Contrary to popular belief, Ottawa is NOT the city that Fun forgot!

10. I am no longer bothered by the weather. When you walk everywhere, you get used to it. Bring it on! Rain, sleet, snow – I am ready for you!

Now that I am moving into year two of my life without a car, I look forward to diving into exploring further the notion of sustainable living and design. I think it would be really cool as a designer to really push the status quo of what has become the conventional Canadian suburban lifestyle by exploring a much more urban based sustainable living model.

Introducing – The Accidental Architect

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So here I am, 33 years into a career that hardly seemed planned.  It was truly a freak accident that I became an Architect.  When I first went to University I had absolutely no clue what an Architect did. I started my education taking a year of Engineering.  It took me about a month to realize I would probably be a crappy Engineer so I spent the better part of first year in the pub.  I was a creative type and Engineering was stifling.  It just so happened that my room mate in residence was in first year Architecture.  I looked at what I was doing and what he was doing and realized I wanted to be doing that.   I always drew and sketched, and I looked at Architecture as a happy medium between being an artist and keeping my Dad happy. It was the start of a 33 year love-hate relationship with my career.

This is a cautionary tale of the obscure life of the Accidental Architect.  It is a memoir of sorts about the life of creative type struggling between two careers – Architecture which fed the family and Art which fed the soul.  It’s a story about a guy who did everything against the grain, about desire to live life on one’s own terms, fighting social norms, ignoring the masses, striving to live life creatively.  It’s a memoir about failure, success, freedom and the absurdity of life. This is not a memoir about buildings or paintings – The Accidental Architect is about being the Architect of your life!

A word of warning: Be careful what you wish for in life – you might just get it!  And I can guarantee that it will be much different than anticipated!