Tag Archive: free

What Matters Most?


As we hit the ground running in 2016 it can be so easy to simply be caught up in all the responsibilities, habits and routines that characterised 2015.


To Be Still.

And Know.

A couple of years ago, tbV [the beautiful Val] and i were part of a book study working through a book called ‘Free’ by our friend Mark Scandrette. The subtitle of the book is, ‘Spending your Time and Money on What Matters Most’.

Which contains the underlying assumption that you have an idea of what matters most.

And so before you go screaming haphazardly into this new year, let me invite you again to just stop.

Create a space and time when you can honestly answer this question for yourself: WHAT MATTERS MOST TO YOU?

Then look around at how you are living your life, especially in terms of how you are spending your time, money, energy and resources. And also in terms of the people you are surrounding yourself with or giving time, focus and attention to.

If you have not taken time to figure out and express in some way what matters most to you, then how will you ever be able to give it your attention?

Can you articulate it? What is one of the things that matters most to you? Leave a comment sharing just one of those things with the rest of us. 

[Also tbV and i are keen to lead another book study on this in Cape Town starting some time after Feb and so if you’re interested in finding out more, send an email to brettfish@hotmail.com and we can chat]


When tbV [the beautiful Val] and i were living in Oakland about a year ago, we came across a book titled ‘Free’ by a friend of ours we had met over here, Mark Scandrette.


The tagline of the book is ‘Spending your Time and Money on What Matters Most’ and that really does sum up the book. We decided to gather some people together and work through the book over an eight week period. Continue reading

‘It is often said that before you die your life passes before your eyes. It is in fact true. It’s called living.’ [Terry Pratchett]

change1Last year i ran a series called New Year’s Evolutions in which i challenged people, instead of making the traditional resolutions [that i’ve seldom heard to have worked] to rather take a bit of a stock take of their life and be intentional about making a series of evolutions [small discernible changes] so as to live a more effective life in the coming year. The end of the year is a great time to do this as often people are off work and have a little more time and the start of a new year feels like a good time to add some new things to your life, or to remove some things that are having a negative or even sometimes just neutral effect.

This year tbV and i ran a book study using a book that our friend, Mark Scandrette had written called ‘Free: Spending your Time and Money on what matters most.’  I would highly encourage you to get hold of a copy and work through it with a bunch of friends over an eight week period – was such a great time for us and we ended up with some new friends and better life habits as a result. But even if you don’t go that far, to make some time to address the premise of looking at how you SPEND YOUR TIME and SPEND YOUR MONEY and then really being honest about whether those things line up with what you would say MATTERS MOST in your life.

I spent a lot of years at ‘the singles table’ at weddings growing up and inevitably you’re grouped with a bunch of people you don’t know and i used to find small talk excrutiatingly difficult and awkward until i came up with a simple solution. I changed the question ‘So what do you do?’ [which, let’s be honest, unless they’re an actual lion tamer, astrophysicist or spleen dissection technician we really don’t care about and likely won’t remember] to ‘What is your passion in life?’. Often it initially throws people a little bit, because they are not expecting it, but when they take a moment and think about it and start putting some words to the reality of their life, when people answer the question ‘What are you passionate about?’ you start to really find out who they are. And quite often it has little to do with what they do.

Take a minute to answer that question… What are YOU passionate about? 

Once you have that thing in your mind, and it might be a number of things – write them down – then ask yourself these questions:

# How much of my time do i spend doing something related to that? [If my passion is the outdoors and i am stuck in an 8 to 6 office job, well then…]

# How much of my money do i spend on things and experiences related to that?

Do they align? If not, then as you end off this year and are about to start a new one, maybe this is the best time to do something about it.

And maybe that thing will be something quite dramatic. [Handing in notice at your work, start planning that overseas trip, make a phone call about that volunteering you have been wanting to do…]

Maybe it will be something smaller and more manageable, but decide now to be intentional about doing it. And then jump…

change2# One of my evolutions for 2014: Taking responsability


Two shirts in [thankx Maff, aka my newish friend Adam von Boltenstern, yes that’s a real name!] and two out… instant fashion upgrade.

i really like the principle of deciding on a set number of clothing items you need and then any time you get something new, passing on or recycling something old…

as i have been writing about recently, a group of us have been working through the book, ‘Free: Spending your Time and Money on what matters most’ and it has been interesting, exciting, challenging and in some regards life-transforming.

mugshirtthe last two weeks, one of the experiments has been this thing called ‘Have two, give one’ with the very simple idea that if you have two of something you should give one of them away – so the first week we started with clothes and shoes and invited everyone to go through their closets and bring what they wanted to give away [we adapted it a little for our group – one of the suggestions we gave was that if there is an item you have not worn for a year you can more than likely pass it on] and the following week we moved on to small appliances and kitchen stuff and it can go on to bigger appliances and more. the idea was that if anyone else from the group needed/wanted anything someone was throwing out they could take it [remembering the purpose is to get rid of stuff, not accumulate] and the rest would be sold, passed on to thrift stores etc.

my new friend Maff [who generally has the raddest shirts in town] brought a huge bag of shirts he had decided to give away and made comments to the tune of, ‘Good luck going through that and not keeping half the stuff’ and so i kinda just left the bag to the side with the intention of going through it some time.

and i decided to go through it tonite. but i decided to be hardcore and only take stuff i REALLY wanted and so managed to resist a ‘Monty Python Spamalot show’ shirt and a ‘Darth Vader walking an imperial walker as if it was a dog’ shirt and a bunch of others, and in the end i left with two new [to me] shirts. but i decided to honour the intention of the exercise and went through my drawers and took out two t-shirts and got rid of them, finally [sadly] retiring my Monty Python ‘I fart in your general direction’ shirt which to be honest, had seen better days and had to go.

So why not join us and take the challenge… whether you decide to go for a ‘Have two, Give one’ or a ‘If I haven’t worn/used this for a year, pass it on’ approach, that doesn’t really matter, but make the time to go through your clothes/shoes at least and see if you can do some decluttering as one step towards becoming more free.



seems like the message of slowing down seems to be chasing me around these days…

after being inspired by something that my friend at Re:Gen, Albert Lee, preached on Sunday nite [that he told me Dallas Willard said] i wrote this post on rushing, taking special note that Jesus never seemed to.

and today i head into my book reading for the ‘Free: Spending your Time and Money on what matters most’ preparation for the book study tbV and i are leading and it is on Time [and slowing down, disconnecting, not rushing, sabbathing] and so i thought it would be a great idea to invite you to join me in my experiment:

part of my homework reads like this:

‘Experiment: Be Still

Try this. Set aside this book for five minutes. [I did, but then i didn’t know what to do next so i had to look back in the book] Close your eyes, breathe deeply and simply sit. What do you notice? What do you hear? What do you smell? How does your body feel? In the absence of activity what are you drawn to think about? What kind of thoughts come to the surface? Can you let go of those thoughts to be still and know that God is here and that you are alive in this moment?

As a way to reset a sense of restful presence, many people find it helpful to have a daily or regular practice of stillness prayer – five, ten, or twenty minutes of focused silence to be aware of God and be present to yourself. As an experiment you may want to practice this kind of stillness for a period of time each day for a week to see how it subtly shifts your sense of time, hurry or anxiety.’

i just did my first time now and it was great – started with just around 8 minutes and will look to hit 20 for the rest of the week. and i will post about how it goes after that.

but i am looking for nine other people who will sign up now [in the comment section below – just your name and i’m in!] and join me in this journey – for the next week putting aside 5, 10 or 20 minutes to be still, to turn off the phone and move away from the technology [i went and sat outside and that was great] and just experience the stillness.

the commitment is to write your name in the comments, say ‘I’m in’ and then report back next week when i post and add some thoughts on how the experience was for you..

the non eternal-optimist realist in me suspects i’ll be lucky to get three people, but i’m hoping i’ll have a full 9… so come on, who is in?

[To read my response after a week of doing this, as well as many others in the comments section, click here]


i read an exercise in a book the other day that encouraged us to imagine that we had died:

‘what do you hope the people closest to you might say at your funeral?’

‘what kind of obituary will they write about you for the local newspapeR?’

[from Free: Spending your Time and Money on what matters most, by Mark Scandrette]

in answering those questions we have to realise that nothing is going to magically happen one day for those things to suddenly become true

if it’s not true now, then it’s very likely not going to suddenly be true later

the truth is, your obituary writing starts here

it starts now

and you write it

not physically, but by the way you live your life, how you speak, what you give your time and money to

do you think you would live life any differently if that was the first thought on your mind as you woke up to start a new day?

my obituary starts here

now, how am i going to live, to make it a good one?

do you wish to be FREE?

tbV and i are friends with a guy called Mark Scandrette, who together with his wife Lisa, just finished a book called ‘Free: Spending your Time and Money on what matters most.’

the presentation that they did for the book was so inspirational that we signed up to lead an 8 week book study which will be starting early October. the main question the book asks is whether you are spending your Money and your Time on the same things that you claim to Value most in life [which most of us probably aren’t]. then through activities and discussions it seeks to help you put some things in place and change some mindsets so that those things will line up a lot more.

i have just started reading the book and this ‘prayer of abundance’ really connected with me. The invitation is to pray this prayer daily as you are working through the book:

I know that I am cared for by an abundant Provider

I choose to be grateful and trusting,

I believe I have enough and that what I need will always be provided.

I choose to be content and generous.

I know that my choices matter for myself, for others and for future generations.

Help me to live consciously and creatively,

celebrating signs of your new creation that is present and coming.

Creator, who made me to seek the greater good of Your kingdom,

Guide me to use my time, talents and resources to pursue what matters most.

Teach me to be free,

to live without worry, fear or greed in the freedom of Your abundance.

Give me my daily bread, as I share with those in need.

Thank You for the precious gift of life.

[From ‘Free’ by Mark Scandrette]

imagine what the world could, and would, look like if we all prayed that, and meant it, every day.

[To look at the next post i did on Avoiding the Rush of Life, click here]

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