Slowing down in the Midwest is affording me more focus and creativity

As my brain has started to slow down and see clearer, I have found myself becoming more mindful of the things I am focusing on. It feels like I'm in the middle of a big, pivotal life lesson about distractions and focus, and I've only really started to recognized that on this trip.

Windmills sitting the distance off a country road, a cloud-filled blue sky, green grass everywhere
Interstate 80, west of Des Moines

This morning I woke up with a gratitude mindset and it set my whole day up for success, physically, mentally and in my endeavors (both work and personal). I wrote in my journal as I sat in the backyard of my Airbnb, and kept pausing to listen to the song of the cicadas filling the air.

Being in the Midwest for the first time in my life has shown me how small my worldview really is. I clearly have preconceived notions about places I've never been, some of which are not the full picture... and others that have been confirmed for better and for worse 😜

Less shiny objects to distract you

This leg of my road trip has taught me that there is inner peace and beauty in every corner of the world, and sometimes its easier to find it when there's not a bunch of shiny objects to distract you.

With my two months in Denver behind me, I'm entering a leg of my trip where I won't be spending more than two weeks in any of the next four locations. Even though I haven't fallen in love with Des Moines in the week I've been here, I have had the opportunity to connect with family I haven't seen in almost a decade. It's also been such a change of pace from the hustle culture I'm used to.

As my brain has started to slow down and see clearer, I have found myself becoming more mindful of the things I am focusing on. It feels like I'm in the middle of a big, pivotal life lesson about distractions and focus, and I've only really started to recognized that on this trip.

It's especially interesting to be forced to adapt to a new place, to create a new routine, and to drive new roads and walk new paths so frequently. It almost like I'm getting to travel through a network of Earth's veins (sorry if that analogy creeps you out), and each vein I drive down eventually leads to a core place that is made up of a system of energy (kind of like a heart).

I feel like I have connected in a new way with wildlife, flowers, grasses and trees, and even... bugs 🐛 (although sometimes they don't give me the choice haha). And as an empathic person, I feel like I've absorb so much of a place's energy just by physically being there.

I'm so grateful for this time in my life. I just can't express that enough...

A row of buildings with a water tower in the background a beautiful, cloudless sky.
Downtown Stewart, Iowa

Money in a small city

Since I can't help but bring almost every post back to the topic of money, I have to share that it's definitely easier to not spend money in a small city. There's not that much to spend it on, really. The only thing I have spent money on is dining out, gas and groceries. Even the state parks and most parking locations don't cost anything...

I tried spending money and supporting the local economy... I even went around to a few stores to look for my favorite type of souvenir (a magnet with the city's name), but I wasn't able to find one at first. On my way out of a restaurant today, I found an "Iowa" magnet at their entrance gift shop (it was inside The Machine Shed, for anybody interested).

I kind of loved finding a state-specific magnet (it's my first one). It makes it feel like the people here consider themselves as one. The locals only seem to say unkind things about neighboring state (Nebraska and Minnesota) in order to uplift Iowa's image. They definitely are defensive of their home state, even if it is minutiae most of the time.

A cute little room with lots of windows and lights strung across the A-frame ceiling.
The room I'm writing this post from, inside of my Des Moines Airbnb

Viewing properties in the Midwest while working a full-time job

As I travel through the Midwest (heading to Kansas City next), I can officially say that I have started putting myself out there to invest in real estate. These lower-cost markets are too enticing to not look at while I'm here.

I went to properties viewings with a realtor for the first time this past week. The whole experience was surprisingly energizing -- not only did I feel a intense boost in my mental mood from it, it also gave me a boost in my day job as well. I had a much more productive week after viewing the properties, which always feel motivating.

Two spiky green-brown-yellow fruit on a buckeye tree, surrounded by green leaves
Buckeye Tree Fruit

Reflecting on where I've come from and where I am

For the first time in my life, I feel this beautiful harmony between what I need to do and what I want to do.

My past self, the version of me that was scared of overdraft fees, would be so damn proud of where I am now. Hell, I'm f*cking proud of where I am now, and I really don't say to myself or think that enough...

In sharing my story with others, I've made new connections and strengthened old connections in so many ways. It feel so special to have so many beautiful people following along with my journey.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge and stories with me along the way as well! I've gotten countless recommendations and anecdotes from people in various corners of the world, and I feel so much more connected to you all, even from a distance.

A beautiful silver arched bridge over reflective river water and a cloudy blue sky
Woman's Achievement Bridge & Des Moines River - Downtown Des Moines

Future posts and updates

It's been way too long since I last wrote on here, which means that I already broke a promise to myself... BUT I am at peace with that haha.

I will continue to keep my site updated, but apologies in advance if the posts come at random intervals.

Thanks for reading!

A photo of me sitting on a rock at the peak of Mount Evans in Colorado.
Mount Evans Peak, Colorado - August 2022

First time here? Hi there! I'm Tim Winfred. I'm a digital nomad on a road trip across the United States. I am working towards financial independence and am dedicated to investing in my future self and my current self at the same time. I am constantly working to optimize how I use my time and energy in order to afford a better lifestyle and spend time doing the things I love most. Thanks for joining me on this journey!

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