Different Path, Thinking

What not to forget.

“It is better to spend your time at funerals than at festivals. For you are going to die and it is a good thing to think about it while there is still time.” – Ecclesiastes 7:2

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When will you take your last breath?

Is it something you like to think you’ll deal with much, much, later?

I know I do.

Death itself isn’t the problem. I imagine that death as an event is probably less bothersome than a visit to the dentist in 8 out of 10 cases. What concerns me is all of the choices that lead up until the moment our hearts stop beating.

I wonder if I’m making choices with death in mind. If I recognized how omnipresent the end is, I’d probably attack life a bit differently.

What if we could see death?

What if when we were born, we could only see death as a blip on the horizon. A dark spot beside  sunsets that could just as easily have been a trick of the retina. What if by the time we were middle age we could only just make out the outline of a figure in a bowler hat and a pocket watch in the far distance. As the years rolled by the figure got closer but we really couldn’t tell if he or she was fat or slim, tall or short, walking or just standing still.

If every evening we could look at the horizon and see death, lay down and wake up the following morning, glance out the ice-frosted window, and notice that death must have taken just a step closer to us while we slept.

What if by the time we were in our seventies we could make out the brand of the pocket watch and from time to time could see death leaning towards us a drunken sailor at port.

What if after years of growing comfortable with, and ignoring death we were shocked that somehow, while we weren’t paying attention, death had spent the last couple years in our homes, moving from the porch, to the living room, to the guest bathroom, and now seemed to making himself quite comfortable in the chair across from our bed.

Too tired to do much of anything, we watch him somberly as he stands up, reaching and stretching slowly, looking at his antique pocket watch critically and taking one step to the head of the bed. He’d lean over us and we’d feel his humid breath on our cheek as he breathed into our ear “It’s time.”

But we don’t.

Because, (1) that would be creepy.

And (2), that would drastically change the way  we lived day-to-day.

That’s the reality, however.

I wonder what you would change if you started being able to see death.

-OFO

 

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Different Path, Self-Therapy, Things I like.

“The Best Thing I’ve done all Week..”

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This week I got the opportunity to volunteer at a local church during vacation bible school. This was an all week vacation bible school that allowed parents a break and was targeted at both at-risk youth and neighborhood children.

I was only able to volunteer two days out of the five day camp but a couple hours into the first day I was texting a friend and telling her that this was the “best thing I had done all week”.  I meant it. I had spent the previous part of the week working at two different hospitals,  and while I enjoyed helping patients via my day to day activities, I felt a totally different type of reward from this.

The kids ranged in age from 4 year olds to 4th graders. And I loved them all.

We had bad kids (who weren’t really bad) but who had parents who didn’t reinforce boundaries or teach discipline and it really put my life into perspective. The bad kids were the kids that I was drawn to, because often they are victims of circumstance. Their parents were not prepared – financially, emotionally, or mentally for the responsiblity of having children. As a result the children suffer. They are stuck in a situation outside of their choosing and having to learn the rules for societies and success that their parents may never have entered.

It all got me to to thinking about my current focus. A little less than a month ago I stumbled upon a discovery that will save me a good sum of money every month, with no extra work, but just by making a couple adjustments to my student loan payment plan. That one adjustment will save me near the amount of money that I was hoping to gain from buying an investment property and be able to leave my second job.

I read a bible verse today that brought me up short.

Lord, help me to realize how brief my time on earth will be. Help me to know that I am here but for a moment more. My whole lifetime is no longer than my hand! Proud man! Frail as Breath! A shadow! And all his busy rushing ends in nothing. He heaps up riches for someone else to spend. And so, Lord, my only hope is in you.” – Psalm 39: 4-7

 

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The last couple of days have had me reflecting more and more about my purpose and legacy. One of the reasons for my creating a huge board of exciting life goals for this year was the realization that saving money wasn’t going to significantly increase my happiness and in fact, too much saving was making me miserable.

Thinking about how I’m investing my time now and ways that I can invest more time into the areas of my life bring me more happiness is the overall goal. If I can invest my time into children and change the trajectory of even one child then I’m sure I’d gain more satisfaction from that than owning another property. I’m also certain that If God wants me to own another investment property he will make a way for it to happen.

So, what’s the path forward? I’m not sure.

I’m tempted to think that the path forward is to

  1. Quit the second job.
  2. Become more efficient with my mornings (stick to a miracle morning 5x week)
  3. Volunteer with student (YBM’s) at Church or other volunteer organization.

But I’m not sure. I hope the road will make itself plain going forward.

FOF, OFO

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Different Path, Self-Improvement

Bigger than Financial Freedom..

 

F U Money. Wake up and Cake up Money. Freedom Money.

For a good portion of my adult life I’ve been focused on getting to the mythical but oft-talked about land of financial freedom. I’ve consumed blog posts, books, and gone to seminars that are all aimed at getting me to a place where I can live life not ever having to worry about money and cashing checks from investments would be my biggest job responsibility.

I’m not the only one it seems.

There are a lot of personal finance blogs that cater to the idea of financial freedom and helping you to achieve it. I love them all. I love reading about how people who came from not-much are able to focus and create a life of abundance. One of my favorite pastimes is scrolling through the personal finance blogosphere during commutes or downtime.

My financial journey has been an interesting one in that it has shifted and transformed as I’ve gotten older. I started with an extreme focus on expense tracking and organization. Then I started to seek opportunities to improve cash flow by searching for assets worth acquiring. The last couple of years has been somewhat frustrating as opportunities to find have dwindled significantly.

So I read this amazing post from George Tako on Medium..

This post was paradigm shifting for me. It really helped me to come to terms with the emptiness that laid behind my determination to live a life where I imagined living by the beach, drinking Pina coladas and watching checks roll in. Because, first of all, I don’t like Pina Coladas.

Second, do I really want to stop working? No.

The whole point of becoming financially independent was so that I could then, go on to discover the work that I love to do. smh. This is backwards thinking. Why not figure out how to incorporate more and more of the work I love to do into my life now. Why not figure out ways that I can help others and make money today. If I can’t solve this problem today then I must keep attacking this problem until I get to a solution that adds value to both my life and the people I’m serving.

I’m trying to make the shift from wanting the material wealth to wanting the internal changes that acquiring wealth would require from me. I think I want to be a better person. Who knew?

I am a self-improvement addict. I don’t need more money – I just need courage and the self-awareness to keep growing.

I hope to continually craft a work-life that speaks to my soul.

Fly or Fall

OFO

 

[picture from San Francisco Marina Playground]

View story at Medium.com

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Different Path, Self-Improvement, Self-Therapy

Professor Time..

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Today I sat on the beach for a couple of hours watching the waves pulse against and fall away from the accumulation of seashells, sand, and tourists. 

I’d gotten the opportunity to step away from the ho-hum and accompany my cousin to a mini-vacation that was stuck right in the midst of one of the busy weeks; full of obligation, guilt at being unable to attend to them all, and unease about if any of these things were moving me closer to the life I wanted.

On the way up we bounced the beach ball of conversation onto a couple of different topics. We started with how we were each, everyday, chipping away at the life we were given. We were constantly becoming. Constantly creating habits that would either make our sculptures more beautiful or letting the chisel slip and create details that we did not want in the final product.

We talked about how being comfortable could be a type of ambition anesthesia that allows time to slip away unnoticed, not capitalized on, and unappreciated. I started to think about what creature comforts I needed to remove from my life in order to give myself the nudge towards doing something different. Was it Netflix? Facebook? My Television? Tinder?

I watched the waves build, crest, and then crash into the beach. They reached as far as they could then reluctantly were drawn back into the ocean, never to be seen again in exactly the same form. 

I realized that my time here on earth was very similar. My time was very much like the waves. I don’t know when I might be asked to return back to the ocean. I don’t know what rocks I may crash against. However, I do know that I have some choice as to what I want to pursue while I have time.

What came to me while I was watching the waves lick at the beach, was that I wanted to create as much as I could while I could. I want to leave my mark in as many realms as I am interested in. I don’t want to waste any more time.

Practically this translates into a desire to create something new everyday..An essay, a piece of music, a new muscle, a skill, something that is additive. Ideally this is something that I can look at the next day and feel that exhalation of satisfaction in putting my heart, and nerve and sinew to the tasks of building something new.

Even if it’s a sandcastle on the beach.

Fly or Fall.

OFO

 

 

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Different Path, Self-Improvement

Ladder’s on the Right Wall

This month has been a very interesting one. One filled with a message that I seem hell-bent on ignoring. I’ve written before about my tendency to use money as a yardstick. This leads to a temptation to bury myself in my work due to it’s easy availability of meaning.

  • Work = Value created for somebody.
  • Work = helping other people
  • Work = More money
  • More money = More Freedom

Work is a win-win-WIN. Until it’s not.

One of my correlated interests due to my obsession with financial freedom is perusing personal finance website and poring over other people’s thoughts on finances, investing, and smart ways to tackle financial planning. As a result I follow a couple people in the blogosphere who pontificate on making smart financial decisions and ways to structure back-door Roth’s or use HSA’s as no-tax retirement accounts.

One of the people I follow was  a young doctor who was in her residency but had managed, through levels of hard work I can’t even begin to imagine, managed to graduate medical school with no debt, purchase a home, and fully fund her retirement while also raising a child. To say I was impressed by her achievements were a understatement. All this was accomplished before her 32nd birthday.

Recently, I learned that she had passed. Possibly (unconfirmed), due to suicide.

For some reason, this death, although I did not know her personally, shook me.

I think, because, she was so far ahead of me in soo many ways. Although, she was younger, I looked up to her. Her work ethic and accomplishments were in many ways- a blueprint for the life I wanted.

So her death (and it’s rumored cause), naturally, threw a monkey wrench into my mental model. The biggest question to be born from it all is, am I living my best life today? If my life was to end today, would I be happy with the way I’ve been spending my days?

I think this has even been on my mind even more due to a couple conversation’s with some people who have known me for  a little while.

  • One conversation with a former roommate. He asked me if I still made music, because he knew how happy it used to make me as a student. I used to get noise complaints weekly (yep – I was that neighbor) because I would spend hours crafting music simply for the joy of creating. My answer to him: No.
  • A friend of mine about a month ago not believing that I made music. Then daring me to create some right that second. I started and lost myself in the process. I looked up an hour later. Happier, although I didn’t earn any money, move forward on any goals, or create value for anyone but me.

It’s really also made me stop and look at the why of why I’m doing the things I’m doing. The last couple of months I’ve been working extra because my car was acting up in late December. I threw myself into work in order to be able to buy my next car with cash. However, the closer I got to my goal, the more tempting it was to move the goal post just a bit further so I could afford a car that was just a bit nicer, had just a bit more horsepower or just a bit nicer rims.

After this event, I started to wonder about the wisdom of working harder to afford a more expensive car, that would mainly serve to shuttle me to work. I was about to willingly  enter into a bit of a nonsensical vicious circle-jerk.

This death, as unfortunate as it was, has helped to pause my automatic decision making. It’s helping me (And I really do struggle) with pausing my knee-jerk reaction to solve problems with more effort, more hours pounding away at a problem, and to take a moment to consider surrendering control to God.

To ponder relaxing and happiness as goals worthy of achievement unto themselves.

To try to re-frame my relationship with money and  work.

“To work to serve. To work to learn. That money is a tool” – DWM

Fly or Fall.

OFO

 

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Different Path, Self-Improvement, Self-Therapy

Week in Review: 1/19-1/26

Debt Reduction Goal: So I put an extra $900 towards my student loan – bringing the total spent on loans for the month so far to $1249.86. I also plan to transfer $1500 that I had sitting around in a forgotten about savings account so that I can put that towards my student loan. Hopefully that’ will happen in time for the next week in review.

Creating Music: There have been a series of unfortunate events that have conspired against me. 1. A snowstorm that has stuck me at work for approximately 3 days. 2. Someone close to me undergoing surgery and requiring (or me wanting to give) my presence at their bedside. Still managed to create a beat with some feedback that a friend gave me. My friend pointed out something that I had kind of noticed – that some of my recent music sounded similar – mostly b/c the groove bed that they laid on (drums) were kind of getting the short end of the stick. I usually dont get the oppurtunity to spend as much time as I would like and often kind of give each beat the best of my ability for 1-2 hours. Then I leave them. However, the best music requires edit after edit after rearrangement and tons of restructuring, retrofitting, etc. I think going forward I will focus not only on putting together a cohesive beat but after february – focus on spending 2 sessions per beat instead of the one. I think now I’m just focused on making music consistently and learning to express myself easily (while fighting the resistance).

Travel: Spoke with my cousin about a possible trip to Martinique – for some reason this feels like the right first trip to take. Its to a french-speaking carribean island. I know right! – Which inspires me to refocus on my french practice..which to be honest has been getting little to no attention in the last 2 weeks. My cousin has friends down there and I will be putting in my request for PTO right after I finish this post.

Being Brave: The hardest thing on the list- and while I did semi-pull the trigger on something that had scared be for a long time – I also realized that It wasn’t worth it to me to fight for it in the way I originally planned. This I’ll continue to think on and have a definitive objective for the month (and complete it!) before the end of the month.

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Different Path, Self-Therapy

Forgiving oneself: A primer

This is a follow up to the love you deserve post. Only feelings that deserved to die were murdered during the making of this post.

So. For some of us during this thing called life, we will make decisions we regret. We will maybe hurt people we didn’t mean to. We may do things that a later version of ourselves (i.e. You 2.0) may look back upon in wonderment, awe, and dismay. These mistakes, whether big or small, may grow muscles and lungs, and take on a life of their own. They may use their strength and voice to later accuse us of being something less than who we really are. People from our past may agree with these loud, muscle bound mistakes. In fact, there may be a general consensus as to who you are to a great many people.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, these mistakes, and the people who saw them born cannot know who you are today. They may have missed your “damascus road” moment. They may not have been present when you moved away from your old self. They may not have seen you peel off your old self like  a snake skin. They may have missed the hours, days, and years that you slaved away at becoming someone unrecognizable to them. Your now different inside. They can’t see the brand new skin on your heart. Or the scars from the operation that replaced your thought patterns.

So you can’t really blame these people. You can’t be mad at them. For not having X-ray emotional vision.

But you can’t believe them. You have to decide they’re liars. Not on purpose. But because they don’t know any better.

You have to decide to forgive yourself. You have to decide to believe what someone else says about you. Someone whose opinion is never wrong.

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” – Psalm 139:14

Fly.

OFO

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