Western Red Cedar's Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
Western Red Cedar
Posts: 71
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:15 pm

Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

I have been pursuing financial independence for roughly five years. I'm generally a private person and don't engage with any social media. After reading through various journals, I've finally decided to document my journey here as this represents a valuable opportunity to track my growth and frame my thinking about critical decisions along the FI path. I've also learned a lot from various strategies and techniques implemented by this community, and thought that in a few years someone else may find value in my path.

I track my net worth monthly, but stopped tracking expenses after doing so for about six months because I found it a bit tedious and my expenses don't seem to actually change that much. As a household, DW and I spend an average of about $2000 per month, with $785 of that coming from rent. This doesn't include medical expenses (taken from my paycheck or paid for through an FSA). I felt our budget was quite extravagant, until I realized that many here are reporting separate finances from their partner. DW and I maintain separate accounts, and generally split expenses, but I cover a larger share of the household expenses as I have a higher income. Documenting this all in a journal may encourage me to develop a relevant and appropriate accounting methodology.

I tend not to fixate on expenses too much and don't use a budget because I am pretty conscious about every expense. Our FI life is likely to look quite different than our current lifestyle with a focus on slow travel, living, working, and volunteering internationally. I get a bit annoyed about the 4% gospel among mainstream FIRE adherents because so much is subject to change and I think it can make one a bit too conservative in life choices. I am leaning toward a strategy of having a very comfortable financial cushion (450,000 - 500,000) that would cover most of our expenses and picking up work periodically. Once I transition away from the Salary Man lifestyle, I should be able to trim expenses in a variety of ways.

I'm a traditional index investor, which has proven quite fruitful as of late (NW increase of $18,256 last month - my best month ever! Over $30,000 increase over the last two months!). I know indexing isn't the most popular strategy here, but I think one of the values of this approach is that it is relatively easy to understand for new investors and can make one more comfortable dipping their toe in the investment world. I personally sat on a lot of cash as I began pursuing FI and may never have actually invested in equities due to my cautious and risk-averse nature. I ultimately started investing in late 2015 after realizing how much I would gain through tax advantage accounts. In addition to relative frugality, I've focused on tax optimization, excelling in my field, and increasing my salary.

Our current NW breakdown is:

457 B - 121,990
Roth IRA - 47,931
Savings - 27,700
Pension - 33,888
DW Roth - 42,051
DW Savings - 2,108
Brokerage (shared) - 19,100

The pension includes my personal contributions and is a well-funded, defined benefit pension. I wouldn't touch that money, but have access to it and it is protected in case anything happens to the pension. I'm currently vested and can access funding without penalty at 65. The pension (and Social Security) make me comfortable with an asset allocation heavily focused in equities.

Western Red Cedar
Posts: 71
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:15 pm

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

GOALS:

I gave up on New Years Resolutions about a decade ago. Like most of the population, I found I was either too ambitious or simply didn't have the willpower or innate desire to follow through on lofty resolutions. I established a new practice about seven years ago. Every year on my birthday I go out on a solo backpacking trip. This is one of the best presents to myself. I've never really liked being the center of attention, so it provides a reasonable excuse to avoid my own party. It's also very low cost (gas and a few simple groceries, and possibly a backcountry permit). Most importantly, it provides me the space and mental clarity to reflect on my past year, and think about the upcoming year. I'm most at peace when I'm in nature. The solitude and wildness of the backcountry enable me to really think about what I want to focus on in the upcoming year.

The window for backpacking, particularly in high alpine environments, is relatively narrow. You have to consider potential snow storms in the spring or early fall, different altitude levels, snow-melt and it's impact on various streams, among other factors. The trend of larger, intensive wildfires in the west has also thrown in another challenging variable. Realistically, most high-altitude trails are open in July and August. Depending on weather for the year, that may expand into early June and late September. I try to extend the season further by focusing on lower-elevation hikes along rivers or lakes in the spring and fall.

As backpacking is one of my passions, I naturally created a goal on my first year to do three new, epic backpacking trips in the season. I start off each new year on the right foot, having returned from a new and amazing National Park or National Forest. I've maintained this goal for the past seven years. Here are some of my others through next spring:

-Maintain a healthy weight

This has also regularly shown up on my yearly list, and I've slowly dropped my weight range over the last few years. I'm currently at a healthy BMI but want to continue dropping five to ten pounds and gaining more muscle.

Go on three epic backpacking trips

I've already completed this with four backpacking trips this summer (along with some fun car camping trips too). One in the Lolo National Forest - W. Montana, one in the Cabinet Wilderness - W. Montana, and two in the Selkirk Mountains - N. Idaho. I've also pushed myself with some mountaineering on three of the trips, summiting Cube Iron Mountain (7,110 ft.) on the 4th of July and doing some non-technical scrambles to some ridges and unnamed peaks in the Selkirks.

Read 20 books within specific genres.

A reading goal is also a regular fixture on my yearly goals list. I tend to read a lot for my work every day, so my yearly reading goal isn't as ambitious as when I had more free time. For a long time, I was bouncing around between a lot of different books and topics. I found that if I identified certain topics and read a few authors in that topic, I took a lot more away from each book. For example, I wanted to read some Timothy Egan so I decided to focus on History and Literature about the West for about a quarter of last years reading (The Big Burn - Egan, The Good Rain - Egan, Big Rock Candy Mountain - Wallace Stegner, Tibetan Peach Pie - Tom Robbins, Under the Banner of Heaven - Jon Krakauer, Heart Earth - Ivan Doig, etc...). I'm not too strict about this practice, and sometimes the area is fairly generic such as Science Fiction. This year I started with a focus on food an the natural environment. I finished Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle last month, along with a short read about a geology expedition in Greenland that I really enjoyed called A Wilder Time.

Learn 3 new scales on the guitar.

If I only have a goal to practice the guitar, I tend to fall back in my own comfort zones. I started practicing scales forwards and back, and at different speeds. This has been great to break out into little blues solos and further my understanding of music and my instrument. I'm completely self-taught. I sound decent but don't read music and I am bumbling around in the dark a bit when it comes to theory.

Limit time reading news or online. Establish a better morning Routine.

This one has been a fail so far. Probably exacerbated by COVID 19. Something to work on.

Keep Learning about photography and gardening.

Photography has always been a hobby and I think I have a decent eye for good photos. I need to commit some time to learning more technical details about my equipment, and I also want to start getting into filming with my DSLR. DW and I have lived in the same nice, relatively inexpensive historic apartment for the last five and a half years. It's got many great features, but light isn't one of them. A benefit is that the apartment stays pretty cool even when temperatures are above 100F. The major downside is I haven't been able to do much with houseplants or container gardening. After being exposed to Rob Greenfield through this forum, I got a bit inspired and decided I could at least grow a few herbs in our windows. We've had sage, parsley, basil, and mint for the whole summer. I've also been immersed in YouTube videos on permaculture and gardening for a while. It's one area I want to focus on more in the future, if and when we have a better space for gardening.

Consider foraging for more wild foods:

My parents have a cabin and every spring I try to go up weekly to see when the Morels are popping. This year was the best year so far, with roughly 3-3.5 pounds of Morels in their old orchard. Some of the biggest I've ever seen. I assessed some hikes in the region that were at a similar elevation, and found another 1-1.5 pounds on my hike near a lake an hour and a half away. I now have that spot marked on a map for future years, and found out about another trail on the opposite side of the mountain after talking to some mushroom hunters in the parking lot. I've heard that chanterelles are fairly easy to identify, so I'd like to get more familiar with those. I also live in an area with lots of wild huckleberries. Although I missed the best of the season this year, I picked about a quart on my most recent backpacking trip two weeks ago. Next season I'm going to focus on picking nearby in the prime berry season as a means of combining my love of nature and desire for good local food.

Explore at least 10 new musicians.

This was a new addition to the list this year. I'm a big music lover and have a large vinyl collection, along with CDs and digital music. I used to enjoy perusing different record stores and finding deals on interesting albums that I'd never heard of. I'd find a lot of great random soul, blues, classic R&B, funk, rock, punk, etc for pretty cheap prices. Vinyl got more popular and the prices have increased. I also have a pretty sizable collection, along with all my old CDs, so I stopped buying new music for years to focus on listening to and enjoying what I have. I decided I wanted to keep exploring new artists this year, and have easily met this goal just in the hip hop genre. Lots of time at home with COVID enabled me to go pretty far down the YouTube music rabbit hole. I'm generally just sticking to free online music, but have purchased a few albums from really underground musicians that I wanted to support.

Practice gratitude at work.

In many ways my job is amazing. I have great management, cool coworkers, a relative amount of autonomy (particularly over my schedule), and make positive contributions to the environment. After staying put for the last five and a half years, my salary is very good and I have excellent benefits. I'm also highly proficient and have a level of understanding in certain areas of my field that very few professional also have, which makes me valuable to my employer and our clients. With all of these great features, I still tend to feel a bit stagnant at times professionally, and also a bit restless. I know that my job is excellent in many ways and probably the best means to quickly get to FI, so I'm trying to keep things framed appropriately and practice gratitude. No need to let an annoying meeting or request from a colleague derail an afternoon.

Try Pickling New Vegetables.

DW and I have been making Kimchi for years. I can't really even stand the store bought Kimchi, though ours is vegan and it is traditionally made with some form of seafood in most regions in Korea. DW is an amazing cook and worked on an organic farm in college. I started perusing her copy of Wild Fermentation after checking out various things online. Thus far, along with Kimchi, we've only made traditional SauerKraut. The first batch was mediocre, and one batch was really salty (I had to turn it into a weird brautwerst soup), but we've had a couple of pretty successful batches. I want to continue pickling new vegetables. This will be an important skill as I focus on gardening and growing my own produce.

Practice Spanish Daily

My Spanish is decent, and I've been practicing daily on Duolingo for a few years now. I also studied in high school for two years, took some language classes in Guatemala for a month, and have traveled in different Spanish-speaking countries. Simply relying on Duolingo isn't enough. I probably need to spend an hour per day really studying, listening to podcasts/radio, or watching films. I can make more time in my schedule by cutting out some TV, but I've found that sometimes I create so many goals that it is hard to find time to make significant progress on all of them.

I suppose that is where the Web of Goals comes in. It took me a couple of years to begin to grok and apply the Web of Goals, and its one of my favorite concepts in ERE. More on the larger Web of Goals later.
Last edited by Western Red Cedar on Fri Sep 04, 2020 10:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Western Red Cedar
Posts: 71
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:15 pm

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

In the immortal words of Freddy Mercury - "I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike."

Sadly I left my bicycle sitting in the corner of my living room with a flat tire for the last 3-4 months. I finally got around to mending the flat last weekend. Over the last three days I've done three great rides as a means to get outside, get some sunshine, enjoy nature, and get in shape. On Tuesday I finished a 19 mile ride, last night I did a 13 mile ride, and today I did a 21 mile ride - the longest since I've started biking again in the last few years. Today I opted to ride to a large, local state park and did five miles of mountain biking. It was 95F but well worth it. I often drive there for hikes, but the trails were completely different on a bike and it provided a novel experience.

DW recently started a new job that requires her to use our shared car. I typically just use it on the weekends or if I have Friday off to get out for local or regional hikes. I was a bit bummed about being housebound on my Friday off (I work 4 10's or 9 9's), but realized that I just needed to change my mindset and rely on my bike. I'm loving exploring different parts of the city on bike.

Last night after work I was going to do one of my typical, 16 mile rides that is relatively flat and meanders with our local river. I was thinking about cycling and web of goals, and decided to change my agenda to ride over to my parents house and score some produce from their abundant garden. I ended up with a backpack full of kale (three varieties), a bag of tomatoes, a bag of plums, and a cucumber. I also had a nice, hour-long chat with my folks and didn't need to ride home with the sun in my eyes.

I think I need to start getting more creative about stacking goals/results through cycling. I live in a really walkable neighborhood so I don't need to travel far for most of my needs. I'm eager to think about more options to achieve goals beyond simply "exercise" as I ride.

mooretrees
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by mooretrees »

Enjoying your journal and reading of your adventures. I take if from your forum handle that you're in the Pacific Northwest? Don't have to answer too specifically, whatever your comfort level is, of course.

I like your big adventure on your birthday, that's a great idea! I'm inadvertently doing that with a big car camping trip to a part of Oregon we've never explored. It is nice to think I won't have to field a lot of calls that day!

I looked up Wild Fermentation, is it worth the money? I'm interested in starting some sauerkraut and one suggestion I heard for a cheaper way to buy the equipment is to buy equipment specifically for kimchi as it is often cheaper. Any tips about a good starter for sauerkraut are appreciated.

Welcome to the forum!

Cheepnis
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Cheepnis »

Welcome WRC!
Learn 3 new scales on the guitar.
That's how you get better! The inevitable trap of seemingly every hobby-ist musician is gaining the skills to play a song or two, then only playing those songs (since it's much more fun to play a song than practice one you can't play!), and subsequently stagnate. It can be tough, but once you've learned to love the just-out-of-reach zone one's skills will improve very quickly.

And good job on the Spanish. I keep telling myself I should actually give it an honest go but haven't yet. I default to Spanish as a second language to learn mostly because it would have the most utility even though there are other languages I'm for whatever reason more interested in. Unlike you, I do set my goals with the calendar year (though I don't really think of them as NYRs, Jan 1st is just a convenient time to start tracking things), and I've been considering abridging my yearly reading goal to make room for Spanish skill acquisition! Anyway, you've imparted a little motivation.

Western Red Cedar
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

@Mooretrees

You're correct - I am in the PNW. I've lived in a variety of cities in the PNW and love it here. One of the reasons I always try to take my birthday off is that I find it a little depressing to be sitting in the office or working on my birthday. Nothing like sleeping in a rainforest or next to an Alpine lake and waking up on your birthday to the sunrise!

I would just start with YouTube videos for Sauerkraut or other fermented foods. There is loads of good, free information on the internet. You don't need any special equipment to make either Kimchi or Sauerkraut. We just use mason jars or other recycled jars. My preference is a large, Adams Peanut Butter Jar because it has a wide mouth for easy access and doesn't take as much room up in the fridge as multiple smaller jars. Traditionally, both are made with specialized equipment (like a crock), but you can use a modern hack. No need for a starter for Sauerkraut. We just use water, salt, and cabbage (the kimchi is more complicated). Our kimchi (and possibly the sauerkraut) uses a "quick fermentation" process so after sitting at room temperature for about a week or two we just pop it in the fridge. I think it has similar levels of probiotics to the more traditional fermentation methods.

Where are you camping in Oregon?

Western Red Cedar
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

@Cheepnis

You nailed it in terms of guitar. I lived in the world of easy, three chord songs for many years because they are easy to play, appreciated by a small audience, and fun to play. I still regularly go to my favorite site for Bob Dylan songs when I'm in a musical funk - https://dylanchords.info/ - to add to the canon.

I first started exploring scales when I learned the solo on Wish You Were Here, and I've been slowly progressing from there. Learning some fingerpicking styles also really opened up some doors. I have a funky, self-taught style that combines picking, chords, and slaps.

Best of luck on the Spanish! I figure in terms of second languages, it offers a lot of bang for the buck. I also love Mexico and Spain. I'm hoping to spend a good chunk of time in ERE traveling through and/or living in Central and South America.

RoamingFrancis
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Hey, longtime Spanish and language nerd here. I highly recommend LingQ if you're serious about improving a language. You have to pay for a subscription, but in my opinion it's really worth it.
Cheepnis wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 8:58 pm
The inevitable trap of seemingly every hobby-ist musician is gaining the skills to play a song or two, then only playing those songs (since it's much more fun to play a song than practice one you can't play!), and subsequently stagnate.
This has been me for the past several years. I got to a decent level with guitar and piano, but haven't given it any serious effort in a while.

Western Red Cedar
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

@RF

Thanks for the recommendation on LingQ. I checked it out briefly and it looks very comprehensive. I also had a chance to look at a few pages of your journal and will try to offer some thoughts when I have more time.

I spent a couple years teaching English as a foreign language and would often tell my students who were musicians that learning a language is a lot like learning an instrument. Some people have a natural talent with languages or music, but you need to put the time in to develop and hone your skills. It was always apparent to me after a few months which students were actually studying and spending time learning English at home. Even the naturally talented students started falling behind the studious kids with persistent habits.

I think the trap Cheepnis describes can also be applied to language - at least in my case. I got pretty comfortable speaking in the present and future tenses in Spanish and I'm able to get around comfortably in Spanish speaking countries. I kind of gave up with the preterite. That is where my lessons stopped in high school. I also just started getting into the past tense and conjugating irregular verbs in the past tense when studying in Guatemala, but I opted to stop intensive Spanish lessons a couple weeks early so I could watch the World Cup every morning from 6-noon. No regrets! (Ironically, one of the people I regularly hung out with and watched soccer ever day was an anthropology professor who studied and spoke indigenous Mayan languages).

Anyway, I got to a point with Spanish (and Korean) where I could operate at a functional level, but it's definitely not as fulfilling as mastering a language (or instrument) and having a certain level of proficiency.

RoamingFrancis
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Funny that you mention the Mayan languages; if you check my journal you'll see I've been wanting to learn one of those for quite some time!

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fiby41
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by fiby41 »

Mayan counting system is also nice. Imagine having only three digits (symbols) in your counting system and combining them in various ways to reach all the way to the stars.

Western Red Cedar
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

Web of Goals

After writing about my yearly goals, I realized that I don't necessarily create or develop those with a strong consideration of my larger web of goals. Naturally, most of these are related to the larger web due to my personal interests, but it is something to reflect on for next year. I read ERE a few years ago and took a stab at creating a web of goals. It consists of the following:

Relationships

Health

Ecology/Environmental Sustainability

Learning

Financial Stability

Travel

Sub goals or ideas I also wrote down include music, art, photography, cooking, exercise, food production/gardening/permaculture, and outdoor adventures/expeditions. When looking for my web of goals, I also found a list of ideas and activities to pursue in early retirement that I had completely forgot about.


Transitions Away from the Traditional Working World

As I've come closer to my FI goal I've realized the importance of focusing on other personal goals and ERE skills. As I transition away from full-time work, I know I will need a wide range of activities and something to provide a sense of purpose if I'm not working at a traditional job. One of the reasons I've started to think about semi ERE or walking away before I hit my full FI number is that I strongly suspect I'll want to pick up some of type of paid work at some point in the future.

I've been drawn to long-term travel since my twenties. I've spent a couple years slow traveling through SE Asia, India/Nepal, and Central America. I also mixed in different trips and adventures in the US during those years. I largely funded these trips by working as an English teacher in South Korea for two years. One year teaching, one year traveling, repeated until I went back to graduate school in my late twenties.

One of my initial strategies to transition to early retirement was to teach abroad for either a 6 or 12 month contract. My top choices include either Taiwan or Japan. Asian countries tend to pay the best (S. Korea, China, Japan, and Taiwan) outside of the Middle East, which doesn't interest me. I'd also consider teaching elsewhere (Columbia, Mexico, Vietnam, Thailand) for lower pay if I didn't need to sign a long-term contract. One of the appeals of this strategy is that it meets my desire for travel while also providing purpose, community, and income. My experience in South Korea was completely different than my travels because I lived like a local and developed great friendships with my Korean colleagues, as well as the larger expat community (mostly ESL teachers).

Another strategy that I've thought about more recently is volunteering on organic farms through WWOOF. If I take this approach, I will likely mix in volunteer stints with 1-2 months of budget travel. Currently, I'm envisioning mixing in some cheap beach destinations with thick books in between WWOOFing.

I would also consider the Peace Corps. The main reason I don't consider this more seriously is that a two-year commitment is pretty significant and I don't think there is a lot of flexibility in terms of selecting your own location. I know some Peace Corps alum who had amazing experiences, and some who felt like they were just surviving and grinding their way to the end.

Based on my past budgets, I know I can travel full-time for about $1,000 per month in low-cost countries. If I implement either of the above strategies, it completely changes the game in terms of FI numbers and expenses. It also allows me to offer some value to individuals or communities, rather than just wandering through on the typical backpacker trail. It would allow me to spend time in more expensive places, like NZ, Australia, Brazil, or Western Europe.

Another FI goal/dream which I would likely mix in with the above strategies is to live abroad in at least 3 "major" international cities. Some of the cities I initially wrote down include; Taipei, Tokyo, Paris, Medellin, Berlin, Edinburgh, London, Prague, Vienna, Merida, Oaxaca, Chang Mai, and Barcelona (or basically and medium to large city in Spain on the water - Malaga, Valencia, San Sebastian, etc.).

In the long term, I see myself coming back to the Pacific Northwest, but I'd really like to spend some of my upcoming years exploring new cultures and living a different lifestyle. In my experience, travel forces me to look at the world differently, and time seems to slow down significantly. If I'm not teaching, WWOOFing, or doing other volunteer work abroad then I will definitely need something to focus my efforts beyond reading, leisure, exercise, etc. Right now photography, film making, and writing top my list, but I suspect that will change and expand.

Western Red Cedar
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

Exercise and Positive Change

I think I may be overthinking the application of bicycling and web of goals. I made it out for another 7 mile ride on Saturday but ended up cutting it short due to bad air quality. I had a rest day on Sunday and got together with some friends for a socially distanced, outdoor barbecue. It was great seeing some old friends after being fairly isolated over the summer. I just got back from a short, 2.5 mile hike this afternoon.

On the hike I started thinking about a book I read last summer. Shawn Achor's, the Happiness Advantage, really resonated with me. His TED talk is one of my favorite ever - funny and eye-opening. "90% of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world." The core tenant of the book is that we think (and are taught) that success leads to happiness, but his research suggests that it works the other way around.

https://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_t ... n#t-672772

According to his research, exercise is a critical in supporting happiness, along with other things like meditation, gratitude, journaling, and random acts of kindness. While it will be great if I can start running more errands on my bike, I should be content just getting out of the house, soaking up some vitamin D, and getting some aerobic exercise. On top of all that, I'm typically riding in nature, which always makes me feel better. I also can't pull out a phone or listen to music when I'm on a bike (an occasional bad habit on my walks) so it forces me to be in the moment.

In reality, I'm probably hitting more goals than I think just by hopping on the bike and getting out of my apartment.

CDR
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by CDR »

I'm a bit late on this, and @RoamingFrancis already recommended LingQ, but I thought I would mention Learning with Text's, which is an open-source version of LingQ and is free to use. I found the benefits of LingQ to be the system itself, and not so much the content they have preloaded in. It is not a perfect replacement by any means, but worth a mention!

I also found Duolingo not particularly useful as the only method of study, but for me it is Portuguese. I used Clozemaster and Anki for some time as well. Anki is my first and current love, as I use it for almost all studying, not just languages.

@Western Red Cedar I need to be hopping on the bike more, thanks for reminding me about The Happiness Advantage! I think I was much mentally better when I was journaling and practising gratitude regularly, if anecdotes add anything!

Western Red Cedar
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

@CDR

Thanks for the recommendations! I look forward to checking them out.

I was in Portugal last fall and Duolingo was great for a quick intro into Portuguese. Not the best for long-term language mastery, but I like the fact that it is free.

You should definitely hop on your bike. Amazing things happen when you get out, get your blood pumping, and explore.

Western Red Cedar
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

Helping out those in need

Tonight as I was walking back from the grocery store I saw a homeless guy looking through our dumpster. He was younger and fairly well dressed (nice backpack and an UnderArmour sweatshirt). I initially walked past him and into my apartment door, as I usually would. I immediately walked back out and asked him if he was looking for food. He said he was starving. He looked a little strung out, but I told him to stay put and that I would hook him up with some food in a few minutes.

I never give homeless people money, but I'm very happy to give them food. I know they are in a really tough situation and something as simple as an acknowledgement or a conversation goes a long way. Food or something of value even more so.

I ended up giving him a small bag with three local apples, 6 plums from my parents garden, a ziplock bag of some air-popped popcorn w/ olive oil and sea salt that I hadn't finished from the night before, and a couple of health bars from my backpacking cache.

It was minor and probably accounted for 2-3 dollars from my pantry - most of that from the old Clif/Fig Newton bars that I didn't want anything to do with. I think helping people out and building social capital is key to a successful ERE. I doubt I'll ever see that guy again, but hopefully I'll continue practicing compassion and becoming a better person.

One thing that scares me is becoming apathetic to horrifying but regular features of modern life. It's not normal to walk past another human being and watch them looking through my garbage. I'm in a unique position to make other's live better.I need to keep in mind that, even though I may be spending at poverty levels, I am definitely not in poverty and have the ability to immediately improve someone's life.
Last edited by Western Red Cedar on Tue Sep 08, 2020 12:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

ertyu
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by ertyu »

shit like this comes back. during my life, i have left behind a lot of things curbside when i moved with the intention that they find their way to someone who can use them and whom they'll make happy.

well, circumstances have changed and it's my turn to pick up things curbside now--and I have found many things that I needed. I found a pair of long johns that I repaired, stuffing from couch cushions which i washed, picked, and stiffed into second hand store pillowcases (I have a pillow now! yay!), foam from a gutted mattress that I can use to make padding for my board-hard seats in the kitchen, and recently, i found some thick children's hoodies + t-shirts that used to be someone's primary school uniform which I will try to make into a laptop case following youtube videos. But I definitely sense serendipity in finding things I need. I'd like to think that it's the universe taking care of me in turn.

Western Red Cedar
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

@ertyu

"But I definitely sense serendipity in finding things I need. I'd like to think that it's the universe taking care of me in turn." - Very well said. This happens regularly in my opinion. Doing good produces good.

Western Red Cedar
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

"Our strength grows out of our weakness" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Western Red Cedar
Posts: 71
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:15 pm

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

Health and Fitness

"Think of health as wealth - the wealth that matters most - and being wealth its usefulness lies in its ability to serve as an asset in our lives. The healthier the life, the better the life."

-JLF Early Retirement Extreme

After staying away from gyms for the last five years, I finally decided to sign up last November when I saw a pretty good deal ($20 per month w/ a signup fee). Prior to that, I convinced myself that I could meet my fitness needs with walks on my lunch break and hikes or other outdoor activities on the weekend. I walked to and from work daily, so was walking at least 4-5 miles per day. I'm pretty active, but had been carrying a bit of extra weight for years (a BMI around 25) and also had elevated blood pressure for years (work-related stress didn't help). I knew I couldn't push this off any longer, so I decided to make a change.

I've lifted weights and had done the gym thing for multiple years on a few different occasions in my twenties and early thirties. I'm fairly thrifty so every time I have a membership I tend to try to maximize its use - at least our times/week.

I was a bit casual about my routine in November, but really kicked things into high gear last December. I was fairly well informed about nutrition, but learned quite a bit more after I started working out more intensely. Intermittent fasting worked really well for me, along with a high protein, keto friendly diet. I didn't go full keto, but focused on lots of lean protein paired with the "right carbs (lots of greens, veggies, and things of that nature).

Initially I was doing a lot of cardio because I wanted to lose weight, and wasn't particularly interested in lifting seriously again because I didn't necessarily want to bulk up. I quickly learned that lifting was a more effective way to lose weight, paired with some shorter cardio sessions. By February and March, I was going to the gym 6-7 times per week and my sessions were often lasting almost two hours. It was an ideal way to destress either on my lunch break or after work. The YouTube Channel Athlean-X taught me a lot of interesting stuff about personal fitness. I felt great and because I was investing so much time working out, it really inspired me to clean up my diet. Microbrews and salty snacks have always been a temptation, but I pretty much cut them out completely.

From January to mid March I dropped 21 pounds and my BMI was 22.3. Then Covid hit and it really messed up my routine. I managed to maintain my losses through April, but slowly started gaining weight back. I'm currently at a BMI of 23.1, which I'm comfortable with, but know that I can do better. For some reason, I don't have as much discipline working out at home. Something for me to work on.

Fixing my bike and getting out for rides is a step in the right direction. I've observed a pattern between exercise and diet. When I get more exercise (or lift) it motivates me to eat really healthy. Health and fitness need to be my top priority over the next few months. I'm not planning on going back to the gym anytime soon because of Covid 19. Hopefully I have at least 2-3 more months of decent weather to get outside for long rides, walks, or hikes. I should think about finding a better workout routine at home to supplement my yoga practice.

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