Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Where are you and where are you going?
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Lazy Sunday Morning

Post by suomalainen » Sun Dec 23, 2018 10:19 am

On this lazy Sunday morning, I decided to read through the last 6 months of my journal as a kind of retrospective. I've been feeling pretty exhausted with the busyness at work and the crazy family schedule, so the anxiety/stress/dark thoughts have been high. It's taken some serious WORK to keep those in check the last 6 weeks or so. I do have to work next week, but all my clients are out of town, so I'm expecting a very slow week, which will be a GREAT change of pace.

Anyway, the one thing I did want to note was that I read through the marital advice stuff again (maybe 3rd or 4th time?) and I was finally able to see it in a different light:
  1. I was able to see that in the argument that started the whole thing, I was pretty pissed off at being misunderstood, all I wanted to do was to prove to her what I was trying to say and how she should understand it (in a lawyerly proof sort of way), and that I wasn't able to get out of my own way
  2. I was starting to be able to understand the general-ness of some of the comments about gender theory and how that could be applicable
  3. I was able to understand the emo/cherishment advice given by @aug, @7, @jp, @ek. Ha ha at the pervert-emo, strong-emo and appreciative emo variations and the labeling thereof. My wife is definitely of the appreciative emo variety.
  4. I was able to understand some of the comments about being assertive and how my "I'm concerned about money, but I don't care whether you work or not, but you have to be careful about money in the way I'm trying to make you be careful even though it's not working" approach was just a shitshow.
  5. In particular, it seems that I sort of stumbled into an assertive type solution a few months later with this $5000/month budget that is entirely in my wife's control. The $5,000 number provides a ceiling for me, assuaging my psychological concerns of the "your convenience comes at my inconvenience" variety, while it also provides her a direct, clear assertion of what I want / what I'm willing to do. At the same time, it frees her from being judged by me for how she spends money. In the last few months, she seems MUCH happier in general and she has remarked a number of times how much she likes this new arrangement.
Anyway, life is good, even though it still has challenges. The skills to address current challenges are increasing verrrrrryyy slowly, but increasing nonetheless.

Merry Christmas (or if you celebrate some other holiday, then Merry/Happy ___) and Happy New Year to all.

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Jason » Sun Dec 23, 2018 11:01 am

Damn, Suo, with this new perspective, I'm thinking you'll get minimum, a hand job from the ghost of Christmas past tomorrow night.

Merry Christmas.

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Augustus » Sun Dec 23, 2018 2:49 pm

Merry Christmas dude! It's funny how different men and women are isn't it? My wife is probably getting laid off soon, and she's all emo about it, trying to reassure me she understands I'm under pressure and blah blah blah. Which is a total misreading of how I feel, I already know our finances are fine and am not worried about it since I know she can find another job, it's just a small blip of a lower savings (but still positive) rate. So I tell her that, but that's a total misreading of her I just realized, she wants me to get all emo about it and talk about our strength as a family or something, which is so unnatural for me, but I have convinced myself I need to do while writing this. Women...

Water the plants even when you have no idea why the hell they need water. Just keep repeating to yourself, water the plants...

Life is still good. I love reading about history, it always reminds me how insanely lucky we are to be alive in this generation. Heard a lecture on the black death the other day, 50% of people in London died, and practically every survivor had to choose whether to stay home and care for their sick dying spouse/parents/children or save themselves flee and leave them for dead. Could you imagine having to weigh that decision? Dutiful loving painful miserable suicide or self loathing miserable survival. My biggest annoyance today was that I was too lazy to cook breakfast and settled for something cold instead.

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Jason » Mon Dec 24, 2018 9:16 am

Augustus wrote:
Sun Dec 23, 2018 2:49 pm
and practically every survivor had to choose whether to stay home and care for their sick dying spouse/parents/children or save themselves flee and leave them for dead.
I would like to think that there was a Sclass of The Medieval period to advise people on the matter.

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Mon Dec 24, 2018 9:37 am

OTOH, Thoreau could walk for 4 hours without encountering another human.

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Jason » Mon Dec 24, 2018 1:08 pm

Do you think that had as much to do with people seeing Thoreau coming and running for cover? At that point, wasn't he just like the Unabomber of the 19th century? I could see people spotting him and saying "Oh, shit, there's that Henry David guy who lives in a shed by the pond, trying to get over himself. Let's get the fuck out of here before he sees us. I heard he asked Jeremiah if he could measure his pubes."

I'm guessing Suo won't mind me jacking his thread today, being that's he outside handing out gold coins and playing with all the crippled children in the village.

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Fri Dec 28, 2018 9:46 am

I had to copy and paste this over from @cimorene's journal. For me, this is way more schadenfreude than the MMM-divorce (although that too was a bit of a cold shower):
cimorene12 wrote:
Thu Dec 27, 2018 10:37 pm
Financial Samurai Working Again
I was interested in the recent article where Financial Samurai explained why he was returning to the workforce, beyond running his blog. I've been reading some stuff lately by disenchanted full-time parents who wished that they could spend more time with their kids while they were on the corporate treadmill and then found out that the grass wasn't as green as they thought it'd be.
I refuse to believe that with $213k/year coming in, it's actually necessary to get a 9 to 5.
In the article there's also some noise about needing money because of a coming recession/bear market - No. Fucking. Way. That he's going back to work because he needs the money. Although, if that's true, then something something WSP is full of shit. Anyway, this is the real reason he's going back to work:
I think it would be nice change of pace to be a part of the 95%+ of dads who don't see their kids for 40 - 60 hours a week...
This is 100% me being a prick, but I. JUST. LOVE. THIS.

Judge me. It's fair. But I am savoring the irony as it dribbles down my chin like fat from a steak. Or like Denethor eating tomatoes.


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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Hristo Botev » Fri Dec 28, 2018 10:29 am

No judgment here. I was thrilled to get to leave the house today and go to my office, thanks to my in-laws coming into town last night and watching the kids today. Peace and quiet and the chance to focus on adult things.

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by prognastat » Fri Dec 28, 2018 11:46 am

I think being FIRE it would be nice to spend some extra time with your kids, but I don't think it'd be healthy to be around them all the time.

Also speaking about MMM it looks like he just started a video series on his youtube. It's a little awkward in that acting like a badass in text is easy compared to on video when you're adorably Canadian.

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Fri Dec 28, 2018 3:43 pm

suomalainen wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 9:46 am
I am savoring the irony as it dribbles down my chin like fat from a steak.
prognastat wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 11:46 am
adorably Canadian
lol, ‘tis the season!

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Year in Review

Post by suomalainen » Sun Dec 30, 2018 10:49 am

My 2018 retrospective could probably be summed up as: I always knew what the end result would be; I just couldn't stop (re-)calculating it.

The evidence (skip until the asterisks if you don't want to read the laundry list of proofs of my stupidity):

In August of 2017, I re-engaged in this journal after only a couple of posts since 2014 with a fairly clear diagnosis and prescription (the first loop):
suomalainen wrote:
Tue Aug 08, 2017 12:14 pm
I think the theme has been that since the accident, my internal life has been thrown topsy turvy in a way that has been very difficult to get a handle on. I started reading IlliniDave's journal today, the "Journey of Mindfulness" title catching my eye. Something he wrote really resonated with me and my struggles -- "I think too much." There's a certain myopia to the thinking and even the thinking about thinking.

When it comes to early retirement (or "freedom", which seems to be what retirement symbolizes for me), it's like navel gazing and picking out each piece of lint as it gathers, or more graphically, picking at a scab to see how it's healing. I don't know that it's healthy. So, the struggle has been, as it seems to have been at least in the early entries for IlliniDave, to learn to live in the moment.
I dunno. Too many thoughts...but as I walked to my office today with my lunch, the thought came to me "I'm feeling miserable. But I could just choose to be happy. There's nothing objectively wrong with anything I'm doing or anything I have. I have a very safe job with colleagues and clients that respect me. It pays very well. It will eventually enable me to retire and try something else. I'm not the janitor or the cafeteria workers who work just as long as I do but don't get paid nearly as much..."

And yet. and yet. I'm not satisfied. Perhaps I never will be. But what if I could just choose to be satisfied? Could it possibly be that easy?
From my 2017 retrospective wherein I grapple with the solved problem (2nd loop) and even ironically note that I solved this problem years ago!:
suomalainen wrote:
Sun Dec 31, 2017 7:16 pm
Somewhere along the line around 2010, I had the realization that I could work and save my whole life only to retire and then die the next day (perhaps obvious is the underlying assumption that I don't love working for money). "Fuck that", I thought, so I decided to try to be at peace with my finances and to be patient with the process, knowing that I had selected a good process that would eventually get me to where I wanted to be financially. Things were good. And then I got hit by a car.
a nagging irritation that financial independence was not actually an end. It was an answer begging for a question. So, for the last few months, I've been trying to puzzle out all of this
Wherein I made my third loop, this time with brevity:
suomalainen wrote:
Tue May 29, 2018 11:47 am
So what if I just stopped stressing? I don't have a money problem. Why do I keep thinking about money? It's stupid.
In June, having read more about my problem, I wrote about it in terms of ruminating, my fourth loop:
suomalainen wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:33 pm
Deliberate mindfulness. Force quitting zombie processes. Stop thinking and stop planning - for a while you can just live. Quit pursuing unattainable goals. Reframe when you feel stuck. Stop ruminating.
In August, the fifth loop came about, but with a slightly different framing - the hint of realizing that my feelings were not me:
suomalainen wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 4:25 pm
I like that: a thought is just a thought and a feeling just a feeling, nothing more. Another thing I read mentioned having a mantra like "this too shall pass" to help remind you that difficult thoughts, emotions and even situations are typically fleeting. In addition to "this too shall pass", I also like "and yet, somehow, life moves on".
And in September, the sixth loop reflects that I'm feeling more confident about the calculated solution, so much so that I'm even offering advice to others (perish the thought):
suomalainen wrote:
Thu Sep 06, 2018 6:50 am
Choosing an option does require foreclosing other options, at least temporarily, but it's important to remember that no external situation (job) that you choose will bring you happiness. There's no magic. If you're not content (with your life), commit to being content (with it). Maybe that requires an external change, maybe not. Choose contentment. External factors are mostly secondary once basic needs are met and if there's one thing you know from ERE, it doesn't take much money to meet your basic needs. Maybe you already have all the tools you need to be happy, so you don't need to put so much stock in this one decision. It's just a decision and one that can be easily changed if the first one isn't the right, or perhaps more accurately WHEN the first one turns out to have run its course and you're ready for the next one you can just move on to the next one without regret.
And also in September, I surprise myself with my lack of psychosis:
suomalainen wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:17 pm
1) Some (much?) of my heightened anxiety over the last few years is related to poor stress management and the poor narrative I construct around it. I have been working on new strategies to deal with stressors/triggers and/or to practice "reframing".

2) I've been feeling weird. Like, the days just blend together and there's not much to really recommend them, but also not much to complain about. And it's that latter thing that has me a little weirded out. Like there's this niggling suspicion or feeling that I've given up or I'm being institutionalized or that (a grand) life is passing me by. It's just so...NORMAL. And I'm just so...FINE WITH IT. What happened to my grand aspirations? What happened to my complaining?!
And in October, I reached my eighth loop and my first meta-loop:
suomalainen wrote:
Mon Nov 12, 2018 10:23 pm
I've been in the habit of ruminating about feelings that arise, trying to find out what such feelings "meant", or perhaps "Meant" (a thing that God was trying to convey to me). Obviously, such feelings always Meant that something in my life had to change, that something wasn't right, and I was the lone poor bloke who couldn't figure out what was likely obvious to everyone else. But I was wrong about feelings. Feelings just are; they don't necessarily Mean anything. If ruminating on the (non-existent) Meaning of feelings puts me in a negative psychological state, a turn towards happiness doesn't require teasing out some Meaning or Truth from an ambiguous feeling and making big or complicated changes. The first step is as easy as turning away from ruminating about the Meaning of feelings.
And in November, by the ninth looping, it has become ho-hum routine:
suomalainen wrote:
Sun Dec 02, 2018 2:11 pm
I was able to step outside of myself for a bit and notice that the cloud hanging over me was a cloud that was held in me. Releasing it let me notice that all was not shit in the world. I think some of this is letting my anxiety get out of control and not doing enough to mindfully bring my blood pressure, heart rate and breathing down on a regular basis when I get amped up from work or kids or stress or whatever.
Capped off in December by a tenth loop in connection with reading a book about Buddhist meditation:
suomalainen wrote:
Thu Dec 13, 2018 10:30 pm
I really like that idea: liberation from the craving to capture pleasant feelings and escape unpleasant feelings, liberation from the persistent desire for things to be different than they are. I have been a slave to this idea for far too long - thinking that money/ERE would solve this problem. No matter where you go, there you are.

Apparently I'm enough of a dumbass that it takes me 1.5 years and at least ten* repeated "aha moments" to come to the same conclusion that I started with: money isn't my problem. I am my problem. And ten moments aren't enough - number 11 from a new book on meditation I'm reading (written by psychologists who developed a mindfulness based therapy to treat depression):
[This next passage really strikes a chord as it overlays perfectly with the idea of rumination:] “the effort of trying to free yourself from a bad mood or bout of unhappiness - of working out why you’re unhappy and what you can do about it - often makes things worse. It’s like being trapped in quicksand - the more you struggle to be free, the deeper you sink…When you begin to feel a little unhappy, it’s natural to try and think your way out of the problem of being unhappy. You try to establish what is making you unhappy and then find a solution. In the process, you can easily dredge up past regrets and conjure up future worries. This further lowers your mood. It doesn’t take long before you start to feel bad for failing to discover a way of cheering yourself up…[This happens] because our state of mind is intimately connected with memory. The mind is constantly trawling through memories to find those that echo our current emotional state...It happens in an instant before you’re even aware of it. It’s a basic survival skill honed by millions of years of evolution. It’s incredibly powerful and almost impossible to stop.” Pg 8-9.

From [i[Mindfulness - An Eight-week plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World[/i]. Mark Williams and Danny Penman.

[Comment from my reading journal:]Rather than struggling to understand the difficult feeling - ruminating - the idea is to observe it compassionately and without judgment and letting it go like watching a cloud float from one horizon across the face of the sun until it disappears beyond the other horizon.
Which is all a very long way of saying that I have decided to be at peace with my job, my kids, my finances. My job isn't so bad - in fact, it's a pretty effing good gig. Kids are expensive**, but when I have sufficient time to myself to recharge my batteries, I am MUCH better able to engage with them in positive ways. And money is a solved problem so long as the apocalypse doesn't happen, and if it does, money will be of no use then anyway. How do I "decide to be at peace"? By doing what I knew was the answer 1.5 (and 8) years ago - just letting go of the negative thoughts and feelings as they come. By not focusing on them. By choosing to watch them appear, giving them their space and giving them leave to go.

Now, I will say that my current magnanimity may just be a function of having a week of work where nobody was around and I had nothing to do, so I watched my CLE videos and played games on my phone all week. But even if that's true, that gives me hope. Maybe @augustus was right all along - I just need some more time away from work where "more time away" does not equal "full retirement"; it just means a good solid break now and again, and to that end, I bought additional time off for 2019 and will seek to go to 80% time at some point in 2019.

Here's to wishing for everyone else clarity of thought as you align your 2019 goals to your values. Merry New Year.


* MMM's divorce and Financial Samurai's fleeing his child were external "celebrity" validators that (i) money only solves a narrow selection of problems and (ii) being at work while you have kids at home has non-financial benefits.
** The highest cost of which is on my sanity. New parents - please don't chime in on how you'll prove me wrong by craigslisting a crib and all that.

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Re: Year in Review

Post by Jason » Mon Dec 31, 2018 7:41 am

suomalainen wrote:
Sun Dec 30, 2018 10:49 am
Capped off in December by a tenth loop
To think Dante navigated Hell in just nine.

Merry Christmas, Suo.

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Aspirant » Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:11 pm

Thanks suomalainen. I think this blog has saved me thousands on therapy costs 😁

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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Augustus » Wed Jan 09, 2019 1:16 pm

I imagine a lot of us suffer from over worrying. Always worrying about things that are not actually happening, while the present moment itself is pretty good. I'm always having to calm myself down, realize that I've got a good thing going in life, and that usually the present moment is actually quite nice: I've got palm trees out my window, I've got a nice cup of coffee, we won the birth lottery of getting born in this generation, etc. It's just human nature for a lot of us, there must be a lot of survival advantage in it. Our ancestors who didn't worry about the future got eaten or something. So in a way, your worrying is also a positive thing about you, you just can't let it get carried away. I like the idea of time boxing stuff, consciously making a plan to spend 30 minutes or whatever reorienting myself with the world, worrying about stuff, seeing where my worldview is no longer accurate, double checking that my plan still works, trying to spot any holes, etc. Then acknowledging that it has served it's purpose and putting those things away and enjoying the present moment again? It's kind of like the 24 hour news cycle, you don't need more than 15 minutes a day, if that, to get caught up on events. Any time spent beyond that is overkill for no real benefit. Just spitballing...

Happy New Year!

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