Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Where are you and where are you going?
classical_Liberal
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by classical_Liberal »

Song choice aside :D , I'm very happy you have found so much peace in your life.

suomalainen
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Update

Post by suomalainen »

So, I thought I'd provide a bit of an update on our arrangement. If you'll recall, mid-to-late last year we had a few fights about money and other things*, and I got tired of fighting, so I devised a new strategy to deal with it. Wife has a $5,000/month budget to handle everything from utilities and groceries to movies and travel (which is supplemented by $4000/year for a "big family trip", which comes from the $20k we'd saved to go to New Zealand but decided against blowing on one trip). I cover medical, taxes, my own travel, alcohol and additional saving (401k, bonuses, etc are already saved, so this would be from raises and such).

* Things have really calmed down for me. I fear this journal is a bit dry now. Sorry.

We started this arrangement in September of last year on a trial basis but didn't "get serious" until January 1. So now it's been 5 months...and...drumroll...she's averaged $4,975/month, with a range from $3,200 to $7,600. Better than the mathematical victory is the fact that we are both happy with the arrangement. It's enough for her to feel like she can do what she wants to do with the kids and the house without my nitpicking or second-guessing each line item, but it's overall capped for me in a way that's in line with how we lived for years, so the concern regarding lifestyle inflation out of my control is alleviated.

Outside of that budget, on my end, I've been spending like crazy! As you may have surmised, I finally came to the conclusion that I will have to work until I'm 49 (or maybe 53) regardless of my savings rate (taking into account my unchangeable familial situation), and therefore becoming FI was a solution searching for a problem. I ditched the FI-solution and have been working on my actual problems (parenting, burnout, existential crises). One of my problems is to try to enjoy my life and money and, given that my friends and family are spread across the country, I've been traveling to see friends and family more. That gets expensive (and I try not to think about each of my contributions to the coming carbon apocalypse). I also plopped down an embarrassing amount of money on a taste of "the lifestyles of the rich and famous" (renting a slope-side condo for a few weekends next winter). I've never done it (my dad was too frugal to ever do that), and I was curious, so...the itch shall be scratched.

Finally, I will note that psychologically I've come a long way and I do finally feel somewhat at peace. As I wrote a few weeks ago, I experienced the oddest sensation for a few days...I was happy. That feeling has ebbed of course, but I think it's fair to say that I've been "not unhappy" consistently for a while now. One of the things that I've learned in this period of not-unhappiness is this: I used to think of a thing I'd like to do, like say, build a picnic table. Then I'd get in picnic-table-building-mode and I'd plan and I'd buy materials and I'd make the cuts and I'd assemble and I'd sand and I'd be done. And I would be ALL IN on the project until it was accomplished. It made the fun thing I wanted to do into a series of tasks that needed to be accomplished. So I'd be all focused and I'd be all serious and, frankly, I wasn't having any fun. Same with running - it was "I'll run this many miles this many times a week and then I'll increase by 0.5 miles the following week and then..." I turned every fun thing into a fucking chore. So what I've been trying to do now instead is - decide on a process and focus on that rather than decide on a goal and then achieve it as quickly and efficiently as possible. For example, my goal is to now get outside and run (or walk) every work day. My mileage has naturally and easily increased without my even trying or focusing on it! I enjoy my runs much more when I'm not focused on my performance (like I was gonna win anything anyway). Another example is that I'm now working on an adirondack chair for my backyard. (I did in fact build a picnic table in one day in the manner noted above (sanded on day 2) a couple of weeks ago). For this chair, I'm just working on it as I feel like it, let it be finished when it gets finished. I enjoy this method much, much more than the "focus on a goal" method.

Anyway, that's me for now. I haven't been very active here either. I totally get and support those for whom FI is a good solution to one of their problems, but that's just not me now and so reading about it constantly has not been as useful or interesting. Besides, FI is a good solution to only one problem, but it has nothing to say at all for many other problems, the most glaring of which is - what the fuck am I gonna do all day now? THAT is an interesting problem and I do enjoy reading about that. I hope to continue following along with those who are designing their lives, even if I'm not commenting as much as I have in the past. Good luck to everyone in achieving their dreams.

Oh, and one more thing - regarding that whole existential crisis thing? Whether there's a god or not, I don't know. Whether life has a grander "meaning" or not, I don't know. Whether there's life after death (and what it might consist of), I don't know. But there was a guy interviewed on a popular show and he was asked "what happens after we die?" and he said the most surprisingly wise thing: "Well, I know that those who love us will miss us." And that's why I'm spending more of my money visiting with friends and family - sharing a laugh or a glass of white wine in the sun or some other experience is really all we have. So what if it's all erased when we're dead? It matters to me, here, and now; it matters to them, here, and now. It might be like computer RAM that's erased as soon as the power goes off...but without the RAM, the computer would be a worthless paper weight.

EdithKeeler
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by EdithKeeler »

Great post! I’m glad for you, all the way around!

Clarice
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Clarice »

Thank you very much for sharing - very enlightening. I can relate to many aspects of your journey - not ready to summarize it in my own journal entry. Have you read Passionate Marriage? The name does not do justice to this great book. This is NOT a book about relationships. It is about your OWN journey while laboring under the condition of being married (in any type of committed relationships). It definitely corresponds to Kagan levels 4-5. I believe it will bring you a new level of peace:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/03933 ... UTF8&psc=1

fingeek
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by fingeek »

the fuck am I gonna do all day now
Yes, very much this. I've taken the year off on parental leave (boring details in my journal), and it's only after 4 months of getting out of the burnout/anxiety/stress drop of not working I'm finally hitting this question. Prior to which I was (still am) too screwed up to realise.

I'm starting to realise exactly like you - What I'm (we're) doing completely and utterly wrong is turning everything into a task and defining success by its completion. Slowly but surely I'm starting to do things while remaining mindful and not rushing to the end. It started with brushing my teeth.

A pertinent quote comes to mind:
“This is the real secret to life—to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realise it is play.”
-Alan Watts

suomalainen
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Actually, this is pretty good

Post by suomalainen »

I saw this the other day: http://www.outsidetv.com/show/detail/Be ... KAzcJ3yR/1 , and from the intro:
The 9 to 5 grind only gives us the weekend to really live…between full time jobs and families, our weekdays are slammed, but our weekends are for pushing adventure.
It only lasted three episodes, so I guess it didn't catch on. In any event, that's the attitude I used to have -- that work and family wasn't "really living", that I needed to be having constant adventures to feel alive.

Reminder:
suomalainen wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 1:41 pm
I realized, more poignantly than before, that scarcity of experience of Thing A is the very thing that makes Thing A special.
Yes, those scarce things are the embellishments that “add spice to life”, but work (salaryman, self-employment, volunteering, whatever, but doing something productive) and family/friends are the rice and beans of life. Spice, without accompanying nourishing foods, cannot sustain life. How is it that we denigrate the basic building blocks of life as "not really living"? I suspect the attitude has something to do with #firstworldproblems. Humans are problem-solving algorithms and to solve a problem, you first gotta find one. And when you've lived at the pinnacle of human existence...well, it takes real effort to shut down the problem-finding algorithm and to allow gratitude that you don't have any "real" problems (war, famine, disease, etc) to take center stage. Enter mindfulness.

I'm one of the luckiest sonsabitches to ever live on this earth.
I'm one of the luckiest sonsabitches to ever live on this earth.
I'm one of the luckiest sonsabitches to ever live on this earth.

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen »

@ek thanks! Sounds like you're on an upswing too!

@clarice I actually own the book, but I have yet to read it. Should put it next in the queue.

@fingeek Yes, I've been following along in your journal too and am curious to watch the discovery unfold. The stress/burnout is a sneaky sonovubitch - so hard to see it when you're in the middle of it.

suomalainen
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To everything there is a season

Post by suomalainen »

An interesting short piece along the well-trod genre of "I'm old and here's some wisdom": https://www.glamour.com/story/how-to-be ... ith-viorst? But, actually, I thought this was pretty good:
When I was younger, I spent too much time obsessing over what would make me feel better or how I imagined a certain set of circumstances would magically transform my life and career. But I learned, though it took me a while, to look around and pay attention to what—if I’d let it—could make my life feel better right here and right now. My book Nearing Ninety opens with a wonderful quote from philosopher George Santayana, whose proposition all of us should heed: “To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” I believe he’s telling us that instead of wistfully looking back at what we once had, or anxiously imagining what might come, we ought to be seeking what satisfactions, what pleasures, what meaning, the season we’re in has to offer us.
It's trite and it's cliche, but, man, is it true. There is no constant but change. We change; our circumstances and surroundings change. What we want (or think we want) now and for the future is not some static thing, so we shouldn't cling to it as if it were.

To that end, I say this is my current season: I am a full-time worker and father who immensely enjoys his daily run. I do love the spring and summer and early fall, for the feel of the outdoors on my skin and for the way the blue of the sky and the green of the leaves assault my eyes and penetrate to my very soul. I love bathing in the forest and leaving the pollution of civilization behind, more metaphorically than literally, but that too. As the sights and sounds and smells of humanity are left behind, I love the feeling of pushing my body past the point of comfort, so that my focus sharpens to the movements of my body past tree after tree after tree. It is much easier to feel connected to myself when I can think of no thing other than putting my foot there, to the side of that rock and then there, over that branch and then there, avoiding the dead thing.

I have also found a way to carve out some good times in the late fall, winter and early spring (basically, skiing). Such cold times are not my favorite, but I am able to squeeze some satisfaction, pleasure and meaning from them. Like running, snowboarding and skiing become about the body's movement, about gliding down a mountain by simply shifting weight from side to side or front to back. Sharing this with my kids - the one thing I share with my kids that my wife does not, provides a sense of continuity that mere genetics does not. Having them adopt a thing that I love as a thing that they love is much more intimate than simply sharing DNA.

I've also been getting back into woodworking and biking, my sometime (sorta) passions. Biking is very similar to running and skiing in obvious ways, but woodworking is surprisingly similar to them as well, although the connection is more subtle. The commonality is the focus that these activities bring. It is very easy to get lost in the activity and to forget that anything else in the world exists. Like skiing or snowboarding, woodworking joins focus and skill to produce something beautiful. In skiing, the beauty is in the flow of the body, in the gliding down a mountainside. In woodworking, the beauty is in transforming raw materials into something beautiful and useful, in a manner similar to how it has been done for thousands of years, albeit with much more powerful and efficient tools.

The satisfaction, too, of all these activities is similar. Finishing a long run, a long day of skiing, a long day of woodworking leaves a feeling like...life was lived. There's just no other way to describe it. Like for those few minutes or hours, the very purpose of life was accomplished without a single wasted minute - or if you prefer Thoreau, that for a few brief moments, I am able to suck out all the marrow of life. I don't know whether such a state is sustainable for longer than a few brief moments - the body needs rest, the mind needs diversion and rest, etc., but these are things that THIS season of my life has to offer me. I have hated prior seasons, looking hungrily to the past or to the future for better times. But if I fixate on now, I see that nothing else need change. 'Twas simply the gaze that was wrong.

slowtraveler
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by slowtraveler »

"To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.”

Something I've needed to learn as well. Instead of always chasing something else, I can choose to seek nothing other than what's right here in front of me. A radically different approach to life. Simple but so powerful.

Your journal paints a story of a beautiful transformation. I love to read your happiness radiating through your words as opposed to your initial contempt for your life. It seems you're really milking every drop of that sweet marrow.

I'm happy for you. Keep kicking ass.

suomalainen
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Summer

Post by suomalainen »

The kids are off school for summer vacation, which actually is a bit of a break for me and the wife too since we don't have to be on top of them with their schoolwork. We're still trying to find the best way to encourage hard work at school since the oldest decided that a C is "good enough". What an idiot. So, we experimented with various carrots and sticks and demands and whatnot, but when it comes down to it, you can't do it for them. We have a few additional ideas for next year, when he's a sophomore, but again, ultimately it's his life and he has to decide what he wants to make of it.

I've been trying to run every workday at lunch and have gotten to the point where I can run/walk 2.7, 3.5 or 4.2 miles 5 days a week. In the past I could never run 5 days in a row, but this new approach of just getting outside without worrying about pace or distance is freeing. I get outside and I'm happy. And, as it turns out, it gives you optionality. We went to Acadia National Park for a few days last week and I decided I wanted to run/hike Cadillac Mountain from our campsite, so I did. It turned out to be 9.7 miles! and I felt really proud of myself to have been in decent enough physical shape to do that on the spur of the moment.

Lastly, an analogy that I came up with from the private equity model: consider yourself installed as the CEO of a struggling company that manufactures and sells widgets which was bought by a PE firm with a value-add approach. When you take over the company, you institute a corrective-action plan that includes a six-sigma / kaizen type approach to streamlining the manufacturing process. After 6 months or a year, you're able to boost production while cutting costs, increasing your profit margins. But that's not everything. You've also had to think about marketing and sales, R&D, and strategic acquisitions. So you've had your hands full. But after two years, you've rationalized the business; you've made some strategic bolt-on acquisitions to increase market, geographic and product penetration; you've got new promising products in the pipeline. EBITDA is up, your entry PE multiple has been bought down via the acquisitions and maybe your exit PE multiple has even expanded due to being a larger player. Success! Time to move on to the next portfolio investment.

Where's the analogy? This forum and the ERE book and early retirement blogs/advice generally is kinda like that six-sigma / kaizen process: you are trying to find ways to live more efficiently - to increase your profit margins, if you will. And the forum or blogs could also kinda-sorta help you with thinking about other aspects of your life: dating/relationships (marketing and sales), hobbies/interests outside of financial engineering (R&D), and life planning (strategic acquisitions). But the difference between the former and the latter is important. The former (six sigma) is a thing that you can sort of approach mechanically. You'll need to make minor adjustments here and there, but in essence, those principles can be applied broadly by many people, so the advice becomes quite repetitive after you've surveyed the landscape - there's only so many variations of "buy less, save more." The latter (relationships, hobbies, life plans), on the other hand, are extremely diverse and personal. While you might broadly agree with some of the sentiments you read about, you really have to keep reading until you find a story that resonates with you. And even then, you can't simply copy and paste into your own life. You'll have to explore the nuances until you find just the right fit for yourself.

A long way of saying that since I've reduced my focus on maximizing efficiency (in other words, I've satisficed efficiency) and increased my focus on strategic thinking (in particular, tempering my expectations of how much happiness drastic life changes would bring me as I've thought about hedonic adaptation more and more in that context), I've been happier, less stressed and less anxious. Opportunities for enjoying "magical moments" that last a few seconds to a few minutes seem to have multiplied, and the fleetingness of those moments has become more appreciated (in other words, transience of magic is a feature, not a bug).

This focus was sharpened by chest pains I had a couple of weeks ago where I seriously wondered whether I was having a heart attack. I've almost died before, but it was sudden and without my control. Staring down the barrel of being undermined from within is a whole different experience. I've always thought my body would repair itself from injury, but the heart is not that kind of organ. And the similar stories related recently in @EK's journal drove the point home. Finding efficiency is a good thing, but once you've found it, time to move on and think about other things.

edit: cadillack vs cadillac, heh
Last edited by suomalainen on Sun Jun 30, 2019 8:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by classical_Liberal »

Good update as always! I hope the chest pain turned out to be a false alarm?

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Lemur
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Re: Summer

Post by Lemur »

suomalainen wrote:
Sat Jun 29, 2019 8:13 am
We're still trying to find the best way to encourage hard work at school since the oldest decided that a C is "good enough". What an idiot.
He/She is technically right. A "C" is average ;) But as far as installing work ethic into the brain...I guess this trait, like most traits, is a mix of genetic/environmental factors. Even if you've done your best to instill these traits, maybe nothing can be done due to the genetic factors? IDK. It could also be a problem of motivation (Peter Gibbons).

Well I know that grades don't always equal future success [success as defined by productivity / income in older age?] but in a small case study of myself and my 4 siblings...

Me: 3.5 GPA in high school, 4.0 in college, 3.9 in graduate school....90k a year.
Sister: 3.2 GPA in high school, 3.0 in college....60k a year
Older Brother: C average student from what I'm told, makes $15 an hour at Home Depot which is about double minimum wage.
Younger Brother: 1.8 GPA in high school, no college, bounces around from minimum wage to minimum wage job...15k a year?
Younger Brother[2]: 2.0 in high school, on/off college, minimum wage mostly but also some 'side hustles' ...unknown earnings.

The difference between myself/sister and my brothers, is for whatever reason, for reasons that I still don't know the answer to, my parents were much harder on my Sister than I when it came to grades, personal responsibility, and the like. I think my youngest brothers got the 'baby brother' treatments. Can't say for sure.

Now my son is 3 years old so hes not even in Kindergarten but I do wonder what things I could be doing now to install work ethic...I did have him pull weeds with me out of our front yard mulch for an hour. Quite a bit of work for a toddler but he held up pretty good. For the most part, I didn't feel my education growing up [looking in hindsight] had anything to do with IQ but had much to do with following directions and doing the grunt work like studying. So these traits I try to focus on in my son now...IQ that is TBD I think.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

For better or worse, I think there is a very simple method towards improved study habits and resultant grades. You have to actually sit down with your kids while they do their homework until they get it done, reviewing everything they should be working on in every class, and possibly double-checking with teachers. Second best would be paying a decent tutor to perform this patience-stretching task for you. Rewarding or punishing independent functioning is not nearly as effective.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@bigato:

I had a very independent childhood also, and I definitely erred on that side with my own children who exhibited mixed bag of scholastic performance vs inherent ability, but I have since learned better techniques. I might have made it sound like I was advising micro-management, but the core of what I was advising was in the simple statement "sit with them." It's more of an exercise for the parent than the child. If you just sit there with the kid while the kid works his way through his work, you will come to take a more nuanced interest in what the child is attempting. You shouldn't even be very authoritative in your manner, besides insisting on the sitting there together until done. Your manner could just be as if you were doing something like watching a glass-blowing exhibition. Either you will be watching, and maybe only occasionally respectfully commenting or questioning, as your child learns how to learn, OR you will, perhaps, come to the conclusion that there is something inappropriate about his current course of study or how it has been structured by his school or instructors.

fingeek
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by fingeek »

Thanks for the thoughts. Most importantly, I hope the chest pangs turn out to be a non-issue and that you do get yourself checked out. Balls and heart to the docs, that's the rule

suomalainen
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Ugh

Post by suomalainen »

I don't really feel like writing, but maybe it's the best (most honest) time to write. I've been feeling down. Not sure if it's related to these fucking heat waves we've been having. (Okay, I can tell this is just gonna be rambling bitching). I used to love summers and despise winters because I could be outside in the summers and felt trapped by winters, but now it seems to have flipped. These summers remind me of Houston summers. Fucking horrid.

Anyway, I've been trying to maintain my focus on the present, but it's been much harder than that golden month or so I had in the spring. Some of it must be summer heat related - I just don't enjoy my daily runs in the gawdawful heat, so that little slice of heaven has been taken away from me. I really noticed it today when it finally was back in the high 60s/low 70s from the recent 80s and 90s. I really enjoyed today's run. I've also been a bit bummed about the emotional toll the kids have on me; I'm tired of work - my main clients are a workaholic and a pretentious asshole. The former drains me from the mental demands of nonstop challenging projects and the latter drains me from having to manage his ego.

I think @2B1S and @cL have both sort of semi-EREd or similar recently and reading their preparations for their next phases has been refreshing. And depressing. I've accepted the fact that I can't quit my job for 10 more years, or I thought I had, but reading those journals has kept reminding me of that sort of taste of illicit freedom that frankly poisoned the well for a few years for me. (Is that even a sentence?) Trying to maintain perspective, I realize that freedom is a very important thing for me...but freedom from what, exactly? (or freedom to?...) That, I don't really know. And then it spins me off into the thought stream that I shouldn't have had children because I'm such a selfish prick and I'm probably doing a really shitty job as a dad, etc.

So yeah. Life can be rough sometimes compared to other times even when nothing has changed. It's just one of those things. I guess you just gotta put your head down and survive it, and when you find yourself thriving...enjoy it while it lasts knowing that...nothing lasts, but nothing is lost. RIP BRUTE.

PS Doc sez it was probably just reflux. I'm not even free to die. Sigh.

edit: This was my 668th post. The 666th post was in the hedge fund thread a few minutes earlier. something something the devil something something? :evil: :evil: :evil:

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Ego
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Re: Ugh

Post by Ego »

suomalainen wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 11:03 pm
I'm not even free to die.
What do you think about the idea that as narrative creatures we become the story we tell ourselves?

7Wannabe5
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by 7Wannabe5 »


Jason

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Jason »

It's true. You could be closing in on 400lbs and homeless, albeit voluntarily.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

I don't know. Let's do the math. In order to lose 220 lbs. and secure shelter at SWR, you would have to walk approximately 35 X 220 miles at maybe mean velocity of 3 mph and earn maybe $400/.03 X 12 and maybe mean wage of $20/hr = something like 2566 +8000 =10,566 hours of life energy. OTOH, at a minimum raising 3 kids to age of functional independence in our society would be something like 12 hours/day X 365 days/year X 26 years =113,880. So, even if Suo is halfway done with that task, he is still objectively 5X less free.

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