Small changes

I wrapped up 2016 on vacation from work, but unfortunately I’ve also been battling a cold almost the entire time.  Since December 27th, cold-induced bronchitis has limited my activity.  My wife jokes that every time I take a winter vacation I get sick, and it’s hard for me to remember one when I didn’t.  Last year. I worked through Christmas and Thanksgiving breaks, and I didn’t get sick.  This year, I’ve been sick twice: After Thanksgiving, and after Christmas.

So while that may seem convincing to some, I think there’s another factor:  consumption of alcohol. Both of these rounds of colds were preceded by drinking a little too much the night before.   There seems to be some research to suggest heavy drinking can affect our immune system’s ability to fight off infections for at least 24 hours.   Maybe it’s common sense that I just had never considered…

After I factor in the expense of drinking, I have decided I’m going to curtail my drinking for both health and financial reasons.  There’s probably at least $1,500 annually (and maybe upwards of $2,500 when I consider all spending) I can cut from my spending on alcohol, which when I think about it is a lot of alcohol.  I have slightly expensive tastes, though, so it’s not like I’m pounding cases of Milwaukee’s Best every weekend.  Of the things I buy, bourbon is $30-$50+ a bottle, craft beer is $30-$60 a case, and wine is about $10-$12 a bottle.  And drinking at a restaurant or bar is just crazy expensive, even the few times a month I do that.

So since I’ve spent a majority of the Winter Holidays not drinking,  I might as well continue the trend.  I think it will have a very positive impact on my overall life.  Having a drink after work or with dinner often relaxes me and leads to an evening of not getting stuff done.  If I’m going to ramp up the side hustles this year, I’ll need to be more productive in the evenings.

I think the benefits from reducing alcohol consumption may also carry over into my real job as well.  I’ll be more active, which should improve my overall health.  More activity in the evenings should lead to better sleep, which will make me better rested for the next day.  It might even lead to more “real” exercise.   So overall, it seems like a good idea, and deep down I’ve been feeling like I drink a little too much some nights, so it’s time for a change.

It’s less a New Year’s resolution and more of a product of having  11 days to think about ways to improve my life and the ability to realize our financial goals.   Regarding the finances, it’s not about the money directly, but more about what the money represents: freedom.  If reducing my alcohol consumption affects that realization of freedom on so many levels, it would be foolish not to change my ways.

In December, I added a Habit Tracker to my notebook.  It looks like this:

December Habit Tracker

I found it useful and enlightening, and I plan to continue it’s use over the coming months.  If you’re working on creating some new habits in 2017, perhaps a similar tool will be helpful to you.  Whether it’s in a notebook, on a piece of paper posted on your wall, or maybe even on a chalkboard in your kitchen, visually tracking your adherence to your targeted habits can be very beneficial in cementing the change.

Whatever you choose to use, find a visual way to track your goals and progress towards them.  If you do, I bet you’ll find you hit more of your targets in 2017.




I’m not fine….

After my post about Dreaming Big, someone shared a comment via Twitter about Mel Robbins’ TedX talk.  I had expected to be something about chasing your dreams or creativity, but instead I got a nice insight to psychological tendencies and motivation.  I liked it so much, I’ll probably share it with me team at our next staff meeting.  Because of the video, I was awake earlier today.  If you’re wanting to make a change in your life, watch this video.


My first thoughts were about George Carlin’s skit regarding being “Fine”.  His was funny.  Ms. Robbins’ talk is funny and truly insightful.   In order to act on an idea, we must not only do something, but we must do something quickly.  Think about how often you do something, even just a small thing, but it eventually leads to a big change.

Let’s take the example of my camera collection.  After realizing I had 21 cameras, I decided to get rid of a few.  Then I bought a few more.  But the simple act of starting to sell and give away a few of them triggered a big change.   I’m down to four – all of which I haven’t specifically written much about before:  a Minolta Maxxum 7, a Hasselblad 500C, a Bronica SQ-Ai, and a Zeiss Ikon Contina.   At this point, I expect the Bronica to leave eventually.  I’m even selling my trusty Maxxum 5’s.  All of this in 6 weeks.

They’re just cameras, but I had gotten into the habit of searching out interesting cameras.  Of course now I’m drooling over Minolta AF lenses.  So I’m not fine with the change, but I’m growing.

What if I could take the next step towards financial independence?  I’ve been dreaming of riding a bike to work for 6 years.  Exercise, fresh air, and a commute all in one activity.  Plus it saves money.  Moving closer to work might allow me to do that, plus be home more.

Then there’s the time: even my modest 20 minute commute adds an extra 4 weeks of working time to my year.  20 minutes each way is 160 hours per year.  Moving within 5 minutes of work would be like getting an extra 3 weeks of vacation time!  No wonder my hour commute at previous jobs was killing me, and all the flights and waiting in airports were draining my energy.

Think about this: my wife drives 75 minutes one way!  She only works 180 days per year, but the commute in time alone is like working an extra 11 weeks each year!  Oh my word!  Then if we think about wear and tear on a vehicle, or both cars, plus gas.  How soon could we retire? It’s probably $150k or more every 10 years.  I could do the math, but I’m already wound up enough at this point….

I’m not fine.  They say what you don’t know can’t hurt you. Whoever ‘they’ are, they’re wrong.  What you don’t know can kill you, or least steal your dreams.  I’m not sure I’m OK with the amount of sacrifices we’re making to live they way we live.  Maybe we need to consider another change to get to our dreams sooner.  If we both decide to take that step, it might be scary, but it won’t be the end of the world.  Who knows?  It might open a whole new world.

So much is possible.  We don’t need to live average lives.  In fact, I don’t feel like my life is average – but it’s not as excellent as it could be.  Maybe 30 years ago this wasn’t possible.  Maybe society really has changed enough with technology that we truly can have even more freedom than ever before. Perhaps it’s just the availability to get all the individual perspectives and knowledge that makes it seem more real, and people have been doing exactly this for decades.

Has this possibility always been there, but it’s just something else “we didn’t know”?  I honestly don’t know, but the thought of this level of freedom is awesome and invigorating, and a little aggravating at the same time.  I’ve got to do SOMETHING to capitalize on my piece of freedom and make the most of this awesome life that was just so highly improbable to even happen.  All of us are in the same category of uniqueness, and we are meant to do so much more than what the average person does.

Ignore the media and the daily news.  Dream big, then do small things to move towards your dreams.  Even something as simple as giving an unused possession like a camera to Goodwill can get the ball rolling.

Independence Day – 1966


It’s something Americans have fought hard and died for; it’s part of what makes us who we are.  We were formed as a democracy and did not evolve from a nation that was originally some Monarchy or Socialist regime.  At our birth as a nation we were free.

Many men and women have paid the price to keep us free over the years.  Thank you to each and every one of you that have served, active or not.  To those that have spent time away from your families because they were serving – thank you.  For those who paid the ultimate price, may God bless you and your families and provide comfort to those you left behind.

This Independence Day, I want to share some photos from 1966 during the Vietnam War.  Many of the slides are dated July 1966, some earlier, some later that same year.  While not the exact date, all of these images I believe to be from 1966 – 50 years ago. If you recognize anyone, let me know so I can thank someone personally.

To those serving, past and present, thank you for keeping our Freedom.


Thank you for Protecting our Freedom

Thank you to all who have served
Thank you to all who have served

Today is Veteran’s Day.  Over the generations, our freedom has been paid for by those brave men and women willing to give their lives for our country and the principles for which it stands.

I am free to write today, to work where and when I want, and to worship as I choose because of the sacrifices our Veterans have made.  All of us in the United States share in that Freedom; if you know or see a veteran or active military person today, thank them.  Buy them lunch or a coffee.  Be brave enough to shed a tear of gratitude.  Try to imagine your life without your personal liberties, and then realize the debt you owe to those that fought for it and who continue to fight.

Thank you to all our current, past, and future protectors of Freedom.