Hi, and welcome to my site! It’s a blog about personal finance, the arts, travel and nature, usually told through the lens of my search for happiness and mindfulness in life. Why those things? Well, because I’m passionate about them, and I find they help me be more relaxed and happy. It works for me, so I want to share my thoughts with others in the hopes that it works for you too!

This is a continuation of an earlier post on the journey to black belt. The grading felt like it was over as soon as it began. One minute we’re warming up, and the next we’re bowing out. I knew it would go quickly, but not that quickly. I mean geeze, I don’t even remember parts of my grading. I’m told I threw knees during sparring, yet I have no recollection of that. I thought I performed four katas, when I really did six. What I do remember is that the warm-up was tough, designed to exhaust you before the grading even began. If you didn’t pace yourself, you were in for a world of hurt. So what else happened at our black belt grading? [...]
I hear people complain all the time about how they don’t have this, or how they wish they had that. What I find interesting is that, when I ask them what they’re doing about it, they usually hum and haw and make up some sort of excuse about why “now’s not a good time for change.” Well, news flash – there’s never a good time for change. We’re creatures of habit, we hate change by default. But if you want things to be different in your life, you need to do things differently. I saw a great comic the other day; in it, a leader stands on a stage asking an audience, “Who wants change?” Everybody raised their hand. Then, in a second image, the same leader asked the same audience, “Who wants to change?” Crickets. Everyone had their eyes to the floor. Two images, one striking message. Change starts with you. And there’s three things you can do to bring it about. [...]
My wife and I recently made the decision to get rid of our mattress and bedframe, and switch to sleeping on Japanese futons (called shikibutons) full-time. If you don’t know what a Japanese futon is, it’s basically a bed made by folding layers of brushed cotton over and over again and covering it with a layer of fabric. They sit right against the ground – no boxspring, bed frame, nothing. It was a decision that took time to come to grips with, and we did a ton of research before getting to that point. So what made us choose to sleep on the floor? [...]
I had a great conversation with some friends recently about our perspectives on friendships. We debated everything from what makes a true friendship, to how to know when a friendship has run its course and it’s time to move on. This second topic is one that I’ve wrestled with before in my life, and I think it’s worth considering a little more deeply. [...]