≡ Menu

Reaching the point of financial independence in your life is a good thing. There’s nothing wrong with being part of the F.I.R.E. (financially independent, retire early) movement. Assuming, that is, you’re doing it right.

My husband and I actually accidentally became part of that movement several years ago, before we knew it existed. I saw my husband was miserable at his job (I’d already quit mine to be a stay-at-home mom for our son), and after reading several books about personal finance and self-employment, I persuaded him to look at our finances and reconsider our future.

He looked, and reconsidered.

Decided – oh, miracle of miracles! – that he agreed with me. And so we got busy.

Reaching for super-early retirement brings with it a lot of benefits. I can tell you from experience. Here are a few of those benefits:

  • You learn to manage your money wisely.
  • If you’re naturally frugal, you learn to be even more frugal.
  • You develop a knowledge base about the financial world that exceeds that of most people.
  • Your math skills get better.
  • And, of course, once you attain financial independence, you can do whatever you like with your time within the constraints of your nest egg. You no longer have to work forty-plus hours per week at a job you dislike.

And, right there is the problem.

And there we hit the big snag when it comes to retiring early: people tend to focus on the money.

I know my husband and I did. For several years, I obsessed over the monthly budget. We plummeted into despair in 2008 when our mutual fund values lost a third of their value (I didn’t know about safer ways to invest for probably another three years; the video below shares about that way).

This kind of obsession happens to a lot of people working to become financially independent at a much younger age than the typical retirement age of sixty or so. Reaching that golden number, that amount they know they need in order to be able to pull the equivalent of a thriving income out of it every year for the rest of their lives, becomes the ultimate goal.

The love of money…

You’ve probably heard the Bible verse, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” People seeking early financial independence aren’t necessarily loving money. But making it the ultimate goal will lead to, if not evil, then to emptiness.

Why?

Because they haven’t figured out how to spend the rest of their lives once they no longer need to work at a job or a business.

And so, we reach…

The right and healthy ultimate goal

The ultimate goal of any human being should be to live a fulfilling life. This may sound selfish. It’s not. Anyone who thinks that seeking fulfillment is selfish has confused it with happiness.

Feeling happy and feeling fulfilled are two completely different things. With that straightened out, how do you find fulfillment?

#1. You extend love toward those around you.

#2. You live out your calling.

I’ve talked about finding your purpose in this post, and figuring out your calling in this post. To recap, everyone’s purpose is to create with the goal of being a blessing to other people. A person’s calling is living out that purpose using the talents, skills, and interests they have in a way that fits their specific circumstances in life.

If you’re living out your calling, you’re going to be living a fulfilled life…regardless of your financial situation. Indeed, if you know that you’re living out your calling when you work at your job or in your business, and you look forward to that work every day, it’s a perfectly viable choice not to try to build up a nest egg by middle age. You can simply plan to work for as long as you can.

A backfiring you don’t want to experience

If you make financial independence your ultimate goal, what happens the day you achieve it?

You’re done.

DONE!

You’ve achieved the ultimate in life. You have nothing more worth doing, nothing to look forward to.

How depressing is that?

Even if you don’t tend to get depressed, I can guarantee you that you’ll get bored. Really bored.

Do you need to refocus?

If  you’re reading this post, I assume you’re already part of F.I.R.E. movement, or are thinking about making the plunge into it. So let me ask you this question: do you need to refocus?

If you have no idea what your life is going to look like once you reach your golden number, the answer will be a big, fat YES.

Because if reaching that number is your ultimate goal, you’re going spend the rest of your life in misery.

And that defeats the purpose of gaining financial freedom and time freedom.

Click the book image before if you would like to learn how to achieve super-early retirement…just remember to seek fulfillment before money!

{ 0 comments }

How To Be Happy: Seven Shocking Truths

Years ago, I read a book about how to be happy. The author, a psychologist, said that the way to achieve this highly sought-after state of mind was threefold: have someone to love, have something to do, and have something to look forward to.

That advice sounded good…until he made his big confession. He had stopped believing in God after his son died in an accident.

Or so he claimed. But one thing I’ve learned over my several decades of life is that most people who claim that they no longer believe in God because of an unexplained tragedy in their lives, are actually bitter toward Him. They still believe, but they’re angry and bitter about the bad thing He allowed to happen, either to themselves or their loved ones.

They hide that bitterness underneath the guise of unbelief. It’s easier to cope that way, to ignore the insidious emotion that eats away inside you until it – in many cases – literally turns into cancer.

Can we agree that it’s impossible to experience true happiness when you’re carrying around bitterness?

Or, wait. Maybe you can be happy, even if you’re hiding bitterness. Because…

The first truth about how to be happy.

Happiness is a temporary emotion. It’s based on circumstances. I’m happy when I make over $300 in book royalties in a month. He’s happy when he figures out how to succeed with a particularly tricky level of a video game. She’s happy when the man she’s fallen in love with calls her.

What happens when the next month, I make under $300? What happens when he can’t figure out how to succeed at the game? When her boyfriend breaks up with her?

Happiness comes from temporary events and circumstances that can change in a heartbeat.

This lead us to…

The second truth about how to be happy.

Trying to maintain a constant state of happiness is exhausting. Since reading the book I’ve mentioned above, I’ve come to realize that the three things the author insisted bring happiness, don’t always.

You can love and be loved, and still feel unhappy because other things in life are going wrong. You can have something to do, but if it’s not fulfilling it will not only not bring happiness, but also could bring on dread. The anticipation of looking forward to something can be pleasurable, but it is equally often frustrating because you wish you could be doing it now.

And so, if your goal in life is to be constantly happy, you keep having to search for things or contrive experiences that will bring you pleasure.

Which is a great segue into…

The third truth about how to be happy.

The search for happiness can be expensive. She isn’t happy unless she’s buying new clothes. He’s not happy unless he’s leasing the latest model of his favorite luxury car. They’re not happy unless they can take three week-long exclusive resort vacations every year.

How many times have you heard about some new gadget, got excited at the prospect of owning it, and then went out to buy it only to find that a few days after using it, you couldn’t care less about it? Or, maybe you were still grateful to have it, but your happiness over having brought the thing into your possession is gone forever? It just became another hum-drum, ordinary part of your boring life.

A similar thing can happen with finding out about a new restaurant, or making plans to travel to a new part of the world. You’re happy when you first go there, but once the initial excitement wears off you wonder why you were so gung-ho to go there in the first place.

And you’re off to spend money on the next thing that you’re sure will make you happy.

This closely relates to…

The fourth truth about how to be happy.

If you’re depending on a change of circumstances in order to be happy, you may be miserable for the rest of your life.

I have a large bunion on my right foot. It used to be a mild bunion. I think it fit into the “moderate” category when I had the bunion on my left foot surgically removed seven to eight years ago.

For an entire two years, I decided I couldn’t be happy unless the bunion miraculously disappeared – or at least shrunk. Or unless I could have some guarantee it would never get bigger.

Do I have to tell you I was miserable for those two years?

Here are other ways people hinge their happiness on circumstances that are out of their control:

  • I’ll be happy when I no longer have these digestive issues (or autoimmune disease, or chronic pain, etc).
  • I’ll be happy when my spouse stops [FILL IN ANNOYING HABIT OR CHARACTERISTIC HERE].
  • I’ll be happy when I win the lottery.
  • I’ll be happy when my business starts making five figures a month.
  • I’ll be happy when I find my soulmate.
  • I’ll be happy when I can afford a condo on the beach.
  • I’ll be happy when a Libertarian candidate is elected President (U.S.).

I think you get my drift. Waiting for an ideal future before you find happiness is going to turn you into one sorry, depressed, bitter human being.

You might be starting to think that I am anti-happiness, that there’s no point in trying to be happy, even in the present.

I’m glad you brought that up, because it reminds me of…

The fifth truth about how to be happy.

Feeling happy is not a bad thing. It’s good for your intelligence, good for your physical health, good for your mental health, good for your creativity, good for your relationships.

Being happy is all-around good for you. And, it’s fun. So when you encounter it, enjoy it while it lasts. Experiencing the emotion isn’t the problem. The problem comes with…

The sixth truth about how to be happy.

That truth is, seeking happiness is bad for you. Experiencing it is good, but not seeking it. Why? When you’re looking for happiness, you’re focused on pleasure rather than fulfillment. You’re being selfish and self-centered.

And, as we saw with the other truths, you’re wearing yourself out and possibly setting yourself up for a life of disappointment and heartache.

Being attached to circumstances, happiness often pops up when you least expect it. It’s a natural result of finding yourself in situations that fit your personal needs and desires of the moment.

Of course, you can craft some circumstances in such a way that you can be close to certain that you’ll end up feeling happy. For example, if you’re in love, chances are high that going out with the person you’re in love with will make you happy. You know that, so you arrange a date with them.

Or maybe there’s a certain place that has just-right weather at a certain time of year that helps you feel happy. You can plan a trip at that time of year and be assured that you’ll probably feel happy while you’re there.

It’s not bad to exert some control over your life when the end result will help you feel happy. The problem comes in eternally seeking happiness. Once that one particular circumstance has ended, what do you do next to stay happy? It becomes a never-ending struggle.

Which brings us to…

The seventh truth about how to be happy.

Seek joy, not happiness.

Happiness is external, while joy is internal. Things that are outside you can be whisked away in a second, without warning. They are temporary. But what is inside you endures, even through the darkest periods of your life. Like happiness, joy can bring giddy feelings. It can bubble up and expand at times. But even when it’s just a steady sense of rightness, a peaceful inner glow, no one can take it away from you.

How do you find joy? It’s born inside you from a deep knowing that your existence has meaning, that you are here for a reason.

In other words, you have put your faith in a loving Creator, believing that He will lead you, knowing that when the going gets tough, He hasn’t left you, but is enabling you to grow stronger.

And the more inner strength you have, the more joy you have. You may not feel happy at those times, but the joy will continue, will help you keep your mind focused in the right direction.

You may say that you know you have a relationship with your Creator, but you still struggle with depression and/or anxiety, In that case, you might want to read my story about how I cured myself of depression.

If you don’t know your Creator, you may be asking, “How do I do that?”

Pray for faith to believe. Pray that God would touch your heart so that you know He’s real.

And be willing to let Him lead your life.

Learning how to be happy is easy: surround yourself, or do things, that bring you pleasure.

But I think what you really want is joy. The journey of seeking that might take a bit of work and time, but in the end it will transform your life in a much bigger and better way than seeking happiness ever will.

{ 0 comments }

My Crabby Digestive System

“I hate my digestive system!”

These words rang out with regularity in my one-bedroom apartment when I was in my twenties. Okay, they didn’t really “ring out.” I thought them more than anything. But I was often frustrated with feeling so bad after eating.

I became even more frustrated when I went on a healthy eating kick, and it didn’t get much better. Learning to properly combine my food eliminated the constant digestive discomfort, but I still experienced it ten days (for at least two eating periods each day) out of every thirty.

In my thirties, I learned that the bloating and pain were at their worst during certain times of the month. In fact, some months those were the only times I felt miserable. I concluded that hormonal activity was somehow making my system more sensitive.

At age forty, eating any fruit other than bananas started making me nauseated. I remedied this somewhat with digestive enzymes, but lately, almost ten years later, my reaction to almost any food I could eat has been uncomfortable at the least, often inconvenient when the reaction happened lower down, and sometimes downright painful.

I’ve known for some time that I have a super-sensitive digestive system. I also learned a couple of years ago that hitting perimenopause can make this worse for women. Or, women who never had trouble eating anything can all of a sudden be hit with it.

Either way, my findings verified my theory that the issue could be related to hormones. The medical community calls it “Irritable Bowel Syndrome,” IBS for short because our society has become too lazy and too busy to speak in full words, to the extent that kids today have to ask their parents what KFC and DQ stand for. (By the way, if you have IBS, eating at either of those two places is not recommended. 😉 )

Because my super-sensitive digestive system has become super super-sensitive during the past few months, I’ve made some interesting discoveries. I’m going to share them before you even ask.

You’re welcome.

Discovery #1

IBS is a bunch of BS. What I mean is, the medical community has labeled as a “syndrome” making it sound like you’re sick if you have it.

You’re not. I’m not. Just as people with ADHD don’t have a disorder, people who experience the symptoms referred to as IBS are not unhealthy.

Our guts are simply more sensitive to the digestive process. They feel the gas more intensely. Or maybe even, produce more gas.

Don’t get me wrong. IBS can become a problem if you ignore it and do nothing to alleviate the symptoms. If it gives you diarrhea, for example, you can get dehydrated or deficient in nutrients. If eating gluten makes your stomach hurt, you’re going to have a hard time focusing on work after you have a sandwich for lunch on the job.

Here’s another thing about IBS not being a medical problem: six times more women are diagnosed with it than men. A huge reason is that our ovaries and uterus are tucked in right amidst our gut and colon. Can you say, “Conflict of interest?”

I’ve decided to rename Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I’m calling it “FDS”, for “Female Digestive Sensitivity.” If you’re a guy with digestive issues that result simply from being a Highly Sensitive Person, call it “MDS.”

Discovery #2

You don’t have to experience symptoms every day to have it. As I mentioned above, my whacked-out hormones somehow make my sensitive gut even more sensitive than usual. Some days, I can get away with eating broccoli. Other days, I’ll wake up in the middle of the night feeling like it’s turned into a rock in my stomach.

Discover #3

Increasing fiber is TERRIBLE advice for people with IBS, especially those with the diarrhea kind. But for any kind, the harsh fiber found in vegetables is sometimes – or often – painful to allow to go through the gut except in small quantities.

Discovery #4

I can still be a vegan! When I started reading up on the carbohydrates and foods that are problematic for people with IBS, I said, good grief, can I no longer be vegan? But after thinking about it for a while I realized that if I eliminated the cabbage family veggies from my diet and dialed back on the sweeter/softer greens and sprouted mung beans, I could still get plenty of healthy food in my diet without going back to eating meat.

Because of…

Discovery #5

Xylose isomerase! Because of the IBS, I also have fructose malabsorption. People who don’t have it can absorb twenty-five to fifty grams of fructose in one sitting. People who do have it may only be able to absorb ONE gram of fructose in one sitting! And not more than twenty-four grams. Bye-bye, fruit-based diets!

The exception is if the food you’re eating contains more glucose, because the fructose will stick to the glucose and get absorbed along with it. Glucose is the form of sugar that the body needs, so it is always all automatically absorbed in the small intestine.

Bananas have twice as much glucose as fructose, which is one reason many people with fructose malabsorption don’t feel badly after eating a banana or two.

But other fruits high in fructose, such as mangoes, pears, apples?

Ouch, ouch, burp, feel like puking.

Then there are the fruits containing sorbitol, namely the stone fruits such as peaches. The sorbitol may not be well-absorbed, either.

The result of fructose malabsorption? The offending sugars pass into the colon, pulling water along with them and being happily consumed by the bacteria in your colon. The by-product of the bacterial waste produces gas, and the extra water causes diarrhea.

I’ve been experiencing all this lately for many of my fruit smoothies and fruit snacks. For a despairing few hours I thought I was going to have to give up all fruits except bananas and berries.

But a blessed article on fructose malabsorption told me about xylose isomerase. This is an enzyme which converts fructose into glucose as it’s passing down through your system.

So I went to Amazon and put in the search box, “xylose isomerase,” and found the Eat Anything RX supplement. Long story short, it works, and I can eat whatever fruit I want again.

And add another $43 a month to our food bill. This supplement is NOT cheap. *SIGH*.

Discovery #6

I’m not destroying my intestines.

The gut pain that sensitive people often experience is not indicative of food creating tiny tears in the lining of your gut – though is sure sometimes feels like it! It’s the sensitive nerves in the gut complaining about the pressure from the gas.

Discovery #7

Except for fructose, a low FODMAP diet doesn’t matter one whit to me. When my digestive system decides to go whacko, I’m going to be miserable anywhere between several hours to several days, no matter what I eat – or don’t eat.

Hold on. I’ve lost some of you on the FODMAP thing. Those letters stand for the elements or characteristics of food that cause people with IBS – I mean, FDS – the most trouble. Not all of them are a problem for everyone with a sensitive digestive system, but at least some of them cause trouble on a regular basis.

The letters stand for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, And Polyols.

Foods high in oligosaccharides (the compounds fructans – not to be confused with fructose – and galactans) include chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, asparagus, cabbage, onions, wheat, rye, and watermelon. Foods containing disaccharides include table sugar, beetroot, and non-fermented dairy products; and those containing monosaccharides include anything containing fructose, glucose, or galactose.

The polyols are those sugars ending in “ol”: xylitol, sorbitol (found in the stone fruits such as peaches), and malitol.

Experts recommend going on a low FODMAP diet for a few days to a couple of weeks, then reintroducing the different types of FODMAP foods, one at a time, to see which ones cause you a problem.

For me? FODMAPs don’t matter. Any kind of food causes me pain or discomfort when my digestive system goes haywire. Or rather, when my hormones go haywire. Even the eternally benign white rice.

My accidental weight loss plan

And now you know how I’ve managed to stay so thin my entire adulthood, even as I creep closer to the half-century mark when most women have gained a noticeable amount of weight for no apparent reason.

Say, now, I think I’ve discovered the perfect weight-loss plan. Develop Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I mean, Female Digestive Sensitivity 😉 .

First steps to a happier digestive system

#1. Learn to properly combine your food. Don’t consume meats and starches with the same meal, eat fruit a half hour before or at least an hour after consuming anything else. Don’t eat dairy products with anything except vegetables. A little bit of cheese with fruit might be okay.

If you begin to properly combine your food, you might find that your IBS magically disappears.

#2. Reduce the overall stress in your life, and don’t eat when you’re angry, afraid, or sad to the extent that adrenaline is racing through you.

#3. Ladies, take a magnesium supplement (chelated or angstrom) and/or use Progestelle (find it on Amazon). I use both products. Both help to keep your hormones better balance, which will reduce your overall P.M.S. and perimenopausal symptoms, including the digestive ick.

#4. Experiment and find out what works for you.

#5. If you love fruit, but eating it is causing you trouble, try the Eat Anything RX supplement, or Fructaid (which is slightly cheaper).

Happy eating.

{ 0 comments }

How To Be A Better Wife: Five Steps

If you’re wondering how to be a better wife, good for you! That means that you realize that you are ready to do your part in making sure you and your husband have a strong marriage. Too many women expect their husbands to be Mr. Right, without ever making much of an effort to be Mrs. Right.

Which is a great way to jump right into the five steps of becoming a better wife…

Step one: Stay close to God.

God is love, and all who live in love, live in God.

To be a better wife, you need to be a more loving person. Therefore, per the above Bible verse, you need to stay connected to God.

Step two: Accept, don’t expect.

Disclaimer: I’m not saying not to have any expectations whatsoever of your husband. It’s perfectly within reason to expect him to do his best to provide an income, to remain faithful to the marriage bed, not to compare you unfavorably to other women, and to treat you with respect.

However, many women fail to accept their husbands as they are, and instead heap piles of expectations upon them. I used to be one of them, and I wonder if that might be a greater cause of divorce than money problems.

Because when you expect someone to behave differently than who they are, it creates a lot of stress for all parties involved.

  • Accept the fact that your husband enjoys watching sports on T.V
  • Accept that your husband has lower standards of cleanliness and tidiness than you do.
  • Accept that your husband doesn’t believe exactly the way you do.
  • Accept that your husband forgets that you need more physical affection than he does.

Which is a great segue into the next step…

Step three: Tell your husband what you need.

If you need fifteen hugs a day, then go up to him whenever you feel a need for a hug and ask for it! Contrary to popular belief, husbands can’t read their wives’ minds.

If you need your husband to fix the dripping faucet today because it’s keeping you awake at night, ask him kindly to get the job done.

If you would like twenty minutes to yourself every evening when you don’t have to worry about any small people interrupting you, work out a plan with your husband.

Speaking of asking for favors…

Step four: Say “yes” to physical intimacy.

Now, if he’s waking you up at four o’clock every single morning to “do it” to the extent you’re losing sleep, you guys need to talk. But most wives don’t have a husband who is quite that frisky in the bedroom.

Your husband needs that physical release. It’s actually physically painful if he doesn’t get it after a number of days of “holding it in.” It’s also the most important way he feels connected to you.

Unless you’re genuinely too sick or exhausted to have physical intimacy, say yes when he asks for it.

Step five: If you suffer from P.M.S., shut up!

Not every woman suffers from P.M.S., and if that’s you, go on wi’chore bad self.

If you do get moody during “that time of the month”, discipline yourself to keep your negative thoughts to yourself. I’m pretty sure that if I had spoken every nasty thought I had during that time, my husband would have left me a long time ago.

But I knew it was the hormones warping my brain, so I held all the horrible thoughts inside. And within three hours, they were gone. I no longer had the awful feelings that were leading to the terrible thoughts.

P.S. – If you have this negativity every month, try taking a magnesium supplement.

**************

If you’re married and seeking a more abundant life, it will come a lot more easily if you decide to improve yourself. Learn how to be a better wife, and you will indeed have a better life.

{ 0 comments }
error

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)