The clear road ahead …

the road ahead is clear FI

With New Year just ahead it’s time to think what my theme for 2014 will be …

After thinking about this for a while,I think my theme will be “Self-discipline”.This year I will practice a lot of self-discipline and hardly any procrastination.

At work for 2014, I have a new set of responsibilities that will be challenging and interesting.This will make a welcome change for me,as last year was a dreadful year for me at work.Looking back I probably brought a lot of this angst on myself by trying to change things.That is the most important thing that I must learn and heed in 2014, – take any change that I want to implement very slowly.

I intend to suggest a lot of new possibilities/changes, but I will not become attached to any outcome and let the change/idea follow its own path.I intend to love my work and workplace this year and do not want to end up in any conflict if I can avoid it.

I also have a lot of new areas that I need to train up in,this will also be challenging.I look forward to the confidence that this competency will bring me.I will be working full-time and also a lot more over-time as my DH and I have realised that it is more valuable to us as a couple, for me to work more and him to cut back.

I am looking forward to what 2014 will bring and can’t wait for the brighter and longer days to spill in.It’s just 1 week since the winter solstice and we still have very short dark days.The weather has been wicked this Christmas and I have been looking up the Spanish weather at 17 to 21 C with envy … When I retire I will definitely spend my Christmas holidays over there.

I also hope to increase my fitness levels this year.At the moment I would put my fitness at a 6 out of 10,I would love to raise this to an 8 this year.I intend to keep up my walking and also get back to my weights.I haven’t been so bad this Christmas,but because of the rain I missed a few walking days.I have had absolutely no alcohol this Christmas which is great and I really haven’t been overeating either.

So onwards and upwards to 2014,it will have to be better than 2013 work-wise.

I will (of course) still stay on my major goal which is to live frugally and continue to aim for retirement from all paid work by the age of 50.

Just 4 more years and 10 months to go …

What to do with all this spare time I’ve found …

FI how I've found a lot of time

I have found so much spare time, that I’m having to actually think about trying to fill it.

This is definitely new,especially for a working mother of two teens.

What’s really interesting is,to analyse where all this free time has appeared from and could anybody do it?

This is a list of activities I have stopped,to make my life simpler and give me more free time. .(Just to clarify,I haven’t suddenly retired,I’ve just found a lot of time).

1. I have cut out all visiting of friends and relatives except immediate ones,eg. parents and some siblings.

I decided long ago when the kids were young that I was getting stretched far too thinly.Every appointment to meet up with friends or acquaintances was taking ages to organise with work and kid commitments.I really was not enjoying these meet-ups that took so much effort to arrange and left me feeling either annoyed or resentful,when I got home.I know this sounds weird but when you have young kids most of your peers do too,so any social occasion or meet-up is full of kids of all ages running around and making lots of noise,(as they are perfectly entitled to do).As I had kids of my own,the last thing I wanted was to be amongst more … so I just cut out any interactions with other parents and their kids.I know,sounds nuts but it really worked for me.I read a book/internet or just walked for my “social life” with far greater pleasure than being further drained by millions of needy kids,God bless them.

It is also impossible to carry on any conversation of any depth while there are continuous interruptions by fights,”Mommy I need this, or with other frazzled parents whose minds are not on the topic being discussed.This used to annoy me so I stopped doing it.

The reason that I used to feel resentful after meet-ups with single people or people with no kids was that it was so enjoyable.It was so good to get in to “real” conversations about life,the world,politics with no mention of kids shoes,parties or “You’ll never guess what little Mary said to me”.I used to enjoy these meetings and conversations so much that I used never want them to end.To an INTJ mental concepts and ideas are the most satisfying socialization that exists.I used then have to leave these meetings and slot back to “kiddy life”,and this transition was tough.In the end I decided that as I was finding the transitions so hard, that it was just not worth it,and I stopped them altogether.

This first step of cutting out all social meetings has given me a huge amount of time and energy that I was wasting just trying to be “normal”.Being a parent is tough,it is a huge responsibility to do the best job that you can and for me personally,I realised that I was spreading myself “too thin”.I was trying to please everyone,except myself.

2. Grocery shopping online and alternating between only 2 different dinners every second day.

My time is as precious to me as my DH’s is to him and my kid’s is to them.My favourite line at home to my family is “you know,I am a human being too …”.Huge amounts of time and energy can be spent on cooking.Now don’t get me wrong,if that is your passion,knock yourself out,become the next “domestic goddess or god”,seriously go for it.But to me cooking depletes my energy and sucks up all my free time-so I have devised a strategy to minimise its effect on my life as much as possible.

Now straight of the bat,my DH has no interest in cooking and that is fine by me as long as he keeps to my strategy without any complaints.If there are complaints I will let him devise his own strategy to feed our family and IMPLEMENT it.After all to an INTJ a plan is not a plan unless it can be implemented effeciently.There’s where we really differ from INTP’s, who can strategize forever without the necessity for implementation.We never eat out or get take-outs and cook all our food from scratch.

I have researched health and diet extensively and now we eat Paleo.We have not cut out wheat entirely as we seem to be able to eat it without any side effects but we do keep it to a minimum.For me sugar is the real enemy and we never keep junk in the house.I know that I have read that president Obama has written that he eats the same breakfast everyday as he thinks it is wiser to keep his energy to decide on much more important tasks later in his day.My attitude entirely,”we eat to live and not live to eat”.Needless to say this strategy has taken a while to be accepted but we have finally got there and I have the reward of loads of free time and energy.

3.I hate phones and phone calls and always keep conversations to a minimum.

Again these strategies are not for everyone,but if you want free time and more energy you have to be ruthless.

I hate when I get a text or a phone call,I always think,”Oh God what’s up now,who wants something from me this time?”.I know,a terrible bad attitude to my fellow human beings,but it really works to free up time,especially when you tell everyone that this is always how you react when someone rings or texts you.By the way,you must actually enact this as well when your with people and the phone rings,there is nothing really like seeing it for themselves to get the message through,is there?

Needless to say I never do Facebook or instagram or any of those other time suckers.I really also value my privacy and looking at other people’s photos drains me completely, so no thanks to that.

4. I never go shopping for anything as a form of entertainment.

This frees up so much time that it is unbelievable.We never go “down to the shops” on a Saturday.All the family have gotten used to this now and nobody asks to go near shopping centers or the city center at the week-end.This actually leaves every Saturday and Sunday free to follow each of our own hobbies and interests.We used to be the “normal” family years ago and go for coffee and cakes on either Saturday or Sunday or maybe even both,but not anymore.This has also saved us a fortune and moved us further towards our financial freedom plan.

if anyone needs something we arrange to buy it during the week when the shops are really quiet or else one of us will do a quick run on a Saturday morning.

5. Ferrying kids around to their after-school activities is kept to a minimum.

Most parents love to complain that they are just the taxi-drivers for their teenage kids,-what the hell is this about?I have already outlined on my “Why I am shutting down …”post why female martyrs love Christmas.Well I think a lot of them love the social life that accompanying their children to their activities brings,as well.I have no problem with this, but please do not complain.Recognise that it is a choice, like all the other choices that we make as parents- about how to spend our time.

My kids will only be ferried to classes and interests that they really love and continue to thrive at.I do not need my kids to be involved in loads of activities in order to feel good about my parenting skills.And as to the question of “But he really wants to go to all of them”,I say let him choose his favourite,remember “I am a human being with a life too”.

6. Helping with homework and allowing them to fail.

I have a simple rule on this one,our kids are just gifts,that we get for very short time and then we have to let them go.

Our jobs as parents is to make them resilient, confident and above all,in my opinion self sufficent.I think inner strength is the greatest thing that we can teach them.Inner strength can only be learned by allowing them to make their own choices and deal with the results.Failure must be part of that learning curve.We have to pull back and let them fail if they refuse to put the hard work into tasks that is necessary for success.

I refuse to spoon feed my kids with their home-work after junior school.Of course I will help them out if they get stuck but only when it suits my schedule.They’re on their own,and will learn a lot figuring out for themselves how to solve things.This frees up a lot of time especially as they get to High school.

I could mention other things that I have cut out of my life that have freed up my time but the above list were the most fruitful for me.I know when some people read this list they will think,”Life would not be worth living without all those things”,and this is fine.

But remember when you complain “There is not enough hours in the day”,I was able to find loads …


Why it’s time to shut down …



FI why it's time to shut down

It’s that time of year again,it’s time to shut down.

Traffic is getting nuts for no earthly reason,out of the blue all the chaos suddenly starts.

That’s when I take my queue,it’s time to prevent major energy leakages.

These are my tips to inspire you to retain your energy (and sanity) throughout the Christmas season.

  1. The worst energy leakage for me is driving in Christmas traffic.

Long queues of stressed drivers with packed schedules that do not allow for any traffic delays.Conditions are bleak with darkness,rain and cold weather predominating.Every driver is serious with a serious amount of errands to be gotten through.There is no room for fellow human kindness or understanding.If you make a wrong move you will be severely punished by a loud honk or worse still a tirade of abuse.

No thanks,I will avoid this if at all possible …

I will get my groceries delivered to my door and calmly open it in my state of serenity,usually to a weather weary, frazzled driver.

I will warn the kids until they can repeat it back to me word for word,”I am not going near there at this time of year”.

I will give my DH the “Look” if he even mentions that “we need this” or “we should go there”.The “Look” sends my message loud and clear,”Are you out of your mind,don’t you know what time of year it is?,You go if you wish, don’t you know that I’m in shut down?”

2. The second largest energy leak is in “getting into the Christmas spirit”.

This includes work parties,neighbor parties and less well-known member of the family get togethers.

I am an INTJ,so the amount of energy my “type” can loose through these forced-joviality events is astronomical.Small talk, Christmas hysteria and idle chit chat are just not my thing.The added possibility of no-quick escape route because of alcohol or travelling with others,(who state that they are just warming up,and “Come on get into the Christmas spirit”), is enough to send a shiver down my spine and me into a panic attack .

No thanks,I will avoid this if at all possible …

I never go to my work party,along with many others,(older,”bitter”workers’s just like me, Ha,Ha,).

I refuse to go to any Christmas festivities except the ones I find energy replenishing, such as,spiritual services with beautiful Christmas carols or classical Christmas music concerts.Even with these I plan my travel routes and times very carefully to avoid any Christmas traffic chaos.

I will also venture into the city center Christmas Eve,to watch the bedlam unfold.The family will sit and have coffee and cakes, watching the drama.But again I will only agree to this if nobody has anything to purchase and if everyone agrees to park long before any traffic congestion starts and walk the rest of the way.

3. In third place for energy leakage must be the buying of Christmas gifts.

How in God’s name is it possible to buy gifts for people who need for nothing.

“Candles or chocolates” you may say, or other such crap.But I would ask back “Why bother?”. This only adds to the worst type of consumerism that exists-knowingly buying crap just to fit in with the norm.

You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.When people buy your kids gifts,you just have to reciprocate, even if you have told them a thousand times “No,they have everything that they need“.

And just don’t get me started on the useless plastic crap that people get kids for Christmas, just to say they gave everyone something.The pound shops must make a fortune at Christmas,selling all the cheap crap from China.No wonder we are destroying the planet and our land fill sites are bursting at the seams.Would someone ever just shout stop!

No thanks,I will avoid this if at all possible …

My DH and I have agreed never to echange Christmas gifts.Now this does not ever exclude “buying time off work” for the other,which we are blessed to be able to do in our jobs.Now that’s a gift! as I said in a previous post money actually does mean freedom sometimes.

Our kids get a set amount of money each Christmas and I purchase any item they want with this.As for gifts for other people,we keep them to alcohol or edibles,at least there is not much waste there.

4. Fourthly large amounts of energy is lost through fuss and internal pressure.

The pressure (especially for female martyrs), is massive at Christmas.

Trying to do everything perfect and make all dreams come true is their Christmas mission.The house needs to be shining,the decorations sparkling,large open fires blazing and plenty of homemade food ready for any guest that just may feel like popping in.

Fussing,fussing,and more fussing. What are the kids clothes like?Do they need haircuts?Do I look like the perfect hostess?Does my DH need a new shirt?

“Oh no look, in that Winter sun my windows show up all dirty again”-enough already,I feel drained just writing this list.

No thanks,I will avoid this if at all possible …

I don’t have many Christmas visitors as I try to leave the country and fly to the sun on Boxing day or 26th December every year.Even if I don’t go,people are so confused about our where abouts now at Christmas, that they just never expect us to be at home.Ah what bliss …

This excludes the necessity of any type of fussing and we just pass through Christmas like any other time of the year.It’s really just a nice break from work for us, with no extra work.

As for Christmas dinner,something fast and simple like steak or lamb with ice-cream for desert,all previously delivered by the grocery van.

To-day I have announced that I’m in official “Shut down”,my family will get the message … it’s just that time of year!


Why I will not work any overtime …

FI why I donn't work overtime

I will not work overtime because I basically have enough with what I earn to get me to my goal of Financial Independence without loosing my sanity on the journey.

I will not work any overtime because work takes energy and as I have only so much per day,I want to keep mine for creative tasks,Thank you very much.

I will not work overtime because I have already too much stuff. Jacob over at earlyretirementextreme has a theory that you need only 5 basic tools to do almost any job and also that we should be able to carry all of our belongings in just one suitcase-this appeals to me.

I will not work overtime because my time on this earth is precious and limited and I want to decide how to use it to give me the greatest pleasure.

I will not work overtime because I see that the people who do are “imbalancing” themselves or escaping from something else.When you work more than your average work hours something has to give;your health or well being,your exercise or fitness goals or compatibility in your relationships.

Also maybe home life is difficult and overtime can be used to escape the turmoil.

IF Why I will not work overtime

I will not work overtime because it will not enrich my life in anyway except with more money.Money can mean freedom but sometimes freedom just is … well … freedom.

As an INTJ,I will not work overtime because I like to spend most of my time in my head thinking up new ideas and strategies about life.As my workplace is like a production line with constant interruptions this is not possible and irritates me beyond belief.

And finally,I will not work overtime because if I did I could not find the time,energy or creativity to write this blog and right now as this is the only creative endeavor I do,I would be lost without it …


Why I hate Christmas …

It seems like I whine a lot on this blog about things that I hate, when in fact I love so many things and I really love my life (apart from my work).

The real reason that I hate Christmas is that as an INTJ – I am a realist,a DATA from Star Trek,the gold standard of realists -Christmas is just not based on reality.

Christmas is about escaping reality into a world of artificiality and excess- two of my pet hates.

It’s about superficiality, escapism, and the worst consumerism imaginable.

Other minor irritations are : the chaotic traffic jams in and out of shopping areas,the Christmas cards from people that you never meet (hopefully) or worse still from people that you meet up with everyday,and attending all these festive occasions when your schedule is already bursting at the seams.

The overindulgence of eating crap,drinking alcohol and playing video games while cooped up inside are others that can be added to the list.

I usually try to escape to the sun on Boxing day or December 26th until it is all over.I endure Christmas up to then safe in the knowledge that it is short lived and the thought that I will be escaping away from it all very soon.

When I finally escape I bask like a lizard replenishing my energy stores under sunlight,away from all the excesses at this time of year.I am happy with the thought that when I return home it will all be over and life can get back to it’s simple, beautiful, normal self.

Now what was I saying about people using Christmas to escape reality …


Long-term unemployed or early retirement …

FI Unemployment

I am off sick from work with a flu and chest infection.The doctor advised me to stay off until it clears.Considering my work environment,that is pretty good advice if I ever want to fully recover.

Usually when reading blog posts from other bloggers who are sick and off work in the Winter,they are feeling down and very sorry for themselves.

Definitely not me,I am the complete opposite.

Even though I haven’t been outside the door since my visit with the doctor,I am having the time of my life.

I can fill every minute of my life without being bored,without the need for any social contact ,and definitely without the need to feel accomplishment or recognition from external sources.

And by the way,I watch less than 1 hour TV a day,sometimes none.

What is wrong with me?

Have I arrived??, like the Dalai Lama or Eckhart or have I simply dropped out of life so much that I have lost any real sense of “normal” people’s purposes?

Whatever … I love it.

When I was thinking this through last night I thought this must be what early retirement is like …the ability to fill your day anyway that you want,always in great form and always full of energy.

Then I began my usual day-dreaming about being able to retire right now and could I live this simple life long-term? Would I get bored and loose my confidence? Would I have a reason to get out of bed every morning?

Then I asked my DH why do the long-term unemployed get depressed and feel so isolated when to me this type of life is so amazing?

His answer (as it usually is),is that it’s all about money or lack of it.

But for myself I think as long as I had food,heat and shelter and of course my kids needs (not wants) taken care of ,why would anyone get down about not having money?

What can money fulfill if I have enough for my needs and want nothing?

A story that comes back to me when thinking this whole thing through is the 50 year acquaintance we met in a pub one night.

He had been made redundant  from his 25 year factory job two years earlier.He had been at home unemployed for the full  2 years.Now he was all excited telling us that 2 months ago that he got a new factory job which was paying the SAME as his unemployment benefits.

He said the job in the new factory was very dirty often covering him with glass and sand while he was working.He was truly delighted with himself and glad to be back with a sense of everyday purpose and social contacts again.

Needless to say I was bewildered,why would he risk his health with a job like that when he could stay healthy and at home for the same money?Why couldn’t he fill his own needs himself everyday without his life’s schedule having to be dictated to him through a hard day’s work.

A few months later I heard that he lost the tops of two fingers while working his new job,the second person working that machine that this had happened to.

And yet after he recovered from this, back he went again to this same job,obviously in his eyes his mental health was more important to him than his physical.

My goal and passion everyday is to become independent of the need to sell my time for money …  but when I reach this goal what then?


How I stay in Balance …


To-day I had a day visiting my family, always a possible minefield.

Not that I don’t get on with my parents or brothers and sisters, I really do and love all of them dearly.

Well, then you may ask why would the day be a minefield?

To answer this I immediately think of Dave Ramsey’s recommendation of the book “Boundaries” whenever people phone him looking for clarity in dealing with family issues.

That’s the very problem isn’t it we all have a different understanding of where our own family boundaries lie, especially when dealing with brothers and sisters that we grew up with.

When are we overstepping the mark from advice to interference when listening to their issues?

It’s easier with friends and acquaintances as we are mostly always aware of our place and tread softly. But it’s different with the people that we grew up with; we just know them so well that of course we know what’s best for them-even though they may have changed completely from the kid we once lived with.

One to one we all seem to gel beautifully together but with many around I find I loose my balance and become drained quickly.Maybe this is just my issue and they are all fine but it’s up to me to keep my balance and my energy levels up,isn’t it?

Anyway this is why it’s so critical to stay in balance on a day like to-day and especially with the season of Christmas coming up.

As Eckhart would say we have to sit in a state of alertness, alert to when someone is trying to push our buttons but also alert to the fact that we may out of old habits be pushing theirs.

I try to stay in emotional balance with family by always cutting my visits short when there are a lot of people around-I always tend to get drained by too many people all in conversation together.

I am very sensitive to the flow of energies in groups and my antenna seem to go haywire if there is negative or conflicting energies around.I  was just not born with the ability to block it out like some lucky people can,so I protect myself from having to deal with it as much as possible.

I also try to listen attentively to what each person is saying to me and talk very little. I try to stop people going into their “poor me story” mode and keep the conversation upbeat and positive, with frequent interjections of how wonderful the journey of life really is and how it is constantly teaching us the things we need to learn.

The most important thing I try to remember is that there are boundaries between us, and whilst I may be able to listen attentively to them,everyone’s shoulders are strong enough  to carry their own burdens.

I wonder when I am so intent on protecting my own energy  and  keeping “in my own balance”, am I any fun to be with ….


The Golden Handcuffs …

FI Golden Handcuffs 2

I love the term “Golden Handcuffs”because it describes so many of our work situations to a tee.

I hate my work,in fact I could go so far as to say that I have never really hated it as much as I do now.

I also hate moaners and moaning so that’s why I find it so difficult to deal with my work situation.

In my mind I just say “Everybody hates their job so just get the hell on with it ,appreciate what you have and stop moaning,you are doing your own head in”.

But to-day I will face facts and admit that I HATE MY JOB and it is slowly killing me.

There, I’ve admitted it,it’s all out in the open and now what???

I am wearing a pair of “Golden Handcuffs” and will never unlock them as my work suits everything in my life so much, …… except my soul.

I will never leave my job until my kids are educated and have left home.By then I hope to be financially independent and able to leave working life altogether.

I am now going to list all the advantages my job has:

■  15 min commute by car avoiding traffic
■  Very short hours per week,especially as I take 1 day a week parental leave ;Total hours at work 26 hours per week.(I know why am I  complaining with such a short working week)
■  10 am starting time
■  ability to pick up kids from school or attend to their schedules during my work day.
■  Guaranteed government pension on retirement at age 60
■  Above average pay per annum-giving me the ability to become mortgage free in 3 years
■  Every week-end off
■  Never have to bring work home with me.
■  Ultimately,my job is really family friendly and that’s what I am,a wife and a mom.

What is wrong with me? I am on the “pig’s back” regarding my work life.

Why can’t I just keep my head down and just get on with it?

Why does it suck all the life out of me and why do I hate it so much?

I work hard while I’m at work but the politics,back biting and lack of autonomy over my day and where I will be working each day kills me.

Maybe I’m just too old to play the “game”anymore and I’m too cynical about giving all my energy to a system that never gets sated.

But look at all the advantages that I have listed for my job ,You would want to be crazy to leave a job like that ….


The promise from the Winter sun …


FI wintersun promise

This morning as I was driving my daughter to school she complained that the sun through the windscreen was really annoying her eyes.

I told her not to complain but to appreciate it,that it was an amazing gift that we should soak up.It is precious winter sun,very scarce and fleeting.I told her that the Winter sun is really low in the sky and that is why it is so blinding while we drove.

It is a gift,a promise, that days full of lightness lie ahead-we just have to hang on in there.

I thought then of the long spells of darkness that we endure in the Winter,from 4:30pm in the evening on wards.Again I flirted with the idea of human hibernation until the green shoots start to burst through … And no matter how hard it feels to be in the middle of it,we are already nearly out the other side.

Soon it will be the Winter solstice,on the 21st December.

From this date on wards the days will start getting longer again and the darkness will start to recede.Whilst I do not like Christmas,the one good thing is that once Christmas is past there is hope that Spring is coming.

The brightness is fighting it’s way back and will eventually win.Those never-ending Summer days are again on their way.The thought of the Summer fills my mind of surfing,cycling,cutting grass,warm Summer breezes and just “basking” in the warmth and heat from the sun.Always brightness,always full of energy.

Winter sunshine warms my heart and gets me through, keeping my attention off the darkness and on the promise brightness will again eventually win out.

And all that I have to do,is be patient and keep believing in it’s promise …


How I get out of bed for work every morning …


I hate the winter,or more accurately I hate the darkness that comes with it.

In wintertime when you work inside you miss all day light and go home in the evening in the darkness to a long night of enclosed darkness.

I am always amazed that this does not bother people,in fact for some people their favorite time of the year is autumn/winter cosying up to a fire.They hardly even notice that it is always dark outside apart from when they are at their workplace.

I have invented a strategy for myself to get through the winter and get out of bed for work on winter mornings,even looking forward to the day ahead.

I have planned my whole work day around getting outside in natural daylight for walks!

This might sound crazy but it actually works and apart from the head-cold that I have just picked up I do feel energetic and I am actually enjoying this winter.

This is how my day goes,I wake and think,”I feel tired” and want to roll over and pull the quilt over my head-“not another work day”, I say “it feels like I’ve just left”, My brain starts clicking through all the different scenarios ;call in sick,the kids need to be called,what about their lunches,I need to move to get them to school on time,etc,etc,

Then I think of my walk before work and how good I will feel if I just do it.I think of the interesting podcast I will listen to as I walk and also the pairs or groups of walking mothers and retirees that will be on the morning walking route.When I used to drive straight to work all of these walkers were images of pure envy representing a lifestyle that I could not yet have.

Now it is me,I am one of these early walkers.

I am one of these time-rich retirees or stay at home moms.Maybe I’m even a  financially independent person that is just getting her fresh air and exercise early before her fun packed day.

Then I will just fit in a few hours of work after my walk.I will then walk at lunch, again outside for another hour before returning to work to fit in another few hours before I go home.

All quiet simple,I fit my work in around my walks.Being outside in the natural day light is really my priority in wintertime.I think even if I was retired I would not be spending so much time outdoors in the winter months.So I have turned my working life into an advantage,as I get to feel fit and happy, and come home in the evenings with a lot more energy than most other work-day slaves in winter.

Now I don’t dread winter work mornings anymore,as all that I think of is that I am among the leisurely, time-rich walkers, while all the morning workers rush by in their cars to work.



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