Heart Centered Learning: Mr. Money Moustache

Mr. Money Moustache is the alias of a Canadian expatriate named Peter Adeney, who saved enough money in his twenties, working as a software engineer, to retire at age thirty. He calculated a way to make these early pay cheques last using a strategy of sensible investment, and a rigorous, but manageable, frugality. Living with intention is his life’s work. “I’ve become irrationally dedicated to rational living,” he says.

Mr. Money Moustache defines retirement as the freedom to do what he wants when he wants. He retired in late 2005, with six hundred thousand dollars in investments, and a paid-off house worth two hundred thousand. He figured he could rely, conservatively, on a return of four per cent per year. He determined that the family could live on twenty-four thousand a year in expenses: so he needed to save twenty-five times that amount.

“Ten Bucks is a lot of money,” he writes, “So you need to respect it. It is a critical brick in the early retirement castle you are building. If you save $796 per week, for ten years, and get a 7% compounded investment return, after inflation, you’ll have $600,000 sitting around ready to party for you. . . . Let’s say you’ve got two income earners working together. Now each one has to save only $398 a week. There are 112 waking hours in each week. Each person has to make 40 successful $10 decisions each week—or one $10 decision every 2.8 waking hours.”

In his blog, his goals are to: 1) To make you rich so you can retire early; 2) To make you happy so you can properly enjoy your early retirement; and 3) To save the whole human race from destroying itself through overconsumption of its habitat. You can learn more about his work through listening to this great interview hosted by Tim Ferriss.

Joy Journal

Joy Journal #11: April 23, 2022

I spent a beautiful morning walking along the stunning Antrim coastline: beginning at the Giant’s Causeway and ending at Dunseverick Castle. The castle is an ancient royal site of the Dál Riada, a Gaelic kingdom from at least the 5th century AD. Saint Patrick is recorded as having visited the site, where he baptized Olcán, a local man who later became a Bishop of Ireland. The castle was captured and destroyed by General Robert Munro in 1642, and his Cromwellian troops in the 1650s, with only the ruins of the gate lodge remaining. The northern area contains an oval depression of wet ground which is thought to be a holy well, known as Saint Patrick’s Well.

As I explored this desolate and ancient site, I discovered a lone Hawthorne tree. In Ireland, the Hawthorn is synonymous with the ‘Sidhe’ or Fairies. From the times of the druids the tree was highly valued as a source of medicinal remedies. The flowers, leaves, and berries were used to treat conditions of the heart, and lower blood pressure.

Certain hawthorn trees, especially those associated with Holy Wells, are known as “Rag Trees” or “Wishing Trees”. Historically, cloth strips taken from the clothing of an ill person were tied to the branches of the tree as a petition to a local saint or deity. Local people also tie strips of colourful cloth to the wishing tree as a symbol of their prayers or wishes. These items are known as clotties. It was an honour to come upon this beautiful and sacred offering. #JoyBlogging

Something to Inspire

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“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

~ Dr. Maya Angelou

“When people show you who they are the first time believe them. Not the 29th time. When a man doesn’t call you back the first time, when you are mistreated the first time, when someone shows you lack of integrity or dishonesty the first time, know that this will be followed many many other times, that will some point in life come back to haunt or hurt you. Live your life in truth. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. You will survive anything if you live your life from the point of view of truth.”

~ Dr. Maya Angelou

Joy Journal

Joy Journal #10: March 11, 2022

Before I left for my trip to Europe, I planned a dinner out with one of my oldest and dearest friends, Kathy. She picked me up from my place and asked if we could quickly stop by her house before we headed downtown to the restaurant. As we walked in her front door, I was surprised to see the smiling faces of some of my best friends in the world. They had all gathered together to wish me well and send me off on my trip in style. It is such a gift to have people in your life who celebrate your successes and cheer you on. We enjoyed an incredibly special dinner, with a cheese platter from Charellis, a taco bar from Little Piggy Catering, and a pavlova from Crust Bakery. The best part of gathering with these beautiful humans is how much we laugh together and enjoy each other’s company. It was an experience that I will always cherish. #JoyBlogging

Listen List: Podcast Love

Here are a few podcast episodes that I really enjoyed. Let me know if you check them out!

Richard Schwartz began his career as a systemic family therapist and an academic. Grounded in systems thinking, Dr. Schwartz developed Internal Family Systems (IFS) in response to clients’ descriptions of various parts within themselves. He focused on the relationships among these parts and noticed that there were systemic patterns to the way they were organized across clients.

He also found that when the clients’ parts felt safe and were allowed to relax, the clients would experience spontaneously the qualities of confidence, openness, and compassion that Dr. Schwartz came to call the Self. He found that when in that state of Self, clients would know how to heal their parts. A featured speaker for national professional organizations, Dr. Schwartz has published many books and over fifty articles about IFS.

Jim Collins has introduced a range of new concepts and terms to the leadership lexicon. These include “level 5 leadership”, where leaders put the cause of their organization first, and inspired standards – rather than inspiring personality – become the motivation. He also created the “flywheel” principle of sustained momentum, demonstrating that the building of any human enterprise is not about one single defining action, or one killer innovation; instead, it is a process that resembles relentlessly pushing a giant, heavy flywheel, gradually building momentum.

Joy Journal

Joy Journal #9: September 13, 2022

I was recently in Sacramento visiting friends and family. I was born in California and I moved to British Columbia when I was seven years old. Until my late teens, my family drove down every summer to visit, so I remain close to those who live there. Since becoming an adult, my visits have become less frequent. Due to the pandemic, and being the parent of a young child, it has been seven years since my last visit.

What struck me most on my trip is the impact of time, aging and loss. Many people that I love have passed away and my remaining relatives are in older and in declining health. I am getting close to stepping into the role of an ‘older’ members of the family, along with my cousins, and our children will become the younger generation. There are aspects of my old life that continue to exist, such as the deep love for and connection to those who remain, but I feel an aching sadness for what is gone. It is bittersweet, and beautiful, at the same time. #JoyBlogging

Something to Inspire

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“First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a ‘more convenient season.’ Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

~ Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., 16 April 1963

Things I Love: The Call to Courage

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again…who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

~ Theodore Roosevelt

Photo by Maile Wilson

Brené Brown is an American professor, lecturer, author, and podcast host. She is recognized for her research on shame, vulnerability, and leadership, and for her widely viewed TEDx talk (2010). She has written six number-one New York Times bestselling books and hosts two podcasts. I recently watched her lecture on Netflix, The Call to Courage.

At the beginning of her talk, Dr. Brown summarizes the value of courage and vulnerability, “The key to whole-hearted living is vulnerability. You measure courage by how vulnerable you are.” She starts every day by putting her feet on the floor and saying, “Today I will choose courage over comfort. I can’t make any promises for tomorrow, but today I will choose to be brave.”

According to Dr. Brown’s research, choosing courage and vulnerability opens us up to love, joy and belonging, and brings us closer to what she calls, “whole-hearted living.” It changes the kind of partner, parent and professional we are when we live brave and authentic lives. Here are a few tips that she provides on how to answer the call to courage:

Be Vulnerable

Dr. Brown argues that, “Vulnerability is our most accurate way to measure courage…” 

“…No vulnerability, no creativity. No tolerance for failure, no innovation. It is that simple,” she advises. “If you’re not willing to fail, you can’t innovate. If you’re not willing to build a vulnerable culture, you can’t create.”

Open Up

Dr. Brown asserts vulnerability is the birthplace of love and joy. Highlighting the risks of love, Dr. Brown polls the audience: “Are you 100% sure that person will always love you back, will never leave, will never get sick? How many of you have every buried someone you love? How many of you have lost someone you love?

“To love is to be vulnerable, to give someone your heart and say, ‘I know this could hurt so bad, but I’m willing to do it; I’m willing to be vulnerable and love you,’ ” she adds. 

No Regrets

“Vulnerability is hard, and it’s scary, and it feels dangerous, but it’s not as hard, scary or dangerous as getting to the end of our lives and having to ask ourselves, ‘What if I would’ve shown up?’ ‘What if I would’ve said, I love you?’ “ Dr. Brown tells the crowd. “Show up, be seen, answer the call to courage… ’cause you’re worth it. You’re worth being brave.”

Be Intentional

Humans are hard-wired to care what others think but we need to be intentional about who we accept feedback from. Dr. Brown believes that, “If you are not in the arena, getting your a** kicked and rejected, I am not interested in your feedback.” And she contends that you should listen to: “People who love you not in spite of your imperfection and vulnerability, but because of it.”

Belong To Yourself 

Dr. Brown explains that vulnerability is the birth of true belonging, “we are hard-wired for belonging,” wanting other people to love us and “see” us. But that we cannot be vulnerable and not be ourselves— the enemy of belonging is trying to fit in...Belonging, is belonging to yourself first…Speaking your truth, telling your story and never betraying yourself for other people. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are, it requires you to be who you are. And that’s vulnerable.” 

Gratitude

Dr. Brown describes joy as the most vulnerable emotion as “…in the midst of joy, we dress rehearse trauma...joy becomes foreboding.” Her research reveals the importance of gratitude. She interviewed numerous people who survived harrowing experiences such as mass shootings, loss of a child, natural disasters, or war, as she wanted to better understand how some people come through it and remain compassionate. A common response from those interviewed is the value of gratitude and the importance of appreciation for the little things.

Embrace Discomfort

Dr. Brown contents that we need to be courageous and initiate difficult conversations, so marginalized groups do not bear that responsibility. “To not have the conversations because they make you uncomfortable is the definition of privilege. Your comfort is not at the centre of this discussion. That is not how this works. Of course you’re going to get you’re a** handed to you in these conversations…It’s not a question whether you have a bias or not, it’s a question of how many and how bad and how deep.” Brown underscores that we have to be humble, listen and learn. “We have to be able to choose courage over comfort, we have to be able to say, ‘Look, I don’t know if I’m going to nail this but I’m going to try because I know what I’m sure as hell not going to do is stay quiet.’”

Come Off The Blocks

“Vulnerability is hard and it’s scary and it feels dangerous. But it’s not as hard, or scary or dangerous as getting to the end of our lives and having to ask ourselves: What if I would’ve shown up? What if I would’ve said ‘I love you?’ What if I would’ve come off the blocks? Show up, be seen, answer the call to courage and come off the blocks. Because you’re worth it—you’re worth being brave.”

Joy Journal

Joy Journal #9: May 30, 2022

This past spring, my daughter attended school in Aix-en-Provence, France for two months. Although she was in French immersion before we left Canada, joining a French classroom was a very different experience, and she faced a steep learning curve. Thankfully, she met an amazing group of friends, which made a huge difference.

The administration and teaching staff were kind and supportive but they expected a lot from her. Middle school students in France are held to high standards and taught challenging topics such as classical music, literature (poetry and fiction), art history and theory, world history and politics, advanced math and science.

At one point, my daughter was asked to memorize and recite a 16th century sonnet, Heureux Qui Comme Ulysse by Joachim Du Bellay. Du Bellay wrote the poem in 1558 when he was exiled in Rome, Italy, longing for his homeland. In the lead up to the assignment, my daughter practiced with my sister, Cara, who is a successful theatre actress. I was amazed at my daughter’s ability to retain it all. She practiced so much, I even caught her reciting it out loud in her sleep.

On the day of the assignment, she did really well, and received a high mark for her efforts. Her teacher was very complimentary of both her pronunciation and delivery. It meant a lot to her, as French teachers do not generally hand out praise lightly. For me, this little moment sums up our experience in France. I was so proud of my child for being brave and facing something that was really scary. It was heartening to watch her rise to the challenge, and keep showing up, even though it was hard. It reflects some of the gifts that we hope to give our children for life: confidence, courage and determination. #JoyBlogging

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Watch List: The OA

Prairie Johnson is an adopted young woman who inexplicably returns after having been missing for seven years. Upon her return, Prairie refers to herself as “the OA” (for “original angel”). Despite having been blind when she disappeared, she can now see. The OA will not tell the FBI and her adoptive parents where she has been, or how her eyesight was restored. Instead, she assembles a team of five locals (four high school students and a teacher) to whom she reveals her secrets in an effort to save her fellow captives. The OA is an intricately crafted, riveting thriller. It is definitely worth watching!

Joy Journal

Joy Journal #8: September 6, 2022

Today was my daughter’s the first day of school. It unofficially marks the end of summer and the beginning of a new year. This is her final year of middle school and the first one where she is not under restrictions from the pandemic. Community is so important to me and I have felt its absence over the past two and a half years. This morning, the Parents Advisory Council (PAC) hosted an in-person coffee morning. It was really nice to have the opportunity to gather together again.

I felt particularly proud of my child today. She experienced a really difficult year in grade seven, which made it hard for her to come back to school; but after studying in France, and attending a week-long hiking/canoeing camp this summer, she returned with a new-found confidence and sense of grounded self. She is transformed inside and out; and she made the brave decision to transfer classes and start over fresh. This evening, we celebrated her success by going out for dinner at Bao. They serve delicious Asian inspired bowls and buns; and we enjoyed a cosy meal together. It was a good day, all around. #JoyBlogging