‘Miracle’ Morning?

Before we left on our honeymoon in September, I purchased an e-book to read on the many flights we had over the course of the trip. It’s called The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed To Transform Your Life… (Before 8AM). I didn’t end up reading it on the trip, instead choosing to read a non-fiction paperback about the hey day of antique wines in the 1980s. Fascinating stuff!

In October and November, I was reading on and off, a bit at a time. I finally made my way through The Miracle Morning. The general gist of the book is to take some time right after waking up in the morning to devote oneself to self-development. The author lists six activities to do during this time: silence/meditation, exercise, affirmations, visualization, reading, and journaling.

I was not terribly impressed with the book itself, and found it gimmicky and lame how the author refers to his own ‘level 10’ success. His simple idea of making time for self-improvement in the morning is a good one though. I used to get up with only 45 minutes or so to get ready. After I started giving myself an hour and fifteen minutes, I felt much calmer and more prepared for the day. I didn’t need to rush through my routines, could eat breakfast and spend some time with the cats.

Perhaps the new year is a good time to again read the book Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are. I started reading its short entries (one per day) for a few months in 2016, and writing brief responses to them in my journal. Perhaps reflecting on topics such as life, love, and grief could help me live a more appreciative life. The entries in the book are super short, so reading and writing about them for 5 minutes as I enjoy my toast in the morning is doable.


Are you a morning person? Are there things you do when you wake up that make sure the day is a good one?


Letting Go is the Way to Go

It’s been years since I went SCUBA diving. Back when I got certified, I purchased some quality equipment and went on some amazing dives off the coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. It was very cool, exhilarating even, but I always felt as though I was defying the laws of nature by being fifty feet below the surface of the ocean.

The author pretending to be a space explorer with ray gun (flashlight), being photobombed by a manta ray (Kona coast, Big Island of Hawaii)

So my wetsuit has moved with me as I go, hung in my closet in three different apartments over the years.  Why did I keep the wetsuit for so long? It was an investment that I made long ago, so I wanted to ‘get my money’s worth’. People have a hard time letting go, but once they do it’s a relief.  See this article for more on this phenomenon: https://www.headspace.com/blog/2017/06/16/cutting-losses/ Once I came to grips with reality– that I’m not a regular SCUBA diver anymore, and if I ever wanted to go diving again, I could just rent a suit on that occasion– I wanted to pass it onto someone who could use it.

I posted my wetsuit on craigslist and have kept relisting it as the ad expires, every couple months. I’d reduce my asking price to try to entice a buyer. Finally, it worked out last night and a woman purchased my wetsuit. I feel great. My closet isn’t housing something I never use, and it can go with her on exciting dives in Hawaii! I may have only gotten back a fraction of the amount I paid for the suit, but I no longer have the obligation to keep it, which is a great, light feeling.

Do you keep things just because you feel like you should? Have you gotten rid of anything recently– how did you feel?


Courage and Caffeine


I used to take pride in not being dependent on any substance. I never smoked at all, or drank alcohol or caffeine regularly.  I pitied those who became dependent on alcohol to have a good time, or caffeine to be productive.

Fast forward past college, living abroad for a number of years, grad school and nearly 5 years working in my field as a professional. Since starting my full-time job, I drink a cup of coffee more or less every morning. The days when I don’t drink coffee are few and far between, and when I don’t drink it, I miss it.

In part, it’s my routine when I arrive at the office and prepare a cup of hot, fragrant coffee.  I enjoy it as I sort my emails and get my papers in order to tackle my to-do list for the day. Or I step out after checking my email and get some Starbucks coffee from down the street. I enjoy walking with coworkers and catching up during this short excursion.

I like how the caffeine in coffee boosts both my productivity and seemingly, my optimism early in the morning. After my cup of coffee, I can do anything. I can do everything. And I can do it well, early, and under budget. I am invincible and amazing. At least, that’s how I feel with the drug flowing through my veins.

And let’s be real: caffeine is a drug. It is not harmless. Wikipedia has the following to say about it:

“Caffeine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant of the methylxanthine class.[10] It is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug. Unlike many other psychoactive substances, it is legal and unregulated in nearly all parts of the world.”  (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caffeine)

Despite its wide usage and popularity, caffeine is still a drug that people use to support their productivity and lifestyles. For me, it’s now a big part of my morning routine both at work and at home.

Do you drink coffee? Does it make you more productive? Are you addicted?


Thankful for What I Got: November’s Capsule Wardrobe Challenge

Are you a fan of the simplicity/minimalism movement?

Me too.

Are you successful in all your minimalist habits?  I know I still struggle to know what’s worth adding to my closet or home, and what’s not worth purchasing.  But I’m working on keeping my wardrobe to a small, but effective, size.  I’ve been trying to do so for the past few years.  Right now, I believe I have around 35 items in my work wardrobe.

As we celebrate Halloween and don our costumes that we probably won’t wear again, I think this is the perfect time to address the clothing that I have in my normal closet.  Wouldn’t it be great to wear everything I own before re-wearing anything?  This would make my closet an equal opportunity employer.

So my idea is to document each day, starting tomorrow, what I wear and keep track in my closet of what I haven’t worn yet.  As I wear each item, I can make a note of what I think works and what doesn’t anymore, and brainstorm ideas for future item purchases that might be versatile and work with many of the items I already own.

Do you have a capsule wardrobe?  Or do you struggle to find something to wear even though your closet is overflowing?  Maybe a simplified closet would help you to keep only your best clothing and get rid of the rest!

Check out this YouTube video that inspired me to tackle this challenge:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Foqfxo7nMLE  She’s got a different ‘Shop Your Closet’ challenge than me for November, but I think her idea is a great one– use and be grateful for what we already have!

Budget Update: Rolling with the Punches

We returned from our trip to Europe with suitcases full of chocolate.  It’s been really great to share Swedish, Swiss and German goodies with friends and coworkers back here in Hawaii.  We had a wonderful time with my parents and sister and her fiance, and highlights of the trip included spending time on the farm, seeing some larger cities by boat, biking around picturesque Reichenau Island in Lake Constance, and going on an amazing food tour in Venice.

But one thing that hasn’t been the most fun has been dealing with the aftermath of the trip’s effect on my budget.

I think I did very well budgeting and saving for the trip, and overall the expenses we ran up were only over my saved amount by $125.  I’ve decided to devote half of this month’s regular monthly transfer to my travel account to covering this overage, and by the time my second paycheck is deposited, the credit card bill should show up.  So I won’t carry a balance on my credit card, which is great!

The thing I didn’t take into account was the effect my vacation would have on my paycheck.  Because of some rules regarding when my vacation hours can be spent, the hours I earned in August and September couldn’t be used on my vacation that took place in August and September.  So I had to take leave without pay for nearly five days of work!  This means that essentially my first paycheck for this month is 3/4 of what I would normally get.

In order to deal with this sudden lack of income, I decided to not contribute to my travel fund (which had already been reduced to half to cover the trip overages) or my emergency fund for the month.  All my other costs are covered, which is good in terms of feeling secure, but it’s a little disheartening that my goal of fully funding my emergency fund (of 3 months’ worth of living expenses) will be delayed by a month.

For an overview of my budgeting system, see my video and original post on fikaflicka on my one number budget.  How do you budget, both on a regular basis and for a goal such as going on a trip?


Original Budget Post


Photos from Europe 

Copenhagen: a good choice was to see the city by boat. Beautiful weather, a little cool but perfect with a windbreaker!

Småland, Sweden: treasures found in the forest! Very lucky to have wild blueberries, lingon berries, chantrelle mushrooms and Karl Johan mushrooms available for the picking.

Stockholm, Sweden: another city you should see by boat! We took a ferry into town from Drottningholm palace, and had my friend Christina with us who could explain the different islands. Perfect, sunny weather.

Venice, Italy: such a fascinating city that has no cars or bikes! Loved walking here, where every crumbling building and canal was so picturesque.

Zurich, Switzerland: we spent an afternoon here to meet up with a friend who originally stayed with me in Honolulu as a couchsurfer a few years ago. Very fun to check out the city’s fancy shopping area.

Reichenau Island, Lake Constance: perfect place and time for a bike ride. So. Many. Flowers. Great fish sandwiches and iced coffee at a few cafes.

Precious Words

It’s difficult to appreciate the freedom and privilege we have these days, when words and information and theories abound and can be googled from most places on Earth from a handheld smartphone.  I can learn about basically anything, and write about basically anything, I want.  True, some countries still try to stop their citizens from reading or writing about certain topics. But there is an almost endless supply of information shared today.

Fleeting beauty of a passion fruit vine

Even one or two generations ago, though, hard copy books were where information could be found and a publisher was needed before someone could become a published author.  If we take this back a few steps further, to the Classical Age, very few people (relative to today) could read and write. The manuscripts from this age, written on papyrus or parchment, captured thoughts and theories that were, and still are, pretty wild and contentious.

The amount of time, effort, and luck that went into keeping those words alive throughout the past two thousand(ish) years is remarkable.   Perhaps then too there were useless, long-winded narratives, but many were probably lost to the elements.  The ones that still remain and can be read by us present us with ideas and theories from a very different world.

What kind of valuable contribution would you want to create, if you knew something of yours would be one of the few books that survive for the next two thousand years?

Inspired by the book The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt.