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Posted on Nov 20, 2013 | 0 comments

Destruction Close to Home

As some of you may have seen on the news, this last Sunday an EF4 tornado swept through Washington, Illinois only a 15 minute drive from our home. Hundreds of houses were severely damaged or destroyed, but miraculously only 1 person was killed. None of our family’s homes sustained any damage or injuries, but we do have friends and coworkers whose lives have been significantly disrupted from the storm.

Dan was teaching an Open Water scuba class at the health center in Washington when the sirens went off. Everyone was quickly directed to the locker room areas where the building was the best fortified for emergencies. As the tornado passed, the power in the building went out and Dan could hear the roaring, screeching sound of the monster storm rushing by. A huge crash resounded through the building, which he later discovered was from a cement block wall being knocked over in the addition that was being built on the center.

Dan didn’t realize how extensive the damage really was until later when he tried to drive home. Everywhere he went, there were downed power lines, trees, and homes with roofs blown off. Eventually, he came to the worst hit area where the homes had been completely demolished, almost as if a bomb had gone off. Where there were once whole neighborhoods, all the remains is a giant trash heap that people somehow have to sift through to try and salvage whatever they can. It took him almost 3 hours to navigate through the traffic and wreckage to get home. The pictures above were taken during that time.

I don’t know if there is anything that can humble a person more quickly than to come face to face with the awesome forces of nature. Tornadoes are no respecters of persons. In an instant they have the power to sweep away everything you own, without a thought. Our lives are fragile and each moment is a gift.

 

*If you would like to help this community, please consider donating to the Salvation Army or the Red Cross disaster relief funds.

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Posted on Feb 14, 2013 | 1 comment

Midweek Musings: Sacrifice

Is this worth it? We think so.

Is this worth it? We think so.

Between New Years resolutions (those that have survived this long) and the beginning of Lent, this is the time of year that everyone is trying to straighten up their act. Some people are giving things up, i.e. fast food and cigarettes, and some are adding something like a new exercise routine. Whether the change is meant to be permanent or temporary, it is always a struggle to change old habits and the way we think about them.

Most cruising and simple living literature on the market today have the same advice for people who are thinking about drastically changing their lifestyle: start small and work your way up. Can’t give up your fancy car? Start by making your own coffee instead of going to Starbucks every morning. Maybe you’ll find that you didn’t miss Starbucks after all, especially when you see how much extra money is in your pocket by the end of the week. Here are just a few of the items and activities we’ll have to relinquish when we move onto a boat:

  • Cars
  • TV
  • Frequent eating out
  • Easy internet
  • Steady income
  • Family nearby
  • And many more…

Some of these things will be easier to give up for us than others, like watching TV (we don’t). But others will have a major impact on us that will be felt more acutely. I’m sure when we are walking uphill to the grocery store, the eating out and lack of a car will burn a little more (mostly in our thighs!) and it might get frustrating if we can’t find good enough wifi signal to Skype with our parents on Christmas day. So, why would we go through all of this if we have to sacrifice so much? Because we think the reward will be worth it.

If you are thinking about cruising, and even if you’re not, I would encourage you to think long and hard about what you could give up that would produce a greater reward. Spend a whole weekend without your cell phone…yea I said it, give up the cell phone. Checking Facebook every five minutes really isn’t that crucial to your survival. Try turning off the TV for a week and go to the park, read a book, or learn something new about your spouse and kids. Ride your bike or the bus to work for a month, and save the money you would have spent on gas on a weekend away (yea, you probably spend that much on gas.) You might be amazed at how much you didn’t miss the things you thought would be a sacrifice.

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Posted on Feb 7, 2013 | 0 comments

Passive Income: The New American Dream

Live on the Margin websiteWhen people, including ourselves, first start looking into cruising there is one big question that everyone wants an answer to and is for some reason difficult to find. How much is this going to cost? aka How much longer do I have to scrounge and save in this boring life before I can gtfo? Most people cruising today count on some form of savings to finance their cruising plans and once that “kitty” (as the community likes to call it) runs out, they have to stop and work either permanently or in temporary jobs until they can keep going. Pat Schulte (of Bumfuzzle fame) and Nick O’Kelly have found another solution: Live on the Margin.

Disclaimer: The book is really good, but remember trading stocks and options isn’t like gambling, it is gambling. If you read the book, follow the advice, and lose your butt, don’t blame us. We just found the book entertaining.

Pat and Nick have been traveling throughout the world for many years while making money in essentially one way: trading stocks and options in short term trades. And lucky us, they’ve written a book about it so we can all do the same thing. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Really? You want me to read a book about trading stocks? I think I’ll just go count the blades of grass in my front yard instead.” Normally, I would agree with you, but this book is easy to understand and actually funny. That’s right, I said funny. I actually laughed out loud a few times while reading it clandestinely in my cubicle. If you’ve ever wanted to learn the basics of trading without wanting to blow your brains out afterwards, this is the book for you.

Here are a couple of my personal favorite quotes from the book:

The stock market is brutally sincere when it tells you that it wants to suck every dollar out of you. The guy on the other side of the trade wants your money. He will lead you by the hand and mug you and take your money.

When describing what happens when a “celebrity” stock crashes and takes a long time to go back up:

Nobody wants to dance with the popular kid who just crapped his pants on the dance floor in front of the entire school, and that’s the problem you run into with celebrity stocks.

After reading the book I took their advice and opened an account with an online brokerage that allows you to trade fake money as if you were making real trades to help get accustomed to the ins and outs of trading before you start risking real cash. So far, I’ve learned three things from trying it out myself:

  1. I actually know nothing about stocks. I’ve had to reread parts of the book a couple of times while looking at a trading platform to figure out how to make it work.
  2. If ice in the veins is what is required for making good trades, I think I might have hot chocolate. So far, I’m waaay too reactive to little things that happen and get hyped up waiting for the market to move. This causes me to make stupid decisions and act like a member of the “anxious herd of sheep” that I’m trying to avoid being.
  3. I’m pretty sure that Dan will be the one doing all the trading in this family.

I’ll admit it, I totally suck at trading. I have yet to make any fake money in my lousy trades, but at least I’m learning and not using real cash yet. I just hope I don’t run our fake account into the ground before Dan can finish the book!

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Posted on Nov 21, 2012 | 0 comments

Thankful

At the risk of going along with the obvious theme for the week, I’m just going to go with the obvious theme for the week and say Happy Thanksgiving!

One year for Thanksgiving when Dan and I were dating, we rode with his parents and brothers to my mother-in-law’s (Shelly) family event at her mom’s house about half an hour from Dan’s parents’. On the way there, Shelly asked everyone to go around and say what they were thankful for. Being the adolescent boys that they were, Kyle and Alex (Dan’s younger brothers)  immediately started complaining about how they were tired of having to do this every year, it was so overdone, and they just were not going to cooperate. And so, she didn’t make them say what they were thankful for, but I could tell that they had really hurt her feelings by not participating in her tradition.

I would guess that the majority of American families have their own little traditions that make the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays unique to themselves, and most families will have to face the day when those traditions are challenged. Sometimes this comes from challenging children, busy schedules, or adding new members to the family, but when it happens it is always a little disappointing for someone.

This year is the first year that we won’t be spending Thanksgiving with any of our grandparents due to family schedules and it is may also be the last Thanksgiving that we live within easy holiday travel. If our plans continue moving forward, Dan and I will be in Florida next year, preparing our new home for traversing ocean passages. Not exactly the tradition we are used to. Because of that, I’m trying to do a little extra savoring of the season this year. Being a little more gracious with our family differences, and a little more thankful for the time we have left.

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Posted on Oct 10, 2012 | 0 comments

A Sense of Loss

Dan recently took this photo while on his day off with Carter

 

Recently, I had the opportunity to be part of a leadership seminar through my department at work. There were many excellent points discusses throughout the entire course of the seminar, but the portion on change is what really hit a chord with me. Hmm, I wonder why? The speaker, Chuck Stoner*, spoke specifically about the fact that every change in life comes with a sense of loss and grieving, even when the change is something positive that we are looking forward to.

When change comes, there is always a different path that will never be available to us again. Dan and I are currently standing in that divergence of choices and the other paths that we will be walking away from are so clear to me I can almost physically see them. I can see Carter at his first day of kindergarten, baseball game, and a host of other things that every mom cherishes and it does fill me with a sense of longing for that path. I can see that our grandparents are getting older and know in my heart that there is a very real possibility that being gone for 5-10 years or more means we might not get to see them again before they die. We may miss births of nieces and nephews, friends’ weddings, and a lot more events that we can never get back once they are over. We will be moving away from Dan’s very close-knit family that we spend time with multiple days a week.

All of these things and more impose a real weight to the decisions that we are making. They give more value to the good life that we are leaving behind to follow our dream of cruising. Does that mean that we will regret the choice to leave? I don’t think so. The excitement of moving forward and doing something new is far too great for us to look back wistfully for very long. But it does make me appreciate the time we have left a little more.

Follow your Dreams. Follow the Horizon.

*Dr. Charles Stoner and his speaking partner Tom Bower gave one of the best seminars I have ever attended. If you ever have a chance to go to one, I would highly recommend it. Also, you can find some of Chuck’s books on business and leadership here.

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