Reading Time: 5 minutes
Hiking the Yosemite Falls Trail with elevation gain 2,700 ft (circa June 2018)

A Life of Philanthropy

One of the first posts we published on SerenadeWind talks about our relationship with money . When we began to dig into that topic, a natural extension to pursuing a minimalist life is a life of philanthropy. 

What does a life of philanthropy look like?

Lean into values

Friends and colleagues who know me have witnessed that when I set a goal, there’s a high certainty (approaching 100%) that the goal will be achieved. Whether I am quick to set an objective or take my time arriving at it, my value system is defined by integrity and honoring my commitments.

So, at the beginning of this year, I drew a line in the sand and declared that I wanted to pursue a life of philanthropy. Andrew is in full agreement of this ethos (although I suspect he has embraced this tenet all his life).

The shape and execution of philanthropy still needs to be defined. In the meantime, we have made donations to various causes every month since the line in the sand was drawn. These gifts were made as the needs have presented themselves. 

Non-profit Charter

If we go back to what we wrote, we toyed with the following idea:

How about we set up with a non-profit charter in mind?

The concept is simple:

Whatever funds that come in will go toward paying boat expenses (including upgrades, maintenance, etc.) and any surplus in excess of some threshold will be given away to causes we believe in.

In the pursuit of minimalism, we don’t want to continue to accumulate money because it will end up owning us. Since the beginning of this year, we have donated to eight organizations roughly 50% of what has already come in through our funding.  

Cash in – Cash out

You may be wondering how we’ve been able to fund charities and organizations over the past few months especially since I retired from Warner Bros.

Andrew, of course, continues to draw income, but we’re not touching any of that. We are also not drawing down on our savings, since that makes up our cruising kitty and we want to be able to sail for many years to come. 

At the moment, the funding is coming through a single source: unemployment benefits.

When I first shared the news of retiring early to some colleagues, a few insisted that I file for unemployment. I was loathed to pursue this, until I thought,

Why not try and if it works, I’ll give it all away.

The decision to do this came at a price: insomnia. Now, I had something at stake where I originally had been laissez-faire. When I discussed it with Andrew, he was in full support of my dropping the matter altogether, and I did so for a few weeks. However, on the morning of the hearing with the judge, I did some quick prep work. The hearing itself was scheduled early afternoon when I was with my mom to address some leg pain that mysteriously began. 

Virtual Hearing

The amount of unemployment benefits in question totals roughly USD $9,000 (before CARES Act  and potentially over $20,000 with CARES Act). In theory, I could set aside 10% to cover taxes and give the rest of it away to those in need. 

While the money is nice, I’ll be honest. It means a lot more to me how it was secured. The most empowering moment came when I was speaking to the judge about my case. He asked a series of thoughtful questions over the course of 45 minutes. When the hearing concluded, he stated that the decision would be sent via regular mail in a couple weeks.

Regardless of the decision rendered, I felt vindicated. I had a chance to share my story to a neutral 3rd party and it felt liberating. If you want to learn more about the case, I will provide a brief write-up about it, which will be posted tomorrow. In reality, I didn’t have to wait that long. Less than a week later, the decision came in the mail.

When I read the decision, I set down the pages, walked over to Andrew and told him the news.

Then I did a happy dance.

Andrew laughed.

Second Mountain

I am reminded each week of how lucky I am to be in a relationship that fully encourages a life of growth and exploration. We are pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone. It first began with our relationship with money (which will continue to be tested throughout our lives) and extends to pursuing a voyaging life on the high seas. 

We refer to this period in our lives as climbing the second mountain. It’s a concept that has been widely circulated through the publication of David Brooks writing. If you have 5 minutes to spare, check out his video on “Should you live for your resume or your eulogy?”

We know the life we are leading is unconventional and not for everyone. The chronicle of our journey on Serenade Wind is largely to benefit those who may be curious about alternative approaches to living a full and balanced life.

For us, life is not about following a prescribed path. It’s an opportunity to choose your own adventure!

Today, in recognition of National Ocean Month, we have donated to Sailors for the Sea who advocates green boating practices. We have learned a lot over the past few months about what we can do to live with a greater awareness about how we impact the environment, which we profiled in Going Green and Ethical Sailing.

Post Script

This story was originally written at the start of this month. Over this past weekend, I received some news about a childhood friend of my brother’s who recently passed away.

Victor Kuo was both a public school teacher and philanthropist, working with organizations including FSG Social Impact Advisors, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, David & Lucile Packard Foundation, and Global Chinese Philanthropy Institute

Thank you, Victor, for modeling an honorable life and may you rest in peace. 


Reading Time: 4 minutes

Heading Level 4

If you tried to send me a Linkedin request over the past dozen years or so, chances are I didn’t see it. Apologies if you think I was ignoring you. Please don’t take it personally. I was ignoring Linkedin.


A few months ago, I updated my Linkedin profile. I had originally set up my profile over a dozen years ago and wrote nothing on it. Current employer and title – that’s it. Andrew equates it to the equivalent of tumbleweeds. In large part, this was because I was happy where I was and didn’t need to be bothered with having recruiters solicit me. 

So while I was doing my rounds at the office saying my goodbyes, I decided to use Linkedin as a communication tool for the rest of my business contacts outside of Warner Bros. to let them know I had retired.

When it comes to Linkedin, my approach is to only accept connections with people I have worked with or went to school with. Basically, anyone I can readily vouch for in terms of abilities and competencies in a professional setting. Others seem to treat it as yet another social media platform to collect as many connections as they can.

I will probably go the other direction and cull individuals that I am really no longer in touch with, but I get ahead of myself.  


Over a weekend, I started to backfill content on my profile. I put all the impressive accomplishments from my resume on there and then (after a moment of reflection) got rid of all of it. I just put the names of the companies and the years of employment. I was done marketing my skills. I didn’t need a website profile to showcase abilities for a life I no longer want to pursue.

Linkedin also provides a feature where you can write articles. I was on a writing kick for so I decided why not write a short blurb on my retirement. It was then that an article was going around Linkedin that drew my attention.

David Brook’s 5 minute TED Talks video Should you live for your resume…or your eulogy? The timing of this was uncanny. If you have 5 minutes to spare, it is well worth seeing. In this video, Mr. Brooks refers to a book written in 1965 by Joseph Soloveitchik called “The Lonely Man of Faith.”

Taking stock of life

This personal exercise came in handy for me to give some guidance to my mom who seems to have come untethered in recent months. I elaborated on this in a few blog posts and suffice it to say she is still in the midst of figuring this stuff out. I must admit that it is probably a harder thing to do after having a lifetime of habits and beliefs that spans 70+ years as opposed to 40+ years. 

Andrew and I married and moved in together a couple months before my father passed away. I wanted to live closer to my mom in the event that she needed any help. Within the first 6 months after the funeral, she completed the following:

  • sold a rental property,
  • bought a 2-bedroom condo with the proceeds,
  • downsized from a 4 bedroom, 3-car garage house,
  • did renovations on the 2-bedroom condo,
  • moved in, and
  • found a tenant to lease out her old place

So while Andrew and I lived close by, my mom didn’t really lean on us. Ironically, she is doing so now.

Why, after 5 years, is this happening? 

Second Mountain

Thankfully I had done my own work sorting out what I was planning to do with the rest of my life. I had a little head start in helping her redirect and not fall apart. I keep reminding her who she is and that what she is experiencing now is momentary. It is not permanent. 

She asks me for quick fixes. She prays incessantly, but has little faith. I take her through the various stages I went through and chronicled here on serenadewind, such as:

While many of you may have gone through this with your parents, this is new to me … this feeling of the student becoming the teacher. I am showing her the way to figure out what is her second mountain and how to live for her eulogy. 

In the words of Reinhold Niebuhr:

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope

Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith

Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love

No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.


Reading Time: 6 minutes

Catching Zzz’s

Since December, I have battled with fairly persistent insomnia. Falling asleep isn’t my problem. It’s staying asleep.

Usually, I will wake up in the small hours of the morning and stay awake for a few hours. If I’m lucky, I will drift back to sleep around 5 or 6 a.m. If not, I push on until the following night and crash between 9 and 10 p.m. In the past, insomnia occurred in my life when there was great upheaval.

Over the course of the past 6 months, the events which caused upheaval include:

  • Internalizing on the debate that began on the Whiteboard
  • My mind pinballing on the implications of turning my life 180 degrees
  • Post-Warner Bros. and experiencing retirement living 

Couple these factors with the coronavirus pandemic and it’s impact on our near-term sailing plans. and it’s no wonder insomnia has been an on-going battle.

Many of you may also be experiencing insomnia. Sleep has become the latest casualty of the coronavirus pandemic as reported in The Harvard Gazette.  

Short-term Goal

Even before I left Warner Bros., I had outlined my short term goal which was to focus on health and in particular being able to restore healthy sleeping patterns.

Rather than continue taking OTC’s (e.g., Benadryl and melatonin), I decided to seek help. I wanted to find a healthier and sustainable solution. As many of you who cope with insomnia know, addressing the root cause takes time. In the mean time, making little progress in dealing with stressors also can cause stress and compromise sleep.

So at the same time I am working on this, I went to see my acupuncturist, Dr. Lee

Eastern vs Western

My parents were way ahead of their time. During my childhood in the 1980’s, my parents introduced us to acupuncture among other novelties such as wheat grass juice and solar energy. 

My dad was a licensed practitioner of traditional Chinese Medicine. During his schooling, he would practice on my brother and I. We would have to make up symptoms for him to diagnose, and he would use a ballpoint pen to mark where he would place the needles. When I relayed this story to my acupuncturist, Dr. Lee laughed saying his father who is an acupuncturist in South Korea did the same thing to him as well when he was growing up.

Unfortunately, my father’s practice languished as this form of medicine wasn’t a covered benefit. Acupuncture did not make its way into the mainstream until decades later, well into the aughts. Once it became a covered benefit under Section 2706 of the Affordable Care Act (enacted in March 2010), the use and practice of acupuncture took off. 

Given this background of exploring alternative approaches to living and taking into account eastern medicine and lifestyles, I didn’t have any skepticism toward acupuncture.

We live in a plural society, and I embrace the benefits of all that it entails. 

Orange Acupuncture

For the most part, I have received acupuncture treatments primarily to boost my immune system and help me recover from the flu. Since December, Dr. Lee has been helping me out with insomnia, and at the same time, has treated me after various accidents.

It must be said that I am a clumsy person. Bruises and scrapes are fairly commonplace, and they occur for the following reasons:

  1. Active lifestyle – snowboarding, rock climbing, and sailing (boat bruises)
  2. Tunnel vision – I tend to be focused on a task at hand and unaware of my environment, thus colliding into desks, coffee tables and other hard objects.
  3. Curiosity – wide interest to try new things, most recently longboarding

1 – Active Lifestyle

At each visit, I provide him with a rundown of my sleeping pattern chronicled in my Bullet Journal. On a few occasions, I will also mention my latest injury.

Dr. Lee may be surprised that a near 50-year old woman engages in these types of activities that would cause injury, but he is also sympathetic and worried. Here is a rundown of what has happened so far this year:

The first accident came as a result of taking a whipper in the climbing gym and my spine took a blow against the harness. The second accident came from the dock debacle detailed in Project Slocum, Part 5, and while I had a few bruises and scrapes, nothing really required treatment. The third came from a longboard accident earlier this week. 

In the spirit of maintaining our social distance while still trying to stay active, Andrew and I started to longboard around our neighborhood. Five minutes into the activity, I took a hard fall and landed on my butt. Luckily, I didn’t land on my tailbone. This fall however injured my wrist and compressed my spine, which needed some acupuncture treatment. 

So, even though I am near successful in getting back to a healthy sleeping pattern, it seems my continued clumsiness may require additional visits to the acupuncturist. 

2 – Tunnel Vision

Andrew is particularly observant and noticing things around him, as well as getting a read on me and my moods. He is always on the look out for me as well when we do things. This complements my lack of awareness. Could be that I am accident-prone, space cadet or have a tendency to be utterly preoccupied in my own thoughts – no matter the reason, bumps and bruises, scrapes and falls, as well as torn ligaments are part and parcel of the life I choose to lead.  

3 – Curiosity

As a result this, Dr. Lee tells me I shouldn’t keep putting my body to the test. 

But I wonder, why not? What is life for but to live it to its fullest? I realize I am not in my teens or 20’s, however I’m certainly not being reckless. Within the confines of what is reasonable, I say “Carpe diem!”  

For fans of the movie Dead Poet’s Society, John Keating played by Robin Williams challenges his students to live life, whispering the legacy of students who came before,

“Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your life extraordinary.” 

Support Local

And so I will continue to take calculated risks so I can live a full life. In the process, I may continue to accumulate some minor injuries. It’s a small price to pay… and it could help to support local businesses too. 

From A to Z, here are the other small businesses that we are supporting:

  • Altayebat – Middle Eastern store that has the freshest butchered meat and our favorite place to source lamb, puff pastry, pistachios and brown sugar cubes
  • Cortina’s – family-owned pizza and Italian market, which has the best pizza and sandwiches for take-out. Great source for cheeses, in-house pasta and porcini mushrooms which we have ordered in bulk at cost
  • International Meat and Deli – this is a family-owned Romanian store where we stock up on our supplies of sausages, in-house smoked bacon, Borsec and Vegeta
  • Orange Acupuncture – weekly visits to treat some chronic conditions (insomnia and allergies) with occasional accidents or sports-related injuries. The latest came while learning basic martial arts when I tweaked my back while tumbling on the mat. 
  • Pollo Fresco LLC – farm fresh chicken and eggs… whenever we have a hankering to make Hainan chicken, we’ll stock up chicken from here
  • Sender One – while our climbing gym is closed during this pandemic, we continue to donate to help cover furloughed employees 
  • Zion Market – small chain of Korean grocery stores that carry marinated bulgogi, beef shorts, and chicken teriyaki. Some locations have a Paris Baguette (where I stock up on cream bread for the absolute best grilled cheese sandwich). Note, this is a great place to source wheat flour for baking when all the major supermarket chains have run out


Reading Time: 5 minutes

Rather than overreact to coronavirus media hype, set your waypoint & maintain a steady course through these rough seas we call life.

In the midst of the media onslaught on coronavirus, we all want to do the right thing. We hear advice from the experts while at the same time we are deluged with misinformation.

  • How do you make sense of all this?
  • Do you give into the fear and follow the panicked hoarders?
  • How do you stop from screaming at those who aren’t taking this seriously?

Here are our top 5 strategies to stay sane during this time.

1 – Unplug

With the amount of media coverage on coronavirus, it’s pretty hard to achieve a balance. I see a suggestion on Facebook encouraging people to post some good news. It’s a fine effort, I suppose. In my experience, I find it far easier to modify my own behavior than the behavior of others.

So, after updating myself on the news in the morning, I unplug.

I walk away from social media, news feeds, and conversations about coronavirus. This obsessive focus on the latest announcement isn’t healthy for me. It certainly can’t be healthy for anyone.

Find ways to occupy your time. Read a book. Watch a movie. Go for a walk. Play with your dog or cat. Tend to your garden. Learn a new skill. 

I am recently retired, so I’ve had to deal with a different transition alongside adjusting to coronavirus. Because I don’t have work deliverables and work colleagues to distract me, I find other ways to distract myself from the media.

I spend my days writing, knitting, playing piano, talking to Andrew, chatting with my mom and my friends on the phone or Facetime, making jewelry, playing with my cats, going on walks, reading books about sailing, experimenting with a new recipe, generating new content for, and brainstorming about our future plans on a whiteboard, 

2 – Introspection

Whether going into the wilderness or carving out a little time on your own, this is a great opportunity to embrace solitude. There are time-tested benefits and we hope you will find inspiration in these quotes:

  • Originality thrives in seclusion, free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alone – that is the secret of invention. Be alone – that is when ideas are born. ~ Nikola Tesla
  • A man can be himself so long as he is alone. If he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom; for it is only when he is alone that he is really free. ~ Arthur Schopenhauer
  • The best thinking has been done in solitude. The worst has been done in turmoil. ~ Thomas A. Edison
  • I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude. ~ Henry David Thoreau
  • I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person. ~ Oscar Wilde

We elaborated on this as well in our post Selectively Social

3 – Deepen relationships

We’re all in this together. Why not make the most of it? Take some time out each day to talk with each family member. What is each person going through? If the answer is “despair,” check out Trey Ratcliff’s video on this topic. 

Despair is a necessary and seasonal state of repair, a temporary healing absence, an internal physiological and psychological winter when our previous forms of participation in the world take a rest; it is a loss of horizon, it is the place we go when we do not want to be found in the same way anymore. We give up hope when certain particular wishes are no longer able to come true and despair is the time in which we both endure and heal, even when we have not yet found the new form of hope. ~ David Whyte 

Brainstorm about your future plans, as we did when we started this whole journey in our Whiteboard post. Look at this collective moment in time to re-prioritize your life.  We elaborated on this as well in our post Project Slocum, Part 3

4 – Go into the wilderness

Observing shelter at home measures, which I support wholeheartedly, we have all become quite sedentary. Many of us may also be stress-eating. All this will lead to the nation (or the world for that matter) gaining the “COVID-15.” 

All beaches are closed. National parks same. Points of interest around the world where people tend to congregate – they are all shut down. For us personally, climbers are also warned against climbing at their favorite crags during this time. 

So, how can we be more creative about spending time outside and yet still practice social distancing?

Orienteering anyone?

A few weekends ago, Andrew and I drove to the Angeles National Forest in the San Gabriel Mountains. I’m familiar with a few hikes there back when I was training for summiting Machu Picchu. With that background, I knew the location of several trailheads and decided if the parking lots were full or if we were turned away, we could park off the side of the road and head into the woods.

I have a compass app on my iphone, and even if I didn’t, we could Bear Grylls our way up and back on our own off-trail hike. Pick a heading or a landmark and head towards it for 2 hours. Hang out in the middle of the forest and breathe in your surroundings. When you’re ready to go, hike back to the road. 

As luck would have it, we snagged one of the last remaining spots at the Icehouse Canyon Trailhead for Timberland Mountain. Modernhiker is a great resource in general for hikes in Southern California. I pulled up the website and familiarized myself again with the route. 

The cool part of this trail is that it runs alongside a flowing river, filled each spring when the snow melts or after storms pass through, such as the ones we’ve had this season, We decided to scramble on the rocks and take photographs. While other hikers remained 50+ feet away on trail, we were secluded and adequately distanced from everyone else. 

While I can imagine park rangers the world over cringing, we are at an unprecedented time. For those who embark on this activity, remember to act responsibly, which includes the following:

  1. Keep your distance from other hikers (6′ or more)
  2. Leave no trace (pack out all trash)
  3. Dispose of human waste properly
  4. Keep a low profile and minimize noise
  5. Respect other hikers and be mindful of hiking etiquette 
While more parking lots at trailheads are closed, rangers didn’t seem to stop hikers from venturing on trails while observing the guidance above.

5 – Chart a waypoint

In the end, Andrew and I have found that we take all of the information we gather each day about the events and we weigh them all in balance. Rather than have a knee-jerk reaction to all the media hype, we use our own judgment to chart a course, to establish a waypoint to our destination, and to maintain a steady course during the rough seas we call life.

We hope you find this helpful. 


Reading Time: 6 minutes

Change your life

How would you characterize your relationship with money? Do you live to work or do you work to live? If you were handed $10 million today, how would it change your life? What if you gave all of your money away? How would you feel?


A Life of Accumulation

A handful of years ago, I would say that I certainly lived to work, and there are a lot of extenuating circumstances for that drive.

I am the daughter of immigrant parents who came to the U.S. many moons ago. My parents worked multiple jobs, went to night school, reinvested every penny of their savings into real estate, and supported multiple mortgages. They worked hard to build a foundation for their children, and that was their dream for us.

My brother and I are the first generation. We are influenced by a fusion of old country culture/work ethic with the contemporary GenX approach to life. At times, there is tension between those two ways of thinking.

For instance, my brother and I were encouraged to follow the conservative fields of medicine, law or finance. And so that’s what we did. There’s no way that our parents would have been supportive if we decided to pursue our dreams. It would be unheard of to be paid to do what you love doing.

No way.



Selling the story of early retirement.

Even now, as I broached the subject with my mom about leaving my job of 12 years at a major Hollywood studio, it was a tough sell. I had to take a circuitous approach to explain how this would make sense from her point of view (instead of mine), and the most compelling argument was this:

When you take a 50-60 hour week and tack on another 20-hour commute, that lifestyle is not sustainable. It leaves me no time for anything else. This job is not more important than my life. It is not more important than my health. At the most basic level, I worry about days in which I am too tired to drive. The solution is not to get a hotel room closer to the office.

The solution is to leave and find something better.


Encore Career

How I would have loved to tell her the whole story, that leaving the conservative, well-paid, stable income source was just the beginning.

What I really wanted to do was to live a different life one that is unplanned and unstructured.

What I am proposing to do is not common amongst my peers, but I have a couple examples from my past that I can draw from… really courageous friends who had gone on to build amazing lives outside of corporate strategy and finance.


My friend Sam had a passion for cooking, particularly making delicious chocolate truffles. He also had a love for Latin American culture. So after learning a bit of Portuguese, he prepared his house to rent out and moved to Brazil. Eventually he opened a cafe and has operated it successfully for the past 12 years.


Another good friend Lisa was also working in corporate strategy and development. Before eventually becoming a professional writer, she took one more conservative detour which was to go to law school (in part to placate her parents).

Within 6 months of graduating, she hustled and networked her way onto a TV show, and the rest is history. She now is a show-runner of an award-winning TV series, and she has a bright future writing and directing feature films in Hollywood.  


I am also reminded of my friend Sue who left her great corporate job of 20 years, to pursue her dream to become a life coach. She had been part of the same company for most of her adult life and felt there was a more fulfilling way to make an impact on the lives of others. 


Looking back now, I realize that their lives and mine intersected for a reason. Perhaps it is to give me the courage and support to pursue a life in which I get to do what I love doing. 

After a combined 50 years of working in the corporate world, this is a dramatic mind-shift from…

  • living to work
  • keeping up with the Jones’s
  • letting money and possessions own you

Andrew and I are letting all of that go. We want to redefine our relationship with money. Our goal is to venture into the unknown, the unstructured, and to go where the wind blows. 


A Life of Philanthropy

Andrew and I are embarking on a new adventure aboard s/v Rachel J. Slocum, where we are contemplating self-sustaining, minimalist living. Beyond downsizing possessions, we also are going green by generating our own power (wind, solar, water) as well as making our own water (e.g., SeaRecovery 30/gal hour hydraulic water maker) and mindful of water conservation, which is critical when we consider the type of sailing we’d like to do. It made sense to me to think about how this guiding principle can also help us to make a decision about how much money is enough and still be consistent with self-sustaining, minimalist living.

One of the ideas that came to mind was: How about we set up with a non-profit charter in mind? The concept is simple: Whatever funds that come in will go toward paying boat expenses (including upgrades, maintenance, etc.) and any surplus in excess of some threshold will be given away to causes we believe in.

At this stage in our lives, we are not compelled to accumulate money just as we are not compelled to accumulate possessions, because they end up owning you.

While the philanthropy ideas are still in their nascency, we will probably look at contributing to organizations such as OxFam International, Doctors Without Borders, Solar Energy Foundation , or Sailors for the Sea


Relationship with Money Updates

as of May 9, 2020

Over the past couple weeks, I have been helping my mom with some major financial decisions. Because my dad had passed away 5 years ago this month, she has had to make these decisions on her own. After his passing, she had a burst of energy, selling one rental property, downsizing from a 4-bedroom house, buying a new house, and moving into the new house all in the span of 6 months.

About a month ago, one of her tenants moved out and this triggered the typical property management activity: move-out check list, touch-up painting, repairs, etc. At her age and especially during the coronavirus pandemic, it was worrisome having her interact with so many strangers (contractors, agents, buyers, etc.) As a result, I have been enlisted to help. 

Beyond the logistics of helping to coordinate these interactions, I am emotionally present for my mom, providing an anchor for her as she makes these decisions. What strikes me most are the parallels that can be drawn between our lives, now that she is experiencing sleepless nights just as I did earlier this year (see Support Local) while she faces her own relationship with money. 

We are working together to break a habit formed and reinforced for over 70 years, I am helping her to learn how to let go and have a different relationship with money. My parents worked to set up a financial nest egg for the future so that they wouldn’t have worries. I reminded her that the best way to honor her younger self is to try to not worry now. Slowly over the next few weeks, she will learn to detach herself from money. I am so grateful to have gone through this process so that I can help her now. 

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Aug. 2018

Complacency had settled in only after a few years of getting married. It didn’t take long before Andrew and I decided to take control and to do that, it was time to go to the whiteboard.

Shortly after marrying, Andrew and I had grown accustomed to a routine of working anywhere between 60 to 80 hour weeks with personal time together relegated to a couple stolen hours each day during the week. Naturally, there were the weekends as well, when we would go to the gym, visit with family, host an occasional BBQ, and run errands or take care of chores.

Many of you may also have jam-packed itineraries chauffeuring your kids to soccer practice, piano lessons, gymnastics and all sorts of kids birthday parties in various assorted venues.

Sound familiar?

Where does the time go?

If you really break down how you spend your time in a given week, it may look something like this.

How we spend our time

We took a hard look at this distribution of time. While we didn’t like the reality we were living, we also saw this as an opportunity to not be complacent. So, we spent a few hours on a sunny Sunday morning challenging ourselves with the following questions:

Is this all there is?

What do we want to do with the rest of our lives?

How do we spend more time together?

Can we do the work that we love so it doesn’t feel like work?

Do we want to live abroad?

Let’s reduce commute time!

What do we want to do more of?

Time to go to the whiteboard

Problem solving with a whiteboard

There were many more questions and ideas that were thrown up on a whiteboard.

  • Ideas were organized between short term goals and long term goals.
  • We admitted to what were our deal-breakers. Things we aren’t willing to give up.
  • A parking lot was set up for things we would want to explore later.

Essentially, we used tools often taken for granted in a business setting and applied it to our own personal lives and it worked for us because it really helped to crystalize our goals.

That Sunday morning session concluded with a decision to start knocking out some short-term goals. We decided to sacrifice our usual Sunday climbing session at our gym, Sender One. And it felt great. We left the whiteboard on display as a visual reminder that we would see each day and help to keep us on track.


Current Life of Andrew and Denise

One year later…

On the whole, the pie chart was largely unchanged. Our lives were still manic and frantic. I would venture to say that even the segment for Work increased and Personal decreased and the quality of the segment for Personal was spent stressing about Work.

No bueno.

For me, much of that had to do with a new role I had taken on at work which was undergoing a lot of changes with not a lot of resources. I had estimated it would take 6 months before work would stabilize and unfortunately it continued to grow more chaotic and demanding.

Time to go to the whiteboard (again)

We did knock out a good portion of our short term goals, but our long term goals remained unaddressed. Once again, not wanting to fall into complacency, we spent another sunny Sunday morning session in October, 2019 and took a few long term goal stickies, grouped them and began to hash out a project plan around how to take it from concept to reality.

This was the genesis of our new adventure… to sail around the world.

Future Life of Andrew and Denise