Over the past 2+ years, one of the most important parts of my life has been a dedication to fitness. Starting on 01 January 2010 at 213 pounds and 35% body fat, I’ve managed to drop fifty pounds (though I’m now at 173) and shed fat until I’m at about 21% body fat. I still want to get so I can maintain at 163 pounds and maybe 18% body fat, but I’m pleased with where I am.

Some of this progress is due to diet. But I’d like to think that most of it is due to Crossfit, the exercise regiment that I follow nearly every day. Crossfit contains a lot of different stuff: weight-lifting, traditional exercises like pull-ups and push-ups, running, and crazy things like sled drags and tire flips.

Over the last two years, I’ve undertaken a silly little photo project. I call it Crossfit Around the World. Basically, I’m trying to take photos of myself doing various exercises in exotic locations as I travel. I thought I’d lost two of these photos, but I recently found them. Thus, I’m sharing the first four in this ongoing series.

Crossfit - Doubleunders in France
Double-Unders at the Eiffel Tower (France) — October 2010

Crossfit - Pullups in Zimbabwe
Pull-Ups at Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) — February 2011

Crossfit - Pushups in Peru
Push-Ups at Macchu Pichu (Perú) — October 2011

Crossfit - Squats in Chile
Squats on Easter Island (Chile) — February 2012

The pull-up photo isn’t very good; I’m going to try to re-take it somewhere else in the world. Also, I plan to be in Turkey this September. Any suggestions as to which exercise I should do there? Sit-ups? Sprints? Hand-stand push-ups?


In Patagonia

12 February 2012 · 1 comment

As most of you already know, Kris and I are on the road again. We’ve jetted to Buenos Aires to start a three-week tour of Patagonia. I won’t be sharing notes about the trip here, but you can read about our adventures at my travel blog, Far Away Places. The first piece about the trip is a quick overview of our first few hours in B.A., including a visit to a beautiful bookstore and finding my favorite flavor of ice cream — only available in South America. Chao!

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Two Days in the Life

4 February 2012 · 7 comments

Kris and I have dinner together at least once a week still. I was over at the house for tacos the other night, for instance, when she asked me, “So, what do you do with your time now? What’s your day like?” Then, in a recent discussion at my personal finance blog, a reader asked the same question.

So, in true blogger fashion, here’s a look at what I’ve done with my time over the past two days.

Note: To set the scene, I now live in an apartment in NE Portland, where I’m walking distance from almost everything. I love it. The divorce isn’t finalized — and won’t be for days, or weeks, or months — but Kris and I have been living apart for about a month now. We’re still finding our future path together, but we’re both committed to remaining friends.

On Thursday, I slept in. In general, I try to get up at 5:30 so that I can make the 6:30 Crossfit class. That hasn’t happened much since I moved to my apartment though. I’ve had chronic insomnia, for one thing. For another, I’ve discovered that I enjoy visiting other class sessions throughout the day. So, Thursday I slept in.

Note: I didn’t do any formal exercise on Thursday. That happens about twice a week. I take “rest days” from Crossfit to give my body a break. Still, Thursday wasn’t sedentary. As you’ll see, I walked more than six miles around Portland.

I got out of bed at 7:00 and immediately went to work. For the next four hours, I answered e-mail. (If I keep current with e-mail, it’s not a problem. If I fall behind, it takes hours — or days — to catch up.) I also jotted outlines for three blog posts. As I worked, I did my laundry, which is something I haven’t had to do in years.

At 11:00, I stopped working and began to study Spanish. This included reading a book (El Alquimista) and creating some sentences involving different ways to express the notion of “becoming” in Spanish. (There’s no one way to do it.)

At noon, I left the apartment and began walking to my Spanish class. Along the way, I stopped for a couple of errands. I reveled in the uncharacteristically warm and sunny February day. I also listened to a Spanish-language podcast.

From 13:00 until 14:30, I had a Spanish lesson with my tutor. She answered my questions (I always have questions), we read El Principito, we discussed how Americans and Peruvians view time differently, and so on. For homework, Aly gave me a poem she had read in high school and asked me to translate it.

After class, I walked two miles from one coffee house to another. (As I walked, I listened to Spanish-language pop music.) At 15:30, I joined Mark Silver to talk about life. We met briefly at last summer’s World Domination Summit, and have been meaning to get to know each other. We had a fine conversation about business, marriage, children, goals, and more.

Note: I meet with people like Mark all of the time. That is, I meet colleagues and readers for lunch or coffee, and we have conversations about random things. I love it. There’s rarely a specific goal in mind for these gatherings — and I definitely consider them part of my work — but I enjoy them anyhow.

At 17:00, I started walking home. I passed one of my favorite restaurants just as it was about to open. Because there was no line for once, I stopped for dinner. As I ate fried chicken and mashed potatoes, I studied Spanish. I translated the poem that my tutor had given me earlier in the day.

I reached home at about 19:00, and promptly returned to work. I needed to get a post finished for Get Rich Slowly. Fortunately, I already knew the topic. By 21:00, I was finished and ready to climb in bed. I spent an hour surfing the web and reading bits and pieces from books and magazines (in both English and Spanish), then turned out the lights.

Note: I actually had insomnia Thursday night. I didn’t fall asleep right away. In fact, I didn’t fall asleep until around 2:00. Blarg! Instead, I tossed and turned. It was miserable.

On Friday morning, I got up at 05:30. I drove to the 06:30 Crossfit class, where I ran a 5k through Lake Oswego. Those three miles were miserable. I was tired. My legs were sore from workouts earlier in the week. And so on. I finished the run in 24:21, which is my second-fastest time ever, but I felt sluggish and heavy the whole way.

After Crossfit, I drove back to the apartment through heavy traffic — another reason I haven’t made the 06:30 class lately. I showered, ate breakfast, and dashed out the door to drive to Canby. There, I spent two hours in Naomi’s classroom, helping her kids with their reading and writing. (For the past few weeks, I’ve been volunteering in Naomi’s classroom for two hours every Monday and Friday morning. She teaches a Spanish/English second-grade class where most of the kids are native Spanish speakers. Their Spanish is much, much better than mine, but I get a kick out of reading and writing with them. And I think they like it too.)

At noon, I dashed back up to Portland for a lunch meeting with the World Domination Summit board of directors. While a larger team is planning this year’s conference, the four of us are beginning to think about the future. How large do we want the conference to grow in 2013? 2014? 2015? Who is our target audience? How can we make the event even better as time goes on?

After lunch, I returned to the apartment, where I spent ninety minutes answering e-mail and doing behind-the-scenes blog work. I also tried to plan the next week. Kris and I leave for Argentina soon, and I need to be efficient with my time.

At 16:00, I drove to the house to see Kris. She watched Biggest Loser while I fell asleep in my chair. (Blarg. Not an efficient use of my time!) At 17:30, we ate dinner at Five Guys Burger and Fries. I’m not a fan, but Kris wanted to try it.

From 19:00 to nearly 22:00, we were in Canby playing board games with the MNF group. Well, we were mostly chatting. The board games were simply an excuse to get together. The kids ran around and played while the adults talked about life.

Note: Because it’s been a long time since I wrote regularly here, I should define “the MNF group”. When I was in high school, I attended Zion Mennonite Church and was active in the youth group, the Mennonite Youth Fellowship (or MYF). Many of us became close friends. In fact, as adults, we’ve actively maintained these friendships. The MYF group eventually got together to watch Monday Night Football (MNF) every week. When kids came along, that faded and instead we began to have one gathering a month with some pre-planned theme. So, after thirty years, this group of friends still gathers for fellowship. How cool is that?

At the end of the night, I drove Kris home and then returned to my apartment, where I did a bit of cleaning before turning in.

Were these two days typical of my current schedule? Yes and no. Friday involved a lot of driving and very little work, which is unusual. But taken together, this pair of days illustrate the various aspects of my life.

  • I spent 7-1/2 hours working on Thursday but zero hours working on Friday. (Well, the WDS board meeting was work, but not writing work.)
  • I spent 4-1/2 hours actively studying Spanish on Thursday and another two hours actively studying on Friday. Plus, there were several hours of passive learning (meaning: listening to music as I walked or listening to an audiobook as I drove).
  • Between the two days, I spent many hours with friends. The folks on the WDS board are my friends. Kris is my friend. I count my Spanish tutor as a friend now. And so on. It’s good when work and play can mix.

Actually, that last point is important to me. While I’m very much trying to shed the workaholic mode I’ve adopted over the past five years, I still prize efficiency. If I can make my time do double duty, that’s great. So, for instance, walking around Portland while listening to a Spanish podcast lets me accomplish two things at once. I like it.

But, as you can see, I don’t really have a “typical day”. That’s both good and bad. I generally don’t like routine. It bores me. I want to have flexibility built into my schedule so that I can take advantage of opportunities.

That said, some routine provides structure, and structure can help keep me focused. Since moving to the apartment a month ago, I haven’t had a chance to develop structure or routine, and my work has suffered because of it. Now I find that I’m behind on many, many things. This weekend, for instance, will mostly be spent here, sitting in front of the computer, writing about money. I’ll get out for Crossfit, for yoga, and for a two visits with friends, but the rest of my time will be in work mode. That’s the price I pay for being unfocused lately.

Maybe when we return from Argentina and Chile, I can begin to establish some sort of minimal routine. The only thing stopping me is…me!


All Good Things

1 January 2012 · 121 comments

2011 was a wonderful year. I met some awesome people, visited nine countries (U.S., South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Canada, Peru, and Bolivia) and five states, accomplished some long-standing goals, and generally lived life to the lees (to quote my favorite poem).

Having said that, the last six weeks have been very difficult. In fact, they’ve been the darkest days of my life. And the start of 2012 is going to be a challenge. Why? Six weeks ago, I asked my wife for a divorce.

I’m not going to discuss the whys and wherefores of this decision on the internet. Kris and I are both experiencing enough stress as it is. I’ll only say that there’s no acute crisis here: nobody’s cheating on anyone, and nobody’s doing anything rash.

This process is harder on her than it is on my, obviously, since I’m the one initiating it; but trust me: the divorce is no piece of cake for me either. I’ve turned into an insomniac. I sleep maybe four hours a night. And three times in the past two weeks, I haven’t been able to sleep at all. It’s miserable.

Kris: “Those are the only two benefits of getting divorced: No clutter and I’m eligible for a Roth IRA again. Wait. Are you writing this down?”

While I’m not going to write online about my reasons for choosing this path, please understand that I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think it was in the best interests of both of us. (Kris disagrees, obviously.)

Also, it’s important to note that Kris and I are working together to build the best possible relationship going forward. We’ve seen folks go through bitter divorces, and neither of us wants that. We want to remain close friends. And so far — after six weeks — we’ve been able to do that. We’re still living in the same house (although I move into an apartment this weekend), and we plan to see each other regularly. We’re doing a “kitchen table” divorce, where we make the decisions and then have an attorney translate them into legalese.

Our biggest conflict so far? (Other than the divorce itself, I mean.) Who has to take the TV? Neither of us wants it. Not kidding. But that problem solved itself last week when it self-destructed while Kris was doing her morning exercise. Now neither of us has to be burdened with it!

This news comes as a shock to many people; others are unsurprised. My request is this: Please be supportive of Kris. She needs it. (I need it too, but I know many people aren’t inclined to support me right now. I get that.)

Some will probably view this divorce as a sign of failure. I don’t see it that way. I’m glad to have spent 23 years with Kris, eighteen of them as a married couple. But that chapter has come to a close. It’s time for us to start new adventures, both together — and on our own.

Though our real-life friends have known of this decision for six weeks, and Kris made an announcement on Facebook a couple of weeks ago, this is the first time we’ve put the news out onto the web. I’ll mention it at Get Rich Slowly soon, as I describe the process of hunting for health insurance and acquiring a new apartment.


7 October 2011

I Am Far Away

Most of you already know this, but I am in Peru. If you want to follow my adventures for the next few weeks, check out my travel blog, Far Away Places. I’ve had good wireless connections so far, and I’ve been writing a ton in my notebook. I’m transferring this writing to the web as [...]

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2 September 2011

Outside Peet’s at 37th and Hawthorne

I often meet Aly for Spanish lessons at the Peet’s Coffee at 37th and Hawthorne. There are a lot of interesting things to see there. Sometimes there’s a group of young men skateboarding on 37th, blocking traffic and the sidewalk and getting cranky when people ask them to stop. There are often petitioners. For some [...]

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31 August 2011

Our Zoo: The Animals of Rosings Park

For living just a few miles from the center of the city, we sure have a lot of animals around this place! In fact, tonight as I was putting together a video about our bunny, I realized I’ve made all sorts of short movies about the animals of Rosings Park. Let’s look at some of [...]

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30 August 2011

Bookstore of Babel

I had a surreal experience today. After my Spanish lesson, I stopped at Wallace Books in Sellwood. (Yes, yes — I know I’ve complained about them in the past, but the fact is they’re the only real used bookstore around, so I’ll take what I can get.) I wanted to pick up A Game of [...]

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28 August 2011

Lost in Translation

All day long, I think about Spanish. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I think in Spanish (though this never lasts for long). When I’m not working on my Spanish, I wish I were. And sometimes, like last night, I’ll stay up long after Kris has gone to bed just so I can read more Spanish or [...]

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26 August 2011

Our Bunny (or, An Unexpected Guest)

It looks as if — for now, anyway — we’re not just a five cat family; we’re also a one rabbit family. On Tuesday, for no apparent reason whatsoever, a rabbit appeared in the yard. We were standing in the kitchen when Kris said, “Look. Meatball is chasing a rabbit.” Sure enough. The big dumb [...]

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