Top 10 (or so) Things I’m Thankful For
With the holidays now upon us, this period provides me the opportunity to briefly escape the daily investment rat race, and reflect on the numerous aspects of my life for which I am grateful. There is so much to be thankful for, but it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important, especially when time is flying by in the blink of an eye. As the old saying goes, “Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes.” The proliferation of gray hair, coupled with my sprouting kids, is a constant reminder that life is not slowing down for me, but actually speeding up.
As I lay here like a slug on the couch, which is slowly absorbing me, I take no shame in unbuttoning my top pant button to relieve the belly-busting pressure of excessive turkey and mash potato consumption. The cranberry sauce on my chin and pumpkin pie crust on my shirt does not distract me from the football game or prevent me from reflecting upon my life’s gifts.
In that vein, here is a list of my top 10 things for which I am grateful:
10. Sugar: Without sweets, being relegated to a life of bread, water, and broccoli would be a boring challenge. Thankfully, once I became a grown adult earning a paycheck, I also earned the right to eat Cap’n Crunch (with Crunch Berries) for breakfast; peanut butter-Nutella & banana sandwich for lunch; apple fritter & milk for dinner; and some Double Stuf Oreos for dessert (yes, only one ‘f’ in Stuf!).
9. College Sports: Watching professional sports is fun, but when A-Rod earns $275 million for the NY Yankees and rides the pine during the playoffs, the business aspects take a little allure away from the sport. Although college athletes may sneak a few bucks under the table, they are nonetheless a lot less corrupted, and the electric atmosphere of a live college event cannot be replicated. The opportunities are fewer due to adult responsibilities, but nothing beats a crisp fall afternoon on the couch with a bowl of hot chili, a frosty beverage, and a remote control, while flipping through a series of college football games.
8. Gadgets: Seems like yesterday when I was introduced to my first computer, a 1983 Compaq Portable computer that weighed 28 pounds; had a 9 inch green screen; integrated two 320k drives; and retailed originally for about $3,500….ouch! Today, my iPhone 5 is more than 99% lighter, stores 100,000 times more information, and costs a fraction of the price. If you add my iPad, Kindle, Roku video streaming box, my DVR set-top box, my GPS, and other electronic gadgets, it’s hard to imagine how I could have lived a life without these luxuries five years ago.
7. Cards: I analyze numbers, probabilities, and emotions in my day job every day, it’s no wonder that I somehow need to do the same thing in my leisure time. No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em is the name of the game, and I was introduced to it by world champion “poker brat” Phil Helmuth when he personally taught a group of us at an investment conference in 2003. I haven’t entered the $10,000 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas yet, but it’s on my bucket list.
6. Challenges: I’m a washed up basketball hack after an insignificant high school career and about 12 years of old-man basketball leagues, but my competitive juices keep flowing today. In hopes of not turning to a fully gelatinous blob, I have periodically pushed myself to some competitive athletic challenges, including a hike to the peak of Mt. Whitney; a couple half marathons; a sprint triathlon; a Colorado bike trip; and a few seasons of indoor co-ed soccer. Next up, I’m training for a “century” bike ride – a 100 mile race in early 2013 near Santa Barbara. I guess I better work off some of that stuffing, mash potatoes, and gravy.
5. Good Books: I pretty much read for a living on average 8-12 hours per day, but I suppose I’m a glutton for punishment. Given all my other interests and responsibilities, it’s tough to find the free time to curl up to a good book, but if I can squeeze in a book every quarter, I give myself a pat on the back. Nothing beats true, real-life experiences, but I’ve learned a tremendous amount through all the books I’ve read (for leisure and schooling). Regrettably diversity has gotten the short end of the stick, since about half the books I read are investment related, including a few that I’ve reviewed here on my blog like The Big Short, Too Big to Fail, The Greatest Trade Ever, and Winning the Loser’s Game (to name a few). Currently, I’m reading a fascinating New York Times Bestseller on world religions, called Religious Literacy, which leads me to my next Top 10 item…
4. Spirituality: While I am probably a lot more apathetic and ignorant in the area of religion as compared to the average person, nevertheless I have learned to appreciate the importance and benefits of religion and spirituality through my life experiences. From Judaism to Islam, and Buddhism to Christianity, there is no denying the moral lessons and spiritual balance these religions provide billions of people around the globe. I have a long way to go on my spiritual journey, but I’m slowly learning and progressing. On days where the Dow plummets a few hundred points or when the share price of a top holding tanks, I’m quickly reminded of the importance of spiritual balance.
3. Travel: While many people have hardly ventured from their hometown during their lifetime, I have been blessed with the fortune of seeing many places around the world. Not only have I lived on the East Coast, West Coast, and in the Midwest, but I have also traveled to five different continents. Appreciating different cultures and viewpoints is what truly makes life more interesting for me.
2. Friends: The digital age has not only brought friends closer together through social networks like Facebook (FB) and LinkedIn (LNKD), but has also pushed us further apart because vicariously spying on someone online is much easier than calling someone or grabbing coffee with them. Thankfully, I have a core set of friends that I can share my life’s ups and downs.
1a. Investing: Enough said. I’ve been investing for close to 20 years, and this blog is evidence of the blood, sweat, and tears I’ve dedicated to this endeavor. Various investments will go in and out of favor, and economic cycles will go up and down, but one trend that I know will persist is that I will be investing for the rest of my life.
1b. Health: It goes without saying, but if I don’t have my own good health, then very little on my top 10 list is possible. I’ve outlived two close family members of mine, so needless to say, I am very thankful to be breathing and living.
1c. Family: Having all these great experiences, including al the highs and lows, means absolutely nothing, if you have nobody to share them with. My family means the world to me, and days like Thanksgiving remind me of how lucky I really am.
Although this list was originally scheduled for 10 items, it looks like it has unintentionally expanded to a few more. But how can you blame me? I’ve had some tough times like everyone, but it is virtually impossible to not be thankful for the life I get to live now. Not only do I get to do what I love, but I also get paid to do it.
Last but not least, a special thanks needs to also go out to you, my devoted blog reader. I know you’re devoted, because you have made it to the end of this lengthy article. Without you, I wouldn’t have the motivation to continually scribble down my random thoughts.
Happy Thanksgiving and happy holidays!
Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®
Plan. Invest. Prosper.
DISCLOSURE: Sidoxia Capital Management (SCM) and some of its clients hold long positions in certain exchange traded funds (ETFs), AMZN, and AAPL, and a short position in NFLX. At the time of publishing SCM had no direct positions in LNKD, FB, HPQ or any security referenced in this article. No information accessed through the Investing Caffeine (IC) website constitutes investment, financial, legal, tax or other advice nor is to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. Please read disclosure language on IC Contact page.