Breathe People Breathe, We Bought Tools Not Toys

I’ve received a ton of financial advice in the last week. What I should spend, how I should spend it, what amount of savings I need, stocks, bonds, real estate… what I should fix myself. Some emails were rather nasty and personal. But for every doom and gloom communication, I’ve had 8-10 communications from people just plain excited for us. It’s really touching.

We had a decent income spike. We bought a bunch of new stuff replacing broken stuff. I simply do not have the time to learn mechanical engineering sufficient to learn how to fix the broken stuff myself. Other dudes came to my house and installed new stuff, replacing the broken stuff I don’t know how to fix. While other dudes were here, I earned enough to cover the cost of other dudes and saved myself about three days of confusion and frustration. Also the carpet stayed dry, which I really couldn’t guarantee if I start messing with devices that do anything involving a water supply.

We’ve learnt some painful lessons over the last few years about money. MMSL has been a ridiculous risk in terms of our finances and it’s nice to have reached a point of balance where we hit enough paydirt to make a lot of the pain go away. Like I said in the title, we bought tools, not toys.

The question is what from here?

Well… same thing we do every night. Jennifer is still clipping coupons, though eventually working with me. Together we’ll be heading toward more books, more coaching stuff, more blog posts and all purpose world domination helping people. We just have some more money to leverage things is all. Same shit, different pay.

Having Good Tools Matters

It’s official, I’ve about doubled my income in the last three months. Which sounds awesome because it is in fact exactly as awesome as you think it would be. There’s a sort of a surge of money this month as Amazon pays out the Kindle sales two months after the fact, so the first The Mindful Attraction Plan money arrived at the end of August and in September coaching has really caught fire and we’re looking at the second big Kindle check coming at the end of the month before it settles down to something closer to normal.

Suddenly I have more money than I’ve had my whole life.

We’ve done a lot of shopping, catching a bunch of stuff up too. New dryer, new dishwasher, the short vacation to do all the back to school shopping, a second back to school shopping thing that happened that I don’t exactly understand but whatever, a new vacuum cleaner, a giant wholesale run for mass quantities of munchies, a month supply of protein shakes of special magnificence for both of us and plants for the front yard.

The shopping for plants was kind of fun in that we did it at Lowes and I said I wanted to price out some other stuff for the end of the month. Namely a garage door opener to replace the one that’s been broken for mumble mumble mumble years and it’s pretty apparent that the washing machine is dying too. It’s one of those front loader ones and it’s started to drool a bit, so that needs to be replaced too. So picked them out for next week, then routed by the freezers because don’t ask me why, but a freezer filled with extra food just seems to be a symbol to me that you’ve finally arrived at domestic comfort. I have no clue why.

So Jenniferlocks started looking at the freezers. There was a little chest one that was just too small, barely enough room for half a dead body. Then there was a great big chest freezer one and it would have looked more in place on a fishing trawler. Then we saw one that was just right… medium sized and on sale. It was perfect. Jennifer relaxed, this was the one. Then we rounded the corner and came upon an upright freezer, twice as big as the medium sized chest freezer, with internal racks and crazy deep shelving built into the door…

Jennifer:  “That would make it easier to find things and arrange them.”

Athol:  “You wouldn’t be in danger of falling in either.”

(In my defense she is quite short and leaning in to grab frozen salmon from the bottom of a chest freezer could indeed result in slapstick comedy.)

Then she looked at the price. Normally she would have flinched and that would have been it.

Athol:  “I know we’re on an important mission to buy some crappy plants I don’t care about plants for the front of the house, but I’m coming back for this freezer.”

Jennifer: “This is so weird to have money.”

Athol:  “It’s not like we’re buying junk, the freezer is a tool. We’ll use it, you’ll end up getting all the money back and more because you can do better sale shopping.”

Then we got her a new laptop. At some point she’s just going to need one for the business and we went looking for one. She’s used to a 15″ screen size on her work one, but I said she should go bigger to the 17″. Rationale… it’s going to be her primary tool for working her side of the business. Having a 17″ screen is going to be far more user friendly than having a 15″ one. It’s a tool. Hell I would have said go to 19″, but again she’s tiny and at that point the keyboard starts spreading a little making it harder to type. It’s a good laptop. She’s thrilled by it.

The one thing I really splurged on for myself last year was a really good laptop. It’s not so much a beast of computing power, as sort of a plush and sinfully comfortable one to use. I paid far too much for it and it’s worth every penny. I’m a writer, it’s the only tool I use for my job. I love my laptop. It always makes me feel good to use it.

Then it becomes apparent that nearly everything big we’re buying are tools… the dryer, dishwasher, vacuum, laptop, garage door opener, freezer, washing machine. The rest is good food and replacement clothes. But the tools just keep jumping out at me.

Every broken tool you own is draining energy from your life. Having good tools saves you time and energy, plus if they are functional and beautiful, you can gain even more energy by feeling good about using the good tool.

So what are your tools? Are they broken? Can you fix them? What’s your dream tool?


The Red Yellow Green Sexual Communication Tool

This is going to be an important post for a lot of couples.

There’s a ton of advice about whether you should or shouldn’t be having sex on any given night. There’s the default yes, fake it until you make it, no means no, push through her resistance, always be closing, don’t push against her shields once they are up, pound her hard and if nothing works be outcome independent.

Got all that?

What I’ve realized is that some of that confusion is coming from me, in that Jennifer and I from the get go were lucky enough to have mutually aligned assumptions about sexual communication. I’ve just assumed that everybody else communicated the same way. So what this post is going to do is reverse engineer what Jennifer and I actually do in terms of a decision matrix about what we do on any given night. Not that every night we have sex, but that every night we make a conscious decision about having it or not. We don’t wait to be “in the mood” to communicate about sex. The goal here is to give you some kind of shared language and avoid misunderstandings and lost opportunities for sex.

For the most part, this is aimed at “MMSL couples” looking to build a better sex life. The assumption is that both of them want to work together to have a better sex life and connection. They may not feel ultra turned on by each other, but it’s enough to want to work on things. It also assumes no medical issues et al interfering with baseline desire.

Also Jennifer is the lower desire partner and I’m the higher desire partner. So most of the time Jennifer is the one making a color choice and I’m more typically the one making an initiation attempt.

Green = This means Jennifer is very sexually interested tonight. Basically anything is up for grabs and I can push for an “above average” night of sex. This is the night of something more rough and dominant from me. Basically the harder I push / desire / want her, the better her response. Green = Just fuck me. Go Alpha.

Yellow = This means Jennifer is neither particularly turned on, nor resistant to sex tonight. This can go one of two ways usually, (1) a longer foreplay toward warming her up and ultimately her coming to orgasm and enjoying it for herself, or (2) her not wanting that but being willing to give me something like a handjob, blowjob, or the quickee intercourse option. This is from me a softer initiation push than a Green night. On a Green night I’m pushing her toward her maximum sexual response. On a Yellow night, I’m initiating for the purpose to get sex and have a mutually pleasant sexual experience together. Yellow = Warm Jennifer Up / Something for Athol. Go Alpha/Beta.

Red = Jennifer does not want anything sexual tonight. I don’t push her at all about this. Not a damn thing. I usually offer some sort of care bear routine for her as well, usually her Red nights she’s sick or genuinely tired. Red = No means no. Go Beta.

Whether it’s a Red, Yellow or Green night, I don’t get upset and complain about it to her. I remain outcome independent about it.

For the most part, my first steps are simply to discover whether or not it’s a Red, Yellow or Green night. Once I know what kind of night it is, I tailor my approach to that.

But until I make a move, I might not know it’s a Green night, because she might not tell me.

Relationship Momentum

In terms of the overall relationship momentum, imagine a 1-100 scale with 100 being the best possible and 1 being the worst possible.

In the 71-100 range, you’ll probably get a mix of Greens and Yellows and a  handful of Reds.

In the 31-70 range, you’ll mostly get Yellow, but also a variety of Greens and Reds.

In the 1-30 range, you’ll mostly get Red, with some Yellow thrown in. Maybe a Green if you’re getting ovulation sex.

Gaining Points

Every night you make the correct call, i.e. she wants Green and you act Green, you get a +1 to your relationship. Same thing on Yellow nights, she wasn’t wildly into it, but you still had a good experience together, you get a +1. On Red nights, you don’t force the issue at all, you get a +1.

Losing Points

Every night you make the wrong call, you get a -1 to your relationship. She wanted “Just fuck me” Green, and you were too soft on approach (Yellow) or ignored her (Red). She wanted something sedate or just for you Yellow and you tried to get her to have pornstar sex (Green) or didn’t make any move on her (Red). She didn’t want anything at all on a Red night and you tried to get a Green or Yellow response.

Adaptive Strategy

What happens with a lot of struggling couples, is that they get advice to “Always Green!”, or “Always Yellow!” or “Ignore Red, just push yourself through it and act Green.” The result of that is some nights get a +1 and some nights get a -1 and they all balance each other out. Thus over the long term, the relationship doesn’t get any better. If your relationship momentum score is a 30 and you go +1 -1 +1 -1 +1 -1 +1 -1 +1 -1…. you’re still going to be stuck at 30 even though you’re both working hard on your relationship.

You have to have an adaptive strategy to heal a fragile relationship.

You cannot force a sexual response from someone who doesn’t want to give one, without risking seriously negative effects to your relationship. So when the relationship is down in the dumps below 30, that may well mean a whole lot of not having sex at first.

If she’s not interested in sex with you (Red), you must stop orbiting her or expressing anger about not getting porn star sex (“Why aren’t you Green?”), or not even bothering to give you a handjob (“I just want a Yellow, why can’t you Yellow?”). When she’s feeling Red about sex and you demand / pout / threaten / tantrum and she lets your fuck her, you get Red Sex and you complain about that…. (“She just lays there like a Starfish!”)

So my advice from here is to actually start using the words Red Yellow Green until you get a handle on it. Over time, you won’t need to say the words because you’ll internalize them.

This has all been largely focused at the guys/higher desire partner, so a final thought for the women/lower desire partner…

If you force yourself to have sex you don’t want and hate every minute of it. In what bizarro world does that fix your relationship and make you love your partner more?

Drinking From The Firehose

Okay. So. Catch up.

I really didn’t mean to have a two week break from the blog. It has been a struggle of sorts lately and life suddenly got busy, as in really really busy. Here’s the shopping list…

We had a vacation. Just a quick trip up into Massachusetts to an outlet mall for the Labor Day Weekend sale. We’d pretty much saved all the back to school shopping for then and got it done in a great frenzied heap. One wife, two daughters, sale weekend, shopping holiday for stuff we’d buy anyway. It’s genius. The girls just think staying in a hotel is the greatest thing ever, room service is the cherry on top.

As an aside I can’t spell Massachusetts. The spell checker couldn’t help ne either. It like knows all the words in English there are and it couldn’t even come out with a suggestion of what it thought I was trying to spell. I literally had to open a new browser tab and start typing out, “State of mass…” and let the Google auto-complete save me.

Less amazing, I had a fall. I’m not sure what age you have to be to cross the threshold from simply “falling over” to “having a fall”, but I think I might have passed it.

What happened was coming out of the hotel on our intended nice sunny day for the Southwick Zoo… it was pouring down. So I did my standard routine of telling the family to stick by the hotel lobby and I’d bring the car around. It was raining very hard, so I ran for it. I got about six feet into the run and my flip-flops hydroplaned and I not so much ran, as slid into home plate into concrete steps. My left foot turned over as my ankle smashed sickeningly with my full body weight behind it. The concrete was evidently really well made because it seemed quite unbothered by my attempt to break it.

In order to keep the dramatic tension I’ll change topics.

I’ve been telling about half my coaching clients that they really should be doing something fun in their life. It can’t be all nose to the grindstone without killing your energy and happiness levels. Except… well… I can’t remember the last time I was really having fun myself. It’s been a long road to here. I already had eleven coaching clients and it was going really well.

So I cracked open the World of Warcraft account again. I’ve been running heroics and the raid finder stuff, as opposed to joining a guild proper and turning it into a job. Yes I absolutely how geeky it is, I don’t care. Here’s how messed up it is. You have a character (a doll) and then you and your friends get together with their characters (their dolls) and using your characters (dolls) you form a group (a doll party) to run through an dungeon or high-level raid dungeon in the hope of winning fat loots to make your character more powerful (you get fancy clothes for your doll).

Anyway, it’s been fun. For those that care… my primary doll (character) is a Restoration Shaman and playing a lowbie or two to hang out with my eldest daughter who is an excellent healer.



FUCK. I cannot have a broken foot now. There is just too much to get done. I don’t want to clomp around in a stupid boot for six-eight weeks.

Thankfully the pain is just seriously bad and slowly ebbing way. I can walk on it carefully, but I’ve seen foot injuries before and “but it doesn’t hurt that bad” doesn’t mean it isn’t broken somehow. After a while it’s not even bad enough to want a Tylenol or anything. But it’s still swollen and sore when I walk on it. So no walks, no exercise, no running in house, no anything without thinking 24/7 “I really hope it’s not broken”.


While I limp around like a dying swan, coaching explodes on me. I’ve gone from eleven clients to twenty-one… and I’ve decided my max is twenty-four. So if you heard “three slots left”, you heard right. I’m a introvert and while I love what I’m doing, it is me giving a lot of energy out. So there are just limits to what I can do. So three slots left for now and prices obviously have to step up a bit after that too. Woo-hoo!

Yay money. It’s been a long time coming and it’s a relief it’s finally here. It’s come with sense of peace too. I deserve it. It’s more like a thorn pulled from my side than anything else. That being said, I’m starting to really struggle with attention to the forum. The success to effort ratio with the 1:1 coaching is just burying my efforts on the forum. There’s been a ton of good forum story arcs, but every week there’s been more exciting stuff happening I can’t tell anyone about lol. I don’t spill *any* of that stuff for obvious reasons. It’s just going really fabulously well.

But… phew! There’s a lot of front-loading effort with the coaching.  Considering it’s a 12-week deal, for me about a third of the total effort comes getting to the end of the first call. There’s a lot of planning and thinking on my end. So yay twenty-one clients…. yay… Suddenly I’m sitting here with a full calendar and back to the grind of having a “real job” again.

And finally… pretty sure it’s it’s not broken. Just sore. I’m finally making more money from MMSL, Jennifer and the girls are happy, coaching is going great and I have a well dressed doll.

And if you want one of the last coaching spots… take a peek and drop me a line.