Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

A mindful way to think about FI/RE.

I had a busy weekend. My blog post came second place in the Rockstar Rumble and I went out to see two plays with Evan22, one on Friday night and one on Saturday night. I did a lot of reading on Saturday – when I start a new book I can’t help but gallop through it till the end. (This one was NOS4A2 by Joe Hill. It wasn’t bad.) Sunday I Got Practical Things Around The House Done.

This meant that I didn’t do much writing. Those of you who’ve read my post on my ‘Goal Setting’ chart might remember that I have a goal to write on this blog 3 times a week. I dragged myself into work today feeling as if I didn’t want to be here and cross that I didn’t have an article ready to post today.

Every Monday for the first 10 minutes of the day we have ‘Mindfulness Mondays’, where the teachers direct their classes in a Mindfulness session. Up until now, I’ve been doing sessions totally directed by me, where we concentrate on feeling how they’re breathing, how their feet feel in their shoes, how their bodies feel in the chairs etc.

When I run out of things to talk about I direct them to look at the ‘Mindfulness Tree’, which is a gum tree outside our second-floor window. I get them to look at the leaves, how they’re blowing in the wind, how the sky looks behind it and so on. But I was getting a little bit tired of doing the same old thing every week.

I walked into the staffroom and decided that this week I was going to do something different. The kids were going to colour in!

This is actually quite a good mindfulness technique. While colouring in, you’re effectively in the moment, focused on the selection of colours and what the pencil is doing. I passed out the sheets and the Tibetan bell chimed over the loudspeaker to begin the session.

The kids were silent. Engrossed. I’ve never seen this group of 12-year-olds so intent.

The minutes slipped by. They were totally absorbed by the task. Each child started at a different spot on the design and used different colours to fill in the spaces. Vikki wanted to keep reading instead, but I made her put her book away and start colouring. “We’re here to be mindful in the life we’re in now, not escaping to other worlds!”

I wasn’t sure how much they would finish in the ten minutes. I haven’t coloured in anything for decades! When the Tibetan bell sounded at the end of the session, hardly anything had been finished. But the kids had been working so hard.

“Can we keep colouring?” one little optimist said.

“No, we have to get on with work,” I said. “But how about if everyone puts their name on the top and I save them for next week?”

They liked that idea… well, probably everyone except Vikki! I collected them up and we went on with the lesson.

It’ll take another 3 or 4 lessons, no doubt, until the pictures are complete.

It was when I was wandering around the room as they worked that I saw a parallel to our FI/RE treks.

Given time, all of the children will complete the task.

They all started from different spots, with different materials. Some had only a couple of pencils, some had heaps; one boy had a single grey lead.

Now that they know where they’re headed, some kids will prepare and make sure to bring extra pencils to class next week. Just like someone finding out about FI/RE and beginning to educate themselves by reading books and blogs, going to Meet-ups and rearranging their finances.

When the time is up, it won’t matter what they started with or where they started from.

They’ll have finished the task and they’ll have a beautiful picture to enjoy.


  1. Shaun Cassidy

    Thankyou for this – absolutely brilliant.

    I was extremely impressed that your school has a Mindfulness Monday.

    Even more impressed that you brought in the colouring in exercise.

    The writer and architect in me really loved how you used the imagery to link back in to the fire story (beautiful) and then reflected back to the kids – lovely mash up of ideas, analogy, imagery and of course words.

    Please send me some of your insight, talent and skills


    • FrogdancerJones

      the smartarse in me wants to say that you’re an extremely good judge of writing.
      What the honest person in me wants to say: Thanks so much for such a gracious and beautifully written comment.
      I’m so happy it resonated with you.

  2. Abigail @ipickuppennies

    Your kids’ work is lovely! I hope you’ll post the finished products too!

    • FrogdancerJones

      I will. It won’t be for a few weeks though.

  3. Bev

    A really good way to practise mindfulness. I’m a bit sick of the ‘body scans’ too. Will get myself some colouring books!

    • FrogdancerJones

      I think I’ll be joining in next week. It looked fun!

  4. J.D

    This is great for something different. I really like the idea of coloring in.

    • FrogdancerJones

      So did the kids. They’ll be happy on Monday morning.

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