Hello, World!

Introducing Big Picture, Little Details

Hi, my name is Brett. Welcome to Big Picture, Little Details. It’s a new project I’m starting where I’m going to share my experiences with a variety of topics centered around trying to live a better life.

I’m going to write about health and wellness, veganism, personal finance, minimalism, meditation, and mindfulness.

Los Angeles Skyline, December 2017
Standing in front of the Los Angeles skyline during my honeymoon in December 2017

I work as a software developer during the day, and I draw comics at night and on the weekend. I also enjoy reading and film. I grew up in the Northeast, lived in Vermont for a bit, and now live in Portland, Oregon. For the last seven years, I’ve been on a journey of finding simplicity and happiness.

I started learning about mindfulness and minimalism in 2011 from Leo Babauta’s zen habits and mnmlist websites. This was around the time I turned 20 when I was trying to figure out what my future would look like. Mindfulness and minimalism both shifted my outlook on life and spurred me to think deeper about how I live. I stumble from time to time with consumerism, but I truly believe less is more and the power is within us to live our best lives.

2018-05-05 - Meditation
A comic I made about meditation when I first started

I began meditating daily in May 2018. It’s a really beautiful thing. I’m still so new to it, but it’s helped me quiet my mind and have a calmer approach to life.

I’ve made my fair share of poor financial decisions, like getting my first credit card to buy an iPad I couldn’t afford outright when I was 18. But I’ve managed to stay debt-free since. I started working at 14, and I was a spender even then. I’d buy video games, DVDs, electronic gadgets, etc. I was caught up in pop culture communities where the focus was on collecting.

I didn’t have a solid foundation of financial knowledge until a few years ago. I was barely just spending less than I was earning. And it was definitely due to poor decisions on my part. A couple of years ago I started budgeting and sticking to it, and it really illuminated where my money was going. Budgets are so useful and essential.

In the time since getting married, my wife and I have continued to stay debt-free and figured out our longer-term financial goals in the last month. We want to live as frugally as we can while saving a significant portion of our income (over 50%). Our goal is to try to become financially independent in 10 years, which means we would be able to live off of just a small percentage of the annual returns from our investments.

By setting these goals for ourselves and already having a budget that we could iterate on, we’ve been feeling financially focused and motivated. I’ve never felt that way before except when saving up for something that I really wanted. But then, inevitably, that feeling of happiness would fade until I bought the next thing. This time there’s no object we’re saving for. We’re saving up for us, for flexibility in our lives.

My history with health, weight, and exercise is probably average in that they’re all things I’ve struggled with. In October 2015, I went vegan and haven’t looked back. I’ve lost 42 pounds since and all of my other blood work numbers are now in a healthy range. I took control of my health, and it changed my life. I’ve still got some ways to go with weight loss, but I’m getting there.

Me around my heaviest, 250 lbs

When I went vegan, my diet habits definitely improved. But I was still a Junk Food Vegan, eating processed foods and oils. My weight loss eventually stalled out. In January 2018, we committed to a diet heavily inspired by Dr. John McDougall’s Starch Solution and have been loving it. I’m feeling even better than before and have been losing weight at a steady rate again. I eat a diet free of processed oils and sugars that consists mostly of leafy green vegetables, fruits, potatoes, oatmeal, rice, and beans.

Mindfulness, personal finance, and health all support one another. They’re tied together, and it’s impossible to not think about one without the others.

My hope with Big Picture, Little Details is to share my experiences related to all of these topics. I want to write about what I’ve learned and what has helped me. I want to share other people’s experiences. I want to share my favorite recipes, books, videos, and websites. I want to make comics and zines related to all of this.

On the practical side of things, I’m committing to not ever running ads on any BPLD content. Ads are a bummer. Also, D.I.Y. is a big part of frugality and an approach that I take with most things that I do. I hope that shines through here. I’m going to be honest and real but optimistic and kind. My wife, Abagail, is also going to help out with the project (she’s wonderful)!

I’m going to do my best to publish at least one new blog post every week. I’ve got lots of ideas. It’s time to get started.

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Author: Brett Chalupa

day: software developer, night: comic artist