Stressful success can feel a lot like failure

I switched to Tradestation near the end of my second year of trading. After a couple months of learning the interface and trying out some ideas, my intuition kicked in. A vague idea was forming, but I couldn’t get a handle on it. Then, more on instinct than anything, I made a trade on September 1, 2005 that proved the catalyst to understanding. It went up 55% that day. I hopped out, and started systematizing that intuition.

It took some time, and there were some fits and starts, but I put together an approach that ultimately returned 140% profit in the following 8 months. Using no leverage, for what it’s worth. That’s the good. The bad was that it was killing me. The system was simply too stressful to trade while holding down a full-time job. Eventually, the stress led to mistakes, and what should have been a 10% drawdown turned into a 25% drop with the help of numerous mistakes on my part. Though I managed to sort my way through it and saw the beginnings of a nice recovery, I ultimately decided to set aside the system for that imaginary time in the future when I can trade full time.

So I had proven to myself that I could succeed, yet as I entered the summer of 2006 I felt I had to start from scratch, with far more emphasis on building a system that was relaxing, even if the returns were much lower. I had gained a new appreciation for the debilitating effects of stress. Stress doesn’t stay within neat boundaries, it spills over into all areas of your life. And I had also come to a better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses as a trader. I had developed a certain style, a personality, as a trader. Now I had to find out if I could invent an entirely new trading system that fit my style, gave good returns, and allowed me to relax.
Success -- sort of

What’s He Got in His Bowl??

Tonight we enjoyed this Southern Living Recipe. It’s frugal, easy to prepare (though I added the step of browning the chicken thighs before placing them in the crockpot) and a perfect winter meal. What’s more, everyone at the table enjoyed it. Especially Nicolas. He told us all about how much he loved his food.

Before I record his comments, please note that the dish consists mainly of chicken, white potatoes and carrots. But Nicolas doesn’t like to be hemmed in by ingredients. He doles out his compliments creatively. Accordingly, as he finished his meal, he announced happily to us, “I just love these sweet potatoes..they are delicious. Oh, and this ham is great too. I love this ham and sweet potatoes.” While the rest of people at the table stared at him, a bit confused, he noticed a piece of the “meat” had fallen in his lap. “Oh look! Haha, there is ham in my lap…I didn’t see that I had dropped ham in my lap! That’s silly!!” Silly, indeed.

House Closed! (Hooray!)

Hello, Dear Readers!

This is just a brief note to help bring closure to our house drama of the last few months. Yesterday, at 10am, we signed the documents to officially hand over ownership of our “old” house to the buyers. What a blessed relief…it is such a joy to just own one home again. And yes, I did do a little happy dance.

To those of you who have followed this house buying/selling saga in much more granular detail than we’ve provided here on our website, thanks for your patience and prayers and encouragement for the last 12+ months. We are truly blessed with so many kind and loving family and friends.

Now, we turn our attentions fully to our current home: unpacking, repairing, updating, maintaining. But first, just to keep things fun, Jay is set to undergo a bit of a surgical procedure today. Because, hey, why not celebrate a house closing with a little surgery?!?!

Another Cousin on the Way

Happy New Year, everyone!

We just returned from a week’s stay in St Louis, which we will hopefully fill you in on later. But I wanted to announce (now that they’ve let the cat out of the bag themselves) that Andrew and Jamison are expecting their first baby this summer…and that they’ve returned to blogging too! We now happily anticipate not one, but two cousins to be born in 2007 (also a little boy on the way for Katie and Peter soon!). We are thrilled for these soon-to-be additions to the family, and rejoice with the expectant parents!

Read more, and see the first pictures of “Tater Tot” at The Bloggertons!