As in the past, I’m taking to More to Come… to think about the year that is rapidly coming to a close, to be thankful for the wonder in my life, and to resolve to improve.
The national and international issues seem almost overwhelming. Many commentators have focused on all the bad things that happened in 2014, and there were no shortages of options for those who take that approach. Ferguson. Ebola. ISIS. I can’t breathe. Disappearing airplanes. Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Putin. Ukraine. Income inequality. Cynical politicians. Criminal politicians. Torture. Mid-term elections. Right wing fundamentalists posing as Christians. Robin Williams. Endless war in the Middle East. Those are just for starters.
And then there was Dave Barry.
I was tempted to lead with this photo of Claire and her friend Jason, with the title 2014: It’s Done – Stick a Fork in this Turkey!
But then I recalled this picture I’ve used before in More to Come… and decided to follow this piece of advice.
Nationally, you won’t hear much from the media about the good things that have occurred in 2014. Such as the fact that 10 million+ Americans who were uninsured now have health insurance. Or, that the U.S. is finally ending a failed 50-year policy of sanctions against a tiny island nation with a total GNP that rivals what, Omaha? (Actually, since Omaha is home to Warren Buffett, perhaps I’m not giving enough credit to Omaha.) After strong government action averted what was shaping up as a second Great Depression in 2008, the U.S. has rebounded (albeit slowly) to a point where our economic growth and job creation are higher than during the first years of this century. Marriage equality had a great year in 2014, as the tipping point was reached and politicians got out-of-the-way of people who simply wanted to express their love for each other.
But national policies and politics are not my focus on this blog. I try and look to the personal.
2014 was a time when my perspective – thanks to an extensive personal and professional travel schedule – was widened. I have written about these experiences on More to Come… over the course of the year. I have much for which to be thankful. Like celebrating my 32nd anniversary with Candice in Copenhagen (shown at the top of the post). My father suffered a serious health scare earlier this month, but he’s recovered and I am fortunate to still have my father and my mother-in-law who are active into their 80s. After having spent the past two days on a personal family journey with Candice and the twins, I was reminded (for about the 365th time this year) as to how much I love and admire my wife and children. I have great colleagues and a job that challenges and inspires.
In my 2013 year-end post, I outlined seven rules for the next third of my life. All year, I’ve looked at them on my computer wallpaper as I’ve logged on in the morning. Colleagues have seen them and made comments. The family (and especially Candice) was supportive. So…how did I do the first year? Let’s reflect.
1. Exercise six days a week for the rest of your life. Well…I didn’t keep this rule consistently. No, let’s be truthful…I didn’t keep this rule. There were times when exercise was built into my schedule. I did maintain a weekly appointment with a personal trainer, but there were a few weeks when that was my only real exercise. The fall was an especially bad time. Late in the year I focused on finding more ways than just going to the gym to exercise, with a bit of success. I also bought a new Fitbit to replace the one I lost about 9 months ago, and that has helped as well. Year-end result: Yikes! Instead of being 15 pounds lighter than January 1, 2014, I am about 10 pounds heavier. First chance to use my new favorite family line: “Well, this is certainly a revolting development.” I need to remember the caption from a cartoon I saw this fall, where an overweight guy listens to his doctor say, “What fits your busy schedule better, exercising one hour a day or being dead 24 hours a day?”
2. Listen more than you talk. Since I’ve added this to my rules, I’ve been much more conscious of the need to allow for others to enter into my conversations. I’ve asked for assessments from a couple of folks who would know how well I’ve done and would be honest. Year-end result: So far, I’m making progress (but let me know if you see times where I can improve…if you can get a word in edgewise.)
3. Spend less than you make. This is one area where I’ve made a conscious effort and have seen good progress. Year-end result: Okay, but keep improving.
4. Quit eating crap! Eat less of everything else. Eleven months out of the year, I’ll follow this rule six days out of seven. Candice and I tend to find good options when we eat out – such as at the Arcadia Farm Field Dinner with Andrew last summer. When I fail, it is usually the french fries or ice cream that call out. Or the holidays for the entire month of December! I’m going to see a nutritionist early next year, who may have some strategies for staying out of the bad zone. Year-end result: Still work to do. I will repeat 50 times, “I do love brussels sprouts. I do love brussels sprouts.”
5. Play music. I am about on the same level of playing that I was a year ago. Given the hectic nature of 2014, that’s probably not too bad. Year-end result: I’m going to declare success…and work to find even more time to play and keep working on that alternating thumb pattern of picking.
6. Connect and commit. I’ve made serious efforts this year to keep this goal to reach beyond myself. Candice and I are seeing friends on a regular basis, and we’re getting ready to develop a monthly schedule for social outreach in 2015. Year-end result: Okay, but I can always improve, especially in helping those who are less fortunate.
7. Don’t be a Grumpy Old Man. Enjoy life! My boss laughed when she saw this one and promised to let me know if I was being a grumpy old man. She also said she saw no evidence of that so far! Anyone who has read More to Come… this year can see that I’ve had a lot of life to enjoy. Year-end result: Enjoyable!
As I said last year, feel free to call me when I come up short. Also, feel free to take one or more of these goals for your own and modify them as you wish. I’ll keep you posted…but let’s hope you start seeing more pictures of a smiling, slimmer DJB playing more music! Better yet, let’s hope you are with me, enjoying the food, music, wine, and company.
More to come…