2010 – The Year in Review

First off, HAPPY NEW YEARS!!!  2010 – it was a good year.  A fun year.  A fast year.  At times, a stressful year.  I will avoid re-hashing in explicit detail, after all, that’s what this website is intended to do.  I wrote a bit more which I am finding I enjoy doing when I actually sit down and do it.  I feel like I worked more which in an odd way I think brought the overall quality of my work down from my standard.  We took some great vacations again this year (e.g. beach trips, hiking trip, etc.).  We spent quality time together as a family.  With each passing year I am more thankful for what I have.  With each passing year I feel like I am not doing enough for those who are less fortunate.  I still have a strong urge to one day run my own business.  The first step to setting my goals for the coming year is to first look back at my performance against my goals in the prior year (here’s where I stood at the midpoint of 2010).  Clearly some of my goals need to carry forward into 2011 as they are still works in progress.  Some, although not accomplished, will likely fall off as they aren’t as much of a priority.

2010 RESOLUTIONS

Marriage:

  • Setup 1 date per month (continue to go on 2 dates per month). Honestly a fail for me.  I think I setup 2 all year.
  • Enable all “Girls Nights” and “Girls Trips” for Cindy.  Achieved.
  • Play together (e.g. cards, Wii, scrabble, etc.) 2x per month.  Partial credit for this one – while we did sit down and play games periodically it was typically either on Wii or iPhone/iPods.

Fatherhood:

  • Be at home eating at the table for 2 weekday dinners.  Fail. I likely made 3 overall dinners a week but I needed 2 weekend nights.  Requires an earlier work arrival – I’ll keep pursuing this.
  • Re-establish weekly family game night. Partial credit here.  We play lots of games as a family.  Could be more of a weekly “event” which I know the kids enjoy.
  • Golf with the kids 1x per month. We did great here through August/September.  I blame the weather on the rough finish.
  • Weekly bike rides with the kids (need a little help from Stewart here…) Yes – cold weather months aside.
  • More laughter and less lecturing with my kids (2009 repeat – needs more work). Fail.  I need a lot of work here.  Any and all advice welcome.

Health and Fitness:

  • Yoga 2x per week (2009 repeat).  I completely fell of the wagon in August.  Strangely coincides with my hiking trip where I talked a big game about how consistent I was.
  • Eat less chicken – continue no red meat. Success!  If you meat and you are not shrimp or fish, you aren’t in my body.  I feel the difference.
  • Run with Purpose – donate $1 per mile every mile run in 2010. Success! I will have run nearly 1200 miles in 2010 and donated accordingly with full corporate matching. Cool.
  • Run 3:15.59 at the 2010 Thunder Road (Charlotte) Marathon. Success! Proof writing it down helps.  Ran 3:14.20, my PR by over 6 minutes and officially qualified for Boston!
  • Run sub-30 hour BRR with 6-man team (run sub-8 min pace for my 6 legs). Partial credit. I averaged 7:50s for 44 miles.  We finished a few minutes above 30 hours.  Even more significant was watching Cindy kick arse on our team this year.

Personal Well-being:

  • Say more with less – fewer words in professional settings both with writing and speaking. Success but can still improve.
  • Start everyday at 5:30am (latest). Success – 5am is the new norm for me (vacations aside).
  • Read 18 books (up from 14 read in 2009) and continue to document via blog. Fail. Read 15. Improvement over 2009 but not the goal.  Darn you “Atonement”!
  • Work: lead more proactively;  Build framework for others to follow.  Honestly I am not sure where I fall here.  I always feel there is room for improvement at work.
  • Learn “presentness” to help better engage with all people in my life (taking all tips/advice here).  Continues to need serious work.
  • Develop better gift-giving habits – surprise people with small thought-filled gifts.  Wow I stink at this.  Needs serious work.

Overall not a terrible performance.  Of 19 goals I gave myself full or partial credit on 12 (ok, I grade with a curve).  There are some big areas needing continued focus and some new areas that I know I want to place focus in the coming year.  Stay tuned for a coming post in the next few days/weeks on what these will be (dum, dah, dum! Cliffhanger!).  Happy New Year everyone!

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How I Roll, uh…Read

It all started a few years back.  My frugality, well, actually…my frugality started many more years than a few back.  Reading, which coincidentally also started many, many years back for me, became of significant interest to me a few years back.  Before this shift, reading was something I did to get specific information.  In and out.  Nothing very satisfying about it…certainly not something I looked to do to pass the time or entertain myself.  Here’s where the frugality comes in.  In late 2008, my employer was providing many reasons for many people to have many real concerns about job security.  This dialed up my frugality to new levels.  Levels that have yet to subside (yes, I am VERY proud of this).  But alas, this isn’t a story about my frugality.  Rather, my frugality led me to explore commuting alternatives ($4/gallon gas prices didn’t hurt either) which in turn directly influenced my new found love for reading.  How you say?  Glad you asked.  I landed on taking the train to work.  23 minutes of pure reading enjoyment one way.  Play my cards right and it is a guaranteed 46 minutes of reading per day 5 days a week.  Not too shabby, right?

Now let me tell you about how I was doing this reading.  At first it was books we had at the house – mainly books Cindy had already read and only the highly recommended ones at that.  Then it became about taking advantage of our local (as in 3/4 of a mile away in the neighborhood) library.  Then toting books became cumbersome – I like to travel in and out of work with just my laptop.  No laptop bag.  No notebook (love Microsoft’s OneNote!).  No paper if at all possible.  That left me with a laptop and at times an awkward book under it.  Outside of the weird fit in my hand, I didn’t like the potential implication it tagged me with…you know, the one that says “you’ve been reading at work, haven’t you?”  So I  got a Kindle, right?  In the famed words of Lee Corso: “Not so fast my friend!”  I took out my iPod Touch and downloaded the Kindle App for the iPod and then subsequently downloaded one of the biggest books I could find.  Stieg Larssen’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo.”  And I read and swiped my thumb about 2,400 times.  But I finished it.  Being stubborn I read the next 2 in the trilogy that way as well.  And “Born to Run”.  And Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games.”  And then it happened…

A Kindle 3 with 3G arrived in my life unexpectedly.  My first reaction after the shock of this kind gift wore off was “will it fit in my suit jacket pocket?”  It did.  My next reaction was “will this kill the business case for the iPad that I secretly covet?”  The jury is still out here.  But 2 weeks and 2 books into it and I can easily say I love it!  I can’t imagine reading any other way.  The battery lasts for weeks (with 3G off) and for many days, like 4-6 days (with 3G on)!  The special ink they talk so much about is so very pleasing on my eyes.  Many font sizes, line spaces and other features to fit the device to an individual’s eye preference.  And easily, and most surprisingly one of my favorite features is the ready access dictionary.  Today I found out what ‘quixotic’ means.  Cool.

There’s a future post coming about whether there’s room in my life for an iPad or not.  Right now there is not.  It hurts me to say it because it is so darn beautiful to look at and seems to be the perfect way to get out of burying my head into our iMac in our office (off the beaten path at home).  Stay tuned…

The Dilemma of the Gift

The holidays are upon us.  I love this time of year.  The weather changes.  Christmas lights.  My favorite holiday of the year (Thanksgiving) kicks it off.  A feeling of accomplishment is abound after all an entire year has nearly completed.  This week in particular is usually pretty special for me and it absolutely played out this year.  This is the week where I run the Charlotte Marathon (the logistics of running in a local marathon are just too easy not to do it), I personally celebrate being fortunate enough to have another year on this planet and we typically start winding down a bit at work.  Collectively these three events sprinkled with holiday parties, festive foods, birthday cakes and this year the accomplishment of one of my biggest running goals (I qualified for the Boston Marathon!) makes for one great week out of the 52.

However, this week also usually means its “go time” for holiday shopping for me.  While I aspire to get this done early it just doesn’t happen that way.  In almost any form.  Holiday cards, holiday baking, holiday shopping and even holiday music aren’t full on for me until passing the milestone of my birth.  Maybe it should be referred to as the “10 Days of Christmas” for me.  Well, I’m all in now.  Full on Christmas spirit touched off with a small bit of concern in finding just that right gift for those that mean the most to me.  Ideally I want these few gifts to scream “I am able to sum up all the great feelings I have for you and that you give to me each day in this great gift!”  It rarely works out that way.  What is amazing is that I know for sure an unbelievable idea will come to me or be shared with me in the 10 days AFTER Christmas.  It almost always does (should I postpone Christmas until January 4th? – the Church may not approve…).

Here’s how bad it can get.  Last year about this time I decided I would make, that’s right, make a jewelry stand for Cindy that she pointed out to me in one of the magazines she reads.  Yes, I could have just bought it but there’s no “scream effect” there.  So I made it.  You know those many pictures your 2-3 year olds bring to you from their art time in pre-school.  High cute factor.  Their eyes light up when they see yours light up.  But on a scale of 1-10 in the art world they may be a 2.  That’s kind of what my jewelry box was like.  Yes…mad points for the effort and thoughtfulness but in the end it registers as “cute with a rating of 2”.  So…being an adaptable human I have learned not to go that route.  I have also hit the lists of these loved ones and could just continue down it.  But the thought of the greatest, most thoughtful gift ever haunts me.  Likely always will.  I guess on the bright side, if I ever get that gift, I likely find myself in the unenviable position of having to beat it (or bare minimum match it) for the years after.

Slightly but mostly unrelated to the topics above…Our Adventure Guides Federation (all tribes together) participated in the Fort Mill Holiday Parade.  This is an amazing event. 120 entrants inclusive of all of the fire stations in the area, all of the High Schools in the area (all 3 of them), all of the beauty queens in the area, all of the scouts in the area and lots of insurance businesses.  This year it includes an Adventure Guides Federation for the first time.  Pretty cool.  Picture below do it more justice than my words will.  So far so good with the Adventure Guides…Look for a blog specific to the Guides in the coming weeks.

Click here for the slideshow of the Adventure Guides in the Fort Mill Parade.

Click here for to see all of Sutton life via Flickr.