Archive for the ‘Me’ Category

Personal improvement

Monday, August 24th, 2015

I’m not a great person.  Sometimes, if I’m honest with myself, I don’t even try to be a great person.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m not evil incarnate.  I even have moments when I really shine.  It’s just that on the whole, I’m not happy with myself.  This tends to magnify my negatives in my minds eye.  It’s something I aim to change.

I’ve been slouching around in not-great land for quite a while now – several years.  If you were to look back through my posts, you’d see all the fun I had with epilepsy.  The medication was a real bitch.  By the grace of God, the seizures stopped a couple of years ago and I haven’t been on the medication for some time now.  So I can’t really use the “medication is making me feel rotten” excuse any more.  So what does that leave?  I’ve been slouching around out of inertia and habit.

This has left me in a place I don’t enjoy being in.  A place where I’m depressed a lot.  A place where I’m overweight (a lot).  A place where I lack motivation.  It’s a pit, and it’s a hard one to climb out of.  But it’s a pit I’ve been in before, and I know how to climb out of it, and I’m ready to start.

I’ve been reading a lot about leadership lately, and you know what?  It turns out that the path to leadership is a lot like the path to personal improvement.  Because if you honestly work at being a good leader (at work or at home or in any facet of your life), you end up realizing there’s a lot about yourself that needs improving.

One of the books I read recommended mission statements as a way of focusing how you want to be – this helps you to keep the important things in perspective.  I wrote a personal mission statement (linked under Pages).  I think it’s OK.  It’s a start, and I expect I’ll change it over time as new things become important to me.  Much to my own surprise, writing more is one of the items on my mission statement.  It’s cathartic I guess.  I enjoy writing my thoughts, so I’ll be posting here more.  I don’t think anyone reads this page – maybe my wife (hi Allena!) but that’s OK.  It’s a journal of sorts, and it meets the criteria of “writing more”.

Another item on my mission statement is losing weight and getting fit.  I don’t think this is even all that high in my priorities.  It probably should be, because I KNOW that losing weight and getting fit is a big part of getting out of the pit I mentioned above.  Consequently, it’s something I aim to change sooner rather than later because it’s an enabling step forward.  Tonight I walked several laps around the driveway (don’t laugh, it’s a big circular driveway – probably a good tenth of a mile loop).  I didn’t really count the laps – the goal was just to start.  Sometimes the kids held my hands.  My wife (hi Allena!) joined me for a few laps.  It was a nice little walk.  Nothing fancy, just a start.

Food and diet has been on my mind a lot lately too.  I’m an emotional eater.  When I feel bad, I eat.  Usually this makes me feel bad too, so it’s kind of a cyclical problem.  I read an interesting tidbit today about food – not what you eat but how.  The recommendation was to chew really slowly – not to inhale your food.  I definitely inhale my food most of the time.  So that’s where I’m going to start.  Not a forced reduction in calories, or going low/no carb, or anything like that.  I’m just going to work really hard at eating slowly.

Well, there we have it – my starts.  My start on change, my start on fitness, my start on my personal missions.  Step one out of the pit.

A new chapter in my career

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

After a little over six years at Duck Creek Technologies, I’ve decided to move on.  On August 29, I start working for!

This was a tough decision to make – I’ve really enjoyed working for Duck Creek, but now that the decision is made, I’m very much looking forward to this next chapter.

Working things out in my mind

Monday, December 20th, 2010

This one’s going to ramble a bit.  I need to work my head around it.

Yesterday Allena and I went shopping for Christmas, and we left all the kids at home with Dominic.  It was almost like a date.  We stopped at a couple of stores, and while walking back to our car, this homeless lady asked us for some money.  We didn’t have any cash, but we offered to take her to get her something to eat.  She turned us down, but you could tell she was interested in the idea.

I think most people would have taken the out, but we pressed her, and she accepted.  We ended up at a Subway so we could get a hot sandwich for her.  My original thought was we’d get the sandwich and be on our way.  It ended up going very differently.  Once we got her to Subway, we couldn’t get her to order.  She wanted us to order, so we could all eat together.  (We of course, had eaten lunch just a little earlier).  I finally ended up ordering a foot-long sub, that we could share.  The guy working the counter gave her a bowl of soup – I guess he helps her out sort of regularly – and I got her some cookies as well.  I think she originally wanted to eat the soup, and just have company, but ultimately  I ate a quarter of the sandwich, and she ate a quarter of it.  We were unable to get her to take the left over half, or the cookies, or even the soup that the Subway guy gave her.  She even had a can of stew and two dollars that she tried to give us, but more on that later.

By this time Allena and I had both come to the conclusion that this lady was a little “off”.  She wanted to show us where she slept (NB: in hindsight, it was stupid of us to go with her to her little campsite – it could easily have been a setup for a mugging.  God looks after the idiots I guess).  She was proud of her cardboard, and she had a little bit of a piece of brush sticking out of the ground that she called her “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree”, and she had a rock she was really proud of – it had a fossil of a sea-shell in it that was perfectly heart shaped.  She had told us that she had a blanket and that it was hidden, but she flip-flopped on that one several times.  I think she didn’t have one.

We told her we wanted to get her a sleeping bag or some blankets.  She didn’t want any part of that.  She kept saying that cardboard was really pretty warm.  I finally told her that I was going to go get her a sleeping bag, and that I was going to bring it back to her campsite, and that if she didn’t want it she could give it away to somebody else.  So she came along to Walmart with us.  She kept worrying that we would be embarrassed by her.  Truth be told, I could see why she might worry – she said and did some pretty odd things, but nothing too bad.  My kids have done worse.

By the time we had the sleeping bag, it was after dark.  She had us take her to a place back behind a used car lot.  I guess they have a vehicle there that they don’t lock – she climbs in and sleeps in it on really cold nights.  It took her 20 minutes to finally get out of the car.  I think she really didn’t want to go.  We kept inviting her home with us, but she wouldn’t have it.

We spent a couple of hours with her all told.  We talked some about faith.  She said she’d never had time for God until she was homeless.  We invited her to church with us.  Again, she was worried that she’d embarrass us or that her clothes would not be good enough.  She finally agreed to be picked up to go to church with us today.  We all dressed down – jeans and t-shirts, so she wouldn’t feel uncomfortable.  I didn’t even shave.  She didn’t show up at the place we were supposed to meet, which we half-way expected to happen anyway.

The whole thing has had me very thoughtful since.  I’ve worried about our debts and such, but we still have a house, and 3 vehicles, and more food than we can eat, and the list of our blessings goes on and on.  This gal had the clothes on her back and some cardboard and a couple of rocks, and that. is. it.  I’ve worried about how I won’t be able to spend that much on my kids for Christmas, and she doesn’t have any one to even share Christmas dinner with.  We gave her a nice gift of a sleeping bag if you want to call that a Christmas gift, but she was worried about taking it because she was afraid somebody else would just steal it from her.

It really leaves me with a low opinion of myself.  Not the fact that I helped her out as much as I could (and as much as she’d let us).  I just feel like I must be incredibly spoiled because my worries are petty compared to hers.

What would it be like to spend a week on the street?  She said she’d been there just over a year.  Could I make it a week?  Would I beg for food or money?  I have so many other resources – family, friends, etc. that I’d have to exhaust a *lot* of possibilities before I was on the street.  Plus, I have sense enough to make use of the services available to homeless people – but how long would that last?  I think this lady’s mental problems are probably due to being alone and being scared for a long long time.

I guess I’ll close.  I still feel this swimming circles in my head, but I can’t think of anything else to say.  Say a prayer for the homeless if you read this.  And remember the phrase “there, but for the grace of God, go I”.

Drama in your life

Monday, July 12th, 2010

One of the blogs I read had an interesting post today, and I thought I’d share a couple of highlights.

The following is a quote from the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield:

Creating soap opera in our lives is a symptom of Resistance…Sometimes entire families participate unconsciously in a culture of self-dramatization. The kids fuel the tanks, the grown-ups arm the phasers, the whole starship lurches from one spine-tingling episode to another. And the crew knows how to keep it going. If the level of drama drops below a certain threshold, someone jumps in to amp it up…It’s more fun than a movie. And it works: Nobody gets a damn thing done.

The follow up quote to that (which is what really struck me on a personal level) is from the author of the blog I read (Conversion Diary):

I think the primary difference is that Resistance drama is ego-focused, whereas the healthy ups and downs of the spiritual life are God-focused. When I get mired in bad drama I withdraw into a tiny solar system with my blazing ego at the center, where I fixate on who said what that offended me, whether people will think what I’m doing is great or terrible, whether what I do is good or bad in comparison to other people’s work…and I give nothing back to the world. I’m a black hole. Paralyzed by Resistance. Whereas on the occasions that I’m swept up in positive drama, I’m more focused on God than myself, more concerned with helping people than comparing myself to them, and, most tellingly, I’m still creating. I’m still giving something back to the world.

I see a lot of “ego” based resistance drama in my life (sadly).  It’s something I need to work on, and I thought this was expressed eloquently enough that it was worth sharing.

Crazy ideas

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

I’ve had some crazy ideas in my life.  Some of them were crazy-stupid, some of them were crazy-adventurous, some were crazy-awesome, some were crazy-cool, and some of them were crazy-it’s-time-to-call-the-men-in-white-with-the-padded-van.  Some of them I’ve gone through with, some of them I’ve backed out of.

There was the time I jumped off a really tall rock spire at Lake Havasu into the lake.  The spire was probably 50-100 feet tall.  That was crazy-stupid at the time, but it’s crazy-awesome in my mind now.

Then there was the time I joined the army – more or less on a whim.  I followed that up with moving to Colorado with Allena and Nick, and getting settled in there in an apartment with eleven bucks between us for food, and no jobs.  Definitely crazy-adventurous.

One time, Allena and I gave a car to a girl that did a lot of babysitting for us.  It was a crappy car, but it ran, and she was 16 and was tickled to get it.  Crazy-cool.

The stuff where the men in white get called I don’t talk about too much…but Allena knows.  She’s saved me more than once.

A few days ago I started having another crazy idea.  I’ve been thinking about training to run a marathon.  Now I’m a big guy – 6’4″ or so and pushing 290lbs at the moment (thank you sooo much Depakote.  Not.), and I get shin splints, and I’m currently having some fun with plantar fasciitis, and on top of that I doubt I have the money to spare for good running shoes.  So, why would I do such a crazy thing?  I want to get in shape and lose weight…and I think this will help.  I’ve been struggling with depression (thank you again Depakote and Keppra too!) and I think it will help with that too.  But I think mostly because I want to say I accomplished something that not that many people have done (relative to the population of the world of course).

So what do you think?  Crazy?  Should I go for it, or not?

P.S. – Jerome – if you get around to reading this, you and your triathlon’s are a big inspiration!