Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 Personal Evaluation

About this time last year, I declared 2008 to be the Year of Me. Sounds selfish, I know. You have to see it in context. My life had gotten to a crisis point. That sounds a little dramatic---we've invested the word with a thick layer of cultural adornment.

Here's the first definition of the word, according to the Dictionary...

a stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events, esp. for better or for worse, is determined; turning point.

And that's where I was standing at this time last year. It was a stage where the future would be determined and I knew it. So, I declared it the year of me. Not to be self-centered, but to recognize that I was at the end of the runway--a stage where regardless of whether I decided to take action, my life was going to change. And you know what is interesting about coming to the end of the runway. The only choices are to speed up or crash.

So, I decided to speed up. I decided to invest more time in things that made me happy...little things, like getting the video feed from MLB so I could watch more baseball. And, I took a special effort to recommit myself to reading--an engaged pursuit that cannot co-exist with pointless idling.

You know, the funny part is, I hit the end of the runway a lot sooner than I thought I would. But somehow, I had the fortune to have already gained some momentum, and when the time came, I was able to get the plane off the ground...and, later in the year (not to torture the metaphor) I was able to bring it in for a landing.

So, on those accounts, the year was a success. Many people have stared at what I did last year, and emerged less healthy and less secure. I know I have already given my thanks for this, because much of it was good fortune. While 2009 is setting up to be a challenging year, I am taking the same approach...speed or velocity.

So, for record-keeping if nothing else....

2008 goals

More Reading---25 books

I read 23 books. While not quite to goal, this is an excellent accomplishment.

More baseball-mlb online

I did this, and got good benefit. Watched lots of games online, and enjoyed a renaissance of my pleasure-affair with the game of baseball.

str8 Fantasy league

I did this. Didn't work very well, but I did it.


Reestablish financial system

Manage finances through divorce

This was also successful. The initial financial transition has been effective. I am still in a serious financial hole, but I am holding my own for now. 2008 has to be considered a success on this measure.


Establish foundation of hope

Tame the fear of the future

This was perhaps my biggest accomplishment of the year. My 2008 epiphany came when I was asked what my dreams were...and I realized I didn't have any. My dreams were to get through that day. So, I put together my vision of hope, and shared it with many people. I believe that might have been the healthiest thing I ever did, and was the moment I achieved the lift-off I needed.

Bring it in for a landing.....

I did this, too. I managed all the aspects, legal, emotional, and logistical, with care and organization. There was no need for fire trucks on the runway. Just worked my punch-list and got through it all.

Attend Str8s, Keep reaching out internally and externally

I did this. It meant a tremendous amount to me over the course of the year, and these people remained a significant emotional bulkwark. I am glad I reached out to them and it was good to have as a goal, because you have to go and get the support.

Maintain Harry through divorce

This went better than I could have expected. This is probably 80% the time and effort of being a good parent before this year, and 20% what we did this year. Still, through whatever combination of hard work and character, this has been a blessing. My greatest fear was that he would end up scarred, angry or sullen, and that has not happened. Of course, as with everything involved with parenting, you are only as good as the last day.

Avoid being reliant on others for feeling good

This was better. It wasn't great, but it was better. I found my inclination to let other people determine my feelings. The reflex is still there, loitering around my mind. But, at least I recognized it, and fought it.


Start diet August 10--nutrition, exercise, veggies

This is a pass, but a low pass. I did improve my nutrition a lot, and I did lose 13 pounds, and I am cooking good food for myself. Exercise, though, has fallen off the radar. I was doing OK at first walking, but in the winter, once I get home I can't force myself to get out. This is important for your physical, mental, and emotional health.


Make and meet outreach goal

This must not have been much of a goal, because I don't have the faintest idea what I meant anymore.

Resolution list

85% for year

I did do this for 10 months or so. It was based on the Happiness Project version of Benjamin Franklin's resolutions. I ended up losing steam and stopping. It isn't a bad thing, and it did help me get organized the night before work with coffee and lunch, but in general, I don't think I got the benefit out of it. My goals were either so global as to be unmeasurable or so specific as to be mundane.


100 pages of copy

Well, I didn't make this one. But, progress was made and the project has not died.

Whew. I'm exhausted. Seriously. What a year to survive. I wish I thought 2009 would be easier, but I fear it might be harder. But, it is a good exercise, to look back and see what happened in a year. I couldn't have imagined it going any better. I have to dig just as deep to make it go as well this year.

Monday, December 29, 2008


Ever since I read it, I have been energized by the following quote from Richard Branson, someone who, in general, I have thought was a blowhard. Anyway, this feels right to me...feels like a philosophy I can live.

Successful people aren’t in possession of secrets known only to themselves. Don’t obsess over people who appear to you to be “winners”, but listen instead to the wisdom of people who’ve led enriching lives—people, for instance, who’ve found time for friends and family. Be generous in your interpretation of what success looks like. The best and most meaningful lives don’t always end happily.

This is part of my plan for 2009...to focus on lifing an enriching life, by standards that matter to me and my son. With that in mind, I completed the following exercise. I identified behaviors which enriched me and behaviors which did not. I decided if I made a graphic like you see on the left, I would have an idea about what I needed to do, and a better warning when I was straying away from enriching behavior.

In general, the themes are obvious. Purpose over indolence. Action over avoidance. A commitment to the intellect.

It is unrealistic to think I'm going to only do the green things. But, if I can turn the lantern of 2009 GREENER, or even mostly green, it will have been an enriching year.

Something like this matters right now, because there is so much to be afraid of. In addition to my personal changes, you don't have to read very much to wonder how the storm gathering out there in the world is going to effect my ship. But, as the saying goes, if you are in the middle of the lake and a storm is coming, you can pray if you want to.

But row toward shore.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

This thought occurred to me on a Christmas Drive

Humility says it could be worse....
Hope says it will be better.

Friday, December 26, 2008

So, the hoopla dies...

And how did it go.

I think it went fine.

Was it different?

Yes, of course it was.

But, did you survive....yes.

And, truth be told, did you more than survive? Yes, you did.

It was a perfectly fine day. It was a fun day with your family, and you made it through the day without any serious meltdowns or anxiety. You had some time to think and reflect...which you did.

A step up the mountain.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

to anyone who finds their way here. Appreciate the day, think of it as an opportunity to give and let others give, and an opportunity to prepare for a new year.

And the wisemen spoke of peace on earth,
Of harmony and struggle
Know you now a cycle's gone and a new one is revealed.
In the weaving of your fingers
In the whisper of a love that's born again
In the weaving of your fingers
In a promise that we made that never ends.

Well now each man is a pilgrim,
Yes, we all must make the journey
And it seems that time is telling us to be all that we can
To help lift up the fallen, we must sow the seeds of goodness
The torch is passed among us now to light the way of man.

For the heart of man's a palace
And his dreams are as the sunlight
They burn away the darkness, as they warm the freezing cold
As an eagle flying higher, as a river through the canyon
The diamond star shines down upon, a pathway to the soul

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Someday Syndrome

I'm really loving the Someday Syndrome, a great blog that is not filled with tips and hacks, but with motivating and empowering advice and empathy.

This post is great, an interview with Naomi Dunford, who has made a successful new life for herself. As a snippet, here's a great little bit of dialogue she had with her Mother when she was at rock bottom.

My mom: First, make yourself a cup of tea. Things are better with tea.

Me: I can’t make tea.

My mom: Why not?

Me: Because I’m in a ball on the bathroom floor.

My mom: Well then, the first step is to get off the floor.

Indeed. The first step is to get off the floor. Literally in this case, metaphorically in everyone else's.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Yesterday was a challenge

Concorse A
Originally uploaded by k.l.macke
It was a challenge yesterday....

I dropped my son off at the airport with his mother so they could go to Florida for the next 10 days.

Suffice it to say that as I watched them walk into the airport terminal, my heart did a little flutter.

The fact that it was 6:45 on a Sunday morning, I was half-asleep and had a death-defying drive home probably helped take my mind off it.

It is the first Christmas morning I will not be with my son.

I am determined to keep my emotions in the sweet spot...missing him, as appropriate, but not feeling sorry for myself or wallowing in self-pity.

It is what it is. Being miserable isn't going to help. I have some projects planned, including:

  • Some nice cooking only I will eat. (Last night I made spaghetti Carbonara that was awesome).
  • A photo book project that will force me out of the house.
  • My 2009 planning and goal setting.
  • At least one date.
  • Christmas with my Mother, but resisting her invitations to spend more time there.
  • Some other writing.
  • Some nice cocktails for myself, but to enjoy, not wallow.
  • And, of course, it is bowl season, so lots of football to watch.

We'll see how it goes. One day at a time. The climb continues.

Friday, December 19, 2008


I am an avid reader. And, last New Year's, in my Winter of Cncertainty, I decided that for 2009 (the self-declared "Year of Me" I was going to read more. I was going to read 25 books during 2008.

OK, so I didn't make it. But I did read 23 books.

Along the way, I learned:

1. The lives of Caravaggio, Steve Jobs, Joe Nuxhall, Buddy Cianci
2. What would happen if people disappeared from the earth
3. How people are trying to invent the next car.
4. A great political satire about George Bush
5. The role Ohioans played in the Civil War written by a man I know
6. Growing up in the mafia
7. The latest baseball insights from Bill James
8. The latest thriller from John Sandford, signed by the author
9. Bonfire of Vanities
10. How randomness enters into our life
11. How people innovate
12. The incredibly divisive era of Vietnam and the Civil Rights movement
13. How Tony LaRussa thinks
14. The nuremberg trials
15. How the survey of the northwest territory changed the country
16. A hilarious first person tale of following self help gurus
17. The latest wisdom of Malcom Gladwell
18. The historic 1912 election
19. A hypnotic account of a man who tracks Falcons across continents

What a great way to tour the whole world.

And if I didn't have the goal of reading 25, I wouldn't have read 23.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's Creeping back

This strong feel of depression and anxiety. It has found its way back. I am feeling increasingly bogged down. What's going on? Relationship problems, macro-fear over the economy, unsettled feelings for Christmas.

So, I guess after slowing climbing the first stages of Everest, I've reached the first sheer rock face that I have to actually climb. Forward momentum isn't enough. This will require special effort.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Is Happiness Contagious

According to this Harvard study, it is. If this is true, I'm going to have to talk to my neighbor, who thinks he is Eminem and calls me "Dawg."

It would be something like.....

"Dude. You are bringing me down. Make me happy."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Why Not Me? Why Not Now?

  • Want to be happy?
  • Stop worrying?
  • Stop avoiding?
  • Stop dreading?
  • Take command?
  • Take action?
  • Achieve your dreams?
  • Live an enriching life?
  • Be at peace with your work?
  • Keep home a happy place?
  • Stop living for other people?

Why not me? Why not now?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

If you need to be motivated....

And you have ADD, this should take care of you....

Friday, December 12, 2008

Interesting insight

Here's an interesting insight....

Someday Lesson: Happiness does not exist in autopilot mode. It only exists when you’re aware of it. Everything else is merely comfort.

It comes from the great blog called "someday syndrome" which is about procrastination, but really about the fact that we all hold ourselves back far more than the circumstances surrounding us do.

But I had never thought of the differences between being happy and being comfortable. When I read the seven habits, I took the little test they have in the back for what is at "the center" of your life, and there was no doubt, I was living a comfort centered life. Most decisions were pointed to what would make me most comfortable....or, least uncomfortable.

And, tying a bunch of things together, you need to live an enriching life, which is about bursting through your comfort zone and making decisions which let you "make and do" great things.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thursday Update

Working my way through my Christmas list. Not a great day, though. Disappointed myself by not showing more energy at work...I'm feeling so lethargic. And everyday it seems like I hear about someone else losing their job. And, someone disappointed me today, and I suppose I didn't react real well to that.

I'm happy with how I am spending my time at home, and I'm doing a lot of thinking about my writing, which is a good thing, too. So, those are good. But I've got to be able to figure out how to stop wasting time at work and get things done. I just couldn't feel less motivated.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Making my way

Not much to post lately. On Monday night, I had some pretty strong anxiety, but I re-committed myself to a step-by-step, action by action walk through what needs to get done, and things are seeming better. I'm not certain I'm fully in touch with everything that's going on right now, hiding inside the action, but a few things on my mind are:

  • I listened to Into Thin Air on a long drive Monday, and really enjoyed it. I know it has been controversial, but it was a great story. Very compelling. I personally think it was fair. There are no accidents in a situation like that, and people's actions do contribute, even in difficult circumstances.
  • I am continuing to think through my goals for next year, along the lines of Merlin's "done and made" and the Brandon "enriching life" motifs.
  • I need to figure out how to bring energy to what I am doing. This remains a difficult challenge at work.
  • Economic doom is literally everywhere, and closer than normal to me. I guess you just don't think about it, right?

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Christmas Tree is up....

And I love it...and its all mine.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Talk about a Reality Check

Merlin Mann is someone who I enjoy a lot. He has a very enigmatic wit and has a nice sarcastic edge to him...which I like. Anyway, he's been on a bit of a rebirth lately, taking a look at the proliferation of tips, tools, techniques and wondering if they are getting the way of people actually doing great things. And, were the changes being made sort of junk food changes rather than real, live, painful change.

A couple of passages seemed really relevant.

We can’t get good at something solely by reading about it. And we’ll never make giant leaps in any endeavor by treating it like a snack food that we munch on whenever we’re getting bored. You get good at something by doing it repeatedly. And by listening to specific criticism from people who are already good at what you do. And by a dedication to getting better, even when it’s inconvenient and may not involve a handy bulleted list.

If this strikes you as fancy talk, may I suggest that you approach the woman in your life who most enjoys sexual intercourse, and, in the nicest way possible, ask her whether she’d prefer to have congress with:

  1. a confident partner who has had a long career of safe and mutually-satisfying romps with a range of people who liked different things; or,
  2. a 50-year-old virgin who likes reading blogs about sex tips.

You know the answer, and so does she. There’s probably more than one reason that poor #2 is still just a well-read dilettante, but a strong candidate for the top spot would be how he’s allowed his ardor for acquiring “tips” to take the place of getting started in the actual, complicated, and sometimes very confusing craft of making ladyparts happy.

He says we need to look for evidence of things we have "done or made" to see if things are helping, or just contributing to the "ass print" on our couch.

Good stuff. The doing it angle is right in line with what I recently read from Malcolm Gladwell. You have to do something, he says, about 10,000 hours to get good at it. No short cuts, no quick fixes. Either you are the Beatles playing in Hamburg seven hours a day, or you are not.

Monday, December 1, 2008

New Traditions

One of the things I want to get back is the holidays...the last few years have been anxiety ridden and depressing, and not as happy as they should be. I've worked hard to be happy, and I know not to expect too much, but I know I can expect more. Not that it was awful before...just that there is room between what there was an unattainably perfect.

So, my son and I went out and got some decorations for the apartment. Modest, but festive, and when the tree gets here...and it will be starting to look like Christmas.

Here are some pics....