You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Another year, another annual “year in review.” Oh boy, where to start? How about all the things I didn’t get accomplished?
- Total health reset – Nope. I got back into the gym for three months, but that was about it.
- More minimalism – Nope. Things seem more out of control than before I started this journey. Every bit of progress made, was met with two steps back. I’d clean out the garage, and the kids would find a way to trash it. I’d pack away bins of toys, and the kids would drag them out after they found them. I’m really at my wit’s end with the lack of progress on the minimalism front at the house.
- Write more – This is my fourth post of the year for this site, so no.
- Start a podcast – Sigh. No.
- House projects – I worked my tail off on the house this summer. I got a great farmer’s tan as well. I painted about 75 percent of the exterior, got sod for the backyard lawn, fixed some damaged boards on the front of the house, and replaced a broken front porch post. I was really happy with what I got done on the house and look forward to wrapping it all up in the coming months (after it warms up a little).
- Changed jobs – More on that further below.
Looking ahead at 2016 … You know what, let’s talk about goals for a minute.
I have learned that the reason why I don’t accomplish my goals, in part, is because they’re not really goals. A goal has a fixed moment in time you want to achieve something by, and I haven’t been doing that. These year-end reviews have mostly been good ideas instead of hard goals.
- Finish my house projects – I will finish my house projects by May 1, 2016. This includes finishing painting the last 25 percent of the exterior along with some minor repairs to do, and re-painting the interior of the house. Our housing needs have changed, so we will be selling our home of almost six years no later than Aug. 1, 2016 and finding more suitable housing for our family of five. We really love our neighborhood, but the home isn’t a good fit for us now that we’re a family of five.
- Have an awesome birthday – This year, I will turn 40. To celebrate, I would love to have a fantastic party with anyone who has ever been part of my life. Maybe go out on the town, and invite anyone who wants to come by and say hello. Since my birthday is in June, let’s say this will need to happen no later than June 11, 2016.
- Reclaim my time – For several years now, I have volunteered my time in many different groups and activities. I have been happy to serve others, but now I need to take a break and focus on my family and my career. And so, by March 1, 2016 I will discontinue my involvement in most of my extracurricular activities and hope that someone else takes up the reins. The sad truth is, the Pareto principle states that 80 percent of results come form 20 percent of the causes. I’ve been part of the 20 percent for a long time, and it’s time for me to step down for awhile. I simply can’t sustain this anymore and I owe it to my family, and myself, to disengage for awhile.
- Take a vacation – Aside from the time off I took after my son was born in August 2014, I haven’t taken a week off for myself since May 2014. And even then, I didn’t go anywhere with the family. We’ve been taking “staycations” for years, but I’d like to take an honest-to-goodness little trip away from the area with the family. I will accomplish this by August 1, 2016.
More about 2015
I’m going to be brutally honest as I can: this year was an absolute roller coaster.
After nine years, I left my work in government to go work for a marketing agency. On one hand, I left because an opportunity came up that was too good to pass up, and I really felt this was my time to give it a shot. But on the other hand, my former job became so unbearable that I couldn’t stay there. It started out as one of the best jobs I have ever had, and then morphed into what was easily the worst job I have ever had.
It was so difficult to leave, because the people I worked with — my boss, my co-workers – they were this great work family that I loved. But some in the organization were absolutely bent on total control, and it forced many people out. Some left by choice, some left by force. Fortunately, I was of the former. I hope you never have to sit through a meeting where everyone around you is openly talking about how the organization is going to outsource your position. It was absolutely the most stress I have ever felt in my adult life, made even worse because some of these events were when Amy was pregnant.
It took me months let go of much of the anger I felt from that time. Not that it’s all gone, but it’s mostly subsided. My new job is really fantastic. I’ve learned so much since I started in March, and I’m certainly much better at my craft. There’s a line from Star Wars: A New Hope when Obi-Wan tells Darth Vader, “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.”
And that is exactly what happened. I never would have though that adversity could have such a positive outcome.
The rest of the year was filled with some pretty dark times. We went through (and in many ways still are going through) a dark personal tragedy against my family that I’ll never talk about online, and probably not even in person. It was far worse than the job debacle, but we’re getting through it.
And finally, our year with the boy was especially difficult. Until a few months ago, he was a horrible, horrible sleeper. Amy and I were drained completely because the lack of sleep was taking a toll. Some relief came when we figured out he has eczema, and Amy’s internet research led her to Dr. Richard Aron. We have been using his protocol with our son, and it has had amazing, wonderful results. I can only hope that Dr. Aron’s methods can go mainstream; there are many in this world who suffer with eczema who could absolutely benefit from his methods. We are blessed to have found out about him, and to have physicians here in the U.S. who would work with an doctor overseas.
And now, here we are. It’s December. The boy sleeps through the night and his skin is looking great. The girls are doing great in school, and Amy and I have a pretty good relationship (with a few “aggressive negations” from time to time). I love, love, love my job, and I’m learning that I have power over my mind – not outside events. I am finding strength.
So what do I see in 2016? I see a theme of rebirth. I’m going to decouple some things from my life that need to go away, and I’m going to embrace some changes that I believe will be better for my family in the long run.
But most important, I’m not going to let another person have so much power over me that it makes me feel helpless and trapped. Eric is an Old Norse name that means “ruler.” I am free in so many beautiful ways. I will not be a slave.
Here’s to 2016!