Friday, January 29, 2010

On the nature of family

After attending my grandad's funeral this week, I came home and have been pondering several contrasting feelings since then. First, there is this sense of a return to normalcy. Coming home and seeing that the familiar things are still the same -- the world continues to move along just as before. Yet, there was a change -- at least inside me -- and so things are not quite the same as before. It's like a strange veil has been pulled down over everything I see. I know things are basically the same, but my interpretation is different. I again remember what is truly important in life. I now have a buffer that softens the impact of problems at work. It's just work after all. I still have my friends, family, and health.

Second, I got the opportunity to visit with some family I haven't seen in a long, long time. Sometimes it seems weird to be with these people you don't really know, trying to hold a conversation; "How've you been?"; "Watcha up to lately?"; etc. Yet, at the same time, you can sit with these people and there is this unspoken understanding; this shared experience that bonds and brings you together. We might not know each other very well, but yet we can come to a place and a time and hug each other closely and know that we get it.

It's that kind of relationship I want to make sure I have with all my close friends. I treat most of them like family already. Yet often I defer to some strange societal preference for privacy and distance. As if the people I choose to hang out with should be treated like customers or professional contacts. Well, I hope to change that. It will be a focus for me in my next 30 day challenge.

Which reminds me, creativity is still in the works. Day 1 kicks off today!

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Unexpected

No matter how much you organize and plan, life will still throw you curveballs. I received two this week that has continued to delay my creativity plan. The first curve came with the flu; fever and all. This also has put a pause on my daily exercise routine. But I know that I will get back into the grove and am not worried about that.

The second surprise is that my grandad passed away this weekend. Well, I have to be honest, it wasn't a complete and total surprise. About a week ago, the doctor said to bring all the family home; it was just a matter of time. So as I am trying to recover from a stomach bug, I had to wake up at 3:30am to get to the airport for a 6:00am flight out to be with my relatives in time for the funeral.

This is my paternal grandfather; my dad's dad. I just wanted to take a minute and write a few thoughts -- memories, more or less -- about him. He's the only relative who tried to teach me to fish. He instilled that sense of calm -- waiting on nature to bite -- in everything he did. His golden retriever, Buddy, was the only dog I ever really liked. His skill and love for cards has been inherited by his son, who has tried to pass it on to the rest of us. Playing pinochle with my grandad is one of the family traditions I will always cherish. But what I think I loved most was his laugh -- a sudden burst of joy that would ripple throughout those around him.

We love you Grandaddy; and miss you dearly.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bumpy again

Well, the creativity challenge has had a very rocky start. I knew this week was going to be rough because of the craziness going on at work, but I wanted to see how well I could handle it all. The evidence lies in the two ruined dice bags now laying the trash can –- I tried to do some sewing but my brain was so fried, that I kept forgetting important steps and wound up with scraps.

So, in the end, I am not going to give myself a true ‘day 1’ credit until hopefully tomorrow. As usual with these small set-backs, I will not let myself give up. I have still been trying to do what I can (which is mostly watching TV shows and listening to audio books) until I can really put the full plan into action. Things are starting to finally settle down at the office, so I am hoping that I can follow through with my roleplaying plans for tomorrow.

Cross your fingers

Friday, January 15, 2010

Challenge: creativity

Well it's past time for me to put my next challenge into action. I've been taking a little longer than usual because this plan is kind of complicated. When I asked for some feedback on which item to work on next, I only got two responses. They were both for creativity.

As it so happens, creativity was one that I threw into the list on a whim. Oh, it's definitely something I wanted to improve at some point, but I hadn't really expected it come up so soon. Yet I did include it in the list, so I might as well follow through now rather than later. Besides, this gives me a chance to work on something fun for a change.

At least, I think this will be fun. I have been discovering that it will be a lot of work too. Coming up with a plan to be creative a little bit every day for 30 days is no small thing. Figuring out how I’m going to ‘measure’ and ‘monitor’ isn’t easy either. When do you know you’ve been creative enough?

So I’m going focus on the doing and the output and let you be the judge in the end. Part of the accountability will not only be to post my progress, but to also include at least one ‘creative’ post a week. Now, the version of ‘creative’ in my head may be a little loose at this point – I’m just starting out after all. My goal is to write something a little more meaty than my usual fair of late. Again, hopefully my friends and family will be reading and help me judge after 30 days.

So what is this ‘plan’ you ask? Well, there’s an activity scheduled for each day of the week. Some activities will be concrete – create a drawing, painting; write something – and some activities will be to stimulate. My hope is that I can spend at least 30 minutes on the given activity for any day. That is a lot more time than I’ve put into any challenge so far, but part of me feels that it isn’t enough. Again, I don’t want to stretch myself too far when trying something new, so 30 minutes will have to do.

This is the schedule that will officially start next Monday, 1/18/10:

Planning, reading and relaxation: The week begins with planning the details of the rest of the week based on what has been accomplished so far, and adjusting for normal life schedule shifts. Also, I hope to spend some time this night reading or listening to audio books.
Create: This will hopefully consist of sewing dice bags, painting, drawing, or writing. I may also start working on a costume for Burning Man.
Create: Another night to compliment Tuesday with a different activity. For example, if I sew on Tuesday, then Wednesday I have to draw or write.
Game: I already have DnD every other week on Thursday nights, and this is definitely a fun and creative activity. On off weeks I now have to read something gaming related or work on writing/refining my own adventures.
Celebrate my spouse: This may not sound creative, but I think Justin is a great source of inspiration and it is important to appreciate that aspect of our relationship. Fridays will be a sort of ‘date night’ if you will.
Celebrate friends: Similar to my spouse, having good relationships with friends is a source of inspiration for personal creativity. Again, this day already is scheduled with gaming every other week. So now on off weeks I will try to plan additional activities like movies or dinner out with friends.
Watch: Sunday has always been my day to sort of veg out and drain all the stress from the week. As I discovered when I first started my exercise challenge, I can’t plan anything too involved for this day or it will be doomed for failure. So the idea is to spend some time on Sunday watching movies and/or TV, which will hopefully provide more fuel for the imagination.

So anyone have any last minute comments before I start this adventure in a few days?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Christmas Pictures

Finally posted: Christmas Album.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Wheeling and Dealing

One of the great gifts my family received this year for Christmas is a customized game of Monopoly. Now, this is not your city-specific version that you can often find in airport gift shops. No, this is a personally created version -- specialized content printed out on stickers and put onto a normal playing board. Thus, there was an Angela's Avenue property available for me to buy. Plus, one of the Chance card stated that everyone takes a trip to the Robertson theatre, so 'pay Justin and Angie $10 each'. How great is that?

The only difficult part is the fact that Monopoly has been banned from our family for many, many years. This is due to our incessant arguing over when someone can negotiate with someone else and what constitutes a valid negotiation. Well, that's just the tip of the iceberg really.

So we tried to put aside our nit-picking nature and actually played a game together which made us laugh in spite of ourselves. Here's a link so some pictures: Ayersopoly

UPDATE: Link fixed

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Next Challenge?

So my current challenges are still going well. My exercising is practically a real habit at this point. I've caught myself a few mornings, just rolling right into the routine. A big victory! As for the eating slowly, this is taking longer to really sink in. I am starting to notice a difference, but it's not quite where I had hoped to be at this point. I am not going to give up, since I can see things improving. Determination has payed off so far!

So if you like to see charts/graphs, remember you can check up on my progress at Daytum. I'm on day 27 of the eating slow challenge, so it's time to start preparing for a new one. The problem is, I don't know for sure what I want to do next. Here are a few I am considering:

  1. Waking earlier
  2. Thinking positive
  3. Smiling more
  4. Creativity

What would you choose and/or recommend?