Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking Back and Looking Ahead--A Review and Some New Thoughts

Always good to look back and look ahead.  Here is what I wrote last year looking ahead to 2013…

(10) Keep running in the right place in my life—it should promote physical, mental, and social well being—the gold old health triangle we learned in high school health ed class.  It should also promote spiritual well-being. If it ever interferes with those re-assess. I think I was successful on this one.  Some may argue too much running, but it did everything it was supposed to do, and I have been trying to balance.

(9) While keeping it in the right place in my life, don't forget that there are some real goals. Mile on the track under 5:40.  2-mile on the track under 12:00.  5K—wherever—under 19:30.  Complete Boston—and if the weather permits aim for 3:10.  Half marathon closer to 1:30.  10 miler closer to 1:10.  Achieved some goals here.  Ran Boston but didn’t even break 3:15.  Ran a 19:10 5K.  Did not do so many timed track workouts this year.  Ran a half marathon distance at sub-7:00/mile pace although not in a race.  Continuing to get stronger. 

(8) Continue to be creative.  Maybe art.  Maybe words.  I'd say 10-15 minutes per day.  Could be a little verse.  Could be a little progress in my ongoing attempts to write longer stuff.  Could be a blog entry.  Could even just be some project like the silk tie I did earlier this week.  Just to keep that part of my brain in high gear.  This year lots of words.  Some “art” in the sense of taking pictures and beginning to think about how combining my pictures (or other people’s pictures) and my words might make a more effective message to share.  Below is a combination of words and pictures that I gave Sherry for Christmas.

(7) Think about next career steps.  Who knows what they may be?  The key is that even as a full professor, there are things to think about.  Even if I stay a full professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health for the remainder of my career, the job will change.  And there may be opportunities within JHU (or someday in the future outside JHU) that would bring about even more changes and hopefully changes that would challenge me and engage me in new ways.  And while my well-being now is about stability, my well-being once the kids are out of high school and college will depend on what I see as my next steps.  So, I might as well start thinking now.  So last year when I wrote this, I was interviewing for the position I now have, but not telling a whole lot of people.  I got the position.  So, check!

(6) Continue to grow spiritually.  I have stopped writing about every single bib number and race time.  That was fun.  But I have found many new inspirations for my spirituality including the tattoo that is now nearly finished.  That turned out to be an interesting part of my art experience last years as it really has become much like a piece of commissioned artwork that I always have with me and really participated in a two-person (me and the artist) effort to bring about a vision of symbolism that I had.  Finished getting the tattoo.  Wrote three sets of compiled blog entries.  And really have a feel for spirituality meaning recognizing that I am a part of something bigger and that there are lots of connections to make and to share. .  

(5) Continue to play an active role at St. Pius X.  I don't see that changing for any reason--but it is just worth putting out there.  No matter what other pressures may come and go, the stability of my involvement in Sunday school and the worship band--each with its own set of ups and downs--is definitely like a rock for my to stand on in my faith and in my life.  I’ve continued to teach for religious ed, help Mae when needed, and play in an occasional mass on my bass guitar.  Check!

(4) Continue to mentor.  The experience or mentoring has been a gift to me as much as anything from me over the past several years.  I have a new student to mentor in the Penn State Schreyer Honors College and there are other opportunities for mentorship as well.  I’ve continued to be in touch with one of my old mentees, reached out to a few more, and taken on mentoring as an important part of the job. Check!

(3) Help my two oldest on the path to figuring out where they will go to college and high school respectively.  While the process will not be completely finished one year from today, it will be well on its way.  We are on our way.  Check!

(2) Remember that I would not be where I am without the help of others.  This is part of what I reflected in my artistic vision last year and what I hope to continue to reflect this year.  This is part of my spirituality.  It is part of my professional mentoring.  It is part of my family relationships.  It is part of being a good neighbor.  I am ultimately responsible for me.  But I am not responsible for just me.  And in the same way, I know that I have truly benefitted from having so many around me who are not only interested in benefitting themselves but who are interested in lifting up others.  When I am taking credit, I must give credit where credit is due. And when I am deciding how to act, I should remember to act with others in mind.  During this year, I have thanked many and shared my writing with many.  I could probably still do a little better at work.  Check!

(1) Be the best family member I can be.  Husband, father, son, brother, and so many more rolls.  All important.  All provide ways to lift others up.  All provide ways to reflect on what others have done to lift me up.  And all provide ways to show God's greatness in blessing me and my family with abundance. Not sure how I would rate according to my family, but I keep on trying.

For the year ahead, there will be some repeats and some new interpretations:

(10) Run.  Do it a lot.  But keep it in its place.  Use it as a focal point.  Use it for goal setting.  Use it for friendship building.  Use it to seek meaning.

(9) Keep teaching Sunday School.  I really like working with kids, introducing them to things about our faith and introducing them to things about St. Pius.  And teaching is the ultimate learning experience and I love to learn.

(8) Keep writing.  Use it to sort things out and use it to find meaning.  Use it to share.

(7) Find a place for music.  I can’t imagine myself getting back in a worship band any time soon but I have to find a place for some music.  It is another good release.

(6) Bake more.  I know that I bake more than most, but I am stuck in a bit of a rut.  So maybe the key here is to bake a wider variety of things.

(5) Take more pictures.  This is a different take on art than last year.  One that I can manage.  And one that I can turn into “art” but using effects with the pictures and mixing and matching pictures in collages and matching them with my words to ell stories.

(4) While I have access to all types of electronic technologies, but them down more.  There is a time for being connected electronically and a time to just turn it off.

(3) Recognize my limitations more.  This goes along with many of the things I wrote in the Epilogue to the Spirituality of Advent 2013.  When all is said and done, I am just a speck in the bigger world.  My life is just a blink in the history of time.  And I have to realize that I can’t do everything for everyone all the time.

(2) Structure my time better.  Structure will help with focus.  Focus will improve performance in so many areas.

(1) Remember that family comes first.  There will be times that I will be called on to do things for work, especially in my job now, that make it seem like family is not first.  That family has to wait.  But in the bigger picture, family has to come first.  I think that finding a way to make family first “on net” without it having to be first every second of every day is a real challenge.  A challenge for me to do.  And a challenge for my family to accept and work into our family life.  But I keep trying.

Happy 2014!

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