Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Annual Review and Look Ahead

Here were my goals for 2014…

(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.  I’d say I handled this one quite well getting in 2222.2 miles PR’ing at 3 outdoor race distances, and ending my running year with a sub-19 5K on the treadmill. 

(9) Keep teaching Sunday School.  I did this for the spring semester.  But then it ran up against numbers (3) and (1).  I am still involved in ministry at my parish.  Just in a different way. 

(8) Keep writing.  Did it and look forward to continuing to do it.  All good.

(7) Find a place for music.  I have been listening to a lot of music—between my oldest son graduating from the School for the Arts with his horn and piano foci and his now being a student at a conservatory and then my 15 year old continuing to sing in the Maryland State Boychoir.  I have listened to a wider variety of music on Spotify and elsewhere—including a lot of country for the first time in my life (my apologies to anyone whose country interests I ever criticized before).  And I have begun to define better how music relates to my worship experience—I need to sing rather than to listen to really make my worship experience as powerful as it can be.    

(6) Bake more.  I am not sure that I managed this one.  This also came up against (3).  But I have certainly kept baking and worked on a few new things (like fancy pumpkin and banana breads).  And continued to work with my sons, especially my now ten year old, to teach them as well.

(5) Take more pictures.  I did some of this.  I am trying to make sure that I carry my cell when I run and then use it to tell stories better.  And I have also used pictures of some of the things that I have had shared with me (like five stones from my last MPH advisee) and gotten pictures of me with other runners that have helped to highlight my year. 

(4) While I have access to all types of electronic technologies, put them down more. I am not sure how well I did on this one.  I still use my devices a lot.   

(3) Recognize my limitations more.  Definitely recognizing that I have to say no to some things and I have to think about my limits more.  This has affected numerous other goals. 

(2) Structure my time better.  Certainly did this to some degree to achieve my running goals.  Certainly did this with family to achieve the goals of getting the kids to all their activities.  Got some more sleep too. 

(1)      Remember that family comes first.  Done. Must continue.  Have run fewer races.  Have gotten more sleep to try harder to stay awake through events.  Have traveled less so that I could help with kids getting places.  Have made this my number one priority.

Now to look ahead.  But I am going to make this year’s a little more objective and a little more measurable and I will review them once a quarter rather than just once a year. 

(10) Run at least four days a week.  I’m not going to try to run more miles than I did this year (2222.2).  I’m not even going to shoot for 2000 miles in 2015.  There will be years in the future for other mileage goals.  This year I’m mostly going to aim to keep up my three quality workouts a week and one with Back on My Feet.  I hope to use running as all that it was last year for friendship and writing.  No other goals—right now.  Then, I will plan to do some cross training and/or weight training as well to keep up my overall health.

(9) Bake at least one pizza/stromboli and one other bread or cranberry sauce each week.  (In addition to general meal prep that I do most of in our household.)  This will hone and continue to develop my skills in the kitchen.  It is something I love. 

(8) Do something with art at least once a week.  This could be as simple as a pencil sketch.  It could be a photograph that I somehow process.  It could be an artistically posed photograph.  It could be appreciating art more in the same way that I will work on appreciating music more. It could be thinking about art that I’d like others to work on.  I’ve got ideas for a second tattoo, but that might be a marriage-ending incident if I do that.  Although with the passing of Mark Pacione and the focus on living a little more in the moment because you never know when the end will come (Mark was a healthy 60), I’d settle for a simple tattoo at this point.  Of all the things that I have though about for my second (cornucopia, golden apples, loaves of bread, cassowary, and red egg) the red egg (associated with Mary Magdalene who is the patron saint of a contemplative life) really speaks to me most.  

(7) Continue to work on appreciating music more in my life.  This might mean finding time to play an instrument I’ve learned before.  Working more with my mandolin (Bleak Midwinter would be an excellent song to play on the mandolin—or learning the chord progressions for old Hooters songs).  Or just appreciating the performances more from a critical listening point of view.  Many ways I can achieve this.  Goal—once a week of some time spent with music more than just having it on in the background.

(6) Blog once a week in my personal blog and once a week in my professional blog.  Of course, if I can fit in more, all the better. 

(5) Finish Decoding Spirituality—a series of essays I have written and am stringing together as a book—about  the ways in which I have worked to find meaning in the numbers around me throughout my life and the insights this has given me about how others might find meaning.  (Don’t worry—the conclusion wont’ be that everyone should be as numbers centered as I am.) 

(4) Sleep at least six hours each night.  Of course, all the experts say 7 or 8.  I would love to get 7 or 8 every night but I don’t know how I can possibly do all the other things I want to do his year (while continuing to recognize limitations).  But I don’t want to have an abundance of 4-hour or 5-hour nights sleep nights.  The best thing I can do for this—track and have an accountability buddy for my sleep in the same way that I have found that have accountability buddies for exercise makes such a difference. 

(3) Tell people “thank you” not just at the big times (like thanking Jackie after my PR in Philly and Lauren after my two person marathon relay) but for little things.  After the passing of Mark Pacione and several others who have been lost in recent years starting with Gerry Paradiso back in 2010, I have realized just how important it is to communicate appreciation to people as often as possible.  It doesn’t have to be a big production every time.  Sometimes a hand-written thank you note.  Sometimes a hand-written and hand-designed thank you note.  Other times just a high-five or hug with a thank you at the end of a run.  Sometimes a quick “thanks for taking the kids on a day I couldn’t” at home in the evening.  But always living a life full of gratitude to the amazing people around me.

(2) Stay in touch with friends.  In the past year I had reason to reach out to many friends from elementary school as I remembered the importance of people who had known me for a long time after my son and the young woman he had been dating for more than 3 years left for college as “just friends.” That led me to think about the importance of people with whom I spent a lot of time early in my life.  People who have know me forever. I have also realized how important accountability friends (last year for running) are.  They help me focus and keep it real.

(1) Family must stay #1.  No matter how much I run.  No matter how hard I work.  No matter how much I write.  Family is always first.  If ever there comes a year when that is obviously not true, I must reassess.

Happy 2015!

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