So 2017 was very stressful for me, but we had a lot of good things in there too. My wife and I did a trip to Dominican in February. We bought a pop-up camper and did a long road trip to some great scenery in South Dakota. We got a rescue puppy who is pretty hilarious. I got promoted. But along with that came very stressful work environment and a project gone south that I was put into the mix to fix. I took two MBA level classes (including a law class) at a state university for an internal management/leadership training with my company. My wife was dealing with some pretty major work issues and reorganization, and she does not handle stress very well. Because of this, both Holly and I were self-medicating to deal and exercising less than normal. Yeah, we ran with the kids in their first 5k, and did a variety of consistent workouts, but after the vacation in February the incentive wasn’t really as high to stay on top of everything.
We took some time off over Christmas and reexamined our priorities. For this year, we’re making some changes and trying to improve on health, including sleep. I’m working to find something I can dig my teeth into for a life interest or hobby and find additional purpose. I like writing, and will try to do more here on the blog (as you see, it’s been very intermittent the last year or more), but I need some more physical pursuits beyond just lifting weights, hitting my heavy bag, and running/hiking.
So here are the things I/we’re doing or working on in 2018.
- No alcohol for the year. Back in maybe 2007 or so, I did a full year of being a vegetarian. We had just read the China Study book, and it seemed like an interesting social and health experiment. To me, this is the same. We both had our last adult beverage on New Years’ eve and will be dry this year. It’s been an easy shift, but I have only faced a couple of social situations thus far such as at my office Christmas Party in January, where we drank club soda and lime. The social part will be interesting, and I’m not planning to lie about my reasons. I live in a place where drinking is pervasive to the culture, from kid birthday parties to sitting around the neighborhood pool. It was a crutch and had unhealthy impacts to my life. I’m already seeing the positive effects after less than a month.
- Better diet and exercise. Holly and I slacked a fair bit in this area last year. Too many grab and go pizzas. Too little cardio. Too little caring about how we took care of our bodies. I’m hitting my routine (regular weights with the prime movers, high intensity cardio, running, heavy bag) with more vigor, purpose, and frequency. Holly is doing tae kwon do, yoga, weights, and regular walking. We are both eating a lot better, in part due to the new Instant Pot Pressure Cooker we got for Christmas. It is seriously awesome. We make quick meals that we then use for leftovers. Frankly, I can still do better, but my problem primarily is that I don’t sleep especially well and then wakeup and have midnight snacks. But I’ve still lost 5 lbs this month already and it would be faster if I took care of the midnight mashing. Which brings me to…
- Better sleep. Frankly, I sleep like shit most nights. My wife is a little better than me, but sleep could still be improved. To do this, we’re trying to cut out screen time before bed, and I always use a blue light filter. I enjoy reading, so do that before bed. Holly just bought a Weighted Blanket (ours is 20 lbs) and that has been amazing to use. I don’t know why, but the weighted blanket has helped sleep has come faster and deeper. Not cheap, but well worth the investment thus far (we’re only about two weeks into it, so maybe I’ll do a review after some more time). I never even heard of this a couple months ago, now I’m not sure we’ll be without one.
- Hobbies. I used to be really into triathlons, and other athletic endeavors like Crossfit competitions. Besides an occasional Tough Mudder or 10k race that I would be in perpetual shape to do ok, I haven’t found a whole lot that really lit my fire besides my steady state condition of curiosity and learning and exercising. But I finally have found something that I’m fired up about: archery. My 10 year old Loudboy has been a fan of archery since his first starter garage sale bow last year, and we’ve been taking a beginner archery class at a local club.
It is a great bonding experience, but we’ve started to nerd out and I bought each of us a bow. I’m sure I’ll do a dedicated archery post at some point since we’re falling into the rabbit hole and are joining a local club with an indoor range. I’ve also been craving some grappling – it has been years since I last did BJJ, but financially and geographically there are few options. I will be checking out a Judo dojo next week that I’m hoping works out. Meanwhile, Holly has been making fancy soap for sale at local stores, doing homemade kombucha and cabbage, and ginger beer, and turning into a great pressure cooker chef. The TKD is something she really likes too, and something she does with our kids. We’re using our hobbies to bring us closer as a family and find things we like to do together. First real time we’ve been able to marry the two. Pretty sweet.
- Financial improvements – We’re making pretty damn good money finally. I grew up lower middle class, and couldn’t imagine that we make what we do now. We’ve made some good choices and lived within our means, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. We’re back in the no car payment zone, really no debt except mortgage. We’re continuing to bump up our savings rate, and trying to fund a not-big-enough college fund for a couple of pre-teens. I am having problems getting Holly more fully on board (she’s the leaky bucket) as we have some philosophical differences that are more emotional. But we’re generally on the same page. Goals are to pay off house and possibly retire in 10 years (early 50’s). I’d quit now if I could, but blogging (as infrequently as I do now) surprisingly isn’t paying the bills. I still do some coaching and have a couple other websites, but it is pocket change to my day job. Working towards a financial goal and taking small steps each year (each raise, each bonus, each promotion all allow us to do more). Who knows what the markets will do, but we are controlling what we can (debt, spending, saving). Sharpening that saw…
We aren’t doing any fancy vacations this year, but have several weeks of camping already reserved. We are spending more quality time one-on-one and as a family doing cool ass shit (martial arts, archery, homebrewing crap, maybe one day hunting). This is going to be a great year for us. Not easy or routine for once. Loudboy is coming out of his shell and gaining confidence. Birdsnest is about to get her braces off and is turning out to be a gorgeous person inside and out. My wife is still really hot for a 42 year old, and we are good together. We have our ups and downs, but we both generally deal with each other’s issues in a mature way and still bang. We say “I love you” a lot in our house and mean it.
Life isn’t perfect and never will be, but we decide how each day goes. We decide what decisions we make to make it better, or how we react to the circumstances. I’m fortunate, but I hustle my ass off and try to be honest in my weaknesses. That’s all I really can do. I wanted to make changes from last year, and am. It’s a never ending process, but I’m enjoying being excited about stuff again and not just going through the motions.
Fuck yeah, 2018!