Wow! I and we, all of us, this means you have survived the year that was 2012. Looking back at the year that was I would have to say that I enjoyed some personal success. Also, I got to enjoy being a part of a pretty good year for my family both immeadiate and extended.
Highlights of the past year include our family trip to visit my sister and brother-in-law in Montreal. This was great fun as we spent time with 2 great people, got to see the sights of Montreal and Jasmine and Asher got to experience their first plane trip, one that Jasmine particularly will remember forever. Witnessing the culture and the variety of life that Montreal has to offer gave me significant food for thought and has altered the way I think about people and the way we interact.
Another highlight for me was seeing significant growth in my relationship with my mom as well as other members of my family. My mom has been battling some health issues for a few years, and my complacency and lack of respect for our bond had led to us growing apat somewhat. We would talk very infrequently on the phone, and despite there being only an hour or so between my family and hers we didn't see each other as often as we could or should. Sheila and I made a point of letting mom know that we wanted her to get more involved, get to know Jasmine and Asher more and that she was welcome at our place anytime along with my dad and older sister as well. While we started chatting more on the phone in the spring, and we saw them a few more times both here in Prince George and in Quesnel at their home, I believe my mom was still battling significant stress in regards to her health and the huge lift altering decision about retirement. I'm not privy to the exact date or time that my mom made the decision to retire, but it seemed she became much more relaxed and easy going throughout the summer. She and my dad went on an amazing vacation/cruise that took them to some cool places like Estonia, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Ireland and upon their return my mom let us know that she was indeed going to retire. My dad has been very supportive of this choice, and I myself thought it was the right decision. Now, after seeing my mom through her first 4 months of retirement, I am more certain that she did indeed make a great decision. My mom can be a quiet and reserved person, but she can also be very friendly and easy going. She spends a lot of her time doing things for others with little fanfare. I have actually lost count of how many visits we have had with her since September, but every time she comes we really enjoy it. Her comfort level with Asher and Jasmine has grown leaps and bounds, and it is truly awesome to see. She has come for overnight visits, weekend stays and in October she moved in for a week while I was away in Vancouver to pursue my poker dream. If you had told me that scenario would happen even a few years ago, I could not have concieved it. Sheila and mom my have built their relationship more in the past 6 months then they had in the previous 6 and a half years, swapping advice on kids, going for outings together and what not, it has been great to see. Thanks mom, it really has been great to see you come out of your shell!
Before I get carried away with the year just passed, I would like to get to my "resolutions" for the coming year. I prefer the term "goals" as many of the items I will include on this list are pretty open ended. I want to encourage myself to strive for personal growth, and to push towards being a better person, better husband (oops, that's not technically correct), better dad, better son, better brother and so on. If I work towards these goals, I believe 2013 could be a darn good year. Shall we?
Okay, while considering this further I have decided to break these down into sections: family related goals, and personal goals. To start, my goals that involve my family members.
1) TAKE ADVANTAGE OF MY TIME WITH ASHER
While I considered how to phrase this goal I gave thought to just how lucky I am to be home with my nearly 2 year old son 3 days a week and how many dad's would kill for that situation. Many dad's are away working for weeks at a time, so to have this opportunity is something I really need to take better advantage of. Don't get me wrong, Asher loves his daddy, but I feel like I could be doing more. Most days we drop Jasmine off at school and then retreat to the basement where I fart around on the computer and slowly workout while Asher plays around me, and of course with me. He gets a real kick out of being dad's spotter, holding my feet down for me while I bench press. Often he runs over to provide the help without being prompted. Now, as a typical parent I think Asher is the coolest little man in the whole world. He is as perfect as can be, but even perfect can be improved. Due to lots of his time being spent with mom, dad and Jasmine as well as Grandma and Grandpa and his other family members, Asher has developed an unwillingness to share and play nicely with other children. The key part of this goal is to start attending the Strong Start Program at Malaspina (Jasmine's school) at least once a week. We went once before Christmas and Asher had a great time, with lots of things to play with that we don't have at home. It's nice to interact with other parents when you are there too, and I have much to learn from others as well. After a month or two if I am feeling ambitious I will look for other activities that Asher and I can do during the day when Jasmine is at school and Sheila is at work.
2) DO MORE ACTIVITIES WITH JASMINE
I realize that this goal is very open ended but it is something that I really want to work on. Jasmine and I spend some time together, but I know she and I would both benefit from doing more things together both for fun and for fullfillment. She and I are both involved in basketball once a week, and we still do our weekly swimming trips on Wednesday with Asher. We probably saw 4 or 5 movies at the theatre together this year. There was also soccer in the spring. Here is me stating to the world that we need to spend more time doing things together. My daughter is a very passionate person who's level of caring for others is quite awe inspiring. We have talked for years about doing some volunteering together. This would be great for us to bond while at the same time it would feel good to help others. I want Jasmine to be exposed to those that are less fortunate as she has been developing a sense of entitlement and we did see a little lack of appreciation this Christmas. The place I am most partial too is the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and perhaps our best bet would be to volunteer at their soup kitchen. There may be age restrictions for volunteering, so Jasmine and I will have to do some research in the coming weeks. Of course, we both like to have fun also so I am really going to work hard on getting her out of the house to enjoy the outdoors more often. Skating outdoors at the oval or neighbourhood rinks, sledding at the nearby hill, bike riding in the summer, hiking in the woods are all things that Jasmine enjoys but rarely suggests doing. Getting her away from the electronics more often is a very important goal for me this coming year.
3) STRENGTHEN MY RELATIONSHIP WITH SHEILA
After being together for more then 7 years, you would think that Sheila and I had the most perfect of relationships. Of course, that's a bunch of malarkey and for the most part, it's the me part of the relationship that needs improvement. We are both pretty busy people. Sheila works full-time, me nearly full-time and we have the odd hobby that takes up additional time, oh and then there are the kids. It is important that we take time together and work as a team to make our relationship run more smoothly. I had a period of time in 2012 where I was full of energy and was making a concerted effort to help out more around the house. We aren't talking about more then my share, but perhaps creeping my way closer to 50% of the housework and menial tasks that need doing when you have a house and kids. I also found that when I was doing more, Sheila was happier, go figure. Later in this post I will post goals in regards to my health that will hopefully lead to me regaining my previous energy levels, and combined with this goal that I know my dear lady will read, will lead to a fire being lit under my lethargic ass. That is step one. Another thing is that while we have the children and that makes it much harder to get out of the house and do things just the two of us, that doesn't stop us from spending time together at home in te evenings when the kids are in bed for the night. Recently, we have gotten back to watching movies together which we both really enjoy. Also, a couple of days ago we got to go out for a nice dinner and swimming date which was also lots of fun. So there you have it, I have carelessly and wrecklessly promised to be a better partner in the coming year and this is all the proof you need Sheila.
4) KEEP FAMILY AND FRIENDS CLOSER
For those that know me, you won't be shocked to see me state that I have a problem with relationships. I can be very anti-social and it is something that I am not proud of. I will often meet new people, enjoy their company, have an opportunity to hang out, get to know them better and I just let the time slip away. I struggle with this. I am very self-concious about what other people think of me. I am always convincing myself that my company is not something that people want. This makes me pretty inept when it comes to making new friends, and it also effects my ability to keep in contact with people that I have established relationships with. I patted myself on the back earlier for the improved relationship I have with my mom, and I have also been in contact with my sister Erin more often this year then any year since we last lived together full time more then 10 years ago. These successes are only a start. I need to pick up the phone and make an effort. I want to talk to friends more often, I want to spend time hanging out with people. Friends with kids are even better, as shooting the breeze over coffee is easier of the kids are having fun at the same time. I aim to work at getting over my anxiety issues and anti-social tendencies, and this goes hand in hand with feeling better about myself.
Now, we will move on to the personal goals section of this post, and perhaps to facilitate actually finishing this post, I will make each goal a little shorter in description.
1) BLOG REGULARLY
Nothing too crazy, but I would like to continue to write/type content for this blog. I completely fell off the rails the last half of the year, and while school work had something to do with it, I often found myself making a plethera of excuses. My goal is to post on this page once a week on average and to mix in more opinionated material. British Columbia is fast approaching an important provincial election so I should have plenty of material to work with.
2) IMPROVE MY HEALTH
I had some tremendous momentum going in the spring and summer months this year, and I can say definitively that by the end of August I was in the best shape of my life. As a teen I was a bone rack with no fat in sight, but I also was void of muscle. When the weather was nice, almost all of my recreational activities with and without the kids involved some kind of physical activity. Bike riding, jogging, playing at the park, swimming, walks with Sheila, work outs at home, yard work, I looked at all these activities at serving multiple purposes. I was also regularly taking a number of supplements that helped my general feeling of well. I vividly remember one morning in the summer when I got up before Sheila left for work (this was my day off) and jogged 3 km in the crisp morning air. I came home and while watching Asher got a weight session in. By 930 am I felt like a million bucks. Physical activity tends to boost my energy levels greatly, and I went on to have an extremely productive day. While I have still been lifting weights fairly regularly, and I am a member of a rec hockey team this winter, my energy levels have dropped off drastically. I have also gained a few pounds back, a painful reminder of just how easy it is to let it all go again. I don't want that, not after all the work I put in.
I plan to continue to lift weights 3-4 times per week. I will make it hockey whenever I am available. On top of that as outlined above, Jasmine and I are going to get out to the skating rink and the sled hill more regularly. I am going to start drinking my protein and creatine shakes more often. I will consume my multivitamins, fish oil caps, green tea pills and glucosamine on a daily basis. I want to get this back on track.
3) WORK ON CAREER GOALS/MOVE TOWARDS IMPROVING EMPLOYMENT SITUATION
I really am pretty blessed. I make enough money at work and at poker to make ends meet, put a small amount aside for family vacations and contribute to an RESP for the children. Between Sheila and I, we get it done. At the same time, having the budget as tight as it is can be very stressful on both of us. I would love to be able to blow money whenever I felt like it, but I also like having a roof over our heads. At work, I have a job that while uneventful is not all that stressful or difficult. My biggest complaint is that it is not challenging, and I have little right to complain about that. All of that being said, I'm nearing my 30th birthday and I have not landing myself in a "career" situation. I don't want to be counting every quarter until the day I retire. My career ambitions are pretty cloudy at this point. This goal is to motivate me towards improvement in some way. I need to look at the options and viability associated with the management realm at my current job. The program managers, which is the lowest tier in the management pyramid make about 30% more then I do, and they get the desirable Monday to Friday 9-5 schedule. My other option is to look elsewhere for work, taking advantage of my employment experience and the degree that I hold. I will take steps towards this in 2013.
4) MAKE AT LEAST $500 PER MONTH PLAYING POKER
This one truly is a softball. If I put in the time, I will do this. I am very confident in my abilities, and I have a 5 year track record proving that I win at the game. Averaging less then 8 hours of play per week, I managed to earn nearly $12,000 in 2012 playing poker. I also made an additional $800 or so playing on the computer casually. Now, I am fully aware of the luck factor and variance involved in playing, hence the low target of $6,000 for the year 2013. I was profitable every month this year, save for May when I lost 60 bucks, and December when I lost 150 or so while only playing 6 hours total. After my poker trip to Vancouver I kind of lost my feel for the game and ended up making absolutely nothing over the last two months of the year. I need to find that motivation again, which should be easy since Sheila, Jasmine and Asher are all counting on me. Some profit is needed to pay the bills, but some is used for fun stuff too, which is just as important as the bills. I plan to read from my extensive poker library and work on improving my game to make it more profitable.
5) READ MORE OFTEN
I read 26 novels this year, ranging from the terrible "Alexandria of Africa" by Eric Walters to a few absolute classics. Likely fodder for another post my favorites included: "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison, "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Diaz, and "Last Words" by George Carlin. My reading time dropped off drastically towards the end of the year, as mid year I was reading nearly a book a week. Some like Ellison's book were big, his was 600 pages, but other books I just didn't get into. I will read more this year, I enjoy it, it's relaxing and it provides great conversation fodder.
6) COMPLETE HOME IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS
This one really bugs me. As a home owner, I am beginning to realize just how often shit goes wrong with a house. The project list keeps piling up, and sometimes financial reasons mean I have to put these things off. Many times though, it's just me, my brain and my muscles that are required. These tasks need to get done with more haste. If something requires assistance, and it is in my budget, then I need to make the calls and arrangments to get it done. Making a list is great, making work is better.