A year ago I was enjoying the beautiful city of Amsterdam in The Netherlands and then in a few days i would be headed to historic St. Petersburg, Russia. I had a nice job and was building my team at home and offshore. I had great coworkers with which I had worked for many years. Things were also going pretty well at home. And then, two months later, I would be the sickest I have been in my life and for the longest period ever. A few months after that, I would get laid off. Next, a friend would die of cancer and another friend would get cancer. After this, one of my closest friends would move out of state and another would move out of the country. A bit later, I would start a new job at the bottom and start working my way up the corporate ladder again for a lot less money. Wow, what a difference a year can make.
In a few days, my oldest child graduates from high school. Soon after that, she will be moving out and off to college. Wow, it’s hard to believe that this time has come so quickly. Eighteens years have just flown by. It is so easy for me to remember when I was holding her in my arms for the first time, and also when she was toddling around the house, and when she left the house for the first time to go to school. I know for her, she sees only excitement, freedom, and new opportunities ahead and has never looked back. For me, I see slightly painful change, the end of a wonderful era, and even minor worry for her and can’t help but reflect back.
Ideas for posts come to me at odd times, so what I do is keep a running list of ideas for when I am in the mood or I have thought about it enough to write something. Well, recently I have had ideas, but they are all related to things that have happened recently, which are kind of negative and I want to write something positive this week. I am really tired of all the negativity and need to look at some of the brighter things in life, especially right now.
So to get away from the negative vacuum, I want to really distance myself from the now situation. There is good among all the bad right now, but I just need to go to a different place – a more positive place that is far from here. So, I want to move to the days of our free cruises (well, kind of free). This comes to mind because many of my friends are on one of these cruises in Hawaii right now, and it was a very happy time for me.
I’m still not back to “normal,” whatever that means, from all of my health issues, but many of the issues are getting a lot better. Hopefully the remaining ones will get better soon. It has been a long road, and quite a strange road at that. So, with that in mind, understand that my posts are not back to normal either, or maybe this is the new norm. When my health issues started, everything started slowing to a halt. The only focus was to get better. A month or so into my issues, the focus was to try to get some normalcy back into my life. I started working out a bit and trying to take on a few small projects to keep me occupied. Now, I have come all the way back to trying to take on more than I can possibly do. Have I come back too far?
Yard sales are certainly not a new concept to me, but this past weekend, I was part of my very first one. In the past, I have just decided that it was a lot easier to donate my unwanted items to a charity organization and take the tax write-off. This time around, I still felt this way, but what made the difference was that my wife, who sells rubber stamping and scrapbooking supplies, had a huge amount of old stuff to sell and it was worth it for her to have the sale, so I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and see what happens. Was it worth it?
This weekend, I was reminded that I do not take the time to plan and do memorable things frequently enough. There are plenty of meaningful things that we do, like work or school, taking care of responsibilities, and so on. These are important, but they are not memorable. Ten or twenty years from now, my family or I will remember that I had a job, and maybe I will even be able to recall a few projects I worked on, but that is all. The memorable things are the ones that might take only a few seconds or a few days, but they are forever a part of the interesting story of our lives. The parts that we talk about, draw from, and shape ourselves through. Hopefully, most of the memorable things are good, but we will all have bad ones too. I recall an event with my father and mother that consisted only of a few seconds of them taking turns yelling at me and then a slap, but that is all it took to be memorable. So, my goal is to make more good memorable moments in my families’ and my life.
For the past three weeks, I have been playing this game on my iPad called Trade Nations. In the game, you build a village. You start by building houses, and then people move into the houses. You can put the people to work in one of several jobs, such as farming or mining. As these people work, they produce resources. You can sell these resources or use them to build other things, such as shops. As the game continues, you build more houses, get more people, have more workers, produce more resources, and build more things. The fun thing for me is to plan out my village so I get people doing the right balance of things so I earn the most money or get the most things and continue to advance my village. The game reminds me of life itself and how we must balance time and resources.
Well, I am writing about this today to illustrate another example of something I enjoy doing for fun. The challenge of balancing all of the aspects of the game to produce a desired result is a lot of fun for me, like chess. In real life, the game would be a business, where you take the skills and resources you have to try to create a successful business. Unfortunately for me, I think of a lot of possible businesses but most of them either end up marginally successful or never started.
Sometimes when I look over a long period of my life, I try to think of those things that have had the greatest influence on me. I automatically lean towards thinking of people that have been in my life a long time, such as my wonderful neighbors next door growing up that I have known my whole life. I also think of things that took a long time to do, like college. I easily forget that small moments can define us just as much. In fact, I think life is full of just as many of these defining small moments as some of the larger ones. Or, maybe the larger moments are no more than a series of small moments linked together.
I was on the phone the other day with my friend and somehow we got talking about business. He has started several businesses and is currently running a successful consulting business and doing quite well. He told me he has observed a principle that seems to always hold true: risk and reward – the more risk, the more potential reward. He told me a story of two painters, Ted and Bill, going to the same university at the same time. They were both very talented and graduated with degrees. Ted took a secure and good job at a computer company as a graphic artist. This was not Ted’s ideal job but the safe bet. He has done well for himself and has provided a nice income and stability for his family. As Ted finds time, he still paints but more for himself than anyone else. Ted would still like to be able to make a living as a painter but probably doesn’t see how.
Bill, took a big risk. He moved his family to a small town where he could rent a studio for very little money. Bill’s family was very poor for many years and went without many comforts as Bill developed his style and skills. Now, Bill is a very successful and famous painter making a great living and doing what he loves to do.