2017 Reflection (Or: This Year's Thoughts...2017)

  • Trump.  I was intrigued.  When everyone was talking about how bad they thought he was going to be, I was curious.  A blessing and a curse of my own state of being is that I can see things from multiple points of view; it's caused people to think I'm insincere, though really I'm just interested.  So as I heard people talk about The Don and The Media and the way they saw America,  I thought: maybe he'll be good.  I see how biased major media outlets are - one need not look further than any gym with CNN/Fox News playing at the same time.  They have the same event with two different takes.  It's like the two sides of a coin arguing about which front is correct.  'No.  Coins have faces on the front.'  'No.  Coins have tributes on the back.'  Both see only their half, without realizing they're the same exact thing.  I even thought his first speech was pretty good.  But, he's been a disaster.  There isn't really a way think differently about this.  Half his cabinet is gone.  None of his major policies have been passed (sans maybe the tax bill), and scandal abounds.  We have some of the worst people in the government - ex. Jeff Sessions - that have ever been there.  The thing that's worse, though, is what he represents.  If you disagree with me, ask these two questions: 1. Is this man a good role model for your children? 2. Is this man a good role model for your faith? There's not a way to answer yes.  He provokes leaders with nuclear weapons, and sympathizes with hate groups.  It would be the dumbest of all time reasons to get in a nuclear war: "Daddy, why did we fight North Korea?"  "Well, our president and their supreme leader were fighting on Twitter, and we had to win."  And while I think it's good to see the humanity in all people, the time to express that sentiment is not in the wake of evil actions.  Here I'm thinking of Charlottesville.  After a group of individuals come together to express their racist views, which lead to the death the a protestor, you do not say to the masses, "There are good people on both sides."  All this does is tell children that whatever side they are on, it's okay.  That is stupid.  No.  In this setting, you show that hate - which is what brought people to Charlottesville - doesn't do anything good.  It's a perfect time for reflection, which is where real, tangible change happens.  Excusing the behavior is essentially saying, "Better luck next time."  My only hope in this debacle is that realize how much policy and elections and being involved matters.  The ones that are involved are the ones that make the rules.  And rules matter.  
  • Our Current System.  Our current American system was set up for the 1950's.  It was short sighted, and worked for a time.  But America has increased in population by 50% of over the past 20 years.  As people have come, wages have stayed stagnant while life expectancy has increased.  Prices of things have risen, but workers are not compensated for this rise.  This impacts a lot of things.  One example is pensions.  Pensions were not built for longevity.  The best thing for The Plan is if an employe dies shortly after they retire, for then the money they paid in can go to other people; A plan sucks if it's best for the plan if the employee dies a few years after they retire.  In many things with pensions, someone can start working around the age of 21.  If they work for 40 years, that makes them 61 when they retire.  If they live to 80, which is a rounding of the life expectancy, they are getting paid for 19 years for not working.  'But they paid into the pension!' is the logic, but when people cash in their pension, it is usually a combination of their highest years of service - some average of the top of the pay scale.  Often, the top of the pay scale is double the bottom.  If someone peaked at 70K, and takes 60K from the pension, they may be taking the contributions of 4-5 people starting at the bottom making 28-30K.  This doesn't work.  This is one small example of how things need to adapt and change, which I hope happens.  My hope is that this transforms how we see politics.  I hope we can see beyond party lines, and work for the people instead of for the corporations.  I hope we can put character first, and hate that my child will be born while a president is in power that uses Twitter to attack almost everyone.  Check this out: Brand New Congress.
  • Self Help.  This year, I read and listened to more self-help things that I ever had before.  Something opened in me this year, where I'd read (or hear) these things and be impacted for change.  Here are some of the most impactful (in no specific order):
    1. BookThe 4-Hour Workweek.  This book changed almost the entire way I think about who I am and what I want to do.  It inspired me to take a look at my actions and habits and think: how can I make this work for me?  Almost immediately, I put some of it to action, and have accomplished things this year that I never thought I would.  (ALSO, I'm not pushing you buy this book.  My wife is a librarian, and I SUPPORT the library.  The link is simply for information.  But, buy it if you'd like.)
    2. Documentary: I'm Not Your Guru.  I hadn't heard of Tony Robbins before this year (I think.  Maybe it was last summer), but I thought about this documentary most days.  We are not bound to be anything, and can be who we want on any given day.  (Great podcast on this, here or here).  After seeing this movie, I read two of Tony Robbins books, Money, Master the Game and Awaken the Giant Within.  Both books were very helpful, one for money, one for life.  
    3. Podcast(s): 
      1. The Robcast.  I still (sort of) go to Mars Hill, and Rob Bell was the pastor there for a long time.  His podcast, The Robcast, does a great job of giving spiritual guidance while also introducing listeners to very interesting people.  We are comprised of mind, body, and spirit, and this podcast does a great job of introducing listeners to all aspects of this.  I am always inspired, and often think about life in different ways.  
      2. S-Town.  The story of John B in Shit Town, Alabama is very interesting look at person's life.  So many of us are much more interesting than we ever give ourselves credit for.  S-Town provides a look at a town, a man, and a culture.
    4. Person: Jamie Foxx.  I did not know much about the man Jamie Foxx before this year, and was most inspired by listening to him.  He was on two podcasts (Joe Rogan Experience and The Tim Ferriss Show) I listen to, and I didn't know much about him before this.  Why he's my person of the year is because not knowing much about Jamie Foxx made me realize how distant White and Black cultures can be from one another.  Jamie Foxx is a staple in black culture.  He has a radio show, many television shows, comedian, and movies.  Of course he's been in major movies - Ray, Django, Annie (many more), but he's not a person that gets much attention in White Culture.  His perspectives on parenting, family, entrepreneurship, politics, and life are amazing and really helped me.  As much of White Culture is realizing we need to listen to more minorities, Mr. Foxx should be on the top of that list. 
  • Personally.  2017 was a very interesting year for me personally.  I made a lot of changes in thought and body.  This has many reasons.  One, my wife and I are expecting our first child in 2018.  Two, I realized that the difference between those that do and those that don't have what they want comes from the verbs in these sentences.  Three, God is much bigger than a building; I am religious - no doubt and unapologetically, and this has been one of the most impactful years on my faith; it's so interesting what is happening in the country and our churches, but God is bigger than a building; this should be obvious, but when you think of God/Jesus as a bearded white guy holding a staff, it is easy to place that God inside 4 walls. Four, I have been more honest this year than I ever have in my entire life.  I have had many difficult conversations with many people.  Things I'd been thinking for months/years, I finally voiced and it felt really, really good.  After doing so, I realized that I will not go back to keeping things inside.  If it doesn't work out, that's okay.  Better to be honest than to keep it in.   Five, I made things happen.  This year, after a comment that came Dec. 31, 2016, I began a year-long blog series on education (which you can read here).  I also started a podcast that I'm pretty happy about, (which you can listen to here or here).   It had over 800 listens this year.  Six, I switched up my morning routine.  For ten years, I woke up and read before work or activities.  I realized, though, that this same habit was getting in the way.  So, I switched it.  Now, I get up, practice mindfulness, journal, and write, because...  Seven, the time is now.  
  • The Time is Now.  I have some major goals for 2018.  Beginning January 2, I am making major changes.  2017 was the year of preparation, 2018 is where the rubber meets the road.  Here are my goals.  I am putting them out there here and now.  Feel free to check in on any/all of them.
    • 10,000 listens to my podcast.  I'm ready.  I did a lot of work with sound, setup, format, quality.  This year I dive into it.  10,000 listens by the end of 2018 is my goal.
    • Lose 40-pounds.  I will be under the weight of 205 by the end of 2018.  I'd like to see 199 on the scale, and I want this to happen from diet and exercise instead of crash diets and inorganic means.  
    • January Blog Series.  I will be doing a daily writing series in the month of January, which will lead to a squarespace store, and tangible next steps for my readers.
    • Write Now Seminar.  I will host at least one writing seminar attended by 18-25 people in 2018.  
    • Sex and Algebra.  I wrote a novel called Sex and Algebra.  I'm 0-41 on getting it published.  In 2018, it meets the world.  
    • Religious Book.  I've been working on a religious book that is very personal and close to my heart.  I will finish it this year, including all writing and editing and it will either meet the world by year's end (if I self publish) or have a publishing contract.
    • River Bank.  After being injured for nearly 4-years in terms of running, I will complete the 25K River Bank Run in May.  
    • Next Series.  I have the next blog series all cued up and ready to go.  It is a great idea, and something that I have been thinking about/working on for a while.  In the past, I've been lazy and not finished these ideas.  This one will see the light of day.  
  • Blessings to all.  May your 2018 be great.