Category Archives: Introspection

New Year’s Fuddy-Duddy

I’m kind of a New Year’s fuddy duddy. Last night on Twitter I made this comment:

I can never get that excited about New Year’s. It’s like watching an arbitrary cosmic odometer rollover. Woohoo?

And it’s a sentiment I shared 11 years ago. That about sums it up. Last night we sat in bed watching The Office until we got tired and went to bed. We grunted happy new year at each other as we drifted off to sleep.

I think in 2008 we were in bed by 10:30.

In 2007 I was actually in California ringing in the New Year with a few thousand teenagers, though it was part of my job and not necessarily my choice. I also had to get up at 3 a.m. to catch my flight home, so I wasn’t so thrilled about staying up until midnight.

Apparently in 2004 I watched Star Wars.

I remember a short-lived fondue party New Year’s trend we did for a few years, but I think when kids came along the boiling oil and midnight party didn’t seem like a good combination.

In 2000 I was on my honeymoon. I remember ordering take out and watching “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Pop-Up Video Edition.”

In 1999 my then soon-to-be fiance and I were babysitting for a couple that came home early, woke up the kids we’d been working half the night to get to bed, and rang in the New Year at 10:00 p.m. We ended up back at Abby’s parents’ house watching replays of the Millennium celebrations on TV because no one bothers with a live countdown for the Central Time Zone. Yes, New Year’s in the Central Time Zone is kind of lame.

In high school I remember staying up with my girlfriend’s family to ring in the New Year and being surprised at all the finger-food appetizers that seemed to be their tradition. I don’t think my family had a New Year’s tradition.

I vaguely remember my youth group having New Year’s Eve lock-ins, but I don’t remember actually counting down to midnight. I do remember playing laser tag one year and they announced in the middle of the game that it was midnight. But c’mon—you don’t interrupt laser tag. I do remember sleeping all day on New Year’s Day and waking up in the late afternoon to go see the Insyderz and Five Iron Frenzy. A snowstorm struck and the show got moved from Clutch Cargo in Pontiac to some random church or school in Livonia, but we still made it and rocked out.

I remember another high school New Year’s when we aimlessly turned on the TV to watch the countdown because we couldn’t find anything better to do.

Yeah, I know how to party.

I’m not too big on New Year’s resolutions either.

You Have To Be Obsessive To Be Successful

I’ve been reminded lately that in order to be successful you have to be a little obsessive. There are examples like Thomas Edison’s 10,000 failed prototypes for the light bulb (according to the legend) or this story of a family raking in $1,000 in change since 2005 (they blog their daily take) or this story of a guy making a living as a dumpster-diver. OK, so maybe you have to be a lot obsessive.

The point is that success is never easy. You don’t make $1,000 by picking up a few pennies. You have to be obsessed with picking up change. You don’t bankroll your own business ideas by trash picking on the weekend. You have to know what’s worth something and what isn’t, be relentless and methodical, and stick to it even in a Canadian blizzard. In short, you have to be obsessed.

That’s how novels are written, amazing albums created, great works of art brought to life. That’s how professional bloggers make money, how techies build incredible applications, how an evangelist can speak to more people in live audiences than anyone in history. Persistence trumps talent.

My question then becomes am I obsessive enough?

Sometimes I think I’m obsessed with too many different things, I dabble too broadly to truly be obsessively successful. And I guess that’s the hard part. You can’t hedge your bets by dabbling, you have to dive in. It’s kind of scary. And that’s what makes it worthwhile.

My Pilgrimage to Chicago

Driving KevinEarlier this week I had a CFCC meeting in Chicago, so I left the wife and child carless and drove 400 miles to Chicago (gas may be expensive, but it was still cheaper than planes or trains). I used to drive that stretch of Interstate between St. Paul and Detroit all the time in college (at least six times per year?), so it was just like old times. I also realized that I haven’t taken a long road trip by myself in a long time. I think 2005 was the most recent, and before that it was probably 2001. I guess marriage does that to you.

I also realized the last time I spent any considerable amount of time in Chicago was 1999 when I lived there for a summer. Welcome to nostalgia land.

Continue reading My Pilgrimage to Chicago

Make Your Life Matter

Over New Year’s I went to Anaheim, Calif., for the Foursquare NextGen Summit ’07, an event that challenged students to imagine how they could change their world, specifically by embracing orphans, stopping human trafficking and fighting poverty. At the same time I was reading the book Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. Both of these were work projects, but they fit together nicely.

Both had a powerful theme of doing practical things to make the world a better place. Both were about putting Christianity in action (is there any other way? Sadly, yes, the church seems to have found an inactive path).

And now I’m wrestling with what these things practically mean for my life. (And I’m really just rambling here, so don’t expect much to be coherent.)

Continue reading Make Your Life Matter

Thoughts from My Former Self

I was importing some old blog entries this evening (something I do from time to time when I get bored–even though I jumped over to Moveable Type years ago, I still haven’t converted all my old entries. I still have about 9 months worth to import) and I came across a few interesting entries:

  • Prayer as an Act of Spiritual Defiance – The entry isn’t that brilliant, but I love that thought.
  • Hard Work Comes Crashing Down – The subtext of this post (I did this a lot back then, talking about something but not really talking about it) was that the company I spent a summer working for was going under and none of my work would see the light of day. But I speculated it wouldn’t be for nothing–that God might have an ace up his sleeve. It turns out the relationships I made that summer are still helping me today. Thanks Brad.
  • The Six Billionth Person – We passed that milestone back in 1999, and I think we’re pushing 6.5 billion now.
  • Sedgewick: Three mini stories featuring one of my favorite characters who went on to star in his own novel.

What a Time to Live

I complain a lot. I know. I’m sorry.

But every now and then I realize how lucky I am to live in such a world that I have all these things to complain about. I’m just thankful I live in a world where I can type my thoughts in perfectly legible text–as opposed to the inky smears of my poor handwriting.

Imagine if I lived several hundred years ago. I’d be sitting around complaining to my friends about how I wish there were some mechanical device that would keep my papers for me. Or how cool it would be if we could hear the band that played the party on Saturday night–without having the entire band set up again in our living room. Or how I wish I could capture an image in perfect detail but I’m just not that good of an artist–there has to be a better way. Everyone would probably think I’m crazy. And I’d be so frustrated.

Opportunity abounds today. As much as I complain about things not being exactly to my liking, I’ve got nothing to complain about.

I Get Kind of Weird

When my wife goes out of town I get kind of weird. I work too hard. I watch too much TV. I eat too much junk. I stay up too late.

It’s a window into an alternate universe where I never got married and I never became a father and I just became more and more introverted, typing these incoherent ramblings into a machine so late at night.

Let me tell you. That’s one path I’m glad I didn’t take.

Continue reading I Get Kind of Weird

Benefits of a Sunday Off

Lately I’ve been loving my Sundays. My work schedule is pretty random right now. I basically work whenever I can to get the project done or get in the hours I’m supposed to get in. It means day time, evening and Saturdays. I’m not working all day Saturday, but it’s the rare Satuday that I don’t get up and put in at least an hour or two.

When Sunday comes along I’m done. I don’t think about work. I ignore the work e-mails. It’s a day of rest, and I love that. For me rest doesn’t always mean sit around and take a nap (that can be fun, too), but it can mean sitting on the couch and watching NASCAR all day or reading a book or editing some video for fun. It basically means doing something I enjoy and not doing work.

We used to do that in college. A few of us would try to finish up our homework before Sunday so we could kick back and take the day off. Rarely were we successful at that, but we’d at least take Sunday afternoon off and make the homework wait until the evening. Sometimes I think we all need a little rest.

One of Those ‘I’m So Busy’ Posts

Life is so busy. Man. My daughter is five months old (have you seen adorable pictures of her yet? Well what are you waiting for? An invitation? You just got one–go, go, for the good of this dad). My wife quit her job. I almost had an L.A. vacation (then it turned into just another L.A. business trip). I realized the other day that I’ve been freelancing it for longer than the time I had a “real” job.

For two months I was daddy daycare, watching Lexi during the day and trying to work during naps and in the evening. Since Abby quit and will have a month and a half off this summer we’re doing more of a back and forth thing so Abby can get her thesis written and I can still get work done. It’s been good, though I miss reading The Chronicles of Narnia to Lexi every day. But I get it in when I can.

I met up with a blogger for lunch today, someone I met through CMS. Turns out we were at Bethel at roughly the same time, though definitely not in the same circles (him actually playing hockey, me sitting back and watching hockey). We had a good talk, though it reminded me how little this blog gets updated. I was telling him about my blog network and how much it’s fallen by the wayside lately. But I guess that’s OK. Changing diapers and reading Chronicles seems infinitely more important. I suppose because it is.

Anyway, the time just goes by.

The Power of Saying ‘No’

I always thought learning how to say “no” would be one of those difficult life lessons that takes a lot of time and effort and failure before you finally master it. It turns out when you get busy enough, it’s really easy.

I’ve been saying no a lot lately. I’ve said no to about six or seven different jobs in the past couple weeks. I said no to being on vestry at my church (fancy Episcopal word for deacon or elder board). I said no to helping our youth group clean the new addition to our church. This morning I said no to going to the men’s breakfast group (OK, so I forgot, but I think that’s my body’s way of saying no). I’ve said no to friends lately. And I’ve said a big, huge no to the pile of dishes in the kitchen and the pile of laundry in the bedroom.

I’m not sure how that last one helps, but it seems to fit.