Pick a theme and shape your year

2020 was like no other… At the macro scale we had Covid-19, the horrendous death of George Floyd, and other unarmed people at the hands of law enforcement, and the world’s most powerful democracy in a state of unbelievable dysfunction with a people divided seemingly beyond reconciliation. On a micro level a death of a close colleague, a tragic accident befalling another… in a multitude of ways 2020 has been a shocking year. 

Focusing on the USA and those injustices may seem hypocritical from the north, as Canada has its own historical and current injustices relating to Indigenous people and First Nations. I can only say that both collective struggles are real and totally unacceptable. Our species collective treatment of “other” is shameful. Though there were certainly stories in Canada’s press illustrating our ongoing and tragic fumbling of this critical issue, the headlines from the States seemed an unprecedented and relentless torrent. A tragedy, a tempest and a teapot. 

And yet on macro and micro levels there are things to be grateful for. There are lessons, reasons for continued hope, and things we can bundle together to forge a better year in 2021. In an effort to be intentional with respect to the year ahead, this post reflects on personal, admittedly insignificant, things that I am grateful for from 2020, and articulates my theme and areas of focus for 2021. I encourage readers to consider their own theme and areas of focus for a better new year. 

Before we move on I would like to briefly celebrate each individual who;  showed up or mailed in, (totalling record numbers), to vote in the American Federal election, participated in peaceful protest in support of Black Lives Matter, and/or donated to the same, or similar. While the work is far from done, it’s a relief that there will be a change of leadership in the USA. And while this is not a silver bullet in addressing what ails us as a species, it’s a step in the right direction.

With recognition of the global current affairs out of the way, let’s get on with it.

What am I grateful for on the micro? 

  • Covid has strengthened my key relationships, and I’m thankful. My marriage has been one of the lucky ones. The challenges and sadness of not being able to see my parents, brother, close friends… illustrates which relationships are most important. It hurts, but it also helps. 
  • My friend of 30 years, who I’ve been sharing a renaissance of computer, turn based, gaming with – because neither of us are as busy socially and it doesn’t require us to be physically together. 
  • My e-sports community. 
  • Technology despite its challenges, in 2020, was pretty grand. 
  • Thank you Apple, Taylor Swift for your two albums, Conway, Sony, Dell and yes you, Wings and Horns for giving me comfy threads that I feel great in and can wear everyday… even workdays. 
  • “Marie Kondo-ing” my closet. 
  • Thank you Dolphins Resort for hosting my smaller than expected 40th birthday, socially distanced, each guest with their own bathroom, during the relatively quiet Covid period in the summer, on our relatively isolated island. 
  • I’m starting 2021 more than 12 pounds lighter than I started 2020. My average blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic were on average down 11 points in 2020 compared to 2019. Working from home, in comfy clothes, has allowed me and my wife to get out during the lunch hour, if there were no meetings booked, to get in an aerobic walk… a replacement and improvement on the steps we’d typically get moving between meeting rooms and various stakeholder locations. The data suggests my health is improving and I am grateful; however, there is more work to do. 

A theme for 2021

If shocking was the theme of 2020, then my theme for 2021 is resilience. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we must be stronger, we must have the ability to more firmly affix our own masks first, such that we can better manifest Dr. Bonnie Henry’s call to be kind, be calm and be safe. And if we could do that, to quote Louis Armstrong, “What a wonderful world it would be…” My strategy in support of building personal resilience in 2021 is to focus on three things; health, savings and self-care. 

I’ve got some leads on these areas of focus and maybe I’ll write more about them in future posts. Happy New Year! What’s your theme for 2021? 

2013 is over.

2013 Insights

School:

My 3rd calendar year of courses at Uvic is now complete. This year I successfully transitioned from a Fine Arts Diploma student to a Creative Writing Undergraduate student (2nd Degree program). In total I’ve engaged in seven semester equivalent classes, 4 of which were in Writing, and I’ve learned that:

  • I’m energized by creative writing
  • despite my enthusiasm, creative writing is harder than it looks
  • 2 classes every semester, on-top of everything else, is ambitious
  • I quickly grasp concepts – but always require more practice
  • (Critique) Workshops are essential to improve as a writer

Blog:

In an ode to irony, while my interest in writing has skyrocketed, my posts on exploring-art.com have plummeted. Only six posts in 2013, but I’ve learned that people like:

  • Pictures (select, not too many)
  • Cocktails (or maybe that’s just me)
  • Concise observations on writing (and life)

Looking Ahead:

2014 is going to be great! I’m registered in two classes next semester, I’m committing to at least one exploring-art.com post a month (including either a picture, cocktail, or concise observation), and I’m going to play more squash this year (this shouldn’t be hard I’m pretty sure I didn’t play any squash last year).

Happy new year’s – here’s to the year ahead, and turning over new leaves. Cheers!

 

Habit List – Personal Commitments and Visual Management

I struggle to keep up with my chores. I procrastinate. I spend my time practicing escapism rather than being productive. My nature of sensible hedonism could typically be expressed in pseudo Spanish as “mañana”. It’s terrible… I know.

I also know that I am, like most people, exceptionally malleable… just look at my visual management, willpower and weight loss post… it’s 5.5 months later and I’m still down 18.1 pounds, simply by weighing myself daily on a fancy, graph generating scale… scary!

But what to do about all those commitments I most recently refactored in my post on personal commitments, “The Speed of Trust”, and poster art? Is there something I can do to help with them? Fortuitously after a few search attempts I happened upon Habit List an inviting, balanced, skeuomorphism rich app.

Habit List elegantly adds visual management to your recurring to-do list. Red dots along the left margin indicate you are not delivering on your commitments. Green dot’s mean you are doing well. The number centred in the dots indicate how many times you’ve either made or missed your commitment in the current streak.

Each habit has its own exploded calendar view where details of your best streak, your current streak and your current completion rate are displayed. After just a week of using Habit List I’m addicted. Scratching items off the list feels rewarding. Daily reminders are much needed motivation and I’ve already grown my list of personal commitments. I am pleased to bestow 4.5 out of 5 stars on Habit List. There’s just one or two things missing.

Though the app has flexible scheduling options it’s still not enough. Working 9 out of 10 weekdays, and having some commitments that are only applicable when I am at home mean I either artificially pad or compress my streaks. I think there needs to be a “Not Applicable” option, perhaps only accessible from the calendar view, that allows the user to opt ad-hoc days out of the calculation of streaks for a specific habit. Also the ability to “snooze” reminders would help me procrastinate… I mean meet my commitments!

Habit List is well worth the $1.99. Do yourself a favour, get this app and start a routine of completion, you’ll be more productive and have fun while crossing things off your list.