Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning 1 of 3: 2011


Another Year Ends

Reality becomes a reflection of reality becoming real...or some such stuff.

This time of year enables me to look back and forward at the same time. Last month was particularly reflective for me anyway but the purpose of writing this is to shed the skin of 2011.

I've also been doing this for quite a few years now:

So my blog's functioning as even more of an interesting record of the progress I'm making.

This post describes my Eleven from Eleven whilst rounding off the areas I chose as themes for the year. It's also about 'Highlights and Lowlights' - a phrase I've nicked from my friend Adam Cohen the Circus Boy.

For 2011 I picked three areas. Creativity, Contribution and Mastery. They showed up in varying degrees in my Eleven for Eleven; I'm not going to make it explicit but it's clear for me how they showed up. They're written in the order they came to me. Enjoy.

And yeah, this is a long post...for a lot happened...so much so I've split it into a trilogy...this is Part One!

Little Miss Sunshine [DVD] [2006]
1. Family and Friends 
Looking back over the year, it's felt as if December 2011 was not only the end of they year, but also the apex to which everything had been building. Steve Jobs talked about 'joining the dots forwards' - meaning that you can never know the purpose of something until after the fact and that trusting that the things you do now will benefit you later - is how to make the most of the opportunities life presents.

One: Establishing Her Self
I had a part in supporting an important someone in getting started in their dream career. My support was unconditional, challenging for me to be there but ultimately vindicating of my stand for this person. Her life has moved on incredibly and I'm so proud of Her: the graduating, the moving, the driving, the starting in a job, the establishing Herself (and Her Self).

Her life has changed so much in 2011. She's stepped up and handled everything that's been thrown at her. We'll all be right by her side in 2012.

Two: Family Communication
I've spent more time actually communicating with members of my family. Early on in the year, I started simply picking up the phone and talking to the members of my immediate family. It made a big difference to my experience of them, when I saw them again and all that.

My parents *are* cool. (And they do value me being around).

One of the difficult areas for me and our family has been supporting a particular family member as their life moves on to another stage. Being in communication has made a big difference to my experience of helping out - I'm available to my parents more so than previously - but I'm not doing any less in my own life.

It also made it so much easier to contribute to them - that's all I really want to do - contribute to the people I love the most.

But it also made me realise that there's much more than just my tiny little life - they've got stuff they're doing and dealing with.

Three: Resolution.
The difficult relationship between two very important people in my life got resolved. Not because of any one thing I did in particular (although it has been something I've stood for having in my life for a long time). It was more as if I got out of the way. I stopped trying to force and fix the issue.

But I honoured my truth.

It was really tough for me because I want to be the one that solves everyone's problems and helps out - it's a way of making myself feel valuable and validating my existence.

This time I stood back and let things take their course. I trusted the people to get on with it, handle it honestly. I provided support when asked and told them both how much I loved them, but that was pretty much it.

There were some fireworks and brutal honesty. But it moved forward.

Authors and others have called this surrendering to life. I've heard it expressed as 'being with' and 'being present'.

Four: Our house remains empty.
And that's OK - for now! In perhaps a similar theme, trusting that it will happen is the toughest part. There have been contrasts: our partnership is stronger but we are concerned about getting older; we enjoy being together but we want to create something together; we have particular skills in our jobs but we've not both had stability; we sometimes get frustrated when we think things don't go our way but we always handle it.

Leaving all that aside - this is the year!

Five: We love our friends loads...
...and our house is a place of warm welcomes. Through 2011 we had people over; we entertained and we took care of people. My family, Her family, individual friends, small gatherings and big parties. I enjoyed doing it and so did She. One of the early dreams/ goals we created together was bringing people together in our space - and we've done that.

I'm so grateful for everyone that's been over. I've loved it.

Six: December
Looking back, it's felt as if the events of December have been the apex of the year. Looking back it's almost as if everything until that point had been preparation. The resolution, the communication, the friends...in hindsight that was all very effective laying of foundations.

It meant that we were able to step up and deal with challenging circumstances in a way that I'm proud of.

2. GTD
Clarity
I wrote about this in the May insights. GTD = Getting Things Done. Implementing it fully has been revelatory. I really hummed and hawed about putting myself into it - but once I did, I haven't regretted it. It took a while to establish and get it up and running but haven't ever experienced such clear-headedness on a consistent basis.

To get my hands on clear strategies to be able to generate it consistently is amazing.

Being able to find stuff; being able to know that stuff will get done; not having to try and remember things has (paradoxically) meant I remember more. I also have fewer arguments on a day-to-day level with Her and Her and Them.*

Fundamentally, it's freed me up to help others.

3. Android
It wouldn't be right and proper if there wasn't some gadget love in this end-of-year post. Most people who know me are aware that I don't favour the iPhone (despite being a Macbook user). Nope - I'm much more of a fan of the open-source world of Android.

I wrote about Android at the end of 2009 in my 'Reflections' post. It's a love affair that promises to be eternal. The endless customisation, tweaking and permutations (yet relative ease of use) appeals to my inner (and outer) geek.
Geek Love

That and its brilliant integration with Google's services (yes I am a google-o-phile).
Through 2010 and part of 2011 I was using my trusty HTC Desire. I loved it...but it began to overheat and run out of memory...I needed more! So in July I jumped from HTC to a Samsung Galaxy S2. And I'm pretty much in Smartphone Heaven.

Whilst the phone is great - it's the OS that makes it. There are particular apps that have helped with 2. above - in particular Springpad.

But me being me, I have almost 90 different apps (mostly free or something like 10p) that I've used to enhance my experience.

Forget implanting a chip into me - I've got my smartphone.

4. Injury and Exercise
2011 saw something happen to me that I *never* thought would ever happen to me.

I sustained a sports injury.

Hard men
OK the sport was the martial art Urban Krav Maga but it was still a SPORT-RELATED injury.

The knock-on effect (as I mentioned in August's posts) was that I experienced what it was to MISS EXERCISING!

Now this is beyond normal for me. It's unprecedented.

This meant I had a limp through August and was healing through September. I didn't in fact feel brave enough to go back to an Urban Krav class until the end of October/ early November...

The lack of exercise also meant that I put on weight. An inevitability I suppose. When I returned from my holiday, I was almost 11 pounds heavier...

...but it wasn't a total lack of exercise. As I mentioned in the November post, I started doing Body Weight exercises. Working my way methodically through the book (I'd actually started in July), I was more able to start stuff from this book that jumping (literally) back into Urban Krav or Shaolin. I can't completely tell, but I'm pretty sure it's made me stronger. At least once She has mentioned my arms looking bigger - but She is biased.

I received two boxes...
The result of putting on weight was drastic action - in the form of a game - related to chocolate. I just decided to myself to see how long I could go without eating chocolate. After one day it really did become easier. After one-week even easier.

I made it to SIX WEEKS WITHOUT CHOCOLATE!

That's another unprecedented feat given my previous relationship to the stuff. I even (half-jokingly) made reference to it in my post about 2009! (And then Christmas happened - but that's another story).

During that time I lost something like seven/ eight pounds in weight. I was really buoyed up by this and inspired. And then I realised that all that had happened was that I'd been exercising regularly again and I was back down to the weight I was before I got injured.

Nice.

5. Guitar
2011 saw me hit the magic 200. And all because I spent a bit of money on myself.

Playing guitar has become something I do to relax my mind. It's always really helped me but it's now moved out of the realms of obsession into the world of hobbyist and creativity. I spent a lot of money on guitar-related stuff acquiring a Line 6 JM4 Looper and new Takamine Acoustic Electric guitar.

Joy!

Classic
These have opened up a world of experimentation that I hadn't explored. Playing a musical instrument is a different kind of creativity to writing. It's more physical and perhaps more outwardly expressive. That's not to say I've not experienced more introspective moments playing guitar - it's more about the performance as well as the creation of the music.

The investments also meant that I topped 200bpm on Master of Puppets using downstrokes only. This is something I've been working towards for years and it's quite satisfying given I first mentioned it in 2009. Perhaps it'll be a bit like what happened after Roger Bannister ran the first 4-minute mile...

End of Part One!

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*You'll have to guess who they all are. I'm quite enjoying being obscure about those people!