Continuing the tradition I started back in 2010 (see past years), here are three words that describe themes I intend to focus on this year. They aren't "resolutions" as much as areas of activity. "Themes" is a good way to think about them.
I have let my weight creep up to where I am about 30 pounds over where I should be (and where I was back in 2011). I haven't been exercising. I have some dental issues to take care of. My last physical exam was... (I'm not sure... but I don't think I've ever met the doctor who replaced my previous doctor who retired a number of years ago). In short, there's a lot here I need to be paying attention to, and so this needs to be a focus this year. I want to be around with my wife and daughters for a long time... and we each only have one body. Beyond the physical health, there is also mental and emotional health. I continue to find myself trying to do too many things... and need to focus on doing fewer things better.
Over the last six months or so I have been thinking more and more about all that I have to be grateful for. And I have also been thinking about how I need to show that gratitude a bit more. Combine that with some recent reading on studies about gratitude and how we frame our internal stories... as well as some reading on mindfulness... and, well, I would like to do more in this area!
A few weeks ago I made a Christmas gift out of wood down in my workshop area in our basement. When it was done, I found myself so energized by the activity... I had forgotten how much I enjoy working with wood. But as I think about all that I have been doing over the past year, there hasn't been a whole lot of creativity. Even my writing of blog posts has become more routine, more "reporting" on activities rather than writing something new and different. It's hard with everything else going on, but this year I hope to carve out some time to do some more creative activities. Maybe some woodworking... maybe some music... maybe just some creative writing. We'll see what is feasible.
That's what I am thinking about for this year... what about you?
... we will be a nation with a massive divide, no matter who wins.
A nation with a huge difference between the rural and the urban... between those who have done well in the new economy... and those who have been left behind.
No matter who wins, our next task as a nation will be to figure out how to rebuild the connections between us.
Can we perhaps start by being more civil to each other? To respecting our differences?
Can each of us try to treat others more kindly?
I'd like to think so... but I'm not so sure.
Image: a bumper sticker I saw on a car last month.
Kudos to the folks at the Monadnock Shopper News for creating this beautiful video.
P.S. Our area is called the "Monadnock Region" because our tallest mountain is named Mount Monadnock.
Today was a CRAZY day of curling! It began at 9:00am when our 7-year-old took to the ice at Petersham Curling Club (PCC) for her first day as a member of the "Little Rocks" youth program (ages 7-12). It ended with me going on the ice back at PCC at 8:15pm to play in the Mixed League (men and women) until after 10:00pm.
In between those times, our 14-year-old daughter was up in the Toronto, Canada, area playing with her team against 15 other highly competitive Canadian and US teams. Her team had two games - 11:00am and 5:00pm - and wound up winning both of them... but with extremely tense and nail-biting endings!
I think I gained a good bit of white hair today... and that was just from watching the website and getting updates sent by messages from one of the parents up there in Canada!
It was a great day! From the boundless energy and enthusiasm of our 7yo, to our daughter's team winning their two games... to my team squeaking out a narrow win (it came down to the final stone!).
A crazy day... but a good one!
As a writer, it is incredibly frustrating when you find yourself NOT writing. It's hard to explain, but there's a kind of pressure that builds up inside you. It keeps building and building and building and BUILDING... and if the pressure is not released through writing then it comes out in other ways. The way you treat others. Your health. Depression. Frustration.
I'm in that state today - if you look at my danyork.me site pulling together all my writing and audio, the number of days I've been actually writing or creating audio is a bit sparse:
This post will only be my second post - in the entire 18 days of October!
Across all my blog sites, including my work sites... where I am paid to write!
And yet... I have no one to blame but myself.
I have a loooooooooooonnnnnnnnggggggg list of topics I want to write about. There is no end. In fact there are several series of posts I want to get underway.
But it's that effort of putting words on the screen. It is starting the writing - and not being distracted. By appointments. By meetings. By email. By social media. By… life.
It’s also the finishing of the writing. I have all sorts of blog posts that I have started, but I haven’t made the time to go back and actually finish the posts. (And sometimes that means just saying they are “good enough” and hitting the publish button.)
It is the act of focusing. Of being present.
If writing is to be a priority for me, by my own choice - then it is the act of prioritizing writing.
This is not a new problem for me. I've in fact been writing about this issue for many years. Here's a sample:
- July 2016 -
- February 2016 -
- April 2015 -
- March 2015 -
- November 2012 (first of a 4-part series) -
- September 2008 -
And even though I write those “self-help” posts, primarily as a reminder to ME, if I’m honest about it… I’m still struggling with it.
We’ll see. And hey… with this post at least I’ve written something today!
There is something about a mountaintop. The view all around you. The freshness of the air. The wind whipping against your hair and body. The exhiliration of making it to the top after a grueling climb.
There is something about a mountaintop. The smiles and joy of some people there. The agonized expressions of those who just barely made it. The mobile phones as selfies and panoramas get taken. The sometimes sharing of food.
There is something about a mountaintop. The sense of wonder and awe. The pointing down to the bottom. Is that where the trail began? Is that the city we know? Whose house or field is that? We are so high up!
There is something about a mountaintop.
I made a serious mistake last night. One that had consequences for my sleep - or lack thereof. It caused me to not do anything else this morning. It caused me not to get up and want to make breakfast. I wanted to ignore everyone else around me.
It was seriously, seriously bad...
What was it?
I opened up a book.
Not just a "book".. but a really, really GOOD book!
And now... all I want to do is sit there and read the remaining 600 pages... :-)
Responsibilities call... things need to be done... activities need to be planned... but... all... I... want... to... do... is... keep... reading....
Using the map doesn't require me to login or deal with any tracking info.
All that is required is to add the country codes on to the URL. Here's what I mean - this is my list of visited countries (as of August 2016):
You can see there all the country codes.
But that's it. I can bookmark that URL. I can copy and paste it. I can modify it.
There's no other login or anything required.
Over the years, I've tried a few other map sites like this one, but often they seem to require you to login to copy the map. Or they had a cryptic URL that basically made it so you had to post it to Facebook using their particular code ... or something like that.
(Now, this site does have sharing buttons out to social media, but I can choose NOT to use them and just share the URL directly.)
Kudos to the Amcharts team for making this available - and making it easy to have a URL you can use and share.
And yes, clearly you can see that I haven't visited a whole lot of the Southern Hemisphere ...
P.S. They also have a "Visited (US) States" map, but mine would be boring as I've been to all 50 states...
I've long been a fan and listener to the excellent PacketPushers podcasts. If you are into networking of any type their shows are quite educational and enjoyable. (See the most recent shows in the right sidebar of packetpushers.net.)
Last year Russ White encouraged me to consider writing on Packet Pushers and connected me to the folks there to be set up as an author. They gave me an account... but then I've simply been way too busy with all the other writing I've been doing.
While at IETF 96 in Berlin last week, I had the opportunity to sit down with one of the two main hosts, Greg Ferro, and have a very wide-ranging conversation that I published as an episode in my The Dan York Report podcast. As part of that, I said to Greg that I'd see about starting to write there.
Greg also said they are perfectly fine with RE-publishing content that originates elsewhere... and this intrigued me. I'm already doing that with posting some of my articles to CircleID (although I'm also writing new articles there). I'm also experimenting with cross-posting to Medium now and then.
Packet Pushers has a strong community of people involved with networking. For a good number of the topics I write about it would be a logical place to also post my articles to encourage further discussion and get more engagement.
We'll see how that all goes. I greatly appreciate the Packet Pushers team for giving me the space to write there... and I would again encourage you to not only read the site, but also listen to the podcasts.
There is darkness all around us. This week, of all weeks, that is clear.
Young black men shot by police thousands of mile apart - and then five police officers killed in an ambush by an angry assailant seemingly intent on vengance. Police officers, in this case, who were doing their jobs of protecting a peaceful protest against those earlier shootings.
Just a week earlier a bomb exploded at an airport in Istanbul, Turkey killing over 40 people and injuring hundreds more... a terrorist attack at a bakery claimed over 20 lives in Dhaka, Bangladesh... a weekend bombing in a market in Baghdad, Iraq, left close to 300 dead... and bombs rocked three cities in Saudi Arabia, including near a mosque in the holy city of Medina.
Meanwhile tempers flare against immigrants in the UK after the Brexit vote... a U.S. Presidential candidate stokes the fires of fear and hatred... as do similar leaders in European countries... and bombs continue to fall in Syria's civil war...
The list could go on and on...
The divide between "us" and "them" grows stronger... where "them" is really "anyone not like us".
So much anger. So much hatred. So many killings.
There is darkness all around us.
As I struggled to concentrate on my work today, I found a browser window open to a piece written 10 days ago by Umair Haque: The Age of Light. He writes in part:
Dark ages are human creations, remember? The darkness isn’t somewhere “out there”. It’s in us. That is how we choose them, make them, create them.
The true hallmark of a Dark Age is this. We call the darkness the light, and celebrate it, revel in it, seek salvation in it. Darkness isn’t a meteor hitting the earth. It’s a mentality. The impoverishment of the mind, brought on by rage, envy, fear.
No Dark Age thinks it is one. Every Dark Age calls itself an Age of Light. Isn’t that exactly what’s happening across the globe today? As the middle collapses, as people grow poorer, they are regressing. They are literally choosing to go backwards. But that very choice is celebrated on the streets, applauded in the towns, and shouted from the rooftops as great, noble, and wise.
That is all a Dark Age really is.
Institutions crumble, leaders fail, and there is a turn to tribalism, feudalism, conflict, and dynasty.
He goes on... his full article is worth a read.
There is darkness all around us.
In the face of all of this, how, then, do we push back against the darkness?
I don't really know.
Sitting at my desk trying to get work done online today while every site brought more news of the madness...
... I just don't know.
I am reminded again of the powerful words of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
In a world where so much darkness threatens I think our only solution is for each one of us to be a light.
To ask ourselves each moment: can we be kinder? can we be better? can we help others in some way?
Umair is right - the darkness is within us. We cannot change others - we can only change ourselves and the choices we make.
And while that sounds hopelessly naive and cliche, I see no other way forward.
Or, at least, no other positive way forward.
We seem to have lost some kind of understanding of our common humanity.
Of the fact that all of us have the same basic needs and desires: food, drink, a safe place to live... friends, family... to laugh, to share... to be loved.
Black, white, yellow, pink, red, brown... liberal, conservative or anywhere in between... male, female or something else... we are all breathing the same air and living on the same planet, no matter what language we speak or how we dress or how we look.
We need to rebuild that faith in each other. That trust in each other.
We won't always agree - in fact we may violently disagree - but we need to recognize that even in that worst disagreement we are still... fundamentally... human.
With parents and sons and daughters and wives and husbands and brothers and sisters and friends and partners and...
Each with our own dreams and desires for the future...
We must believe in that. And we must bring that belief within us.
And we must act in that capacity. Deeds, not words, as they say.
And through our actions maybe, just maybe, we can be a beacon of hope for others.
It will not be easy. We will fail. Repeatedly. But this week reminds us that we must keep trying.
We must be the light.
Or else darkness wins.