New Year’s Eve, 2015

"I'm a little (Trangia) teapot, short and stout... Here is my handle, here is my spout."
“I’m a little (Trangia) teapot, short and stout… Here is my handle, here is my spout.”

Well, it’s already afternoon and my day is only starting. How did that happen, I wonder…

Actually, I know. I was up really late (for me) last night, so I didn’t settle down until nearly 0000 hours. After spending the evening with dear friends (might as well be family), I needed a little time to decompress. That especially after the drive home. Texas Loop 289 was ice-covered in places and the ice was very dark. Fools (yes, morally deficient) were driving too fast and following too closely, plus one lane was only partially open. I passed a wreck being worked by first-responders in the southbound lanes. I kept my distance from the vehicle in front of me because the fool behind me was pressing.


So, I exited the highway and made my way carefully along the frontage road to my hotel, eased into the parking lot, and found a spot. The Girl and I exited the vehicle gingerly, given the ice and snow still present on the lot. Plus the refreeze was starting, so there was patchy black ice. I have no interest in falling.

But, the evening was worth it. There are some relationships I neglected over the years. That was not by intent, but it seemed every time I made it here to Lubbock I was deluged with must-do’s for work of family. The things I wanted to do and the people I wanted to see were neglected, much to my chagrin. So, this time I am spending much time with those whom I always wanted to spend time with but was frustrated by circumstances outside my control. I have some control now and I’m using it.

So I wasn’t up at the buttcrack of morning (too cloudy for dawn) but early enough. I’m working through Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever as part of my growth plan for 2016. So, I worked through one of the lectures for that training, finished my coffee, and rounded up the Girl. We drove over to Higinbotham Park because I’m crazy for some longer walks and to get her out and give her a good play. So, we walked about 1-1/2 miles and she got to run, sniff, poo, pee, and be crazy for a few minutes. After days cooped up in the room, it was time — for both of us.

On our way home we stopped at the Lebensmittelgeschäft to reprovision. The Girl is needing some work on her public behavior so we worked on that a bit while shopping. I got what I need (eggs are back in stock finally) and what I want (a decent Cabernet Sauvignon) and we returned home. The Girl wanted food, so I fed her and gave her a bit of a treat by opening some wet food and mixing it with her kibble. She did an excellent down-stay while I placed her bowl, retrieved her water bowl, and refilled her water. I gave her permission to come to me, then released her to eat.

I need more exercise (it’s one of my long-term goals), so I did three circuits of calisthenics to push this old body a bit. My DOMS abated late yesterday afternoon, so I expected to be mostly recovered from my last training. I had a little soreness during my workout, but not bad and still managed to push out my targets and eke a bit more out of a couple of exercises.

Then, finally, I fed myself, watched a couple of YouTube videos (on bushcraft), and cleaned up. The little teapot in the image is from my Trangia stove kit. It’s the perfect size for one person and I use it daily. I love my Trangia kit. It’s really all I need for most of the cooking I do.

I just finished a nice chat with Older Son, who is buying himself and his bride a nice treat and wanted my input. Now I’ll go shower and get on with my day.

This is my life. There are many things about this life that I like. I have the freedom to determine my schedule. I have the responsibility to work on those tasks and projects that are important to me. I love that combination of freedom and responsibility. I have not needed someone to tell me what to do in a very long time. I do not need someone to tell me what to do now.

If I can figure out how to generate enough work to pay my bills, I can do this a long time. There is a part of me that wants that. The question will be whether I want it bad enough to work out the details of keeping work in my queue. That’s part of my inner work.

In the meantime, it’s New Year’s Eve! The year 2015 is ending and 2016 approaches. For once, I’m excited to see what the next calendar year will bring. My attitude is that I expect good things to happen. Let’s go!

Closing the Books 2015

One of my ways of educating myself is to listen to a few podcasts. Since returning to the Apple ecosystem, I’m back to using iTunes as my principal platform for podcasts. I’ll have to write more about that later… and will.

A favorite author/podcaster is Jonathan Fields. He’s a life coach among so many other things. His work is worth the investment of time and energy, at least for me. I recommend him.

This morning, he shared a Good Life Project Riff entitled Closing the Books. Get it and listen to it.

Closing the books… that’s a business metaphor for a review of accounts, income and expenses, and evaluating those accounts and making sure the accounts balance. I’m in the process of closing my books for the year. I’m executing a review of my life over 2015. There are some big events in my life and some smaller events. My questions involve what happened, how/why events occurred, and what can I learn from my life over 2015? Which things drained my energy and which increased my energy?

I’ll use this study to consider what I’ll do, what I’ll work on, in 2016. That’s a process that I do every year at the end of one year and the beginning of the next. This year is a little different — a little more intense. I’m more serious about taking charge of my life, of my expenditure of my personal resources. I’ll do my best to learn from 2015 and use that to plan for 2016.

Once I learn what I can from my 2015 experience, I will then release my 2015 experience, put it behind me, and look forward to what comes next. I will use some techniques learned over the last few years to expunge negative thoughts, negative energy, from my inner world, forgive those who I need to forgive, including myself, and then turn toward 2016 and take the next steps.

I hope that listening to Fields’ riff was useful to you. It was for me.

The new year, 2016, is coming in a couple of days. I’m ready to move forward. I’m ready to see what is next for me. Do you want to share that experience with me? Let’s go…


The clip above is from Zack Arias, a photographer I follow now and again. He posts information/lessons from his experience and there is an honesty about him that is interesting. When I read Arias’ words, I get a sense that we are on this journey together. He has experience I don’t have. That’s why I’m along for the ride. But, there is a respect that comes from being on the same journey, even if at different points. There isn’t an attitude about him.

Watch his video. This bit of work was a turning point for his career. Until this video was produced for his guest post on Scott Kelby‘s site, he was still trying the make it. There is another video here in which he describes his journey.

Honesty really is the best way.

Hanging Around

Capture from Walkies on a loop near my lodging, Lubbock, Texas.
Capture from Walkies on a loop near my lodging, Lubbock, Texas.

While walking a loop around our hotel a few days ago, the Girl and I came across a crane idled for the long Christmas weekend. I’m always amused when I see equipment suspended from the boom to keep it away from vandals.

Happy Birthday, Sis!

My youngest sister was born the day after Christmas. She would have been 56-years old today. Like the rest of my nuclear family, she is gone.

She made a lot of poor choices over the years and that lead to quite a bit of distance between us. But I still loved her and when she was in a good place she was a lot of fun to be around. I miss you Sis. Happy Birthday!

Christmas 2015

Merry Christmas, early this morning on 25 December 2016. It’s about 0300 hours as I write this. Sleep seems to come hard to me these days. I’m not sure why and I suppose it doesn’t matter. I’ll be up a few minutes, then back in the rack until it’s time to rise and start my day.

This is the first year I have not spent Christmas at home, well, at my house. When I sold my house in June, I had no idea where I would be when the holidays arrived. So, here I am sitting in a hotel room, early on Christmas morning. It’s not sad, really, but it is certainly odd.

This is the day Christians set aside to remember the birth of Jesus, the Christ child. It was an event the Jews waited to see for generations. The prophets promised God would send a deliverer, which he did. He just wasn’t the deliverer the Jews expected. The deliverance wasn’t from their physical troubles; it was from their broken relationship with God. That relationship was long broken by sin.

Jesus came to fix that problem. He came to provide access to God be restoring our relationship to him by forgiveness of the thing that separates men and women from God — sin. This he did, much later after the birth we celebrate today.

So, today is the day I remember, celebrate, the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ-child. He is God-incarnate, fully God and fully human. He came to restore my access to God, which he did and I will celebrate that gift when Easter arrives. The dates are irrelevant; the remembrance and celebration are important, as is the act of faith that reconciles God’s children to God.

Merry Christmas, friends, and Christ is born. May there be peace on earth and goodwill to all, even in these times when it seems peace eludes us.

The Americans

Cover of The Americans and inside view.
Cover of The Americans and inside view.
I ordered a copy of The Americans by Robert Frank a few days ago. It arrived Monday afternoon. The Girl and I needed to evacuate the room so that housekeeping could do their thing, so we drove over to the Denny’s at 50th and Slide for a break.

It was a good break from working on my report. I needed a bite, some coffee, and some time away from the hotel. She napped under my table, while I drank my coffee and made my first pass through Robert Frank’s The Americans.

The Americans is classic street photography. Many of the images are grainy, meaning they were probably shot on Kodak Tri-X, underexposed, and/or push-processed to enhance the film speed. Many of them have a raw quality that comes from either the subject being unaware of the photographer or just not caring that they are being photographed. The captures are all interesting and remind me of my favorite form of photography — wandering around and watching for the image to jump out at me. Once I spot something interesting, then I set up the shot and make the capture.

I can recommend The Americans without reservation if you have an interest in photography in general, street photography in specific, or what normal life looked like in the mid-1950s. You will not be disappointed by these classic images.

Denny’s, Lubbock, Texas

The ubiquitous Denny's, in Lubbock, Texas.
The ubiquitous Denny’s, in Lubbock, Texas.

I’ve been the to Denny’s in Lubbock at Slide and 50th Street more times than I can count. Yesterday afternoon I needed to vacate my room for a bit so housekeeping could do their work. Plus I needed a nibble and a coffee. So the Girl and I drove south to Denny’s.

I figured that at mid-afternoon there would be little traffic. I was right. So the Girl snoozed under the table while I had a salad and some coffee. I also enjoyed flipping through my brand new (to me) copy of The Americans by Robert Frank. The images are captivating and I’ll spend much time studying what attracted Frank to each subject.

I also had to have a capture to commemorate my visit. I doubt that Denny’s looks much different than it did 50-years ago.

The Hero’s Journey

A long time ago I first came across the Hero’s Journey when Steven Pressfield mentioned it in one of his essays. The HJ is an old device that is present in many of the heroic myths of our forebears and is still used by many writers.

The basic theme is the path a hero, who begins as an unassuming individual, is called through a process that tests/challenges his/her character, usually to the point of not knowing whether the individual can deal with the test. If the tests are passed, then the hero returns to save family, tribe, country, or world.

The theme works because it resonates so well. I sometimes think each of us is on a Hero’s Journey as we pass through this life. We move forward, facing the challenges placed before us, not knowing whether we will emerge on the other side damaged, intact, or grown.

I recently came upon another description of the Hero’s Journey through a podcast on Stitcher. The interweaving of the story line with bits and pieces of stories from real heroes fascinated me to the point that I shared the episode with a friend and now here.

Enjoy the podcast and consider your own Hero’s Journey. It takes courage to do the right thing. It takes courage to face one’s wrongs and mistakes and then to pick up and move forward to the next challenge with the will to pass the next challenge. It takes courage to live a life worth living.

I really believe we each are on our own Hero’s Journey.