Sunday, January 29, 2017

Revolution Remix

Where has this Fox been? I'm going to tell you. Well, I'm going to tell you what I can.

There have been some real developments in the world around me and that as caused me to put the breaks on things. I will explain as much as I can.

The main thing going on in my life is still not public and I can't reveal it just yet. I am hoping to reveal it Wednesday February the first.

There have been a lot of important and frustrating changes made and alluded to since the current President of the United States began to take power. While all of the decisions being made are important, I am trying to concentrate on the things that relate directly to the Global Goals I have committed myself to.

No matter what side of the spectrum you find yourself on, you cannot deny that we find ourselves in a quite turbulent moment in history. What happens now, and what we do about it will be remembered, recorded, and the impact felt.

I remember growing up hearing about important time periods during 60's and 70's. I was deeply fascinated by the cultural changes that took place during that time period. So much was going and it was important. During my lifetime we have certainly had moments that were important as well, but nothing like what we face now.

I had considered dropping the Tour this year due to what was going on with reason number one, the thing I cannot share yet. I have decided instead to just dial things back a bit. I am still concentrating on my overall health and well-being in line with Global Goal number 3. I am also going to continue to concentrate on Global Goal number 13. Most importantly, I will continue to strive where those two things intersect. The change in tone though for me is that I feel we are at war. The new administration is full of people who deny science and practice bigotry. That may sound like hyperbole, but it's more accurate than I am comfortable with.

Now more than ever, I encourage you to visit Global Goals and adopt a goal for change. This is not a time to sit on the sidelines. Instead of reposting memes with dubious content; spread awareness and hold the powers that be accountable. Nothing will change if we just let it slide.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Starting Slow

Over the last week I have spent a great deal of time seriously considering what it is that i am doing. During this time I have been back and forth about my goals and intentions. I am enjoying this approach because while I am committed to this year's Tour, being able to make plans and choices with purpose and with real intent is making me more aware of what I am doing.

The most difficult thing about this process is that my current work day includes about 4 hours of commute. This means that I spend a lot of time on a bus or work and little time at home until the weekend. I do a lot of thinking and planning during this time. On the weekend, I can execute those plans.

I am happy to say that my eating habits have improved. They are not perfect, but they are better than they were. Less junk food for snacks (more nuts and fruits, which I prefer anyway), drinking more water, less soda, and about the same amount of tea (no sweetener or cream). My meals are hit or miss to be honest, but I feel good about the progress and direction.

The activity aspect of things is not going as well. Between bitter cold, long days of commuting, and a few personal issues cropping up, I have not gained much ground in this area. Last year during this time, I was doing several fun things while I was doing nothing. I was very inspired by Stephen Jepson (as I still am) and that really informed my actions. I am going to spend a portion of this weekend getting back on track. I will update soon.

Minimalism. Over the last five years I have been very enamored with this concept. As an experiment I did a massive decluttering several years ago. While I remained enthused about it, I was unsure if anyone else in the house felt the same way I did. I feel as though I could go rather extreme in this area and be fine. I do have others to consider though and none of my goals include losing compassion for others and taking others feelings into consideration. For this reason, I am starting with my clothes first.

I hope to update again this weekend with more progress.

Monday, January 9, 2017

A Slow Start

There are moments when I feel rather overwhelmed with the choices I have made in life. Recently this is because of the cavalcade of events that have accompanied my recent decisions in regard to the Tour this year.

I shan’t bore you with the details, but there have been medical procedures, inclement weather, transportation issues (I work out of town), long hours spent for work, and some medical problems for loved ones. During all of this I am also kickstarting this Tour and trying to make changes to my life.
I have been eating a little better. I have maintained a more productive outlook. I have tried to keep myself physically busy and playful. I have also been mentally making plans for decluttering. All of this is going on in the background while I take care of everything else.

I have also been trying to take a good hard look at other things in my life that may be impeding my productivity. I’m basing this off of the idea that there are certain things I want and need to be productive towards. Impediments are those things that are in some way taking away from that progress without really adding any value in return.

This means that some hard decisions have to be made regarding my spare time. One thing I really enjoy is my games. I play video, but I really love my tabletop games. The great thing about tabletop games is that they are inherently social. They make our brains work in ways most other leisure activities do not. I have a great deal of fun playing these games with family and friends. This is what I would consider truly added value. Unfortunately we do not play as much as we used to. I would like to change that.

The video games are a different story. I enjoy the time I spend playing them. I enjoy the escape and the relaxation of exploring from the comfort of home. It’s a nice way to just enjoy yourself when there is not much else to do. The problem is that I sometimes find myself devoting chunks of time to playing these games (mostly by myself) instead of working on projects that I really wish to pursue or spending time with loved ones. 

Fortunately my entire family games. Everyone understands the desire and also plays too. I worry though about the time spent in our own worlds and cut off from everyone and everything else. Not only is nothing really accomplished during this time, but any memories I make are just my own virtual experiences and not shared. Having said that, I do not think video games are bad. Far from it. I just think that much care must be exercised in the time we spend. For me personally, I feel that my time will be much better spent on my real projects and in spending time with those closest to me.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Where To Begin

The hardest part of any project is start up. This is especially true if you are not an expert at what you are attempting. The best general advice I can give is to be patient with yourself; but persistent. What I mean by that is, it may take some time for you to progress. Don’t get frustrated with yourself if you feel like you are not getting there as quickly as you would like. At the same time though, don’t drag your feet. Get up, get out, and get it done. 

Right now I am trying to pay attention to what I am eating and doing. How active am I during the day? How much do I sit? How much do I walk? How much do I physically play? I am also trying to form a plan to tackle reducing my possessions without directly interfering with my family or my hobbies. Making a plan is a good way to make sure you think about what you do with due consideration.

Not getting frustrated is not always easy. Sometimes when we set goals for ourselves we want to achieve things right away. Knowing that there is a long road of real work can seem daunting; especially if you already have things that need doing. I am reminding myself that everything is a process and that if this is all worth doing, it is worth doing well and worth working at.

Goals for the 2017 Tour

It is time to reveal the 2017 Edition of the #584MillionMileTour and be held accountable for my progress. 

A little background for those not familiar is likely in order. I do not really do New Year’s Resolutions… for the most part. Instead, I do what I call the 584 Million Mile Tour. That is the distance (roughly) that the Earth travels around the sun in one solar year. During this time I set certain goals and changes I wish to make. The year marks the time I have to make these things happen. It isn’t a one and done goal. It is more an effort for a lasting change.
In the past I have had relatively simple goals and I have been mostly successful. One year my goal was to develop my self-confidence. I adopted a ‘fake it until you make it’ mentality and I must say I was pleasantly surprised with the results. Another year I wanted to try and simplify my life. I managed to get rid of 16+ boxes of things and it helped me view acquiring new things with more perspective.

Last year I had a much loftier goal. I was on track and I firmly believe I would have been successful. I fell into a terrible depression in the early parts of the year though, and I allowed it to overcome me. Not only did I let these goals fall away, I also made some dreadful decisions and set a relatively dark tone for the rest of the year. I have been on the road to recovery for the last several months and I feel I am now ready to make the changes that will move me forward.
So what are these changes?

These are big goals. As I said, the ones I have had in the past have been smaller by comparison. First of all, I am adopting last year’s goals. This is important because I still believe in those goals and I still think I can accomplish those things. Secondly I am adding some things.

  1. The first thing I want to discuss is the Global Goals. I have mentioned them before (and I will continue to do so) because I think they are quite important. There are 17 goals, and while they are all crucial, picking one to focus on is how we can best funnel our energy. If I divert my focus into all 17 equally, I am unsure how much I could do. If instead I focus on one (or maybe two) I can really do something. Choosing one was hard. I narrowed it down to three:  3, 7, & 13 (good health & well-being, affordable & clean energy, & climate action respectively). These were the things I felt were most crucial for me. They were also things I felt I could have an impact on in my everyday life. I finally decided on 3 because I could use it to help me with the others. Good health and well-being are so universally important I felt it would also be a good example.
  2. I want to adjust my diet and activity level. “But Fox, didn’t you just say that in the previous one?” Yes, but I was specifically talking about the Global Goals. This is a personal quest. Last year I started out very strong and was well on my way. I can do this. It will take a while for me to get to where I wish to be. It will not be overnight. I will be sharing my activities on social media though.
  3. Minimalism. Some of you close to me know how much I have talked about building one of those tiny houses. Some may also recall me getting rid of so many of my things a while back. This is an idea that has been walking patiently beside me for years, waiting for me to come around. After the success I had a few years ago I have known I could do it when the time came. Having a family certainly complicates this a bit; but it is entirely possible. 
  4. Purpose. I wish to be more driven by purpose and goals. I want to be more responsible about what I put in to myself and what comes out. Obviously this covers food and such, but I also mean what I put in my head. What I say and do. If I want the world to be better, I have to make my changes. It starts with me.

So that in a nutshell is 2017. I certainly have some smaller goals as well, but these are the big things.

A Look Back at 2016

It has been said by a number of folks that 2016 was a dumpster fire. I have even made the comment myself. If that sounds like hyperbole; you’re right. It is. However, it is an accurate reflection of how many of us felt during the last year.

I cannot speak for everyone. What I can say, is that for me personally the year was indeed quite difficult. I will spare you the details of my personal horror stories, but they are in many ways quite grim. At the very least they seemed grim at the time. I have spoken of the crippling depression I went through and the aftermath of some terrible decisions I made during that time. I have spoken of feeling lost and irrelevant. Certainly we all lost people we greatly admired or were close to. I do not claim my year to be worse than anyone else’s. All of this doesn’t even touch on the bigger picture of things that went wrong in the world around us.

A lot of good DID happen in 2016. For me personally I got a job… not just a job. I got the job I have been wanting and hoping for. I got a job that has changed my life. That is no small thing. Yes, my days right now tend to be 14 hours. Yes, I commute to another city to work. Yes, I spend a certain amount of time walking in the cold dark hours of winter. All of it is worth it though for what this job means to me and to my family. I am very thankful.

Other things that went right in 2016? Believe it or not, there are several… more than I will record here. Keep in mind we hear more about the bad. The bad is sensational and sudden. The good tends to be gradual and less shocking. 

John Green mentioned a few things in a video he did back in August. Child mortality rates continue to decline. This means less children who never had a chance. Less parents mourning over the indescribable loss of their child. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa that had been going on since 2013 ended in 2016. Cancer survival rate are climbing and our treatments are getting better. While ISIL remains a serious a problem, it is losing. It is weakening. The global economy is growing and poverty is on the decline. There are 200 million fewer people living in absolute poverty than there were four years ago. Book sales are up in 2016!

Another fantastic list of good things can be found here:

The point though is that in general we are moving forward. There are set backs, there will likely always be set backs. We move forward, we hold on to hope, and we remain mindful of the good even when it is less visible in the headlines. 2016 wasn’t the worst year. We are living in the greatest time in human history (so far).  Instead of reading and watching the news, dig a little deeper. We are always led to believe things are worse than they are.