27 December 2018

2018 - Year In Review

Since all the kids are doing it… here we go.

Introduction

Didn’t really set any goals per se this past year. But I had some rough ideas on areas of improvement. These areas of improvement led to some focused goal setting for 2019.

Health

Being a Type II diabetic is a blast. There’s all sorts of fun and games involved. And hey… I’ve got a few complications.

About a year and a few months ago, things started getting bad. I’m not going to go into the details. But with my daughter starting to walk and my mobility being affected, I knew I faced a choice. Both options would involve… pain.

Choice #1: Status quo. This would likely mean living in chronic pain and generally feeling like warmed over feces.

Choice #2: Simplify life… and get to work.

I chose #2. And believe me, there were times when I really wanted to go back to choice #1.

Because there were times I wanted to die.

I began working with a personal trainer. I hit the gym a minimum of five times a week for a minimum of one hour. One… solid… hard… hour. I cut my carbohydrate intake by about 90%. I drank (drink) at least a gallon and a half of water every day. I eliminated sugar everywhere I could. And yeah… it’s everywhere… open your eyes and you’ll be disgusted.

The results:

  • 85 pound weight loss.
  • 14 inch reduction in the waist.
  • 55% reduction in body fat.
  • A1C: Normal range for a well-controlled Type II diabetic (6.0 or under).
  • Blood pressure: Normal… usually right at 120/75.
  • Insulin reduced from 100 units per day to zero. I’m off that infernal needle. (Note: If you’re a Type II diabetic and you do not believe you can get off the infernal needle, you could very well be wrong. The conventional belief may be a damned lie.)

At age 48, my doctor tells me I’m in the best shape she’s ever seen me. I’m on target to lose a remaining 15 pounds to take the total to 100 pounds lost.

The only downside: I’ve had to buy pants four times. I loathe shopping for clothes. But my guys at the men’s clothing store and my tailor have been supportive and encouraging.

Why did I not set goals in 2018?

I was too busy busting my posterior dealing with problem above.

Cycling

Remember when you were a kid and you were out there pedaling your bike and you didn’t have a care in the world? Remember those times?

I hit a wall this past year with my weight loss. I was mad. I was a six foot, ten inch angry man. A close friend and personal trainer looked at me and said, Man… you need to take up endurance cycling.”

Endurance what?

There are two machines in my life which have my unending, unbreakable love… my Hermes 3000 manual typewriter and my road bike.

I bought the road bike from Clark Butcher and the crew at Victory Bike Studio on Broad Avenue in Memphis. They fitted me, advise me and provide me with feedback on my progress. And after I started cycling, my body fat percentages started plummeting.

The physical changes have been nice. But the psychological changes have been life changing. When I finish climbing a hill with a 30 degree grade, my legs are screaming… but my mind is at peace and I feel a sense of accomplishment. Because a year ago, that feat would have been impossible.

Writing

Because I am feeling better physically… and therefore mentally… I’ve started writing again. It first began coming back to me in off spurts… a phrase here or there… then a paragraph… just random stuff swirling around that I felt compelled to capture.

I went back to mostly composing either by hand on on my beloved Hermes 3000. It makes sense for me… the forced constraint of being unable to quickly delete.

I’m capturing reading notes on index cards… another analog process. I get a lot of strange looks in public… but I’ve also had some fascinating discussions with those much younger. They want to know why I’ve chosen this more analog path. Then, they want to know how to take that path. Since these conversations take place at a local coffee joint, I often run into them later and find them scribbling away in a notebook or on an index card. We smile at each other… and this provides me some measure of hope.

Reading

Didn’t keep track of every book I read in 2018… but I estimate the number surpassed thirty. Most were non-fiction.

I’m saving the revelation of the most influential book I read in 2018 for a separate post… because that work and its author earned it.

I’ve intentionally carved out more time for reading… which meant saying no to things in my life that were delivering little to no value.

In speaking of little to no value…

Social Media

In October, I stopped posting to Facebook. I decreased my Twitter usage and restricted tweeting to basketball game nights with the occasional snarky retort at other times. These were the only two social media platforms in which I was engaged.

Do I miss it? No.

Do I believe it was having a deleterious effect on my mindset? In that spending time there versus spending time exercising, reading and writing was harmful? Yes.

Choices, choices, choices… and this is all that needs to be said on this subject.

Professional

Our fiscal year at work is weird. It ends in March. For FY2017, I finished #1 in the country. Through the end of calendar year 2018, I’m above expectations… theirs and mine. As long as I am doing good work, I’m pleased with the results.

The Impact of Micro.blog

I’m not sure how I stumbled into micro.blog. At first, I looked at the whole thing with my head tilted to the side and said, What… is… this?”

Here’s what it is: A collection of interesting voices who passionately believe in independent publishing… who believe in the web, not walled gardens… who have sought refuge from dependency, surveillance and disintegration. There are no memes. There are wanderings, wonderings, ponderings and opinions constructed with the solid foundations of sentences and paragraphs. The signal-to-noise ratio is high… and we need more of this in a slogan-filled, soundbite-driven world.

It feels like the way the web used to be… like the way it should be.

I confess I don’t understand how all of it works. But… micro.blog led me to Blot… which led me to establishing an online place for my writing that makes sense to me. Micro.blog has given me more to read and ponder than any other single online source in a decade. And it has eroded my cynical conclusion that the internet went to hell and would never recover.

And that isn’t a bad way to end 2018… with some renewed faith in the possibilities of technology… as long as it is driven not by algorithms… but by people.

2019: Looking Forward

Am I excited for 2019?

No. I don’t get excited by much.

But I am looking forward to accomplishing one or two things. I’ll post about those some other time once the thoughts are fully formed. There’s nothing that says I have to have all of this figured out by the end of December 31st.

Whatever you wish to do in 2019… I hope you do it. Part of getting it done is believing you can. For a long time, I was resigned to being morbidly obese, slow and accepting the downhill slide into the grave. My daughter took her first steps and I decided it was time to fight against the Resistance.

I found my reason. You can find your reason too.


reflection


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