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    Old Goals

    I was going through stuff that's piled up in various corners of my place the other day, deciding what I need/want to keep and what I can part with.  As I was doing so, I came across a list of goals I had made for myself in 2004.  Hello, flashback to me from twelve years ago.  There are 28 goals written down on this piece of paper.  As I read through them, truly not remembering ever having written them down, at first I was struck by how little has changed in my life and in what I want.  But then.

    But then.

    I started seeing some of these goals that I've accomplished.  To learn Italian; to see Wicked and Avenue Q.  To go to Hawk Mountain.  To take a hot air balloon ride.  To go to Italy and Iceland.  Huh.  Out of the 28 goals, I have accomplished all or part of nine of them.  Not tons; but almost half.  Sort of.  If we round up.  Okay, so it's like a third of them.  Still.  STILL!

    I have accomplished, consciously or otherwise, a third of the goals I had set for myself twelve years ago.  Damn.  Go me!  Sure, that leaves two-thirds that I still haven't accomplished, but so what?  Let's look at what I have done.

    I'm amazing.



    There are points in one's life, moments, events, which are defining times.  They create a definitive Before and After in our lives, an After which will never be the same as Before.  This could be the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, a marriage, the end of a relationship, a new job...Significant events. Defining moments.

    Perhaps my first such moment occurred in 1986.  I knew that I would remember the date for the rest of my life; apparently I was wrong, though, because I don't recall it now.  It was a Saturday in July, I know that much.  The 15th?  The 16th?  Something like that.  It was the day we left New Jersey and headed next door to Pennsylvania.  We left the house I had grown up in; the only home I had ever known.

    It was the summer after ninth grade for me.  I had just finished my first year of high school.  My one brother had just graduated high school; my other brother had already been in college for three years.  We packed up the house and headed off.

    An hour and a half doesn't seem too far these days.  And indeed it isn't.  Back then, though, we may as well have moved across the planet.  This was way before cell phones, before the Internet.  There was no texting, no Facebook, no emailing, none of that.  If you wanted to stay in touch with someone you either wrote them a letter and mailed it or you called them, paying about 15 cents a minute or something like that for long distance calls.  It was definitely a different world.  Because of these limitations, 15 year old me had no chance of staying in touch with those friends I had known for years.  I don't think I've seen any of them since.

    So - BOOM - we move to Pennsylvania, and I am now firmly ensconced in an After.  Life before we moved and life after we moved.  What do I remember?  I remember unpacking my room.  It was so easy then!  Mostly because I didn't have many things to unpack.  I remember getting the first tour of what would be my new high school.  I remember the wonderful feeling of central air.

    When I think back, though, if I think of my parents at that time, they were just my parents.  Nothing special.  (What fifteen year old thinks his parents are special?).  We had moved because of my father's job; they moved offices, and his commute had become too far.  He had been working at that company for I don't know how long at this point.  A number of years.  I don't remember what job my mother had before we moved, but she found a job at a nearby nursing home.  And so life went on.  But when I think of them then - or at least of how I saw them - they were just plain old adults.  They worked their jobs, they paid their bills.  They watched tv, cooked dinner, went food shopping, the basics.  They were, in my eyes, firmly ensconced in their adult lives.  They were set in their ways, the ways that would carry them through for decades to come.

    Now.  Think back to 1986.  Well, maybe that's not a good idea, because I don't know when you, dear reader, were born.  So instead I will say - think back to when you were 15.  Think back to how you saw your parents.  Is it similar?  Did they seem to be entrenched in their lives?

    I did some math the other day and realized that, in 1986, my parents turned 44.  Forty-four.  That is my current age.  That is me right now.  By this point in their lives, they had one child in college, another child starting college, and a third one going into his second year of high school.  They seemed so - boring to me.  But also, I suppose, pretty together.  They knew what they were doing.  Didn't they?  But me - now - yeah.  No.  I don't feel like I have my life together.  Well, that's not exactly true.  I do in a lot of ways.  In other ways, though, I feel like I am completely floundering.  I don't know what career I want.  I don't know if I want a relationship.  I don't know where I want to live.  I can't imagine being this age and having a child who is 21 years old, like they did.  Of course, if I did have a 21 year old child, I wouldn't be who I am today.  I might have a completely different outlook on my life.  I would possibly have answers to these questions.  Or maybe I wouldn't even be asking myself these questions, because they just wouldn't occur to me.  I don't know.

    And, to be pragmatic, I can never know.  That isn't the life I've had.  I don't have any children.  I am who I am, on the path that I am on.  I have a few answers, I have a lot of questions, I am who I am because of the things that have happened, the choices that I've made, how I've reacted to life's events.  It was just a bit of a jolt to me to look at my life at 44 next to how I perceived my parents' lives at the same age.


    Core Values

    I've been thinking a lot about my previous post, about an integrity report, and the first step in that is figuring out my core values.  I asked some people for their thoughts on the subject, and it was interesting to hear.  Also, I mentioned James Clear before, and after I wrote my last post, one of his email newsletters talked about core values!  And he included a link to a Core Values list.  What interesting timing.

    I like that there are over 50 values that he's listed.  And I'm sure that there are a lot more that aren't on this list, but it at least gave me a place to start, a springboard to jump off of.  I decided to dig deeper and attempt to figure out my core values/what's important to me...It has to be more than earning a paycheck and surfing the internet.

    I'm not going to go through the entire list and comment on each one.  That would be a bit much.  But I do want to take a step back and define what "core values" means to me.  A quick internet search returned the idea that these are fundamental beliefs that help to guide one's behavior.  Hmm, okay.  I'll take that.  And maybe I'll add that these are ideas that are very important to me; I guess that's part of being fundamental.  Whatever.

    Here's what I'm going to go with as my core values, at least as of today, November 21, 2015:

    • Connection: I strongly value my connections with other people and with nature/spirituality.  I would be lost without my friends.  It doesn't mean that I see or talk to my friends every day or even every week; it could be a quick text message, a post on Facebook, something like that.  Also, I enjoy briefer connections, such as a funny conversation with a cashier at a store or that Starbucks employee who knows what I always order.  These exchanges help me feel visible, part of something.
    • Creativity: It might be writing a blog post.  Or a poem, which I haven't done in forever.  Or it might be coloring in a coloring book, or loom knitting a scarf or a hat.  Playing music - which I haven't done in forever - and appreciating music that I'm listening to.  I'm also going to add into this the idea of being open to, and appreciating, other people's creativity, such as: a Broadway show; a live concert; a book, or short story, or blog post, or poetry; hand-made items.
    • Humor: I was kind of surprised to see this on the list of the 50 core values, although I don't know why.  But yes, humor.  I definitely use humor as a coping mechanism, and also as a way to diffuse a situation when I am feeling awkward or uncomfortable.  But laughter is vital to me.  I don't know that I would still be alive without it.  And I appreciate others who can make me laugh as well.  I love the feeling when I laugh so hard that my sides hurt afterward.

    I think that's where I'm going to stop for now.  I'm sure that there are other things that are very important to me, but for right now, I want to focus and reflect on these three.  And see where it takes me.


    Integrity Report

    My friend Robbi recommended that I check out the cast recording of Hamilton, and it's playing as I type this.  So I may get a bit distracted as I write this because I am really enjoying it and jamming out to it!  But that's not the point.

    Somehow - I don't know how - I ended up subscribing to a newsletter by James Clear.  And I like it.  Not every one moves me spiritually, but more often than not, I get something to think about, which I appreciate.  In one of them, he referred to an annual integrity report that he's done for two years now.  Here is the one for 2015.  go check it out - it's pretty amazing.

    It's made me think about starting something like this for myself.  Maybe I wouldn't share it with the world like he does, but even if i just do it for myself.  And - well - I don't even know where to start.  He asks himself three main questions:


    1. What are the core values that drive my life and work?
    2. How am I living and working with integrity right now?
    3. How can I set a higher standard in the future?

    What I like is that the questions look at what he believes, but also how he is living those beliefs.  I'm sure I can tell you all sorts of things that I believe in, principles that matter to me...but do my actions actually reflect those things at all?

    And I guess the place to start is with #1 - identifying the core values that drive my life and work.  Or maybe I'll just focus on my life and leave work out of it for now.  What are those core values?  Sleeping in on weekends?  Taking naps?  Earning a paycheck and paying bills?  Clearly not.  But it's certainly not a question that I can answer as easily as I'd like to be able to.

    Does anyone else have this figured out for themselves?



    Another Goodbye

    Today, it was time.  It wasn't an easy decision at all.

    My Per is gone.

    My sweet baby.  She was 15 years old.  She lived a long cat life.

    Per, short for Persephone.  My little goddess.  I hope she's back with Simba now, and that they are taking care of each other.

    Goodbye, my love.