Thoughts: 2014 huh?

I was just looking back at my thoughts and expectations for 2014, written after what was a challenging 2013.

I didn’t enjoy 2013 for the most part.

I had optimism that 2014 couldn’t possibly be worse than 2013. But it was.

Some things were definitely better, I can state. But a lot of things conspired to create stress and drama that was not helpful.

Still, I weathered it all.

And have managed to get to this day with a smile intact. A little older. A little wiser. I still have a deep love and respect for Toto and other 80’s bands.

There were some definite highlights!

These generally revolve around things my kids do. I love seeing them grow and learn new skills and display talent in areas I never did. It’s also great as a Dad being able to help them understand aspects of their personalities that they got from me (and are just weird).

My culinary love is growing and I’m getting better in the kitchen. Practice makes perfect, but it does add to ones body weight.

And of course some lowlights.

I do feel I haven’t spent enough time this year with ‘my’ people. Those who have been a part of my journey and who are still present, but as we all have separate lives and increasingly busy schedules, it gets harder to catch up. I also haven’t been able to meet and mingle and network as much as I need to do in order to maintain a healthy balance. Juggling finances this year has taken a toll, but I’ve survived.

Having to move home earlier this year really did impact me. It’s taken months to get my head into the new space and start to feel that it’s home. Moving furniture around, and experimenting with artworks has helped. Being next door to multiple supermarkets and food places makes it a potentially good environment for me. But it’s a 700m walk to the nearest bar… 700 meters!!! I suppose I’ll get over that!

So… What next then?

I have an unbridled optimism for 2015.

I’ll write about that shortly.

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Thoughts: Christmas Day and the post-Christmas washup

And… breathe.

I have survived Christmas 2014. And survived well.

In previous years I have found it tough (well, in the last five years). I’ve put things in place that ensure I don’t go to dark places and they seem to be working. I am now able to choose not to dwell on sad. Not to dwell on guilt.

Christmas for me is all about logistics. Sharing my kids with my ex is always a bit challenging. It generally means I have to commute from Central Auckland to Howick, from Howick to Dairy Flat, back to Howick, all with specific arrival times pre-planned. We alternate year-on, year-off who has the kids for Christmas Lunch with our respective families. This year I did. Next year, I won’t see them as much. It actually works.

Preparing gifts for my kids is important to me. And for the last few years I have had to juggle finances to make sure that happens. I have to plan my cashflow for weeks in advance, and given I don’t have a crystal ball, it can be concerning as the Holiday draws near. That being said, I think I’m in good shape at the moment!

New traditions are slowly embedding.

For the last four-five years, I’ve taken it upon myself to prepare the Ham for the family to enjoy. It seems to work and people seem to enjoy it. From a personal growth perspective, my culinary skills are improving. Practice makes perfect!

ham

Note: The glaze I use is Gordon Ramsey’s. Using actual Sherry Vinegar makes a huge difference. Don’t use a substitute!

I’m still very leery of spending time with my family. We aren’t that close and only get together for significant events (parents birthdays, Christmas). Plus I’m not particularly interested in sharing anything of importance with them. There is a disconnect there. And I’m not sure if it’s redeemable. I did try to be more open with them this year and I don’t know if it was actually worth the attempt. We shall see.

I got to spend time with another family on Christmas Eve (that of my significant other). It was interesting to see what they do and how they interact with each other. I do have to say that my ‘normal’ is not their ‘normal’ and as such it was a little overwhelming – not that I’d admit it.

Reflecting on gift-giving.

I love finding things for my kids and other people that they’ve listed. It’s rewarding to be able to tick things off as they’re acquired. Personally though, I’ve reached a stage in life where I don’t need to receive gifts for the sake of it. Generally speaking I do appreciate a little thought in the gifts that come my way. However this is offset with the joy of vouchers. I LOVE vouchers! (and if they’re for a specific purpose then that ticks the ‘thought’ box).

Worst gift of the year? Again, this award goes to my Sister overseas. It was a small book of Sudoku puzzles and a sachet of bath salts.

I don’t own a bath. I haven’t for over five years.

I hope you all have had a joyous Christmas, a relaxed Boxing Day, and have a wonderful slide into New Years.

S.

Thoughts: Holiday Monopoly

I was invited to partake in a game of Monopoly, where one of the protagonists was a 10 yr old.

Now, there is a fairly good reason I haven’t played Monopoly with children for something like 20 years. I’m a parent who doesn’t let kids win.

Some other parents disapprove, but I’m firmly of the belief that my kids will beat me at all things effortlessly in only a few years time, so I am holding on to dominance as long as I can.

And hopefully teaching them how to lose graciously in the process.

Anyway…

This Monopoly game started well. The 10 year old was off to a good start, retaining wads of cash. The cockiness was apparent, with $5 donations being offered to compensate for the suffering of the adults.

As the game progressed, the Mother started to suffer fiscally. The 10 year old displayed loud faux sympathy (the mother was well regarded after all). Note: there is a chance that the sympathy was genuine. I’m not yet sure.

I had to keep quiet and careful as I am highly competitive and have a tendency to go for total domination. This strategy didn’t really serve me well.

The mother was cleaned out.

The 10 year old was cleaned out.

It ended in tears and anguish.

The glorious victory was muted. Kind of like receiving coal from Santa.

It’ll be another decade before I play again. So not worth it.

Support: Dylan Story – 15yr old Snowboarder

From time to time I become aware of remarkable people doing remarkable things.

Or wanting to do remarkable things.

Oftentimes, all they need is a little financial support to help them achieve their goals.

Dylan Story is one of these. He’s 15. He’s got snowboarding talent to burn, so much so that he’s been invited to a 5-week elite training camp in Colorado.

He needs cash. He’s worked extraordinarily hard to pay his way, as well as developing a high-performance work ethic with regards to his training.

Here’s the link to his story and his pledgeme page. Can you help? We may just see him represent New Zealand at the next Winter Olympics.

Incoming holiday time

I’m nearly at the point of being able to think about what to do over the holidays.

I simply don’t have that much headspace to plan as it has been a fairly challenging year, that I will be very glad to see the back of.

I’ll be spending decent time with my kids. Starting with this weekend, and then on and off during the break. This year I’ll see them on Christmas Day more than last year, and I’m pretty happy about that.

Minimal family time is also a bonus. I don’t like the expectation of spending time with family that for 11 months of the year, ignore me or annoy me. I don’t like pasting a fake smile on my face and pretending that everything is awesome. Again, I don’t have the energy.

I have a week booked in January for camping with my kids. This has become a ritual, and something we all look forward to and enjoy.

My 12 year old son has indicated that I need to spend quality personal time playing Destiny. So, as we are both gamers and gamers talk about levels and progress, we can talk about levels and progress. So I will. (I also need to spend time roaming Diablo III just for the therapeutic benefits of a little bit of hack and slash).

I have my traditional Lord Of The Rings (extended) marathon day to prepare for.

Then there is Quentin Tarantino day, X-files day, Marvel day…

Sleep will also feature.

I can’t wait.