My soul is redlining these days but I’ve discovered a few breaths and a few minutes to write. Thank you as always for reading and affording me an opportunity to be better understood.
Hey friends! I tend to write really structured updates and the temptation to do that this time is totally there! Instead I’m just going to write about what’s on my mind and fill in the details where I can.
Work Work Work
Work blows. I’ve been a Scrum Master since last August and it’s on par with the terrible internship I had with Orange County back in the day. Lots of theoretical responsibility and a bunch of people too disillusioned and/or busy to really care about Scrum, Agile, technical quality, or me. Most days I have literally nothing to do. I’ve filled the vacuum by taking on large, team-wide server and database migration projects, team satisfaction surveys, trying to keep on top of strategy and momentum, but it all just screeches to a halt the second I have to rely on anyone outside of my office. It’s depressing as hell and leaves me feeling like a useless member of the team (and questioning my own value). Even worse, gaslighting in the form of “we’re all doing a great job” and “Scrum is so important to our success” makes me feel like I don’t even know what reality I’m in half the time.
Hello everyone! It’s March and I’m still alive, and that’s good. I had such a productive January that last month looked like it might be barren and unproductive by comparison. Not so! I managed to make some good progress despite the lighter outlook.
- Exercise at the gym: I went to the student gym several times in February and even sometimes at work! Also got to play some ping-pong with Rob and Erik too.
- Front door plants: Erik made us a really nice bench for the front door and we wanted to spruce it up, so we bought a couple of nice pots and plants for the front door area.
- Trailer hitch: Got a hitch for my CR-V and tested it out by taking the bikes up to UCF. Works as expected, if not a little noisy; had to fish a bolt out of the sub-frame the installers “forgot” about.
- Eye exam and new glasses: After taking a little tumble at work that scuffed up my glasses (and forehead), I popped over to LensCrafters for an eye exam and updated lenses and frames I’ve been putting off for far too long (since I lost my last pair in a lake in New Hampshire). Not a huge change in prescription and no eye problems, woo!
- Aeron chair: After putting it off for a decade of working at a sit-down job (and coming home to sit the majority of nights), I finally took the time to try out some Steelcase and Herman Miller chairs. Thanks to a super helpful staff member, I specced out an Aeron chair and put some savings toward it. Thanks to Erik for buying an IKEA chair off of me to help fund it. No idea when I’ll get it but I’m excited!
I like writing small updates around the turn of the month, but this time I want to deep dive into what goals I tracked for January to give a sense of how varied and granular it can be and still be super helpful (to me).
I track my goals in Trello with a very simple board layout: columns for To Do, Upcoming, Doing, and Done (cleared out once a month at our goals dinner). I keep the mobile app on my home screen, keep visible bookmarks to the board on every browser, and remind myself to check the board in my habit tracker daily.
I completed over 30 goal cards on the board this past month (which is crazy) and I’d like to share all of them to show how even the smallest goals can add up to a real feeling of self confidence and success.
For many years I’ve had the privilege of donning an amazing costume on Halloween at work and parties. In college, I received a custom mascot costume for doing some website work for a friend that created the costumes (thanks Spain!). I don’t exactly have many opportunities to don it, but it’s always a blast when I do!
After showing up for work in a red-herring beach bum outfit, I changed into the costume and had my usual fun eliciting surprise, nervous laughter and many questions. This year, I also met up with a small group of suiters on campus and strode around with them for a few hours. After we snagged dinner, I tagged along for a chill Halloween hangout that included the requisite round trip through weird YouTube, a little impromptu jamming, and after-midnight baked cookies and ice cream. I felt welcome and really enjoyed the opportunity to hang. 🦝
Sneaking in quick updates for the month of November:
- Met with a lovely and helpful friend to talk stocks and investing and get me rolling in the right direction with my money.
- Oil changed in the Fit! Erik did most of the work this time. It passed 90,000 miles a couple weeks ago. Feels like I just bought the thing.
- Physical therapist recommended me to get an MRI of my hip area if it wasn’t too expensive or a hassle. Spoilers: it’s a hassle.
- Started tracking my sleep with my Apple Watch and AutoSleep in an effort to be more aware of how much I actually sleep so I can take steps to improve. So far it’s working out pretty well and is actually really interesting to see the results every morning.
- In that same vein, I’ve also been trying to establish a simple bedtime routine of sitting with my laptop in bed until around midnight with lights out shortly thereafter. It lets me regularly focus on writing and organizing things just before bed, leaving me with a good sense of contentment and preparedness.
- After hitting a little snag in therapy, it’s been going pretty well since. I’ve got some homework that I actually look forward to doing and it’s translated into a good bit of hope for a future progress.
It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these status updates! My home and work life have been kind of turned upside down since the end of Spring and I haven’t devoted much time to writing, so let’s catch up!
It’s that time again! Just got home from our monthly Budget and Goals dinner and I’ve got some updates on goals!
Entered Sweetwater Cabin Lottery: There is a small, private spring and cabin in the heart of the Ocala National Forest, rentable by the week. It’s one of the only springs I’ve never been to in Florida, mostly because you have to win a lottery to even pay to reserve it. Threw in my entry for this year–here’s hoping!
Posted Weight Loss Blog: In case you didn’t see, I’ve lost a lot of weight in the past few years! Read about it in my recent blog post.
Finished Reading Leaders Eat Last: As part of a work book club, I finally finished reading Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t. A common selection for leadership, it’s a really good basic look into what powers actual motivation and how you can respect that in your leadership style. Worth a read for sure.
Performed Some Car Maintenance: Typical stuff, but changed the oil in the Fit myself for the first time (thanks for the assist Erik!) and had the tires rotated and balanced (a good combo with oil changes as a rule of thumb). Next month I’m rolling it into the shop for some major, milestone work: all new brake pads and rotors, a brake fluid replace, a complete transmission fluid flush and replace, and new spark plugs.
Planned Charlotte / Blowing Rock Trip: In an effort to see some possible move spots, I’m taking a trip with Vic for an extended weekend to see Charlotte for a couple days and chill in Blowing Rock in between. Too much driving but should be a good time.
Budget Updates: In our efforts to continuously approve, Rob and I augmented our budget tracking to include a record of our amount over/under budget for each month. We also added a “now” column to record the actual amount in each savings and checking account just to stay aware of the bigger picture.
ART and Massage: I’ve been kind of on-and-off-again about massages; they seem to help by lower back issues but they’re a little expensive. To try to get back on track, I got a handful of one-a-month visits scheduled through summer. On the kind and helpful advice of one Colson, I also kicked myself into gear about finding a permanent solution to these nagging pain issues. After searching around for an ART provider I came across a PT in a sports medicine / gym facility and attended an eval session that really could not have gone better. She walked me through everything, sated my appetite for a high understanding of the issue and way in which we were going to tackle it, and her prescribed exercises assure me it’s being taken seriously. Also a bit expensive, but looks like I’ll be hitting that 2x a month for a little bit.
New Videos: I released a couple fun project videos in February: a Celeste video walkthrough of a difficult level and a montage of footage from all of my Florida Springs trips from the past several years. I probably need to commit to a little less editing and perfectionism for the actual ROI I get out of this, but I’m glad to have made both. Check ‘em out!
Car Maintenance: One of the larger goals I have this year is to get my 2010 Honda Fit all of its appropriate high-mileage (80k+) maintenance (and I’m still figuring out all that entails). This month I tackled some easy stuff: new engine and cabin air filters and a new battery.
Landscaping Refresh: I put a good bit of work into redoing the landscaping around the front and sides of the house in October 2014, but I haven’t really had to do much since then other than nips and tucks here and there. This winter we had a few freezes and it was enough to knock out most of the potted plants. We all spent a Sunday picking up several new plants (mostly crotons) and rearranged the original brick tree ring. I don’t know how long it’ll last, but it looks really nice right now!
Hey all! Some quick updates from me, trying to get in the habit of reflecting on what I accomplished or did in the month prior.
- Built Go-Bags: In an attempt to make travel a little less painful, I built out a couple “go-bags”, one for electronics and one for toiletries, that are already packed with anything I’d need to stay overnight for a few days anywhere. I used them on a quick trip to St. Petersburg to see the Final Fantasy Distant Worlds concert (which was excellent!) and they worked out really well.The electronics bag: lightning cable; micro USB cable; portable battery pack; 4-port USB wall charger; iPad 12v wall charger; Nintendo Switch USB-C car charger; an Apple Watch charging cable; and a pen. The toiletries bag: clippers; toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss; deodorant; a razor; a small mirror; band-aids; a tiny tube of sunscreen; a microfiber cloth; and a seal-able wet bag.
- Taxes Done, Refund Received: I’m usually pretty fast on this, but I don’t think I’ve ever done it fast enough to receive my refund in January. 100% of it into savings, as usual.
- Held a LAN Party: Taking advantage of my boycott of the Super Bowl, I threw together a quick Halo: Master Chief Collection LAN party Sunday night instead. I was prepared for my rosy memories of chaos, hushed whispers of tactics, and cries of excitement to be let down, but despite all odds I felt transported back to the heights of our church meet-up LANs and generally had just a complete blast. I hope to be able to put together a larger and longer (heyo) attempt with MCC, especially after the next patch.
- Nights and Weekends Planning: Off to a good start! Using our “Home Nights” board (over only three nights a week), we completed games 2-7 of Charterstone, played through the main story in Celeste, sat through Baby Driver, started Stranger Things S2, watched half of Planet Earth II, played through both expansions of Forza Horizon 3 (that 4K patch tho), and dove back onto the Wii U to play through New Super Mario Bros. U. Likewise, our “Weekends” list has helped us plan for and sync on visiting Kennedy Space Center, hitting up all four Disney parks before our passes expired, catching Pokemon Go community events, planning dinners with friends, and even cooking meals. I’ve found it pretty stressful when my night comes up and nothing calls to me, but it’s something to work on.
(And now that it’s 2/19, I should probably go ahead and post this. >_>)
An exceedingly spooky end to a hike in the Blue Ridge. “Welcome to the family, son,” as Rob has said literally every time he’s seen it.
Blogging is hard, guys. Focus is on the decline these days, and boy is it frustrating. I started writing an article about various updates in early February and got pulled away to other things, so instead, here’s one for April!
I laid out a number of goals for myself in a blog post earlier this year. Here are some updates! Exciting! Exclamation!
Budget Update: Budgets have been updated! Rob and I worked on establishing an updated set of goals for our money for 2017, and as we’ve rolled into the year, I’ve put that into action. Roughly 30% of my take-home pay is going to bills and shared spending, while another 40% is going into savings (both shared and individual). That leaves me with about 30% to budget towards food, gas, health, travel, and general spending, and I’m pretty happy placing that tension on my day-to-day budget while direct-depositing the rest. The money’s still available if I need it; now I have to justify needing it, rather than blindly spending it. It’s worked pretty well so far this year, even with the frequent travel.
Vacations: Vacations have been planned (and many taken by this point)! Trips this year: all Florida state parks (many trips in the bag already!), Jekyll Island (was awesome), a Appalachian-flavored road trip (fantastic and fattening), a tour of the Florida Panhandle (just got back), an extended weekend through SW Florida (May), a classic High Springs swimming trip (Sept), the annual week in the Blue Ridge (Oct), a few days in the Keys (Nov), and (probably) Chicago to round the year out. There are a couple potential slots left to explore (early June and July 4th weekend), but I’m pretty happy with being able to have so much of the year plotted. I’ve found that having something to look forward to helps get me through my down periods, and it also helps me be content with not always doing so much in my free time in-between.
Work: Some mild success to report! I had lunch with my department’s director (over Jimmy Hula’s, of all things) to discuss my situation. He agreed that a hybrid role between project management and development would be a great fit for me for the next year or so. As of the end of March, both the leaders of our PMO and Development teams have been informed of my wishes and should be reaching out to me soon. I just scheduled a lunch with the Development head, so after this week I should have a better idea of where things are going. Here’s hoping!
Blogging: I tried the article-a-week approach (50 sessions of light writing a year didn’t sound like too much), but it ended up being really difficult to fit into my life. It’s been pretty disappointing; I underestimated how much focus is needed to really sit down, block out all the distractions, and write, especially when that time is usually after a full day’s work. Instead, I’ll be writing when inspiration, time, focus, or opportunity presents itself, while working on ways to improve my focus when needed. If anyone wants to read anything specific from me, please let me know!