Tag Archives: Life

Running on empty

My wife and I hadn’t taken a vacation together in almost two years. Sure we had taken “time off” during this time period, but none of those for vacation reasons and never both of us officially enjoying that time together for an extended period of time. It’s been a year and a half of unbelievable highs and the lowest of lows.

In the past year we have experienced the death of my aunt and a few months later, my grandfather. The lead up two their deaths bringing unbelievable stress as two people I loved dearly had their health deteriorate before my eyes. My mother-in-law had one hell of a health scare, including us receiving a horrible update while flying down to see her (good news is she has fully recovered in the past year).

It wasn’t all bad news though, but even the good came with stress and huge time commitments. We sold our condo, found & moved into a new house in an intense 45 day period that even had us literally driving to our closing not sure if it would actually happen (it did, barely). My career and employer absolutely took off beyond my wildest dreams, causing many long hours and intense concentration on my part as I elevated me and my team’s game. I’ve traveled eight times this year for work (twice to England), even nice with my wife despite me working the whole time.

Point is, I’ve been running on empty for quite awhile, both emotionally and physically. Without realizing it. And it has taken a true vacation, with no commitments (other than family with a perfectly timed and much anticipated Christmas) to finally realize it.

With just under a week left in my 10 day vacation, I’m enjoying every second of it by taking pride in the little things I can do at the pace I want to do them at. Simply put, I’m letting my brain unwind and regenerate the energy I need for 2013 to be successful. My wife and I have spent some much needed time with just the two of us without a commitment in the world. It’s probably the last time we will be able to say that, so we are enjoying it while we can.

What I hope 2013 will be is…normal. No moves, reasonable among of travel, stability personally and professionally….

…and God willing, no deaths.

The most important lesson a 6-year-old can get

My great-grandfather was one of those people that no one ever forgets. Everyone knew him and he knew everyone. One of the nicest persons you would ever meet. The hardest worker you could find is what I always heard about him. For a 6-year-old at the time, he also taught me a very valuable lesson the hard way.

I don’t have many memories of him, but I have a few. I remember visiting him at work at a doctor’s office next to New London Hospital. He was a maintenance man there that helped maintain the facilities. He would often pick me up and put me on his riding lawn mower as we went around the yard there. We would also go to his apartment that he shared with the love of his life, my great-grandmother. The apartment wall was covered from floor to wall with pictures of family. Nothing meant more than family to him. I remember hearing his stories. About what, I don’t remember, but I remember sitting on his lap listening.

A long time smoker of Camels, he had quit smoking when he found out cigarette prices went from 25 cents to 35 cents. Right in the store, with my grandmother who happened to be tagging along, they both agreed to quit cold turkey. My grandmother is still here today because of their joint vow.

It was too late for him though. In 1989, he was diagnosed with lung cancer with only months to live. It devastated everyone. This man, who seemed indestructible, would only have a few months to live.

As a 6-year-old, I never experienced death before. My great-great uncle Alberton passed away three years prior, but I was just three. But my great-grandfather, I had real recent memories with him and I was about to learn a hard lesson about death. I was told he was sick because of smoking. I watched him as he kept getting more weak and sick. I wish I remembered the last time I saw him. I probably never realized at our last meeting that it was our last meeting.

He passed away on September 6, 1989. I woke up for my first day of first grade and my mom told me the news. I got the talk of how he wouldn’t wake up from sleep anymore and how he was in heaven.

As a 6-year-old, something about his loss shook me to the core. The first promise I ever made to myself I have kept and will keep the rest of my life: never to smoke. I’ve refused to do it in the face of peer and society pressure.

Thinking about it now, I am sure he would list this as one of his greatest legacies: the fact that someone he cares about never smoked because of him. He saved my life.

How fragile life is

On May 7th, which was just over a month ago, my wife and I were riding on a commuter rail heading to North Station in Boston. We were attending Game 3 of the Celtics/Cavs series and this was my surprise birthday present. We were very pumped, looking forward to the Celtics game. In truth, it was a bad night. The Celtics laid a complete egg that game, with a humiliating loss. Yet that wasn’t the worst thing that happened. Before the game started, we found out my wife’s aunt had a very deadly form of lung cancer.

We would hear reports occassionally on how she was doing. Just a week ago, we heard she was starting chemotherapy and she seemed very upbeat about the whole thing. We hoped that it was a positive sign and maybe she could beat this thing.

Today, just 44 days after that horrible news, we were traveling back from Portsmouth when my wife got a phone call. She started crying almost immediately. I knew it was bad. Her aunt passed away.

In just 44 days her aunt went from living a relatively normal life (she had health problems to begin with) to succumbing to cancer. Heartbreaking to say the least. Yet she lived a full life and had a wonderful family. As her son said today in a Facebook post, “we lost a saint today.”

Next time you talk with someone you care about, realize that in as little as 44 days, they could be gone.

Organizing my life

It has been awhile since I have written on here. I have tried to keep up with the hectic pace of life. Yet the more I try to keep up with the everything, the more I realize how unorganized I am.

Right now next to me at my computer desk, I just have a pile of paper stacked on my multifunction printer. On the floor below is a stack of paper laying next to my shredder. Below the printer is yet another stack of paper. Below is a picture of this unorganized mess. Part of it is that I don’t really have anywhere to put my paperwork. The little stand that my printer sits on has a file cabinet drawer, but it is only one. Ideally, I need two. Plus, I desperately need to go through and clean out old paperwork.

Another part is my digital life. My wife and I share a MacBook for home use and I have an employer issued MacBook Pro for work purposes. Given how I am on the computer all day at work, the last thing I want to do is spend time at night figuring out what folder to put a file. Then sometimes I am too organized on my computer, with several layers of folders that can make me easily create unneeded folders since I can’t find the one I am looking for. I need to figure out a system that works and that I will not feel like is too much of a burden.

Getting an iPhone last year fixed my chronic problem of not remembering what is going on thanks to the calendar on it. Now when I have something I need to attend or need to check to see if I am available one day, it is just a couple of finger taps away. Revolutionized scheduling in my life, but I need to make better use of it. Many times my calendar looks empty, when I really can be doing something productive around the condo.

This gets to down where I jot down some ideas here and see if I can get working on them. Some I have experimented with over the past week with great results.

  • To-do List - I need one, I don’t understand why Apple hasn’t integrated it into the iPhone yet, but I found a possible solution. Thanks to Remember the Milk with its web site and iPhone app, it is showing lots of potential. The other day I accomplished a task that I had delayed for 6 months in 10 minutes! Today I took an old TV that we had meant to recycle to the dump, something that has sat in a corner for three weeks!
  • Shredding day - Tomorrow I plan on going on a shredding extravaganza, going through and ditching any unnecessary paperwork. I am also going to look for a filing cabinet that has room so I will actually use it.
  • Finances – I was doing well with this, but have slacked off a bit. I signed up for Mint.com, plan on redoing the budget, and figuring out how I can pay the $2800 left on the Subaru Forester car loan soon.
  • Computer Files - I need to go through my computer’s Documents folder and clear out old junk. The other day I found a letter to my old landlord from 2004 telling him we would be leaving the apartment in 1 month. I don’t know about you, but that is probably not needed anymore.

It is a few small steps, but hopefully one in the right direction.