Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013: A Retrospective

Long ago, I concluded that New Year's Day is a useless holiday. After all, New Year's day really celebrates the national hangover after the festivities of New Year's Eve and a seemingly endless progression of bad football games and worse TV.

However, other than a day of miserable hangovers and football games, of marathon showings of "Dr. Who" other TV fare, the new year offers an opportunity to assess one's life and plan for one's future. David Allen would call it an "annual review". After all, "those who refuse to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it." and "To continue to do the same thing and expect different results is lunacy."

So, how does 2013 look in retrospect?

My answer is "Pretty darn good!"

For me, 2013 was a year of new things, different things, and transitions.

My bionic bride celebrated her new hip by walking across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. I walked with her.

I retired after 31 years on the job and continue celebrate the incredible freedom that goes with it. The problem is not one of having too few but too many worthy and exciting options. There is not time to do them all, and prioritizing has never been my forte.

In 2013, I got serious about my health and developed the habit of walking two miles every day. I also visited a nutritionist and acted on her advice. As a result, I end 2013 fifteen pounds lighter than when I started. What I'm doing is working. I intend to keep doing it.

We traveled in 2013 -- locally to Washington, DC for my 50th High School Class Reunion, and Nationally to San Francisco for the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots' Reunion. We went to North Carolina to see our oldest Grandchild graduate from High School, to Key West to visit our son's family and to Holiday, Florida to visit Paula's mom and sister.

I indulged my inner farmer by growing a successful backyard garden, volunteering at a community garden and planting and harvesting potatoes for the hungry of western North Carolina. The process of planting a seed in the ground and getting food from it remains a miracle.

We had the exterior of the house painted, not a transition, but an improvement. We call our dwelling "Dunmoovin Manor". We intend to live here for a long time.

I was honored to deliver the Memorial Message at the Vietnam Helicopter Pilot's Association Annual Reunion in July and a Veteran's Day Address to students at a local high school in November, both incredible experiences.

Not all transitions were positive. Paula's mom suffered a stroke and passed away in early November. Her passing leaves us diminished. We miss her. 

Some things didn't change.  We continue to buy an additional case of food every time we shop at Costco. We give it to the local food bank. We call it solving world hunger one meal at a time.

And some things didn't get done. I came nowhere near my objective of publishing a new post to this blog once a week. Neither did I do anything toward my objective of publishing a memoir of wartime experiences flying with the Pink Panthers. These will remain dreams, worthy objectives for the year to come.

That was my year, not a year without setbacks, but overall a good year and a successful year.

How was your 2013?

What went well for you?

What didn't turn out as you would have wished?

What do you plan to do about it?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hail No!

Hail to the Redskins!
Hail Victory!
Braves on the Warpath,
Fight for old DC!

I am a Redskins fan.

I have been a fan since Eddie LeBaron was quarterback.

I have been a fan since I first heard "Hail to the Redskins" while listening to a game with my Dad.

I have followed the Redskins through success and failure, victory and defeat, tragedy and triumph. Through the years, the Redskins have bumbled along to victory or defeat. 

Win or lose, I was proud to be a fan.

No more am I proud. The Redskins have quit. I have no other explanation for Sunday's debacle. They get no "Hail!" from me.

The coaches did not quit coaching. The offensive and defensive coordinators did not quit calling the plays. The quarterback did not quit throwing. The running back didn't quit running. Neither did at least two receivers quit receiving. There were even brief flashes of competence. But the line quit blocking, the linebackers and defensive backs quit pursuing, and the special teams just quit. Performance was less than lackluster. There was no hustle, no enthusiasm, no intensity. Were I a professional football player, I would be ashamed to accept my paycheck.

After the game, the head coach took full responsibility for his team's performance. It was a touch of class, but the coach can only direct. If players are unable or unwilling to respond or are half-assed in their response, the game is lost before it is played.

Football is a game of inches and seconds. One missed blocking assignment, one blown tackle, an inch too much or too little space, a microsecond too late to to see, turn, and react, a fraction less hustle than an opponent and the game lost.

Life is like football.

In life, as in football, you get no points for showing up. To succeed, you must execute.

In life, as in football, you need a game plan. Not having a plan is not a option. Not having a plan is not a good plan.

In life, as in football, You will need to adjust your game plan from time to time. And you need to have a "plan B" in your pocked for when "plan A" is not working.

In life, as in football, you must play every play until time runs out. You gain nothing by sitting on the sidelines. The final score depends on you. Success or failure depends on the final score. Unlike football, you will not see the scoreboard after the final gun.

In life, as in football, you must play every play with enthusiasm and intensity. The ancient proverb says "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your whole heart." As in a football game, your life results will show if you're "dogging it."

And finally, in life as in football, you are going to take some vicious hits. Sometimes, you will shake it off and continue. Sometimes, you may be forced to sit out a few plays. Sometimes, you may be put on the temporary disabled roster to heal and rehabilitate. But you must return to the game with all the enthusiasm and intensity you ever had. And you must return to the game ready and willing to take even more vicious hits.

Life, like football, isn't for WIMPs. If it were, it would not be life, and it would not be nearly as wonderful.

Where are you in the game of life?

Are you in the game or sitting on the sidelines?

How's your game plan working?

Are you shaking off the hits and getting back in the game?

Are you living every day with purpose, enthusiasm and intensity?

Your life depends on it.