It has been a fascinating month going through the Art of Manliness Jump-start your Journaling 31 Day Challenge. I suppose the key is in the challenge bit because for what it is worth it wasn’t the easiest of things to complete. A few themes came at me time and time again, mainly related to my relationships with people and how much (or how little) I ave allowed others into my deepest space. That (friends and brothers, mentors, my romantic relationship and a few others) is one of the key focus areas for the next year, which I have captioned The Year of Living Intentionally.
Loads to do!!!
Photo by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash
For the Day 30 prompt. Thankful for:
- Life: Given how many people I know who died during the course of the year, both young and old
- S: Who chose to accept me, warts and all
- T&M: Who continue to hold down the fort on the family front through what have sometimes been testing times.
- Books: For the opportunity to slip into them away from the world
- Friends: Who have stuck with me through the years
- Work: Which in spite of a growing sense of dissatisfaction still pays the bills.
- Travel: The chance to get away from it all from time to time.
Day 28 of the Art of Manliness 31 Days of Journaling Challenge is to gather my tools for a better life. Here goes:
- A Mentor: One of the clear gaps I have identified from the past year has been a tendency to isolate myself from people, both at work and in my personal life, one of the impacts of which has been a lack of oversight of my decisions. Mentors, in both my personal and professional lives, are a priority for me over the next year. Two people, EM and CG, come to mind as options for both domains. Engaging them with a view to seeing if this is something they’d like to help me out with is something I have added to my list of things to explore and conclude over the next year.
- A Mastermind Group: The AoM folks boil down a Mastermind group into a collection of similar irons which sharpen each other. Through my interactions with my friends in the corrosion business, I’d like to think the intent of this tool is being met already. Carefully selecting a mentor with corrosion expertise who also help provide coverage of this need, I believe.
- A Pocket notebook: My evolving journaling practice is loosely aligned to Austin Kleon’s (which is in turn inspired by David Sedaris’s).
- Discipline: All of the above require me to get off my backside and develop/ implement a number of habits consistently. Discipline is what will ensure I keep at these till they deliver value in my life. Enough self.
My distractions in no particular order:
- My phone with what it drags in (Twitter, Instagram)
- TV, particularly media consumption (Chicago PD, NCIS in all its guises and Chicago Med being a few of the things I burn hours watching)
- My (paper) notebook, a source of distraction for all the times I rewrite my to do list and obsess over the perfect productivity system instead of just getting things done
To manage these I am trying to control access, by setting up my phone to automatically turn itself off at night and restart in the morning, only watching TV at weekends and not fussing over the quality of my to do list. One more on the watch list over the next few days/ weeks I guess…
Playing football manager doesn’t count I suspect so I’ll have to go with the next thing which I am finding is playing around with data in Jupyter. This is something I am enjoying so much that I am seriously wondering if Corrosion & Materials remain a strong force in my future. Unfortunately I haven’t learned enough of the data science domain for it to be my main stay going forward, but if money were no object, that would be where I would go. That much is not uncertain.
Image Source: AskMen
A recurring theme on my yearly lists is to lose weight. Save for a big push in 2012/13 when I went from just under 100 kg to 82 kg, performance has been topsy-turvy. Things are decidedly far form ideal at the moment, seeing as I currently come in just under 94 kg at the moment. This all feeds the one small thing I want to focus on over the next few weeks, adding one push up a day to my morning routine. If all goes well, by the end of the year I should be up to 39 push ups each morning.
The Young and the Eager, for the Day 20 prompt
The most recent time of my life I feel nostalgia for has to be my formative years in Eket, Nigeria. Hired fresh following a year of national service, with a starting salary that almost eclipsed my father’s; 30 plus years of teaching in a University notwithstanding. Prior to applying, interviewing and getting hired, getting into the software industry had been my realistic focus, driven by my interest and a sense that it was perhaps the most realistic option for me. The perception at the time was that to get a good job in Nigeria, one needed to be connected.; which I was not being from a minority ethnic group in a minority state.
In retrospect, I look back fondly on that time for two main reasons; the sense of camaraderie that being part of a cohort of intakes bred (I’ve stayed in touch with quite a few of that group even though it is ten years this year since I left that job) and an underlying sense of gratitude and thankfulness for the opportunity to make something of myself I felt I had been given. That sense of thankfulness and of life being an opportunity that I have to make the best use of is one that I no doubt need to rekindle.
For Day 14
Currently on my reading list is David Leeming’s tell all biography of James Baldwin. Whilst it is a hefty read – and I have spent the most of the last month plodding through it between doing life and work – a few themes have stood out, including the influence of church, the civil rights movement and his struggle with his sexuality.
The more I read this, the clearer just how great an intellect he was is under scored in my mind. I’ll never read Go Tell It On The Mountain or Giovanni’s Room the same way again.