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Reflecting on 2011

Overall 2011 was a great year.  It felt more relaxed and enjoyable than any prior year in recent memory.  I think it had to do with the fact that we haven’t moved recently and that I have finally come to a point where I see myself as an adult.  It’s funny but all through my 20’s I was still under the impression that I was 20.

2011 was also a year filled with a lot of change, excitement and  learning.  I think I have taken care of myself more in 2011 than any other year.  I have exercised more, eaten better, and prioritized the important things.  It really hit me in May when I posted this that I hadn’t stopped to think about who I was and what I wanted to do.  Since then I have been much happier because I know my choices are intentional and purposeful.  I made a list of accomplishments that I wanted to achieve and this is a good time to review them.  Here is my list from May

  • To plan several fun days with my family (done)
  • To work less, not at work but working around the house (done)
  • To make my wife feel loved and special (done)
  • To continue exercising (done)
  • To sleep more (not even close)
  • To play for an hour straight with each kid (done)
  • Plan something in secret for my wife (done)
  • Make sure I treat everyone in my life in a calm loving and respectful way (still working on this)
  • Listen more and talk less (tried this then forgot about it)
  • Quit bragging (done)
  • Stay out of debt (almost there)

Overall I would say that I did pretty good at focusing my attention on these specific things.  It really made a difference in my overall happiness and it is something that I will continue to do.

Obsessions.  Throughout my life I have always been obsessed with something.  2011 was the year I was obsessed with minimalist shoes as is evident in this years blog posts.  I can’t start to describe how much better I feel now that my feet are strong.  This may sound weird to 99% of the population, but strong feet affect the rest of my body in ways I never would have imagined.  My wife an I agree, once you go minimalist you will never go back.

The last couple of months in 2011 were probably the most exciting for me personally.  I don’t have a lot of details to share but my wife and I started our own business based on her invention.  I will share much more on this later, but for me, this project has been so fulfilling both personally and professionally.  Leaving my well respected engineering career to get my masters in business always left me feeling like a sellout.  I was hopeful that one day both my engineering background with my expertise in business would merge together.  This is exactly what has happened with the formation of this company and I couldn’t be more excited for what is to come in 2012.

2012 is already a year full of excitement.  I have plans for a fun new Soft Star project along with a couple other highly anticipated long term minimalist shoe reviews.  I will be running the Tough Mudder in February using my Soft Star Dash.  Finally, the adventures in our business that have yet to unfold are sure to be both exciting and memorable.  2011 was a great year but I have a feeling 2012 will be even better.

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Thinking?!

Do you ever sit and just think?

When I was a kid growing up on Lake Superior I would sit on a cliff overlooking the lake for hours.  I would just sit and think about life.  I thought about what kind of person that I wanted to be.  Largely, that time spent overlooking the lake molded me into who I am today.

When we had kids, my wife and I spent hours discussion how we wanted to raise our kids and how we wanted to balance work and play.  Recently I have noticed that I have been letting life just happen to me without really thinking about it.

I feel like I have arrived at the place that I intended to go and now that I’m here I have to figure what or where I’m going.  Then I realized that I hadn’t stopped and just thought through things like I used to.  I was just living life and handling each day as it came.  This may sound freeing and relaxed but it brings you to a place that you may not have intended.  I realized that I need to sit and think about priorities because otherwise things will get prioritized for me and the things that are truly important will not get time.

So what do I want to accomplish in the 2nd half of 2011?

  • To plan several fun days with my family
  • To work less, not at work but working around the house
  • To make my wife feel loved and special
  • To continue exercising
  • To sleep more
  • To play for an hour straight with each kid
  • Plan something in secret for my wife
  • Make sure I treat everyone in my life in a calm loving and respectful way
  • Listen more and talk less
  • Quit bragging
  • Stay out of debt

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Brain vs Body

I have recently become aware of the decisions I have made in the past and notice that most decisions are made either by the brain or by the body.  The funny thing is that the brain usually makes the wrong decision.  Think about this.  You are hungry and you decide to eat 2 donuts.  Regardless if they are good or bad for you think about what your brain says and what your body says.  Your brain says eat these they taste good, they have lots of energy.  Now after 60 min what is your body saying.  It’s funny that the brain is really a survival mastermind.  It says, don’t work, rest, eat more.  It says this because it is in survival mode 24/7.  Resting and eating are great when your survival depends on hunting and gathering your food with uncertain weather and the risk of famine.  Your body however is always consistent.  It always tells you the truth, but the brain is the lying interpreter.  I have found that the more you listen to your body the easier it is to ignore your brain.

I basically started taking mental notes when I felt bad and decided to avoid that in the future.  Some things to avoid are junk food, inactivity, too much tv, too little sleep.  Some things I have learned, fruits and vegetables make me feel good and can be eaten anytime.  Salad for breakfast? Yep.  Exercise can be hard but makes you feel good.  It’s strange that our body tells us that we are full but we decide to keep eating.

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Obsessions

I don’t have any addictions to speak of but I think I do have an addiction to being obsessed over something. Ask my wife, I have been obsessed over something at every point in our marriage. For me it helps me feel alive and involved with giving my life purpose. Its never anything overly weird but more of a quest for knowledge obsession.  Here is a quick rundown of the notable things that have held my attention over the years (roughly in order of time)

  • Rotary Engines
  • Turbos
  • Cactus
  • Monolithic Domes
  • Real estate
  • Metal
  • Food
  • Feet/Shoes

So this list needs to be explained to free myself from any criticism from being weird.  I’ll try to keep it brief as I tend not to do.

Rotary Engines – such as the RX-7 and RX-8 have.  I got into these in my engineering classes and thought it was the best thing ever.  To me it seemed to be  the best thing ever.  An engine smaller than a geo metro engine could be more powerful than a big block V8.  It just seemed so amazing.  I became set on finding an RX-7 to buy.  Concequently, my practical side won out and I bought a Ford Taurus wagon.

Turbos – Stemming from my classwork and rotaries I then became interested in turbos.  These also seemed to defy the laws that most engines obeyed.  Bigger = More HP.  Strap on a turbo to that same geo metro engine and you could keep up with some sports cars.  After bailing on my RX-7 idea I was set on getting a Turbo charged car.  Again, my practical side won out.  However, years later I did get a Saab 9-5 turbo and loved every minute of it.  My verdict on this one stays the same.  Turbos rule.

Cactus – Ok, this one is probably the weirdest.  I went on spring break to the southwest and came home obsessed with cactus.  It had to be that they were so different and unique.   I started growing the most unique and rare cactus from seed under my dorm bed.  Others grow weed, I grew cactus.   This obsession lasted until most of them froze during one cold WI winter where my heater went out.  Some survived and I still have them growing in my house.

Monolithic Domes – I’m still obsessed with these but just not so vocal with it.  Monolithic domes have to be the coolest thing ever.  This must be my engineering side talking but they are super efficient, strong, easy to build, cheap to insure and all around unique and awesome.  Still planning on building one some day.

Real estate – This one too I still hold onto.  My wife and I both love homes.  If we could move every year to a new house we would because houses are so cool.

Metal – Metal is everywhere and I am not generally obsessed with metal.  Again my engineering side is obsessed with specific properties of specialty metals.  Look back at the history of Damascus swords and tell me that metal is not fascinating.  For me pre-bessimer tool steel holds a special place for the obsession.  This steel is no longer made, it is  cheap to buy and superior in function to even the best of the current tool steel.  Enough said, I’m a value guy and I get excited easily.

Food – So not technically an obsession the excessive list of ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce in simple foods got me excited, but not in the good way.  I started looking at all of the food our family ate and was appalled by the amount of chemicals and general junk was in our food.  This obsession has naturally lessened as we switched to foods that did not contain all of the ‘junk’.

Feet/Shoes – This is the latest craze I have jumped on.  I started this as a fact finding mission after my wife complained about her bunion.  I wanted to know why she had bunions and I didn’t.  Little did I know it would take me into the world of minimalist shoes and barefoot running.  It basically comes down to this.  Shoes are not only uncomfortable but also bad for you.  They give you feet problems and depending on your activity level can cause knee, hip and back problems.  The real issue is that shoes are necessary for a good portion of the year and most all social environments, so my current obsession is to find the footwear that can function properly while fitting the need and occasion.

 

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Favorite Things

I thought it would be interesting to list out some of my favorite things, in no particular order.

  • Hot showers
  • Lake Superior
  • Campfires on the beach
  • Swimming
  • Leather
  • Wool
  • Sharp tools (knives, chisels, planes, etc)
  • Being organized
  • Bare feet
  • Exploring
  • Playing with my kids
  • Talking to my wife
  • Biking
  • Climbing
  • Fruit
  • Wide open spaces
  • Eating lunch somewhere fun
  • Making things
  • Being resourceful

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Is it important?

I have often thought about keeping a journal or starting a blog. I have never really followed through though. Recently I have felt like I want to remember what I was thinking at a certain time. Was it important then, what I was thinking 10 years ago? Would it help me now or just be entertaining to read? Who knows. I’ll be recording some of my random thoughts here to look back on. If anyone happens to stumble upon this, I hope you enjoy my ramblings.

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