Posted by: draknor | July 15, 2011

Two Weeks!

Well folks, two weeks ago at this time I was cleaning out my office, recycling all the papers in my filing cabinet, and getting ready to meet with HR for my departing benefits info & exit interview.  That feels like ages ago!
I thought I would take a few moments to reflect on the accomplishments and observations of the last two weeks, and then take a look at what’s coming up next…
In the last two weeks, I have:
  • Had a party to commemorate this transition — “Independence Dave!”
    A big thank-you to all the friends and family who came to visit, brought great food & drinks and helped make the party a great success!
  • Biked nearly 90 miles
    While for the serious bicyclists that’s nothing, for me this probably represents about 9x the mileage I put on my bike the previous 3 years combined!  I’m finally discovering that biking is a great way to get around, and not THAT much slower than driving.  Case in point — it takes me about 45 min to get places by bike that would take me 20-30 min by car (depending on traffic). Bicycle commuting would have been a perfectly viable option for me for years, if I just would have given it a serious chance!
  • Started this blog
    There are a gazillion things I wish to change about the blog, but the important point is that I’ve started. I can always go back and change layouts, themes, add context & links & tags to posts later — and I hope to do all of these.  But first, and most important, is writing. The best blog design in the world is useless if you have no entries!
  • Started dabbling in photography
    While I purchased some equipment before I technically left work, I’m finally starting to get out and shoot more now. I’ve picked up a couple of different lenses and right now am primarily experimenting with the technical aspects of shooting (aperture, shutter speed, focusing, exposure, etc).
  • Enjoyed “little things” I have ignored in the past
    I watched the space shuttle Atlantis lift off on July 8th for the program’s final launch.  I enjoyed Madison’s Concerts on the Square for the first time in the 8 years I’ve lived here.  I’ve been re-discovering the excellent branches of the Madison Public Library.
  • Had lunch with a friend I hadn’t seen in a few months
    I’ve never been paid much attention to the noon-day meal,  but one of my goals is to keep up relationships with friends & former co-workers, and lunch is a great way to do that.  I had a lengthy, relaxed lunch at the wonderful Marigold Kitchen for the first time, and both the food and the company helped make a great day even better!
  • Finally started sleeping in!
    My body is finally starting to adjust to not having a urgent need to get up in the morning, and so just the last few days I’ve started getting ~9 hours of sleep by staying in bed past 7:30am or so. Getting good sleep will be crucial to my fitness goals (forthcoming).
This has been a great start — but of course, its only the beginning!  What do I see as my key areas of focus for the next 2-4 weeks?
  • Diet, exercise, and overall fitness
    This area has been really grabbing my attention the last two days — I’ve been searching & absorbing everything I can on diet plans, workout schedules, best principles for fitness & health, etc.  Starting next week I will restart my diet log and put together a weekly diet plan to help me build muscle and lose fat. Much more to come on this!
  • Photography — more shooting
    There’s a couple of places I want to go to do some more shooting — particularly the Henry Vilas Zoo and the Olbrich Botantical Gardens.  Lots of opportunities there for experimenting with lenses, perspectives, and both technical & artistic details! 
  • Photography — picture analysis & online web albums
    Between the shooting I’ve done already and my planned shoots, I’ve got hundreds of pictures sitting on my computer!  I want to take some time to analyze them — which ones are good, how could they be better, what am I missing?  It’s not enough to blindly take hundreds of photos — I’ve been doing that for years with point’n’shoots. Now its time to get to the next level by reviewing & critiquing and focusing on improvement.  And as part of that, I will begin building a portfolio of online albums to highlight my best photos and help sell myself if I decide to get into doing any kind of photo shoots for others.
  • Blog enhancement
    I’ve put almost zero effort into blog design and layout thus far.  The content of my blog posts has been a  ‘stream-of-consciousness’ type of writing.  And while I don’t want to lose that quality, I also don’t want to be an island, sitting alone in a sea of information. The thoughts I end up writing about don’t occur in a vacuum, but rather are a grand tapestry of ideas fed from events in my life, friends, family, and resources & information available online.  My goal is to connect my writings to some of those sources and provide my readers with additional information and links where helpful / appropriate.
  • Reading — fiction
    It’s been quite awhile since I’ve read any fiction books, and that’s something I’m about to remedy starting with
    A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. My goal is to read the book/series before diving into the new HBO series Game of Thrones.
So those are just a few of my ideas, and I expect there to be many others as I continue to explore my new freedom.  I will conclude this post by noting just a few bits of wisdom that will help guide me in the weeks, months, and years to come:
  • Everyone needs help — seek it out
    This will probably be an entire post on its own one day, but what I’m slowly realizing is that, even with the advent of the internet and more information than you could possibly hope to ever utilize, right at your fingertips — you can’t do it all yourself.  You need guides, mentors, and coaches to help you get started, keep you on the right path, and push you when you can’t quite push yourself.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness — its a sign of strength of character and will help you achieve far beyond your own self-made dreams.
  • Time is critical, but its not everything
    When I left my job I wanted more time to myself.  Now I have it — and yet, the days still seem to go by too fast!  Guess what? There are still 24 hours in a day.  Same for me as for everyone else.  Part of life is figuring out how to manage those 24 hours.  But perhaps even more important is figuring out to manage yourself and your energy, so what you get out of those 24 hours is even greater. Much more to come on this topic.
  • Focus
    I’ve read a lot of books about productivity and time-management, back when I was working at the office and trying to figure out how to do it all at once.  One suggestion was to pick one most important task to accomplish that day, every day.  That seemed ridiculous in the days when I had dozens of items on my task lists.  And you know what? It still seems a bit crazy, even now that my “task list” may only be a half-dozen items.  But I’m thinking there’s still something to it, especially considering that I’ve had piles of clean clothes in the apartment  for days, just waiting to be folded. I FINALLY folded them yesterday — but “ran out of time” before I could put them away (to say nothing on ironing any of them!)  When I did fold them yesterday, I kept interrupting myself all the time to go do something else, instead of just folding the clothes.  Perhaps its time for me to revisit what it means to focus on one thing at a time…
I’ve rambled on enough for one post — stay tuned for exciting changes in “A Day in the Life of Dave”!