Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 - Grateful for an Exceptional Year of Change

In order to appreciate where you're heading you have to be grateful for where you've come. What is difficult for me in doing either is I would characterize myself primarily as a living in the moment kind of guy. Short term memory issues are troublesome for me as I think little on what just transpired and am focused on how I'm feeling at any given point in time. Looking to the future is likewise futile as it hasn't happened yet so why worry about it. Of course, if you truly know me, these are only half truths as I both cherish the past, when coupled with emotional connections, and do look to the future; I just don't focus a lot of energy on either one. But looking forward to 2014 with some very specific goals and expectations is causing me to review 2013 and what has been accomplished, how I've felt, progressed, digressed and overall changed so that I may more appropriately see how these will impact and effect my coming year.

I would characterize 2013 as the year of unexpected change. Sometimes we invoke change in our life stemming from desires or needs and we carefully craft a plan around the change. Planned changed is more easily synthesized in our lives and it can produce wonderful effects. Nothing about change for me in 2013 was expected and in some cases I'm still reeling from it's effects. Here are few examples.

While I saw the writing on the wall, ending a coaching experience with my oldest son's team was a difficult retirement event, a whole year ahead of my personal plan. After having coached the team for 6 years and my son for 13 years, calling it quits was a difficult decision I arrived upon early in the year. While a celebration was fun at the end of the season, knowing I was stepping away from 20+ players and their families was heart wrenching to say the least. But as my son made the decision to call it quits and pursue other endeavors, I couldn't rightly justify coaching another year a group of loved players without my son in the mix; it would just take too much time away from those I loved most - my family. And so I said adieu to players and loved ones and saw talents players step away from a sport that they loved, moved us all and bound us as a soccer family.

With the change in coaching I also made a priority shift in my volunteerism at the soccer association. Also after 6 years of volunteering on the board of directors, having served in 3 different capacities, I made the decision to step down. Relinquishing control, especially when there are so many factors to a successful experience in the association that I was able to directly control, was difficult and I paid for it. From whispers in the background amongst sitting members on the board that didn't understand my departure due to ethical conflicts of interest, to Sunday game play for the remaining two teams still in the association without the backing of commissioners or schedulers, the Fall season was tumultuous and less than pleasant. Gratefully I have a few friends left on the board that are considerate, are protective and have good hearts, wanting to do what is right, and work for the good of all of the members. I'm grateful for their friendship and willingness to help me out especially when I don't ask. It shows their true colors and it's been deeply gratifying. Reducing my involvement on the board was a directed change which I didn't understand at the time but for one I'm grateful.

Education became a major delta in the Hanson home as our oldest went from a miserable existence in high school, being bullied, nearly failing and underperforming (likely because of poor motivation and still feeling the effects of a couple of concussions) to being home schooled. In April we pulled him out of the public school system and introduced him to the Kimber Academy, a hybrid approach to home school with some days spent in a learning center meant to supplement the curriculum of what is being taught in the home. The Kimber Academy focuses on LDS values and doctrine and provides a spiritually centered learning environment and technique. While our son took to the experience, shifting quickly from being a number in classroom to more of a self motivated style of learning, he also still bucked back and struggled to fully embrace the change. After a summer off of playing, working and more playing, the fall entrance back into an adjusted form of the academy (now Keystone Academy where Rebecca is currently teaching 2 times a week) was arduous to say the least. He struggled to attend the courses, became disenchanted with the duplicity of the courses and we quickly realized it still wasn't the correct approach for him. We've since moved on, helped him achieve a more than an acceptable SAT score, complete his GED and complete his application to BYU-Idaho (still waiting on his final admissions info to be submitted before we hear of his acceptance). He's now working as many hours as possible, doing some additional home schooling in math and we're biding our time until his entrance this next fall into college, a year earlier than planned.

One of the biggest changes that has impacted our family has been in the way of friendship. As our son was struggling with more than just schooling, the church's youth program Especially For Youth (EFY) was a way of providing a spiritual outlet for a son that was exhibiting interest-lacking signs towards his spiritual progression and growth. For him, getting out of Texas and away from home was the primary goal. After an invitation by our friends to vacation with them in California and being willing to send our two oldest to the Santa Monica, CA EFY, we booked what would become a life changing experience. Little did we know that our friends, with whom we had spent Christmas dinners, a few casual double dates for birthdays and for whom our daughter routinely babysat, would become our best friends. It's difficult to express how deeply I personally feel for each member of the Walden family. To love individuals outside my immediate family and to be loved is so foreign to me that at times the experience has been surreal and almost uncomfortable. The vacation itself was a starting point of many experiences since that have become cherished, zany and deeply thought provoking. My life will forever be changed by these experiences. I've wondered if through our friendship I've experienced a mid-life, not crisis, but awakening to a life more focused on enjoying each moment and making things happen rather than letting life flow past and passively enjoying other people's successes and fulfillment. Whatever it is, I'm so grateful for the past 6 months of silliness, goofy videos, strange text conversations, fun weekends, camping fun, vacation antics, friendship exploration,  birthday celebrations, nickname generation, game playing, hot tubbing, truth-or-dare ad nausea, food sharing and rejoicing together over life events that make the friendship so meaningful. I look forward to more enjoyable events, experiences and lasting connections with friends that just get us, accept us anyway and help us to be the best people we are to become.

Fitness became another change for me in 2013. At the end of May I embarked upon a journey of self minimization - a diet. Admittedly, I started with the HCG diet prior to vacation for 5 weeks and lost 12 lbs, 5 of which I had gained back by the end of the trip. After our return, Rebecca became uneasy with my use of the injections for various reasons and plead with me to discontinue it's use. I dropped the routine and strove to shed weight through eating less and running. By Oct I had gone from 215 lbs (my heaviest weight ever) down to 179 lbs. My goal is still a maintenance weight of 170 lbs to be achieved by the 1 year mark and I'm sure that with the holidays I'm back up around 185 but I'm positive I'll achieve this goal. The reduced weight feels wonderful, has given me more personal confidence and I feel more positive energy to achieve what I desire.

How I interact with my family has been a lesson in change. As my oldest has gone through some mighty changes this last year, I'm having to learn to adapt and speak with him in ways I've not had to previously. I'm still adjusting and have much to learn here. My oldest daughter is a lesson in change as I'm never sure whether to actively listen, parent or not engage and just let my wife handle it. She's more complex than all of the other children combined which makes my relationship with her that much more important to me. I'm confident that my the time she starts having her own kids I'll have it figured out just in time for it all to change again. My youngest son is changing each day and while he's me incarnate (is that possible with both of us living), he's still unpredictable at times. With his strength increasing and determined will to be right omnipresent, I'm learning to be patient while speaking with him. My youngest still has the pre-adolescent charms in an adolescent body which is it's own challenge. To treat her like "Daddy's little Girl" isn't always so easy but makes me want to hold on to last vestige of childhood. Lastly, I'm still learning how to communicate in a meaningful and fulfilling way with my eternal sweetheart. I've been too lazy over the years in this realm, thinking I had it down and that our comfortableness was a sign of success. I've been made aware that this easiness is idleness and to earn the full measure of her love requires more effort on my part to truly understand her. It's a journey and I'm still on it.

Lastly, a big change in my relationship with God has been enlightening and uplifting. Through the past 13 years I've been directly associated with the Scouting program and Young Men's program of the church. I was recently the Young Men's President in our ward for 3 years which I thoroughly loved with all of its challenges and blessings. At the start of our vacation I was released from that calling and remained without a calling for 6 weeks until being called as a Stake Seminary Instructor. The shift from actively doing to teaching was a shock to my system. Not only was I called to primarily preach the word, but my ability to intimately synthesize what is being taught and affect the teachings in my personal life have been tantamount. I have felt my ability to accept God's love, His chastisement for my follies, His forgiveness in my repentance become more effectual than I have most of my grown up life. I'm not sure if the change has been due to studying His word more intensely or if my need for the aforementioned has been stronger. Either way, I feel like my spiritual strength and awareness is changing but is wholly dependent, as it should be, upon my obedience to live the life He desires for me.

So here at the end of 2013 I have to wonder whether change has been the epitaph of the year or whether my eyes are just more clearly seeing God's blessings that have always surrounded me. Whether it be change or His blessings, my eyes are certainly aware and my heart is filled with gratitude.

What one word would classify your personal 2013 year and why? I'm interested in reading about them so comment below or link to your own post.
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