This time of year is a natural time to reflect a bit on the past year and think a little about the next. 2021 was a great year for me. So great in fact, I started to feel a bit “overflowing” with gratitude and have a strong desire to share the wealth a bit. In light of that, I’ve been exploring ways to give back to my community. I’ve already done a little work with brighten-a day and have been looking into using my remodeling and engineering skills to use with habitat for humanity*. More to follow on that but it could be interesting. Read on for some of the highlights of 2021 that I’m most grateful for.
The Coronavirus Pandemic in 2021, as terrible as it has been for many, was the impetus behind the telework movement responsible for making working from home more of a normal thing. Overall, this has been great for me (and many others), in that I can work more in tune with my natural rhythm. Resting when I need it, and working hard when I feel good, even at odd times such as late at night or on weekends. This is particularly beneficial for those of us with chronic illness. In fact, I believe the ability to work flexibly in time and location has been, in part, responsible for my return to a relatively high level regarding work performance. The bold actions I took in 2021 on the professional front have landed me some sizable responsibilities in 2022. It’s going to take planning, courage, and maybe some luck for everything to turn out right. I’m deeply grateful to have a great career.
Regarding this Blog, I wrote “42” posts in 2021. Which is actually kind of an amazing coincidence since, as pointed out in my latest Blog post, “42” is the “The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.” I managed to write a few good posts in 2021. I hope to build on that going into 2022 as I plan on writing a little less about me. While I’ll keep you updated on how I’m doing, I plan on writing a bit more about other people and/or topics that I believe are interesting or helpful in some way. I’m grateful that my writing sometimes inspires or helps others in some way.
My blog, Facebook posts, and workout antics, caught the attention of some folks in 2021. Besides some friends and I getting a visit from Jimmy Choi, I was interviewed by Mark Desa as part of his “Marked for Glory” podcast series’ Also, I agreed to be photographed for the new Young Onset Parkinson’s Network (YOPN) website. I was very grateful for each of those opportunities. I’m actually extremely grateful for all my friends, Parky or otherwise. You know who you are!
On the fitness front, I achieved my goal of deadlifting 450 lbs. I did not (yet) achieve my goal of bench-pressing 300 lbs unassisted….I’ll probably get there at some point. If not though it’s no big deal. At 42 I’m not really old but on the other hand general fitness is a more important endeavor anyway. So for 2022 I plan on mixing it up a bit more with more climbing, mountain biking, and HIIT style training. I’ve enjoyed getting more involved with the Parkinson’s specific climbing group at SportRock and plan on building on that. Whatever I do, fitness will always be a non-negotiable part of my efforts to keep Parkinson’s at bay. As effective as exercise is in maintaining mental health and maybe slowing Parkinson’s progression, I’m incredibly lucky to enjoy exercise as much as I do.
I took up photography as a new hobby. My initial work was some steamy portraits of my wife during our vacation in Puerto Rico. Since that time, my interests in photography have expanded to astrophotography. Encouraged by some initial success photographing, Jupiter, the milky way, as well as the Andromeda Galaxy, my enjoyment and interest in photography, especially of the cosmos, has continued to grow. My latest success was a hard earned image of the Pleiades Star Cluster just a few nights ago. I feel lucky to live in a time where technology allows us to use relatively available tools to peer deep into the night sky.
In 2021 I was able to do quite a bit of travelling despite COVID. We visited my brother and his family in Asheville, my parents quite a few times, went to Va Beach (twice), once with friends of ours. Went fossil hunting in a couple of different parks, did some photography events in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Georgia, and even went to Puerto Rico. I enjoyed and appreciated each of these trips.
Above all, being a family man is really one of my most important and overall appreciated roles. In 2021 I spent a lot of time running kids to swimming, Jui-Jitsu, track, and other activities. Volunteering at the kids swim meets was unexpectedly fun and exciting. I plan to continue to be fully involved with my children’s intellectual, athletic, and emotional development. Keeping up with their school activities, sports, and just being there when they need me is all part of my favorite job: being a Dad. I love them SO much and am getting is as many hugs as I can before that gets weird. I love my wife dearly and am sorry that I get so Parky at times. But you have to admit it IS a little funny when I have to run everywhere (festination).
Last year, I was inspired to design an elevator for our treehouse. My mother and mother-in-law have not been up in the tree-house because the rope ladder is a bit of a challenge. My dream for 2022 is to celebrate Thanksgiving in the treehouse with my parents, my in-laws, and my brother and his family. I designed the elevator a few months ago and am waiting for warmer weather to build it. I feel fortunate to have the resources to complete such an undertaking.
While Parkinson’s is obviously still a big part of my day to day experience, I can manage it while not letting it interfere very much with my life. I still often have problems walking. I still have problems with fatigue. My morning ritual is to creep downstairs like a 90 year old, take my meds, then sit down for 20 minutes or so while the medication goes to work. Amazing, am I right? What would happen if my supply of pills somehow became unavailable? Maybe this is one of the reasons that gratitude usually seems to come very easily to me. Daily reminders of how very precarious life is can do that I guess.
2022 will probably be full of ups and downs and all kinds of things to be grateful for. There are so many things that are going to happen my head almost spins when I think about it. But the final thing I’ll mention I’m grateful for is the fact that regardless of how much I fret about things, they always seem to work out in the end. So while it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the things that need to get done, it seems that just doing everything you can while trusting things will turn out ok has been working well for me so far. I’ll be heading into 2022 with plenty to be thankful for.
What are you grateful for today?
* https://www.brighten-a-day.org/ ; https://www.habitat.org/