Reflection on 2013 Simply Thankful

Today, I’m taking the road less traveled (actually, never been traveled) on this blog, from the usual technical articles, to get a little personal. Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day here in the US. For many people it’s a day filled with football and beer, family (love ’em or hate ‘em, YMMV) and entirely too much food. Then there’s the Black Friday shopping holiday (which has encroached further in on Thanksgiving Day, a few hours at a time each year). Far too often, the real meaning of Thanksgiving Day is lost in this vast sea of distractions and chaos, just as it is on Christmas Day. Yeah, yeah, I’m another person using that cheesy refrain again, “Don’t lose the meaning of the day, blah blah blah”. Trust me, I’m the first one to be negative or soak my retorts in an awesome mix of dripping sarcasm and humor, but I seriously believe in taking time for reflection and giving thanks this time of year.

In my humble opinion, it is extremely important to take some time during the holidays to reflect and give thanks regardless of your religious beliefs, or lack thereof. Whatever your situation, taking a look back over the last year can be helpful in a variety of ways.

First, looking back over the past year can give you a sense of accomplishment. Did you have your first child earlier this year? Did you think the sleepless nights would never end? Now you’ve got it whooped and can truly know what you are capable of doing. Did you have a project at work that seemed insurmountable, that you completed after much time and effort? Did you earn a certification this year or simply complete a small project at home that has been on your list for some time? Maybe an accomplishment was being able to spend more time away from work and with your family. Regardless of your situation, the personal or professional goals, there is most likely something in the past year that you’ve accomplished that you can feel good about. Reflect on those accomplishments and celebrate them!

Second, take a look back at some of the things that did not go the way you had planned. It’s important to analyze these items, but don’t dwell here. Think about these situations and determine what went wrong, and then look for ways to improve them. One situation I can improve on is meal planning. Silly as this may sound, with a family of five, and two working parents, planning dinners beforehand is paramount. Too many times I’ve found myself in a position where I need to have dinner on the table, but have no plan! Solution – try to find some time each weekend to think about dinners and schedules for the following week and plan accordingly. Again, there are things in each of our personal and professional lives that could have gone more smoothly this past year. Pick out some of these “failures” and use the gift of hindsight to avoid or improve these situations in 2014.

Third, plan for the future. Once you have considered both your accomplishments and the need for improvement, you can start to look towards and plan for the future. Many times, especially in situations in the moment that are difficult, looking towards the future can be extremely inspirational and it boils down to a single word, hope. Here is an example. This past year, our home was on the market for six months and unfortunately did not sell. In order to apply what I’m preaching here, I took a look back on the accomplishment, the failure, and planned for the future. We accomplished fixing our floors and various small things throughout the home to list the property. We did not sell the home, which means this didn’t go as planned. Now we are analyzing and planning for the future by asking the question, why didn’t it sell? We are going to improve the bathroom floors and painting, along with adding some landscaping to the front yard to improve the curb appeal and plan to re-list this spring. With this, we can renew our hope in selling the property and moving into a new phase of life as a family.

The people who know me and are reading this are probably wondering, is Gabe really writing this? That guy would probably make fun of this sort of article. My wife would probably laugh and say, this is an article she would have me read on Facebook. The truth is, yes, I most definitely would, but this is Thanksgiving weekend so I’m trying something new. :) So now I’d like to share with the world some of the things I am most thankful for this year:

Family:

  

It’s no secret that I have the best wife and children on the planet, sorry everyone else ;) This past year has been challenging in many ways, but we’ve made it through. I’m thankful for the four people who love me unconditionally and understand me like no one else.

Addison turned 6 this year. He is very well-mannered thanks to his mother. :) He has come so far in his reading and writing, its amazing how quickly they learn. He’s breaking boundaries on new stages everyday, he just lost his second tooth today! He has also made dad proud with how much he enjoys playing baseball.

 

Maddox turned 4 this year. He is doing so well at pre-school and is so much fun. Though he spends more time in timeout than the others, his imagination and creative happy spirit are truly a joy. He loves his older brother and is Delaney’s friend and protector. His love for Tom and Jerry, Popeye, and other “old-school” cartoons is awesome!

    

Delaney, our LaneyBug turned 2 this year. Today she said the word, “Christmas Tree” perfectly and it made us a little sad. This year in “terrible two’s” she has had to learn how to share with two older brothers, and with her preschool classmates, where she just started the two year old class this fall. I love all of my children the same, but it’s true there is something special about raising this sweet little girl :)

    
Holly, my loving wife who puts up with living with me. She is the ultimate planner, mother, companion and friend. Without her love and care for our family, I honestly don’t know how we would make it. She works part time nights and sacrifices so much sleep to be the best she can be for our family. For her, I am thankful beyond words.
 

 

Work:

This year has been an amazing year professionally. First, having the ability to work from home is fantastic. It comes with its own set of challenges without a doubt, but the ability to see my family more and be stuck in traffic less cannot be overstated. The most thankful portion of work this past year is that I was a significant part of the Cloudservers.com architecture, build, beta/development, and release. Tons of planning went into this project and thanks to a team effort we’re excited with what the future holds there.

On the Orcsweb side, I’ve had some successes there and enjoyed yet another year. Completing a vCenter 5.1 > 5.5 upgrade on two separate environments (blog posts on the way) and I’ve enjoyed working with our fantastic support team on a variety of daily and weekly tasks and projects in between. I was fortunate to have been nominated for the Microsoft MVP award for my community work on System Center Configuration Manager 2012. Though not awarded MVP status, it was a great opportunity and I’ve enjoyed assisting others. I also attended Microsoft’s TechEd 2013 in New Orleans, which was a blast! Thanks to Orcsweb, I was able to meet new people like Brien Posey and open up some new opportunities. Thanks to new doors being opened, for the last few months I have been writing technical articles on Microsoft Certifications for Pearson that should be published soon.

So, my house didn’t sell this year, but boy do I have a lot to be thankful for in my life. Taking stock at the wonderful people and things in my life gives me lots of joy this Thanksgiving season. The best word to summarize this feeling is, I suppose, hope.