Friday, December 30, 2011

The Last Workday of the Year

It is The Last Workday of the Year.

The Last Workday of the Year shares many of the same aspects as The Last Day of Work Before Christmas. Most financial generation is over except for the billing. The list of what has to get down this week has continued to become shortened as the week has progressed, as much from "I can really do this next year" as "I accomplished this".

In their heart of hearts, people are waiting for the official announcement: "It's the last day of the year. Let's go home." They won't say this, of course, but they'll find other ways to review it - periodic counts of how many people are in the building, followed up by another count to see how many have left.

Even I am lingering this morning over my coffee as I prepare to get ready for work. The traffic has been great this week - the most direct route has only been 25 minutes, which it never is - so getting there "on time" is not the issue. And I, too, am mentally making my list as I prepare to get things chopped off or moved to next year.

Because in the end, today changes nothing. The reviews are already in, and 99.9% of my actions are accounted for. It will be a paperwork shuffle if anything - reviewing things that basically won't get done anyway than next year, as how much can you do in one day?

Is there a sense of accomplishment to this year of work? Not really. I can point to a great deal that I accomplished this year, but hardly with a sense of accomplishment. Why? Because there's no enduring sense that a difference was made. Already the projects and common daily tasks for next year are stacked higher than I can reach them. The year past then blends into the year to come: one long experience of projects which, so often, seem to lead nowhere.

Ironically, the greatest anticipation of this day is simply when we do get to leave. It is one of 3 days of the year where the possibility of leaving early exists - a something to look forward to in the midst of the seamless transfer from last year to this.

So Happy Last Workday of the Year. May all your tasks be completed.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Making Progress, Meaningless Work

"Making progress on meaningless work doesn't boost engagement; people must feel that they are contributing to something they value. " - Teresa Amabile and Steve Kramer

Progress on meaningless work - what a seemingly counter intuitive concept. By well-acknowledged definition, progress always means moving forward, moving towards an end goal, moving towards something better. But what if that progress is in something that has no meaning. Is it progress?

To use an example in my own life, if I complete the review of reams of documents which mean nothing outside the small circle of company I am in, have I really made any progress? Or have I just completed a task which more than likely will be filed away in a memory stick as part of an electronic archive in some years? Yes, I have checked items off my "to do" list, but have I really contributed anything in a meaningful way?

Yes, I agree with the hypothesis that such progress doesn't boost engagement of anyone; but I think the more fundamental question is "Does it represent true progress?"

As an employee, I want to be spending my time on things that matter, that make a difference or improve something. The same is true for me as a human as well, I suppose: I want to spend my time on things that are meaningful and involve progress (although often these are things of the heart: my cheese making, though I'm becoming more skilled at it, is hardly going to change the world). And even as a Christian, I want to make progress and be more obedient in the things that Christ desires, not in things which are trappings of the world or the mores and preferences of people.

Money cannot be a substitute for meaning; progress on the meaningless cannot be substitute for effort that makes an impact.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Whiff of Grapeshot

Where do I want to go next year?

2012 already stands to have the scent of change, a "whiff of grapeshot" about it. Already - and it is not even the New Year yet - A' Bhan Ghradh has posted her intent to leave, and the unraveling of work has thus begun. I find it unlikely that this time next year my place of employ will resemble anything like it stands today. Looking at my circle of friends, I predict changes for many involved -Uisdean Ruadh, Snowflake, Bogha Frois, maybe even Otis (but in his case, only more success than he has already achieved).

Which leads me to the question above: where do I want to go next year?

Among the things I've managed to gather over the course of a career and life, one is that it never pays to be taken by surprise by events. Work environments can change in the blink of an eye with even the departure of one - and once changed, they become something different and not always pleasant.

Change is coming: what will I do about it?

I started to push my goals out onto paper last night. In general, they ones that flowed out were not ones that particularly surprised me: Physical, Financial, Personal, and even Professional were similar to years past (telling me that I really have never achieved any of them) with one small exception: the "Become a Published Author" moved from a personal to a professional goal.

That one scares me a little bit (all good goals should, right?), as it is 1) way outside my comfort zone and 2) making a declaration of sorts - the declaration that in some form or fashion, I'd like to write for a living. Scary stuff.

The two remaining categories - familial and spiritual - hover in the background, nagging at me a bit further. These, too, are areas of change for 2012 - or need to be. Familial needs to continue to be around relationships and doing things together (I am still stunned by the amount of interruption the layoff and move away put in in place); spiritual - I'm not sure yet what this part means, other than my commitment to Christ needs to be 1) Deeper and 2) More real.

The New Year is coming, and change is coming with it. Will I be ready - or I will swept away surprised that change came at all?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Father's Gift

I think the most surprising gift I got this year was the one I didn't anticipate from the person I didn't anticipate it from.

I am a father of daughters. I have attempted, in my broken and fairly unorganized way, to raise them in such a way that they learn to stretch their wings and explore, to believe in God and the plan He has for them through the talents they've been given, that they learn to feel confident in using their talents and trying new things, and that they learn that their talents and gifts are not only for themselves alone, but for the good of others as well. Through them and their talents, they express the love of God to a world desperately in need of it.

A tall order to be sure, and one which I'm never quite sure I'm fulfilling well. There are times I see hints of it, but a great deal of time as well where it feels as if one is tilting at windmills. Do such things really have impacts on their lives of our daughters?

Enter the Christmas present. Enter Buttercup.

I get to cheat in a way that you, gentle readers, do not: I get to see her daily posts on Facebook. I have watched over the last few years as she undertook a dream which she had put aside - to get a college degree in teaching - which has morphed into her life's calling helping autistic children.

And here's the cool part: she speaks constantly in her writing of her father.

He passed on in July 2010 and so has never (physically) seen all that Buttercup has done in this time. But that hardly means he is not present in her mind: nay, her writings and thoughts drip of him with so many entries; even this year at Christmas, she speaks with high praise of a gift she received, a quilt made of his shirts, a physical reminder of his presence.

I say that his influence continues because she says that his influence continues in her life to this day: in her gardening, in her service to others, in her faith. She keeps on her desk a wooden apple, a constant reminder of him.

And a great comfort it has been to me as I work through what so often seems to be the wreckage of my life, hoping in some way or shape to inculcate what I would wish that my children would know and internalize long after I'm gone, to see that in at least one case that I know of and can attest to, such a thing actually can happen: we can do what we hope to do.

And that hope, that example, is the greatest gift I received at the end of one long year and the beginning of the next: lessons can be learned and lives influenced (and others therefore changed) by the example and lessons of a father.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Year of Living Courageously

Dear Friends,

And so the end of another year is upon us, the looming gift of 366 days (Leap Year, you know) an unopened packaging waiting even as we close down the last week of this year.

Perhaps you, like me, are examining the year that has gone past, realizing that there was too little done for you wanted to do or what you needed to do and too much done that which had no lasting import; you find that the end of the year this year leaves you much in the same position that the beginning of the year did.

Let us take an oath, you and I: Let us make this The Year of Living Courageously.

Why Courageously? Because the world is in sore need of you. It is in sore need of the talents and gifts that you (and I) can supply.

And truth be told, you (and I) need to live up to a better and higher level. Truth be told, if we are where we were at the beginning of the year, we've actually declined, because we've lost a whole year of living.

But I warn you up front: The greatest obstacle to living courageously is not those around you (oh, they'll mock or discourage). It's not the circumstances that will seem to be against you (they will always be against you somehow). And it's not the tides of history that seemingly sweep away any change you desire to make in yourself or the world out to the sea of anonymity (these tides have always swept through human history).

No. The greatest obstacle will be yourself.

Courage is like any other talent. We have to train ourselves to use it. And the first time we use it - the first time we try to live courageously - it will feel like death. We'll feel as if we're a tender shoot, sitting in the hot New Home sun, withering under intense heat of the scrutiny of others but even more so under the scrutiny of ourselves. We'll feel embarrassed and unworthy and a failure.

We'll survive, of course. And we'll do it a second time. And a third time. And it will feel like dying again.

But over time, what we'll find is that courage is like any other muscle: use it enough and an iron-hard conviction will develop within us, something that is no longer swayed by the opinions of others - or the opinions of ourselves. Living courageously will become part of each and every action that we take.

I don't ask about your goals or aspirations or dreams. Live courageously, and these will flow out of you as naturally as breathing.

A few are born courageous - the rest must become so by effort.

Your Obedient Servant,

Toirdhealbheach Beucail

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Away

This Christmas is a first in 44 years. It's the first Christmas I won't spending with my extended family.

For the course of my life, we've always been with extended family: with my parents (of course) and sister and my maternal grandparents through high school. In college, I came home for a bigger set of family - aunts, uncle, cousins, eventually a brother in-law as well. When The Ravishing Mrs. TB and I got married, I added another layer: in-laws and sister in-law and another set of aunt, uncle and cousins.

The arrival of children just meant we went more places: one day with my parents, one day with my in-laws, and occasional meanderings through the homes of other relatives. They were only 2 hours apart, so it hardly a stretch that we wouldn't see everyone during the Christmas season.

And this year, we will be by ourselves in New Home.

I'm not necessarily overly sad about it - I mean, compared to the sacrifices so many people actually make, this is a little thing. And it's not as if we're alone - we have Na Clann, which I'm sure will keep things interesting enough with the de-packaging and assembly of various Christmas arrivals. They'll not be an absence of joy or Christmas here.

I suppose the thing that made me start about it more is simply that it is happening - the sort of milestone that one realizes one has passed only after the car has flashed by it. It's more the realization of something being different than something missing that makes it interesting to me.

Sometimes the change in the season of life is so subtle that it escapes even ourselves.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Last Day of Work Before Christmas

Today is The Last Day of Work Before Christmas.

The Last Day of Work Before Christmas is always a somewhat confused time. On the one hand, there are things that must get accomplished, especially in light of the fact that many people take the week after Christmas off, so signature and approvals will not be available before the end of the year. It's a madhouse of scurrying, writing, cajoling and whining to get things accomplished either now- or next year.

On the other hand, there is a sense that it is almost a day of non-work. Personnel on site are always about 40% of what is normally there, so many things simply can't get done. There's almost a sense of a holiday at work as well, the feeling that the clock is slowly ticking down to freedom. People take longer than they usually do to stop and drop off paperwork to chat for a few minutes with gloating or despairing depending on how much time they are taking off. Individually decisions are made about how much work actually can get accomplished by the end of the year: by 12 PM, people starting moving things off of their lists with the thought "I can do it next week when no-one is here" or "I can do it next year".

The one almost universal tradition - almost everywhere I've worked - starts around 2 PM or so, when people start checking their computers for the ever-hoped for "Let's close early" e-mail. In some places it's merely a periodic check; in others, work almost slows to nothing as individuals cluster like quail, wondering if it will happen or when.

But inevitably something happens - the "get out of work early" message or simply the winding down of people's day. By the time the end of the day rolls around, the workplace is silent - not just the silence of people being absent, but the more profound silence of people dropping their work cares and sorrows on the way out the door.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Writing by Christmas Tree Lights

The two weeks around Christmas are always unusual for anyone that has children, especially when they have holidays. The normal bustle I would associate with this time of morning has completely disappeared; everyone is sleeping in late today. The house is quiet, with the exception of Kiki the Pseudo-Eagle, who is testing the locked door of her cage to see if by chance it's open this time.

It's a overcast morning here in New Home: it is the cold of fog but not the its misty covering, the deadening without the blocking of vision. It's quiet as well: the vacation seems to have extended to those around us, as I can hardly hear the sounds of any cars motoring off to school or work.

Which leaves myself and the Christmas Tree.

The joy of Christmas Tree lights is that they bring a multi-coloured twinkle to the writing experience. They're not much for lighting any keyboard, but the red, green, yellow and blue play at the edges of my vision as I type. They bring a sort of seasonal cheerfulness to the morning as they silently light the coming of the Saviour. They cast a happy sort of silent cheer throughout the living room and throughout my heart.

There's a sense of peace I can't fully define as I sit in this silent house which is filled with my family at rest, as the pets quietly munch away or occasionally chirp, the Christmas Tree lights reflecting off the bottoms of my eyelashes and patchworking my sweatshirt with colour. I know the day is coming but somehow I cannot find it in myself to become concerned about it.

Sometimes, it seems, the greatest task is not so much doing as it is resting in the moment.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Short Entry Today?

Stupid Thunderstorms:
Making planes and people late.
All this and work too.

Monday, December 19, 2011

On The Road

I find I like traveling alone less and less.

Business travel is becoming more and more of a less desirable option. It wasn't always so - at one time, I was happy and excited to go. I liked going to new companies and new places, seeing how they did things, and then returning. I like what went along with it - hotels, eating out, travel points.

But now I find it much more of an undesirable option.

Why? The single biggest reason is that I now begrudge the time away from my family. Every night I'm here is a night I'm not with them, a night I'm not in familiar surroundings.

I like traveling much less than I used to as well. Not just the airport experience since 2011. The planes are more packed, the waits are longer, people and their darn "it can roll on, so it's a carry-on" - even if it takes an entire compartment's worth of space - are more annoying.

But it's the fact of being alone as well. I don't really like to eat out by myself, or really do anything alone - typically I'll find what's in the hotel to eat or right near it, get my food, then scuttle back to my room. I'm not one to find enjoyment in the "freedom" of being temporarily unencumbered by responsibilities.

Do I still like seeing other companies? Of course I do. That part is still very enjoyable to me. It's just the all the parts in between that have slowly lost their luster.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rain and the Universe

I woke up early this morning. After flopping around for a while, I got up to avoid disturbing The Ravishing Mrs. TB. I came downstairs and performed my usual morning routine - Read, Pray, a little theology, a little language - even a bit slower than I usually do them, as it was early and I had lots of time, right? Made Coffee. Unloaded the Dishwasher. Fed the Rabbits. And then finally got dressed to go running.

Literally, as I was tying my shoes, I heard the sound of rain starting to pour coming from outside.

I went outside and looked: sure enough, the skies had opened up and started dumping the rain that they were promising all night.

I stood there for a moment in the door frame, looking at the rain as I rocked back and forth in my tennis shoes, trying to decide if it was just a burst or would continue. The rain showed no signs of reducing in intensity in the gray pre-dawn - in fact, it seemed to increase in intensity as if to mock my thoughts. I sighed, went back inside, and grabbed a cup of coffee instead, contemplating the timing that caused it to rain almost the second I planned to go out, after 1.5 hours of activities inside with no rain at all.

There really are times that one feels the very universe is opposed to one's efforts.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Rain

December rain's warm,
like the coffee in my hand:
Can this be winter?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Iaido in the Mist

One aspect of New Home that continues to surprise me is the temperature fluctuations. In a one week period, we have probed the depths of the high 20's as well as getting up to later to the low 70's. It is a novelty to me that such swings can occur when one is used to a "fixed" season of the year.

This morning was one of those mornings. I peered out the window and discovered a fog, a mist which had covered the world in damp yet was surprisingly warm. Warmer than it's been in a while in the morning, I grabbed my bokken and headed outside.

I love the world in a fog - more so in a warm fog, as it turns out. The light from streetlights and outdoor lights is diffused, pouring through the gaps in the fence on visible chains of photons. The sound seems muffled as well - not just the quiet of morning, but the deadening of all sound.

The treat for me was the moisture- so much that it dripped as a slow rainfall from the oaks hidden in the foggy half-light.

It was, I decided, perfect Iaido weather.

Assume the position. Migi, Hidari. Hand to tsuba and tsuka as I turn my body and step migi. Saibiki as I pull the saya down from the blade.

And plop! A large drop of moisture lands squarely on my head (the samurai tales never mention that). Shake my head, continue on.

And so I move through the morning mist, drawing and sheathing, cutting and blocking, moving forward and back as the bokken scatters the diffused light and water into invisible waves which make the plunging drops of collected moisture plunge to the ground.

There are times - all too seldom -when in practicing a martial art one reaches the point where not only is one's movement in synch, but the very atmosphere one practices in is equally balanced, where the movement of one's self and the movement of the world around them come together to create an experience which while being simple practice session shines to the very core of the art itself.

Today was such a day.

Monday, December 12, 2011


There are moments in life when things just click.

I've learned such moments are random and unplanned. I can't get everything in order, lay out my plans, and then suddenly things just work. I wish I could - it would make things a great deal easier.

It comes at odd times- in the middle of a Saturday, or on a Tuesday at 2:00 PM, or on a Thursday evening. That sense that life is working, that progress is being made.

I wish I knew what created that sense, or what maintains it. I'd like to believe it's planning, or effort - but too often it seems to be neither of those. Instead - and this is the most surprising thing - it literally seems to be something from God. A sense that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing, even if it doesn't always feel like it is the thing I want to be doing.

I wonder if too much of our personal discontentment stems from expectations we put on our lives ("Disillusionment is the child of illusion" - Chip Ingram) and less from the actual circumstances therein.

Like so much else, I'm not sure. All I can say with certainty is that sometimes the less hard I try, the more things seem to work well. At times, one can almost hear the "click" of one part of life sliding in to another.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Sharing Space Again

I seem to be reaching a tipping point of sorts.

I'm finding parts of myself in the last two weeks that I don't believe I've seen in years. This fellow that occasionally speaks out of my mouth and acts with body is not the guy that usually lives in here. He's more decisive, more vocal, more willing to speak up and more willing to act.

I have no idea where this fellow wants to go. I'm not sure he does at this point either - or maybe he does and he's just not telling me about it. He seems to act like he has some kind of plan, or at least some kind of idea what the direction he wants us to go is.

If I had to guess, he's that fellow that lived here some years ago - back in the days when things were for the choosing rather than for the getting along (see yesterday's post). He's certainly much braver than I usually am, more willing to be confrontational if there is an idea or subject worth discussing instead of just sitting back and whimpering about it or stewing after the fact.

I'll be honest - I kind of like him. It's nice to have some company here, especially some company that (for once) doesn't tear down the current inhabitant or make him feel guilty about not doing things or just sigh and feel hopeless along with him. This fellow just picks up and starts going in a direction, dragging the rest of me behind him.

Sometimes we lead ourselves. Sometimes we get led by ourselves. As long as it's forward movement, I'm not sure that it matters.

Thursday, December 08, 2011


I'm starting to get calls from recruiters again. I'm not sure that it's not the end of the year rather than my particular resume or skill set, but coming in they are.

It's a good practice for no other reason than it makes one get into better practice when speaking. It's also good this time around because it is making me more formally evaluate what I really want.

In the past there seems to have been a progression in why I changed jobs: learning new skills (1996-1999), following a mentor (2000-2004), doing my own thing (2004-2005), and then just finding a job to keep the bills paid (2005-present). If I examine that progression (never thought of it that way before), what I see is that my choices in why I do things have gotten less and less - I've chosen less to advance a career than for my own personal reasons (and eating, I suppose, does constitute a personal reason).

One's own personal reasons are not bad things to be sure - but they can interfere with life if there's no master plan behind the choices - and more often than not, that is me.

So as I speak to these people I'm asking the question: what is it that I'm seeking in a position? More money? Sure, that'd be nice. Location? Yes, if it's convenient. But more often than not, I'm talking in terms of career advancement, of what I want to accomplish with and through any new position.

Jim Rohn, a very wise man, once said "The only way things are going to change for you is when you change". It's not the change of job or location or position I'm really seeking, I suppose: it's how I can and will change as I go to that position.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Friend, Manager, Leader

Finding one reason I may have been brought here yesterday.

I am having an internal confrontation in myself between being a friend, a manager, and a leader. One I do very well, one I do passably well, and one I don't do very well at all. It is an issue because it impacts not only my professional life, but my personal life as well.

I realized last week that at the end of December, I will have a manager for 10 years. This is an exceptionally long time to be a manager, especially as I have moved from company to company several times. Originally I came up with other reasons, like it was different bosses, or I came out of the industry and in, or that I came to a new portion of the industry. But in considering it, I have begun to wonder if it is not if fact something within me that keeps me here.

Not that I want to be something beyond a manager necessarily (yes, it's inevitably more money) for the title, but I am realizing that I want more of the personal development that inevitably goes along with it. A leader or manager - a good one, anyway - has skill sets which are valuable in every walk of life, not just in the working world.

And so I sit, looking at the walls that I have become pressed up against and am unable to get through. I intuitively understand that I have reached this limit and that I need to go through the wall, but I do not see the mechanism that I can use to get over, under or around it.

The other issue I need to confront - the one that weighs heavily on me - is the changes that will inevitably occur.

I have a need to be liked. On the one hand, it's a great tool for friendship and certain managerial and departmental relationships - after all, a pleasant person is always better to deal with, and people pleasers will go long lengths to be pleasant. On the other hand, one becomes handicapped into making certain decisions by the fact one is not dealing with reports or employees but friends. As well, if one simply starts changing it creates issues with the ones around you, who do not always understand or appreciate the change and so react as it has upset the relational applecart.

And so I seem to sit here at this precipice, hanging over the edge of doing and becoming. realizing that action must be taken if I am to grow, but shying away from the actions and all the consequences they entail.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Christmas and Revelation

Every year at this time, I read about the end - at the beginning.

If you'll flip to your "Read Through the Bible in A Year" section in the back of your text, you'll find that the month of December is largely taken up by the book of Revelation (no surprise, it is the last book in the Bible). Every year for last 5 years at least, I've found myself here at Christmas.

I realized this morning as I read Revelation 1 that it is an interesting contrast. Here, in the season of the year when we celebrate the advent of Christ, I find myself reading about His return.

The contrasts abound: At His birth, almost no-one recognized His arrival except His parents and some shepherds; in His Second Coming, no-one will be able to help but recognize Him. At His birth He came as a humble peasant child; in His Second Coming He will come in the majesty and glory of the Godhead. At His birth he came powerless; at His Second Coming He comes as the Omnipotent Conquering King of the Universe.

A curious paradox at this time of celebration and mirth, of Christmas trees and carols and eggnog and good cheer.

Surely we should celebrate His coming? Of course - the Coming of Christ, the God-Man who paved the way for the salvation of man, is worthy of remembrance and celebration - not just now, but every day of the year.

But I wonder in our haste to filled with the seasonal spirit if we forget, we betray to the world that our focus is always less than what it should be. We see the First Coming and celebrate; we know the Second Coming is nigh (it's always nearer than it was yesterday), yet we often bury it beneath a weight of eschatalogical words or treat is as the something which is someday coming, but shouldn't concern us now.

We forget - at our peril - that for Israel as well, the Messiah's arrival was something so long in coming that they also eventually failed to look for that which was promised.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Taking Time

I engaged my reading sense this weekend.

On a random splurge at Half Price Books I obtained two books: one Neuromancer by William Gibson, which I hadn't read in many years, the other Shackleton's Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer by Margot Morrell and Stephanie Capparell. It's been a while since I looked to just buying two books for the sheer pleasure of reading.

And read I did. Neuromancer was consumed within 4 hours (including a nap); Shackleton's Way was 2/3's done by the time I left for church on Sunday. I reveled in the opportunity to just sit and drink in good literature.

I compare that with this morning, where I tried to read a bit more of Shackleton's Way as part of my morning reading as I enjoyed it so much. It wasn't the same: I got some reading done, but it seemed I was hurrying so much that I barely had time to enjoy what I was reading, let alone absorb it as I had done the previous day.

The difference surprised me greatly. Same book, same me, but different circumstances in reading. In one, I read purely out of enjoyment with no time frame; in the other, I read in an allocated time frame, seeking to fit something else in an already loaded schedule. The results, both in my sense of enjoyment and my sense of learning, speak for themselves.

This vignette points out to me a core issue in my life: when I try to fit too much in, I scarcely enjoy any of it, whereas if I take the time to focus on what I am doing without a sense of "15 minutes", I derive true joy and learning.

It is not, apparently, that I cannot do many things in short bursts, it's that I cannot do them well or with a sense of gaining anything from them.

When, I wonder, was the time that reading became something I had to do in small bursts, rather than something I could do over longer periods of concentration?

Friday, December 02, 2011

Missing Christmas

Probably missing my Christmas Spirit again.

When I was young, it always felt like Christmas took forever to get there - and once it did, I can remember that it had a definite sense about it being a different time of year: the music, the food, the decorations and Christmas tree, the reminders of why we have Christmas at all around me.

Now, December is not only just another month of the year, it's often the worst month of the year. Every project that was not completed suddenly needs to be done in 20 working days. Music gets ploughed under the movement from here to there. Food becomes something you hope someone else is making because you don't have the time, and decorating becomes a chore. It often feels like Christmas has been reduced to a two day event: Christmas Eve and Christmas.

I wish I knew how to effectively address the problem. I don't really: it's not as if I can march into my place of business and say "I'm working only this hard. Projects are not completed: not my fault. It's Christmas, after all. " I suspect the conversation after that would be short, sweet, and involve a cardboard box.

But surely there is something to be done, probably within myself (as it most often is required). If I cannot seem to muster the ability to celebrate Christmas as I should in the midst of life, perhaps the problem lies with what I expect of Christmas and how I view it. Christ is no less real today than He is the other 11 months of the year. The fact I feel I can celebrate His advent less than normal may be an indicator of how much I value Him rather than how much time I feel I a allocated.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Time Prison

I sat down last night (after leaving work late) to review exactly what I have to do at work before the end of the year. By my calculations, I have 250 odd things to accomplish in 20 days. Add to this at least half of that time already has some activity consuming part of all of the day, and you'll begin to understand why I gave a deep sigh when I finished the list.

I'd love to say that the opportunity is there for me to push some of those things off, that somewhere there is some give for me to fall back on. The reality is that I don't think there is. Any backup is called me.

I'm having to start an activity I am not really good at: scheduling each day, every day.

Simply put, now that I have my list I will start checking off what I have to do by the end of the year, figuring days, and saying "on this day, I have to do this and this". And then do that and that - not run off and do other things, not allow myself to be interrupted by others and their tasks, but just keep on and finish what I am doing.

This will be an interesting (if somewhat tiresome) exercise, as I have never tried (or had) to do this level of planning before. I've no idea if it will work or not. I've no idea if I will survive or not.

But if time is the limiting factor, then I need to spend it as carefully as I can - even if that means totally regulating it.