You'll make a great Dad someday!

GOOD JOB…You’ll make a great Dad someday!

When a woman is pregnant, all her friends touch her swelling belly and say, “Congrats”.

But … none of them come and touch the man’s penis and say, “Good job”.

Moral of the story?

“Hard work is never appreciated.”

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I’d like to thank you for coming here today to share in my semi-annual State of the Half-Year Address.

I appreciate that it’s summertime; it’s hard to focus on serious matters during the hazy, crazy, lazy days of summer. I’ll try to keep my speechifying short and let you get back to your Sangria on the poolside deck ASAP, está bien?

I’m swimming laps in the Sea of Inspiration.

Cousin-in-law John is writing music with Nashville songwriters, 71 year-old brother-in-law Jim swims 100 laps in the pool each day, my friend Angus is writing novels,  my co-worker Dave is in the top ranks of senior golfers in B.C. with a 1 handicap, my friend Denise is a big-whig in the laboratory Blood Banking world.

Sometimes I hate these people and many others for what they achieve, knowing that I’ll likely never be able to accomplish what they have. But mostly – when I’m my better self – they’re beacons of motivation and inspiration who fire me up to push forward in the things that make my pulse pick up.

We all have our areas of passion and strength. Your’s might be in Sailing, or Snowboarding, or Sudoku, or Horse Dressage, or Dragon Boating, or learning Japanese. I don’t know. We’re all remarkable individuals with unique fires burning.

Setting and achieving goals can be hard and torturous, but so often rewarding – just like getting pregnant in the example I mention in my opening.

At the beginning of this year 2013, I scrawled a post outlining my goals for the coming 12 months. And here we are now past the halfway mark, so I thought this would be a good time to review where things stand so far. You might do the same for yourself.

So, following is the list I created at the end of 2012, with an update on each. Here’s where I’m at:

Possible

  • Pay off investment loans in anticipation of debt-free retirement in 2014

Right on track. I paid 20% down on the smallest of my 3 investment loans this week and will do the same for another in October. I’ve sold some REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) units to make this happen. In a year or so these investment loans should be totally retired (as should I!) and the cash flow bubbling over will then be going directly into my pockets and not the bank’s!

I’m still hoping that REIT’s rebound in the markets as they’ve taken quite a negative hit this year because of worries over central bank interest rate increases that have hit the REIT sector generally. They’re good investments, just down in value for the moment. PATIENCE!!

  • Bring blog posting total to 100 and views to 7,500.

Well, I began the year at post #39 and this is blog post #71 so I’m slipping back from my goal of 100 posts by year end just a bit. With one post per week for the remainder of the year I will only make it to 90 posts or so.

I’d like to pick up the pace and make my goal but the game has been altered a touch and I don’t think it will come to be. I’m not upset or distressed by this as I feel I’m showing sufficient discipline to keep writing the one post weekly. My writing road has split into different paths – I’m now working 2 pathways. Blog posts AND songwriting (see: next goal).

Viewings of this blog will surge well past the 7,500 mark mainly due to the surprising popularity of one post “Your Castration Awaits – 8 Reasons Women Will Dominate Men in the 21st-Century”. This blog post gets almost half of all viewings on a day-in day-out basis. Who knew that women lording over men was such a popular item?

  • Write 12 songs

This is a really exciting addition to my personal treasury.

Adding in songwriting has been a pleasant, long-overdue alternative to straight prose writing.  I really believe my prose benefits by the addition of the poetry produced in songwriting.

I’ve struggled mightily for years with the ideas needed to make a go of songwriting. After taking a free online course from Berklee School of Music in Boston, I’m moving forward and loving the different variety of approaches needed for musical and poetic movement. It’s hard work but getting easier each day as I do and practice more.

I want to tell stories in my music and this is very challenging in song format.

But 12 Songs? I’m at 5 right now, so 12 could be a stretch. I MAY have 12 songs in progress by the end of the year, but I find that I need to ruminate and reflect and edit a lot, so I doubt I’ll have 12 completed songs.

Writing songs, for me, is more a marathon, not a sprint.

  • 20 Pullups Non-Stop.

KILLER!! This is going to be a tough one to conquer. I injured my shoulder last December while struggling to reach my goal of 10 pullups for 2012 (which I barely eked out!). It’s been a slow recovery and I’m just now finding that my shoulder is pain-free. I’ve got my work cut out for me.

The REAL truth here is if I set a goal to lose 20 pounds, this pullup goal would be SOOO much easier.

I hate it when they take photos of me without my shirt on...

I hate it when they take photos of me without my shirt on…

  • Take cooking classes in Spanish-speaking country (Argentina?/Costa Rica?)

OK, I may miss this objective but only by a hair. I have plans simmering for us to head to southern Spain and then Morocco in January 2014. The cooking classes part will more likely happen in Morocco … couscous and tagine anyone? But spending time in southern Spain will allow lots of opportunity to practice Spanish while just touring around. AND, hitting Morocco will mean stepping foot on the African continent for the first time, satisfying part of my life-list goal of visiting each continent.

  • Try 2 more “new-to-me”sports (eg. kettlebells, curling, paddleboarding)

I’m now a truly masterful paddleboarder…NOT! But I have stood on a paddleboard for a full hour and only tumbled into Okanagan Lake once … so far! It’s not a sport I would do regularly as a passion, but I can see that it will be a fun way to get out on the lake from time to time and peer down at the fish as they peer back up at me.

Charlie, a friend of mine, is a kettlebell instructor and so I took a 1 hour session with him on swinging these weighty suckers properly.

Adding kettlebells into my strengthening and fitness routine is a nice bit of variety and gives a pretty good overall workout in a short period of time. But to only do this for long periods would be severely boring!

Are you sure this how you do it?

Are you sure this is how you do it?

  • 100 pushups Non-stop

OUCH! Like anything challenging, this is a work-in-progress. Each week, I’m adding a couple of additional reps to my pushup pain threshold. Right now I can pull off 100 pushups if I divide the work effort into 4 sets of 25.

Now I just need to sweat a  river big enough to put it all together as one effort by the end of the year. Wish me luck!

  • Purchase 12-string guitar

I may have to defer this to next year’s list. It takes time to investigate and try out a lot of guitar models.

Buying a musical instrument is like finding nice clothes that fit you as an individual. You spend a lot of time in the changeroom robing, disrobing, and then discarding over and over. What suits one person just isn’t right for another.

My nephew Mike builds guitars called Riversong using a neat new technology. I’ll have to check out his stock before making the final decision.

It is kind of a fun exercise to test drive a bunch of fine instruments.

  • Overall Net Worth Return of >15%

Right on track here. This has been a good year with a return to this point of 8.3% on my starting net worth from January 1. I’ve put most of my investment dollars into lower- risk technology companies that are underappreciated by Mr. Market and have a ton of cash on their balance sheets eg. Intel, Microsoft, Apple.

Plus the exchange rate with the US dollar has provided some tailwinds.

I haven’t made any major blunders so far this year, although paying $500 per share for Apple may have been a bit optimistic on my part (although it’s worth $500 and more in reality).

I have to remind myself that I’m not completed or destroyed by the financial return on investments.

  • Increase Charitable Contributions by 10%

This one was easy and was taken care of in January by just phoning up the charities we contribute to each month and adding a 10% top up to each. We have a monthly contribution that comes out automatically from our chequing account and goes directly to PLAN International and UNICEF.

After I finish up work next year, I’ll have to become more active on the charity front and add some sweat equity into this area. I’m still feeling some burnout after-effects from years I spent on a charity board, but it’s time to step up to the plate once again.

  • Grow larger vegetable garden and process more for winter use.

I hate to use the word failure, but I have so much more enthusiasm for planting vegetables and fruit than I do for harvesting and processing them. Each season, I plant a variety of lettuce, tomatoes, beans, potatoes and carrots, etc. I baby them to maturity and then just when they’re ready… I lose my zeal for the harvest and canning, drying, or whatever preparation is needed to carry them into the colder months.

I think this relates to my utter weakness at finishing projects of any sort – it’s all a part of my ADHD. A few years of counselling and drug therapy and I can probably see past this debility!

On the plus side, I did do some succession planting, sowing seeds of beets, lettuce and carrots in July. This gives me another chance to work on my follow through.

  • Run 2 Half Marathon races (sub 2 hrs)

Done … sort of. I have competed in 2 half marathons. One in Vancouver in early May and another in Penticton in late May. In Vancouver, it was a beautiful day and I finished in 1:57 ie sub 2 hours. Penticton was going well until I strained my calf muscle at about the halfway point of the race. My running pace slowed as the pain increased. I did complete the run but my finish time was 2:04 – I was disappointed.

I’m going to declare this goal complete, although I may make one more half marathon attempt in the fall.

Vancouver Half Marathon May 2013

Vancouver Half Marathon May 2013 – I’m the red runner…

So, this concludes my State of the Half-Year Address. I won’t be accepting any questions today (although your comments are just fine!) as the helicopter is waiting on the back lawn to whisk me off to my summer estate.

Thank you for your patience and enjoy the progress on goals you’ve set for yourself – appreciating those things you’ve improved or achieved, and gently accepting those areas where you’ve stumbled or faltered.

The Sea of Inspiration is warm and inviting. Why not jump in and we can swim through the swells and breakers of this challenging, frustrating, fulfilling, exhilarating, pain-inducing, endorphin-filled expanse together?

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