Work, family, basketball

Work, family, basketball

Seems like a lot of the posts I end up writing these days are either about work, family, or basketball. That makes a lot of sense because that is basically my life and I’m happy with all of it.

There is a really nice balance with everything right now that hasn’t always been present. I’ve written about this elusive balance a few times over the years and I believe it’s helped me get to this point. Starting back in the summer of 2014 when I really started looking for and going after what I wanted. Then in the fall of that year when I was in the heat of it, essentially working two jobs in an attempt to get there. Then the summer after I started my new job, life and work seemed to occupy the most time still. 

For a while I had running. That was my dedicated time for myself where I was spending hours every week with just my thoughts and the trails, but as I fell out of that habit any free time I had, I filled up with less productive things. I still need to make time for my health and make that a habit again, but I’m so happy with the overall aspects of life right now.

My job is fantastic, family life is busy but full of love and happiness, and I have found a hobby that I enjoy, is fulfilling, and I can share with my family, basketball. It’s funny Jen wrote a bit about it this morning as I was thinking over the ideas for this post. Noah’s love for playing basketball has really gotten us all into it. For me it is back into it, but everyone else truly enjoys it now as well.

For many years I stopped following basketball but as Noah got more and more into it, and I started helping coach the two teams he plays for, we started watching more. We go to live games at the local University watching the Axemen and Axewomen play. We follow the Raptors pretty closely, but even if they aren’t playing most nights I find some game to watch. 

It’s entertainment yes, but working with Noah and his team and helping them develop it is also very fulfilling. I played a lot of basketball when I was growing up, but never in a real team environment. So being involved in a team sport and seeing the importance of everyone working together, even at their young age, really helps me see connections to this and work.

Having a strong team means helping everyone develop their individual skills, but also having them work together as a team to make each other stronger. Each team member has a role to play and it will likely change over time and situations. As a coach or team lead you help the members develop their skills and to find their role in the team.

Noah plays on two teams and his role is different on each team right now. On our club team, seeing this is his second year at the U10 level, he has more experience than others, a strong drive, and can score. In yesterdays game we were a couple people short and needed someone to score. Noah ended up scoring 27 points out of teams 48 for the game to help the win. On his other team, everyone is pretty much at the same level. Lots of people can score and others have more advanced ball handling skills, but Noah with his speed and determination can play darn good man to man defence. So in those games he may not always score as many points but instead prevent the other team from scoring while his teammates get the baskets. 

With my recent role change at work, and the team changes that happened in conjunction with it, I’m still trying to see where my role is with my team. We have a solid group where everyone has areas they are really strong in. We work together and help each other with problems which helps everyone learn and get stronger. Some people are really great with domain names, some with CSS, and some do a great job at staying up to date with new products or changes and help everyone else learn about them. I’m one of the more experienced on the team because I’ve been with the company longer than most. My recent experience leading a team and the skills and knowledge I learned there can be a strength. Maybe my role is that of a player coach, where I’m doing the same work as everyone else and using my experience to help others on the team continue to grow and develop.

For now, I’m really happy with all aspects of my life and seem to have found the balance I was chasing after for a long time. Life has a way of changing things up and causing things to rearrange but like always we’ll roll with those changes keep making things better. 

Stupidity and Laziness

Back in August 2014 I had reached a big milestone after a lot of hard work. I was so proud of myself and swore I would never go back. At that time I reached my goal weight of under 180lbs after months of hard work and dedication. Things went up and down from there but for a long time I stayed in pretty decent shape. In March 2016 I ran my longest distance ever, 20km. Since then though I’ve been on a pretty steady decline health wise and really broke the promise to myself. I’m getting pretty close to having put back on all the weight I worked so hard to lose in 2014.

For the past bit I’ve been in a pretty big funk, not myself, unhappy. This is a big part of that, though there are other factors of course. Most of them are beyond my control, but my health is solely mine to control. How could I be so stupid and lazy?

Today I went on the incredibly demoralizing task of organizing my closet. Over the past few months I’ve been slowly buying new clothes that fit because I’ve gotten too fat for the ones I had. My closet was getting overrun with clothes because I still had all the clothes that I should fit in but they were making their way to the back of the closet. So today I moved everything out that I no longer fit in and put them into storage under the bed. Time for things to change, again.

Instead of just keeping up with a pretty healthy eating plan and exercise I reverted back to my old ways and now need to go through all the hard work again. Of course as I get older that will likely be even harder than it was almost four years ago.

Last time I blogged and shared on social media constantly about my progress, how far I ran today etc. I won’t put people through that again, especially because it isn’t nearly as meaningful the second time around, but I’ll work hard anyway. I’ve ordered myself a new Fitbit to help me track progress and keep my honest. Last time that sort of tracking was really motivational, I just won’t publicize it so much.

So I’m getting started, again, and hopefully I’ll finally be smart enough to get off this weight roller coaster I’ve been on permanently.

Finding Time for Yourself

The topic of freedom has been on my mind for a while now. During my later teenage years I had more freedom than I knew what to do with. Now there are days when it sometimes feels like my time really isn’t my own.

Honestly I have nothing to complain about in my life, I’m a very lucky guy but some days can get hectic and it makes me wish for a little down time while I’m still awake. As it is I get up early in the  morning to try and fit in a run then start work at a good time so that I’m free in the later afternoon / evening to be there to run errands or run kids to where they need to be.

No one kid is in a lot of things, but multiply that by four and it doesn’t take long before the schedule is getting full. For the most part it’s great. I get to watch my oldest ride horses, something that she excels in and loves doing. My son playing soccer with so much energy and enthusiasm. My middle two, daughters who love performing. Whether it’s drama, dancing, or combining the two.Watching them do these things gives me great happiness and I’m thankful that I’m able to be there and am able to provide these things for them.

Dance class can be rather nice break sometimes though. As you’re not able to watch them practice if you can get the errands ran quickly it leaves some time you can go grab a coffee and read a book before it’s time to pick them back up again.

Yesterday I had to go to the library to return a book and then check it right back out again because I had renewed it twice online and couldn’t do it again. It’s a really good book, but I just can’t seem to find the time to read it while my mind is awake.

On occasion where I try to sneak off to get a few pages in the guilt I feel is real. My wife is a super human I’m convinced and that doesn’t help. She never seems to need a break and is always going strong. As there are always things around the house that can be done she is always finding them and doing them. So if I’m off reading while she’s making supper, or vacuuming, that just doesn’t seem fair does it. If I could convince her to take some time for herself it might be better, but that’s a hard sell.

With the kids getting older it seems to be getting worse. They stay up later which takes away from the quiet time we used to get when they went to bed earlier. There are some nights now that the oldest and I go to bed at the same time.

As I mentioned before as a teenager there was a time where I answered to no one. I had pretty much as close to zero responsibility as there was. That wasn’t a good thing either. As it was it took my life down a harder path than I needed to go. There has to be a happy medium though. It’s important to get a bit of time by yourself to recharge.

Maybe I’m feeling this way because for the past few days I haven’t been getting our running, so that bit of time that I used to clear my head isn’t there. When I was running more often last year that was one of my favourite parts. Having a cold has made it tough so I’ve been trying to rest so I’ll get better quicker. Tomorrow might be the day that I give it a try again. The last week when I was running a lot seemed to go much smoother and have me in a better mental state.

How does everyone else find the balance of work, family, and personal time? Do you feel you get enough personal time?

Career Balance, Money vs Happiness

From a young age I’ve been finding ways to make money for myself. I grew up in a family of four children with my single Mother. She is an amazing Mother and raised us all well. Some of the choices she made to ensure that she could be there to care for us and shape us into the people we are now had the side effect of us living off little income. At one point when I was old enough to realize we were on social assistance but still to young to comprehend I remember being ashamed of it and told her so. Her response to this was perfect and I’ll never forget it. “The government essentially pays me to make sure that you and your sisters grow up to be good, tax paying citizens in the future.”

We never went without, but we didn’t have money for extra things. Extra things I had to figure out how to get for myself. Though she always supported me and helped me with any of my crazy ideas. At a very young age I remember getting the idea that my mothers “Sticky Buns” were the best dessert in the world and I wanted to sell them. So she taught me how to make them, fronted me the first supplies to do so, and I went door to door in my neighbourhood selling them. After people tried them they wanted to order them again. I made enough money that I could pay back my mother for the initial supplies and buy enough for the next batch. It didn’t go on for many rounds before it became too much work for us to sustain though. This was my first taste of making my own money though and I liked it.

As I grew I found lots of other ways to make money even before I was old enough to really enter the work force. I had an evening paper route that I delivered every day after school. Of course I did the usual things as well for some of my neighbours, mowing lawns in the summer time and shoveling driveways in the winter.

From their I moved on to a “personal assistant” position. In reality I had an elderly neighbour who had a hard time doing most things for herself so she paid me to help her. I would do basically anything she needed, from cleaning her house, to doing her banking and grocery shopping. Once a week we would take a taxi together and stop at the bank first. I would go in and cash her cheques. Then transfer the funds to the different accounts and pay her bills. Once we were done I would take the grocery money out and we would move on to the grocery store. She would sit in a dining area and I would go around and get everything on her list and go and pay for it. Looking at some now at some of my children this seems like an awful lot of responsibility for a child, but the experience I gained from this was invaluable.

Since then it seems that I’ve been in a constant back and forth in my jobs trying to find the right balance between money and happiness. Some jobs have paid very well but ended up making me unhappy or incredibly stressed out. While other jobs have not paid enough, or not steady enough, but made me happy.

Currently I’m in a position that is close to being perfect. The work environment is almost ideal. I have a great set of co-workers, they are very understanding when it comes to family things to allow me to take time and make it up later as long as I am getting my work done. Of course within reason. I am supporting the staff and patrons who are there mostly during typical business hours, so that is when I need to be there as well. But for the odd things that come up I have the needed flexibility. Nothing of course is perfect but for the most part I’m very content.

The biggest concern is that I seem to be making just enough money to pay all the bills and let the kids have the extracurricular activities they want to be in, but not really getting ahead when it comes to paying off debt and getting a savings going. Right before I took this position I was unemployed for a short while, but long enough to eat through our savings and build up our credit card debt.

We’re not behind on any payments and just got back from a nice family vacation so we’re not in dire straights. But when anything unexpected comes up, like a few things this week, it really shows how we need to be making better headway on debt and savings.

What I really need to do is find that magical balance where I have a great position doing the things I love, in a very flexible environment, while at the same time getting paid enough to get ahead. Over the years this seems to be very elusive and I realize that to a lot of people I likely have unrealistic expectations. However I know there are opportunities out there and I will work on finding the best fit. My eyes are set on a position with an amazing company and I’m working on showing them I would make an excellent team member, but I realistically know it’s a long shot.

Luckily I’m in a great position. I’m far from desperate to find a job, because I’m happy where I am and we are getting by. This leaves me so I can take the time to work at getting my dream job. Somewhere that I can finally feel both happy and in good financial health.