Thoughts & Tips For February 2019

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Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

Slowly Improving To A Better State

Per previous posts (Nov Dec Jan) -- my Mom's sudden and unexpected passing on October 31, 2018 -- is still consuming a great deal of my energy and attention. Things are slowly getting sorted out, and there appears to be on the horizon some resolution on her house and the rest of her trust.  I am definitely learning a lot about patience and prayer.

Things are pretty stable with my back (I haven't had any pain since mid June), and my core strength has really improved with Pilates.  I am swimming on average three times a week and I started to run a full 5K on my run days vice run a minute then walk for 30 seconds (repeat 28x times).  Hopefully this will continue to be status quo.  I have signed up for a Sprint Triathlon in February, and look forward to trying out my new swimming wet suit (my previous race used my boogie boarding suit which worked but isn't ideal for swimming).

Thankful For

I had a safe trip to DC this past week.  My original flights had issues, but in the end everything worked out for the best.  And I was able to flow with the changes without getting myself super frustrated.  I think that might be because of the book on stoicism that I reference below, and some of the mindfulness training using Kevin Roses' Oak app that I mentioned last month.

Our family hosted two Australian students for a couple of weeks at the beginning of January.  They were a great addition to our family and we got to do a bunch of cool San Diego things together.

After much prayer, and many starts & stops with ups and downs our church has finally filled our Pastor Of Family Connections. YES!

Technology & Tips

As I mentioned last month (Jan) ... I switched my main Personal GTD "external brain" to Nirvana.  It is a really solid product, and I have to say I am very happy with it.  Check it out if you get a chance.  I'm still using Google Keep for tracking checklists and reference material.

I am really enjoying the Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey from Basil Haydens.

My recent upgrade to the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite has really increased my daily reading.  The two books I'm reading daily for this year are: Unshakeable by Christian Cain (this is part of my morning devotional), and The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living by Ryan Holiday & Stephen Hanselman (I read this in the afternoon when I take a break around 3 p.m.).  I also just finished the following book Brain Rules (Updated and Expanded): 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School 2nd Edition by John Medina.

Future

I have another trip to DC the first week of February, and then a bunch of meetings and a conference the 2nd week of February.  And then my UCSD Tritonman Sprint Triathlon which should be challenging but fun! Summer vacation planning is also starting to come together and it looks like June I'm going to be able to attend GTD Summit in Amsterdam.

Quote I'm Thinking About

“Time flies. It’s up to you to be the navigator.” – Robert Orben [THOUGHT: That’s why time is more about compass, then clock.]


Thoughts & Tips For January 2019

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Photo by Steve Holden**

World Stabilizing

Per my November and December posts -- my Mom's sudden and unexpected passing on October 31, 2018 -- this event is still consuming most of my energy and attention.  I wouldn't be functioning though if it wasn't for the support, prayers, comfort, and help I've been getting from my faith in Christ, family, life group, church, friends, co-workers, CHVRCHES Podcast Fans, etc. Thank you all very much.  I recently found this picture (it was a 35mm slide that I converted to digital) of my Mom with her brother Ludwig in Germany (probably early 1960s before she left German for the United States):

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As I post this, my daughter and I are making a trip up to Sacramento/Roseville to work on a couple of key projects, and spend time with my sister's family before driving back to San Diego later in the week.

Thankful For

One of the micro stories I vaguely reference last month that was a blessing, but is both sad and happy. When I called my one of my childhood friend's Mom about my Mom passing, she had to share that her husband had passed away unexpectedly earlier in October, and his celebration of life service was the same weekend I was up there.  It was wonderful to attend, and spend time with friends I have not seen in years, and reflect & share about both unexpected deaths. God does work in ways that baffles me at times.

December was great. I love, and my family loves, Christmas ... so we made the most of it all month. This year's Christmas Party at our house was one of the highlights. I made four crock-pots of chili, and most of it was gone by the end of the night!

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I managed to end 2018 with a heartfelt CHVRCHES Fan Podcast.  In November, Chvrches releases a great acoustic EP called the Hansa Sessions that I adore.  I already knew this (I'm a little bit bias), but for an electronic synthesizer centric band -- they are really talented. 

Health Update

I believe I have had a bit of a breakthrough thanks to regular pilates classes and daily stretches as the numbness in my left foot related to my bulged disk (L5-S1) [see July Update] has gone away completely some days.  I haven't figured out a pattern, but as I write this, I currently don't have any numbness that I use to have all the time.

Technology

I am still loving the new Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, and the new Acer Chromebook Flip 13 has been working flawlessly.  I highly recommend both of them.

Future

There is not a lot on the horizon for January 2019.  There might be a work trip back to Washington, DC, and our family is going to host some Australian high school students at our house for a week or so.  That should be exciting!

Tips

I can't say more about trying this Hof Breathing Method that Kevin Rose posted on Instagram if you are feeling stressed out, or want to go to sleep after practicing the steps. It has really worked wonders for me.

One of my most read and reference blog posts I have ever posted is "How I use Google Keep to do Getting Things Done (GTD) in my personal system."  As of yesterday though (Sunday is my weekly review day), I moved my Personal GTD system to Nirvana.  And I am not looking back! More updates probably next month, but if you are struggling with your GTD tool, then you might want to try Nirvana. Here is a link to a recommended setup guide ($10).

Quote I'm Thinking About

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." - Gandhi

**This photo was taken on December 26, 2018 at the San Diego Zoo.  There is a new walkway near the large birds of prey that links the pandas (at the bottom of a hill) to the polar bears (near the top of a hill).  This was part of the walk way.  It was very new (less than a week old?).


Thoughts & Tips For December 2018

IMG_20181120_123729-01Photo by Steve Holden**

World Upside Down

Like I mentioned at the start of last month's monthly Thoughts & Tips blog post (November 2018), my Mom passed away unexpectedly on October 31, 2018, and since then that has been my main focus (grieving, family, planning, paperwork, coordination, decisions, etc).  The love and support of God, my family, my Life Group, my church, friends, co-workers, CHVRCHES Podcast Fans, etc. have been a complete answer to prayer, and have given me a great deal of comfort. I am still hurting. I am still very sad. I miss her very much.

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The picture in top left is me with my Mom and her Mom (my Omi) in my backyard at our first house on Palm Avenue in Sacramento.  The top right picture is us visiting Hawaii to see my Uncle Lucky.  The bottom left (B&W) has a great Mom smile, and bottom right is me on the first day of being adopted by my Mom and Dad.

Thankful For

There are so many little micro stories of blessing and thanksgiving around my Mom's passing.  I need to process these more, so I can't share them yet, but every time I think of them, tears come to my eyes.

My son Conrad and I went up to Roseville, CA to work on donating as much as possible from my Mom's house a couple of weekends back.  We made a lot of progress, and took one afternoon off to go out to Folsom, CA for some distractions.  We had a good time learning more about the first power plant in the area that sent most of its power to Sacramento:

20181110_190009-COLLAGEAnother great distraction this month was at a concert hosted at the conference my wife goes to with her school co-workers ever year just before Thanksgiving.  This year it was in the Palm Springs area.  The evening band was Checker'd Past (Facebook), and they were an amazing 80's Cover Band:

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If you get a chance to see them, then take it!  Here is a link to their setlist!

Health Update

Things continue in a positive direction with regards to being physically active and working out regularly.  I do enjoy morning Pilates classes at my local YMCA, and then a swim workout in the pool before work twice a week.  I am diagnosed with a bulged disk (L5-S1) [see July Update], but at this point it is not negatively impacting my day to day life.

Technology

The new Kindle Paperwhite is great.  I highly recommend it -- lighter, water proof, and faster.

I'm a big fan of Chromebooks.  My main computer has been based on Chrome OS for several years.  I just upgraded to the Acer Chromebook Flip 13 as it supports Linux, which my current Chromebook does not.  I am also enjoying the touch screen and need to try out the Wacom pen some more.  It does have a fan which is weird to hear go on and off as it tries to cool the processor.

Future

We are now into the full Christmas season and we typically have a jammed packed Holiday season: church services, parties, and family events.  December is always full of things to do and memories to make.  If you are reading this, then I hope you have a marvelously amazing 2018 Christmas and Holiday Season.  If you are not, and need someone to talk to, then please call me at 619-631-4433. 

Tips

Given all the stress this month, I've really been using this Hof Breathing Method that Kevin Rose posted on Instagram.

I have been trying to document my adventures in bourbon!

Quote I'm Thinking About

"Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come." - Anonymous

**The wood is from Christy's Dad's backyard. He cut down a tree at his house that needed to be removed, and got some great options for a future project.  I think the logs could be worked into a foundation for a glass table.


Thoughts & Tips For July 2018

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Picture from RawPixel

Thrown For A Curve

On the morning of June 5th I tried to sit down in my office chair before going to work, and suffered some major lower back pain and sciatica down my left leg. In an instant was pretty much in deep pain and immobile. Luckily my son Conrad was able immediately take me in to see my doctor, and I was given some medication to ease the pain, relax the muscles, and hopefully heal the back pain area.  I am slowly recovering, but I am still experiencing some tingling in my left foot, so I have an MRI being scheduled and physical therapy planned for early July.  I pretty much can't run (which is a big transition for me), however I can swim, walk/hike, and ride a bike so that is better than being on bed rest for sure.  Currently most of my exercise is being supplemented with 45 minutes of daily stretches and strength training.

Technology

I was able to move to Windows 10 on a new Dell tablet at work before the end of June 2018 deadline.  All in all it is working great, and I like having Type-C connectors on my work tablet and my personal HP Chromebook 13G1. For instance the same power adapter can be used on both.

Thankful For

My 5oth birthday party was great.  I had it at one of my favorite breweries -- Burning Beard.

I am thankful that I have improved as much as I have, and I need to realize how much my current mobility is when compared to June 5th.

I wasn't able to finish the MBSE class in early June because of my back injury, but the 2nd course at the end of June was good.  I passed so I'll be completing my certification in Systems Engineering (Level 2) soon.

Future

I am offering three more Vital Smarts' 1-day Getting Things Done (GTD) classes at work -- one in July, one in August, and then one in September.

DEFCON is coming up in August.  That should be fun.

We also have a camping trip to San Elijo State Beach planned for the end of July.

Tips

One of things that made it possible for me to sleep during the first two weeks of back pain & sciatica was a TENS machine that I got on Amazon last year  to help with healing an achilles injury I had.  I am now a super big fan of the TENS devices.    

I am pretty excited to share my Retro 80's Synth playlist (also on Spotify) that I started as part of www.chvrchespodcast.com. It is especially cool when fans of the podcast say they are enjoying the playlist.

Quote I'm Thinking About

"Your word is pure magic, and misuse of your word is black magic.” - Don Miguel Ruiz


Reflections On Mike Foster's Rescue Academy

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Back in February 2018, I was blessed to be able to take a two-day course taught by Mike Foster at his Rescue Academy live event.  I was introduced to Mike via his Fun Therapy Podcast from the Relevant magazine, and many of the stories in Season One of Fun Therapy deeply touched me.  

I personally try to be pretty aware of my strengths and weaknesses, and having a caring heart for those who are hurting is one of my strengths.  Showing it -- putting it in action -- and doing something constructive with that caring heart -- is another thing.  I know I could use some improvement in that area, especially in one-on-one situations.

So the big attraction for attending this event is Mike's tagline for Rescue Academy is "Helping You Help Others." That is what I wanted and needed.

What did I get out of the event?  In summary, I'll share four things with you here (see my contact info below if you want more):

  1. I learned a lot!  I ended up with 8 pages of notes plus the class workbook, several of Mike's books, and a copy of Five Dates (which Christy and I have been doing). In the end, the best thing from a "knowledge & skills" standpoint was Mike's practical counseling model for sitting down with someone who is hurting, deeply listening, and then helping them without judgement.
  2. I was really inspired by the other people taking the class.  It was a diverse group, but everyone had a heart for service, helping others, and encouraged each other.
  3. As we unpacked where hurt, shame, and pain comes from, I realized that my own inner critic has been one of my biggest personal struggles, and something that I needed to work on, forgive myself for, and lean more on Jesus to heal the damage I've done to myself. 
  4. Mike is a dynamic and well organized presenter! Not only did I take notes on all the material, but I also learned a lot on how to effectively deliver course material to a class of students. This has helped me to better deliver the Vital Smart's David Allen Getting Things Done (GTD) course at work. Double-bonus points!

Mike's next class is May 17-18, 2018.  I highly recommend considering attending if you want to learn how to help others and yourself.

If you have any questions, comments, thoughts, etc. then please let me know via email or connect with on Twitter (@sholden).


Thoughts & Tips for April 2018

 

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Photo by Hudson Hintze on Unsplash

Technology

I used the Pisen Wireless Presenter Laser Pointer 2500 for teaching my first GTD course.  I found myself using the mouse I had hooked up to my computer more.  I think that when I'm teaching, at least in the beginning, I like being anchored to my workspace with all my references.

I ordered another Wyze camera to do some physical security testing around the home. I think the new upgraded one is going to have better tracking capabilities.

Thankful For

My first Vital Smarts' new 1-day Getting Things Done (GTD) went well and so did my 2nd one.  I have another in April and then I should get my certification.

Easter was on April 1! (TODAY!)  And it was wonderful.  Here is a picture from the top of Mount Helix with your Praise Band playing:

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I really enjoyed re-reading Ready Player One and then seeing the new movie.

Future

My first Vital Smarts' new 1-day Getting Things Done (GTD) training classes at work is scheduled for March 8, 2018.

I think we are going to take a day in April and go up to Disneyland.

And my 24th Wedding Anniversary is coming up on April 9th.

Tip

Get a labeler and label everything.   It got mind from Costco - Brother Model 1890.  I use it for file folders, boxes, cables, etc.  Here is another great testimonial. 

Also these CHVRCHES sessions at Power Station on the Honda Stage are excellent: Mother We Share, Get Out, XO, and Never Say Die.

Quote I'm Thinking About

"A problem well stated is a problem half solved." – Charles F. Kettering


Thoughts & Tips for February 2018

IMG_7424-EFFECTSPhoto by Steve Holden

Technology

I found out a gotcha with my new Zoom H6 Portable Audio Recorder.  You need to format the card on the H6 before you record anything.  If you don't, then the files saved are in a strange pseudo file system that can't be recognized on desktop OSes (Mac, Windows, Chromebook, Linux, etc).  To get the audio off you'll probably have to use Audio Out and record the audio on another device (like a PC running Audacity).

Thankful For

The trip to Hawaii with Conrad was awesome.  We got to swim with sharks!

Hamilton was good. I am glad I got to see it.

Future

I am still working on setting up Vital Smarts' new 1-day Getting Things Done (GTD) training classes at work.  I need to create a Wiki for the course, use our training system to create a record for each class, and reserve rooms for three dates into the future.

This two-day course at Rescue Academy with Mike Foster from Feb 8-9, 2018 is going to be interesting.

Tips

Regular morning routines before I go on a run have really helped me have the right mindset for the day.  I start off praying and reading a daily devotional (~10 minutes), and then I doing a series of pushups, stretches, and situps before running (~10 minutes).

Google Keep has two good reminder options.  One is time based - like set a reminder for April 1, 2018.  The other is geolocation based.  The next time at "Costco" buy XYZ.


Global Leadership Summit (GLS) 2017 Notes (#gls17, #gls2017)

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I recently attended with many members of Christ Lutheran Church the Willow Creek Association (WCA)'s Global Leadership Summit 2017 (#gls17, #gls2017).  I experienced it via remote campus video streaming at Journey Community Church in La Mesa (@Journey_Church). They are awesome hosts!

My full notes that I took are available in PDF if you are interested.  (Original version posted on 8/18/2017. Updated on 8/19/2017.)

In reviewing the notes before posting this, I've been thinking and contemplating on the following 'big ideas' since the event:

  • We need leaders who do not fight with each, but work together.
  • At the end of each day, list three things that you are grateful for in a journal and reflect on them.
  • There is no correlation between thinking you are creative and being creative.
  • We (as followers of Jesus) have to be with the people who have problems. Be close to people who are suffering.  Go where the pain is. Serve them.
  • Create within your organization a culture that recognizes and embraces change rather than resists change.
  • If you (as a leader) give ‘freedom’ to your employes at a level that starts to make you feel uncomfortable, then you are on the track.
  • WHITESPACE is a ‘strategic pause’ taken between activities, and we all need more pause in our lives.
  • Studying "Failed Teams" is not going to show you how to build "Best Teams."
  • Consider this: 'talent x effort = skill' and 'skill x effort = achievement'. Effort counts twice.
  • Courage like fear is contagious.

I also have notes from 2014 and 2016. If you have any comments, questions, thoughts, etc. on any of the topics in this post, then please let me know.


Global Leadership Summit 2016 Notes (#gls16)

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I recently attended with many members of Christ Lutheran Church the Willow Creek Association (WCA)'s Global Leadership Summit 2016 (#gls16).  I experienced it via remote campus video streaming at Journey Community Church in La Mesa.

My full notes that I took are available in PDF if you are interested.

Each speaker had a great depth of insight, wisdom, suggestions, etc.  Here is one quote or thought from each one of them:

  • It is cruel to not tell the employee how they are doing. - BILL HYBELS
  • Everyone knows the plan, the status, and areas that need special attention. - ALAN MULALLY (wikipedia)
  • All lives are equal and work on behalf of others. - MELINDA GATES
  • We put a . (period) at the end of our title but God puts a , (comma).  - BISHOP T.D. JAKES
  • Customers want: product is perfect, you serve them timely, and that you care. - HORST SCHULZE
  • The four skills of EQ (Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Management). - DR. TRAVIS BRADBERRY
  • Cultural Mapping is critical to understand if you are working with other cultures or countires. - ERIN MEYER
  • Row row row your boat: Drifting is not going to get you there. - WILFREDO DE JESÚS
  • When interviewing a top candidate you need to get them out of the standard interview scenario and see how they react with people. - PATRICK LENCIONI
  • There will always to be more good ideas than there is capacity to execute. -  CHRIS MCCHESNEY
  • Your negative “TAPES” (playing in your head) hold you back, they need to be put on hold. - DANIELLE STRICKLAND
  • FAITH is from God, FEAR is from Satan. - JOSSY CHACKO
  • People have uphill hopes and downhill habits. - JOHN C. MAXWELL

In reviewing the notes before posting this, I think the following big ideas are worth highlighting:

  • Everyone wins when leaders get better.
  • Leadership is moving people (energizing them) to a preferred future (from here to there).
  • Deal with reality and trust by work together.  Move RED to YELLOW to GREEN status reporting.
  • When in empowering: #1.) Build their character. #2.) Empower through relationships; and #3.) Agree to the right outcomes with measurable metrics.
  • Are some people better team players? Yes, and they (universally?) have these values: Humble, Hungry, and Smart.
  • Work on only 1-3 Wildly Important Goals (WIGs) at one time.

I've also attended in the past and notes for 2014 are available if you are interested.

If you have any comments, questions, thoughts, etc. on any of the topics in this post then please let me know.


Short Introduction To David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD)

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On Sunday, July 17, 2016 I did a little presentation at my church about David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD).  Here are the references I used to prepare:

The focus of the presentation and the hands-on exercises included:

  1. Mindsweep
  2. Two Minute Rule
  3. Project Brainstorming

Here are the PDF copy of the presentation+notes.

Other material highly recommended for additional personal development (not in any particular order):