This is … 2020

Thank you, Barbara Walters, for that immortal phrase that could only be used to introduce this blog once again to the masses.

What am I doing here? I’m not really sure.

All I know is that 2020 is now here, and it’s been years since I seriously wrote for myself or for others. Like a pop musician whose rhinestone microphone has been taken away, I’ve been pretty quiet on the airwaves in recent months/years.

And I think now is the time to change that.

Not sure if I’m going to call this a come-back or even a new year’s resolution. For today, it’s only taking advantage of a quiet moment on New Year’s morning when everyone else is still asleep and I have some time alone with my thoughts.

For fun, (or maybe as an exercise in masochism) I read back through my various new year’s posts stored on this blog. Ten years ago, I had been married for about 8 months and was still in a fairly twitter-pated and blissful state of euphoria. (and it sure showed up in my writing, boy howdy!) But as I I look back over the course of the last 10 years, I am filled with gratitude for Audrey, Mrs. Brows, who has been constant as the North Star to me. Secondarily, but not less, I feel gratitude for the three amazing kids who have joined our family since then, all with their very different personalities. These four people represent a foundation in my life that simply didn’t exist 10 years ago, but which oddly now define almost every waking hour.

As I look forward, children also seem to be here to help us mark the passage of time. If, 10 years ago none of them existed, the next conclusion you must draw is that 10 years from now, they will all be started to enter adulthood.

In other words: this is the time.

Now is the time to enjoy every minute of their growing up. As our eight year old was playing with his little brothers the other day, I couldn’t help but notice how their ten year old cousin was withdrawn and doing her own thing. She prefers to hang closer to her older brother and the other adults than the rest of the kids nowadays. This led to the startling realization that I might have less time with these boys under the gossamer cloth of youth than I think. Soon, boyhood concerns of play and equitable sharing of toys will give way to adolescent concerns — and if I thought the last 10 years have been a challenge, I don’t want to start to guess at what the next 10 might bring in that department.

Which leads me to a reflection on 2019 that I should share, though I don’t particularly want to: change.

I hate change. I’m a fierce opponent to change. But this year was a year of professional challenge and change for me which ultimately led to me leaving Cisco and accepting a new position at USAA.

I have reams to write about that experience: why, what started it all, what it felt like to leave a company after 14 years, what it felt like to get out and interview after 14 years off the job market, as well as the insanely varying hiring processes I was subjected to during my journey. I’m sure I’ll write those stories, but maybe not here. I’ve tried to keep this space as workplace-free as possible (for a variety of reasons), but I think the important thing to note for this journal and for this audience (friends and family) is that I’m learning to embrace change rather than fear it, and I’m trying to embrace the present and let go of the future just a smidge.

Said another way, I need to let the future take care of itself for a while. My experiences this year have taught me not to try to predict the future or try to control the future. Rather, this year was a year I was able to harvest a few seeds planted years ago. So, now I’m turning my attention to cultivating the soil and planting more seeds, all while watching the other crops ripen and become ready to harvest as well. This requires patience and vision, two things I sorely lack when I’m focused on results for today.

How do you eat an elephant?

Well, Mrs. Brows and I finally succeeded in refinancing our home.  It was a perilous endeavor, but we finally made it happen.

One of our biggest challenges was getting enough LTV to meet the lender’s guidelines.  While we were not underwater, basically our eyeballs were the only thing above water, and apparently they prefer your nose and/or mouth to be above the water… so we figured it out and life went on.

(Except for the fact that we were lied to – to the tune of $400 – and cheated – to the tune of $750 – but I’ll leave that rant for another time – suffice it to say, scratch Wells Fargo off your  list of preferred lenders.)

This post, however, is about that new balance – that beautiful new balance – that stands between us and owning our home.

One of the motivators for refinancing was to lower our rate and payment such that we could contribute more principal toward the mortgage.  Our payment went down about 25%, and the plan is to keep paying the same amount (actually slightly more) and apply the overage to principal, thus paying off our house faster.  The calculation is that our current 30 year loan could be paid off in 16 years at that rate.

But here’s my problem – 16 years sounds like a very long time!  I mean, WEJr will be driving by then!!!

I know all you parentals with teenagers driving will look at me and laugh – thinking to yourself, “Yes, that time sure does fly by!”  And I agree, it probably does.  But it still seems like a very long time to be paying off four walls and a roof.

Which leads me to the title of this post – that old adage, “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.”

Well, here’s my problem, I don’t like small bites.  I don’t want to take 30 years to eat this elephant.  I want to take huge bites.  Even though it will hurt going down and maybe cause some esophageal tearing, it sure will feel better to see that number go down but a nice CHUNK, not a small bite.

I have the same problem with savings.  I like to see the numbers going up fast, by large chunks rather than going up incrementally by small bites.  It’s just my personality.

What do you think?  Am I just crazy?  Should I just relax, “set it and forget it”*, and let the good times roll?

* Gosh I love Ron Popeil!

Water Fluoridation and Reality Television

The last time I was visiting Utah, I spent some time listening to the radio during my morning commute.  I was surprised to listen to how many advertisments and how much programming content was centered around not getting ‘taken’ by scams.  It seems like everything I listened to from the Doug Wright show, to Clark Howard, to even the ads between were all centered around people or services being promoted as protection from scams.

Which led me to the conclusion: I think people are unhealthily paranoid about pretty much everything.

Continue reading Water Fluoridation and Reality Television