I’ve obviously been very bad at keeping my blog up to date. I was originally going to tackle the last few months (literally August-December) as themes rather than chronologically. But then the workload required to do that was too extreme and, to be honest, much of what I wanted to talk about I can still do … with a fresher memory.
I’ll still refer back to some things, as there are a couple items I want to discuss in more detail – some CrossFit competitions, my travels into Africa, my wonderful holiday where I didn’t get on a plane for a whole month!
So I’m conceding. Quite a thing for me; I don’t easily accept defeat.
Being wrong, yes. Messing up, yes. It’s well established that I hate what I consider to be unwarranted attacks, but that’s not what I want to discuss.
I was bad at a lot of things in the back half of 2015. The volume of work, volunteer work, and travel, as well as general work stress and the stress that goes onto your immune system and central nervous system from hard training, takes a toll. It was not balanced by proper sleep, nutrition, qigong, any of that.
In some ways I accomplished huge amounts, but at the same time I was spread far too thin. This was impacting both my health and my productivity.
A key decision that I made was to rigorously identify and prioritise what my priorities are, and make sure that I accomplish the important things first. Not like I didn’t know that already, but of course saying what you’re going to do and doing it are two very different things.
I have always been a workaholic; at one time this caused me not to train at all and rather to work out my stress and general unhappiness at my life in general through eating too much and drinking too much.
The thing is also, I don’t want to be that person who wakes up one day at age 70 and realises that I’ve spent my entire life in front of a computer screen or in meetings, or chasing deliverables and timelines. There is more to life: human relationships, health, animals, and taking time to smell the roses.
I remember a time when I could focus on training. One vignette I remember from my first iWeek, at a dinner. I had just taken over Skyrove which was to become the stuff of dreams, fears, lost sleep, and completely changed my life. The start of my time as a lobster in a pot, quite like a relationship that started off happy, then after one or two key arguments lost for the wrong reasons turns into a source of more unhappiness than of happiness.
As my friend and teammate Dante said a while back, if you’re not happy, leave. He was talking about relationships, but he could have been talking about anything. He also said, easier said than done.
Amen to that. But I can honestly say I’m happy in all my relationships. They range from mostly happy to ecstatically happy. So I can’t complain.
Back to iWeek 2013 – we were discussing how it is not possible to have two top priorities. Like the mother who wants to be a good mother and keep a high-powered corporate job and have enough time for each. I didn’t accept that emotionally even as I accepted it intellectually. It has, of course, proven itself to be true.
Any time you’re chasing your tail, you’re really going backwards. You might think you’re going nowhere, but even nowhere is backwards if you think about it. There’s an opportunity cost.
For me this is the worst thing about being sick. When I get sick my brain doesn’t work properly, or sometimes it’s ok but I just have no energy or motivation. Just the worst timing because the work doesn’t stop, it just piles up.
Being sick isn’t a good state. I was sick something like five or six times last year and to say this hasn’t affected my state of mind, my training, or my work would be a lie. I hate it. I really hate it. One of the illnesses knocked me so badly that I had to take antibiotics, and my general well-being hasn’t been right since.
Busy isn’t a good state. Busy isn’t moving forward. Accomplishing things is what we’re after. Moving the ball down the field, or whatever metaphor works for you.
The truth is, I haven’t been this happy and balanced in a long time; but the greater balance has given me the time to reflect on certain behaviour patterns that I keep falling into. In a quest for continuous improvement, it’s not always sunshine and roses. Being happy doesn’t mean you can’t be critical, and being critical doesn’t mean you can’t completely appreciate the wonder or beauty in a situation.
So winter turned to spring and spring turned to summer, and it dawned on me just exactly how different my life has been every new year for the last few. I was at Skyrove and new on the WAPA Exco. I was at a transition time at Nomosphere, and the newly elected Chair of WAPA. Now, I’m at another time of transition with Nomosphere, deep in the trenches at Liquid Telecom, and reorienting the centre of my universe from Johannesburg to Somerset West.
Things I was looking for last year are falling into place, and the long game of building the right relationships to launch an Athena is much more advanced. I also learned that you can’t always trust who you think you can (I would have thought I’d have learned that lesson by now, but, yeah, I guess you need that yearly backstab to remind you), and I learned just how frustrating I find it to have to repeat the same things over and over again.
The more things change, the more they change I guess.
But yeah, I’ve never been patient.
2015 was a year with more ups than downs; some relationships formed, others deepened, and really the worst thing I can say was that I was sick a lot, took on too much, and my shoulder is still injured.
I did meet two magic new healers, one of whom fixed most of my shoulder and I do believe the other may have fixed the rest. Hope springs eternal but I do hope to be able to get my function back. I’m not quite sure it will ever be all the way better enough to do crazy CrossFit the way I once dreamed. But I’m getting accustomed to that too. Even something as simple as the benchmark workout Amanda (9-7-5 snatches @43, muscle ups), I have never been able to do. First I couldn’t snatch that much. Now I can’t do that many muscle ups.
I’d like to get healthy enough to do it. Even just once; even if it’s not very fast. Because one of the reasons I train is to see what my body is capable of.
My life is a bit torn between places. As much as I adore the energy and the electricity of Johannesburg from the people to the money and excitement to the actual electrical storms, it is not the centre of my world any more in a way I once wished it to be. Won’t someone just put in a hyperloop or something??
I have an American friend called Amy, who has been a relatively constant presence in this country with me these last couple of years. She has concluded that this place, as much as she enjoys it, is not for her. She left the country a few weeks ago.
Understanding what you actually want is a fundamental thing. It’s the difference between living and just existing. I know what I want, and what’s important, and I’m not entirely happy with all of what I need to give up. But I cannot have it all, and if I don’t make tradeoffs then I am making a decision in fact by not making it.
Lessons learned, a kind of defeat conceded, and back onto the bandwagon. Call it positioning but sometimes you must take a step back to take a step forward. I do enjoy this blog and the opportunity for self-reflection that it gives me. But I do not regret my time choices for the last few months; I got a lot done and it was important to do so.
However, the reflection aspect, along with the recording aspect it gives me to review my own life at a later date, is valuable and I want to retain it.
The last few months have indeed been interesting. A little bit of travel to new African countries (Kenya, Zambia, and Rwanda), Rugby World Cup, #feesmustfall, a collapsed bridge in Joburg, a handful of CrossFit competitions, and many other things. Life goes on at the speed of the arrow of time.
So here we go! On to the next thing. A little smarter, and a little better.
- “I’m American! I’m not picky about cricket or tea!” – Ellie
- “I’m glad we figured out how to use the coffee machine. Ooh is that peanut butter?” – Ellie (the crazy things I say…)
- “For the guy on the bricks, that’s his whole context.” – Winston
- “Of all the events to win, we pick the semifinal!” – Joanne (useless, the only one without a prize!)
- “Whatever you do, don’t stop. Not even for the police.” – Dante
- “You can’t argue with one kilo of dynamite.” – Sylvester
- “I try not to believe my own bullshit.” – Richie
- “Is that bad?” “No.” “Is it sneaky?” “Yes. But it’s not bad.” – Richie & Ellie
- “The minute someone tries to control you, it’s over.” – Richard (not that Richard)
- “I’m either going to succeed or I’m going to die trying.” – Jaco
- “What’s AAA?” “RADIUS.” – John & David
- “You can apply online for a work permit for Kenya! …. I’m not going to! But you can!” – Ellie
- “He is conflating domain registration with internet access.” “That’s like conflating weightlifting and cardio.” – Enrico & Ellie
- “Geez, you get that right, you’ll change the world!” – Justin
- “Here we are, living the dream.” “Living the dream, eh?” – Justin & Ellie
- “But this game we’re playing? It’s like you have a vague idea of the object, but you don’t really know the rules, and you can’t even really see the field.” – Ellie
- “What’s AAA? In my world that’s Anti-Aircraft Artillery.” – Andy
- “Sometimes people worry about things they shouldn’t. And don’t worry about things they should.” – Ellie
- “What do you think?” “I think I didn’t get enough sleep last night.” – Ellie & Ben
- “We do have a lot of work. And we have no choice but to succeed.” – Patrick
- “Everything he says is political. Don’t believe anything he says.” – Alan
- “To win, you have to be prepared to lose.” – Wilfried
- “I feel like we have too many bicycles, and not enough people pedalling.” – Mike
- “When humans start adding emotions to decisions, it’s a bad thing.” – Ric
- “If you pick one, you lose the other.” – Ric
- “Once you’ve fed the seagulls, there’s really only one way. Replace the seagulls.” ß inside joke, yes …
- “The project doesn’t matter if we can’t learn effectively.” – Julia
- “Just because you’ve buried your head in the sand doesn’t mean the sand isn’t shifting around you.” – Khetan
- “Their pony is kind of a diseased little donkey!” – Ellie
- “Did you just answer yes to an either/or question?” “Yes. … Let me explain it again.” – Ellie & Enrico
- “That’s the fire alarm.” “We’re just getting some fresh air in.” – technical guy & business guy, a few minutes apart
- “I was a little disappointed there were no swords in there.” – William
- “Do not use the M1 highway. There is really no chance.” – the radio after the bridge collapse
- “How do you get over the fear of falling?” “Learn how to fall.” – Ellie & Darren
- “That is *totally* unrealistic.” – me, on physics in The Hobbit, as though the rest is realistic at all
- “But the thing that makes it so impressive is that they can back it up.” – Conrad
- “There’s no coffee.” “Have some pre-workout.” – Jerry & Darren
- “It’s fine, it’s fine. I recon it’s gonna be fine.” “Oh fuck.” “It’s fine. It’s fine. It’s layer 2, it’s fine. I reckon it’s gonna be fine.” – Ant & Rob
- “Well my legs are sore too. But you don’t see me limping!” – Ellie
- “You don’t take on small things, do you?” – Raven
- “You can’t put a 10-foot dish on a lion.” – Andy
- “You’re either in or you’re out.” – Pierre
- “I’m not very powerful.” “You’re not powerful. You’re just vicious.” – Ellie & Enrico
- “Any plan is good until the first shot is fired.” – Pakamile
- “The essence of policy and regulation is in making traffic circles, not robots.” – Pakamile (just … not the ones in Nairobi please!)
- “Well you can’t go horse riding because a) horses are scary…” – Richard
- “How’d you crack the mod?” – Roger
- “Do you want to be a chicken or a bag of maize?” – Dion
- “Realising that we can share is an excellent first step in getting rid of self-defeating silo thinking.” – Dominic
- “We’ve fought so hard. And that moron!” – Sam
- “A person without a future is an apathetic robot.” – Paul