Wednesday, December 26, 2007

New Year's Resolutions

New Year's has always been a time for looking back to the past, and more importantly, forward to the coming year. It's a time to reflect on the changes we want (or need) to make and resolve to follow through on those changes. This year has been eventful to say the least, so I am excited to get past Christmas and start setting goals for the upcoming year.

The tradition of the New Year's Resolutions goes all the way back to 153 B.C. Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar. Janus became the ancient symbol for resolutions and many Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies and also exchanged gifts before the beginning of each year.

The New Year has not always begun on January 1, and it doesn't begin on that date everywhere today. It begins on that date only for cultures that use a 365-day solar calendar. January 1 became the beginning of the New Year in 46 B.C., when Julius Caesar developed a calendar that would more accurately reflect the seasons than previous calendars had.

The Romans named the first month of the year after Janus, the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances. He was always depicted with two faces, one on the front of his head and one on the back. Thus he could look backward and forward at the same time. At midnight on December 31, the Romans imagined Janus looking back at the old year and forward to the new. The Romans began a tradition of exchanging gifts on New Year's Eve by giving one another branches from sacred trees for good fortune. Later, nuts or coins imprinted with the god Janus became more common New Year's gifts.

In the Middle Ages, Christians changed New Year's Day to December 25, the birth of Jesus. Then they changed it to March 25, a holiday called the Annunciation. In the sixteenth century, Pope Gregory XIII revised the Julian calendar, and the celebration of the New Year was returned to January 1.

The Julian and Gregorian calendars are solar calendars. Some cultures have lunar calendars, however. A year in a lunar calendar is less than 365 days because the months are based on the phases of the moon. The Chinese use a lunar calendar. Their new year begins at the time of the first full moon (over the Far East) after the sun enters Aquarius- sometime between January 19 and February 21. Although the date for New Year's Day is not the same in every culture, it is always a time for celebration and for customs to ensure good luck in the coming year.

Before writing down your New Year's resolution, If you haven't done so yet, take some time to develop your own personal mission statement. Chuck Goetschel did a fantastic job explaining this in Louisville and you can find his commentary here. There is also a link on his site that you can view here.

Once you identify your core values, you will want to take some time to write down your next years goals. To help you get the process started, I have included a list of the top 10 New Year's resolutions

1. Lose Weight and Get in Better Physical Shape
Physical activity builds physical vitality. With every year of your life, you have more to gain from being physically active; as your age-related risks of chronic disease increase, regular exercise generally slows or reverses that trend.
In fact, you're even more likely to notice the benefits of regular exercise if you already have a chronic condition.
Are you ever going to be fit again as long as you live? The answer is unless you make a resolution to get fit – you’re never going to be fit – ever. The choice is yours; it begins by opting for the stairs instead of the elevator, fruit in place of chocolate, and active rather than sedentary activities.

2. Stick to a Budget
It’s been said that the best defense is a good offense. Developing and sticking to a realistic budget is a brilliant offensive move as it prevents overspending and ensures peace of mind.
Many people find it very difficult to stick to a budget. It does take hard work and a lot of self-discipline, at least in the beginning. The good news is that most people find the longer they can stick to a budget, the easier it becomes.

3. Debt Reduction
One of the first things you have to do before any debt can be eliminated is to stop using charge accounts. If you continue to use the accounts, you are only fueling the problem, and building on it, not solving it.
Make a resolution now to stop charging anything and to get financially stable. If you can't pay cash for it, you don't need it, make it just that simple and you will find yourself out of debt in no time at all.
Keep a diary of all money spent, whether it is by cash, check, credit card, etc. Once you know where your money is going, then, and only then, can you take the steps needed to prepare a good budget that you can live with and make huge strides to budgeting your debt away.

4. Enjoy More Quality Time with Family & Friends
More and more people are resolving to spend more quality time with family and friends this year. This means you must consciously decide to actively and purposely work on improving your family situation every day.
You may need to do such things as reschedule other activities to make time for your kids, help your children set and achieve worthwhile goals, and setting aside at least an hour a day for the family, every day.
Starting right now, you can begin to make choices and take day-to-day actions that will create nothing short of a phenomenal family. You can choose to have one if you just resolve to do it and know where to put your focus. Making our families stronger and healthier is important to our communities, our state and our world.

5. Find My Soul Mate
Romance is alive and well as more and more people are looking for that special someone, their soul mate who lights their fire, the ONE whom they love unequivocally and who shares their worldview.
Soul mate relationships are the sort of romantic relationships most of us dreamt of when we were young and innocent: committed and inspiring and best of all - lasting.
Soul mate relationships give both partners the fulfillment that deeply satisfies them and makes them feel that they have found the most wonderful person in the whole universe.

6. Quit Smoking
Becoming a non-smoker is probably one of the best decisions you can ever make, and is a life changing as well as a life saving decision.
The benefits to your health, relationships, finances, vitality, the environment and to your sense of self-esteem for having conquered a really hard-to-kick habit will make any and all of your efforts and determination more than worth while. The resolution to become a non-smoker will also help you to live longer and enjoy the finer things in life.
Once you’ve made the resolution to stop, acted upon it and succeeded, you'll feel great about what you have achieved. Resolving to give up is your decision, and will improve your life from that moment on. No one can make you quit, and no one can help you make the resolution. You have to do it yourself, you have to want to do it, and you need to do it now.

7. Find a Better Job/Business
New year provides a sense of getting a free do-over, so you can try again and get it right. Many people resolve to find better jobs or to take a new approach to the jobs they've already got.
It's corny, but true -- most of us get reflective at this time of year and if we are in jobs already, we begin thinking: Am I on the right path? Do I like where my position and my company are headed? Am I even in the right career?
So you've been hearing that voice again, the one that says you're not doing what you were born to do. That may be true, but how do you figure out what you should be doing?
To begin answering this question, examine whether your current career path matches your core interests, beliefs, values, needs and skills. If not, it may be time to move on to something new.

8. Learn Something New
People throughout the world are realizing that a strong resolve to lifelong learning is more than just education and training beyond formal schooling. A lifelong learning framework encompasses learning throughout the life cycle, from cradle to grave and in different learning environments, formal, non-formal and informal.
Perhaps you are considering a career change, want to learn a new language, or just want to become a better person? Whether you take a course, learn from Audios, or read it from books, you'll find education to be one of the easiest, most motivating and beneficial resolutions to keep. Challenge your mind in the coming year, break out of currents routines and challenge every comfort zone and watch your horizons expand.

9. Volunteer and Help Others
A popular, non-selfish New Year's resolution, volunteerism can take many forms such as spending time helping out at your childs school, mentoring a child, or building a house to name a few.
Volunteering has risen sharply in the years since we began collecting resolutions. This suggests the possible emergence of a new civic generation and a resolve to make a bigger and better difference with your life. Continually ask yourself, “What can I contribute that will significantly impact other people's lives?” By focusing on what we can contribute, we automatically become successful.

10. Get Organized
Resolve this year to plan your days, reduce interruptions, clean off your desk, say "No", and make detailed lists. The benefits of getting more organized include being able to save time, as you no longer look for the same things over and over again or need to replace things you can’t find at all.
You will reduce stress because when you know where everything is, there’s no last-minute rush to find what you need and get out the door on time for school, soccer practice, or that important business meeting.
You will also find yourself being much more productive, as all the time you once spent looking for things can now be used to do more important or more enjoyable tasks.
Most people define being organized as quickly and easily able to find what you need. While this is certainly true, organization is so much more. The ability to staying organized lets you focus on accomplishing your most important goals. That’s the true benefit of being organized.

Of course this list is just to get you started. I try to set goals in all areas of my life ( spiritually, menatally, etc ). So take some time and write them down, you can do this by yourself or as a family. I believe it's one of the best thing you can do to start 2008

"We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day." -- Edith Lovejoy Pierce

May God bless us all as we set our goals and pursue Opportunities in the coming year.
I believe the future has never been brighter!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas

Luke 2:1-20

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.

While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see--I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!"

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

May God bless you and your family this holiday season, Jefe

Friday, December 7, 2007

Sometimes you have to change.

“Lets’ go fishing,” my dad said.

I had never gone fishing before, but at 8 years old, and a middle child from a large family, time with dad was pretty rare.

OK,” I replied, “That sounds like fun”.

There are over a dozen reservoirs within an hour of my hometown but in the mid 70’s, there was only one lake you wanted to fish. It was built in the early 60's by damning a local canyon. It took a few big storms and over three years to fill this huge impoundment. The depth, topography, and newly planted fish were a perfect combination for this new lake. Within five years it became a world class fishery and by its 7th year, it broke the state records for bass, catfish, and bluegill.

The night before our trip, I barely slept. I was so excited about spending the day fishing with my dad. We drove to the lake in the dark, then found our spot as the sunlight hit the horizon. Three hours, and ten fish later, I was hooked ( pun intended ). My experience with my dad that day created a passion that still lives within me today.

My "dream" over the next few years was to get a job, get married, have a few kids, then buy a house at the ”Lake”. Actually, back then, I would have skipped the marriage, kids, and job, and went straight for the lake.

By the early 90’s, my dream came true. I married an incrdible woman, had two wonderful children, achieved some financial success, and then purchased a house above the “Lake”. Many mornings, you could find me down at the lake on my boat casting at the stick-ups and tules. The morning mist in the coves, the song of a bird, the splash of a fish chasing bait, are all absolute heaven to me. The next eight years I caught and released thousands of bass. One spring morning in 1996 I caught a five fish limit that went 31 .3 lbs, late the next year I broke my personal record with a 10lb 2 oz largemouth. As I write this, I can see a reproduction of this trophy hanging on my wall. Yes, I have some incredible memories of my time on the lake.

In 2001 there was a complete change of leadership at our water authority. The focus of the new board shifted away from recreation and focused primarily on water storage and delivery. Sadly, I realized over the next few years that fishing wasn’t even on the list. A new aqueduct was built, the parks & rec. staff cut, and then restrictions were imposed on its recreational usage. While they had the authority to implement these programs, each had a devastating effect on the fishery. Over the next five years, fish counts dropped, the boating facilities went un-kept, and the fishermen started looking elsewhere. The time I spent on the lake was usually by myself and for the most part was unproductive. Out of habit, I would still spend time on the lake casting away, always recalling better days. Some days I would go without a bite for hours, others I would catch nothing at all.

It was frustrating to say the least, but I couldn’t give up, this was my dream…. It was “my lake”. Dozens of letters to the water authority, the lake management, and to the county all fell on deaf ears. It was sad to watch my beloved lake become little more than a muddy pond.

I remember the day that everything changed for me. My youngest daughter asked me If I would teach her to fish. (every fisherman longs for the day that their child asks to go with them) My excitement quickly faded when I realized that she wasn't going to enjoy fishing at my lake. There was a very good chance she would go all day with little or no success. One or two days like that and she may never want to go fishing again. I consider myself sentimental, but I knew something had to change.

It was that day I decided to find another lake. I had to. While I had great memories of my old lake, it was very clear to me that my children’s’ experience would have been much different than my own.

I still live in the same house and see the lake every day. I don’t fish there any more though. It will take a change in management, a restructuring of priorities, and many years for it to recover… if it can recover at all.

We are having a great time at our new lake.
Yes, it's a 45 minute drive, but it has a new launching ramp and dock, has a great management team, and is completely committed to become the top fishery in our state. I can even camp in my RV with my family at the waters’ edge.

I hated to leave the old lake but I am sure glad I did.
Today, my children all love to fish! I even think my six year old son may have a new "dream".....