10 Things I Liked about 2010
posted in: The Stuff of Life
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
I happened to catch a few moments of “Oprah” while channel-surfing the other night. It was her annual “My Favorite Things” show, where she goes through a list of products she likes and then proceeds to give one to each member in the audience. It opened with a bang: an ipad for everyone (!). Once she started handing out designer boots and purses, I moved on. Besides, a room full of screaming women wears on the ears pretty quickly.
But it got me thinking about making my own list of things I liked and things I liked or am grateful about this past year.
1. Getting an iphone.
I know the ipad was all the rage this year, but my wife and I got our first iphones this year, and I’m still amazed at all this thing can do. I’m not really on the phone that much, so I probably use the “phone” part the least. But I love that it allows me to have a metronome, a GPS, a voice recorder, a camera and video camera, a slew of games, and web access all in one, just for starters.
2. Our federal tax refund.
Amy and I had a very nice surprise this year in that we had a large tax refund. When my wife switched employers in 2009 we increased the amount we had withheld to avoid any unfortunate tax bills. Apparently we overshot it a bit, because we got a refund this year. After owing several thousand dollars the year before, this was a really welcome turn of events, and we were grateful to give some of it away, pay off some debts, and do some home repairs.
3. Returning my office to the basement.
Our tax refund helped fund the completion of our basement repairs/remodel. Several years ago we moved my office from the basement to a corner in our bedroom after we had water down there one too many times, exacerbated when a sump pump failed. We’ve gradually made repairs, water-proofing our basement and addressing foundation issues. The structural repairs were completed a couple years ago, but we haven’t had the funds to complete the renovation. Thanks to the tax refund, and about two months of my painting the entire basement, we were able to return my office and equipment to the basement this summer. I am so glad and grateful to have re-claimed that space.
4. Publishing two piano books and two CDs.
I had two new books release in 2010 and I also recorded two CDs. New product is good for our income, but just getting it “out there” always feels like an accomplishment as well. I am so grateful I get to compose and arrange music as my profession.
5. Leading worship monthly.
Many Sundays I’m out playing at other churches, but I reserve the last Sunday of the month to lead a great team at “my” church. I really enjoy playing with these guys (and one girl!) and their great spirits and sensitivity. Preparing for worship often feels like a chore, but in the moment, when the team and congregation are all focused on worshiping God together with abandon, I am always glad to be a part of things.
6. “Finishing” this website.
After more than a year of learning about web design from tutorials, books, and screencasts I “finished” my website re-design in March. The frustrating/maddening thing is that the technology is always changing and websites need updating, so in another sense a website is never really finished. For me, website design is definitely a “the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know” type of thing, but still, it was a milestone for me, and I enjoyed learning a new skill.
7. Discovering GTD.
After I bought the iphone I was looking for some kind of “to do” list app. That led me to learn about GTD, which stands for “Getting Things Done.” Much like website design, I discovered there’s a whole industry built upon this (what I would call) life management system. I’m still on the low end of the learning curve, but I definitely like the increased organization it’s enabled for me. We all have various roles and responsibilities to play and this system has helped me manage those more efficiently. (And in case you’re interested, the GTD-friendly app I ended up buying is called “Things” which I would also recommend.)
8. Watching my kids and my wife blossom.
My kids are 9 and 11, “fun ages” some older parents have told me, and although it can be tedious and challenging managing their activities, it still brings me great joy to see them discovering their own interests and pursuing them. For our son Cole, that has been skateboarding, drawing, and Little League. For our daughter Ella, it has been being part of a gymnastics team. My wife really enjoys her role on the faculty of a family practice residency program, and I receive joy watching her “blossom.” Sometimes you step back and say “wow” at who they are becoming.
9. Discovering a “new” 4 CD Ella Fitzgerald recording.
I’ve been an Ella Fitzgerald fan since the 80’s. I thought I had heard, or owned, about everything she recorded. But much to my delight, a 4 CD compilation of Ella over 12 nights at a club in Hollywood in 1961 was released this year. This is simply like discovering buried treasure for me. It’s just wonderful: Ella swinging up a storm, playful, relaxed, and having a great time. You really get a sense of what one of her live shows must have been like. I always smile when I hear the host casually announce at the beginning that Erroll Garner will be at the club the next week, and then requests that the audience be as quiet and polite for Ella as they were for the opening act: Oscar Peterson!
10. Adding vocal jazz back into my life.
I was asked to start a jazz vocal ensemble at Friends University last year, and although we’ve had our struggles trying to get it off the ground, I really enjoy hearing and teaching vocal jazz. The group continues to improve, and I’ve enjoyed being around students and the faculty at Friends. Plus, it’s a great change of pace from my composing and arranging and the work on my website and business. It gets me out the basement a few times a week and that’s a good thing!
There are many other things I liked about 2010, but these are the big ones in my mind at the moment. Thanks for indulging me a bit and letting me reflect a little on the year this was for me and my family.
What about you? What did you like about 2010?