New beginnings are hard

At the beginning of last year I wrote, "2013 was not really my year."

You know, I feel the same way about 2014. In fact, as I read over this summary of 2013 and pondered over 2014, it seemed to me that not much has changed.

In the spirit of measuring progress, I'd like to start a tradition of reviewing my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual status. I'll do it periodically, starting now. Maybe it will help me realize my successes and identify areas for improvement.


Well, we all know I got fatter this year. That's change, right? As I wrote in A weighty matter, I have resumed some healthy habits regarding diet and weight. The real trick is exercise. At least in the winter time, it's hard for me to motivate myself.

One big change, though, is my bicycle.

[caption id="attachment_297" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Bike Somehow, this is the only picture I ever took of it[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_302" align="alignright" width="376"]Progress!!! Progress!!![/caption]

I finally found a physical activity more strenuous than walking that I really enjoy. (I'm looking at you, running and the!) I'm excited to start biking again when the weather becomes conducive to flying around on this thing. I've enjoyed sharing this hobby with a couple of my Google+ friends (shoutout to Justin and Paul!). If you are into cycling or running, let's connect on Strava (my profile).

Overall, 2014 gets a thumbs up in the physical department. I improved.


Mental? What do people really mean when they say this? I still feel a little crazy, that's for sure. Let's go with intellectual development as a definition for this one.

Let's start with the positives. I took a few classes this year. My school of choice is, because my employer provides it as a resource. Man, it's great! The three classes I took/am taking are:

  1. Business Writing

  2. Adobe Camera Raw

  3. Adobe Illustrator (for beginners)

As you can see, I'm pursuing skills that will help me develop my career, but also skills that help me grow my hobbies and talents. In particular, I've enhanced my enjoyment of photography and graphic design. Disclaimer: I'm still working my way through the last two classes.

Aside from classes, I've read an unprecedented number of articles this year. Mostly from the news and technology genres, along with a healthy dose of blog posts, both serious and casual. I like reading blogs about current trends in social media marketing and the tech startup scene.

The flip side is that I don't think I read a single book! Are you kidding me? I started three or four, but one of my shortcomings in the mental department was definitely a lack of reading books.

Overall, I'm going thumbs up on this one. I improved.


Yeah I've been feeling everything
From hate to love
From love to lust
From lust to truth
I guess that's how I know you
So I hold you close to help you give it up

These Ed Sheeran lyrics pretty much sum it up. 2014 was a year of deep emotions. Deeper, I think, than any previous year. Goal for this year? Less of the hard kind, more of the happier kind.

This one gets a "meh." I need a better way to measure.



For some reason, in my spiritual culture, it's all too easy to measure spiritual progress with relationship status. That's absurd, and I'm sure anyone you ask would agree once they gave it some thought. But I understand why people make this association. I had the blessing of experiencing two wonderful relationships this year. Both taught me so much, both were filled with goodness and joy. Neither worked out, though for different reasons.

Real spiritual progress is hard for me to measure, and it's deeply personal. I'll try to sum it up by describing three main ideas that stick out to me upon reflection. Prayer, Atonement, my heart.

Prayer - without a doubt, I experienced prayer in new ways this year. I learned to be more vulnerable and honest with God.

Atonement - I made some of my biggest, most serious mistakes this year. These mistakes required me to seek a deeper, more comprehensive understanding of Christ's Atonement. I guess I'm learning that my mistakes are essential. Without them, I couldn't learn what I really want. I'm so grateful for a few choice friends and a marvelous church leader who have all helped me as sounding boards and given me great counsel and examples to learn from.

My heart - Boy, oh boy. If my goal is to completely give my heart to God, I will need to be alive for a very long time. Every time I yield him some of my heart, my heart goes off and finds something that it loves and wants to keep from God even more than the previous distraction! Who designed this thing? When I close my eyes and rest my mind, I realize that my heart is in a constant state of wanting to be given to God. It's hard for me to measure this, and I should probably come up with a way so I can understand whether I have made any progress.

I'm giving myself a thumbs down in this area. To improve, I need to set actual goals.


Tomorrow is different from all the other days in that I haven't lived it yet. I can make it something new.

new beginnings are hard



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