Swiss Army Knife With Scissors

So many of the decisions my wife and I make for our family are based on the values we decided on before we were married over 13 years ago. I remember sitting down in our early 20’s and talking about how our family would operate and how we would handle raising children, should that occur (and it did….quickly).  I can also remember the times that we compromised those values for different reasons only to retreat back to the guiding principles that caused us to create them in the first place.

Fast forward 13 years and I’m amazed at how  she has sacrificed daily for our family as she’s guided by those values.  We refer to Jnean as a Swiss Army knife with scissors. She’s as brilliant as she is beautiful and can accomplish anything she puts her mind to. Everything she does she excels at and she can push through any level of resistance she meets. Against all odds she succeeds and gets the job done.  What amazes me though, is not what she’s capable of, but what she sacrifices to be as available to our son and myself as she possibly can.  It would be easy to ignore the needs of her family and the wants of her child over a well-paying job and her own pride and success. Yet she makes the conscious effort to abandon all that and be available. There have been times she’s been able to stay home full-time but more recently, and most incredibly, she’s had to be the bread-winner and insurance provider, she’s taken jobs she’s ridiculously over-qualified for because they were the only ones that offered the hours she needed to be available for our family.

She’ll admit that the one earthly thing she’s given her life to, our son, is the most challenging and difficult position she’s ever held and will never feel qualified for. I watch her struggle as, for eleven years now, her heart has walked around outside her chest and struggled medically, socially, been bullied, misunderstood, under-estimated and sidelined. I watch her battle with what she perceives to be failure at every turn and endeavor to discover every way imaginable to overcome that perception. If there is  a way, a cure, a strategy or tactic, she will find it and she will overcome it.

A woman who should/could be CEO of a fortune 500 company wakes up each day to lay in bed with our son and help him manage his emotions and walk through confusing social scenarios. Then she’ll stretch her aching back and ice up her failing knee and head to work a job where she’s on her feet all day long to help provide the rest of what’s needed to run our home and send our son to a school that loves and accepts him for who he is. She sacrifices daily what she wants for what our family needs.

There are chapters upon chapters that I could write but that would only embarrass her. We don’t struggle as much as many others do. What we’ve seen so many other people deal with is unimaginable. I don’t write here, today, to negate others’ experiences. However, today and everyday, in my mind, Jnean is a hero to me and to my son and I recognize her as that today.

525,600 Minutes

I’ve been analyzing data this afternoon prepping an annual report for a client. In the midst of my research I stumbled across a post from Mashable called Your Life as Data: The Rise of Personal Annual Reports. I was intrigued. Professionally I track data all year and analyze it against last years data, last months data, seasonal data, etc and attempt to project where that data will take me and what outcomes I can expect to judge how successful I am at what I do. But personally? The questions started flooding my mind. What would I track? How would I quantify it? I began looking at some of the data others have collected like this and this. I was disappointed to see reports on how much TV someone watched and how much they spent on transportation or time spent out of state, etc. The sad thing may very well be that tracking those things is the sum of what we care about or who we are. Am I really the $1,659.34 that I spent on coffee (a made up number as I am sure it’s much higher than that) and is that really how I wanted to spend $1,659.34? Is that the best I could do?

One of my favorite songs from the musical, RENT is called “Seasons of Love” and as colorful as the musical is they nail something on the head with this song:

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?

The trick is analyzing the right data. Too often I’ve come to the end of something and found I was collecting the wrong data or in the wrong format, rendering it useless. It got me thinking how to calibrate my life and begin tracking what matters and analyzing the data to make better choices. I shudder to think I get to the end of all of this only to find I collected the wrong data, measured myself by the wrong standard and ended up miles off course to where I could’ve been; should’ve been.

The same song from RENT ends with:

“Measure in love”

So what did you measure this year? Was it the amount of debt paid off or times under budget? Was it hours worked on particular projects or money earned on the side? Or was it how many times your children smiled, or the length of a kiss with your spouse, or how many coffees you had with a friend? What will you measure this coming year? Sunsets with your spouse, hours of play with your children or hours in service to those in need in your community?

How do you measure, measure a year?

*This post had been sitting in my draft box for 2 years now. Thanks to this post by Katie Strandlund for reminding me of a great song to make the post more cohesive.