Highlights of a Year in Review

2008 was a good year for me. I helped my daughter learn and grow and learned that there is one more girl on the way next year. I made several close friends, took all the necessary steps to purchase our first house, read 34 books on various topics (although the total is ten short from my total last year) and cultivated a particular interest in the current and future worldwide energy industry. I went on trips to Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston, Minneapolis, Seattle and Switzerland, twice, for weeks at a time. I spent much of the year looking for a job, and in August, after a hard fought battle, I found what I was looking for. And it was just in time too, for I am not sure that I would have found my current job given the direction the overall job market has headed since September.

By far one of the most impressive things I witnessed thus year was the Opening Ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Although it was only from my couch with my cousin, it was an incredible sight. I also watched intently along with many other people the unfolding story of the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign and am proud to have been a part of history on November 4th. My online life and connections have expanded as has this blog. Last March I posted a short paragraph on this site regarding Dicky Fox, the fictional mentor from the movie Jerry Maguire. For some reason, that particular post has become by far the most viewed and most searched of any on the site. I had no idea there were so many other Dicky Fox fans out there. Overall, as I look back at this year, I remember laughing a lot, as with every year, but I also became frustrated with myself and with life more than I should have. And I didn’t make it to Japan for another year in a row, although each year I claim that this year is the year I will make the trip back.

Life has been good to me, but there are things I could do better for next year. Many of my 2008 goals remained unachieved and merely aspirations. 2009 will have to be the year that I complete what it is that deep down I know I must do. Happy New Year.

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Christmas On The Come Back

Another Christmas has come and gone. Each holiday season seems to come and pass faster than the last. And not one of them compare to the Christmases of my youth. But as a kid, Christmas was magical, with the anticipation and excitement of what Santa would bring, the break from school, and the time spent with family and annual traditions. This year Christmas came, we worked, we got together with friends and life went on. It was by no means a bad day – in fact, we had a good time. It’s just that the feelings I got around Christmas growing up are not the same as they are now. But there is hope. We have a child now and one more on the way. While they are young now, seeing Christmas through their eyes in a few years will bring the magic back. I have the chance to shape their Christmas memories and their image of how Christmas should be as one of their parents. It is an experience I look forward to. I have many fond Christmas memories from my youth and while it may never be the same for me again, it can be just as good for my children.

The Alternative Universe

There are times in life that make me pause and think, “what if?” It’s one of those exercises that everyone has gone through and it is usually a pointless task and waste of time. Life is what you make of it and considering what might have been is not something I engage in often. But occasionally, I can’t help myself and I think, what if………  

My experience so far in life is that it moves forward with the usual ups and downs, the weeks melding into months and, before you know it, years. But I can’t complain, things have fallen into place for me in my life and I am extremely grateful for all that I have. It has been the result of planning, timing, some luck, hard work and, I sincerely believe, part of a bigger plan out there that I am a part of.  I have been richly blessed in life and I sometimes don’t realize what I have until I am without it for a short time.

Yet, while I am thankful for all I have and as happy I am with my life, there are times that cause me to wonder “what if.” These flashback (flashforward may be more appropriate) moments rarely occur in the hustle and bustle of ordinary life, but occur at times nevertheless. These feelings come with ties to reality and the good and happy life I chose for myself, but I sometimes can’t help wondering how my life would have been should I have made different decisions than the ones I have. In my mind, part of the secret to life is knowing when to enjoy where you are with the people you’re with at that particular moment in time. Don’t get me wrong, success takes planning and a selfish focus at times, but living in the moment and recognizing its fleetingness is sometimes essential to happiness and gaining perspective.

In the real world, I have a life I have built that I am happy with. And when I am faced with these “what if” moments, I indulge for a moment, but I soon hear the whistle of the train telling me it’s time to go, for my life is moving on and I am happy to get on board.

The Journey Continues

I have been busier at work in Switzerland than I have been in New York. Each morning I wake up early, have breakfast at my hotel and walk the few miles up the road to my office in the cold, dark morning. Fourteen hours later or so, I walk back to the hotel, hardly seeing the sun each day. But I have had a good time here the past two weeks, even if I am ready to return home to New York. I have spent time with good friends, attended the wildest company-sponsored holiday party I have ever seen, and have learned how to do my job better. I am not sure when I will be out here next, but I am likely to come out again at least once next year. And while I recognize that Switzerland is a nice country, it is not my favorite country. But if this trip taught me anything it is that the company you’re with for the journey makes all the difference.

Switzerland Travels – Round Two

After a relaxing solo trip from New York to Zurich, I have been enjoying Switzerland this week. The weather is not as cold as I thought it was going to be and feels essentially the same as New York. There is less snow here than I thought (which I good) and I have been busy, which helps since I don’t have much else to do. The problem is that everything closes so early. I left work last night at almost 8:00 pm. In walking around the town from my office, I found it difficult to get some food. And not only that, most everything closes late in the afternoon on Saturday and almost nothing is open on Sunday. Good thing I have some books to read and have found two English TV stations. But despite the inconvenience of few things being open late in the evening, Switzerland is a nice country, as I noted during my last trip here in September. It’s safe, clean and organized. It’s just expensive. Sure, Europe can be expensive, but costs in Switzerland are high for Europe. After living in the U.S., everywhere seems high (and I even live in New York). Taxes in the U.S. may go up, but we buy gas by the gallon and not the liter and stores like Costco help families like mine stock up on what we want for reasonable prices. I can’t imagine what families’ food budgets must be here. Of course, they eat less meat and snacks and hence I have seen very few overweight people here. Too bad I cannot say the same for the U.S.

Back to CH

I am off again tonight – going back to Swizterland. I was there for most of September and now I will be returning to a much colder, snowier Switzerland for the next two and a half weeks. The weather calls for snow tonight in the Zurich area, meaning that my commute tomorrow morning could be a mess. But I am going to have a good time. I will get to see some familiar faces, will be able to meet many new people and will hopefully spend time with friends I made when I was previously there a few months ago. I am also hoping to do more traveling this time around than last time, perhaps even traveling out of Switzerland into nearby Italy. I return to New York a week before Christmas and then this year is pretty much over. Where did it go? Am I happy with my performance in all aspects of my life this year? What will be on my goal list next year to accomplish? These are things for me to think about while in Switzerland, for as I remind myself each year, next year can be better than this one.