Sunday, November 29, 2009

Recharge Your Batteries

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a ‘connector.’ Maintaining connections with people is an activity that I thoroughly enjoy. I consider my network of friends and associates as one of my most valuable assets.

I also maintain a high level of productivity in whatever I do, be it work or play. I make it a priority to continually improve upon my productivity, focusing on the tasks worth performing, rather than those whose ends are undefined and do not build upon a reasoned purpose.

Being connected and productive is fulfilling and contributes to the rich life I lead. However, the combination requires much work and can be draining of energy.

It is not easy to disconnect and decrease productivity, recharging my batteries, but it is an essential component to being well, so I do it as often as often as I can.

What, in your life, creates stress or is exhausting? Whatever the drain is, step away from it—especially if you have not done so lately. You will be glad you did.

Recharging my batteries usually means travel, the more adventurous the better, ejecting myself from the normal routine—ideally, for at least ten days—resisting all temptations of the norm.

I turn off my PDA and leave behind my PC, shirking work altogether and allowing for total mental recuperation. I seek culture, reading and writing and engaging secondary languages, which, in my case, are Spanish and Portuguese.  Physical exertion is a plus, too. I like to be outdoors, preferably riding a bike or taking a hike.

I find that when I return from time away from the norm, my relationships are stronger than before and I am as productive as ever.

I am fortunate in that Accenture, my employer, places a high value on its employees spending time out of the office. The company provides us five weeks of “paid time off,” plus a fair number of holidays throughout the year…an unbeatable perk, of which I take advantage.

I realize that, for a variety of reasons, you may not have access to the same benefit of exiting the grind. I realize that travel might not be your bag. But whatever it is that wears you down, identify it, and then completely step away—even if for a few days. And notice the difference.

Time away for your typical day is energizing and leads to improved health and happiness. You owe it to yourself and others to recharge your batteries.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Too Much of a Good Thing

Earlier this year, when fall fell upon us, I took the time to write Fall Means Football Season.

What I have realized since then is that fall, in fact, does mean football season. But as for this fall, it also means weddings. And by that I mean five weddings in six weeks!

Emily and I have had the pleasure—and “I do” mean pleasure—of attending all five. This weekend marked the final one of the run. Hallelujah.

Emily and I are both from Houston, two years apart in age. We attended the University of Texas, obtaining the same degree while there but never knowing each other. Although we are from the same city and attended the same college, we have enough years between us that our circles of friends are not the same. There is some crossover among them, but not a lot.

We are lucky to have as many friends as we do. However, it can make for a busy schedule, socially, when many of them are marrying in such a short span. That’s what happened this fall.

To protect the innocent, I will not provide details of any of the nuptial events, but will briefly expand on a handful of observations that I find noteworthy upon reflection of their happening.

Of the five weddings, in three, Emily’s friends were tying the knot, and in the remaining two, my friends were. Nary a one included mutual friends as the bride and groom. Meaning, it is likely that I would not have been invited to three and she would not have been invited two had we ourselves not been married.

Of the five weddings, in three, one of us was in the wedding party—she in two and I in one. So, in those cases, not only were we attending these ceremonies and receptions (all on Saturdays), we were also attending the rehearsal dinners (all on Fridays), among other wedding-related activities. Three of our fall weekends were planned by people other than us.

Of the five weddings, four were in Houston. Three of those four took place at the same local country club. The fifth wedding took place in Dallas. And all of the weddings were “Texas-sized.”

Of the five weddings, two took place at the same time as University of Texas football games, approved by engaged UT grads and longtime Longhorn fans, the bride in one wedding, and the groom in the other. This, despite Mack Brown’s counsel to schedule weddings around games in a Texas Monthly article, Come Early. Be Loud. Cash In., issued in 2008.

Of the five weddings, all were fancy, with tons of tasty food and limitless drink, of which I partook on every occasion. Fortunately, no major hitches (fainting or jilted brides, etc.) transpired at any of them.  Remarkable, really.

With that, I wish all of our wedded friends much love and happiness—and thanks. For the truest form of happiness to me comes now, as today marks the end of a season... the wedding season. Lucky for us all, fall continues, which can only mean one thing: it is still football season!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Jolly, Orange Jerseys, and Two Dead Guys

Never one to get pumped up about putting on a costume for Halloween, or to get into the haunting "spirit," I approached this year’s holiday no differently than I had any other in my post-college years: none too excited.

An exception is that it was the first All Hallow's Eve that we have spent in Cherryhurst.

In addition to first-time homeownership, 2009 brings on a series of firsts, especially as we find the holiday season upon us. (I can picture it now... our first Christmas tree!)

One of these firsts was carving a pumpkin. Emily and I spent an hour transforming ours into a jack-o’-lantern on Friday night. It turned out okay.

(Jolly is born; photo courtesy of Emily Covey)

We named the smiling calabash “Jolly” and set him outside to welcome trick-or-treaters, a singular task which he succeeded in performing.

(Jolly, lighted and awaiting trick-or-treaters; photo courtesy of Emily Covey)

We were out of candy to give before the night ended! Supposedly many of the kids had been brought into the neighborhood from others in the city—a surprise to all three of us. Jolly held up fine, in spite of all the foot traffic.

This year’s Halloween fell on Saturday, so there was also a fortunate coincidence that the Texas Longhorns (my alma mater of the famed burnt orange colored jerseys) were playing football. They faced the Oklahoma State Cowboys, a team that wears a brighter shade of orange, defeating them handily, stepping one game closer to the 2010 Citi BCS National Championship Game.

On hand to quaff we had a couple bombers of Dead Guy Ale, produced by Rogue Ales of Oregon, capturing the theme of the night accordingly.

As Halloweens go, this year’s was full of firsts and surprises. But Jolly, orange jerseys, and two dead guys made it more memorable than I was expecting.