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Intentions for 2009 by Adam Shand

The last couple of weeks have provided many "year in review" posts, as I was perusing them it struck me that these posts had it entirely backwards. Why talk about the past when you can prophesize for the coming year?

This has obvious similarities with the traditional New Year's resolution, however my hope is to avoid the guilt tinged flavour of "should" which so commonly accompanies resolutions. Instead, I'm thinking of this as the list of things which I have sincerely set my mind to doing in the coming year.

Being the hippy dippy fruit loop that I am, this has the added advantage of announcing my intent and allowing the universe to help out with the harder things.

Intention Number 1: Meditation

A couple of years ago, I took an eight-week course called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (taught by Stephen Archer). My primary motivation for seeking out the course was to develop strategies for managing stress in my work and personal life. However, an important secondary motivation was my growing interest in meditation and Buddhism (the primary technique the MSBR teaches is insight meditation which is based around the Theravada practice, only stripped of the spirituality to make it palatable to the corporate market).

Since then, I've stuck with the meditation practice and even attended my first four-day silent retreat in November. As part of my practice, I've become more involved in the local community, attending sitting groups as well as providing some technical assistance with their website.

  • Continue to work on the insightmeditation.org.nz and insightaotearoa.org websites. The goal is to allow the communities to be as self-servicing as possible. This as part of my dāna to the community.
  • Stay involved with the community and regularly attend local sitting groups.
  • Attend another retreat, ideally a ten-day retreat somewhere in New Zealand (sadly Jeremy Logan and Sharda Rogell's is already full)

Intention Number 2: Running

A while ago, I was browsing in Borders and stumbled across a book called Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner. Though I didn't buy it at the time, Dean's description of his first attempt at running the Western States 100 stuck with me, and eventually I ended up buying the book. I found Dean's attitude towards running incredibly approachable and his stories inspirational. To my surprise, I found myself thinking about what it would be like to run a marathon.

I've spent a good chunk of my life limping from borked ankles, and so running has always occupied a place in my heart somewhere near root canals. But the more I thought about it, the more it was something I wanted to do.

Enter fortune. At the big, end of year work party, I made a new friend.  As we got talking, he invited me to train with him for a marathon.  I'm stunned to discover that running can be a delightful experience.

  • Keep running regularly, aiming for at least three times a week
  • Run a half-marathon before May '09
  • Run a full marathon before the end of '09

Intention Number 3: Music

As a child I played violin for three years, played clarinet for a year in band class and taught myself the harmonica. However as an adult that practice seems to not count for much. For the last ten years I've been half-assedly trying to learn more about music, I've dabbled with guitar and djembe lessons as well as practising from books and CDs, but nothing has stuck. Even though I know the major problem is that I don't practice enough, I've become quite frustrated at my inability to progress.

Last year I finally got around to organising singing lessons with Silvia Jung, and it's been wonderful! I haven't been very good at practising but am slowly learning and that's giving me the motivation to make more time (I discovered the other day that I'm now much better at "Rock Band" than I ever was at "Sing Star").

  • Keep up with my singing lessons
  • Begin taking either guitar or djembe lessons 
  • Make time for regular weekly practice

Intention Number 4: Nerd

The biggest challenge I have in doing anything else is resisting being sucked into the interwebs. It's getting to the point where I'm considering turning off my home internet connection, much the same way as I refuse to have TV. 

Regardless, I spend a lot of time with my Mac on the internet and there are a few projects which I'd like to work on:

  • Python has been on my list of things to learn since the mid-90's when a co-worker turned me onto it. This year the goal is to learn Python better than I know Bash and to complete at least one small project in Python.
  • I like writing here for many reasons, but I don't post as much as I'd like. So I will try to post at least one blog entry a week.
  • I use ikiwiki to power my blog, and mostly I love it. However, it is uglyplain out of the box. I've spent some time on making it pretty but ended up needing to hack some of the templates and got distracted as it got fiddly. The goal is to get adam.shand.net up to scratch which means a decent theme, comments working, a tag clean up, moving away from Subversion to either Bazar or Mercurial and porting content over from the much neglected spack.org.

As I write all this down, it seems like a lot, but it's not even half of what's in my head that I'd like to do! It'll be interesting to see what this year brings, here's hoping that work doesn't go completely nuts!

journal posted on 1 Jan 2009 in #failing, #playing & #wanting

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