I managed to make another lap around the sun – an amazing and productive trip this time, truly.  Each year my birthday represents my new years day – lowercase.  I look back at the previous year’s version of myself and compare the current version of me with the one that began last year.

What changed?

Geography changed.

Geography was probably the best, and biggest, catalyst for change.  When my previous lease was accidentally not renewed by the property manager I moved to a place I found on a long ride (think Harley Davidson) one afternoon during the spring of 2017.  Everything came together quickly, and easily, with the new place.  I moved before the previous lease expired which put me about an hour’s drive from where I work.

Daily groove changed.

The daily groove needed the most change so I started experimenting with a list of my daily bits and worked on one thing at a time:  

The amount time it took to get to work; 

How will I fit gym time into my week while spending more time driving throughout the week;

 Best day/time to visit the grocery store;

Where will I attend church – and where is that church at; 

Where will my weekend bike rides start and end; 

Will I need to work from home; 

I had no furniture to speak of since giving most of it away, so what does that mean; 

I had moved away from many distractions, or so they felt to me and I have much more free time on my hands and what will I spend that time doing; 

I live much further from airports and what did that mean when I decided to travel for work or leisure.

After a bit of prioritizing “first things first”, I figured out many new daily groove recipes and not all of them worked well. I spent the time to understand what needed to work, and what could partially work – and tweaked each recipe as the year progressed.  Half way through the year I figured it out, and I’m using that same recipe right now – and it’s working well.

How I spend my time changed.

Thankfully, social media habits died very quickly – creating more free time

My television, surround sound, and Apple TV ended up in boxes

Adjusted drive times to/from work to coincide with favorable local traffic and weather patterns

Started learning more about the things that interest me the most, unrelated to my job

Spent more time at home thinking through and planning bigger parts of my future

Spent much more time connecting and visiting with my family in my spare time

Spent more time cultivating and building relationships

Spent more time sorting through, and donating and replacing the 10% of “things” remaining after the large purge late last year

Spent more time to work out being more intentional in my current state

Spent more time wading through recipe websites and cookbooks to be a better cook

All of that is kind of vague, I know, but it does encapsulate much of last year’s change.


It didn’t happen.  Not even once.  

The notion I started with last year with was this, if I only focus on what’s in front of me, while still keeping an eye on the horizon, and being present with myself and those around me who were adding value to my life I wouldn’t experience FOMO.  It worked, and still is.

Influences changed.

Narrowed and re-sorted the list and ended up with only a few last year.  I’m very, very, particular about what goes into my eyes and ears.  Each of these began as a “taste test”, and if there wasn’t a noticeable change or value being offered I’d try something different – instantly.

The first two items on the list below have helped with life applications, technique, and supporting my approach to my day-to-day groove.

Pastor C. / Judah S.

These two are more recent.  Both are pastors of large congregations and they still come off as preachers you’d find out in the country.  Many, many, many raw and real life lessons have been shared in messages providing application to many cultures, socio-economic statuses, and generations.  

They reach many people at different places in their lives, right where they are.  They are big on figuring out your own technique for making the world a better place, something I realized I want to, and can do, right where I’m at – wherever I’m at.

Would my parents set foot in either of their churches if they were given the chance?  I would say they would pass.  And that’s okay with me, I love my parents exactly how they are, and they love where I’m at any given day of the week.

Scott D.

Another no-nonsense guy who tells it like it is – and endlessly shares life’s little daily hacks for becoming a better musician.  Hours and hours of learning the way I learn best: “Tell Me, Show Me, Help Me, Watch Me”.   

Less about muscle memory and more about learning exactly what a bass guitar is capable of doing.  It seems endless at times.  

It took a few months to figure out where I wanted to take this part of my life, or if I wanted to start yet another journey learning how to be a better musician.  Months of baby steps later, it has worked well for me.

Peter, Paul, John

Yep, you guessed it – these are books and authors in the Bible’s New Testament.  I’ve spent much time listening to stories from, and about, these men.  Very powerful text, and impacts so far and I’m only scratching the surface.

Music changed.

I can listen to many different genres, and still be so particular about what I like.  A song basically has 10 seconds or 12 bars before I skip it or continue listening to it.

Throughout last year my playlists have been gutted, replaced, and/or deleted.  I have a steady shuffle of 8 playlists I listen to on my phone.  The ones that have aged just aren’t interesting in longer, and that’s fine.  My tastes in music change every few months – I just need something freshly pressed sometimes.  A few folks I will always fall back on are Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Debussy,  Motown, Jazz (1950 -1970), just to name a few.

I connected with a few bass players in Europe, UK, Pennsylvania, and California a few months ago and since then they’ve shared some tracks where we could all record our approach to covering the songs’ bass parts.  More importantly it was telling and obvious everyone has different styles after listening to how they covered the songs. 

I was trained to play the song like the original artist(s) recorded the piece.  I realized this year this vein runs very, very, deep inside and covering a song in my own style isn’t difficult but it doesn’t feel very true either.  I began playing in a band at my church earlier in the year, and my “authentic” approach has come out in me more than I would like at times.  

I’m not sure everyone sees the value in it, and that’s okay – I’m totally cool with it though but as Scott C. mentioned in one of his tutorials, “there is a time and place to play your stuff – shouldn’t happen all of the time, but one should be prepared to when asked.”  Very sage advice.

The lesson for me around this, and other character traits, is being me isn’t hard, and shouldn’t be.  And how I’m wired to play is how I’ll play a piece.

Debt changed.

Here’s a “biggie”.  Still a constant focus of mine, but I’m light years away (in a good way) from where I was this time last year.  My mindset this year has fixed on this notion: I don’t want to have a lot of money, but I don’t want to worry about it all of the time.  A day may come when I might worry about it, and that time is in the future so there’s nothing I can do about it right now.  And continue to mind where it goes is a focus, not a worry any longer.

Social Media changed.

As I mentioned, I don’t sit and scroll any longer.  One blogger stated, “scrolling is the new smoking” – seems to be a habit many can’t quit in our current culture.

A friend of mine recently had his life radically, and negatively, affected by one single post on their FB wall.  It was so tragic and sad to see what they’re living through right now.  Something they had no control over affected their life so fundamentally, it cemented my views and ideas about social media as a whole.  

I believe it does have a place in some lives, but maybe not everyone’s.  I have close friends who use social media to stay connected to their families on the other side of the world and it works well for that.  

However, if everyone is “friends” with everyone else in their own backyard it would seem so much easier to just use the phone’s primary function.  Try talking to someone to let them know you “like” them, you do or don’t agree with something going on in their life, or help them handle a difficult situation going in in their life at the moment.

Change is coming next year (too).

I have another new list of outcomes for this year I’m excited about.  I’m praying this coming year will be even more productive, and in other ways I’ve not discovered yet.  One thing I am sure of is this.  Removing dozens of distractions has helped and will help steer and navigate life.  

I better understand “simple is not easy”.  Many changes this year were results of making better decisions and choices.  Some changes were simple but far from easy – and I moved the needle in a few areas because of it.

I’m looking forward to what the new year has in store for me, it’s exciting and far less intimidating than it was last year.  I hope this year’s lap will go a bit slower to allow for more time to enjoy more of what’s beside, around, and in front of me because all of those things right now look amazing and precious.

If today’s your birthday, Happy New Year!