Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 Tour of Devastation

Confidence without Execution
I'm in a horrible mood, and that title makes me feel just a tiny bit better than something more appropriate, like "2012 in the Rear View." (note: I swear, I wrote this post prior to Tom Sadler posting "Putting 2012 in the Rear View," which you should also read).

 In 2012, we were fortunate not to have any deaths in the family, or lose our jobs, house, car, or truck.  Already, that's not a horrible year.  In totality, 2012 was a series of calamities set between a pretty good life lived under stress.  I got outside to fish or hunt about 60 times - c'mon everyone - don't call them "fishing days" unless you are actually out there all day - and I'm satisfied, but not thrilled with that total, as well as the skill I demonstrated while hunting and fishing.   I worked hard to increasingly involve my 3-year old son to the outdoors, which surprisingly (to me) continues to be a thrill, despite the bungles and debacles that seem to inevitably occur.

I wrote a odorous ridiculous tedious copious "to do list" for the blog in 2012.  Going through it point-by-point would only ensure that both you and I would never return to the blog again.  So, going from the Gospel of Year-End Reviews, Second Verse, First Stanza, from the Book of Troutrageous!, here are five of the overall goals I laid out for myself, and how I fared in actually completing them.

1. Fishing and Hunting.  Let's cut to the chase, shall we?  I really wanted to diversify my fishing and hunting in 2012, and it just did not happen.  I fished for trout a few times, with success, but never bothered to fly fish for them.  I went fishing in the salt just once, and only caught perch.  I fished for bass, and caught a lot of them, even on fly tackle.  Probably more bass than any year in my life.  I fished in a new state - West Virginia - and caught bass there.  The end of the 2011-2012 duck season was a waste, but I got after them hard at the beginning of the 2012-2013 season - I was skunked several times before laying waste to several geese over the course of a few hunts in November and December 2012.  I had a notable disappointment in my failure to go surfing in 2012 again - I miss the ocean so much it nearly breaks my heart, but $3.75 gas x 210 mile round trip = discouragement.  On the other hand, one successful outdoor accomplishment was that I was able to fish and hunt with three bloggers I hadn't met before (Nick DoumelTom Sadler and Steve Kline).  Those were real highlights.   Overall Grade: B-

Me, before 2012 weight loss
2. Health.  Hmm.  I've made a point not to blog about this topic, as it's highly personal, and failures tend to be embarrassing.  A year ago, I pledged to start working out by April 1, losing 20 pounds, and keeping off at least 10 until December 31, 2012.  On February 1, 2012, I started working out and dieting (keeping under 1800 calories/day).  By August 1, I had lost 31 pounds.  I continued to work out, bouncing between gym work, road running, boot camp classes, and a cheapo personal trainer, until I came down with pneumonia around 10/26/12.  I haven't worked out since, and was on a heavy round of drugs until 12/15/12, and ate like a horse, which is my way of saying that I gained back between 10-15 pounds of the weight I lost.  I'll re-start the quest the day after duck season ends (1/26/13).    It's a bit of a letdown because my initial success was so great, but technically, I beat my goals and I'm confident going into the next round! Overall grade: A-

One can be horrible, and still
accumulate style points
3. Blogging and Growth of the Blog.  Statistically, I did well here. Aimed for 15,000 pv/month and am averaging about 18,000.  Aimed for 200 blog followers and reached 150.  Aimed for 100 FB followers and reached 86.  Aimed for 150 posts and completed about 135.   However, I set some bigger goals, too, to push the blog into a position where in 2013 and 2014, it could be at a significantly higher level.   Life interfered with these goals mightily - we dealt with job drama, house drama, parenting drama, power outages, unexpected gear replacement, unexpected gardening problems, and the list goes on and on.  As a result, I really didn't get to grow the blog as its own entity, which is unfortunate, but something I have to look at with clear eyes and understand whether 2012 was an abberation or whether the growth of this blog has to be considered differently.  In 2012, I pledged to find new outlets for my writing and I failed at that, save for a piece I'm really proud of that was published in the Backcountry Journal.   Grade: C

4. Outdoor Parenting.  I am still learning how to be an outdoors parent.  I am passionate about it, and honestly I tried really hard.  Henry rode in a kayak and a powerboat before his third birthday.  In 2012, he fished in residential ponds, spring-fed creeks, and ancient cypress swamps.  Not bad for a two year old.  As everyone knows, the single largest factor in whether adults participate in a hobby is the extent to which they were exposed to it as children.  Soon Hank will be big enough for bicycles, climbing walls, and (gulp) his own kayak.  It's going to be a wild adventure.  Grade: A-

5. Writing.   In early 2012, I thought a lot about whether I even consider myself a writer.  It's kind of a silly question, because I write reams of technical reports and funding requests for outdoor work, I occasionally blog about the outdoors as part of my job, and in fact, I ghost write for a variety of folks on a variety of topics (I'm cheap! Be in touch!).   I consciously work on my writing now, and posted several very personal pieces here in 2012.  I have mixed feelings (relief, disappointment) over the fact that so few people read or commented on them.  I guess that's to be expected from articles on an outdoors blog that lack pictures of the gaping jaws of a big fish or a dead, bloody goose.    I will continue to work on my writing, and I'm happy that this blog exists as an avenue for me to do so (where at least a few people read it).  Grade: A

Overall, 2012 was not anything like I expected it to be.  I primarily mean that in a negative way, but there were some positives along the way as well - most of them documented here on River Mud.  At moments in 2012, I was really shell shocked by what reality was handing me, but in all cases, the personal growth that resulted has made me feel really comfortable in my own skin - something that has not always come easy.   I'm looking forward to a strong 2013, and will be making some goals for the blog in the next several days that take into account some of what I learned in 2012.

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