Being Happy

A few weeks ago, I took one of my travel holidays, this time to the beautiful island city of San Juan, Puerto Rico. I’ll post about the trip later this week, but it was the culmination of much reflection the past few months about where I am in life, what I want to continue, change, and move away from. It’s a process I used to do around the New Year time period, and now every 3 months or so.

The past few years have had their peaks and valleys across most every aspect of my life, and while I don’t think I’m unique in that respect, I also don’t think any challenges are insurmountable with the right spiritual and emotional support.

And that is why I committed this year to focusing on three areas of personal growth: Spiritual, Physical health, and Career. Each are very important to me, bringing their own challenges as well as a sense of happiness.

Spiritual Growth is always top of mind for me, moreso in the past few years. So in addition to daily devotions, I’ve tried to become more Christ-like in every aspect of my life. Why? Because there is a truly a peace that comes with feeling that I am in the [spiritual] place I belong. Or to put it another way, that I’m on the right path.

Physical Growth. Good gravy this has been hard! This year I found myself waking up with a little less pep in my step at times. And whereas in past years I could slough off weight/inches with ease, it was getting more difficult to stay at (what I feel) is a healthy weight and general condition. And so I started running  walking fast, spurred on by my church’s support of World Vision. While I wasn’t able to keep up with their training regimen, it’s felt really good to get into the gym. I missed the high that comes from a solid workout, not to mention the time for my brain to slough off some of the minutiae it accumulates.

Career Growth. I’ve been very fortunate to have a career that has offered a myriad of experiences, challenges, opportunities, that have allowed me to grow in expertise, travel the globe, and engage with some of the largest and most influential organizations. Yet, I got to a point where I failed at managing a reasonable balance between work and life. That sucked, but I’m very thankful to have learned from that episode and moved forward. Recently, I came to the conclusion that, for the right opportunity, it was time to challenge myself further with a role that allows me to build something. Stay tuned.

Oh and there has been so much more that has happened to lift my spirits and leave me feeling really, really blessed. My family, my kids, and a new relationship (almost a year!) that has me smitten and, well, over the moon 🙂

I say all this to get to this story. While I was in Puerto Rico, walking back from a few hours relaxing on the beach, I walked by a guy who exclaimed

“Hey bro, what are you so happy about? It’s just a beach?!”

He must have heard me laughing and just enjoying myself, particularly when I was sitting in the surf and pretending I was bullriding as the waves would come in and try to knock me over. Trust me, it was a lot more fun that how odd it sounds!

Since then, I’ve had several other people share that they have noticed pep in my step, a more genuine smile and sunnier disposition. It’s hard to express in words how it makes me feel that it’s that noticeable, even by those who I may hardly know.

And so, I want to leave you with this. I encourage you to take some time periodically to do a “Happiness Check”, thoughtfully searching your life and making sure you are not just satisfied, but really overjoyed with every new day. Find your happiness. It is really worth it!

Glazed Oatmeal Cranberry Bars

I’ve been a little bit of a lazy dessert cook of late – too much business travel, various commitments, etc. But after spending $2.00 at WalMart buying a box of a dozen cookies, I felt guilty enough to dust off my apron and make some bar cookies.

 

Print Recipe
Glazed Oatmeal Cranberry Bars
Many cookie recipes can be baked into bars, and that is what I did here. Taking a relatively easy oatmeal cookie recipe, added cranberries (I got a really good deal on dried cranberries a while back), and spread into a pan. The glaze is what makes the difference between ho-hum and 'wow, this taste fantastic!'.
Course Desserts
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30-35 minutes
Servings
bars
Ingredients
Course Desserts
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30-35 minutes
Servings
bars
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set aside a 13x9 baking pan (no need to grease)
  2. In a large bowl, combine together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside
  3. In a separate bowl, cream butter, eggs, and sugars together.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla to the creamed mixture, beating well
  5. Add creamed mixture to the large bowl of dry ingredients. Mix well, preferably by hand.
  6. Add oatmeal, cranberry. Again, best results come from mixing by hand, in my opinion.
  7. Spread in baking pan, using spatula to even out
  8. Bake for 30-35 minutes, checking after 25 minutes.
Powdered Sugar Glaze
  1. I don't really measure well. You're making a glaze by starting with 1 cup powdered sugar, 2tsp of vanilla, and 1/4c milk. Depending, you may need to add more milk or sugar to get the consistency you want. I like mine to be close to a spread, but pourable. When ready, place into pastry bag (or a sandwich bag and snip an end) and spread across the bars after they've cooled for about 10 minutes.
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My 2016 Podcasts – Business and Technology

When I first began listening to podcasts, this was the category I packed my Microsoft Zune full of. Yep, a Zune.

Anyways, while TWiT has long championed technology shows, it is good to see that other networks are also getting into this space.

 

All About Android

Now that I am in the Android camp, I figured it was important to stay up-to-date with the goings on in that community. Being a fan of the TWiT network, I began listening to AAA. Honestly, this show is hit or miss for me. Visualize a group of Android fans sitting around pontificating about their experiences, and you get a good idea of each week’s show. About 20 minutes of it is good information and insight, but you have to pick it out of the 90 minutes. Most annoyingly, there is one host (who I won’t name here) who seems to never be prepared. It’s frustrating, because I love the network. Maybe your experience will be better.

Daily Tech News Show

As its name implies, this is a daily rundown of tech news. I don’t listen every day, but they do a pretty good job of going a bit deeper into stories.

How I Built This

Being an entrepreneur at heart, I really get into shows about starting businesses. A relatively new show, each week they spend 30 minutes talking to the founder(s) of a company. Great stuff – if you ever want to be uplifted by someone sharing how they took an idea and built a business around it, this is it.

Security Now

100% geek talk here folks. Part of the TWiT network, Steve Gibson masterfully discusses security topics weekly. Yes, there are times where you’ll find yourself totally over your head with the jargon. But mostly it’s a great way to stay aware of the how/why/fails of secure computing.

StartUp

Wow, did Gimlet Media seemingly come out of nowhere! A superb podcast network established in the past just a couple years ago, this show follows a single business in each series. Interestingly, their first series was about themselves – how Gimlet Media came to be. Again, if you’re interested in entrepreneurship and startups, this is for you.

This Week in Google

When I first began listing to TWiG, it was almost 100% Google-focused. But over the past couple of years, it has morphed into more of a “This Week in Internet” show. That’s not a bad thing – Google’s services and technologies have become so ingrained into our culture that it makes sense that the topics are much more broad than just a single company. Still, the only downside to this show is the host Jeff Jarvis. While I generally appreciate his experience and insights, he thinks too much of himself, constantly interrupting others (especially women) to pontificate about his own ideas, the last conference he spoke at, blah blah blah. If there was a drinking game tied to his interrupting others, you’d die of alcohol poisoning.  The show is definitely worth listening to on a weekly basis, just forewarning you that it may get frustrating.

This Week in Startups

There was a time when Jason Calacanis was considered the “Bad Boy of Silicon Valley” – brash and brilliant, you either loved him or avoided him. Me, I likened him to Mark Cuban, someone who was “successfully lucky” and made an effort to provide himself as not being a flash-in-the-pan. I like the guy. His podcast is a deeper dive into the startup scene, with some inside baseball topics, news & gossip. A little long at times, I probably listen once a month, depending upon the guest he has.

This Week in Tech

This is “Meet the Press” for the technology crowd. Always an interesting show, though I cringe whenever Jeff Jarvis is on (sorry). The topics are wide-ranging, sometimes delving into politics for some reason, but one that I do make a point to listen to every week.

Triangulation

So if This Week in Tech is Meet the Press, Triangulation is Hardball with Chris Matthews. But much kinder. Leo LaPorte interviews someone in the technology field about a single topic (their latest book, company, product, industry news) for about 90 minutes. Not always interesting to me, but I do monitor the schedule.

Windows Weekly

The very first podcast I subscribed to, for over 8 years I’ve enjoyed literally every show. First, as a Msft’er who was curious about the outside world’s perspective on the company, and now as a curious outsider myself. I do believe that this podcast has had a positive effect on how the company views itself, markets and communicates. And this past year I feel they’ve really hit several home runs: multiple interviews with Microsoft execs (to include the second one with Chris Caposella), early ‘real use’ demos of Surface Studio and laptops, and just really good reporting that clearly separates fact from opinion (hear that, All About Android?). If you are in the tech industry and aren’t listening to this, you’re not doing your job in my opinion.

Phew, that was alot! Ok, I appreciate the DMs and emails – keep them coming! Hope that this really shines the light on a few shows that become your 2017 favorites. Next up, News & Politics.