2013 made me stronger.
Not necessarily in a physical sense... but I guess there's that too. I PR'd often enough in the gym and did things, particularly regarding deadlifts and front squats, that made me proud that I am still lifting heavier each year. (But I'm still just fitter than the average dude my age, not some kind of gym beast).
Instead, 2013's strength gains were really more about exploring and learning about weaknesses, and inner toughness when it came to various other challenges.
My dad died back in late May. Over the previous few years, he had experienced an awful mental and physical decline that I have gone on about here a number of times previously. But, despite the fact that his death was mostly a sad relief -- for him and me -- May and June were a madhouse around here as a result. And when I really think about it, everything about my existence had elements of This Is More Stressful and Hectic Than I Want It To Be from August 2011, when he went into nursing-home care, to his death this past year. It took seven dumpsters (yes… Seven. Fucking. Dumpsters) to empty his house before I could even start paying someone to bring its interior from its aesthetic perch in the mid-1970s to the present so it could be sold. And then there was all the crazy shit that someone always has to deal with when a person dies.
Fortunately, I am blessed with an amazingly supportive wife, and I got just the perfect level of help from friends, family and those I paid to work on everything that needed to be done regarding my dad's care, his house and his death. There is some magic blend of tenacity, fortuity and gratitude that gets a person through this sort of challenge, and I got lucky and tapped into all three.
The last few years forced me to re-learn two principal things: (1) we are much tougher than we might imagine, and (2) what matters the most is the people you surround yourself with and your health -- mental and physical.
And this all brings us to other aspects of 2013.
More than ever, meditation has been an essential, daily part of how I empty my busy mind. And this past year, I not only blogged about meditation, but I got to blab on about it on a podcast with my friend Kendall Kendrick, from Primal Balance. I even ran a 30-day meditation challenge in July, and started another one more recently. I used to joke that there is no quicker route to deafening silence on my blog than mentioning meditation. Slowly but surely, that is changing a little bit as a few more people realize that their busy, crowded brains need emptying, and that all that CrossFit hoohah about being a "badass" isn't worth shit if your head isn't right.
Good food is critical to health and happiness too, and, besides going on and on about the benefits of an ancestral lifestyle here and on my Facebook page, I also got involved with a couple of paleo/primal challenges at the CrossFit gym where I am a member. There is little I enjoy more than helping out people who really want the assistance, and both of those events have given me a chance to do that. I really dig it.
And then I learned that even when you get sleep, food, stress and exercise where you think you want them to be -- you know, even when you are the fucking paleo drummer, maaaaan (I'm kidding!) -- there are always improvements to be made. I went to see a paleo doc this year for the first time. I learned most things on my insides are great, some are good, and a few improvements are in order. In a month or so, I am going to go back for my second round of bloodwork to see if the changes the doc suggested have helped me step up my game in the health/longevity department.
I also realized this year, more than ever before, that the only focus of my fitness regimen should be health and longevity, and that my ego is the enemy in that regard. I'll keep relearning that lesson as needed.
There some other enemies too, though. I have been up, down and all around with alcohol over my life, and I am just about done. As I said in that post, I won't foreclose the notion of a very special drink in a very special place, preferably with a very special person. But seriously... it is not going to be often. Amazing things have happened since I stopped regular moderate consumption of alcohol. Most notably, my blood pressure has plunged, even in stressful times. Fuck yeah.
And there will, undoubtedly, be further adjustments in the future. Right now, as a matter of fact, I decided my body fat could use a downward turn, so I am eliminating fruit for a month, just to see what happens. I am only a week or so into that new approach, and already I am seeing good results, a fact that just further underscores to me the neverending value of treating one's life as a constant self-improvement project/science experiment. N=1 is good enough, most of the time.
My free time in 2013 was also a little bigger than ever. Both my kids are now off to college/grad-school, and while I miss them, their independence is something I have always encouraged, and now that it is here, it has provided me and my wife with more time for fun on our own. There was a trip for both of us to Paleo FX, and another to Utah and Arizona for some high-quality hiking. I had more time for volleyball, more time for the gym, and more time to play drums -- on my own and in a band. There was just more time. And time is freedom. And freedom is good.
This was also the Year of the Dog just a little more than usual around here. We have always loved our pets, but in 2013 my wife and I added one dog to the pack, lost one, and we both started volunteering as dogwalkers at the local animal shelter. We already knew that dogs were awesome. But giving back to the world of dogs has proved even more so.
It was a really good year. It wasn't always a really happy year. But things, overall, are even better than they were when 2013 began. And even around my little slice of the blogosphere, there are more people checking in here than ever (hell, I even have smart guest bloggers -- like her, and her, and him -- and I even get asked occasionally to write something on someone else's blog). Sometimes great people who I respect even say nice things about my efforts here. 2014? Let's go.