Context

I met Matt Alexander at XOXO this year. He’s been a bit busy, but at the one other occasion I ran into him I complimented him on his writing for Need…turns out his degree is in English Lit. Then he drops this:

In a world of carefully curated spheres of information and insight, it’s all-too-easy for us to feel we’re simply abiding by the societal norms dictated by those around us. And yet, with work in technology and startups, the norm need not be incessant work, poor pay, and high expectations. It can quite easily — and, most importantly, sustainably — be responsible work with contextual perspective. That is, the awareness that life beyond the bounds of work can inform and improve even the most complex of business in an ineffably positive manner.

Building a good business requires hard work and focus, but those are for naught without perspective. Context and perspective are inextricably linked with the virtues of success and competitive advantage, whilst focusing solely upon negativity will prove to be a pathway toward ruinous failure.

Tidying. …go read the whole thing.

During this Christmas downtime I’ve been catching up on sleep, reading and organization, barely digging myself out from under a mountain of debt in all three areas. And like Matt I began to emerge from the fog of backlog with some sense of clarity; capable, perhaps, of stringing a few coherent thoughts together.

This year, professionally and perhaps otherwise, I will begin to transition from being measured in primarily quantitative ways (lines of code, money in the bank) to more qualitative ways (wise strategic insights, the character of my family). Of course it’s not as if I’m suddenly made a transition from young man to old, but circumstances have recently accentuated the transition.

It’s a year when instead of having to explain why my vein-like experience trail–ventures into writing and the art business, non-profits and music–don’t interfere with my “hard” coding skills, but rather simply paint the picture of the context the sum of those experiences provide in making right decisions. Not how many questions I answer correctly but how many questions I correctly write. Judged by peers, less by elders…and finally understanding that it doesn’t matter how much the young hotshots are judging me anyway.


So 2014 begins with aspirations to apply that experience in more ways. Being a better husband and parent. Expressing more gratitude. Having more patience. The usual.

My physical health is still front-of-mind. Last year I took a 6-month break from alcohol and, no surprise, achieved my lowest weight since college. Since picking back up the sauce, I’m back up above my pre-teetotaling weight. People who think I can make other changes to lose that weight underestimate my affection for beer. Still, it has been wearing off. And no time like the present, especially considering the present is January 1st, famous for people with goals bigger than their wills. In other words, don’t offer me booze, and don’t be surprised if I’m a little bit antisocial if your social involves alcohol. I might give myself “cheat days” but I haven’t decided yet, so assume I’m completely on the wagon.

2014 will likely be my busiest year to date, and given the number of balls dropped (some of which need to be picked up!) in 2013, that is a little disconcerting. Old enough to know that more work requires more balance, but young enough to not know how to balance the two just yet. I say “no” to so many things, how is it I still say “yes” to enough things to get me into trouble?


Lucy

It is difficult to describe Lucy in words. We try every day. We blurt out “You’re so cute!” and “You’re so perfect!”. She’s so happy so much of the time. She’s bossy in a way that makes you want to do her bidding. She’s sensitive to other’s feelings, sometimes to a fault. She’s caring and wants to take care of others. She’s wary of new people, but once she’s vetted you she’s incredibly hospitable. She wants to cook for you and fix your boo-boos and make you comfy-cozy. She’s learning a lot of new words every week. She knows all the words and most of the dance moves to Ylvis’ “The Fox” song.

Penn & Lucy at Winfrey Point, Dallas, TX

Penn is in the beginnings of that long, awkward transition from boy to man and handling it rather well. He takes his licks like a man. He’s a great older brother to Lucy. He is navigating new territory well. Carissa and I are learning how to parent through these complexities as we go. We recently had a difficult experience with the computer and Minecraft (involving his attempts with griefing mods) which has resulted in some imposed constraints. It took some patience and repetition but we came to a resolution that seems to be holding up. He’s very into Minecraft but so am I so it works out. We went to Minecon in Orlando in November with the entire family (which included Disney); I never got a chance to blog about it but here are some pictures!

Penn & Lucy in Portland

We also went as a family to Portland, Austin and Oklahoma (a few times). It was a good year for travel and by no accident. With the new baby boy arriving in May, travel will be all but impossible this year (except the quick trip up to Oklahoma), so 2013 was the year to get it out of our system!

Carissa

This woman. What a rock. A gorgeous, smart, patient, loyal cornerstone of our family.

Baby Boy Miller

Baby Boy Miller aka Hugo/Leo/Ezra/Otto is on his way! 2014 promises to be a most exciting and eventful year!