Recharge, Refresh, and Rethink

I’m not sure in what order these should be listed or if an order exists at all, but I found this holiday break more than any other in my recent memory was a great time to recharge, refresh, and rethink.

My holiday break began on 12/21 and I’ll be back in the office on 1/2 and 1/4 so I won’t be back in the grind until 1/7. It has been the longest break I’ve had since I was out of work and the longest I’ve ever had while employed.

So to begin at the end I’m feeling good on this New Year’s Eve. I’ve been sleeping in later and later and not minding so much. I’ve also stayed up late with my wife and kids. We’ve watched some movies together and I’ve watched some after they’ve gone to bed such as Lord of the Rings and Pearl Jam 20.

We’ve played the Wii, proving I’ll never be a karaoke superstar. We’ve played Shephardopoly, squeezed in a game of Risk, and got a few chess games in.

It has snowed a few times here in eastern PA, so I got some exercise shoveling, but also had child-like fun playing in the snow with my daughter and dog.

I went to see The Hobbit with my older daughter (I’m a huge Tolkien fan) and we talked about what worked and didn’t work with the movie compared to the book and wondered what Tolkien would think of the treatment.

I also got more casual reading in than I normally do and very much enjoyed taking the extra time to read the The Treason of Isengard, book 7 in the History of Middle Earth by Christopher Tolkien. What is fascinating with this series is that you can see the story evolve as Tolkien wrote and re-wrote. Something I don’t think we’ll have a chance to see again as contemporary writers are using computers and quickly can delete a sentence and start over.

I got some walks in around town, enjoyed making a “movie” featuring our 2012 train set-up so the grandparents didn’t have to traipse out to the garage to see it. The kids and I decided to go with a Harry Potter theme and made scenes from the movies out of Legos. They had a castle set, the ship, the Burrow, we built a basilisk scene, Weasley wedding, Gringots complete with a dragon, Hagrid’s hut and the showdown at Ministry of Magic between Voldemort (yes I said it) and Dumbledore. For fun we tossed in a Lord of the Rings and Star Wars scenes.

We had our traditional Christmas Eve and day activities.

I even got to see the International Space Station flyover thanks to my alert from NASA.

Around this time of year, I try to take some time to do some genealogical research. I’ve done work for years and it is increasingly hard to find new information because the low-hanging fruit has long since been picked. What was great this year was the release of the 1940 census.

In addition to searching all the known relatives alive in 1940, I was trying to plug gaps. My children’s great, great grandparents are all known, but a few of the lines we know very little about and those are the Italian and Slavic ancestors. Out of the 16 great, great grandparents 7 are German, 4 Slavic, 3 English, and 2 Italian. Most of the German lines we have pretty good records on and several date as far back as the 1600s.

The challenge to me, though, is to see how many generations we can go back and know all of the ancestors. Unfortunately, I’ve been stuck on a few and made zero headway. This year again my efforts were thwarted, but I may have gotten a few clues on some possible miss-spellings (Martino instead of Marino for instance).

At any rate, it is mostly a once a year activity and I had a great deal of fun exploring records and trying to puzzle the history together.

How does this help me?

Going into the New Year, I will definitely be well-rested. Typically I get five to six hours of sleep and I’ve regularly had eight over break. Refreshed is critically important to being able to perform well.

Engaging in creative pursuits is also important because it encourages you to think differently and use approaches that may not be applied in daily work. To me, this helps recharge your mind.

Stepping out of the daily grind and disengaging provides you with the opportunity to rethink how and why you are doing things that are simply done because they are done that way when caught up in a routine.

I’m going to enjoy the rest of my holiday break, but I’m also looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead in 2013.

And probably most important is remember. You have to remember what is most important in your life and not put it off for work in every instance. I’ve had a great time with my family over this break and will be certain to make time for them once we are all back to our ‘regular’ routines of work, school, and activities.

Have a great New Year!

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