Sports coaches often say “This was a rebuilding year” which really means “We got our asses kicked up one side and down the other, and I need to portray some potential or I’m going to get fired.” Since I can’t be fired from running my own life, I do not live in fear, and it’s easy to say that the end of 2012 was a without-qualification utter disaster.
But from the burned and charred carcass of my life in 2012, 2013 has shoveled up those ashes into those bags specially made for ashes, recycled those ashes and donated the money to help rabbits who have carrot allergies, and has fully earned the grade of “solid”. Good on ya, 2013.
In February I fled the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney to find my locational-soul mate of Manly, Australia. I would have laughed at anyone suggesting I would live on the beach before, but now I wake up with chills at night thinking of when I might have to leave. I see the Buntings for family dinner every week, and usually a couple more times. I see my Warringah Triathlon club teammates almost every day, and they put up with my skewed (but brilliant) sense of humor and the absolutely bizarre shape of my body which is well revealed by spandex and swim trunks.
Despite loving every second in Manly, it hardly feels like I’ve been around. This year I visited four continents and seven countries: Australia, US, Spain, Netherlands*, Poland*, Singapore*, Cambodia*- four of those (*) for the first time. In Gdansk, Poland, I stood on top of the memorial to the start of World War II, and looked down at the massive words in the field below, which in Polish said “No more war.” Madrid had an amazing palace or monument on every corner, though my digestive system begged, “No mas croquetas.” Amsterdam finally gave me a personal view of the red light district I had heard so much about. The women sitting in lingerie, displayed in their first floor windows, was a cultural norm I hadn’t seen before. When I arrived at my hotel and found that I had a first floor room, with a street facing window, the peer pressure was too great, so I stripped down and sat in a chair until hotel security broke into the room. (Okay that last part didn’t really happen. But I was tempted). Singapore, now I’ve been there, done that. Cambodia – keep reading.
I took on a new position at work, slightly out of my comfort zone but fully in the zone of excitement, challenge, and happiness. I always wanted to be a general, but I never thought that “manager” would come after. Atlassian continues to amaze me, and we’re still growing like a rocket ship. Eighteen months ago, I didn’t think I had many friends at work. Today I am surrounded by people who have supported me through bumps, bruises, and worse.
I got to see friends and family a couple of times this year, taking in a Stanford game with my brother, and visiting my cousin Diane in California. Diane and I recently celebrated the ninth anniversary of my kidney transplant over the phone, still stunned that it’s been almost a decade since she made the incredible gift that changed my life. I visited Virginia twice, the second time to see Jon, the elder statesman of my nephews, get hitched in the woods. Mom continues to look after her son living on the other side of the world (that’s me), and Bryan and Donna (bro-in-law and sister) continue to amaze me with the family they have created. My unclets still in Virginia – Braden, Ben, and Bekah are astounding: smart, fun, interesting. Then again, they are related to me – so their potential is unlimited.
It’s back in my life. I joined the Warringah Tri Club, and after a couple of sprints early on in the year, I signed up for Ironman Melbourne (still to come in March 2014), and completed Ironman Port Macquarie in just under 5:30. It was a milestone in my training, and in my campaign for Room to Read Cambodia. I also managed my best times in a 10k and in a half-marathon.
The biggest curveball of the year came from five days in the country of Cambodia. My first two days I spent as a tourist, walking among temples and cycling through the countryside. The next day my colleagues and I traveled to a village with Room to Read, and met families who struggled to get basic education for their children. I left the country with a promise to return and to make Room to Read a part of my life for the next decade. Definitely the biggest event of the year and the biggest impact on me.
If you haven’t already donated, I’d appreciate any help in trying to get to my goal of $25,000 for my next Ironman in Melbourne – as of now I’m just over $16,000 in donations (with an additional $17,000 in matching contributions!). You can read more here or jump right to donating!
Bring it on.