Eugene Kim’s Eagle Ceremony

Today, we attended Eugene Kim’s Eagle ceremony at Cherokee Ranch. Jonathan was Eugene’s “Project Buddy” or PB on the project. Eugene’s project was to plan, build, transport, and install benches on Douglas County Open Space at Cherokee Ranch.

Cherokee Ranch has an interesting history and is now a conservation easement which will preserve the amazing views and open space for generations to come. I created this 360 panorama which gives you an idea of the views from the bench locations. Congrats Eugene!

First Snow

Today we woke up to this season’s first snowfall. It started last evening which, of course, got the kids’ hopes up for a snow day. R did a snow dance, flushed an ice cube, put a spoon under her pillow and put her pajamas on backwards and inside-out. That, according to grade-school lore, is the way to ensure a snow day. Too bad for her, it didn’t work. This time at least. We are to get more snow tonight. The forecast calls for less than one inch. The local meteorologists have been known to be wrong at least once or twice before though :).

Be There

Today, K flew down to her brother’s. He could use her help over the next few days and when she first thought of going, she didn’t say “I’ve got my own family that needs me”, “I’m too busy”, “I’ve committed to my kids here”, “I want to spend time with my husband”. While all that is very true, she did not say it. And I love her for that. I love that she can spend time on her first family without her real family feeling threatened or at a loss. Most of all, when our kids grow up and have families of their own, I hope they follow our example.

Devotion is admirable. But devotion is not a zero-sum game. You need not, and should not, be devoted to one person, one group, one activity, one thing – at the expense of all others. More friends and family simply means more joy to share and more support to give. It does not mean less to share with friends and family that came first.

Kids, even when you start your own families (a long, long way down the road from now), don’t forget that you are still, and always will be, the most important part of your first family.

p.s. I hope I remember this enough as well.

Perfect is the Enemy of Progress (so Jump In!)

A lack of information and a fear that the perfect choice is not available are two roadblocks to action. If you wait for perfect information or the “perfect” option, you will never take action. So, instead of waiting for or spending energy trying to get to “perfect”, try a different approach. Instead of measuring your action against some vague vision of perfection, measure your choices against the known vision of a current situation. Instead of asking “Is this the best possible action to take”, ask “Is this choice better than the current scenario?”

Comparing an opportunity to the current scenario gives you better information and more confidence to take action than comparing an opportunity to all other possible imagined “perfect” opportunities out there. This lets you take action now which, step by step, will move you toward perfect. And if it turns out to not have been a step in the right direction, well then at least you know and can take another step the other way.

Using an example from software, 37signals’ Basecamp would never have been launched if 37signals waited until it was perfect. Take a look at their change log. Notice that 37signals is fixing bugs on an almost daily basis. Does that make it buggy software? Yes. Does it matter to their customers? Evidently not. Pride in bug-free software should mean nothing to you if the product is not in the hands of as many customers as possible. Launch now, make small improvements and fixes as you move forward post-launch.

Don’t wait until the water is “just right” before jumping in. Just jump in! Life is made for enjoying, not for waiting.

p.s. The real phrase is “Perfect is the enemy of good” or “best is the enemy of the good”, attributed to Voltaire. It’s a common saying meaning that accepting only perfection results in nothing getting done or created.

Simplify 6 – Downsize

This weekend our family spent four days at Estes Park YMCA in a cabin which was all of about 560 square feet. Though it was five or six times smaller than our house, it seemed just the right size. The two giant picture windows with mountain views combined with the vaulted ceiling helped it feel plenty large for the four of us. It also helped that there was plenty to occupy the kids’ curiosity right outside the front door. One afternoon we watched deer graze within a few feet of the cabin. The bucks kept a close eye on our kids as they watched.

Inside, we enjoyed building fires, reading, playing games, eating and talking. The large table was at times an “artist” space (as much as one can call paint-by-numbers art), a place to cut cookies, a storage spot, and a dining table. Upon departure, total vacuum and tidy-up time was a matter of minutes. Despite being much smaller than they are used to, even one of the kids mentioned “this is really all the space we need”.

And for a few days away, it is. As a practical matter, we would modify the floor plan. Add a third bedroom, enlarge the bath, add a second bathroom, find room for a stackable laundry. With those additions such a cabin would come to 800 square feet, give or take.

When you’re choosing or designing your house, think about what you really need. Take some trips and instead of hotel rooms, stay in homes of various sizes, of a range of ages, with various features and in different surroundings. It’s easy to get caught up in imagining all the things you would do with extra room, with dedicated rooms for each activity. But, it’s better to start small and then your real needs will become evident when it becomes a hassle, a pain, or simply no fun to not have the room you want. That’s when you know you really will use the space and that it doesn’t just become a burden itself in cleaning, maintaining, heating/cooling and paying for.

Simplify 5 – Unplug

Tomorrow we’re taking a long weekend, going to Estes Park YMCA and staying at a small cabin. We always enjoy our time there and are never lacking for fun things to do. Yet one thing I am looking forward is simply to be unplugged.

Last weekend we spent completely plugged-in working on This weekend there’s no electronics, no TV, no internet. Just games, fires, talking, reading, sleeping, eating. I can’t wait!

Goals 1 – One Board at a Time

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been building a deck. This is a massively strong structure sitting nine feet off the ground. We dug three-foot deep caissons upon which sit 6×6 posts. Notched into those posts, 4×10 beams. We installed seventeen 2×10 joists atop those beams. All told – there are hundreds of screws and nails. There is a lot that went into this deck.

So much so, that if one looks back and tries to recall driving each screw, cutting each board, lifting each beam; you are overloaded with the details of the task. Yet, each detail had to get completed for the job to get done. So, with so much to do, how do deck’s ever get built? One board at a time.

When you have a giant task ahead of you, don’t let the enormity nor the minutia of the project prevent you from getting started. Take just one small step on it today. Then, one small step tomorrow. Eventually, you’ll see progress which will motivate you to keep moving on it. Eventually, it will get done and you’ll look back with pride and remember the development of your creation, one board at a time.