A Growing Interest

(NOTE:  This post is longer than I usually write, but I thought it important to not cut the story short)

Over the past few years, my interest in baseball has grown.  I was into sports (as a consumer mostly) for a large part of my life, and around the time I got married I stopped following professional sports for the most part.  Sure I’d follow things, and if someone asked I had a favorite team in most sports groupings, but I rarely knew more than a little of what was going on.  Even when I followed it, football was my favorite sport and rarely would choose to watch baseball unless it was the post-season.

When Tim Tebow got picked up by the Denver Broncos, having been an avid Broncos fan, I got drawn back in a little.  I started having conversations with other friends who were much more avid fans of sports and interacting when I’d travel about local sports, particularly SEC Football in frequent trips to Memphis.  And then I started interacting with some friends who had a deep interest in baseball and started to appreciate the nuances of the game.  I started to watch a little more and pick up more of what was going on with pinch hitting, pitcher changes, pitch selection and more.  It became interesting to me, much more mentally engaging when I watched it.

When the movie Moneyball came out I found another intriguing side of baseball I’d missed:  the mechanisms of the front office.  Trading, contracts, drafts and lineups began to have even deeper interest for me.  (I’ve seen Moneyball multiple times and I think I’ll watch it again before the season starts.)

Still I only had a passing interest in the game.  Then Ben Zobrist got traded to the Kansas City Royals in 2015.  I had a friend who was a huge Royals fan and he also happened to be related to the Zobrists (Ben is from central Illinois where I live) and I found myself glued to the TV during the post season watching both the Cubs (I adopted them as my “favorite” team when I moved to Illinois because I love an underdog) and the Royals progress, unsure of who I’d root for in the World Series if both made it.  The Royals won the series and I was now hooked on baseball.

And then Ben, now a free agent, signed with the Cubs.  For the first time in my adult life I was watching regular season baseball and arguing on Twitter about whether they were going to choke or not (they’re the Cubs…they have to right?).  And then they had the dream season, winning 103 games and then the obligatory 11 to walk off the last game of the season as the winner.  The icing on the cake was Zobrist winning the MVP title at the series.

And now I’m a baseball fan.  I’m following the off-season trades and signings for the Cubbies.  I’m familiar with the names of their top prospects and the location of their minor league teams.  I’m hooked.  I can debate the pros and cons of the various players on the “bubble” who may or may not be on the 25 man roster when they open the season on the road against the Cardinals.  And I’m flying out to Phoenix to visit my parents to attend 2 Spring Training games in March.

It was somewhat gradual over the last two years, but now it is my most time consuming hobby.  It engages my brain in ways I want it to with absolutely no reminders of my day job.  It scratches an itch I needed for a leisure activity and I’ve been trying to interest my kids a bit more, and have at least one avid fan in the group.

The level of insanity has gotten this far:  I’m following 2-3 baseball blogs (mostly Cub centered) and I came upon the following post:

Ownership.

Ownership is what makes sports worth arguing over. It makes it worth looking a fool if you ask a dumb question.(There are dumb questions. I’ve asked plenty of them.)

For Draft Prep to work, and for this series to continue, some of you need to make this a worthwhile segment. Al already knows this. I want you (the person reading this) to take a college baseball team.

Source: 2017 MLB Draft Prep And An Assignment – Bleed Cubbie Blue

The author is trying to garner interest in the baseball draft in June and got readers to volunteer to research a team and keep up with that college team during the season.  Being insane, I picked two teams:  the Villanova Wildcats and the Bradley Braves.  Bradley is here in Peoria (and my alma mater) and I usually root for Nova in the NCAA tournament every year (they’re defending the title this March/April).

My first assignment:  coach, opening game, and pre-season all conference notes.  Here it is:

Villanova Wildcats (Big East, college home of Cubbie Matt Szczur)

  • Head Coach: Kevin Mulvey
  • Opening game: February 17 @ Norfolk State
  • Pre-Season All-conference: (Big East): I could not find this year’s pre-season list…last year’s came out on 1/28 so it may be too early.

Bradley Braves (Missouri Valley Conference)

  • * Head coach: Elvis Dominguez
  • Opening game: February 17 @ Texas A&M-Corpus
  • Pre-Season All-conference: (MV) (no returning all-conference from last year, and I could not find a preseason document)

I’ll probably write more about baseball as the season goes on, but for right now, I’m counting down the days until the spring games start.

Doctor?

So I got some junk mail the other day from a mailing list I’m on. I’m on the list on purpose and most of the people on this mailing list are doctors, and it was addressed to “Dr. James Lansberry.” My boss grabbed the mail that day and joked with me about maybe getting the wrong degree at Bradley.

Except for the extra stress, I liked graduate school. Granted the EMBA program is unlike most scholastic endeavors and has with it value that goes far beyond the typical classroom experience, but I liked learning and going to school.  At one point, when I was avoiding the work (probably during Marketing class) I spent a little time looking at EDBA programs:  similarly organized doctorates in Business Administration.

I’m not going to lie.  I am tempted.  There’s a big difference:  the MBA was a good investment, whether looking at it from my employer’s perspective or my own.  The DBA would be more expensive, longer, and the only “gain” from it, professionally speaking, is that it would qualify me to teach at college, which would likely be a major cut in pay.  Sure it’d be rewarding in many ways.  And I’d love to teach.  But spending $100,000 and three years of crazy on that opportunity seems like a losing proposition.

And yet I haven’t completely given up on the idea.

Most of the programs I found have classes on Sunday, so those are off limits.  There were still quite a few that didn’t though, and had classes on Thursday-Saturday or Friday-Saturday once/month.

It’s a fun mental exercise but it’s unlikely.  I don’t know that I could survive this again, let alone a bigger challenge of a doctoral program that would involve travel (none of the potentials are here at Bradley).

But it’s still fun to think about it.

A Year

One year ago yesterday I graduated from college. I got all As this time around and it was a 16 month(ish) EMBA program and timehop yesterday reminded me of the event. More accurately I opened up the Timehop app so that I could see what I’d posted that day. My parents came out for it and we had a great time celebrating finally, at age 45, getting a college degree.

I had big plans for the year that we’re completing. A few of them got done, but mostly I’ve been figuring out what comes next more slowly than I’d like. I had ambitious dreams of what I could do when I wasn’t going to school, and came up horribly short on them.

It has been a good year. I’ve gotten two nice getaways with my wife: one to San Francisco and another recently to Mexico. Our kids threw us a surprise party for our 20th anniversary. I’ve started working with a team of leaders at work on bringing their skills to another level. I’ve implemented almost 25% of the ideas I thought I’d get done, which seems awful, but I probably was overambitious.

It’s been a hard year, too. Our old house is still not ready to rent. That weighs on me, but we’re not financially destitute, so we muddle through. We’ve had some rough health issues at home. Some projects have languished and needed more attention that I’m just getting around to giving them now.

As I look back there is so much to be thankful for, and I have been abundantly blessed. I have a wife who stands with me through thick and thin. I’ve realized that rest and relaxation are crucial to being on top of my game, and the phrase “post-vacation dad” has become a regular part of the family liturgy.

This past Friday we had our organization’s annual Christmas party. Most of the evening I spent in shock as I realized how much we’ve grown and how different things are than they were at my first party in 1999. And they’ll be different in huge ways again next year, too. One constant remains: God takes care of us and watches over us and always does what is best for us. And I should neither forget that nor ever cease to be grateful for it.

Recovery Period

Until yesterday, It’d been months since I posted on the blog. Literally. And as I said there It’s time for me to start entering back into the world again: posting to social media, writing for the blog, taking my work at Samaritan to the next level.

That starts now. The recovery period, and it’s accompanying denials of readiness for the next phase, is over.

If you do something insane like go back to school with a big family, plan for a recovery period at the end. I’ve spent the past 9 months trying to regroup a bit, reconnect with my family, and to rest. I took a long getaway with my wife where we went to San Francisco to celebrate our 20th anniversary, and we’ve already got one for next month on the planner to head to the Baja region of Mexico.

Over the past few months I’ve slept more. I watched a lot of Netflix/Prime videos and movies. I’ve played games with my kids and picked up household chores that I wasn’t doing while I was at school. We moved to a new house and have taken our sweet time getting our old house ready to rent.

We didn’t make anything a “pressing item.”

And that’s part of recovery. Margin. Lots of it. So much that paying two mortgage payments or throwing away 100 hours on several seasons of an old TV show won’t cause you to go broke or lose important tasks. And that’s what it’s been like. A lot of laziness. A lot of rest. A lot of mengana days.

I’m thankful for the recovery period, and I can’t recommend enough that you plan for your mid-stream change to have one too. It doesn’t need to be 10 months, but make sure it’s there. Otherwise you’ll burn yourself out. The mid-life change takes a lot out of you, and you need to be prepared for the ensuing collapse.

/recoveryperiod

#startthenextthing

It’s Time

So I woke up the other morning and had decided I wasn’t going to the gym today but I didn’t get back to sleep. A lot on my mind, for sure.

February 5. Over 8 months ago. That’s the last time I posted on this blog.

I had grandiose plans of the rebranding of the blog I’d do when I was done with school with all the new time I’d have. By “grandiose plans” I mean I had an item in my Trello board that said “Come up with post EMBA blogging strategy” with 3 comments and two topics listed on the card. Since January I’ve had two conversations with my wife wherein my only title suggestion was discarded and we briefly talked about what I’d like to accomplish.

And now it’s October. Nothing has happened. None of the “great ideas” have turned into any implementation.

I could make excuses or tell stories about how I’ve squandered time over the past 8 months, but none of it is very interesting. I’ve also learned that dwelling on “should have”s “could have”s and “didn’t”s is terribly unproductive and just makes me depressed. Better to focus on “can do”s “am doing”s and “next up”s. There’s always going to be failings in my life: I’m a fallen person with selfish desires and prone to laziness.

So I don’t have any grandiose plans. Nothing concrete to be sure. If you’re still reading and still subscribed you may be #smh’ing at me and wondering whether it’s worth it. Yet to be seen. What I do have is a decision…I’m starting to write again. The plans, like they always do for this off-the-charts extrovert, will develop over time as I write. I have some broad ideas of where I’ll go and what I want to write about and share with you…and those will become more defined as we go.

So it’s time. Time to start again. Today I go back to posting 3-4 times per week, building discipline on my writing and creativity. It’s time to get to work.

Updates and Changes

So I’m not going to school anymore, which means I have lots of spare time now, right? Not exactly.  As you can see (or have seen) the blog has laid blank for some time now.  This is my only post for the whole month of January.

I had intended to do better.

So what have I been up to?  Mostly recouping from a really crazy 16 months.  There were Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.  There were a couple of trips for work.  But mostly I’ve been letting my brain rest…perhaps too much.  It’s time to figure out what I’m doing with the time I’m not using for school besides just letting trivial things fill it in because of nature’s hated vacuum.

My plan was (before I got behind on the capstone and was slammed at work) to spend time in December and early January rebranding this blog.  The title no longer applies to what I’m doing:  I have successfully changed horses.  I have graduated (and maintained all A’s to boot) and I have my degree.  I’m working feverishly (or maybe not) to apply what I’ve learned at work and will be spending quite a bit of time trying to pass what I’ve learned on to others.

There should be some changes here at the blog going forward, most importantly posting beginning to happen again.  I’d tell you what it would look like but, well, I’m still figuring some of it out.  This posts represents my re-entry to the interwebs and the beginning of the transition phase as the new horse takes off.

Stay tuned!

You May Now Call Me “Master”**

Saturday morning I walked at graduation. I now have an MBA. A Master’s Degree.

I’m 2014-12-20 11.46.28kind of amazed in many ways that I made it.

It was a long, hard road, but it was worth it.  Going into the final exam I had a 4.0 GPA, which I’m a bit proud of.  I still haven’t gotten my grade for the exam (expecting it any minute).

My wife and parents and children have all expressed that they’re proud of me.  Having dropped out of college three times at comparatively less crazy times of my life it’s a pretty big deal that I finished.

I’m still kind of adjusting to the whole thing.  I’m done with school, even though I have alarms I haven’t fixed reminding me to study.  I graduated.  We moved (another post on that coming at some point when I catch my breath).  It’s Christmas time.

To tell the truth I’m feeling kind of emotional about all the change that I haven’t really had time to process.  This could be a really emotional time for me but I’m ready to jump into the next phase:  getting better at my jobs (husband and father included) and jumping on all the things that have fallen between the cracks over the past year and a half.

Stay tuned for what goes on as I ride the new horse!  Oh, and my other horse is a jetpack.

** My boss informed me that “Master Ted” was what people used to refer to him as when he was a young man (like less than 12), so my reply was that I’m now, after months of education, caught up to where he was at 12.