“The only real test of intelligence is if you get what you want out of life.” – Naval Ravikant
Every year I try to track my life through monthly themes.
The process is relatively simple – I pick two weaknesses that I feel like need to work on and I give those two themes a little more attention each month.
At the beginning and end of the month, I write down my thoughts on the process.
I started doing this halfway through 2019.
I did it completely in 2020.
I missed a few months in 2021.
I only managed to do two months in 2022.
Funny enough, I felt as if I ruined my yearly tradition by not reflecting…but that is something I felt last year as well. This is a pattern I fall into. I noticed this when I wrote the following passage:
A painful anxiety throughout the year was knowing that I was going through my days, my most valuable days, with very little reflection. Perhaps I practiced reflection more than the average person I interacted with, but no where near enough that myself or my family deserved. I knew that I would have to write a yearly reflection, but I did not have my themes. I felt like since I was not keeping up with my old structure, I had lost the ability to reflect upon the year. How silly. But such a real struggle for me.
The most useful part of reflection is noticing these patterns in me that are clearly delusional and self destructive. So I recognize the pattern and move forward. Keeping with the reflecting as much as I can with the intention to extract value where I can.
This year I lost heavily. I had to let go of many things in order to win in the ways that actually mattered.
This year felt like I was in The Monkey Trap.
I felt like the monkey who won’t let go of the banana even if it means freeing themselves from a trap.
I was caught up in holding on to my goals and beliefs so tightly that I was stuck in a trap of my own creation.
I’m grateful to say that I have learned the value of letting go of my previous desires to obtain the freedom to pursue new ones.
This year I didn’t blog, make music, content, exercise, build business, play video games nearly as much as I wanted to, but I was able to do something more.
I was able to be a father and a pillar in my community. Both of which require more than I believed I could provide.
I was upset when I saw my streaks dying, month after month of not creating, not dedicating my time to myself – but then I would have moments when I’m with my daughter and I can see her getting older and growing before my eyes.
I realized that those moments are the most valuable and no matter what I was pursuing. Any earthly goal that I could conceive would be just to reach these moments that I already have.
I felt guilt because I have not accrued mass wealth, but that would have just been to spend time with my children anyway.
So this post will be a way for me to reflect upon another just as eventful and meaningful year.
All journal entries are in italics and my comments from today follow CM:
January – Vision & Patience
Beginning of the Month:
I’m trying to reflect, but it’s hard to find time. Any time that I do have to myself is usually when I am extremely tired. I’m still “cursed” with my need to be productive, so I’ve been keeping any progress I make in my head. For example, I only had a few minutes to write this reflect so I did the majority of the “reflecting” while I was desperately trying to stay awake feeding my daughter. After all, most of writing is thinking. But that got me realizing, that I do not necessarily need to have dedicated time to work on a project, I just need to dedicate my thoughts to it. That is what I’m trying to practice with vision. I want to be better able to tap into my ability to create and sustain a vision. Perhaps this will be able to give me the progress I so desperately crave. As for patience, this is a common theme for me. I want everything done yesterday, I don’t know why. I want all my business ideas and creative projects to be finished. If I work on patience, I will find what I’m looking for. At least, that’s the plan. Last year, being patient was exactly what I needed to be. Despite patience being a frequent compliment that I receive, I don’t feel like I am a patient person at all.
CM: This was an omen for how the year was going to go. I definitely not not find the time to reflect for a large portion of this year and I felt it weighing on me every day. Interesting how many of the thoughts I had then are similar to the thoughts I have now. Perhaps lack of reflection keeps us stick in the same loops, until we realize our way out of them.
End of the Month:
It’s hard doing these themes without having the themes in my face on a regular basis. Usually, I would have the themes written on a whiteboard in my room so I could see them, but just holding them in Notion isn’t the business. I didn’t check my themes for the entire month and tbh I forgot about them. However, taking the time to think about the last month and how I’ve worked on my vision and patience has shown me that I haven’t fell off the path completely. I’d like to think I’m improving when it comes to my patience. When I’m at work, I’m more patient with my students and with myself too. Sometimes I trip, but I like to think I’m getting a little better. When it comes to vision, I think it’s interesting that I chose it because I had a hard time maintaining the bigger picture this last month. It’s like I knew that I was going to be caught up in the rise and grind of being a teacher intern while getting my masters while doing the EdTPAs. It’s been tough, but every now and again I remember the vision and I keep chugging a lot….because what else can I do. It’s okay to feel the way I’ve been as long as I remember that it is all in service to something greater.
CM: Oh, I’ve been done with my Master’s degree for a while and I forgot how bad the grind was. This was a tough time. Every minute had to be planned and executed perfectly or the “house of cards” would fall. I’m so happy to be past that now. I was hyper aware of my streaks and reflection habits dying. It’s a shame that it got the best of me. EdTPAs were trash and a half.
February – Resilience & Gratitude
Beginning of the Month:
This month I need to work on my resilience and gratitude. Manly because the thought of improving either seems sickening. Resilience because I’m entering an extremely tough portion of my program: I’m working on the EdTPAs, while teaching, while working on my masters, while being a relatively new father. Plus, it’s not like I’m just trying to do all of these things in a half assed sort of way, I’m trying to be bomb at all of these. (Maybe except the EdTPAs). As for gratitude, even thought I practice it every morning, it’s been tough to be grateful for my circumstances. I’m sure I need a perspective shift, but I also feel like that doesn’t take away from the burden and rigor of what I am going through. Nonetheless, I’m going to work on my gratitude and hope my misery lessens. Maybe this is all just what it’s like to be a student again. I feel like I’ve been in grad school long enough to lose sight of the “fun” to role-play a student and battle test my ideas. I’ve been able to learn a lot, but it’s also taking a toll on me physically and mentally.
CM: Definitely true. What is funny about this post is I had a few people ask how to better practice gratitude throughout the year. LOL.
End of the Month:
CM: This was when I clearly hit my breaking point. I stopped pretty much everything that I believed was worth doing. I was able to do some things over the year, but February was when it primarily stopped. I guess I did improve both of these themes now that I am reflecting on them in December. Even though I may pay attention to my growth and development more than the average person, I did not feel as if it was enough for me to have net growth over the year in these specific domains.
Since years are much longer than 2 months and I had quiet a bit happen this year that I want to reflect on a few key moments that stick out when I think back on what influenced me most this year.
This year I had an event that distinctly marked my transformation from my role in my childhood family to father of my primary family.
It was painful, but necessary. The loss of one life, to gain a new and better life. Since this is a public post, I am not going to go in detail. However, it was extremely important for me to go through this time. It showed me the importance of a boy accepting his responsibility to protect, provide, and become a valuable man.
It was also an experience to live out the wisdom that I have recently learned. The specific story escapes me, but the archetypical biblical story of moving out of tyranny to get to the promise land is as real as can be. After escaping tyranny, one would expect to get to the promise land, but that isn’t the case. You end up in a desert. Upon faith and perseverance, you can find a path through the hostile and barren land into the promise land where you can enjoy everything you have prayed for in your darkest times.
As unlikely as that story seems true…it is. It was the narrative that got me through the desert and into my promise land.
In the desert, I effectively was separated from my daughter, fell into homelessness, all while still working on my degree.
These were some of the darkest and challenging times of my life. Unfortunately, that itself is an extremely loaded statement. I compromised on many of my values and had to act counterintuitive to my intentions in order to move out of this space. I had to let go of my previous beliefs in order to move forward. The Monkey Trap again.
Fortunately, we were able to find and rent an apartment to give us stable shelter until we were able to enter the relatively highly guarded world of homeownership. (This was not something I knew was going to happen until mid December) This was not by accident. The timing was remarkable, but it was also after years of preparing for this.
After this dark time, I was reunited with my daughter.
Never again will I be involuntarily separated from her. Since she was so young, when she saw me again, I could tell I was a stranger to her. That was a heartbreaking experiencing. Thankfully now, she sees me as her secondary caregiver and trusts me to protect her when surrounded by unknowns. The pain parents feel when they want to be with their children but cannot is excruciating. I cannot imagine losing a child permanently.
On a lighter note, I was able to go on my first work sponsored strip to San Diego to be trained as an AVID teacher.
This was super cool to see teachers developing themselves to be the best educators they can be. Most were like this, some where there because their school mandated them to be. During the training sessions, I realized that my insights and perspectives were valuable even to the teachers who have been around the block a few time (20+ years of experience). I could even see the educators who were there because they had to enjoyed my insights. More evidence that I need to share my thoughts. Training teachers is something I am capable of doing despite my minimal of formal experience.
This was also lovely because I got to develop deeper relationships with my co-workers and take my daughter to the city where her mother and I met. Seeing her by the rooftop poolside was a sight I would have worked my whole life to see.
I finished my Master’s degree in Education.
This was no doubt extremely difficult. If I was any less of the man, or scholar, that I see myself to be, I would not have been able to complete this. This moment meant a few different things to me.
I used it as an opportunity to share my accomplishments with others to see who would be happy for me when I win. The results were surprising to say the least. The people who knew me the least were happiest for me. The people who knew me the most could not have cared less. Shocking and painful. Despite the negative emotion, I noticed that may be why I do not care to celebrate my wins.
This was starkly obvious to me when my students asked me why I don’t hang my degrees in my room. The honest answer was because I learned to not care about my accomplishments. At least, not a petty Master’s degree in Education.
Despite the other insights, this was an important step in legitimizing my claim to disseminate educational information to the public. I know I don’t need a degree for that, but my super-ego says I do and hopefully this prevents any subconscious blockages.
First escrow fail, second escrow succeeded.
Pretty much this. We were in escrow for condo which fell through. That was heartbreaking. I also see why so many people get turned off by Real Estate. It was an ugly experience for me, but I know RE Investing can be extremely lucrative if I can get the system down right. The second escrow for a bigger and better house is going through and is a much better experience than the last.
After the first deal busted, I was ready to not enter homeownership for years, if not decades more. But, we kept faith and perseverance and now we are ending this year with a stark juxtaposition for the beginning.
A new year of develop relationships with students and sinking my teeth deeper into teaching.
As a second year teacher, I was nervous when the school year started because I had to start over making connections with all the students again. I found myself missing my classes from last year because the connections made the job palatable. This year, I’m discovering 160 new relationships and it is just as meaningful, fun, and challenging as last year.
This job renews every year. It is painful, but rewarding. I still frequently get gifts and complements which is so damn gratifying I can’t put words to it.
I had the wonderful privilege of starting an Investment club on campus where I teach students principles of personal finance and investing after school. This has created a community on campus that has improved the experience of many of the students who participate.
I was able to be a judge for the science and engineering fair. As lame as it might seem to work extra duty on a Friday, I found it to be an important experience for me. I needed to witness more proof that I am clearly in a different place in society. The fact that I was called upon for my science expertise is mind blowing to me. Although that is exactly what a chemistry teacher is in society, but to see that it can stretch beyond the classroom was important for me. Especially being on a journey to prove to myself that I can adequately provide useful and valuable information.
I had my first date with Kyra after becoming parents.
I cannot express the importance of date nights for two people who are rearing children. In order to be a good parent, one must be a good partner. Spending quality time to rediscover and tend to the flames that started the fire is crucial for a stable and happy family.
Plus it was a lot of fun living like we didn’t have kids for a bit. (Funny enough, we spend most of the night talking about our daughter). We didn’t do anything crazy. We just saw a lecture from a professor. Classic Chris and Kyra entertainment.
The discovery of a lifetime – ANOTHER baby girl is on the way.
Everything from my Becoming a Parent blog post, but X2.
How beautiful it is to be blessed with another daughter. Especially when she is the result of love. I am so excited for the privilege and honor of raising up another beautiful and strong woman for this world. Lord knows we need it. I’m so excited to meet my little girl.
However, this was another Monkey Trap. I realized that I had to lose my expectation of having a son. It’s becoming unlikely that I will have another kid and I confronted the fact that I was addicted to the pride I had in my name. I had to accept that the impact I have on the world does not have to be associated with the name Mukiibi.
While this may seem trivial to many, for me it was intense and difficult to let go. I had to untangle the idea that my pride in my family name was tied up with the love I had for my father and that this pride was a large motivational force in my life. This pride was far more responsible for the majority of my accomplishments than the other qualities that I believed I had. Entertaining the idea that Pride being one of the seven deadly sins, but also the source of many of my accomplishments was difficult. Realizing it was true made me want to vomit.
It’s becoming more likely than not that the name will not carry on. Realizing this loss made room for the love that I will need to properly father my newest daughter, but also allowed me to use virtue and intention as guiding stars for my future endeavors.
Despite the challenges of the year, this has been one to remember. This year was pivotal to my life and my development as well as my family. This was the year so many of my dreams seemed within my reach. I’m excited to see what 2023 will bring.