Lessons from 2012: Keeping a Personal Journal

Home Delivery - North Beach - 2012

Years ago, I tuned into the journaling work of Ira Progoff – reading his books and appreciating what he was advocating. But I never seriously committed to his journaling practice. Just too lazy, I think. (Yes, I did decide to start blogging over 10 years ago – but blogs and journals are different – public/private, etc.)

Earlier this year, I had surgery for prostate cancer. In the process, I reconnected with the notion of keeping a personal journal – and it’s proven to be a very valuable process for me ever since.

Here’s how that happened…

As it turns out, both my Dad and his Dad died from the effects of prostate cancer – and, as a result, I had begun a monitoring regime with my GP a few years ago utilizing PSA tests to monitor the health of my prostate. Two years ago, my PSA results crossed a threshold of concern – which led to me having a series of tests that identified I had a low grade prostate cancer.

After the tests raised the alarm, I sought the advice of prostate cancer specialists at the University of California – San Francisco. We entered an “active surveillance” program – involving periodic ultrasound examinations and PSA screenings. Early this year, my results indicated I’d crossed a threshold – where some sort of active treatment was going to be required. I opted for what’s known as a prostatectomy – a surgical procedure that removes the prostate gland and, in the process, hopefully excises the cancer. In my case, it worked very well – the cancer is gone.

I wanted to start keeping a post-surgery journal following my surgery – and, as it happened, Day One had been released just a few months before. The nerd that I am was attracted to the notion of having a journal in the cloud accessible from all of my various devices – and that’s what Day One promised to deliver. My first journal entry was early the morning of my surgery – as we were heading up to UCSF. My second journal entry was late afternoon the day after my surgery – appropriately titled “Coming Home” – describing how I was heading back home with my catheter installed and walking everywhere with “my bag” on my leg.

Since those initial entries, I’ve written at least once a day in my journal. Initially, mostly about how I was feeling post-surgery. But gradually my focus shifted – as my recovery progressed and I began writing in my journal about other, much more interesting things! Having a quick place to write my thoughts into my journal has been a delightful experience. I wish I’d started this practice a couple of years ago when I had rotator cuff surgery on my right shoulder.

As I look back on the last several months of snapshots of my thoughts captured in journal entries, I smile. They bring back memories, things I noticed at the time and would otherwise forget. Somehow having them at my fingertips just feels satisfying.

My journaling turns out to be a new treat – another lesson I learned in 2012.

Happy Father’s Day 2012

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Even though Father’s Day is one of those “Hallmark Holidays”, it got me remembering this morning that ten years ago, in 2002, we took a wonderful family vacation to Norway – and to the original Loftesnes (spelled with just one ‘s’ on the end over there) homestead.

On June 18, 2002, we took a high speed ferry from Bergen to Sogndal – about a three hour ride up the largest fjord in Norway. A beautiful trip indeed! This photo shows my Dad (age 80) and me out on the bow of the ferry after we docked in Sogndal. Brings back lots of great memories about what a great Dad (and proud Granddad) he was.

Over the next few days, we toured the area around Sogndal and he had such a great time – his first trip to Norway. One of my best memories is sitting out on the lawn at our hotel watching the bonfires around the Sognefjord burn late on Midsummer evening. Dad was in his element!

Dad passed away just over two years ago and we miss him every day! He was especially one from the greatest generation!

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Balance

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reading two books – roughly at the same time. The balance between them is pretty amazing. And, they’re best – I think – when read together in much the way that I read them. How I ended up doing so in parallel is totally coincidental – but full of serendipity.

The first book is REWORK by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson of 37signals.com. Famous for their Signals vs. Noise blog, Fried and Hansson have written loosely organized short essays about how to do business in a new way – one that emphasizes building private and profitable businesses from the get go, not looking to outside sources of capital. To those of us who seek to remain our own bosses, REWORK is a manifesto of ways to try to do that.

The second book is LINCHPIN: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin. Seth is pretty amazing – he dispenses great advice on a daily basis on his blog – and his book builds on those snippets but in a more organized fashion. He’s striving to get us to realize our uniqueness – suggesting we learn to push away our “lizard brain” responses so that we can actually deliver on what we’re truly capable of. He’s an inspiration.

In the midst of reading these two books, I lost my Dad to his struggle with prostate cancer. While his life was truly a gift to all who knew him, our sense of loss was very real. In a way that I can’t really articulate very well, going back and forth in reading these two books has helped me along the way in dealing with the loss of my Dad and in reflecting on what’s important – along with the strong support from our family and friends.

I commend both of these books to you – and hope that they similarly provoke your thinking about your life – and your future.

Carl J. Loftesness – 1921-2010

We lost my Dad this morning…the result of prostate cancer which had spread into his bones.

My Mom, sister and I spent an hour with him before he passed – in our arms. He was the last of his seven siblings to pass away.

Carl J. LoftesnessDad was 88 years young and had a wonderful life. He was much beloved by his family and his many friends.

We felt his love for all of us, as he reminded us of his joy and love for our family. He was a great husband, Dad, GrandDad, and GreatGrandDad! His grandchildren and great-grandchildren especially gave him so much joy – and kept him young in spirit.

Dad’s pastor said on the phone to me this morning: “Heaven’s an even better place now that your Dad has arrived!” Indeed it is!

We know he’s already hard at work in the garden up above, trimming the trees, raking the leaves, shaping things up! We really miss him.

Many, many thanks to the Hospice of the East Bay for the amazing work that they do. Dad – and we – couldn’t have been in better hands for this most difficult of transitions.