Year in Review 2012: Part 2 – The Good

In Part 1 I told you about The Sad and the Ugly. Meaning we had four deaths that we dealt with and I had a couple of minor health issues I am dealing with. If you missed Part 1 you can click here.

Let’s lay some ground rules for Part 2. These aren’t necessarily “highlights” but moments that stuck out in my mind from this past year.

Part 2 won’t talk about how I finally got myself out of the Dark Ages and bought a SmartPhone. It won’t talk about Gangnam Style, Peyton Manning’s return or even the merger between Disney and Lucasfilm. Nope you’ll have to visit PopBlerd! and my story on my 12 Pop Culture (and some sports) Moments of 2012. Check it out! I’ll wait. It’s a delightful read!

In Part 1 I mentioned 2011 being the “calm before the storm” and for the most part it was. I talked about the dud that was Team Force. I talked about wanting to get settled into work. I talked about wanting to do more with church.

I also mentioned that 2012 was one of the busiest, if not the busiest, years I’ve lived through. Well here are 12 moments of 2012 that caused me to think that it may be true!

NOTE: I’m actually going to countdown my top 8 before I give you an update on the important members of the Johnson 5.

No. 8 – Y-M-C-A: Part III

Wow, just noticed that this has made my top moments for three years in a row! Get a life Kevin! In 2010 it was No. 10 as we debuted it at the 2012 Relay for Life. In 2011 it was No. 2 as we won the 2011 Monroe Lip Sync Contest. In 2012 we had our last hurrah as we won the Sultan Lip Sync Contest, then followed it up with an encore performance at the Sultan Shindig.

The Sultan contest may have been my favorite. We all seemed on our game and afterwards, after working in this community, the performance has stuck in people’s minds. Not only am I recognized as the Nationwide dude, but I’m a Village Person. I’ve gotten odd looks at the library during storytime with Lia and I’ve been stared at during a community Christmas event, all to have someone come up and ask, “Where you in the lip sync contest?”  Yes, that’s me, and these are my normal clothes. Heck, I’ve had more than one person say it’s the best lip sync performance they’ve ever seen at this event. You make the call.

Not only did we win the 2012 Sultan Lip Sync Contest but we also won the Lip Sync at the ACS Relay for Life of Sky Valley by performing LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy and I Know It”. We came up with the routine just days before and it seemed to work. What will we have in store for 2013?

No. 7- I Love Me Some Community Involvement!

Part of the reason I did what I did in No. 1 was to be more involved in my community. Since Lis was diagnosed I’ve had this passion to give back to others. Some may call me a sucker, and sometimes I am, but helping others by doing things I love brings me great joy. So when the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) at Lukas’s school needs someone to take over newsletter duties, I volunteer myself. When the community is looking for someone to help restart a tradition of lighting a Christmas tree, I sign myself up. When the Chamber asks if I’d like to become a board member, I throw my name in the hat. Of course there’s Nos. 2 & 3 on this list, but we’ll get to those in a bit.

So yah, I write the PTO newsletter. Yah, I help organize and co-emcee the Tree Lighting Festival. Yes, I joined the Chamber board. Yes, I run the Youth Group at my church. Yah, I co-chair the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life of Sky Valley. Yah, I cover high school sports for my local newspaper. Yah, I attend local events, welcome new businesses into town, and have a booth at any event that I can participate in.

Why? Because I love doing things for others. I love seeing people’s faces (200-plus of them) when I assist in restarting a Sky Valley tradition. I love to meet new people. I love feeling young by working with young folks. And I love playing a small part in helping change the world. If I’m able to get a couple clients out of the process, awesome, but in all honesty, I’d do it even if I didn’t … wait for No. 1.

No. 6 – 58 Shades of Loneliness

If you followed my blog you all know that Lis and the three kiddos left me this summer for 58 days to visit her  family in Brazil.

In what started out as a way to countdown the days they’d be gone, I began to write one thing every day that I learned while she was away. On Day 2 I started posting them as my Facebook status. All of a sudden people were following my list, wondering what I was going to learn that day. I ran into people at the local grocery store, at community events, at events in other cities, at restaurants, and people would ask what I learned today and tell me that they’re entertained by my writing and pulling for me. Whatever that means!

Oh and they all seemed to remember No. 55 (my 3rd day) when I locked myself out of the house, wearing boxers and a t-shirt (and my nerdy glasses) and had to figure out how I was going to get back in. Unfortunately, you can’t make this stuff up!

Locked Out! Locked Out!

If you’re interested in recapping the “Reader’s Top 10″ and my personal top 10, or just looking at the entire list, check it out here:  58 Things I Learned While Being Home Alone: The Lists Version

Did I learn a lot? Oh sure I did! Good and bad! I enjoyed being a bachelor and then I dreaded being alone. I enjoyed being able to hang out with my friends or end up on a buddies couch if needed, and I dreaded sleeping alone in a quiet house. Would I do it again? Sure, but for no more than 57 days.

No. 5 – A Night We Won’t Forget!

I can’t recap it any better than how I wrote it back on July 8, a day after it happened. Let’s just say I crossed off something from my 99 Things to Do Before I Die by meeting Boyz II Men. Yes, THE Boyz II Men. Now what happened between leaving the house for the concert and meeting the Boyz is a story you’ll have to read by clicking here. But it will for sure go into the history books for my mom, Erik, Stephanie, Randy, Nayheli and myself as one of those craziest and unforgettable days we’ll ever experience.

 Mr. Fixit? The Gang!Me and My Mama Shawn, me, Nate and Wayna!

Johnsons and Boyz!

The gang and the Boyz!

No. 4 – PopBlerd!

As I mentioned in my November entry I started writing for a pop culture blog called PopBlerd! I’m just going to requote what I wrote then:

One of the things I added to my plate that has been the most fun is writing for a blog called PopBlerd! My buddy turned me onto it. I happened to be Fan No. 500. They sent me a couple of CDs. They wrote a post about the 100 Best R&B Song of the 90s. I double heart R&B songs of the 90s so I commented. Mr. Blerd himself asked if I wanted to join in. I couldn’t resist and since then I’ve written an NFL Preview, a story about Manning vs. Brady, shared stories I’ve never shared with anyone about when I was in community college and the music I bought, and one of my favorite pieces I’ve written in a while, how I felt after Lucasfilm was bought by Disney. It’s more music-based, so currently we’re working on the 100 Rap Albums of All-Time and I’m helping with a Janet Jackson Discography. It’s been a blast and I’ve gotten to know (digitally) interesting people from all over the country! Like the rest of the people on there, we’re just people who love to write and this gives us an outlet and a larger audience. If you haven’t already, check out the site here or click on one of my story links (highlighted under the mention of the story).

Update: Not being one to write inspirational album reviews I actually enjoyed contributing to the Janet Jackson Discography, and made myself proud, which doesn’t happen often. I also wrote two pieces that I had a lot of fun writing, a story about Andrew Luck and the rebirth of ColtsNation and the aforementioned KJ’s 12 Pop Culture (and some sports) Moments of 2012. I’ve also received a Christmas card and a PopBlerd! t-shirt from Mr. Blerd! I look forward to 2013 and what it may bring to the site, my writing and the continued friendships I’ve made through the site. Oh and I may will be doing my first-ever podcast, so says Mr. Blerd.

No. 3 – Me and the Yutes

Not one to volunteer for things that may get me in over my head (HA!) I asked if I could take on the task of being our church’s Youth Group leader. As if three little kids at home weren’t enough, I thought, “Why not take on 30-plus teenagers too!”

OK, so it’s not that bad. In fact it’s GREAT! The prior leader had left us in January and for months me and a couple other ladies rotated between lessons. Meanwhile things were getting disorganized, at least for my liking (which for a spreadsheet geek is really easy to do). During the summer I asked our Pastor if I could step into the leadership role for the Youth and try to add a little structure to it. He whole-heartedly agreed and in September I took on the role of the Youth Group leader.

As I said, it’s GREAT! Lis has been totally supportive of my decision, in fact she’s now my co-leader, helping me teach lessons to the high schoolers and helping me organize events. It’s so nice to be doing something like this together.

I’ve always enjoyed working with kids so being around these kids, building relationships and friendships is awesome! We talk music, movies, relationships, and rib each other on Facebook. And during the summer when things were tough for me or I was feeling discouraged I would spend a couple hours with the Youth Group and all of a sudden my worries were gone! It was if I needed them more than they needed me … which is most likely the case.

Meanwhile we’ve watched our attendence grow from 15 a year ago to 20 during last Spring, peaking out at 40 during the summer and settling in at around 30 every Wednesday night. For a church whose membership is about 40, that’s an awesome ratio. I think I figured out that 90-percent of the kids that attend don’t attend our church, that’s a crazy ratio too! I’d like to think I had a hand in it but I have to give big ups to the man upstairs.

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Christmas Caroling with the Youth

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Halloween Party!

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No. 2 – Relay for Life

Like I did for No. 5 you’re just going to have to click on the link and see why this was No. 2 on my list. Here’s the link: “My 5 Special Moments from Relay”.

I will tell you that the Relay for Life is a true passion of mine. Honestly, if I had to get rid of things so that I had more time for my family or myself, this would be the last thing I would give up. It’s the one thing where I feel I actually know what I’m talking about. The one thing I’m totally passionate talking about. The one thing that brings me so much joy because of the joy and stories I get to share with hundreds of other people. Once again, if you’ve never been a part of the Relay for Life click here and then find your local event and take part. It’s an incredible event. Of course nobody does it like our Relay does but … you know!

Oh and this year Lis said she’ll shave her head at the event if she can raise $5,000. Do you want to help her out? If so click here or http://main.acsevents.org/goto/lisjohnson and donate to her page!

The Johnson 5 Pointers from Erik! "Dream Team" We did it!

No. 1 – On Your Side and On My Own

As I mentioned a few times, in 2011 I wanted to get settled into work. I had a 1 hour, 40 minute commute to work (one way). Things seemed like a mess at my current job. I didn’t feel comfortable. It didn’t feel long term. Well last November a friend of mine from high school, well more of an acquaintance at the time, contacted me via Facebook to ask if I’d be interested in opening my own Nationwide agency. I didn’t hesitate, as I’ve thought about doing this for years now.

Well in March, thanks to that now good friend and her awesome husband, I opened up Sky Valley Insurance, a Nationwide agency, three minutes from my house.

It hasn’t been easy … oh heck no! I started with zero clients. I’ve had to build from the ground up and during the summer it got mighty rough, so rough that I wondered if I had made the right decision.

But I kept at it and the last four months I’ve made my monthly goal and am loving the fact that things seem to be growing.

I owe a ton of it to the aforementioned good friend and her awesome husband for supporting me. Like really supporting me, both financially and with words of encouragement. They are the type of people you want to fight for. I wasn’t worried about letting myself down, I was worried about letting them down. Sure I may have made a leap of faith by leaving a nice-paying gig for a low-paying gig, but they took a risk in hiring someone that doesn’t consider himself a salesperson to run his own shop. I really feel blessed that I’ve been hooked up with great people that care a lot about the people they work with, shoot they flew Lis and I to Boise for a weekend for their Christmas party! It’s great!

Oh and the team that they’ve assembled is great! Their employees at their agency, our sales rep, another agent they assist with, it’s good people, I mean real good people. Lis isn’t one to get overly excited about things, she’s one of those people that when she says something it usually holds a lot of truth and merit, but she left that trip saying that it didn’t feel like co-workers but it felt like friends.

That’s the type of people Nationwide hires folks. No joke. I’ve been in the insurance industry for 9 years and I’ve never had such a good time working with a company and it’s employees.

Everything I mentioned above, the Relay, the Youth, the community involvement, heck even the chestpain that I mentioned in Part 1 (after all Stacy, you did buy the pizza and soda that I nearly OD’d on) could be associated with this move. I wouldn’t have been able to do all that if I didn’t live close to home and in the community I love being a part of.

It’s amazing how much an hour, 40 minute commute takes out of you. I’m more relaxed when I get home. If Lis needs to run an errand she can drop one of the kids off here and they can run copies or file for me (often they just color, but whatever). It’s been a blessing!

Yes, I’m writing this after I’ve had a run of great months. My confidence is up. If I wrote this in mid-August it might be a different story, but it’s nice feeling like my work (I won’t say hard work because I still have hard work to do) is paying off.

Everyone says its a 2-3 year trial and if you can come out of that period alive you’ll make it in the business. Let’s just say I’m excited for 2013. To have a 10 months under my belt and to attack the New Year!

Call me for a quote! ;)

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I was going to spend the last portion of the entry talking about my wife and kids. After writing through most of my part about Levi I decided to skip it.

I’ll briefly say that Levi spent months 10 – 21 of his life in 2012, so it’s been a busy year for him. He’s learned to eat on his own (and really eat, the kid does a dinner dance every night or gets ticked when dinner is running behind), talk, walk, even started using the bathroom by himself, though this just started. He’s grown …  a ton! The doctors said he’d be a big kid and he hasn’t disappointed coming in at the 100-percentile for height and weight. My in-laws fittingly dubbed him “Bamm-Bamm” during their trip to Brazil. I’ll miss the toddler years, he’s still partly cute and partly fun to mess with, but I won’t miss the grumpiness from missing a nap or the screams from his crib in the middle of the night.

IMG_20121210_233201  IMG_20121213_191841

Lia is my Princess. I’ve never dealt with anything like her before. She’s, dare I say, unique. She continues to amaze me with her personality, stubborness and her gift of speech. I guess she got that from her Mom, who has nailed down the English language faster than some that have been here for years and years. You give Lia a word of any size and she’ll enuciate it properly the next time. She went to Brazil and came back speaking Portuguese with an accent. Lis says, unlike Lukas who talks with a Gringo accent, Lia nailed the dialect. She just turned 4, so we have to wait another TWO years before she starts Kindergarten, which drives us – especially Lis – crazy, since Lia drives us – especially Lis – crazy.

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Lukas is my super-sensitive best buddy. We have a special bond and I think it’s for a few reasons: 1) We’re the same person, 2) He’s the older child and 3) We have an intimate bond that we were “forced” into after Lis was diagnosed when he was a baby. It’s been fun watching him learn, and I had a proud parent moment last month when he was his classroom’s Student of the Month. He thinks he wants to play sports, and this year he played baseball, though I won’t share his batting average with you all, but really he’s like his Uncle Erik in that he’s artistic. Oh and he learned how to ride his bike, which was cool because we spent the sunny days riding to school or riding up to the office.

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After nine years, three kids and a bout of cancer life can become pretty routine. OK, that was meant to be somewhat serious and ended up sounded somewhat sarcastic. We rekindled the flame a few times this year.

We spent our 9th anniversary on a day-long hike, which ended up being a lot of fun and extremely painful.

During the 58 days away we ended up having some really good conversations via webcam. Conversations that were made possible because of the time zone. It was 7pm here and I was bored. It was 10pm there and the kids were asleep. We actually had time to sit and have a conversation without distractions, and it really helped our relationship.

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Third, we spent a weekend in Boise together without the kids and it was fun hanging out with my best friend and remembering why we fell in love. Next year will be our 10th anniversary and let’s just say that celebrating Year No. 10 in a fun way is on my 2013 list of goals.

Happy 2013 All!

If you want to see past Year-in-Reviews check them out here: 2011, 20102008, 2007, 2006, 2005

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Filed under Brazil, Church, Family, Friends, Insurance, Kids, Lis, Lists, Marriage, Relay for Life, Work, Year in Review

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