to doLast year I began posting my “Ball Drop List”. See here for an explanation of why I call it that. Having a list was helpful for reminding me what I wanted to accomplish. Even though I didn’t complete everything on my list, I did achieve a lot. I also learned that some of my goals were not specific enough to keep me focused.

Some items from last year are on this year’s list; some of them because I want to do them again and some because I didn’t get them done last year. So without further hesitation, here is my 2011 Ball Drop List.

Write 12 short stories – Every year I want to write more. This year I want to set specific targets as a minimum. My plan is to write one short fiction work each month. I will post them on my blog and share them on Twitter as part of #FlashFriday. I am hoping this will help me push stories through to completion as I have a tendency to start a story and then leave it unfinished.

Go to a Rangers game – My second son (middle child) is a Rangers fan so this year I hope to take him to see them play. This will likely be a family trip or at least a “guy’s road trip” with both of my sons, but we’re focusing on the Rangers just for Jaden.

Take Jaden on a Father/Son trip – Two years ago I took my oldest son to New York on a father/son trip. It was a terrific experience for us. Jaden is two years younger so this is his year. I’m still trying to get a feel for where he would like to go, but this is one of my top priorities for the year.

Special dinner date with my two girls – As I mentioned last year, I’m a ladies man. Between my wife and daughter I have been blessed more than I can ever describe. For this task I’m looking for a unique, special dinner date for the three of us.

Continue to get involved in world poverty relief – Similar to last year, I don’t want to talk too much about this since it is only actions that make a difference, never intentions. I’m pretty motivated in this area so I think being vague worked out fine for me. The only goals here are to follow my heart and get more involved each and every year. If some of my ideas become reality you’ll be hearing from me on this blog and Facebook asking for help.

Run in a 5k – I don’t mind admitting that this was one of my most disappointing failures last year. I really struggled with my health last year and was not able to run in the Cahaba River Ramble as planned. I’m doing better now and have even more weight to lose so this goal is back for a retry. My goal is still the Cahaba River Ramble in May, but I’m not going to hurt myself. If I’m not ready by April I will find a fall run to participate in. Maybe I’ll even run in two races to catch up for last year?

Revive the MIF blog – I started the Marriage Is Fun blog ( as a way to challenge myself to write more. I really enjoy writing for it, but I let other things keep me from posting. Starting in February I plan to revive the blog and keep it updated at least monthly.

Prioritize family game nights – Our family spends a lot of time together, but we don’t always play games together. This year I plan to have scheduled game nights where we can play games and laugh together. With sports, school and all the other things that go on, if I don’t plan some time for this it won’t happen.

Paint a watercolor painting – While I’m not a great painter, it is something I love to do. It also has a way of sparking my creativity in other areas. My goal is to paint at least one painting.

Spend more time under the stars – This may sound a bit corny, but the night sky has always captivated me. The experience of looking up at all the stars and planets has a spiritual quality to it; this year I’m not taking it for granted.

Run 500 miles – Those that know me may wonder why weight loss is not on my list for 2011. The truth is I want to focus on fitness and better health and expect the weight to drop from that. Increasing my activity is one area in which I have total control of the outcome – either I do it or I don’t. So for 2011 my goal is to run 500 miles. (Ok, most of the early runs will technically be walks, but let’s not split hairs. If I want to call it a run, humor me.)