2015 In Review

The year 2015 was an eventful one. Between a new member of the family, significant birthdays and anniversary, and a job change I had my hands full. It was a challenging and rewarding year.

The biggest event was the birth of my third daughter, Leora Ripley. She is beautiful like her mother and her sisters. My wife and I named her after my great-grandmother, Leora, and the character Ellen Ripley of Alien/Aliens. I talked my wife into the latter because the character is confident, brave, compassionate, and intelligent—values I want to encourage in my daughters.

My daughter Marie had her first birthday. She is a total rockstar. I love watching her develop. It is incredible watching her learn to speak new words, learn to run and climb, and learn to interact with her family. She loves helping take care of her new baby sister. I couldn't be prouder of the kid she is becoming. I can't wait to continue watching her grow.

My family had a lot of first time events since our daughter Maggie passed away. We had our first Mother's Day and Father's Day, her birthday, the anniversary of her death. I spent her birthday with my family—my wife, our daughter Marie, and Maggie's aunt, cousins, and grandparents—at my parents' cabin planting apple trees in memory of her. It was a nice day. It is always nice seeing people remembering her. There were a lot of hard days this year. I still miss her all the time.

My wife and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary this year. The five years flew by. I am lucky I married a wonderful woman. I am grateful she is in my life. We celebrated our anniversary with a trip to Sedona, Arizona. It is a beautiful place and we got to eat a lot of good food. I am excited to spend the next five years married to her, and celebrate with another trip.

I started a new job this year. I worked at Discount Tire for almost two years, and I am amazed how much I learned while I was there. It was my first role focused more on web development than design. I got to work with smart people who cared a lot about the company they worked for. I heard a lot of stories when I started about people who thought they wouldn't work at Discount Tire long only to spend a career there. I can see how that is possible now. It is a great company to work for. It was just not right for me at that stage of my career. I learned a lot, but I needed to move on to grow as a programmer. I wish nothing but the best for the people still at Discount Tire and the company as a whole.

My new job is at a software engineering company in Phoenix called Cyberitas. They do client work which was a much different experience than working on only proprietary brands for Discount Tire. The benefit of working for lots of different clients is the chance to try out a lot of different technologies, and adjust our technology stack to keep up with changes in modern development. At previous jobs, that proved to be difficult to do with a long established legacy codebase still running. My new colleagues are some of the smartest and most talented developers I have ever met. Working side-by-side with them, I have learned from a lot of new challenges and moved developed a lot professionally.

As a New Year's resolution at the beginning of 2015, I set a reading goal to read a short story, an essay, and a poem every day. It thought it sounded pretty simple when I set the goal, but it turns out it is hard to find the time some days. Still, other than a handful of off days, I accomplished my goal. It took late night speed reading and occasionally seeking out shorter pieces to hit my mark, but I made it. It was a satisfying goal to reach. My appreciation for great writing increased, I learned a lot, and I felt my own writing improved.

Some of my favorite stories I read were:

  • Worth of Crows by Seth Dickinson
  • Bullet in the Brain by Tobias Wolff
  • To Build a Fire by Jack London
  • The Fly by Katherine Mansfield
  • The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • The Second Bakery Attack by Haruki Murakami
  • The Shot by Alexander Pushkin
  • They're Made out of Meat by Terry Bisson
  • All Summer in a Day by Ray Bradbury
  • DeRay by Ron Carlson

Some of my favorite poems I read were:

  • The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
  • Invictus by William Ernest Henley
  • The Dream by Edna St. Vincent Millay
  • The Skeleton in Armor by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • Autobiography of Eve by Ansel Elkins
  • On Children by Kahlil Gibran
  • A Song Of Despair by Pablo Neruda
  • After the Winter by Claude McKay
  • du bois in ghana by Evie Shockley

Some of my favorite essays I read were:

  • Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace
  • Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell
  • The Fourth State of Matter by Jo Ann Beard
  • The New French Hacker-Artist Underground by Jon Lackman
  • The Man Who Broke the Music Business by Stephen Witt
  • Why Is There No Great Arizona Novel? by Tom Zoellner
  • When Knowledge Is Unforgettable by Daniel Willingham

Going into 2015 I was already practicing healthier eating habits than I used to in an effort to lose weight. I continued those habits into 2015. I took the additional step of tracking all my calories at different times throughout the year using MyFitnessPal. I bought a kitchen scale to make sure what I was reporting was accurate. This let me put how many calories I was eating into perspective.

In addition to eating better, I ran and lifted weights this year. I did a lot of running early in the year to get ready for several events. I ran the Warrior Dash, a run for Foundation for Blind Children, and Pat's Run. The first two were 5ks, and Pat's Run is a 4.2 mile run. I had to put my running on hold after those events because I ended up doing too much too soon and got plantar fasciitis. I spent the latter part of the year on a strict weight lifting routine three days a week. I enjoyed lifting weights, and I saw a lot of progress.

I started the year weighing 223 pounds and finished weighing 202 pounds. Between the eating better and working out I lost a total of 21 pounds in 2015. The working out came to an abrupt halt in December when I shattered my patella.

The story of how I hurt myself is anticlimactic. I was holding our newborn, and I wanted to help out with dinner. We had a baby swing I was hoping would keep the baby happy, and around the swing we had a baby fence to keep the toddlers from messing with the baby. As I stepped over the fence I caught my foot and tripped. I couldn't catch myself because I was trying not to drop the baby so I landed with my knee on the metal leg of the baby swing and all my weight behind it.

I finished up the year in a brace and on pain medicine while I waited to schedule knee surgery.

As I said, it was an eventful year. I had a lot of personal and professional accomplishments. I had a lot of great family moments and memories. But still there were plenty of hardships and hard times. It was a fulfilling year. I wouldn't be too upset to see 2016 be a little less interesting. If not, I'm up for it. It should be an adventure.

Tyler Walters

Written by Tyler Walters

Tyler Walters is a software engineer in Phoenix, Arizona. He is married to a beautiful woman and has three incredible daughters. He is interested in game development, writing, beer, and hot wings.