One Week Left in 2015
December 24, 2015
The wrap-up blog post is one everyone does. Be it after a job change, a wedding, a baby, a death, a change of seasons and a flipping of the calendar page. I’m hardly different. I believe a lot of my columns over the past 23 years have integrated some form of time element as a way to pull people through the story and impart my opinions.
This post is no different. And it is different.
I’m not going to harp on the seven days left in 2015. I’m not going to count full moons and weather patterns and holidays. What I will do is share a few thoughts on the past year, utter digitally a few comments about random events and nouns, and leave readers with a little insight into my soul. That last part is a little heavy, so take from it as little or as much as you’d like. You cannot have my soul, I’m still using it.
2015 was a crappy year. People died. Illness struck. Work was sparse and difficult. In all, the only reasons I’m still upright and not in an asylum are my wife, my upbringing, my family, my friends and my experiences. You don’t make it to age 50 – yup, that’s where I’m at now – without going through some adversity and learning how to deal with it. But I’ve led a semi-charmed kind of life to this point. Even with a chronic illness and the loss of my father a few years ago, I’ve been very fortunate.
I haven’t known the pain of homelessness, of disaster, of hunger. I haven’t been persecuted for my beliefs (other than my belief that the Patriots cheat all the time and their fans are spoiled babies). The route I’ve traveled to get her has been pretty smooth. So when there were numerous hiccups this past year, I took them in stride. With the help of friends and family to wake me up, remind me that I still have a great community around me, and generally make me smile.
Here’s the year in a nutshell. If I’ve missed any low points, please be sure to point those out in the comments. Though I’ve had these blogs forever, I’m still not sure if my comments get moderated correctly so your note might go into the ether and I might never see it. But feel free to leave your thoughts. 🙂 These are in no particular order…
50 years old. I figured I’d be retired by now. That in itself is a disappointment, but I’ve lived my professional life in a semi-retired style, so I can’t complain about not having a huge nestegg and being able to play golf every day. In fact, I could probably play golf every day because my workload this year was crap.
Crap workload. As every marketer and business person will tell you, you need to put some effort into promoting yourself and your skills if you want to be able to sell those to people. I did not. I have – over the past few years – let my effort dwindle. I could blame it on a depression over losing my father. I could blame it on Obama. I could blame it on my health. What I do blame it on is myself. I should be more focused on making money, doing the things I’m good at and not being bashful about asking people to hire me. That will be more evident in 2016. But 2015 was a crap year because I stayed in the shadows.
Henry DuLaurence died. Stupid Hank! One of my best friends. A guy I grew up with. We got sick together as kids and maintained our belief that we would outlive everyone around us. He had cancer as a teen. I discovered I had Crohn’s Disease. Neither is something to laugh at, but the treatment for his cancer back then was worse than the treatment for my Crohn’s. The chemo drugs ravaged his heart and arteries and in September of this year his heart failed him. He’s gone. We won’t outlive everyone together. I miss him a lot. I move forward thinking about his character and how I can be a better person by emulating some of the stuff he did. One thing in particular was listening. He was a great listener. Being better at hearing and really listening to people is something I will work on. It will probably make me a better, more successful person. And it will make me happy because it’s a part of Hank I’ll take with me on the rest of this journey. Driving fast, taking chances, thinking of Hank.
Sickness of my own. I’m down 18lbs since the summer. I’m down 32lbs since I was a star on NomX3 – the food show that was a candidate for all sorts of awards. This is because of stress, anxiety, lifestyle and my Crohn’s Disease. It’s been acting up since my father died four years ago and the medicines we’ve tried to get it under control haven’t been working too well. I’ve been on all sorts of auto-immune drugs and they make me weak. They also allow me to be in pain.
So, the combo of pain and symptoms and bad absorption have conspired to put me into my thin pants. I’m on the last of the options for drugs right now and we’ll know by Spring whether this course of action is working. If not, I’m going in for surgery that is much more certain to make a difference and to alleviate the pain as well. Being proactive is a smart move, but in 2015 I was limping along afraid to make a decision. Turns out that I’m in great spirits now that we have a course of action decided upon. I’ve got more energy (even if it is psychological) and I’m happier to be on this path. Here’s to hoping 2016 is healthy and happy for my body.
Career confusion. Am I a journalist? Sure. I am classically trained to be a journalist. I’m as good as anyone I know in the field. I can write circles around all but a few people in the world. I am confident (maybe you got that from the prior couple sentences). And I am disenchanted. Companies are increasingly looking to bloggers, untrained opinionated scribes, to share their information with the world. As a business decision it is brilliant. No need to navigate the dangerous waters of full disclosure. No fear that anything shady will be uncovered. Bloggers are often just paid shills for the firm. Give them a free meal and access to an event and they’ll tell whatever story you’re pitching. Trouble is, as the money flows away from real news outlets, the lucrative writing gigs are with blogs and outlets that are bought and sold with the money from advertisers. Therein lies the rub.
Should I continue on a path where it’s more difficult to practice and get paid well for my craft. Or should I move to a middle ground of marketer and advertising writer where the money is fantastic and the creativity is boundless? To be fair, I’ve supplemented my income for decades with advertising copywriting – though I’ve never had the hard decision of doing a news story about the firms for which I was freelance writing. Now the world is closing in.
My best options these days are doing marketing for the types of businesses I used to cover. Hotels, resorts, sports teams, technology companies and restaurants. I know I’ll be great at it because I am familiar with the landscape and I still know how to write. Perhaps 2016 will be the year I hang up my media credentials and sign on as an ambassador for a brand or creative director for a product.
In that same vein, I’m a real estate agent. I’m living that side life because I wanted to assist my brother in marketing his brokerage. Need a house sold? Come talk to me? Want to buy a house in Massachusetts? Call me. I’m licensed. I’m an expert in the communities around here. I am a fantastic representative and REALTOR. I am also unsure if that’s the path I’d like to follow. Mostly because I have rediscovered photography.
Oh, I’m a fine-art and event photographer – if you missed that announcement. My work is on display in businesses all over Massachusetts including at the new casino down in Plainville and at Math Works campus in Framingham. I smiled when I put this image in the blog post because Chelsea Northrup has it on her blog as a favorite – though she took a similar shot in 2014, I took this in July of this year when Gretchen and I went to Ireland. Same spot. I have fewer people in my photo.
Further, I have been the photographer at dozens of events all over the United States. This cold prove to be a pathway to riches or it might be another fun distraction in a career that’s full of creative endeavors. Regardless, I’m starting to get good at taking and developing photos, so contact me if you have an event or scene you want me to capture. Seriously. Click on the contact form and send me a note.
Now, we’re at Christmas eve. I haven’t wrapped many presents. I am still a little destitute. But I’m so much happier I sat down to write this recap. It doesn’t matter if anyone reads it because it has helped me iron out some wrinkles in my brain. I’m thankful for the people in my life and am really looking forward…because looking back isn’t too helpful.
I wish you a great 2016 and I hope we cross paths – especially if I can help you be more successful and happy!