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Year Thirty-Five and the Lessons I Learned

I’m going to remember this year the most out of any other— not because it was so awesome and I wish I could do it all over again. There were plenty of feel good moments, but this year (more than any I remember) tried to kick me in the ass and sucker punch me in the face several times. It was one of those years where I felt the Universe was trying hard to take a lot away from me— people I love, a job I felt secure about, and my patience. But I kept afloat and knew that my family was watching. With each seemingly impossible wall I climbed, my skill set started to have more meaning; whatever creative talents I had became a gift and service to everyone around me.

With the amount of amazing and inspiring people we lost in 2016, none was more personal and sadder than losing Grandma in April. All of my sisters and cousins were closer to her than I was, but she had a huge part in my life as well. When it came time to plan her funeral we felt we could do a little better than just saying a few nice words about her at the service. I remembered all the footage I had accumulated over the years, including

an interview I documented 10 years prior along with a full cooking demo I had her perform making her famous turnip cakes. My oldest sister and I went on a two week marathon of editing sessions before the funeral, with very little sleep, families to raise, and full-time jobs to manage. Our relationship strengthened because I knew how much we needed each other with the task ahead. Prior to this, I felt like my video editing skills was just another talent I had in my bag of tricks-- afterwards I knew for a fact that my creative abilities could serve a greater purpose. My sisters and cousins provided voiceovers for the eulogy slideshow I helped put together. But my sister and I surprised everyone at the funeral who had no idea about the interview footage and cooking demo we showed as part of the service. For the first time in my life I felt my extended family appreciated what I did for a living.

In early August, I was laid off from my advertising job of more than 8 years. I know jobs come and go, but that doesn’t hide the fact that I loved the people I worked with most of all. And it was hard letting go. I knew I could take a bit of a break before looking again, and collect unemployment checks until the money ran out. But sooner or later I had to find another full-time job, or figure out something that would work with my own schedule. With two fast growing kids needing more time with their dad, there was no other choice-- I had to stay as close to home as possible. I started my own freelance business in the fall (shameless plug: video editing, design, photography, and production for growing businesses) and never looked back. My clients are happy. I’m happier. My kids are the happiest, and that’s all that matters right now. (I couldn’t have done any of this without my wife. She has been my biggest cheerleader and the most patient with me, never once pressured me into any job situation when we were financially unsure of the immediate future. A lot of women would tell their husbands to take a job, any job, when you have a mortgage and two kids to feed.)

My take away from Year 35: 1) You’re never too old to learn and do something new. 2) Do not burn any bridges because the world we live in is very small. When you think all is lost, people who you thought forgot about you will see if you’re okay and will pick you back up. 3) Finish what you started. Especially the video you shot from 10 years ago and is used in an entirely different way than you had originally anticipated. 4) Do not be afraid to ask for help. Thank you friends for being there. You know who you are if I asked you questions about business and freelance. Inspiring…. 5) Do not be afraid to ask people if THEY need help, but be genuine about it. You’ll be amazed by what happens next.

Age 36 will be another building year for me, but I like where we’re headed and it’s only day 2.

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