Twenty Eighteen, excuse me, but were you invited to this party?

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I’m limping into 2018 with a skepticism, determination and hope. Skepticism is ranking highest on my list.

Twenty seventeen was a good year for a lot of things.

  • My business: revenues up!
  • My marriage: tents and tits up!
  • My love of learning French: Eiffel Tower up!
  • Physical achievement: Feet thumbs up.
  • Psychological awareness: meditatively a positive feeling but a work in progess (as it always should be).
  • My family life: what a disaster.

My overall grade for 2017, a solid B.

Care to read more, dip below the fold.

Love-wise, I couldn’t be happier.

Tina and I been married 10 years this August. Ten fucking years! I have a daily feeling of in-love-ing-ness. And I have to pinch myself because every time I question or wonder, “This shit can’t last,” the next day proves me wrong.

There are times when we’re together, either at home or in public, and I think, “Damn, I’m lucky.” Tina’s gorgeous. She’s got an incredible spirit and an amazing personality. She can light up a room. She grounds me. She supports me. She’s my world.

On New Year’s Eve, we were with family on Chicago’s south side. I remember looking at her talking to her Uncle Jim or Aunt Kathy at times and thinking, “My goodness, she’s beautiful.” She was radiant. A breath of fresh everything. I’m so proud of her.

Because we work together, we spend more time together than most any couple I know. And we both can say that we love it.

Yes, we fight. But I think we’ve fought less in 2017 than in any year we’ve been together.

Or differently put, when we fight, we fight better, more productively, with less longevity. With lower levels of voice volume. There’s more calm. A speedier reach of calm. We spent more time loving and in love. And that’s a boon for 2017.

Business growth has been great for the past five years.

We rebranded our company six or seven years ago, and it took a few years catch. We’ve grown so much, we have been hiring contractors for almost every job for the last four years.

One new thing in 2017, I’ve started hiring retouchers to alleviate some of my photography post work. I’ve wanted to hire an assistant for video editing for some time, and I’m this close to pulling the trigger on that.

Yes, twenty seventeen was a solid business year, but it has been for about five years. This was just another good year. With our rebrand taking hold and the fact that we’re landing more and more interiors and portraits while eschewing weddings, kids, dogs, and events …  that makes me happy.

The market on the up for so long that it’s difficult for me to hear the current, corrupt  president taking full credit.

Tina and I worked our asses off in 2017. At the end of it, I was tired, licking my wounds, but overall, pleased with the business end of it.

Nous parlons tous français! 

One saving grace for this past year was taking a French class once a week for almost a year. I’ve learned so much about myself, about the world, about other people living in it. I’ve learned how to speak better, understand better, express myself and also make people laugh in French.

Tina’s getting better, too. She’s still a beginner, but coming along quickly. And while she probably thinks she’s moving so slowly, I believe she’s made excellent progress over the past year.

Running farther and maybe even faster

Over the last several years, I’ve been running more. More frequently and more distance. This summer, I told myself, “Jeremy, let’s do at least eight to ten miles one day a week.” I started crushing that.

Then I said, “Jeremy, do two hours of running in one day.” And about four times, I ran for two hours which is roughly 15 or 16 miles for me.

There were weeks this year when I totaled between 25 and 30 miles within seven days. It makes me feel good, accomplished. I feel good about my body, and hope to get even better!

Mindful Meditation 

I mediate. Not daily. But with great frequency.

I meditate in a few ways. One is to sit and breath. Another is to repeat mantras or repeat single words. One of my favorites is simply: “Creativity” or “Productivity.” I don’t personally do personal affirmations like, “I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!” Not my style.

But I concentrate on things like self-forgiveness a lot.

Another method is while I’m running, I try and empty my head and just go. The longer and steadier the run, the easier this is. I get to a place where it’s just pace, the sound of my feet, my breath, my sweat, my trajectory. Swimming is also a great place to be meditative. Once I pass ten or more laps, I’m just in the water doing repetitive breathing and movements. It’s extremely therapeutic.

 

What the fuck went wrong in 2017, then, asshole? 

I read less than five books in 2017. This killed me. I’d love to blame myself, but I think we all needed a year to reboot after the disaster called Trump was inaugurated to the smallest crowd of support I’ve ever seen. Like him or or hate, he’s a steam train. He’s dominating every news cycle, ruining Christianity, nuking our idea of American values, and running amok with our ability to stay relatively sane regarding politics.

I got caught up in a wave of depression and anxiety at times over the last year that drove me from lots of my family, even close family (my parents). And while I thought, rationally or not, that their behavior was driving me away, I found myself not doing enough to counter the bullshit with a positive, forgiving spirit. Just because our White House is absent of compassion, understanding, intelligence and basic common sense, it doesn’t mean the rest of us have to be on or near that sinking ship.

Like so many people driven to a sort of madness, this political climate is so divisive, so antagonistic, so devilishly demonic. It’s depressing. Between the onslaught of men; senators, actors, producers, etc. falling from grace for sexual indiscretion, the gun violence, the rise of white supremacy and a president who treats the White House like a television show searching out second-by-second social media double tap, “like” me, love me, attention sucking horse shit via reality TV formula, I fall into a category of person who needed a set of training wheels and a goddamn binky to get through 2017.

My goal is to lose the diapers in 2018. Refocus on selfish things like ME, my growth, my creativity, my business, my relationships. Me, me, me!

Oh, and I want to become a Big. I want to continue developing different mentorships I’ve started over the years. I want to keep giving/donating services to a charity in Chicago that helps kids with debilitating diseases and handicaps transition from hospital and home.

I want to be an active participant of making positive out of all the negative.

Last year’s failures are this year’s so-called New Year’s resolutions

I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions. Why?

Long story: When I was growing up, I went to a mission-based church. Our youth group was always taking missions trips. When I was in high school, my family struggled financially and because there was always a financial component to Mission Trips, I wasn’t able to go on them. Not one!* I wasn’t the only one. But I always felt left out.

When the group that went returned home, they were collectively fired up for Jesus. And by fired up, I mean, holy shit, I was so jealous of their zeal and gusto. They had seen the face of Jesus in the children they served, the the paint the brushed over buildings, in the roofing they fixed on orphanages. It was palpable.

Within a week, that zeal deflated to a golf clap for Jesus.

Within two weeks, we were all worshiping Satan again.

Mission trips were the New Year’s gym memberships of 95% of the population.

I’m lucky. Tina agrees. We battle re-invigorating our diet routines, or creative juice rejuvenators, our life invigorators … throughout the year.

Last year, I started and failed a few times at initiating and maintaining new habits.

For example, around last July, for about a month and a half, I had a daily routine:

  1. Go to bed by 10 to 10:30 p.m. (objective = 8 hours of sleep)
  2. Wakeup at a reasonable hour (between 7 and 8)
  3. Make a pot of coffee
  4. Organize (put away camera gear or clothing I left out the day before).
  5. Stretch/Exercise (this was a 10-minute routine I found on my Fitbit)
  6. Meditate (2 to 5 minutes)
  7. Journal (10 to 30 minutes)
  8. Start my work day

Then I sporadically did it for a month. Then it was gone. The weeks leading up to our Christmas vacation and when we got back, I started doing it daily again.

Because of the “New Year” I’m doing it again. And I’ll more than likely fail at some point. And that’s okay! At some point, this damn habit is going to stick.

Or I’ll find another one. And attempt to make that stick.

If Twenty Seventeen was a eulogy to Creativity, let’s Lazarus this bitch in 2018! 

Twenty Seventeen saw my creative spirit shrivel like my balls on a cold day. While I was productive and made a lot — I mean a LOT — of art. My creativity suffered like no year I can remember. I’m reading a cultish book by Tim Ferriss right now called, “Tribe of Mentors” right now. It’s actually the third book I’m reading (take that 2017!).

Basically, it’s a collection of responses from a shitload of different people to the same 11 questions. If you care, click the link above.

There’s a quote from a graphic artist Debbie Millman. It reads, “Busy is a decision.” It’s a true statement, for the most part. But I couldn’t handle how busy I was in 2017 to the point that I was sucked dry of me time. Therefore I was sucked dry of other people time. And if I didn’t have time for me, then I didn’t have time for others.

For too much of the year, I felt out of control in 2017.  I drank to much. I got distracted too much. I blamed others too much. I focused on negativity too much. And while I did things like re-attach training wheels to my bike (meditate more), quit sucking so much on my thumb (alter my habits for good), and tried pulling up my big boy pants (see a therapist), Distraction, Shame, Guilt, Politics, News, my business stole too much of my Creative time.

Good thing I already jumped on the train last year and it’s been chugging along for several months rather than trying to wave my wizard wand over a cauldron to poof the bags under my eyes into glorious, wrinkle-less beauty.

There’s this idea that the clock tick between December 31’s 11:59 and January 1’s midnight is a magical worm hole where Ambition, Wisdom, Positive Habits and all of our personality’s superheroes obliterate Sloth, Distraction, Trump Tweets, and the villains that get in the way of success …

But it’s not like that.

It’s an all-year-round affair. Consider this my year in review, a little manifesto and a little kvetch.

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The first mission trip I ever went on was seven years ago, as an atheist/agnostic/non-theist. Who the hell knows what I am? I went with my dad and a paster, largely funded by Franklin Graham, to Thailand and Cambodia. It is one of my favorite trips ever. And if it weren’t for the negativity dividing our country this past year, I’d like to think that was one of the best trips I’ve ever been on. If there was a gym equivalent to doing that again, sign me up.

 

 

 

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