A New Decade: 2021

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2020 Year In Review

This was too wordy to put on social media, and a huge part of my work in the upcoming decade is putting my life and work online in a way that’s accessible and of service to many. So we’re back to the blog. It’s nice to be back. It works better with pictures inline anyway. There were way too many amazing pictures this year to rely on Instagram’s limit of 10! 🙂

2018 and 2019 sucked if I’m honest. Hardest years of my life by far. So 2020 for me was a relief, as stupid as that sounds – because idk if you noticed but 2020 also sucked. That said, I was so lucky to get to do what I love and get to do it from home, and work with people I respect and love learning with and working with.

I saw so few of my wonderful friends in person this year I can almost mention all of you on a single post, and I took pictures with almost all of you in Garden of the Gods. Won’t be able to say that for many years. What a weird fever dream this year has been.

Here are the stories from each of the moments that stood out spectacularly well in an otherwise pretty drab year.

This year for me was about asking. Asking people to respect boundaries, asking what other people’s perspectives were like, asking for what I wanted without shame, asking how I can help make my community stronger and my work better.

Then, I spent a lot of time sitting back and watching what happened as a result of those requests, building an understanding of how I can best serve, and trying different forms of service.

I took four months off “work” (thanks very much to the amazing efforts of my colleagues Russel, Braden, Dan, Malone, Jam, Ebin, Dorell) and started a lot of things I haven’t finished yet. I got a sense for where I really want to invest myself in 2021.

That’s not to say 2020 wasn’t filled with its own wild rides. They just weren’t really mine, they were others. I felt like an onlooker waiting for answers to impossible questions all year. Here are some of the moments I was honored to witness with you this year:

I wrapped up two years of continuous therapy with three different therapists. I closed a chapter of my life in which I journaled nearly half a million words. Growth is continuous but that chapter is closed. I set clear boundaries. I stayed single all year for the first time in a LONG time. I took meetings only on zoom, only on Wednesdays, and the people who weren’t down with those boundaries instantly fell out of my life, leaving only people who challenge me, build me up, bring me joy, and for whom there is fierce mutual respect. And that was only January.

In Feb I texted one of my best friends on earth, a sort of soul mate. We understood each other in ways no one else did. She didn’t text back.

In March I panicked. All my older friends and family who follow my Twitter credit my March 3rd twitter thread for saving their lives. Turns out the panic was justified. Spent the month inside making a video call instruction course for fun, helping a client make a deck to raise $100m, and doubling another client’s revenue. Then I got COVID.

In April I found out that friend who didn’t text back when I checked on her had passed away. She’d talked for some time about being ready for a new journey. I hosted a funeral for 400 of our closest friends and made new friends with my cohosts. I understand now that this is how and when we were supposed to meet each other.

In May I canceled TEDx and started thinking about what an online future for events looks like, and in June I took my first month off to just wander and photograph. I spent entire days with Madison laying in the sun in the Garden of the Gods. I did so many fun shoots.

July was TEDx and lots of family time. Many takeout breakfasts from Adams and long talks. New connections and challenges. Surprises, some successes, and some failures. Sarah and I raced a lightning blue Tesla around LA and stumbled on Kyle & Ryan’s garage-turned-quarantine-electronic-club.

August I had the privilege of being a part of the crew that captured the Pikes Peak Tesla crash, probably the most-viewed automotive event of the year! That story that made it to Motor Trend last month.

This summer I had a photoshoot with I’d always dreamed of, climbing in Garden of the Gods. In the fall, that climber, someone I was honored to call a new friend passed away in a car accident. She put so much of her passion and love for Colorado into that image and that climb, and the imagery has gone on to be used in the Space Force pitch deck and will be the reason people move here for years to come. As someone who grew up climbing here, she’d love that.

In Sept and Oct, we wrapped up a brilliant online TEDx event with a bare-bones crew and made something cooler than any of us thought possible in May. I’m so thankful to have gotten to work with so many extraordinary people to make this year of events happen.

Trevor and I build an AI chatbot app?! lol I scheduled weekly facials and I’m considering manicures and pedicures too. I garden and I get my roots done every three weeks now ? I have a lot more respect for how much women pay for salons, etc. Oh, and Zoie and her roommates taught me all the lyrics to “Dicked Down in Dallas” (an instant classic IMO) during a photoshoot for her only fans. Only during 2020 could I spend DAYS not hours watching horror series on Netflix with Mia or video game replays with Abi, or debating the morality of markets with Connor. So, uh, that’s 2020 for you folks.

Fall and Winter featured visits from Sarah one of my dearest friends who I haven’t seen since college, long walks and talks imagining how we’ll build our futures together with Steve and Annesley and Marcus, and a road trip(finally!) with Kayla as I finally got out in the world again after a year inside.

Holidays have featured lots of wonderful moments of catching up with family – asking about and investing in each other’s dreams. Pretty sure Annesley is going to become a billionaire selling cute clay snakes on Etsy! 2020 man, lots of surprises. Oh, and mom resorted to wearing her mask over her face when she gets nervous about my driving. ?

2021 begins the new decade, and now I understand so much that I was so eager to overlook in Jan of 2020. I dreamed up a lot of goals for 2020 and achieved none of them.

Instead, I accomplished so many more important things and failed in ways that taught me what matters most and showed me how I need to grow to continue keeping my word.

I learned 5 lessons this year that stand out above the rest. Thank you 2020. You sucked. I won’t let the suffering be in vain.

1 Who I spend my time with matters.

2 Hitting my goals matters, but setting big goals matters more, even when I fall on my face. People will be patient with failure if it comes with persistence and integrity.

3 My physical attention and presence matters, and it should not be given lightly.

4 Crowds are not to be taken for granted. Small groups or large – every day we change the world together. I will never forget how we changed the world overnight in March. Let’s keep it up.

5 The people I think will be there tomorrow will not, no matter their age. Say “I love you” today, not tomorrow. Two of my 20 something peers passed away this year, from nothing to do with COVID. Don’t take a second for granted. This may be your last new year, live fully. No time for shame or waiting until you’re ready. Go.

Life is an emergency and the greatest gift we could ever ask for. Live, Urgently.

And finally, as much as I wanted to ignore this fact last year, the decade actually begins when the year hits “1” not “0” – so the first day of a new decade tomorrow. Well worth the wait.

Let’s begin.


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Author, photographer, doer of other stuff, too. Learn more here. Or follow him on twitter.


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