30: a Year in 10 Pictures

A story of love, death, heartbreak, recovery, big goals, and big accomplishments.

When I started my 30th year last August, I had no idea what I was in for. I thought it’d be cool, but I wasn’t ready for the insanity that was to follow.

There were a lot of great moments that I captured with a camera in the past 12 months, but these are the ones that defined my year.

1. It All Starts With a Head Wound

1. Looks painful, right? September, 2015.

Don’t worry, it’s not real. It’s makeup.

My band was about to play a show at J&J’s Pizza in Denton, TX. I’m eating a piece of pizza when I see the lead singer (Matt) walk up with blood all over his mouth and jaw. “Oh no,” I thought. “Matt insulted a republican again.” Matt looked like Andrew W.K., or like someone who got the shit punched out of him.

“Relax, man”, he said. “It’s just makeup. You should get something too.”

It took a little bit of coaxing, but I let Matt talk me into it. There was a makeup artist in a shop nearby who was doing special effects makeup for free. I don’t know who’s idea the head wound was, but it looked pretty real.

The show was great, and afterwards, a woman with green hair came up to me and said hi. She knew me from the internet and had come to check out my band. I didn’t know what to think about her at first (she talked like… well, like a stoner), but I was impressed by her intelligence. Despite her hippie/stoner style of talking, she was incredibly smart, and we had a great conversation, so I told her to hit me up if she ever wanted to get coffee in Fort Worth. She did.

Would we have talked as much if I hadn’t have had the fake head wound? Maybe, but it was definitely a conversation starter. Anyways, that night set the rest of the year in motion.

2. New Girlfriend

2. That’s her. October, 2015.

We spent the next Saturday working at a coffee shop in Fort Worth and walking around Magnolia street. I could tell that she liked me, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about her. She wasn’t really my type; more cerebral, hippy, and less feminine then I usually go for, but it was great to hang out with someone who had similar life goals and worked in a similar industry (she does web and graphic design and has a ton of side projects). She was smart, hard-working, a little weird, and a ton of fun to be around.

We made plans to hang out and work together at my house the next week. After a couple hours of hanging out, I cut to the chase and asked her if she liked me. She said she did. I asked if she wanted to go out. She said she did. That was that.

3. “Dad choked on a brussel sprout. He’s in the hospital.”

3. Dad’s on life support in the Granbury hospital. That’s my mom on the phone. I’m editing a podcast. November 23rd, 2015.

I got a call in the middle of a random day in November. My dad choked on a brussel sprout during lunch at a senior center in Granbury and spent a few days on life support in the hospital. He had no brain activity so we took him off life support and let him pass.

His health had been in severe decline for a few years, so it wasn’t a huge surprise. I wrote about that here, so I won’t go over it again, but I will say that it sucked.

This happened during Thanksgiving, so Thanksgiving will always be tied to my dad’s death in my memory. That’s life. Thanks, life. You can be a real dick sometimes.

4. So Long, Dad.

4. My dad at his Mom’s house in California. I took pictures of a bunch of old photo albums for his memorial service in December, 2015.

So Thanksgiving sucked.

November turned into December, with the cold weather and the holidays approaching. I was bummed about losing my dad, but happy to have my girlfriend.

5. People Come, People Go

5. December, 2015.

She was the greatest. I remember looking in her eyes one morning and knowing that I wanted to be with her forever. I was ready to do anything for her, make any sacrifice. I told her I loved her, she said she loved me too.

Christmas came. I got her an SSD for her Macbook. She got me some iPhone photography gear and a bluetooth speaker for my shower.

She broke up with me the night before New Years Eve.

I don’t feel the spark, she said. There’s nothing wrong with you.

I couldn’t say anything.

6. Living Well Is the Best Revenge

6. Do I look angry? Yeah, I was. And sad. And ready to change some shit up. January, 2016.

I did what any other normal guy does after a breakup; tons of drinking, drugs, binge-eating, extended periods of crying, and sleeping around with a ton of different women.

Just kidding, I didn’t do any of that. I got healthy.

It’s how I cope, I guess. After getting dumped, I immediately started eating super healthy foods and running and biking and working out everyday. It was a way to get out the frustration and the hurt in a healthy way, but it was also kind of a (immature and misguided) fuck-you to my ex.

Of course I blamed myself for the end of the relationship. The problem was me, right?

I wasn’t in good enough shape. I wasn’t fun enough. If only I’d been this. If only I’d done that.

If only. If only. Two words you can drown in.

7. Good Things Come From Hard Times

7. Crossing the finish line at the end of my first 10k (6.2 miles) race in Fort Worth. February, 2016.

By February, I’d lost 10 pounds and I ran the Cowtown 10k and finished in just over an hour (6.2 miles in 1:01:59, I think). It was an incredible feeling. I’d never run so far so fast.

I wasn’t over my ex yet, but I was feeling better about life. I’d gotten into a healthy routine, I was eating well, exercising everyday, waking up early, and getting a ton of work done.

I decided I would compete in an Ironman race, too.

8. Fit and Feeling Better

8. By April, I’d lost almost 20 lbs and I felt much better. April, 2016.

I saw my ex at the Creative South conference in Columbus, GA, April 12th. I’d been working out all year and yes, I was hoping to impress her. She noticed, but it didn’t really change anything. We hung out all day the first day of the conference, which was nice, but it wasn’t the same. I didn’t try to talk to her the second day, and she didn’t try to talk to me.

I felt really conflicted afterwards. I realized that I needed to let it go. Things weren’t going back to the way they were before, regardless of what I did. I needed to accept it and move on.

Edit: To be clear, I have no hard feelings for my ex. Quite the opposite, she is one of the most interesting and delightful human beings I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. If you ever meet her in person, spend some time getting to know her.

I spent the next few months (May/June) doing my Ironman training and working on the podcasting course I’ve been talking about making for a couple years now. I had a conversation with my friend Sean McCabe and we decided to call it Successful Podcasting.

9. Summer Time to Make an Online Course About Podcasting

9. Older, wiser, calmer, better looking, and scared shitless about the course I was about to make. July, 2016.

Let’s back up a little bit: Sean McCabe and I had a coffee meeting in January where we planned out what we’d accomplish in 2016.

He decided he would take the month of July off to write three books. Since Sean would be focusing on writing for the whole month, his brother Cory (who shoots and edits video for seanwes) would be free to help me shoot video.

So July was it. I had to have the entire Successful Podcasting course written and ready to go by July.

When we made this plan in January, July seemed far away. But the year went by quickly. All of a sudden, it was June and everyone on the network was recording twice the podcast episodes every week to get ahead for July. That was great but it meant I had twice the editing work to do, and a lot of writing left to do.

“Ah shit. I have a couple of weeks left to finish the course. Shit. Shit. Shit. Can I do this? — Me, every single night in June.

We decided that Cory would come up to my house and we’d shoot the course in the last two weeks of July.

I drove down to San Antonio Sunday, July 17th and picked up all the video gear, since Cory McCabe is a badass who rides a Harley (and therefore can’t carry a bunch of video equipment).

10. 30,000 Words and 75 Video Lessons

10. (Cory, Me, Sean) Returning the video gear to San Antonio. We did it. We fucking did it. August, 2016.

Cory and I finished shooting Wednesday of the second week. The course was 30,000 words across 75 video lessons. The single biggest piece of work I’ve ever produced. It was an intense two weeks, but what an amazing feeling when we hit stop on the last video.

I drove down to San Antonio Monday, August 1st to return the gear to Sean. After a short meeting with Sean and Cory at Starbucks, I drove home and collapsed into bed.

I did some light work the next week, but ended up taking a three whole days off to recover the next weekend. That’s unusal for me; I don’t take many whole days off, usually just afternoons or evenings. I was beat, exhausted, fully drained from the two weeks of shooting video.

The video section of the course is done, but the work isn’t over yet. Still have a lot to do before the course goes live.

Which brings us to now, August 9th, 2016, my 31st birthday. My company is on Sabbatical this week (we take a week off every seventh week).

I got the idea for this post when I started thinking about picking out 10 pictures that would tell the story of my 30th year. What you just read is what I came up with.

I wrote it in a couple hours at the Starbucks in Montgomery Plaza on 7th street in Fort Worth, because I took a picture here on my birthday last year and I wanted to take another one here this year.

So here’s that picture. Thanks for reading and being part of my journey. I think next year is going to be just as good, if not even better. Big things coming.

30, 31.

Oh hey, as a bonus, I figured I’d share the ten songs that I’ll always associate with this past year. I still listen to these songs all the time. Still love them, even if the feeling they originally gave me has faded a little bit.

Top Ten Songs:

Knuckle Puck

  1. Wall to Wall (Depreciation)
“Wall-to-fucking-wall: depreciation
You twist my tongue with costly dividends
Twice the effort, half the outcome
Why won’t I step forward when there’s so much to step for?
I’m sinking lower with every growth spurt
Decay, decay, decay”

2. Evergreen

“I’ll leave this song behind for you when I’m gone
You grew from a seed
Forever strong as a pine tree
Always an evergreen”

3. Untitled

“Silhouettes on the ceiling
I’ve been much better, but at least I’m healing”

Iron Chic

4. Bogus Journey

It’s all a matter of entropy
While I break apart entirely
What ever might be left of me
Might mean something to someone”

Into It. Over It.

5. Open Casket

You showed up late, per usual
But you wore my favorite dress
And then there’s me, as always, just a mess
Just like always, I’m just a mess”

6. Your Lasting Image

Photocopied black and white
This is your lasting image
Your colors fade to remain
Distorted grey, pressed
Pages marking bigger problems
I choose to keep this as the you I’ll fold in two
Just to throw away”

Moose Blood

7. Cheek

You’re my favorite when you’re smoking on the pavement 
And you’ve got your collar up
You’re talking too much 
and goddamn it’s cold”

Jon Bellion

8. All Time Low

“I, I’ve been trying to fix my pride
But that shit’s broken, that shit’s broken
Lie, I try to hide
But now you know it
That I’m at an all time low”

You Blew It

9. Rock Springs

“You’ve made the list of people I’d like to forget,
But in light of recent events,
I don’t think that you’ll allow it”

10. Better to Best

“Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to try to be happy.
Maybe things aren’t quite as bad as I let myself believe.”
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