2018 was a year of continued personal and professional changes and growth. It was a year spent largely at home - zero conferences, one business trip, a couple vacations, with 93% of my nights spent at home, as we invested our time into our companies, community, and family.
The vast majority of my creative and intellectual energy in the year went towards building Foresight, building new and better products and tools for people to use to build financial models and plan for their businesses. Over 5,000 people downloaded a financial model template from Foresight in 2018, and during the year I released a massive update to the website and the core budgeting tools and templates. I also had my strongest year to date in terms of service work, working on over 80 custom projects for clients. Busy year.
That focus came with a tradeoff. For the past decade and a half, I’ve identified as a "photographer", varying from an amateur enthusiast, a professional practitioner, or an industry observer. Photography has been a core part of who I am for a long time, but for the last couple years - and especially this year - it’s suffered. For much of the year, I’ve felt that I was clinging to that identity instead of living it.
Part of it is the time constraints of family and work. Part of it is that most of my photography over the years has been from travel or outdoors explorations, but 2018 was a particularly light travel year, meaning that I wasn’t engaging with my usual subject matter. Part of it is that my new subject matter, my family and kids, and something that I haven’t been comfortable with sharing through my usual channels, prefering to keep images of my sons off the Internet, sharing more privately with friends and family, with only slivers of their lives hitting public channels. That means that the majority of my time is spent taking pictures of things that I don’t want to share.
It’s a worthy tradeoff, but finding a new "project", or a way to express myself creatively as a photographer, is one of the things for me to solve this year.
The obvious "project" might be the easiest, exploring my neighborhood. Daily walks around our neighborhood, trips to the park, early morning walks with our dog, bring us outside on foot on a daily basis. Every day, I remind myself how great it is that I get to walk in a park and be on trails, in the forest, around nature, on a regular basis.
In May we visited Scottsdale, AZ on a babymoon, our first trip away from our son, to spend a couple days taking long hikes, brunches, reads, and swims.
In June we welcomed our second son, Monroe. Almost instantly, Felix had a best friend, and watching them grow into being brothers has been the biggest thing in our family this year.
Throughout the year we traveled to visit family and spend time outside - Florida in February and Connecticut in August - taking Monroe on his first trip, and his first visit to a beach. Between the beach and the many trips to our pool, the summer was about barefoot driving, wet car seat, wet crumpled dollar bills, sand-filled paperback books and toys, sunrise hoodies and warm porch nights.
In September we went to Outstanding in the Fields at Green Gate Farm in Shepherdstown, WV. OITF has been a favorite event for us the past few years, traveling to different farms in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and now West Virginia to spend an evening with interesting people eating fresh food on long tables under the open sky. This was probably my favorite OITF so far, and perhaps a trigger point to attending other ones farther afield.
In November we went to Nosara, Costa Rica, for a family vacation, and perhaps the best vacation we have taken. A lot of our trips over the past couple years have been to cold places - England, Scotland, and Iceland last year, Germany and France in winters past - so it was a joy to go somewhere warm, next to a beach, out in the sun. Daily walks to the beach and swims in the pool, daily surf lessons, and lots of time spent being with each other, playing, and eating. I’ve always been around surfing, but never tried, and perhaps unsurprisingly, loved it:
"Your head is a little misshaped”, she said, remarking on the swelling on the side of my face and chin from getting knocked by my surfboard a few times too many. My first five hours surfing (personal lessons, thankfully) were a success. Even though the last lesson - catching waves out on the break with a strong riptide, and testing out turning - was the hardest, and I fell the most (thus the swollen face), it was the most fun, the one that made me really enjoy it. Here’s to the next time.
In December I went hiking in the Dolly Sods Wilderness in West Virginia, perhaps the most unique outdoors in the Mid-Atlantic. Even on a “suboptimal” day, one of my favorite places to hike.
And throughout the year, we enjoyed spending time with our dog Piper, hiking, swimming, and exploring our city and communities. Here’s to a great 2019.