Today is April 17, 2017.
Two years ago today, my entire world flipped upside-down.
Two years ago today, my ex-wife left me.
The very next morning, my dear friend of almost 20 years died after giving birth to a baby girl.
A month and a half later, I posted this status to Facebook after putting Dad through hospice for three weeks:
Since then, I have been on an incredible journey to my freedom.
In July of 2015, I took up running and started training for my first race. I also started getting the hang of this Instagram running thing and took my first post-run selfie:
Two months later, I ran my first race. A 5k mud run that was a fundraiser for leukemia and lymphoma. It was meaningful to me because leukemia is ultimately what killed my father.
I ran the race with my friend and old co-worker Kendra and her husband Alex.
The very next day, I left on a jetplane to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for my first major WordPress event: CaboPress.
One month later, I did two regular 5k’s about two weeks apart. I did the second one with two of my boxing trainer’s other students.
Two months later, I started training for my first half-marathon. I found a group to train with and made some friends in the process:
Then I ran the race and documented that day, including during the race.
Then I ran Broad Street a month later and raised over $1,000 for the American Cancer Society in honor of my father.
One week later, I put in my notice at work so I could pursue running my own business full-time. It was a long-time dream of mine, and I decided to take the leap.
But first, I ran 20 miles the day before I put in my notice. I wanted to remind myself that I could do hard things, as I knew that being a full-time entrepreneur would be hard.
The venture wound up lasting for seven months. About three months in, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get it to a financially sustainable place before I ran out of money.
So, I spent the next four months looking for a job while still taking on freelance work.
Overall, those seven months proved to be unbelievably impactful.
For the first time ever, I was a full-time web developer and consultant. I was hired to work on development teams. I took on consulting clients. I was being who I always said I was.
My name was also getting around the WordPress world. During my time freelancing, I had two podcast appearances, two talks at meetups, and my very first talk at a WordPress conference: WordCamp Baltimore.
I also came face-to-face with my anxiety, which spiraled to almost out-of-control, and confronted it.
I also found a new home for my volunteer work with Back On My Feet. First, I started running with residents of a few homeless shelters in Center City. Now, I lead Wednesday morning workouts in South Philly with residents of an addiction recovery home.
Being part of this amazing community of staff, members, and volunteers has helped me get back on my own feet.
I also ran a local 5k in October and managed to place for the first time. I came third in my age group for all males 30-39!
Because I took the leap in June 2016, it gave me the WordPress and overall digital marketing skills that I needed to land my dream job. In January 2017, I became the chief WordPress developer and email marketing manager at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.
I work for a wonderful organization with great people doing what I love. Yes, it is possible for that to happen 🙂
Most recently, I ran my first humbling half-marathon where I limped across the finish line for the first time due to awful cramps in my calves.
Finally, my lifetime mental health journey condensed into 1200 words was published for the world to see.
Tools for life
I have learned more in the last two years than the previous 34. I learned about the tools that you need to get through life the best you can:
- Guts – you just need guts, and you need to show your guts over and over and over again. Mostly with repeated, small gutsy decisions over time.
- Confidence – you need confidence that things will be ok no matter what decision you make.
- Resilience – it’s inevitable that life will knock you down. You just need to get back up every time and keep going.
Those are the three tools that you need to get through this life. Guts, confidence, and resilience. That’s it.
You don’t need reassurance of a particular outcome. That’s impossible to get. You don’t know what’s going to happen.
Therefore, having the tools that you need to handle whatever life throws at you is your best bet to living a good life.
April 17, 2015 threw me for an incredible loop. That was the day I lost the love of my life. My best friend. The person that I loved more than I had ever loved anyone.
It was also the first day of my journey towards being completely free and unburdened.
I write this blog post from northwest Arkansas, where I’m spending the weekend with one of my best friends from college, his wife, and their new baby boy. I am spending these days like I try to spend all my other ones: surrounded by love and people who are important to me.
For all of you who have been following my journey, been a part of my journey, and have sent me kind words of support and encouragement, thank you.
I am excited about my prospects for the future and what I can accomplish. Though if it all ends tomorrow, I am satisfied in knowing that I did some incredible things and made a positive impact on so many people.
Peace, love, and blessings to you and yours.