2021.

December 28, 2021 Updated: 12/31/2021

OK, OK, just my annual little “hey, hi, howdy” at the end of the year to check in and reflect on what happened this past year.

I’ll get right to it.

Work

The most exciting thing about work this year might be that nothing exciting really happened. Same great clients, another year—and that ain’t a bad thing at all.

I’m actually doing less freelancing this year. Now that I’m officially an “employee” at both Long Beach City College and Liquid Web, I’m more of a RoboCop hybrid sort of a thing.

Part W2. Part 1099. Full productivity.™

As far as the future of my career is concerned, hold on, let me shake this Magic 8-Ball thingy.

Magic 8 ball with a blue triangle containing the answer: better not tell you now.
Crap.

Seriously, things feel like they’re going exactly as they should. In fact, I expect that some time next year I will be able to give up a client because…

We bought a new house!

Photo of the front of a two-story house with light blue siding and brick trim against a gorgeous blue sky dotted with lazy white clouds floating overhead.

That’s right: the Graham Fam is heading to Fort Collins, Colorado! We found out Tuesday last week that our offer was accepted. We couldn’t be happier. This place checks all of the boxes our family needs, not only now but well into the future too.

If all goes according to plan (and I have no reason to believe it won’t), we’ll move in June. That way, the kids get to finish out the school year. Changing states is a big enough transition; no need to add classrooms and friends to the mix all at once.

What does buying a house have to do with my career? Well, we’re saving a ton of money, so much that our overall cost of living will plummet below what we were affording when Marcia and I were married in 2008. And that financial flexibility allows me to work a little less.

Less work may mean less stress. But it also means…

I’m hoping to go back to school

I love teaching. So much so that I want to get a graduate degree in Education so I have the experience and qualifications to do more of it at the university level. My plan is to enroll next year and earn a degree in Technology & Leadership, which includes a good amount of training in curriculum design, an area where there’s plenty of opportunity to up my game.

Oh, you know how I said I learned the offer on our new house was accepted last Tuesday? That was maybe 10 minutes after checking into the hospital for…

Emergency back surgery 😲

Yup, and I’m still feeling foggy AF as I’m typing. I actually had an appointment scheduled with an orthopedic surgeon in late-January, but the pain crossed the point where I honestly couldn’t imagine making it that long.

It’s not like I was asking for the surgery right then and there; all I really wanted was something to help get me by while I waited for my appointment. But after comparing MRIs from last year and last week, the fine medical staff at Long Beach Memorial Care decided there was no good reason to wait and that cleaning me up now was the right thing to do.

I’m beyond thankful. Things couldn’t have gone any smoother from the time I hobbled in to the time I was wheeled out. I’m not out of the woods yet, but the chronic sciatica I’ve managed for just over 20 years is practically gone. Sure, the incision area is tender and all, but that’s small beans next to the last two decades. It truly feels like I have a new lease on life, which affirms and seems to relieve my long fight with depression. Life feels lighter than ever, and I’m hoping to hang onto that.

Hobbies

My back pain put a pause on any physical activity, not just this past year, but last year as well. Anyone close to me knows I’m a super active person.

So, no running. I pivoted to hiking up through September, but that also became too difficult. I turned to walking and light yoga, but soon those too were off the table. I even had to give up gardening.

I wound up getting deep into music and reading. I mean, those have always been things I like, but they’re all I could really do that didn’t require more sitting behind a screen. In fact, I got downright nerdy into Tom Petty and The Beatles, reading biographies and autobiographies, listening to entire catalogs, studying and learning signature chord progressions, and watching a few documentaries. I know it’s dumb but I feel a lot closer to them through their music now that I’ve spent so much time dwelling into the art and what went into it.

My new favorite Tom Petty song? Girl on LSD. The Beatles? Two of Us. Maybe one day I’ll have my own Rickenbacker to play them.

Family

All good. I mean, we’ve had both wonderful and challenging times this past year but I’d say we’re net positive on the whole. My daughters are little ladies now, ages nine and five. Parenting is a constant learning activity, but Harper and Alice make it more enjoyable, rewarding, and yes, fun. My medical issues definitely split the normal amount of attention I usually have for them, but they responded like champs and proved that are a wealth of love, empathy, and care at their core.

Alice, left, and Harper, right, seated on a light wooden bench looking off in the distance toward the left of the frame. Alice has long dark blonde hair and is wearing a purple dress and blue mask while Harper's light blond hair is draped over her shoulders on top of her puffy light blue jacket as she wears a pink mask with blue trim.

And that’s not to say anything about Marcia, who easily won Rock Star of the Year. There’s no problem this woman can’t solve. I’m pretty sure this year ranks up there as perhaps her most challenging year and she made it look easier than I imagine anyone possibly could. I definitely contributed my fair share of obstacles (you’ve read the rest of this post, right?) and she only gets stronger. There’s no doubt she’s the backbone of this family right now and I can’t wait to return the favor and make her life a little easier.

Au revoir, 2021

And a big thanks to everyone, including you (yes, you). I know I say it year after year, but the family, friends, and clients in my life are the absolute best. I’m publishing this today, my birthday, and the greatest 41st birthday present I could ask for are all these people. I must have done something right in life to be spoiled with such company.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. 🙏