As we’ve now closed the calendar on 2013 and start 2014, it’s time to take a peek back.
What a year, eh?
I honestly don’t know how to “rate” the year as it had parts of being some of the worst times in my life to some of the best. I’ve watched as friends and family have done well and, at the same time, I have battled some of the worst times in my life. But, as bad as much of the year was for me in certain terms, it wasn’t bad in others.
And it ended extremely awesome, in all aspects.
At the beginning of 2013, I set myself some goals. I’m not a resolution guy, but I will set goals and hope to finish them. Looking back, I didn’t fare too well. The goals were:
- A job (success!)
- Complete the HooHaa 52 (fail)
- Read more (25 or more books) (fail)
- Transform my blog (re-design, in-depth pieces, features, etc., 25 times per month) (push)
- Visit more blogs (push)
- Be happy (success)
In the end, I didn’t do everything I wanted, but I did enough. I found a job (yay!) and found a way to, once again, be happy. But I didn’t complete my own photo challenge (however, I did keep up on the “admin” side) or read enough books. And, though I think I did decent with the blog, I didn’t really fully transform, but I did try and find and visit more blogs. So I push those, which were listed Nos. 4 and 4A for me last year.
So, without further ado, let’s look back at 2013 and start putting it into the back of the memories.
Things didn’t start the greatest. The year started with me no longer receiving unemployment benefits and having no job lined up. I knew the reality of survival was going to include raiding my savings/retirement/investments as well as any tax return. I started looking anywhere for jobs. During the course of the year, I applied in many different places, including some major retailers (ie: big-box stores). The funny part is, I didn’t receive calls back.
I also fought something I had never really done — a downward spiral of not knowing where my life was going. Though I find myself quite head-strong in a mental way, I started wondering what was going on. I had emotional breakdowns at times. I cut myself off from some things. Though I stayed in contact with friends and such, I wasn’t always the same, upbeat person I usually am.
It’s not for a lack of trying to be more upbeat. The reality was this — I just didn’t want to see people. And that was more of a pride thing. If somebody treated me to lunch or invited me to dinner or paid for a beer or two, I always felt like it was a handout. And, honestly, knowing my friends, I realize it wasn’t that, rather them reaching out to me to help me get out a little, do something and try and lift my spirits.
Amazing what pride can do to a fella, eh?
So the first few months were shaky. Looking back at my calendar, I can see I didn’t do a lot. I usually put things on my Google calendar to remember. I think a lot of times, I pretty much stayed to myself. I’d go out sometimes for photos or maybe catch a wrestling show with friends. But one thing that kept me occupied was learning to brew beer. More on that later.
As March came around, I received my tax return somewhere in there. That helped with bills. Come the end of April, I was starting to figure how long I had based on what I had in savings/investments.
A couple of friends mentioned I should look into working at a local baseball camp. It’s a massive one up by Cooperstown, but it’s seasonal work. I needed to last that long. In April, I called a friend I knew who worked there. He told me what to do, so I sent in an application. I received a call back to head up to one of their job fairs and talk to people.
Here’s a funny tidbit — I didn’t plan on applying for photography. I wanted to try something new. When I got there, one of the workers checking people in asked me what other experience I had. I mentioned photography and he encouraged me to interview there. It was the first place I stopped and I’m glad I did. I was offered a spot with the park and in photography. I started with some quick training in late May and the position started June 1.
Talk about a much-needed bandage of sorts. Not only did it allow me to pay my bills throughout the summer, it gave me a new experience and one I truly enjoyed. I met and worked with some good people. I had planned on writing a full post about this experience, but it just never came about. So I’ll share parts here.
It was a good place to work. They treat you pretty well, give you chances to work more if you want it, and have a quality organization. My boss in photography was excellent. The people I worked with were good and I really enjoyed getting to know people. In fact, despite having a full-time job, I fully plan on trying to work there here and there this summer. Maybe a weekend when needed. I obviously won’t have it interfere with my new job, but I’d love to be able to do a little there as it’s a nice place.
Plus, it’s all baseball.
As I noted, it was a seasonal job, though. When the final week ended at the end of August, I was done. Unemployed, again. And I didn’t have enough time in to get unemployment again. I started applying for all sorts of stuff. Still nothing. I was trying to keep my head above water. Then it happened.
I got the call to interview for a dream job in mid-November. I had a great interview. I got the job. Things looked up.
That same month, my niece, a junior in high school, was on a state champion soccer team. It was an exciting game where her school won, 2-1. It’s the second straight year they played in the state final, but she was a starter this year, so it was truly exciting.
December came and my brother and his wife had a child. A nephew for me. Sweet. The holidays were outstanding. Family and friends were all around. All of a sudden, things were good again. Santa even helped bring me a new car.
My nearly 2 1/2 years of unemployment, unhappiness and everything else ended. And I was in a good place again. It felt amazing.
So the year ended much better than it started, that’s safe to say.
I love my job, too. This is definitely a professionally challenging position and one I can’t wait to be a part of as it continues to grow.
In a nutshell, that was my year. Down to start, decent in the middle and up at the end. I do realize how lucky I am to have such great family and friends as they helped me in do many different ways.
Truly, besides the friends and family aspect, I got by with little things. Going out to take photos. Finding a geocache. Doing inexpensive and fun things — such as going and picking apples, finding a cheap fair or festival, exploring new nature spots. Anything to keep my mind occupied. Finding a new recipe would help, or something else I could blog about. I spent my time applying for jobs — but the little things are what helped me keep my sanity throughout the year.
Going to a baseball game and keeping track with my new scorebook was always helpful, too. A cold beer and a hot dog while watching didn’t hurt, either.
In the second part of this post, which will run tomorrow, I’ll get a little more specific about some things — such as brewing beer, geocaching, disc golf, travel and a few other things.
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