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Whose Mountain #7
The stories of my 2022
I can’t believe this is the last newsletter of 2022. I hope to sneak in one last essay before the year ends, so hopefully, this isn’t the last time you’ll hear from me before 2023. Whether or not I succeed, I hope that the next few days be some of your best days of the year. And thank you for supporting me throughout this year. I’m grateful.
I wanted to finish off 2022 by sharing with all of you a little more about my year, and in the process, about myself. My hope is this newsletter helps all of you get to know me better. If you feel so called, I’d love to hear some of your stories in response.
In 2022 I got fired from my dream job after seven weeks
I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur. Not just any entrepreneur but the CEO of a hypergrowth startup. It was an identity, the next step on the path, and the road to self-actualization, all rolled into one smiling persona and a Forbes 40 under 40 mention. So when a VC firm offered me a role as an entrepreneur in residence to start a climate tech company, I said yes before they finished offering.
That role lasted seven weeks before they fired me. They told me I wasn’t CEO material, wasn’t smart enough, and couldn’t hold my own in the way they wanted to fund. I froze myself, hid from the pain for a while, and eventually cried for an hour or two at the loss my ego felt. My confidence was crushed, and my spirit wanted to lick its wounds. Even though I knew I wasn’t happy with my role, I still felt attacked. But the truth was, they were right to fire me.
Through that experience, I learned to seek internal validation. At the time, I was looking for them to tell me I was good enough, even if I never said those words. 2022 taught me to stop looking to others for my own self-worth. That’s why I can share with the world that I got fired from my dream job after seven weeks and feel good about who I am today.
I spent an entire event hanging out with an autistic six year old, even though I was hosting
At Uniquely, I want to use food to heal neurodiverse children. Regeneratively grown, nutrient-dense food as medicine has the power to heal all of us. To prove it — and to prove that I could get American children to eat healthy foods, I created four meals and ran a tasting event for 10 kids, along with some wonderful help.
As the event started, my heart honed in on one brown-haired, disruptive little boy. Maybe it was the mortified shame in his mom’s voice when he told me the chicken nuggets tasted like poison. All I know is my inner caretaker took over. We grabbed Curious George off the library bookshelves and I asked him to read to me. An hour and a half later, we were still reading. That day, I wasn’t the CEO of my company. I was a caretaker who needed to help a mom and her little boy to relax.
For a few weeks after the event, I was embarrassed. When I finally stopped defending myself, I realized how much I had enjoyed that experience. And the other parents there had too. It gave me a new direction for the company and a new possibility for myself.
I hunted for Bigfoot in the hills of Spokane
This summer, I started what I hope will be an annual tradition: a one-on-one trip with my kids. We didn’t have a lot of money, and I generally am not a “fly to a beach and try to relax” type of person anyways, so C and I drove to Seattle via Spokane. If you know my son, you know that getting him out hiking or exploring takes a magician’s touch. So one of us convinced the other that Bigfoot was in the hills. Wal-Mart brand water guns at our sides, we went hunting.
Though we battled slipping boulders, giant bugs, stalks that tried to devour us, and the punishment of the evening sun in July, we never found Bigfoot. We did find a small beach along the river where we could skip rocks, run around shirtless, and swim as far from shore as I’d let him. And I finally remembered to chill out and enjoy being with him. It was a vision of the father I wished I had and the father I want to be. I saw the unconditional happiness that Michael Siner talked about in The Untethered Soul. For 2023, I’m going to cultivate more unconditional happiness.
I found out what it feels like to fall over with 160 pounds on your back.
This year I wanted to gain muscle. After getting really lean a few years ago, I wanted to be stronger and impress myself when I looked in the mirror without a shirt on. No small feat for a rapidly approaching middle age man. Thankfully, my garage is equipped with a really nice weight set, and I knew how to use it.
As the weights went up in my new program, so did my confidence with it. I was squatting deeper, pressing heavier, and adding more weights to my pull-up weight vest. Every three-week cycle felt like I was invincible. Turns out, I’m not all that invisible.
Coming back from being sick, I assured myself I could still jump back where I had left off. The first sign that was a mistake should have been when I took the bar off the rack. It felt heavier than I remembered. I could power through! I got in my starting stance for my lunges, stepped forward with my left leg, drove my right knee to the floor, and stopped. I couldn’t get up. I couldn’t push my leg up, couldn’t drop the weights without crushing my back leg, and couldn’t change positions to get more power. I was stuck!
I desperately called Siri to call my wife but got nothing back. Turns out Siri won’t work with certain programs open, which is useless when you’re stuck at the bottom of a lunge. I screamed for help, hoping someone would hear me and come to the rescue. Not that I knew how they would help because, again, I was stuck in a bad position. Thankfully, my wife interrupted her work meeting to answer my high-pitched plea. As she looked for ways to help me up, my balance started giving and I started falling to my side. With some last minute kung-fu, she grabbed the weights long enough for me to fall over without getting my head crushed.
That was the first in a series of frustrating weeks and months that resulted in me giving up most of the gains I made this year on some of my lifts. I think it may have been because of my diet, but I’m not 100% sure. I’m only now starting to stop the losses and maybe get back some of those gains.
I made internet friends for the first time
This year, I signed up for a writing course with the goal of seeing if I could actually write online. I’d started blogs before but usually given up after 2-3 posts when I never really had anything to say. So this year, I decided to learn from the best online writers I could find. What I thought was going to give me tactics actually gave me friends. I found myself enjoying Zoom calls with friends across the globe. We shared our goals, our fears, and our inspirations, and we supported each others’ work. I even logged back on to Twitter and found new friends online that I admired and enjoyed getting to know. Some of you are those very friends.
Before this, I was a deeply personal person who was scared of losing my privacy by sharing online. Now, I’m exchanging messages with people who inspire me as I look to grow my own audience and make a living from my own work. I’m genuinely awestruck even typing this.
I found a spirit — without the help of mushrooms
I didn’t see an apparition in my house, but I found a spirit nonetheless.
Online writers talk about divergent and convergent phases. 2022 felt like a diverent phase for me, as I explored a bunch of different ideas to try and remember what I was interested in. As many of you know, I was all over the place. I got interested in agriculture and permaculture, cooking and food, climate tech, psychedelics therapy, coaching, personal work, and complexity theory. My palms would sweat just trying to get my own head around why I was interested in all those things, much less how to make a coherent niche out of them.
While I was stuck in that indecisive space, I was fortunate enough to have a far-ranging conversation with the brilliant Michael Sklar. Though it took almost an hour, he finally got my ego to shut the hell up and let my psyche talk. As I drove to pick up my son from school, I heard myself telling him about the relationships between our health, the food we eat, the soil that food was grown in, and the microbial networks in the soil. I was fascinated by the power of these relationships, even if I didn’t know how to talk about or quantify them. Not only did he listen to me; he got excited! I was shocked.
Through that conversation, I realized that what I was actually interested in was the intersection of deeply scientific studies and the mystical. Those lived experiences that defy our tools of logic and language provide me a framework to find meaning in my own life. They excite the hell out of me. And maybe, I can help other people find meaning by opening them up to the same spiritual, mystical accounts and opportunities.
I’m genuinely excited by 2023
This is my third time trying to write this newsletter. My kids have been arguing all day, and I haven’t lived up to my own standards for how I want to parent. That might be because getting out this last newsletter is bringing on an emotional roller coaster of memories, even though I did an annual review earlier. But as I close out this letter to you, dear friend, I’m genuinely excited for the next year.
I’ve laid out intentions to play with my internal stories I tell myself. Stories like “selling is bad” and “I can’t ask for what I really want if I want people to like me.” Deep seated stories that have held me back even as they’ve protected me. I’ve laid out other intentions to build our home into a place of healing and health through permaculture design and social opportunities. And I’ve declared to myself and all of you that I’m going to figure out how to make a living doing this work. This year’s theme is to start harvesting some of my explorations this year. I hope you all get as much of what you need as I am hoping for.
Oh, and one last thing, because I couldn’t leave without a little bit of inspiration. This site inspired me this week, and I want to share some inspiration to finish off 2022.
If you’d like to help me and others find meaning in 2023 and beyond, why not subscribe to the journey?
Until next week, have an intentionally wonderful week.