Looking at 2021 — A Final 2020 Post

We get it, Justin, 2020 was great for you, move on would you?

Okay yeah, so I’ve talked a lot about how 2020 was my year despite the fact that so many people on Facebook chose to look at every day as a drag or as a personal attack on them just because they weren’t allowed to go out like they used to. Small businesses closed, work arrangements were altered (for some of us, permanently) and loved ones passed away. Don’t get me wrong, 2020 was extremely difficult.

I woke up this blog in 2020, first to share some donuts that I made to relieve stress and to impress a girl, then made some Nordic-braised Venison just to show that despite going through the worst breakup of my life, I was beginning to rebuild myself and was starting to be my true self again for the first time in years. I shared my new philosophy of Go Fast, Don’t Die, bought a house where I could continue to rebuild, got a dog, took him hiking, voted against Tr*mp and most importantly, fell in love with a beautiful girl and had an amazing Halloween with her.

On December 31, Katie and I stayed up until midnight watching music videos, playing Do You Know Me? and split a single bottle of champagne because I had a normal 4am wake up call for my Friday morning. I’m not a big party guy anyway, and never have been, still it was nice to be so laid back and not awkward for NYE. With someone I genuinely care about and who — for some strange reason — actually cares about me. The next day, we spent an hour or more just sitting at the dining room table sharing our goals for the new year (and in some instances, the next 3, 5 and even 10 years). I’ve never been able to share that with anyone; I’ve also never been so genuinely invested in someone else’s success. I’ve got it BAD (but oh, so good), y’all.

Here are a few 2020 highlights:

I’m a very lucky guy when you consider that’s how I ended my 2020 and started my 2021 … but especially when you consider where my life was earlier in the year. More darkness, more destruction, more depression, more suicidal thoughts. But then on April 19, something very peculiar happened.

Many of you know I lived in a very brown townhouse in Lenoir City for about two-and-a-half years. I had quite a bit of alone time there beginning in March, which I cherished but also loathed. I’m very independent and love my alone time but sometimes being alone allows me to begin thinking irrational thoughts like how at the age of 35 I had reached my limit of success. I wouldn’t find love again, my career was going to be just me dog paddling in a dying industry until they fire me and this, just like the toxic previous two years, was exactly what I deserved for my past.

But then one morning while in the office I heard a gentle pecking on my sliding-glass door. When I pushed the curtains back, a mourning dove stood perched on the railing of the door, its face pressed up against the glass looking at me. I went right up to the window, took photos and videos and despite putting my phone right up against the glass, right up in its face, it simply wasn’t afraid of me. Every few minutes it would flap its wings and hover around but still acting like it wanted inside or something. This went on for about 15 minutes.

I later learned that the appearance of mourning doves is frequently looked at as positive omens, as symbols of both forgiveness and “moving on.” Many cultures view visits from birds as visits from their late loved ones, and having recently rekindled my spirituality, I couldn’t help but think it was either my Paps or my recently passed Gran coming by to tell me it was time to stop saying I deserve unhappiness and to start living positively again. What it meant is debatable, of course, but it was a strange occurrence and an aggressive one to say the least.

I’ve only shared that with one or two of my closest friends up until now. It’s been one of the biggest motivating factors in my life since then. Was it my Paps telling me to never walk away from something you start the same way he did when I was fed up with mowing lawns as a teenager? Maybe not, but I’m choosing to believe it was. And it worked.

And I think my Paps would be proud to know where I’m at now. Both what I’ve accomplished this year and what I’m going to be accomplishing in the new year. I think he’d love where I’m accomplishing it and who I’m accomplishing it all with. I’ve not only got my happiness back but it’s at a level it’s never been — I’m more motivated and happy and determined and content than I’ve ever been in 36 years.

I love you guys. Brace yourself for a lot of inspiration and horn-tooting in 2021. It’s going to be a BIG year.

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