“Rest and be thankful.” ― William Wordsworth
First, I want to thank all of you who read these words of mine — and the thoughts that inspire them. And I want to welcome you to the third year of Ontozoan — One Real Life.
As some of you may know, I took a three-month hiatus from creating new posts. I needed the time for renewal and rest, and also to allow myself to reacquire the trail as a writer. It can be a real challenge to communicate effectively on a variety of topics, and since I believe the work I do here is important, I didn’t want to start phoning it in.
Now that it’s time to begin posting again, I found myself at a bit of a loss how to resume our conversation. So I thought I’d give you a summary of what I did to recharge my batteries and otherwise spend my non-blogging time. I don’t have any big lessons or wisdom to impart here — I thought I’d share what I’ve been up to and invite you to share what you’ve been doing this summer.
For the sake of organization, I’ll divide this up into broad categories.
This is the big one. My elder son — and sometime guest poster here — and daughter-in-law became parents in May — and in the way these things work, I became a grandfather. Family has shifted into an entirely different gear as a result, and so far it’s been completely wonderful.
A colleague asked if I felt older now that I’m a grandfather. No, I am aware of my age and stage of life, AND I still feel like I’m 19 inside. I will say that none of this would have been possible without Mrs. Booth’s and my sticking by our marriage vows, and committing to the sometimes frustrating work of parenting. Be choosy about whom you marry, but then commit all the way to fill the roles of head, husband, and father. You will have divine help.
For the past eighteen months I have been working on a multi-pronged development effort that appears to be headed toward a successful launch. There are still a lot of fine points to document and procedures to communicate, and they are stacked — not as neatly as I would prefer — on my desk. This has stretched me, and I appreciate the ongoing opportunity to grow. I do need to schedule some time for a vacation, but this climb has confirmed for me that I am far from topping out. And in other good news, I’m all caught up on my cussing for the year…
The band has been busy all summer, playing a mix of weddings, private parties, and festivals. It’s rewarding to be able to participate in some of the best days of people’s lives — and to be able to do it with talented friends. Apparently it’s paying off, as we have a nice long string of bookings to carry us through this year and well into 2017. If you’d told me in my twenties that I’d be doing this now, I wouldn’t have believed it. Proverbs 22 says that a good name (reputation) is more valuable than riches. In the era of the “personal brand,” that’s never been more true.
In addition to the performance side, I’ve been busy refining the marketing and communications side of the band. I still have a website redesign to complete, but I’m looking forward to how that’s going to help us continue booking with and serving great people. And I’ve also come up with a handful of music-related product ideas that I intend to pursue. As I’ve written before, I own my career, so it’s on me to create and pursue opportunities.
Our pastor teaches that pressure reveals what’s inside you. Friends, over the past two or three years, I have experienced pressure unlike any I’ve known. I’d love to tell you that what has come out of me in that time has been sweet and clear with the scent of pine, but it has been anything but. I meet with a group of men who encourage me, challenge me, respect me, and love me as we all struggle well with life. And through all of this I am more convinced than ever of my need for a Savior and that by His grace I stand clean and loved before Almighty God. (I’m no privileged character. You can have this, too.)
The pressure is still on, and I have no way to know when it will be over, but I have a more hopeful attitude now.
Focus and the Future
I am planning to invest more in those things that give life to me and to those around me, and to those things that generate a high return on the time/effort invested. As I’ve walked through this sabbatical season, I have come to some realizations regarding this blog and I am working on making some transitions, and I want to share them with you.
- More video – I love writing. I’ve won awards for writing. But I think more and more our culture is seeking information/entertainment through visual communication. I know how to write, but I don’t know as much about video editing, so we’re going to enjoy laughing together as I learn.
- An eBook – In spite of what I said just now, I am working on my eBook based on the series of posts titled “You Cannot Eat Like a Sparrow and Defecate Like an Elephant.” I plan to make this available via Amazon, but I will offer it here for free to subscribers. Keep coming back and you won’t miss it when it drops.
- A podcast – I’ve done some interviews and look forward to the opportunity to record and share some wisdom with you via podcasting. This allows more time to discuss a topic, and an opportunity to introduce you to interesting guests in their own words.
- Public speaking – Stage fright hasn’t been an issue for me for a long time. (Preparation freezes it in its tracks.) I’m going to develop a couple of talks on contemporary masculinity and book some speaking gigs.
- Resources and revenue – For the past two years I have published at least a post per week and cross-promoted it via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I’m aware that this generation is the most heavily marketed to generation in the history of the universe, and I have been reluctant to attempt to sell anything to you. At the same time, I am offering something of value, and I want to be able to keep doing this.So I’m going to continue offering the blog, video posts, and the podcast for free, but I will create a resources page where you can, if you choose, click through to buy products I sell or endorse, or click to do everyday shopping at Amazon. In these cases, I will earn a small commission on any purchases, and that will help keep the lights on around here. I will make it very clear where I have a financial interest.