Started 2018 with the Opening Seminar for my first-ever class as the Praxis Bootcamp Advisor lineup, the January crew.Opened up the month with a whole slew of advising sessions.
Coached over 100 people, did over 400 1-on-1 advising sessions, and countless amounts of coaching via email and Slack messages. Learned a lot about coaching.
Learned about learning. That was my theme for 2018. I wrote about that here, if you’re curious.
Hosted 53 Praxis workshops — 30 with guest speakers and 23 curriculum workshops.
Moved three times.
Lived in both the Rust Belt and the Cotton Belt in the same year.
Read some books, countless numbers of articles and blog posts, listened to tons of podcasts, learned a lot.
Spent January doing a lot of outdoor ice skating — the best way to spend a winter.
Left my last part-time job in the last days of 2017, so I was only working full-time with Praxis and not doing anything else (plus freelance work, which I hung onto for a couple more months).
Went to the Going Deep Summit, hosted by Aaron Watson. Enjoyed the whole lineup, especially Ed Latimore (whose Twitter is amazing. If you don’t already follow him, you should).
Fell even more deeply in love with the art of taking black-and-white portraits. Took a number, including this one (my favorite):
Interviewed some Praxis participants for marketing videos. Took some marketing photos.
Spent a glorious week with some of my dearest friends, exploring Pittsburgh — walking the outlook at night, enjoying the rivers, and taking lots of photographs. Decided I wanted to move to Pittsburgh for a while — and had a housing offer fall in my lap three days later. It’s funny how life works sometimes — make up your mind, and then all of a sudden things start happening.
Went on a Praxis team retreat in Charleston, SC, and saw the city I’d be adopting a few months later for the first time. Stayed in a house right on the beach with a swimming pool and a balcony with ocean views. Got a lot of work done, actually.
Spent the roadtrip down to Charleston listening to Storybrand. Learned about making the customer the hero.
Went swimming in the ocean in February. Icy cold heaven.
Ventured to downtown Charleston for a Friday night team dinner. Descended from the highway exit ramp into the heart of downtown (with its branching oaks and its old wooden houses and Citadel boys in full uniform outside the bars) and thought, I kinda like this. Ended up living three blocks from that exit ramp a few months later. Again — funny how life works.
Actually moved to Pittsburgh. I’ve thought this city was some magical place since I was a kid, and I finally got to call it mine for a while. Weaned myself off of using maps as fast as possible — you don’t belong in a place until you can navigate it.
Took this picture (the Pittsburgh skyline). Captioned it with the Ayn Rand quote about cities, and loving them with everything you have. Pretty much sums it up.
Spent a lot of time walking around downtown Pittsburgh. Not a lot of pictures of this part, but it’s a pretty city. Also spent tons of time in the Strip District, and fell in love with it thoroughly.
Really properly learned how to smoke cigars at Leaf & Bean (in the heart of the Strip), arguably the coolest cigar shop in existence.
Stopped doing freelance work for most of 2018 as my Praxis workload ramped up. Went 100% on one job for the first time since 2015. Wasn’t sure what I thought of it at first, but after having my attention split for a few years, going in 100% on one thing felt beautifully focused.
Started a class of 12 participants in March. Doubled my workload. Learned how to work smarter. Learned a lot more about coaching.
More Pittsburgh. Fell in with the Pittsburgh diner scene. Ate at many handfuls worth of Pittsburgh diners. They’re a hallmark of Pittsburgh, and they’re wonderful.
Wandered my way to the top of one of Pittsburgh’s skyscrapers so I could take in the view.
Climbed to the top of the Cathedral of Learning. Took in the views. Watched the trains crawling around the hillsides with a birds-eye view.
Went through a classic rock phase. Not sure I’ll ever be able to listen to some of these songs without thinking of Pittsburgh: Son of a Preacher Man, Piano Man, Boys of Summer, Dream On, etc.
Repped Praxis at a homeschooling conference in VA, and at the Diamond Challenge Summit in Newark, DE. Handed out a lot of copies of Forward Tilt (and couldn’t believe the book has been out a year). Refined the Praxis elevator pitch to a T, then got creative with it.
Autographed my first copy of Forward Tilt — and then a couple more.
Drove most of the length the PA turnpike a lot of times. Became intimately acquainted with the tunnels through the mountains. Learned that they were built by conscientious objectors in the 40s, and that my great-grandfather (a Mennonite pastor, and a conscientious objector in WWI) went and ministered to the men working there.
Worked out at a boxing gym for a few months. Reinstated myself into a weightlifting habit. I do have pictures, but they aren’t good ones, so … sorry.
Kayaked on the Allegheny River — twice. Fell more in love with the city both times. You don’t truly know a place until you’ve been on its water.
Drove across a ton of bridges. Took a lot of bridge pictures. If you looked at my camera roll, you’d think that all I did in Pittsburgh was take tons and tons of photos of bridges.
Shot some guns. Learned that the aiming skills I honed as a kid shooting BB guns off the front porch haven’t worn off. Here’s proof:
Explored western PA — Washington, Beaver Falls, Ohiopyle. More bridges. Lots of hills, trees, mountains.
Finally went to Fallingwater, after meaning to for years. Became fascinated with the way architecture can be a natural extension of time and place — a moment in time, frozen to hold more moments. Re-awoke my fascination with architecture as art (which was awoken the first time by The Fountainhead).
Went to a Pirates’ game with Hannah Phillips. About as iconic Pittsburgh and Americana as it gets.
Did I mention these girls?
Left Pittsburgh with a full heart. Spent a couple barefoot summer months back in my hometown. Drove a lot of country back roads. Ate good local food. Got some dirt on my hands. Hung out with my chickens. Soaked in a lot of sunshine.
Spent the early summer playing a lot of music. Played a bluegrass gig with my dad’s band.
Bought a kayak. Spent some time out on the water. Felt happy.
Remembered how much I love my hometown. Nothing exciting has to happen here. Life is just good.
Met up with some of my oldest friends (my old classics discussion group) for a spirited discussion on old books (and a general life catch-up). Remembered how much ground we’ve covered over the past couple years discussing classics. Remembered how much I love classic literature. Made a mental note to make reading it a habit again in the near future.
Switched from Bootcamp Advisor to Module 1 Advisor as we fleshed out some changes to the Praxis curriculum structure. Went from being the solo bootcamp advisor to working with an awesome team of people — Brian Nuckols (Praxis marketing associate, writer, and Jungian dream analyzer), Austin Batchelor (digital artist and Udemy instructor), Dan Sanchez (editor-in-chief at FEE), and Lolita Allgyer (the other half of the Praxis marketing team).
Hosted Jason Feiffer, editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur magazine, as a guest on a Praxis group call. Check out the recap.
Moved to Charleston, South Carolina. Traded the Three Rivers for the Atlantic Ocean. Missed the US Steel building like hell, but in terms of the bodies of water felt like I got my money’s worth.
Lived downtown in a city for the first time in my life. Wasn’t entirely convinced I liked it (but my 1840s wood-floor house made it a fair trade).
Went out on boats twice in my first week in Charleston — on the Intracoastal Waterway, across the harbor, and up a couple rivers. Properly familiarized myself with the waterways of the place. First boat trip was with the Praxis team — got to drive the boat for a while (and if a boat was a practical investment for me to make, this would be a new favorite hobby), and jumped overboard and swam in the Ashley River (and learned that southern silt is very very red, instead of brown like it is in the north, and makes the water look more like wine than like mud). Second boat trip was hosted by James Walpole, and was spent with good friends.
Shot some skeet. Found some farms. Explored a number of docks and towns along the Intracoastal Waterway. Had a proper southern late summer. Pretended to turn into a southern belle for a little while.
Ran to the top of the Ravenel Bridge in the very early morning. Made my legs hurt. Took in the view.
Went on a South Carolina history kick — Fort Sumter, Fort Moultrie, H L Hunley, etc.
Went blueberry picking.
Learned how to play beach volleyball. Started doing it weekly. Got quite hooked.
Bought some Hannah Phillips Media paintings — look at these gems (also, I think we’re seeing a theme here):
Evacuated Charleston for the Hurricane That Wasn’t (Florence). Got excited that I was getting the full Southern experience all within my first month of Southern life, and was more than a little miffed that I had to evacuate (since I’ve wanted to ride out a hurricane since I was a kid). The hurricane ended up not happening, but I had a lovely 5am drive to Atlanta, and a fun bonus Atlanta vacation, which included Pho with some Praxis and FEE friends, wine on a rooftop late at night overlooking the whole city skyline, classic country on a record player by candlelight while I caught up on work (h/t James Walpole), and some damn good conversation. Atlanta’s always good to me.
Did I mention the rooftop overlooking the Atlanta skyline? Look at this.
Worked out of the FEE office for a day. It’s always fun to drop in and hang with a bunch of economists. They’re such good people.
Dipped my toes back into sensory deprivation. As always, an interesting experience. Sobering and refreshing and enlightening. Resolved again to someday make it a habit.
Did a lot of running on the beach. Made sunset beach runs a habit, then switched to morning beach runs when the sun started setting too early. Fell in love with running right along the waterline. Did it often.
Got a tan. Seriously — for a redhead, that’s a big deal.
Found a shade of rose-colored nail polish that matches my color palette perfectly. Seriously, sometimes it’s the little things.
Meditated at the beach. If you haven’t done this, you haven’t lived.
Researched a ridiculous amount about shipping containers and the history of commercial shipping. Moved to a port city and flipped out with excitement every time I saw a freighter. Found a dock across the river from the port and got even happier. Geeked out with an economist about shipping containers (h/t to Dan Sanchez for humoring me, and even being interested).
Hosted Christopher Lochhead for a Praxis group call on Niche Down (a workshop that he later released as two podcast episodes, which you can find here and here).
Did a deep dive into the work of Christopher Lochhead. It’s really good. I’d highly recommend his podcast, if you haven’t already checked it out. Favorite episode: Mike Maples
Listened to Hardcore History: Blueprint for Armageddon (on WWI). Fell down a pretty deep rabbit hole.
Worked in the heart of downtown Charleston for a month, right on iconic King Street, then moved into the new Praxis HQ farther up the peninsula.
Launched a podcast. In case you somehow missed ALL of my social media posts about it, you can find Talkin’ ‘Bout Praxis here. In the process, I learned I really love podcasting (although, one of my favorite pastimes has always been asking questions, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise).
Read a fair amount of fiction. Wrote a couple reviews, including this one on Gap Creek and this one on The Red Pony by John Steinbeck (it’s a pretty in-depth review — if you’re picking one of the two, I’d recommend this one).
Bought 80-some books at a used book sale. Don’t judge. It’s my greatest addiction.
Went from classic rock to southern rock. Fully embodied the southern experience.
Found a great inlet to hang out at. Sat on the hood of my car and watched the moon rise. Listened to the waves. Meditated. Smelled the salt air. Felt glad to be alive.
Had the whole Praxis team in town for a week. Got a lot of work done. Played a lot of ping-pong. Had some great conversations.
Realized that the best thing about having an office and an in-person team is the spontaneous philosophy discussions that occur — especially when you work for a knowledge-biased company like Praxis.
Started the process of learning how to surf.
Started painting again — something I haven’t done since I was in high school, but something about Charleston made me want to pick it back up.
All the little day-to-day stuff that never makes it on a top-100 list, but really makes life what it is — cooking barefoot in my wood floor kitchen on a Sunday afternoon, reading in bed on a Saturday morning, walking to the farmers market downtown to get vegetables, the hours and hours spent in the office every day, sitting at my kitchen table in the evening sending emails, almost deciding not to go for a run after work, and then going, and having it make all the difference, and running the last back to my car as the light is fading and it’s almost too dark to see, and then the quiet and the starlight on the ride home from the ocean; and all the showers, and the chipped nail polish, and the phone calls home to catch up with my sister, and sweeping the kitchen in the evening, and playing guitar at night because my dining room acoustics are so good I can’t help myself. All that real life stuff.
Transitioned into a new role at Praxis — Apprenticeship Advisor and Community Manager.
Read Jonathan Livingston Seagull for the nth time — this time on the beach.
Did a fun interview with Honey, I’m Homeschooling the Kids, and dug into my homeschooling background pretty thoroughly.
Realized I absolutely love BBQ. Possibly the best thing about living in the south.
Walked The Battery in the middle of the night in the pouring rain.
Hosted Michael Ellsberg for a Praxis workshop on his book, The Last Safe Investment.
Started running on the beach in the morning instead of the evening. Loved that, too.
Went and heard a talk about WWI on board the Yorktown.
Listened to bagpipes playing in downtown Charleston on Veteran’s Day (the 100-year anniversary of Armistice),
Did a sunset photo shoot with Amanda Kingsmith. We got sufficiently sandy in the process.
Did yoga at sunrise on the beach. Definitely a bucket list item that got checked off. Huge h/t to Amanda Kingsmith. Went wading afterward:
Started picking up some freelancing again, at the tail end of 2018. Felt a need to get creative again.
Did the groundwork on a really exciting project that I’ll be announcing in early 2019. It involves entrepreneurship and networking and communities and Charleston. You’ll be hearing more about it very soon, I promise. Stay tuned.
Praxis holiday party with (almost) the whole team in town. It was pretty great. I love these people.
Made a very fancy gingerbread house with some of my teammates as one of our holiday party competitions. I didn’t know I could feel so competitive about gingerbread houses.
Ate Christmas cookies and talked philosophy for hours with some very good people. Stayed up until the wee hours.
Went home for Christmas. Spent a lot of time with my family, hung out with my sister. Remembered how much I love my hometown, and how good life is.
Spent New Year’s Eve already kicking off the New Year (because Monday morning starts Sunday night and all that) with new Praxis curriculum builds and launching full-force into apprenticeship advising.
Lived a lot. Loved hard. Packed light. Reminded myself that, at the end of 2017, I never would’ve predicted even half of the things 2018 would bring. Got excited for all the things coming in 2019. Life is good.