2022 Reflections — Bigger Challenges and New Adventures Expand the Possibilities
This year has been filled with some unexpected developments on the negative side (my neck issues) and the positive (unplanned adventures out west). In a comfortable life, we can lose sight of the possibilities and we can lose an appreciation for the benefits we’ve enjoyed. This year has been a time to explore both of these ideas.
I've launched Montoya's Arcade, the Share Life Academy, and continued existing efforts like my freelancing and Share Life podcast. Trips back to Arizona and Los Angeles, it's also opened up possibilities that I had not yet opened up.
There have also been challenges, outside of my neck recovery, like facing a traumatic experience in Mexico. This also includes my challenging book project. 2019 is when I published my second book for small business owners. 2022 is closing out and I'm still not finished with my third book about Jesus' passion. Things don't always go according to plan. The project has been more involved and personally difficult to navigate than originally planned. With some help, from the Share Life Academy, I was able to get back on track, moving the project forward.
One education intersection for this project has been the result of national and international developments. Russia's full invasion of Ukraine has been a unique experience for exploring many of the ideas I’ve been researching regarding my current book project. And the January 6th hearings have been insightful about deception and power abuse. Unlike studying the past, observing history unfold allows for a new and deeper understanding of the dynamics unfolding.
This year, in many ways you'll discover below, feels like coming back full circle on many facets of life, from my past. Below is a survey and exploration of these highlights and events that made up my 2022!
Enjoy the pictures along the way!
What's In This Reflection Point?
Mexico Mission Trip With My Daughter
From The Garden to the Cross
Share Life Academy
Share Life Podcast
Driving to Los Angeles
Freelancing & Consulting Work Updates
And Other Tidbits and Photos
Mexico Mission Trip With My Daughter
My plan to take each of our children on a mission trip began this year. My oldest daughter and I went to Mexico to serve and play with the children of Monterrey. We also received trauma care training and experienced the wonderful food of Mexico.
Next year, I’ll go again with David, although Madison doesn’t want us to go without her. Click below to learn more about the trip and see many of the photos from the adventure.
Serve The People of Monterrey, Mexico
Learn more and see photos from this service trip by clicking below.
Reintegrating play, more fully and consistently, into my life has been a theme this year. This theme has unfolded in several ways, but one is computer gaming. For the past several years, I’ve been reintegrating gaming into my life, but it’s this year that I’ve done it within the community.
Growing up, we threw LAN parties, which are code for everyone bringing their computer and us playing multiplayer computer games together with cords strewn across the floors. At different points of my journey after moving to Atlanta, we continued this tradition from afar. But it had mostly faded over the last several years.
Towards the end of last year, a sequel to a game we played growing up came out (Age of Empires 4) and that triggered my idea to kick start this community gaming backup. I started reaching out to friends and family which led to the rediscovery of the community-building platform Discord. And soon after, Montoya’s arcade was born.
This has been a great way to reconnect with old friends and family from Arizona, including new friends from my neighborhood and community while also having my kids involved at times. Some of us in the Atlanta area have even had a chance to get meals together. The photo above is of some gamers of us eating Korean BBQ!
If you’re a computer gamer and enjoy games like Insurgency: Sandstorm, StarCraft 2, Project Zomboid, Hunt: Showdown, or Age of Wonders: Planetfall send me a message.
From the Garden to the Cross
This book has been my most challenging project. Part of the challenge is how much bigger it is and the personal nature of the content. I wanted to finish at the end of 2021, but that didn’t pan out. The podcast series definitely helped move it along but earlier this year, I was stuck. I was also worn out from the work done.
How was I going to finish the book, or at least move it along? I remembered that finishing my first two books involved the help of others. Path of the Freelancer got done with the help of a group of freelancers who met to discuss the content. The Jump was finished as a blogging challenge with some friends.
In tandem with my inclination to community build, the discovery of a great community platform — Discord — and the desire to start a digital community; I launched the Share Life Academy. I’ll share more about it in the next section, but the key is that finishing well often requires the help of others.
While sometimes these endeavors can be a distraction from doing what we’re aiming for, sometimes going the opposite way by using the gravity of the moon to slingshot ourselves back to earth is the way forward (like Apollo 13).
With the community's help, I was able to gather clarity on how to move forward on my project. This year, I’ve been in the hardest part of the writing process of reconciling all that I have into a cohesive draft. There are so many ideas, research excerpts, and written passages that I’ve got to figure out where they all go and how to harmonize them within the designated structure.
This year's major two obstacles I had to accomplish the coherent draft were transforming 95 bulleted lists located around the manuscript into written passages and integrating around 400 pieces of remaining research into the book. The lists being the most difficult, I began working through them. I’m about 60% of the way completed with a plan to finish by the end of the year.
In January, I’ll work through integrating the 400 research bits, which should go much quicker. An important reminder on this project is how vital it is to slice overwhelming behemoth projects into bite-size pieces.
The project will end up taking 18-24 months longer than I anticipated. But part of the reason I wanted to self-publish it was to give myself flexibility for finishing it as I’m able.
So, the project continues and I’m excited for the day when it’s finished!
Share Life Academy
So, in the middle of this year, after exploring Discord in Montoya’s Arcade, and struggling to move my book project forward, the Share Life Academy was born.
Its name is a spin-off of the Share Life podcast and, originally, my personal mission statement, to share life.
The Share Life Academy is a free community and place to develop ourselves, each other, and our organizations. We're succeeding when we're thriving together. Its mission is to help us prioritize the important over the avalanche of urgency. It's a place to escape survival mode, dream big, see clearly, and achieve great things together.
Involvement includes multiple video meetings throughout the year, reflecting on questions of the week, sharing and commenting on resources, providing a source of accountability on aspirations, and facilitating the lessons learned by reflecting on our past.
If this sounds like something you'd be interested in participating in, send me a message and we can explore the idea.
A special thanks to Cris Anzai for helping to make the Share Life Academy better!
Share Life Podcast
This year, I added 15 more episodes to the podcast. Four of them were with authors and another was with the editor of the North American Anglican. The rest were interviews with awesome entrepreneurs and creators.
74 episodes in, I still consider the podcast in beta mode. I’ve learned many lessons and continue to apply those as the show progresses. Once I commit to a regular episode release schedule cadence, I’ll shift from seeing it as an experimental channel to a fully operational podcast. But, not yet.
Below are some of the popular episodes.
5 Popular 2022 Podcast Episodes
Driving to Los Angeles
My friend Addison Williams and his family made a big life change this year moving from Atlanta, Georgia to Los Angeles, California, to further his career as a screenplay and television show writer.
When I learned of the decision and their need to have a fourth driver for the move across the country, I volunteered. Circumstances aligned perfectly for me to participate and I’m glad I did.
When my wife and I moved across the country from Arizona to Atlanta, it was friends who helped us make it happen and now was an opportunity to come full circle and pay that generous gift forward.
We left the Saturday before Thanksgiving and began the four-day trek to Los Angeles starting with a long drive to Dallas, Texas. We stayed with a friend of mine from Arizona that moved to Dallas and of which I had not seen since 2004!
And then finally, we did the last leg from Phoenix to Los Angeles arriving at their new home at the foot of Hollywood mountain and down the street from Thai Town. The next day I flew back to Nashville to meet up with my family and stay with my parents for Thanksgiving.
It was an exciting adventure with memories I cherish deeply. It’s sad to see a long-time friend leave, and I'm excited for their adventure ahead.
In the era we now live in, it’s also a weirdly different experience when someone moves away because we’re so interconnected we are still doing life together. Addison and I have a mutual client and also a weekly mastermind group video call. So days after the move, we saw each other virtually.
Note: I interviewed Addison here on the podcast and he was also on a From the Garden to the Cross discussion (about Peter’s Denial). His wife Ashley was also in one of these discussions (about Judas’ death). Addison is also the co-creator of Movie Shapes! Check the links to our collaborations below.
As I mentioned above, I went back to Arizona to see my paternal grandmother for her 90th birthday! We also saw aunts, uncles, and cousins from both sides of the family in Phoenix, Rimrock, and Flagstaff Arizona.
This was the first time I’d been back to Arizona since 2013, but after my two visits this year, I’ve opened up to the idea of making an annual trip out west to stay connected with friends and family.
In addition to these adventures, we also did our annual family Lake Lanier camping trip with my parents, siblings and their families, and some of my cousins. It was quite a stormy trip and we almost floated away, but it still was a blast, despite the challenges.
Speaking of new adventures, I also went to a concert with Cait seeing 2Cellos perform live in Nashville, and as part of Cait's 2021 Christmas present to me, saw Jordan Peterson live.
Paid Freelancing & Consulting Work
I’m deeply grateful for my continued success as a freelancer.
This year was a big milestone; since starting in 2014, I’ve now earned over one million dollars as a freelancer. This has enabled us to buy a van, pay off our student loans, make a house down payment, and grow our short, medium, and long-term savings. In November of this year, due to a big project, I also earned the most income in a single month since I began this freelancing journey!
I don’t take this success for granted, and while I’ve played a part, it’s also a collaborative endeavor for which I’m grateful for the many clients who continue working with me. This continued success allows me to continue working on blogs, podcast episodes, books, and courses.
If you're interested in working together, you can learn more about who I serve and what I do best here.
Shrinking My Work Day
One of the interesting dynamics of being able to work fewer hours while earning the same is an unexpected diminishment in motivation. As a way to combat this, I’ve been experimenting with shrinking my paid work day from 9 am to 3 pm. The idea is to use this window to get my paid work done and then use the other window of time to work on my book, podcast, and other projects.
Like many things I newly try, they don’t pan out. The same goes for this idea, which has faded. But I’m glad I got it started and I’ll work next year on rebooting and refining it.
Norman and Norman Jr. Moving Out: Part of why we moved to Atlanta in 2005 was because of my extended family. My great-grandmother, great-aunt Judy, and great-uncle Norman (including his sons) lived in the south. During the first month, we had to live in a hotel. One of the places we hung out was at my great-uncle Norman’s on Nancy Creek Drive. For a variety of reasons, it was time this year for Norman and Norman Jr. to sell the home and move into an assisted residential community. My uncle Leonard and I, as well as a slew of other generous friends and family, helped sell, get rid of, and store the remaining belongings of my great Uncle as he transitioned out of the house. The other nice benefit of the transition is they are closer to us than before, and I’ve been taking the kiddos to visit. Thank you, great-uncle Norman for all of your generosity to us over the years!
Neck issues: At the end of last year, I was having pain, numbness, and tingling in my right hand. Turns out, from an MRI, my disks were pressing my nerves. I went through an aggressive spinal decompression therapy at the beginning of the year and then on a monthly basis until the beginning of 2023. Once done, we’ll do another MRI to see progress. I’m mostly back to normal with neck fatigue if I sustain certain positions for too long. I’m grateful to have addressed this without the need for surgery. As part of this injury, I’ve not been able to be the exciting dad, so my wife instead has been taking the kids to Six flags and intense rides at theme parks.
Additional Community: As a way for our extended family to stay connected, I’ve set up Discord communities for us family members, located all over the country, to be better connected. I’ve also continued participating in a group of guy friends who get together on a monthly basis for eating out and movies. And, I’ve joined a weekly marketing group.
(Not) Reading Fewer Books: My plan was to pull back reading so I could write more, but I got pulled into several books due to various intrigue and circumstances. Instead of reading six books, I ended up finishing fourteen. You can explore them here.
Dates with Cait: With five kids, it’s hard to go out with just me and my wife, but we’ve found a way to make it happen this year. I’d love to get to the point where we can make it happen twice weekly.
Biztown: Gwinnett County has a business experience for middle schoolers so I volunteered to participate in leading the kiddos at a Wells Fargo.
New Blog Posts
My Wall of Consulting Client Gratitude
I would not be successful without my many wonderful clients. Thank you all for choosing to work with me!
Bob Grant & Relationship HQ
Sobem Nwoko and the EBP Society
Richard Bembas & Curtis Gibbs of Ecotech Machine Tools
Laura Collier & Braselton Event Center
- MLT Creative
- Taxonomy Strategies
David McLeroy & Concrete Replacement Specialists
Deenie McKeever of McKeever's First Ride
Bryant Cornett & DTSpade
Terry Green of eSports Insurance
Barrett Sherrill & Fred Lemon & Associates
Steve Gross & Gross Capital
Lauren Lowe of Lauren Elaine Interiors
Dr. Donald Capoferri & Precision Pain Relief Center
Rick Davenport & Roofing Atlanta Inc.
David Wittenberg of Wittenberg Law LLC.
- Riada Equipment
- SSS Pharmaceuticals
- Jason Long & Tangent Solutions
- Josh Sweeney & Foundersclae
- The Johns Creek Chorale
- Trusted CFO Solutions
I’ve been involved in various activities this year, including taking my daughter on a mission trip to Mexico, creating a community gaming group, working on my book, From The Garden to the Cross, and starting the Share Life Academy. I’ve learned about dependency, getting unstuck, how human nature manifests at a national and global level, how opportunities can arise when we get outside our bubble and the importance of courageously acting out our vulnerability.
2022 is closing down and the new year awaits.
Have you reflected on your year so far? It’s reflection that helps us understand, learn, and grow from year to year so each new year can be better than the last (at least in the areas we can control).
What are some challenges you’ve faced this year? What are some opportunities you’ve had to get outside your bubble and explore the world around you? How can you better lean into these ideas next year?