I’ve avoided writing this post for a month and a half now. I did my yearly review on time, right around the beginning of January. The verdict: 2014 was tough. It dragged and gnawed at me in subtle, frustrating ways. Looking through my weekly and monthly reviews was painful.
Was there a major catastrophe in 2014? No. Did things near and dear to me come crashing down? Not exactly. So what made the year (and my review) so painful? Groundwork was done for things that will take some time to bear fruit, I confronted personal hurdles, and I disengaged from ingrained ways of thinking that were holding me back.
As with last year’s review, this one successfully silenced that nagging voice inside of me that says I haven’t done enough. I know why I ended the year exhausted and frustrated, and I can claim my accomplishments, as subtle as they may be.
The Laundry List of What I Did in 2014
- Re-branded from “Wanderlust Projects” to “Sextantworks” in response to a cease and desist
- Orchestrated The Mambo at the last grand Borscht Belt resort
- Threw another great Timothy Convention
- Redesigned the pledge for the Alicia Keys Black Ball
- Did a little thing at the 596 Acres Gala
- Held a pop up speakeasy for our friends because we don’t do enough things for our friends
- Organized the School of Selling Out at Kickstarter
- Made a good showing at the Future of Storytelling for a 2nd year in a row
- Consulted here and there
- Orchestrated a few experiences as private commissions
- Got tons of great press: The New York Times, NPR, Fast Company, O Globo, The Huffington Post
Other Professional Endeavors
- Left my game company Antidote
- Did a residency on Governors Island
- Advised the Photography, Expanded program at the Magnum Foundation
- Judged the Teatrum Mundi Design for Free Speech Competition
- Judged the Macktez Summer Stipend
- Organized a few Yellow Thread Society get-togethers
- Attended the School for Poetic Computation in the Spring
- Taught at the School for Poetic Computation in the Fall
- Overhauled my personal archive and reference system, going paperless with full OCR and a research database
- Did significant apartment renovations, including a bathtub installation and loft bed
- Changed up services I’d been using for year that weren’t cutting it anymore, including my web hosting provider, my bank, and my cell service
- Kept up with my newly established exercise routine
- Settled into a regular meditation practice
- Did typing and speed reading drills for several months to correct for dyslexia issues
What Was So Tough?
1. Leaving The First Company I Started
Starting Antidote Games with Mohini Dutta and Ben Norskov was a delightful and empowering career move. We studied game design in school at Parsons. As students, we worked on a few projects for major humanitarian organizations. The demand for our work continued. Our little design studio / consultancy was born. Sextantworks grew alongside Antidote in a similarly organic fashion. After a while, it was hard to maintain my involvement in both in any satisfactory way. I knew that Ben & Mohini could carry on without me. I’m proud of the foundational work I did to get Antidote off the ground. I miss being involved in game design projects and social impact work, but I love focusing on Sextantworks wholeheartedly and moving people in profound ways through experience design.
2. Following My Intuition
My close friends and colleagues will attest to the dyanmite advice I give when they are most lost. Their glowing feedback has convinced me to take my intuition more seriously. It is rare that setting aside other’s expectations to follow my intuition produces bad results. Very, very rare. My written weekly reviews give me a window into this process as it plays out over months. 2013 was the first year I could see this irrefutably, so I followed my intuition even more in 2014. I chose not to meet people’s expectations in the immediate in favor of long term results, to both my benefit and theirs. Behaving this way kicked up a lot of shame. No wonder I hadn’t done it more in the past! The demons of low self-worth snarled in my ears as I bore the weight of other’s confusion, frustration, and dismissal. I couldn’t have stuck it out if I didn’t have a meditation practice and an exercise routine. It’s going to be easier in the future, but holly wow was the psychic drag on following my intuition fierce this year!
3. Home Renovations Are Not My Strong Suit
New Yorkers periodically go through the hell of leaving one apartment for another. The process is inherently traumatic for all but the most privileged and lucky. I am incredibly grateful to be able to stay put in the same place for 7 years running. Even better that I can build out funny lofts and install salvaged bathroom fixtures. But I proved to be terrible at physical build out on an ambitious home renovation project. Maybe I was scarred growing up from too many insane home improvements instigated by my flamboyantly DIY parents. As soon as the apartment became a the construction zone, my mind was mush. I didn’t see the challenge coming, and I couldn’t follow through on much of the envisioned work. I’ve learned my lesson. A happy ending is in sight. My 2014 was very much hindered in the process, though.
What About The Good Parts?
1. The School for Poetic Computation
In my 2013 year in review, I pointed out how I wasn’t programming as much as I’d liked. Attending the School For Poetic Computation fixed that. You can read about my experience there in an earlier blog post. I was thrilled to be invited back as part of the team going forward.
2. Social Graces FTW
Years of working with the charismatic and charming N.D. Austin are starting to rub off. I’m learning to keep my natural grumpy snob in check. Kindness, warmth, and encouragement are emotional tools at my disposal more than ever before.
3. The G.L.I.T. Filter
Thanks to the inspiration of the School of Selling Out, Sextantworks has pinpointed the qualities that make a project a good fit. They are generosity, location, intimacy, and transgression (aka G.L.I.T.). We size up opportunities faster and more exactingly now that we have distilled the qualities down to a handy acronym.
Here’s to a more rewarding and peaceful 2015!