New Face, New Job, New York

Happy September! 

 "Chasing Light" - Atlanta, GA - iPhone 6s Plus

"Chasing Light" - Atlanta, GA - iPhone 6s Plus

It's a Monday night, and I'm drinking gin with a splash of soda while Caspian obnoxiously attempts to make herself comfortable across my chest. Since you already know me well, you can probably predict what's drifting from my speakers. Maybe it's a coincidence, but it seems kismet that Taylor Swift albums fall into my life like bookends, marking the end of one season and the beginning of another. 

Like music, I also, perhaps bizarrely, find significance in geography. Although, I suppose I have a propensity to find significance in everything, turning the most mundane events into metaphors. Part of this season has been about making peace with myself, even the sensitive, mildly melodramatic parts. 

This December will mark three years since I've graduated college… which somehow feels both infinitesimal and an infinity all at once. 

College was an important place. I think mountains keep us safe; they make us brave, there's something magical about them… there's something that makes them home. 

Life at sea-level was initially jarring. Returning home I was surrounded by physical beauty, solitude, but simultaneously enveloped in memories and unanswered questions. No longer protected by mountain peaks, there were things I needed to face in this valley, in this physical place, that I couldn't do anywhere else. 

Trading my childhood zip-code for my first true adult one, I moved into a downtown neighborhood in transition. The deconstruction surrounding me mirrored the state of my soul (see, I told you I find metaphor everywhere) as I worked through my theology, philosophy, vocation, sexuality, and all manner of other existential questions. But, instead of working through them alone, I learned how to find a "sacred circle" and found myself on an island of misfit toys, a place where shame didn't exist. A place where my entire self had a seat at the table for the very first time. 

In short, I found the darkness isn't so daunting when you let your eyes adjust and see all the people sitting around you, and realize they've been there all along. 

That brings us to today, early September 2017. I'm currently entering the final stages of acquisition negotiations. The sale will sell off all my corporate assets and dissolve my LLC in its entirety. Being an entrepreneur has been incredible - it's been an honor to work alongside a fantastic team, partner with Books for Africa to construct a library in Ethiopia and save over one million books from ending up in landfills. 

It's been an amazing ride and a challenging journey, but I realize there are bigger dreams of mine. While I'm still figuring out what those are, I've sensed the time has come to pass on what I've created and begin again with a clean slate. 

Speaking of clean... my beard will be gone for the first time in years very soon. I'll have to shave for an invasive double-jaw surgery concerning a TMJ disorder this Thursday, September 21st, at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. The operation itself is blocked for six-hours, and my jaw will be wired shut for four to five weeks. 

However, not to worry, I've given my surgeon a photo of both Clark Kent & James Dean for reference and am looking forward to doing a Percocet/green-juice cleanse for a month. 

In short, there's a lot that's about to happen. 

New face, new existential perspectives, no real job… I feel like Soren Kierkegaard and Kim Kardashian's lovechild. It's the start of a new season, and along with it a new place; New York.

Many of you know that for years I've wanted to call the five boroughs home, it's simply never been the right time. 

If you haven't heard, I've been working on my first book, a memoir, and am going to share the first chapter with you in the next couple weeks! It's gotten a lot of great feedback, and I hope my own story can remind others their own is worth living. 

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Simultaneously writing "Brave Once More" (www.braveoncemore.com) alongside ghost-created articles for various business executives on topics like the power of narrative or marketing strategy has made me realize why I'm passionate about communication in all its forms… I'm passionate about 'story' because I'm passionate about change. Both my personal and professional experiences have taught me genuine change only occurs when the other party sees themselves within the story you're telling. 

As I prepare a plan to move to New York, I'd like to find myself in a space where I can help others do just that. I'm exploring roles that would allow me to use both sides of my brain - strategy, AND creativity. Specifically, positions within brand management, creative strategies, innovation consulting, and copywriting… All of which, I realize, have their nuances and differences. 

I'm still figuring life out, and in a lot of ways I suppose I still don't know who I want to be when I grow up, but for the first time I know who I am now... and I'm okay with him. 

It feels weird to ask for help, I've always been better at self-deprecation than self-care… but (damn therapist) calls it a "growth path" so here I am soliciting it. 

I'd love to meet any friends you have in New York City (and probably flirt with them if they're cute.) Also, if you have professional contacts who may have a use for my skill-set, or are working in industries, and with companies, I may be interested in, I'd appreciate any leads. 

As I enter a new season of huge transition on multiple fronts, I appreciate your advocacy, help, and thoughts. I also would specifically covet your prayers as I prepare to go under the knife for six hours in just a few short days. 

More than anything though, I wanted to write and say thanks. I don't know if you've ever heard of Herman Hesse, but he's a brilliant author and personal inspiration. In his first novel, he writes, "love isn't there to make us happy… I believe it exists to show us how much we can endure." 

If there were ever a quote to define a season of my life, that would be it. 

Thank you for making me feel loved and believed in throughout a season where I struggled to love and believe in myself. 

Grateful, 

- JM