As I looked at 2022, I remember thinking “I should be OK with my health and so forth.” Nope. At least 2023 started off on a good footing.
I wished this year was “better.”
At the Chicago Auto Show, I did see signs of trouble. Within days of returning from the show, I was admitted to the hospital again. This time, it would be my longest stint away from home in years.
I spent more times in the healthcare system than I did on travel. I spent more time in the surgery center than on the few flights I took this year.
It sounds like a rough juxtaposition, but it has been the bane of my life this year.
I also spent more time in transitional care units rehabbing than I liked. Shuffling schedules, bobbing and weaving to maintain my professional life was not what I wanted to do. Sadly, it was necessary.
This all made me question a few things. For one, is all of this worth "the fight" to retain my professional and personal lives? I had to make the choice to live the life I want to fulfill. That includes meeting an amended set of goals. To retain some semblance of sanity and work/life balance while working my passion and delivering accordingly.
To get there, it took decades to finally work a "dream job." It took longer than I'd like – rather than life's natural prescription of what is supposed to be. I've stopped considering myself a "loser." As an "outcast." I may still be an outsider, but I have grown comfortable in the work that I do, despite some challenges and reservations sometimes.
Questioning my place is a sign of long-term self-esteem issues. I get that. Yet, I feel that I emerged from that as I grew comfortable with my day job and this work.
This coming February will mark two milestones: My second anniversary at my day job as a magazine’s Managing Editor and my 60th birthday. My goal now is to achieve those milestones as a healthy and content human being.
That is why I choose to fight to keep on living. I may never be back to my "old" self, but I will keep on being here.
However, I must be patient. Patience is the best medicine now. Patience is the only way to keep my career intact. That is what I'm fighting for. In the meantime, I continue working.
I have goals. I will fulfill them. For now, I must be patient. Harder said/written than done, to be honest…
Still, I did accomplish plenty when I was healthy. Aside from returning to the Chicago Auto Show for the first time in three years, I also accomplished a media familiarization trip to a place I have never been before. I also was able to do plenty of media work – between media drives and events, magazine and community-related events and coverage, and so forth.
Speaking of which, the one thing I wanted to do these past two years is to be present for the community I cover as a person in the community. The "travel" I've accomplished over this time was driven by a principle that in order to cover the community, you have to be there. That meant covering miles to attend Pride events across the state, being there at events that I am able to attend and having conversations with other folks in the community.
I wished I did more. But my left foot kept on getting in the way.
If there was one thing that balanced out the year, it was having the V&R Machine around. This 2021 Mazda CX-5 was a welcomed addition to the work you've been reading and following along since we took delivery of it. I thank George for not only bringing in our "company car," but in keeping V&R relevant for you to read, watch, and engage with us.
With all that said, thank you for your kind words throughout this year. I may have earned your respect, at least – your friendship, as well – and I am grateful for even that.
This was my 2023. Let’s hope 2024 is better on some fronts.
All photos by Randy Stern and George Torline