#2015BestNine Lessons Learned

(this article also appears on Huffington Post - click here to read it there)

Towards the end of 2015, I started repeatedly seeing #2015BestNine on Instagram, and then on Facebook...and then all over my social feeds. While spinning my wheels trying to figure out what it was all about, I searched the term to see what's up.

Turns out that #2015BestNine is an app that automatically curates the "best" nine images you've posted on Instagram throughout the year. Evidently it cycles though and finds the ones that generated the most likes.

So clearly, I couldn't resist ...

I wasn't shocked to see what made my #2015BestNine at all, but the collage certainly got me thinking. What did I learn last year? How have I grown? Was it a "best year?"

A few lessons learned emerged through these scattered images.

Hard Work Will Pay Off. My daughter graduated from college and started a graduate program in Marriage and Family Therapy in San Diego. My son finished his sophomore year in college and completed his first real big-time internship in New York City. Both of them, as they say, saw it and conquered it. They both accomplished what they'd been working towards for years. I was beaming the entire year. Still am.

Create a Supportive Environment. My agency once again won multiple "Best Places to Work" awards. While we've won many awards for our work, it's this accolade that I wear with the most pride. It's my job to create an environment where people can excel, and where their hard work pays off too. I've hopefully been doing that as much as I can. I will try to do more.

Honesty and Acceptance Starts with Self. After three published books on marketing, I released a new book all about my journey as a father. Over twenty-two years in the making, Out and About Dad has been reviewed consistently as an open and honest portrayal of how to balance work and family...as any kind of parent not just a single gay dad. None of it would have been possible if I hadn't first been honest with myself and sincerely accepted who I am. While it may appear that this journey is complete, I am happy to say that it lives on and on. Including a move to Palm Springs, CA last year.

I Love My Home. While we probably spend more time at work, it's our time at home that is the most cherished. I love the home we have created, and we relish spending time in it together. There's nothing better in life than that.

Equality is Equality. After the Supreme Court approved Marriage Equality, I finally married my "partner" of seventeen years. We were waiting for equality to be, well, equal. Aside from the piece of paper and the new ring on our fingers, the benefits have been countless. Not the least of which is a renewed spring in our step as citizens of New York City and the United States.

By all accounts, it was a banner year but not without its twists and turns. Don't want to present a filtered story because the demands are never ending. But it wouldn't be life and it certainly wouldn't be real without a few struggles. Carry on.

What did you learn? What's your experience?  JIM.