As the saying goes, “So you live, to die another day…” And it’s true. Oh, it’s damn true.
A few weeks ago, I turned 34 years old. Not a milestone by any means, as I’m still able to say “my lower thirties.” But barely. I’m sure everyone, though, thinks about their life in some retrospective way on their birthday. Maybe they wonder what could have been, who they could have been celebrating with. Perhaps they think about how blessed they are to be living and have their health in order to actually celebrate.
In many ways, I did all of this and then some. One year, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t exactly a drop in a bucket. It’s less. But, in terms of experience and lessons learned, it can be the whole bucket. It could be exactly what you need to shape the rest of your life. One year is a long time to go through if you think about it in terms of days, weeks, even months. Think about where you were a year ago. Really, take a few minutes to think. I’ll wait right here for you.
Living situation… Career… Relationship… Money… Experiences… Goals… Outlook on life…
I’ll bet you immediately thought of a specific someone. Or circumstance. Or just realized in general how far you’ve come this year in each situation I listed. And that’s just the point, you (and I) have come so far, in such a short amount of time. So, while being 34 isn’t exactly mid life crisis age, it is high enough to really make you start wondering. And putting more into what you do, in all aspects in life.
For me, let’s go back to September 2017. Just in that one month, my live in girlfriend of over one year broke up with me, the only one up to that point in life who I saw myself marrying and having kids with, and then her grandpa passed away shortly after (RIP GPA). I went back to MATC to speak to the latest Funeral Service class. My sister got married (shoutout Country Bro-In-Law). I became a paid blogger for the overseas poker site, PokerShares. I also bought a Nintendo Switch (life changing moments, am I right? Haha).
What I want to do is recap the past year of my life, month by month, and reveal what I have learned, grown away from, and just re-live a few moments. Each one of us has our battles in life, but… we also have our triumphs. And this past year has truly opened my eyes, almost more so than any other year, to what really matters in life.
SEPTEMBER: It was a real mix of emotions, with a new one being had daily. First, there were the many nights of crying myself to sleep over my ex. I will admit it. I don’t care. She was a great woman and the reason I believed in women again. Then, there was the absolute happiness and being proud of my sister during her wedding. She married a guy that I know will always be faithful and treat her like a princess. But it was bittersweet because her wedding day was also my ex girlfriend’s birthday! Of course, there was also my 33rd birthday, in which my family went out to eat and then that was my night. I don’t even have any pictures from that day, oddly enough.
I also had a funeral to run that week in which a friend’s brother passed away unexpectedly. I had to remind myself that eventually I would be OK from the breakup, but here is my friend dealing with his brother’s death, and now I am the one in charge of making sure everything goes as well as can be for him. Pressure was on, and it was a very largely attended funeral. A big reminder that despite how my day is going or what is going on in my personal life, I have a responsibility to be perfect for the families I serve as a funeral director, as they are having a worse day than I am. Perspective, my friends.
OCTOBER: I actually left my condo other than work! I attended the final home opener for the Milwaukee Bucks at the BMO Harris Center (Bradley Center). I went to a Green Bay Packers game as well, but had to laugh and cheer at the same time, because our quarterback was Brett Hundley (Aaron Rodgers was out because of a broken clavicle), and man was he terrible. At least I can say I saw Drew Brees play in person before I die. Yeah, because that matters (insert eye roll). I also went to a concert of my absolute favorite solo artist, R&B singer Keyshia Cole. I have seen her once before, back in 2009. It’s been awhile KC! It’s also been awhile since I smiled, and really meant it. I can say October was a month I started to.
NOVEMBER: Things went from another negative quickly into a positive, via my vehicle. My Cadillac CTS went down, for good. And it was time I buried her… into the arms of a new dealership to worry about it, as I traded it in for a new Subaru Impreza Sport, with the help of my workplace. I cannot understate them helping me out with that. I was left speechless, actually. I also attended another concert, Macklemore, and let me tell you, his energy is something else. Such an inspiring story too, about sticking to your guns and believing in yourself when others say they do, but don’t show it.
Another person who does so, is my friend @MrMattyMoses who released his first mix tape in November, titled, “Who Am I?” It is a banger indeed, and one I still listen to almost daily. We all went out and celebrated the release of it, and I had a great time. Something to note, though, is that the town of Kewaskum does not accept cards when you go out. Straight cash, homie.
DECEMBER: Uh oh, here come the holidays! Being lonely at its peak. Every time I see a couple shopping together, it reminds me of what I want. It reminds me how important it is to be surrounded by those who are still around and still love you. I spent as much time back home as I could in the month of December. I also delved into the world of crypto currency and quickly made a mint. Ok, a few thousand dollars, but still. I also started streaming my poker playing a bit more. I really started sharing my sessions in two separate forms. One was my live play, whether it was cash games or tournaments, on Snapchat (watry.n). And then, on Twitch, a website used in conjunction with a camera to broadcast myself live, on air, playing online with a 30 second delay. It was a month to start trying new things, and the results were mostly positive. The only negative really, was that whenever I streamed my online poker playing I didn’t make any money, but then when I didn’t stream, I made money. Go figure.
JANUARY: This was truly a “New Year, New Beginning” type of month for me, as I began quite a few new projects and even found a way to promote my poker playing even more. I had created a vlog and weekly bullet point type post, with a newly designed logo, called the “Friday Felt.” It was 3 short bullet points, detailing my life that week and poker playing. I also started a new challenge, in rebuilding a bankroll for my online poker playing solely, beginning with $500, new goals and rules to follow.
The biggest step I took though, was to stop drinking. Instead of pretending to have resolutions for the new year and just quitting like everyone always does, I wanted to make things more attainable. I would challenge myself in a new way, every month. I dubbed this challenge “12 Months. 12 Resolutions.” January would start with something I haven’t done in over ten years, no alcohol. No drinking, for one whole month. There were always moments in life I would just turn to the bottle, but no more. I pulled it off, by the way.
FEBRUARY: February really only brought on a couple of things. You want the bad news or the good news first? The bad news? Ok, let’s get it over with. The sadness and heartbreak really only came down to one day, Valentine’s Day, obviously. I still had not gone on a date or talked to a woman who was interested in dating me until this point. A few friends and women I talked to, sure, but they had no interest in me in that way. It was also that day that I finally decided to move on, and know that I did all I could. I know I am a great person and a great boyfriend, sometimes people just aren’t meant to be together. Other than that, the month with the fewest days in it contained A LOT of poker.
I chased a couple dreams and went for broke, pulling in a profit of almost $6,000 in the month of February. Basically, I had a few big scores of $800, $900 and then I took second place in an online tournament for almost $5,000. Naturally, games online were hit or miss afterward. Meh, I’ll take it! I also took a week off from work to play in the WSOP circuit events held at my local casino, I played four tournaments, which were all one day tournaments. I played about 12 hours in three of them, make really deep runs, with my best finish being 19th out of a few hundred players, earning that $900 score (my first “official” WSOP cash). I wanted that $21K to first badly. I also totally bombed in my last one, so there’s that. But, still, took in $6K in profit overall for the month. Holla. Imagine if I went back to playing full time vs. once or twice a week? Makes a man wonder…
As an aside, as per my “February Resolution,” I focused on being a better Christian. I have gone from a full believer of God and all His Glory to not believing at all, back full circle to believing and sharing with the world my beliefs. I just can’t see any way that there isn’t a God. This world is too rich. Too beautiful. Too unbelievable… unless you really believe. And keep the faith. I will always have mine, once again.
MARCH: My mother’s birthday and a really intense “March Resolution,” which included no alcohol again AND following the Whole 30 Diet strictly. My crutches in life have mostly been doing things I shouldn’t, the wrong women, binging on alcohol and overeating. I have conquered the former, now I needed to conquer the latter. I stayed mostly to myself this month, though, as winters in Wisconsin can be pretty brutal, and the February through April months are when we seem to hit the freezing cold and blizzard (global warming y’all). My BFF’s grandpa also passed away, and I’ll always remember his stories and gold chain. Yep, the only grandpa you’ll ever know who wore a legit, gold chain.
For those wondering about more poker playing, I played once live, up north in Green Bay. I played a tournament, and took 6th out of 150 players or so, give or take a few. I left with $330 for that sick beat. Chip leader at the final table, too. But that means nothing. Those painful reminders help me realize how just getting to the end isn’t enough. Money wise, sure, it is, but I want to win. My only focus is winning. It’s like telling an athlete, “Hey, you made it to the Super Bowl! But lost…” You really think they care about the extra paychecks in that moment? When they wake up, yes. Haha.
APRIL: What a month to be alive! A few great sporting events were had. Another concert. And a few moments of clarity in furthering not only my education, but my career and earnings as well. The lesson I took away from this month? Never stop learning. Never stop pushing yourself. You will get sweaty. You will be tired. You will hate that one day you’re on no sleep, or hungry, or everything seems to go wrong. But… when it all goes right because of the time you put in, there’s no greater feeling of success!
I tailgated for the Milwaukee Brewers opening day. As I grilled out and chugged my bottle of champagne (opening day is worth celebrating), it took me back to a time when baseball and biking was all I cared about in summer. Oh how times change. Think about that before you read on. Which also leads me to attending Game 4 of the Milwaukee Bucks/Boston Celtics playoff game. I can honestly say that is the best game I have ever been to, as far as excitement and what it meant to not only the team, but the city. Raucous crowd, indeed.
As for my finale in April, I also took classes for a few days at Kaplan University and then passed the board exam to become a licensed intermediary agent. Basically, I can now sell life insurance to anyone, but I use it to prefund families for funerals. Yes, you have to have a separate license in that if you have a family that wants to fund their funerals before they pass. I would take this exam in Madison, and when in Rome (er, Madison), one has to check out Wisconsin State Capitol!
MAY: Derby Day is upon us! My absolute favorite day of the year. Derby Day. Yeah buddy! The day of betting on horses and wearing wacky outfits, only to party all morning, day and night. What an adventure this month was, as I actually drove down to Kentucky for the Kentucky Derby. An amazing time was had by all. What wasn’t amazing was my ill fated return to the game of baseball. Or rather, softball (first time I ever played it honestly). I went 0-3 with 3 strikeouts! LOL ME. Such shame. When you swing for the fences in sports and in life, you’re either the hero or the goat. I was the goat. At least I made a play in the outfield? Shut up, Meg.
May also brought on focus for poker. A determined mind and realization that only I was holding myself back, so I booked a trip to Vegas for a week to play in the WSOP (World Series of Poker- the tournaments you see on TV). I could not have been more excited for a trip that I basically devoted the rest of the month to meditation, working out and poker studying and playing. This next month would change my life, however, in very many ways.
JUNE: It’s taken me a few days to write this all up. One, because it’s been the most time consuming blog I’ve ever written. And two, because I knew what would be waiting for me. I knew this month would be what I needed to get through to complete this blog. Without getting into too much detail because of things regarding what happened are still pending, it went from the greatest week of my life (WSOP in Vegas) to the absolute worst.
Days after getting back from Vegas, I would lose a friend under certain circumstances that I cannot mention; but I say lost, as in, passed away. It would be something I was questioned on, mistreated and mishandled on as well. There are moments I will never be able to undo or erase from my head. Images and words and choices and just… I wish I could have back. I wish everyone involved could have back. For their sakes, not mine. I know, I’m not giving any details, because I can’t due to pending issues, but inside, I struggle with this. I went to giving up on everything for the rest of June, no social media, no resolutions, nothing. Just tears in Heaven. That is all.
JULY: A couple birthday shoutouts, since I missed my brother Justin’s over last month, he gets the first one. My sister Lex is next, and then, my brother from another mother, Matthew. I know reading this, you’ll say “What about mine!?” But yours is right here, dirty thirty for the dirty vegan! Haha. And to the BUDDY (no caps typo), who was married, completing the trifecta of brothers that are my friends. Wonderful night, guys!
This month was all about getting over the tears (a different kind of heart break, not relationship, but June) by truly putting my heart out there for GOOD WOMEN. Not the ones I knew I wasn’t supposed to be with. Not the ones I knew were no good, but fell victim to anyway… but following the advice of a friend, as I dog sat for a co-worker all week, I joined a dating app called Bumble. I thought, OK, let’s try a date, a real one, a good one, but put myself out there as I am, no frills, no jokes, no games, all me, flaws and all. Because I was tired of the constant heart break and losing people and doing things on my own always.
Within a day, I found her. Sometimes, it really can be that easy. From that instant, all of July and beyond was about her. About us. I thanked God every night for sending her into my life. I always talk about timing in my blogs, or going through life and learning lessons. Many of them the hard way. But I can say with 100% honesty, she was worth everything I have gone through. And she found me.
AUGUST: The end of summer. Those grilling out, sunset, breeze, poolside, beer chilling, music playing, summer nights. The time when we look back on our summer and wonder where the time went. Some start school soon (college or high school or teaching or being a secretary). Some might be gearing up for sports again. Some might just look at is as another month. To me, it was a month to finish what I had started. Fishing. Golfing. Loving. Making music. Hearing of my sister’s new pregnancy. Changing funeral homes. Even one last deep poker run. It was time to put this month, this summer, this year, to rest. To find closure. To move on. To lead a better life. The only one we have…
For more insight into my life, follow me on Twitter: @NoahWatry