2017 was the year

December 31, 2017

2017 was the year that I said goodbye to my mom.

It’s been 2+ months since she died. I used to chat with her every weekend, usually on Sundays. And since she died, not a weekend has gone by when I haven’t thought to myself at some point, “Oh cool, I get to call mom today.” (or tomorrow) And then I’m reminded, “No. No, you don’t.”

It’s the strangest thing not having either of your parents around. So much gets written about dealing with a parent dying, but I don’t recall ever reading or hearing people talk about when the second parent dies. When your parents are alive, there’s some kind of buffer zone, a layer of protection between you and your own death. And then when both die, that protection is gone and it’s like … “you’re next!” Such a strange feeling to have both parents gone. I wasn’t at all prepared for this. But seriously, I’m fine. Not looking for sympathy here, just sharing some personal thoughts. (Many of you know that I consider this blog a personal journal.)

2017 was the year that I decided respect — both self-respect and respect from others — is more valuable than money, titles, status, etc.

In a marriage workshop that Cari and I attended many years ago, attendees were asked to choose one of these two options:

  • You can have everyone’s respect, but no one will love you.
  • You can have everyone’s love, but no one will respect you.

Our group of attendees, like most groups before us, voted largely on gender lines: Men (including me) overwhelmingly choose option 1 and women overwhelmingly choose option 2.

Maybe the biggest thing I learned about myself this year is that respect trumps all. I don’t need to be liked. I don’t need to be agreed with. I need to be respected. And this was the year I decided to stop surrounding myself with people who don’t respect me.

2017 was the year that I literally heard God’s voice for the second time in my life.

He was so right the first time I heard His voice (in 1993) … how could I not listen again this time? I still don’t know where He’s leading me, or why, but I know that listening was the right thing to do, no matter how difficult it was, how out-of-left-field it was, etc.

2017 was the year that I learned who my true friends are, for both better and worse.

After I left Third Door Media in July, almost everyone was incredibly supportive and helpful and rooting for me as I steered my career in a new direction — and I’m so grateful for that. But I soon learned that there was a small group of people who were spreading rumors about me. They were saying I left TDM because I was lazy and didn’t want to work hard, and because I was afraid I was going to get fired by my new boss. (Not only were the rumors false, but they were disrespectful to both me and my former boss, Danny Sullivan.) I thought the folks gossiping about me like that were friends, but that’s not how friends behave.

But more recently, I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from friends and acquaintances as I applied to be the Chief Experience Officer for Cancun.com. The help I got with this was crazy — more than 2,500 votes!!! Are you kidding me?? People from across the SEO industry, people from across U2 fandom, people from my wife’s social circles and all over the place were voting for me and sharing with their friends to drum up support. I didn’t make the cutdown to 100 finalists but that’s okay; what I got from the friends who came out of the woodwork to support and cheer me on was invaluable.

I can’t adequately express what that experience meant to me on a personal level. A simple “thank you” seems insufficient, but it’s all I have at the moment. Thank you. I was blown away by the amazing messages and shows of support — and it showed me that I have friends in places I never knew. Incredible.

2017 was the year that I devoted myself to helping my wife reach her career dreams.

Cari and I tried working together about 6-8 years ago; I’d give her online marketing advice and she’d ignore most of it. She wasn’t the best client, and I’m sure I wasn’t the best consultant. For a variety of reasons, we never clicked on that level. But it didn’t really slow her down too much — she’s still managed to become one of the top ~30 real estate agents in a market of (I think) 700 or so agents.

We gave it another shot in August of this year, and it’s been wonderful. We’re working like a team and I’m thrilled to be able to help her reach her career goals (which don’t include settling for being in the top 30). We’re having fun, too, and we’re succeeding together. And that feels wonderful!

2017 was the year that the McGee clan eschewed the Big Family Vacation and instead enjoyed several shorter/smaller vacations. We all went over to Seattle in May for a U2 concert, and again in July for a Mariners weekend (and watched them beat the Yankees). We had a wonderful visit from our friends from Arizona — Mat, Holly and their three kids — in July and drove out to see Palouse Falls for the first time. On top of that, Cari and I also enjoyed trips to Las Vegas, San Diego and Santa Monica — all loads of fun and great to get away for even just a few days here and there. A highlight was getting to visit our alma mater, Pepperdine University, for the first time in a couple decades.

2017 was the year that I got to hear U2 play The Joshua Tree in its entirety at four concerts. To be frank, this wasn’t anywhere near my favorite U2 tour ever, but it was magical to hear “Red Hill Mining Town” live for the first time — a song they’d never played live before this year. And I never thought I’d get to hear songs like “Exit” and “In God’s Country” live again. Every chance to see/hear U2 live is something I cherish.

So that’s it for 2017. I hope you had a fantastic year, and I wish you an even better 2018!

1 Comment

  • Reply Chip January 27, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    Matt, I went through the loss of my last living parent five years ago (my mother), and while losing one is tough, losing the second is a transition point that cannot be underestimated. All blessings on you as you continue to process it (and grieve when necessary), and as you continue to discern God’s will.

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