Lessons from 2015 … LOTS of lessons

When it began, 2015 looked to be an exciting year, from the professional perspective. I had acquired the quarterly journal Copyright & New Media Law six months earlier and was exploding with ideas of how to bring it into the modern publication age and make it an even more robust resource for readers. Both my legal services and training were in more demand than ever, and I had great ideas about combining, or packaging, certain services to give my clients economical options for comprehensively addressing their needs. I had even been asked to speak at nationally recognized conferences and symposia. It looked to be a very promising year!

And then…

The Ugly

Ever look back on a period of time that, at the time, seemed like you just did what had to be done but, in retrospect, seems pretty surreal? Yep, “surreal” ended up being the theme for 2015. It was exciting, all right, but not the type of excitement I had expected!

It began in June, with unexpected open-heart surgery for my husband (now fully recuperated). Then, while he was recovering, came the unexpected selling of our home (we had been planning to sell eventually but got an offer without even being on the market) and accompanying search for temporary housing and monster-move to the lovely small town of Smithville, Texas. Shortly after the move, wildfires started nearby. After two weeks, they were finally put out by record-breaking floods across Central Texas. We were just waiting for the locusts to arrive.

During all of this, of course, I was still trying to both keep up with my work and move forward with some of those big projects. It was all pretty exhausting, emotionally and physically. So I was really–really!–looking forward to a nice calm, boring 2016.

I should have know better. Six days into the year, one of my closest friends was told that her last hope for treating her advanced ovarian cancer was not viable; eight days later, she passed on–to her next adventure, in her words.

The Good

Someone once told me I lead a “charmed” life, and even during those eight crazy months, the charm held.  The greatest “charm” in my life has always been the gift of being surrounded by magnificent people–intelligent, compassionate people who are generous with their talents and time. Thanks to my various “teams,” I (we) was able to accomplish a great deal last year, despite the circumstances.

We did completely revamp Copyright & New Media Law in look, format, and usability, though we’re not yet finished.  We launched a more substantive, user-focused website for Digital Information Law (check out the new Free Learning Resources collection!) and began expanding our course offerings. (Hat tip to the awesome team at Flywheel Creative!)

On the legal services side, I made great headway in establishing a comprehensive program for assisting my institutional clients in establishing copyright policies to guide and protect them in their daily practices. I created a system for helping clients engaged in mass digitization projects identify orphan works and assess the risk of including them in their projects. I even, after years of claiming I had no interest in going to back to a trademark practice (following 9 years of trademark work in law firms), did exactly that, as both established and new clients increasingly expressed the need for it … and I’m enjoying it!

But No Bad!

Obviously, 2015 brought a lot of Good. I’ve decided that even despite the Ugly, there really was no Bad. I spent much of 2015 worrying that I was disappointing my clients and professional community. But stress is usually wasted, and every experience in life teaches us lessons, if we are willing to learn.

Needless to say, the past several months were all about prioritizing! But it was more than simply putting the health of loved ones above immediate career goals.

The most valuable lesson I learned is that when we are passionate about something, and believe in it deeply, giving to it what we can in any given moment–even if we want to give more–is enough.  It is enough to bring us to the destination, even if the path or the travel time was not what we originally expected.