2019 – A Great Start to My New Pickleball Career but a Lackluster Life Otherwise

I’m excited to start summing up each of my years. I think will be a cool way to look back on the journey that I’ve been on in life. And it’s also therapeutic for me to write down my experience as I notice what worked and what didn’t. Hopefully I will be able to adapt over time and create a slightly better everyday life for myself due to small decisions like creating this post.

Also, I want to make a quick note. This wasn’t the greatest of years. It wasn’t awful by any means. But less than average I would say. I believe I made some great progress in my career even though my everyday life was a bit boring and frustrating.

No sympathy allowed. I mostly want to document my journey so I can better remember it in the future. Thanks to all of the great people that helped make this year much better than it would have been without you.

I’ve listed out several areas of my life with a score below (10 being the highest and 1 being the lowest). It would be interesting to see others do something like this too. Even if it’s just quickly taking a few minutes/seconds to write down the scores to these areas of life that you feel you had in 2019. Don’t feel like you have to share it with anyone. I believe that doing this for yourself is a healthy and mature thing to do. As long as you aren’t too critical of the results. This should help your life, not make it worse.

Social Life (Outside of Pickleball) – 3/10

I feel like I had a pretty good social life in the Pickleball world (8/10). I’ve met a lot of new friends playing and coaching Pickleball. And I also organized several Pickleball events that were fun to be a part of. I didn’t like organizing them but being there to see people have fun was awesome.

Outside of Pickleball my social life has been well below average. I have some friends and family I hang out with some, but overall it’s not often and my average day is fairly isolating. I’m sure this will improve as I meet more people in Austin but I haven’t met many yet.

Progress I’ve Made in My Social Life this Year

A group of rock climbers outdoors at a picnic table eating food together. Calvin Keeney sitting next to Brian Adrian with Alexa waving at the Camera while Jeremy cooks. Along with 3 other people
Brian Adrian’s going away climbing party/picnic (Brian is in the red)

I am happy with what I have done to try meeting new friends though. My brain pushed through it’s comfort zone this year as I went to several Meetups for singles. Along with meeting new people in the climbing community and catching up with friends from the past.

One of my good climbing friends named Brian left Texas to go back to New York. We got along really well and were both laid back and creative. He makes videos about his climbing adventures and I found his work inspiring. We hung out several times and he helped teach me a bit about climbing as I learned that this year. It was a lot of fun.

Brian introduced me to his climbing friends and I liked meeting up with them several times. But big groups aren’t typically my thing so I stopped going after awhile once Brian had left.

A Goal for My Social Life in 2020 and Beyond

I want to keep making an effort to meet new friends and keep up relationships that I currently have. It can be a bit frustrating and offputting when several people in a row end up cancelling their plans with you. But I need to just remember that life happens and it’s (usually) not personal.

One of my favorite events of this year was a gaming weekend I organized for Team Brothder. TB is a group of my brothers and my friends I’ve met gaming. Such as the Benthul brothers and Will who joined in on the fun from Colorado.

That was a great weekend and I want to remember the good times we had then so I can press myself to schedule more events like that with my family and friends.

I also want to find friends closer to me that have similar hours (free time during the day). This is hard because most people work during the weekdays. I’ve worked nights and mornings most of my life and this has been tricky throughout.

My plan is to attend some events during weekdays and hopefully meet some like minded friends to enjoy life with.

Financial Life 2/10 – “How Many More Months Until I Run out of Money?”

I feel like my whole year was full of counting down the days until I ran out of money. I’ve felt this way several times in my life. Mostly when I left a job and started to try to make money on my own. But this year I definitely felt crunched.

Originally I had about 4 months of living expenses saved up before I ran out of money after I started coaching. I wasn’t making much when I started but I knew it would take awhile to build up my brand.

The first half of the year I made about $600 / month and was spending around $1250 to live. This wouldn’t last me long.

I worked really hard learning the game better. I’m very thankful I got to help out with Tyson McGuffin’s camp because he showed me a lot of skills to teach and practice myself. Several month’s after helping out with his camp, I was a much better player and coach. It was nice being able to help Pickleball players that weren’t just beginning.

Additional Expenses I Took on in 2019

One of my long term financial goals was to make money outside of coaching Pickleball. To do this, I created my own custom pickleball. Along with this, I also designed my own shirts.

These were both important to me long term to build my brand as a Pickleball player and coach. However, they were quite costly. I spent around $1300 to have the balls and shirts made.

I’m happy that I did it even though it was tougher on me financially in the short term.

December of 2019 Was a Rude Awakening Financially

My coaching job was picking up towards the end of the year. However, I was still making less than I was spending most months. The first month I made more than I spent was in July I believe. And I only did that a few more months after that.

Here’s how low I was running on resources in December of 2019:

  • I had taken all the money out of my Roth IRA that I could without receiving penalties.
  • My bank account had $300 in it along with a few $100 dollars of cash.
  • There were 0 stocks left for me to pull money out of to continue funding my businesses as I had done for several years now.
  • I legit didn’t know if I would be able to pay rent at the end of the month (December tends to be a slow month for lessons due to weather and the holidays.)
  • I was so broke I bought a fun and easy board game for a white elephant gift. Stole it from the person that opened it. Then returned it for my money back. Haha!

I finally broke down early in December and just cried for about 30 minutes straight. This was during a time when I was low on money to begin with. But I had several $100s of dollars of unforseen expenses as I tried to get physically healthy (more on that below).

My dog, Nasus was also not feeling well and developing a rash so I ended up needing to take him to the vet.

What I did after Breaking Down and Crying for Being so Broke

When I got back home from the vet is when I broke down and cried. This was probably the brokest I had been in my adult life. I didn’t know you could cry from being so broke but I learned that day.

Lots of emotions came up but luckily my fight or flight kicked in and I went to work. When I feel under pressure I got into fight mode.

I went to work and developed new pickleball classes to offer that I had students request several times before. There were also some trading cards I had laying around that I had won many years ago in tournaments. They had risen in value so I decided to put them up on Ebay.

By the end of the month I was able to pay my rent without having to reach out to anyone for help. Phew!

I know I have family and friends that would help in times like this. But I much prefer making it on my own. (I’m not sure if this is a strength, weakness or both.)

Career 7/10 – Terrific Growth and Great Progress

I had a lot of growth in my Pickleball lessons in the second half of the year. You can see most of that in the post I made about my first year coaching Pickleball.

Overall I didn’t make much money throughout 2019 but it was enough to keep me afloat.

During the last quarter of the year word of mouth started to spread even more about my coaching. I was traveling a bit to coach. People invited me to teach in Waco and Travis Country (West Austin). There were some good groups here and it was nice to be able to help more players outside of my existing network.

I received way more compliments on me being a good coach than I normally experience in my life. So I knew I must be doing something right. Because of this, I want to focus a lot more of my energy producing content (videos) about Pickleball to help players improve.

I’ve had a goal to help 100,000 or more people in a positive and significant way. Even though I stopped focusing on that daunting number as much, I know producing videos will help people around the world (in addition to helping local players with my in person coaching).

Several Areas of Progress I had for My Pickleball Career

I wanted to quickly jot down some improvements I made to my career as a Pickleball coach and player:

  • I focused on lessons that were good for me and the players – There were several lessons that I did when starting out that I felt weren’t great for me or the players. Mostly junior tennis players that didn’t want to be there. I felt like I wasn’t able to help them much because they rather be elsewhere. That’s ok but I was making very little money for doing these lessons in comparison to adult lessons where people actually wanted to learn and get better. So I stopped offering junior tennis lessons and switched focus to pickleball clinics and private lessons.
  • I started playing with higher level players (4.5+) – This was a goal of mine for awhile. I took the chance and went to the Quarries where an invite only group of high level players play. They let me start playing with them after I was able to be good enough to play. This opened several doors for me like…
  • I had my own custom Pickleball made (which I designed).
  • Getting to teach indoors – I finally asked S.L. at the Quarries if I could teach there. I asked around late November or early December. He said yes! This was big for me considering the mediocre outdoors weather Texas tends to have around December – February.
  • I designed my own Pickleball tshirt which I could now wear to tournaments and while coaching.
  • I played in my first 4.5+ level tournament in Cedar Park in December.

A lot of really good progress was made in my coaching/playing career this year.

How did Streamlined Gaming do Financially in 2019?

This was the first year my first online business was in the green. I actually made a little over $200 more than I spent on Streamlined Gaming this year. A big milestone for me considering I had spent many thousands of dollars more than I made the previous 2 years of SLG’s existence.

2019 was actually the least amount I had worked on SLG as well. So all of the hard work I did previously was starting to pay off. Game designers were starting to find my post about making a board game prototype very helpful. And people just looking for fun games to play were finding new treasures to introduce to their friends and families through my board game lists.

All in all, SLG was a success in 2019. Going forward I want to continue making content for SLG but for now I will be focusing mostly on Pickleball and my personal website here. On my dry erase board, I have written to focus 80% on personal brand and 20% on SLG. So I will roughly stick to that in the start of the new decade.

Physical Health 4/10 – The Lower Half of My Body Felt Crippling Pain Many Months in a Row

I feel like I struggled with my physical health from June till the end of the year. Most of it was my lower half of my body. From my lower back down I felt almost crippled at times. I could barely walk or lean over around the middle of October. People would ask me to play or drill and I had to just start saying no to everything other than lessons.

This made it difficult for me mentally and socially because Pickleball is where I got to be around most of my friends.

What I Tried to do to Feel Better Physically

Here is a list of things I did in order to improve:

  • Ice baths for my feet (this hurt A LOT)
  • Heating pad everywhere
  • Massage therapy (this helped a bit)
  • Doctor – X rays and blood work came back good so it wasn’t that.
  • Physical therapy – This helped the most. I went to see Dr. Wags and he helped identify which muscles were tight and causing problems elsewhere in my body.

I tried many things and some of them helped in the short term. But the massage and physical therapy helped the most in the long term.

I’ve spent hours a day doing exercises since seeing Dr. Wags in early December. It has been very helpful but a slow process to feel even slightly back to normal. I would say I was around 10-20% of my normal ability to move in October. Now I am back up to 60-70% in late December.

However, I still feel fairly fragile because I haven’t been moving much the last few months. So even though I’m getting around better, I still feel fairly weak.

Mental Health 5/10 – Great Progress with Coping Techniques While My Brain Worried About My Body

I saw 1 of 2 behavioral therapists weekly/monthly from April 2016 until August of 2019. They were very good at helping me understand my mind better. Anxiety is no fun but it is much more manageable now that I have self help techniques to lessen the impact.

I’ve been able to do a bit more outside of the house. When I do feel anxious or panicky, I have ways to calm myself down better instead of letting the feelings snowball out of control like they used to before therapy.)

Why I stopped going to Therapy in the Fall of 2019

My 2 therapists were always great. I’m very thankful for them. I stopped going to the first one because he ended up leaving the practice to do other things. The second one I stopped going to because of scheduling problems.

Around August/September of this year I was scheduling the TB weekend for gaming with my family and friends.

One of my good friends backed out somewhat last minute. This was kind of the icing on the cake for me having dealt with a lot of flaky people when hosting pickleball events.

I went to see my therapist and talk about better dealing with people being undependable. When I showed up, they had scheduled someone else during my time slot. I had a card saying I was to come at this time, but apparently they didn’t put it into the computer.

My frustration ended up with me just not going back. I wasn’t overly mad and I knew these things happened. But I was very disappointed and decided to take a break. I would go back to that therapist though in the future. She was nice and helpful.

Mentally Dealing with My Physical Ailments

This was probably the hardest part of the year mentally. Dealing with the fact that I couldn’t play/teach Pickleball 4-6 hours a day like I was doing earlier in the year.

Thankfully I had built up some good habits from life’s experience along with the help of my therapists. So I was able to handle my aching body much more effectively than I had before (such as in 2013 when I had severe carpal tunnel. Yuck!)

I’m proud of the progress I’ve made in my mental health and I encourage those around me to see a therapist/counselor. Even if it’s just to talk about your day. I find it very helpful.

Going forward I want to continue improving on doing activities that seem daunting to my mind. To know that it’s normal to be scared and anxious, but to know the difference between it being helpful anxiety or unhelpful.

When my mind tells me not to jump off a cliff with no parachute, that is helpful fear/anxiety. When my mind tells me not to talk to someone I find attractive. That’s probably unhelpful.

Relationships 3/10 – Dating Again After Taking a Long Break

Meh. I’m happy for some progress I’ve made in this area but don’t really have much to show for it. Cindy Austin helped me to better understand healthy dating. I was happy to put some of her tips to use in my own life and even went out on a handful of dates.

I got a bit discouraged though when I started running out of money. I still want to be a bit more financially stable before getting into anything serious.

Also, I had fun on about 3 out of the 4 dates I went on so that was good! It’s just hard for me to find someone with a mutual attraction for the things I’m interested in. Most people feel too “normal” to me. I don’t think it’s a bad thing for someone to follow societies path. I just choose to explore other options and look for someone that is at least willing to support that.

Overall I’m happy with the progress I made in this area too despite getting a bit discouraged in the slow process of dating. The Hinged app was helpful in finding me most of my dates. I enjoyed it for awhile until it started feeling like a second job I felt I couldn’t spend resources towards.

My Relationship Goals for 2020 and Beyond

Going forwards I want to continue dating as I search for a highly compatible partner. It’s been fun dating different people but my goal is to not settle into a relationship unless I feel that we are great friends first.

Much like the wisdom Cindy Austin gave me, I want to find a relationship that is healthy for both people (“interdependent”). One that heals, transforms and enriches our lives.

Several Things I’m Grateful for from 2019

So overall this year wasn’t amazing. It wasn’t horrible either though. Overall I would give it a 3.5/10 I suppose. Mostly thanks to my career starting off well as a Pickleball coach and player.

One of the things I find helpful in life is being grateful for what I do have. I practiced gratitude daily throughout the year as my finances and physical health dwindled. It was good for keeping me moving forward throughout my losses during the year.

Here are a few of the many things I was grateful for throughout 2019:

  • My lovely mother
  • My roommates Drew (brother) and Nasus (dogson)
  • The rest of my supportive family throughout the year (fun meals with my older brother and dad)
  • Some long distance friends I kept in touch with – Justen, BoA, Travis, Will, Casey, John S., several others from Down Home Ranch, Carla and Sheila.
  • Many of my pickleball friends
  • Lincoln for letting me coach at the Austin Tennis and Pickleball Center
  • S.L. for letting me coach at the Quarries
  • Becoming a better teammate
  • My pickleball tournament partners – Greg, Bill, Randall and Drew
  • Having enough food to eat throughout the year
  • Family Trip to see my uncles in New York.
  • Uncle Rob teaching me more about Photography.
  • The ability to make things work
  • Having just enough resources to pay for support for my dog and myself
  • Foresight to spend less money and make most of my food at home.
  • The internet
  • Shelter – My apartment
  • Walnut Creek Park where I’ve taken Nasus many a days.
  • Decent enough physical health to continue coaching despite being very injured.
  • Wisdom from therapists to help me push forward through tougher times. Knowing those times will pass.
  • The times I was able to live in the moment. To be present and thankful.

I think this short list full of gratitude is a great way to end my 2019 as I look into 2020 and years ahead. Overall I’m proud of the progress that I made in 2019. I believe that my hard work will continue to pay off and if I keep pushing through the tougher times, there will be even more green grass on the other side.

Happy 2019 to everyone and enjoy the start to your new decade!

– Calvin

(P.S. If you missed my life recap from birth until 2019, you can find that here.)

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