12 Months in 40 Pictures

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“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around for a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller

 

This has been a year of extremes. Major milestones and profound joy seemed to weave between moments of struggle and even deep loss. Before I close the books on the year, I thought it might be valuable to reflect on the images that best told its story.

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My amazing wife, daughter and I welcome the year from the couch at our place in Manhattan. You may notice that you don’t see many pictures of us in the gallery below (or really online at all). Reason is simple. They are my everything. I prefer to keep a lot of what happens in my family private and not so much a part of my public life. IMG_1510

A few days into January, I find myself on a plane to San Francisco to both appear on my friend, artist Ann Rea’s CreativeLIVE show and also spend some time with another friend, Live Your Legend founder, Scott Dinsmore. What they don’t know at the moment this picture is taken is that I am in pain and have temporarily lost much of my hearing in one ear after it filled with fluid as my flight descended into the city. What I don’t know is that this will be the last time I see Scott. Later in the year, he’ll lose his life in a freak accident, while hiking Kilimanjaro with his wife, Chelsea.

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Seeing an ENT in San Francisco, I learn that both ears, in fact are in jeopardy and one eardrum will likely rupture if I fly back home to New York. I ask how long I have to wait until my ears clear and learn it could be a few weeks to a few months. My options; drive or train the 3,000 miles home. I choose the train.IMG_4223
Taking over my own sleeper car in the train, I’m hopped up on a variety of misting devices, supplements, pain-relievers and I’m drinking huge amounts of water to re-hydrate my ear components. I’m pretty miserable during most of the 4-day rail trip across the country. Still, between San Francisco and Denver lies some of the most gorgeous country I’ve ever seen. I’m barely sleeping, so I capture a few moments when the light is just right.IMG_3036

Growing up in the Northeast, we have trees and mountains, not mesas. I’m captivated.IMG_3055

Back in Gotham, I find spires and moments of another kind…IMG_4347
And, of course, the occasional mythical creatures on the #1 subway.IMG_4346
And, hipster dogs.IMG_4265
It takes a few months for my ears to clear. In April, I fly to Costa Rica with my Good Life Project team to lead a 5-day retreat for 36 people. I’m nervous. If my ears melt down in Costa Rica, I can’t drive or train home. Thankfully, my ears are fine descending into San Jose and the next 5 days are magical, with the occasional sunrise hammock meditation.IMG_3635
Not wanting to be outdone by NYC hipster dogs, this Costa Rican cat vies for a bit of fresh bread with homemade almond butter, honey with roasted local coffee beans and strawberries.IMG_3581
Even the butterflies are laid back. I ask a monarch if I can take a picture and she says, “si, como no?”IMG_3769
While ancient trees chill in the morning mist…IMG_3922
A few months later, I fly to Chicago to lead a 3-day training with my team. Love this city, especially at sunrise.IMG_4126
Shortly after, I find myself back on stage before 450 people in Portland, OR, a/k/a the place young people go to retire. Love this town, so much soul, a gentler sensibility than NYC and a kinder pace and approach to life.IMG_4338
Plus, they turn old buildings into works of art…

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While in Portland, we take a few extra days and head down to Bend, Oregon to visit a friend, record a podcast and spend a little time in this beautiful mountain town.IMG_4418
We drop my daughter off at summer camp in Maine…and I promptly freak out. It’s her first time, will she be okay (btw, of course she was. #bestsummerever). I grew up on the water, so our short time on the Maine coast helps bring me down. I have trouble focusing on my meal as we sit across the bay ogling this “little starter home.” IMG_4327
And, up here, surfers don’t care how cold the water is.IMG_4319
Summer is a massively busy time, prepping for a big event at the end. So, once my daughter gets home, we decide to head out of the city for a week to chill and do some creative heavy lifting in a gorgeous old barn up in Woodstock, NY.IMG_4731
While we’re in Woodstock, we head over to Saugerties, grab some kayaks and head out onto the Hudson to catch the sunset. Did I mention I like water?

kayak-editBack in the city, one of my oldest friends surprises me with tickets to see U2 at the Garden. I took her to her first show a few decades earlier, so it’s time to return the fave and celebrate a big birthday with her. We sing at the top of our lungs the whole time, the show is incredible.IMG_4682

Wrapping the summer, my team comes together one last time to create 3 1/2 days of transcendence for 350 people from around the world who come to play and learn and rise at Camp GLP.21181138680_1ac49a6976_o

I mean, c’mon, where else do grown ups get to play like kids, learn and make friends for life?color games
Oh, and dress like unicorns with megaphones and make giant string art…IMG_4785
And, share your most secret dreams on a massive handmade dreamcatcher and maybe even find people to help make them happen.IMG_4808
Knowing that, in the end, it’s really all just about one thing…IMG_4589

Returning from camp, exhausted, regrouping, I find this note tucked into my stuff from a dear friend who spoke on the main stage. And, yes, for those who were there, I’m sure you can guess who it was. Love being friends with men who can tell each other “I love you,” even if there’s the occasional f-bomb thrown into the mix!IMG_4806

Wrapping up an insanely busy summer, we steal away in a gorgeous little cottage on Martha’s Vineyard. I basically don’t wear shoes for 5 days. #heaven.IMG_5136
Driving past the beach one afternoon, we see a bunch of what look to be kites. It’s like a festival of color. As we get closer, we realize the wind has kicked up and there’s a lagoon where maybe 50 kiteboarders are flying across the water, launching into the air and doing things that defy the laws of physics. I want to learn and put it on my next summer list.IMG_5247
My daughter and her friend lose themselves in laughter and conversation while taking in the waves. I watch from a “parent-safe” distance and think about how we spend our whole lives trying to get back to the place that come so naturally to us as kids.IMG_5229
Sneaking out to the island dry goods store early one morning before the family rises, I get some coffee to bring home. Before I leave, I sit on an old wood rocking chair on the front porch, glance up and notice this sign. Sweet moment, indeed.IMG_5162
Seems, even remote islands have unicorns.IMG_5345
And hidden escapes, obscured by the passage of time…IMG_5188

Settling into the fall, I get back into my recording rhythm, also known as an excuse to build my life around talking to people I can’t enough of, like Jen and Jadah from Simple Green Smoothies.IMG_5351
One day, I decide to look at how we’re doing on iTunes and see that the top three podcasts in my category are taken up by us and two dear friends, Gretchen Rubin and Lewis Howes. I smile.IMG_4984

My daughter and I make our annual pilgrimage to the annual World Maker Faire at the World Fair Grounds. A mom and her son ride past the famous globe fountain just as I have my hand at ready. IMG_4867
It’s been a long, crazy whirlwind of a year, so we escape to yet another cottage in the country. IMG_5421

We take some time to just be. With each other. To reflect. To restore. To stay largely off screens. It’s been quite a year.IMG_5493

Back in New York City, we head into Central Park at 11:30pm on December 31st to get ready to “run in” 2016 along with thousands in the famed New Year’s Eve Midnight Run. It’s our third time and apparently we have trouble figuring out exactly how to work the glowing shoe laces.

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At the stroke of midnight, we count down 2015 and welcome 2016. Fireworks light up the sky as the sound of explosions echo off the corridor of buildings along Central Park West. With thousands packed in, it takes a good 10-minutes just to get to the start line, which is fine by us. This moment, like the year to come, is more about the joy of participating than finishing first (in fact, we walk much of the way, surrounded by revelers on all sides).

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Reflecting, I can see how my wife and I made a much more deliberate effort this year to pulse and refuel, alternating windows of intense effort with recovery. I think that may have been one of my biggest learnings, something I’ll deepen into in the year to come. Hopefully, leaving anything with a plug or a signal behind a bit more readily.

While these images tell a story, of course, it’s just the highlight reel.

Not captured was the moment I opened the email from Scott’s wife telling me he had been killed, the countless hugs that punctuated and filled nearly every day, the walks in the woods and along the water, alone and with amazing people, the quiet meditation that welcomes every morning, the fierce effort and big wins, the innumerable personal and professional mistakes and outright failures, the profound love that grows for my family and friends and the moment I turned in the manuscript for my next book, then headed out to dinner to celebrate…wait for it…my 50th birthday.

What a year. So many things planned, so many others I never could have foreseen.

I often wonder just how much we are truly in control of life. How much more of a role surrender might play in the tapestry of the human condition than I’d imagined.

Maybe what we’re really here to do is to simply show up.

To do the work.

To practice.

To love.

To lower the shields and reveal what’s behind them.

To hold ourselves open to possibility.

To receive and to know, at the end of the day, that is enough.

We are enough.

Wishing you a year to come filled with meaningful contribution, deepening love, abundant vitality, grace and ease.

Much love,

Jonathan

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39 responses

39 responses to “12 Months in 40 Pictures”

  1. Berni says:

    Thank you loved it!

  2. Glen Stansberry says:

    I loved this, amigo. Here’s to an even better 2016.

  3. Madeleine says:

    Thank you. And thank you for all you have done to inspire and ground me this past year. Hope to see you at summer camp!

  4. Beautiful, inspiring, as always, authentic. I have been listening to your podcasts since 2013. I love the tone of support and inspiration, and knowing I am not alone.

    Thank you!

  5. Caron Harris says:

    Thanks for the wonderful pictures and thoughtful commentary. You are performing a valuable service for us all! Great good wishes to you, your family, and your work going forward in 2016!

  6. Linda B says:

    Jonathan,
    As I read through your year, I recognized how much I connected with many parts and pieces of this beautiful recap of 2015.
    Indeed, surrender has been a great teacher in 2015. It has power beyond its definition. Continuing to show up, slow down, dive in, go deep and engage out of the comfort zone is so much smoother beginning at surrender.
    I love the notion of honing my life’s rhythm and continuing to recognize the rough edges as opportunities to serve more deeply in 2016.
    Big love!
    LB

  7. Dorene says:

    Awesome. Thank you for your words and your pictures, I was very moved. All the best to you and your family in 2016!

  8. Dan Carpenter says:

    Thank you. What a beautiful presentation of your year’s highlights. Some food for thought for me this coming year. You really inspire this Canadian to step up every opportunity I can.

    Much love and peace to you and yours!

    Dan

  9. Brian Hermelijn says:

    A year is filled with many momentos, such as happiness, anger, sad and so on, but it is those moment that changes us and enlighten our very being for continuous effort of aiming for what you call the good life project.

    I thank you for sharing this article, I thank you for doing what you do and sharing with us readers, I thank you for the messages you have shared over the years Jonathan.

    Thank you. And happy new year, continue marching onward, to another new adventure.

  10. Debbie Weil says:

    Thank you for this Jonathan. Love that you got to the Maine coast!

  11. Sylvia Holland says:

    Jonathan, this is beautiful. We have never met, except via your writing, but through this year-end reflection, you show more of your gift for spreading kinship. Thank you for the sweetness, vulnerability and strength flowing through these images and your words. Happy new year! Carry on, in the good company of many!

  12. maggi coplin says:

    That.was.beautiful. ‘nuf said.

  13. Nely says:

    Thank you. This was lovely. 🙂

  14. Zoya says:

    Thank you Jonathan Fields for what you do.)ready for another year with you.

  15. I love the images and your story of 2015! Thank you for sharing this with us!

  16. Lisa Jacobi says:

    Jonathan – I treasure your virtual-visual moments. The unicorn is such a trickster. Mythical beings choose to show up at the most unexpected times. Many years ago when I was a new musician, my band donated a tiny, humble show to an Altanta area orphanage (yes, orphanages still exist).

    A little one from the orphanage magically made his way into our pre-show soundcheck. Listened raptly to a song, and then poof, he was gone.

    Just now, I uploaded for you a photo that someone captured of the moment. You can see it here -> http://lisajacobi.com/notable-music-quotations

    I think of him any time I edge on believing that music is about the artist, making him my funny little spirit-animal. And an even further reminder to me: the photograph doesn’t show me on stage with my bandmates. I particularly like that.

    Jonathan, I have gratitude for you and all the wonderful moments you bring to our world. Here’s to a beautiful 2016 – picture it well. LxoJ

  17. Michelle says:

    What a generous, illustrious share of your 2015. Thank you! I agree with your sentiments about what’s next. A Shaman friend of mine said, “My New Year’s resolution is to not change a thing about myself and to simply love myself just the way I am… Never do I want to change the path that I am on, my path is here to change me… ” Those words have remained fresh in my mind and influenced my approach to 2016. Happy New Year, Jonathan. Blessings!

  18. Madelaine says:

    Thank you so much. I found that very moving and almost meditative to flow through as I sit here at my breakfast table in Australia with children loudly playing and creating around me. The 2nd of January has dawned here and what a beautiful way to begin it.

  19. Tom Bentley says:

    Jonathan, lovely, touching, funny, mesmerizing, kooky, human stuff—thanks for the New Year’s gift. My best to you and yours in 2016.

  20. Jorge Coello says:

    Dear Jonathan,

    Thank you for such a wonderful and open post. I’ve followed you for years and reading this confirms you live the life many of us aspire to live.

    Blessings,
    Jorge

  21. Jane says:

    Love, love, love your reflections on your 2015, poignant, uplifting, and really quite special. Thank you for sharing Jonathan.

  22. Sonia Chambers says:

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful photography and words with us, and from me especially thank you for being you so authentic and sharing yourself with the world, you have inspired me in many ways this year and go on my list of great teachers who will always be in my heart from the wisdom they have imparted to me. Big big hugs from all the way across the globe, I will never forget the instant calm I felt when you and Stephanie greeted me in Costa Rica, such beautiful energy.

    Sonia
    xxx

  23. Linda G says:

    Your work is a lovely addition to this world! Thank you for all your reminders to live a good life.

  24. jerry says:

    Jonathan,

    Thanks for posting this. Gave us much to appreciated and to changes that should be made.

  25. Thanks so much for this wonderful trip through your year. Highs and lows. Your work is inspiring. One day I will make the trip from NZ to NYC for camp GLP.

  26. Monica says:

    Thanks so much. What a beautiful way to capture 2015. Happy New Year! Hugs…..

  27. James Barr says:

    Love your podcasts.

    Abrazos for 2016,

    James

  28. Marieke Joustra says:

    Dear Jonathan, I wishyou and yourloved ones a sparkling, energetic, beautifull and healthy 2016 in which your dreams may come true, surrounded by love… Thank you for the beautiful overview..

  29. Tom Kelly says:

    Thanks Jonathan ~ A live well lived…

  30. Gina M Wane says:

    Deep inspiration. 🙂

  31. Nicola says:

    Beautiful and poignant-just like your podcasts X

  32. You have such a way with words and pictures and truly felt sentiment. I love how your work has been challenging me and my work for years now. I love that I got to be in on so many of these moments. I love the tribe you and Stephanie have rallied and I love the emphasis on giggles and delight.

    Here’s to 2016 being a glorious culmination of everything that’s come before. Thanks for being you, Jonathan aka JF. 🙂

  33. Thanks for sharing Jonathan,
    I love the way you worked with energy ebb and flow through the year. A wise strategy. I realise that I want to take more pictures of the beauty around me.
    Still reflecting on the great things learned at RevU
    Enjoy 2016.

  34. Karen says:

    Gorgeous photos but more importantly you are spreading amazing stories and creating visions for those willing to step into a life of passion, courage and expanse.
    Thank you…
    PS: the cabin in Woodstock…rentable by others or your own personal space? We live in Northeast Ohio and head upstate a lot. Friends in Cazenovia…would love to rent this one!

  35. Kristina says:

    Thanks for sharing your reflections Jonathan, they help me reflect too, and stay inspired! All the best for 2016! /Kristina

  36. June Silny says:

    Gorgeous! Thank you Jonathan for sharing your soulful photographic essay. Happy 2016!

  37. Karen says:

    Absolutely beautiful and touching. An amazing inspiration. Every week I learn so much from your kindness and gentleness. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. They made a huge impact on my life this year. I wish you and your beautiful family much love and peace.

  38. […] 12 months in 40 pictures.  […]

  39. AH says:

    These photographs are really beautiful. Really sad about Scott.I’m a Kenyan who was also a big fan of his work online.