Sunday, January 8, 2012

Smoldering passion, big fire!

This post started to be one about gratitude in finding thanks in the small things in life, when the big things have got you down. It transformed itself into a post about how thankful I am for the pain and suffering of the past three years. I know, I'm thankful for suffering? Maybe that is a bit melodramatic, "suffering," but it has been the most challenging three years of my adult life.

At the end of January 2009, my husband lost his job of 8 years, followed by the death of my grandfather, and the completion of my six month coach training. It was a lot to process at once. I was also immensely hurt by a close friend, and the result of these events on me was that I shut myself up in my apartment after work and didn't really socialize. I brooded. My husband Blair was content to brood as well, as he dealt with the emotional aftermath of being laid off. He was working through his feelings of rejection, confusion, frustration and anger. While good hearted friends said better things will come of it, what they needed to remember is that people need their space to process feelings. And that kind words don't allievate fears about how bills are going to get paid. The video game industry in Vancouver was a veritable wasteland - no one seemed to be hiring, and there were a lot of out of work games people who were also on the hunt.

We struggled through, trying to stay optimistic. Sometimes it was more challenging than others. There would be promising interviews that led nowhere, which resulted in another loop-de-loop on the emotional rollercoaster of self-esteem. This seemed to go on for months. Then it seemed things were turning around. Blair had time to recuperate from the psychological impact of losing his job, and focused on creating work he loved. It was inspiring to see this man bound out of bed in the morning and recreate a cherished childhood game. In three months, singlehandedly, Blair recreated Ultima 4 in flash, allowing people from all over the world to play it in their browsers. It was April 2010 by the time the game had launched, and it started to pick up steam. A small group of people were dedicated to playing his recreation, and we received many emails from many people who shared their memories of playing the game back in the mid-1980's.

By happenstance, I was planning to attend a conference in July in San Francisco for Children of Deaf Adults and asked Blair if he'd like to join me. I had originally planned to attend solo. Four days after meeting with an old university chum in the Bay Area and her passing his resume on to a friend of hers, Blair had been interviewed three times and hired by Zynga, the largest game company in social gaming. The Ultima 4 project apparently sealed the deal. The interviewer, who later became a good friend, said he rarely sees the kind of passion Blair has for storytelling.

It was a year and a half of uncertainty and possibly destiny that led Blair to work for Zynga. He has now worked on CityVille and CastleVille, the number 1 and 2 games on Facebook, because his passion showed through. It can be a challenge to follow your dreams when you're slogging through a day job, and it is just as challenging to follow your dreams when you're at home, unemployed and sorting through emotional pathos. What I know to be true is that when you have fire and passion, you owe it to the world to set the place ablaze.

As Blair searches for kindling to rebuild his fire - it has been a very busy 16 months, with an international move to San Francisco from Vancouver and then to Dallas and he's fatigued- I am thankful that I see the spark in him. And when you see a spark in someone, you need to blow gently, to see what will catch fire. I see him pulling out his notes and he's got that twinkle in his eye again...

You will see amazing things from Blair Leggett. And it wouldn't have been possible without the challenges along the way. For that, I am grateful.


  1. I love how you describe the journey you and Blair have taken through this experience...and your continued support of him....and of your understanding how it's made you both better for it. Do remember your own journey, your new experiences and new friendships that we've seen you develop. Leanor

  2. Indeed, Leanor. I will be writing about my part of the journey in the next couple of blogs, about how I came to redefine myself these last five years. Thanks for your support. xxoo