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What I’m Thankful for this Holiday Season

These past couple of weeks have been nothing short of chaotic. This time of year is always the busiest for a content creator and I’ve had podcasts to record and edit, YouTube videos to make, streams to stream and articles and newsletter pieces to write. And as the holiday season gets into swing, I’m left feeling reflective and grateful, which isn’t something that often comes up in the Magic community.

It’s much easier to criticize than to compliment. It’s easier to focus on the negative vocal minority than the positive vocal majority. If you’re on Magic twitter at all, you’re constantly bombarded with takes of what cards should or shouldn’t be banned, how could this card have been printed, this draft format has too many bombs, etc. It can be exhausting to see so much negativity not only on social media but in YouTube comments or on your own stream. 

But not today! Today I’m going to take a break from my usual Limited-centric content and take a bigger picture look at what I have to be thankful for in my life as not only an opportunity to share something personal with you, my dear reader, but to encourage you to do the same.

 

 

First and foremost, I would not be in the place I am in my content-creating career without my viewers on Twitch. I started streaming consistently in spring of 2017, with the release of Modern Masters 3 and then Amonkhet, chugging away in the 10 to 20 concurrent viewer range. I’ll try to avoid the term “luck” in this article but rather refer to variance in life giving me good fortune. I was fortunate enough to start streaming when I did, as it’s very difficult to gain an audience as an unknown person in the MTG world, especially when you focus on Limited. Timing is often everything, and I feel like I got in right before the streamer boom happened. I’m so grateful to have such a supportive core of viewers on Twitch that make it truly a joy to wake up and play Limited in front of every day.

This community is not only full of people who are loyal viewers and helpful mods, but some people I count as true friends. In fact, too many to name. I would be remiss If I didn’t shout out one person in particular: moderator to the stars, Matt Bedsole aka StunlockFTW. I met Matt via Twitch and then formed an in-person friendship while we both lived in Pittsburgh until he moved away last fall. In Matt’s Twitter profile, the first line is “LordTupperware’s content manager,” which is more true than it sounds. As I’ve navigated the tricky world of content creation and have had opportunities presented to me or had difficulty sorting out a particular problem, Matt is someone I can reliably turn to for honest, useful and actionable advice. This kind of job can feel so isolating a lot of the time, and it’s invaluable to have someone like him to rely on.

Twitch has given me the opportunity to interact with and form bonds with many other content creators. I’ve co-streamed with fellow Pittsburgher JamieTopples, drafted with GarbageAndy, interviewed Caleb Durward and Sam Black, teamed up with Chord_o_Calls for set reviews, and countless others. And of course, last but certainly not least, I found MisterMetronome.

 

Forgive me if you’ve heard this origin story before, but it really is just pure, unadulterated luck (I know, I know, I said I wasn’t going to use that word) that brought Ben and I together. A few months after I started streaming, Twitch introduced the “hosting” feature, which allows you to send your viewers to someone else’s channel once you’re done streaming. Ben was one of the first people to host my channel, which made me want to check out his stream and do the same. He seemed like a nice enough guy and also loved Limited. One day on my channel, the concept of starting a podcast came up and I said while it was something I was interested in, I didn’t want to do any of the technical work like editing, distributing, etc. Ben piped up in chat and said “I’d be willing to edit.”

And as crazy as that is, that’s how it started. With Hour of Devastation around the corner, we decided a new set was a good time to jump on the scene and got on a Skype call to chat about our goals. And we were off! We had never met, barely interacted and embarked on a partnership together. 240 episodes later and we’re still going strong, we’ve started an LLC together, received a sponsorship from this very website, navigated advertising opportunities, grown an incredibly supportive Discord and Patreon community, and never once skipped a week releasing an episode. In the now four and a half years of working with Ben, I have met him in person only four times. We could not be more alike in terms of our approach to Magic, content and our business relationship, and I would not have the life I have today if it weren’t for his bold move to offer to create and edit a podcast with a complete stranger. 

 

Header - Making Magic a Full Time Job

Thespian's Stage

I’ve worn many hats in the 10+ years since I graduated college with a BFA in Acting. As many aspiring actors, I took on part time jobs in the service industry as a waiter or bartender or as a test prep tutor for the SATs/ACTs in order to afford myself the opportunity to be flexible for auditions or take month-long gigs out of town at various regional theaters. With the growth of my stream and podcast, I was eventually able to take the leap and quit my last bartending job in August of 2019 and haven’t looked back. I can’t help but think of how fortunate that leap was in anticipation of the lockdown that would come six months later. Had I been relying on acting or bartending in the last year and a half, I would have been in a much different situation.

For so long, I considered acting to be my profession. Honestly, it’s not something I’m even that passionate about anymore. It’s hard to feel fulfilled when you have to wait around for someone to tell you you’re allowed to do the thing you love. And that’s the reason you want to be an actor: to be paid to do something you love. Well, I get to do that everyday now. I get to be creatively fulfilled by creating the podcast each week, having a “stage” on Twitch to engage with a live audience every day, and have the opportunity to write a piece like this on a platform that will reach a ton of people.

At the beginning of this year I told my agent that I didn’t really want to audition anymore. COVID had made all auditions remote, and the repetition of filming auditions by myself in my house and sending them off with no feedback had started to wear on me. He was very understanding and we came to an agreement about the kinds of projects I was still interested in trying out for. The relief I felt in having the freedom to say “no” to auditions was indescribable and has made me much happier for it. Ironically, this year was filled with more acting opportunities than just about any other year since I graduated. I filmed my first two TV episodes ever, commercial work, and a ton of voice over jobs, which is an area I haven’t worked in before. My job as a full-time content creator has afforded me the ability to choose what I want in other areas of my life and I am very grateful to be in that position.

 

Header - ChannelFireball

This website means a lot to me. I’ve said this before, but I grew up as a Magic player on this content. When I was fostering my draft obsession back in 2010, I would wake up and check my e-mail, Facebook and ChannelFireball.com. I read and watched anything that had to do with Limited magic, and even though I would check other sites as well, nothing compared to the quality of pieces at CFB. When the opportunity arose to join the ranks here and be on the other side of the content creation table, I was floored. I’m so thankful to be given this opportunity to usher in the next wave of Limited junkies and I hope I do right by them in the same way I was as a reader and a viewer 10 years ago.

 

Header - My Personal Community

I’m truly lucky (alright, so I’m gonna use the word a lot) to be surrounded by a community of friends and family that love and support me. First and foremost, my wife is the best partner I could ask for. This life that I’ve carved out for myself in the past few years is full of new and difficult paths to navigate. She’s an excellent sounding board, listener and gives me perspective when I need it most. I can’t imagine my life without her and am thankful for her every day. Beyond that, I have a very close-knit group of friends that is positive, affirming and encouraging with one another. And my family has always been behind me 100 percent without reserve. I know there are people who may not have that kind of support in their life and it is not something I take for granted.

In a world where negativity, criticism, and sarcasm often win out, I wanted to take the time with this piece to be vulnerable and reflect on all the things I have to be thankful for in my life and hope it encourages you to do the same. I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled strategic content, but for now I’m going to enjoy a holiday season surrounded by those I love, full of happiness for the life that I have. Until then, Happy Drafting!

 

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