Wow, 2019 has been a tremendous year to look back on! In fact, I don’t think I could have pushed any harder or done too much more, so I look back at this year and hope to keep the energy and drive to push even harder next year. I was fortunate to have many opportunities in 2019 and make a tremendous number of new friends along the way.
The year included a couple of tragedies that were overcome and turned into positives. This is the only way to see life in my opinion, taking a negative and turning it into a positive. It can be very difficult to do, requiring strength and an unwavering belief in myself to carry on.
Surrounding myself with amazing people always helps. There is no way to complete tasks that seem overwhelming without the help and support of others. There are so many great people I know that keep me strong, in ways they might not even realize.
First of all, I couldn’t do much without my mom, Betty Borkland. She is amazing! As a mom, she is supportive of all of my adventures even though they probably scare the hell out of her. She never lets on that they do, she just lets me know that I am loved and to be careful. In business, she watches my back and guides me through the hardest choices with ease. She is a rock in a sea of turbulence allowing me to appear “Stone Cold” – a nickname I was awarded this year.
Heritage Body and Frame
Business in 2019 started off with an ending. We closed one of our collision repair facilities because the State of Texas needed to build a road through the property. This had been a multi-year project that was difficult, to say the least.
Without revisiting all the details that are not really relevant anymore, I had
spent about 3 years on this project from beginning to end without knowing how it would all turn out. With a terrific lawyer who turned into a tremendous
friend, the project ended up fair and wrapped up right at the beginning of the
year. The State of Texas is currently building the bypass road, which was
needed to relieve the heavily congested area.
Also at the beginning of the year, at Heritage Body and Frame we started our journey to become a Tesla certified collision facility. We had started working with the Austin Tesla service center in 2018, and we pushed forward to become certified by Tesla in 2019. This on its own was a tremendous journey to take on within one year. The amount of knowledge, equipment, and skill it takes to get and hold that certification could fill pages. We, as a company and team, are incredibly proud to be one of the few that can do it. I am proud to be on the cutting edge of automotive technology and to be working with a company that will change the world in energy consumption. This was the driving factor that pushed me forward to complete the certification. If I can make a small difference in energy consumption by encouraging people to change in a positive way, then at the end of the day I did what I set out to do.
At the end of January, we suffered a fire at our primary collision location. A non-serviceable bearing went out, and that started a fire. The fire suppression system that was designed to contain something like this failed, which created a situation that was almost catastrophic. Through the bravery and courage of the people around me, however, with quick thinking and action the fire was contained. That was a gut-wrenching day that could have been terrible, but became a blessing in disguise. As part of our fire recovery plan, we ended up replacing both of our paint booths and added new high-tech mixing facilities. We also revamped and reorganized the entire shop while construction was underway, and emerged stronger than ever. We are all so proud to have taken a negative and turned it into a positive. We are currently operating at 100% capacity again, but still finishing details of the reconstruction. We are looking forward to an uneventful 2020 at the shops!
Diving and Fins Attached
The adventures I have been on this year could fill a lifetime. The people I have had the pleasure of meeting this year could also fill a lifetime. The stories are amazing, to say the least! My journey with Fins Attached has been a spiritual one; every time I am onboard, the journey opens up another chapter, with another adventure.
We started this amazing year off in the Bahamas, where I met some amazing friends. We had some great dives, interacted with some very cool sharks, and I really started clicking with the crew. I really enjoy being a part of an organization where everyone cares about the cause and it is not just a vacation. Science and research are the primary goal of every expedition. I enjoy helping and being a part of the crew where I can, trying to spread the vision of what I see when I look out into the vast expanse of the Ocean.
I ended up in Belize shortly after the Bahamas trip, not with Fins Attached. This was the dive trip where I came to the realization that I was no longer a recreational diver. I felt like I no longer fit into a trip where I was a tourist, and during that trip I came to the conclusion that the Fins Attached Sharkwater was my home – and I missed her. I decided to devote my efforts to the cause. I have a lot of energy, even though I seem Stone Cold on the outside my brain is always speeding ahead at 1000 miles an hour.
The next trip was a coastal trip with Fins Attached that started at the Northern Pacific tip of Costa Rica, just South of Nicaragua. Once again, it was a very special trip with some amazing people! The crew was terrific as always, and being back on board the Sharkwater was like coming home. On this trip, we worked with scientists at turtle nesting grounds and turtle nesting beaches on our way back south. We serviced acoustic receivers and caught, tagged, and tissue sampled Turtles, Bull Sharks, Giant Mantas, and a Whale Shark. During this trip, I really started getting involved with Randall and observing how I could be of assistance in the water. We saw some amazing animals on this trip and got to see some truly inspiring places. Purpose-driven science and research was coming together. On this trip, I got to meet a wonderful photographer who helped me understand and see first hand how
to push my photography skills forward to another level. I still have a very
long way to go, but I am pleased to see myself making progress.
After my time off the coast of Costa Rica, I traveled to the utterly captivating Cocos Island. Cocos is a World Heritage site and a place like no other. Tiger Sharks, Hammerheads, Galapagos Sharks, White Tips, and Silver Tips all reside here. Fair warning: the diving can be tough here, but it is absolutely amazing. We serviced receiving stations and I received more instruction in tagging and tissue sampling from multiple internationally known and respected scientists. The amount of expertise on that one trip was outstanding – and incredibly rewarding. The amount of data being passed from scientist to scientist, speaking about the behavior of different species, was staggering, showing the world-changing potential of the Sharkwater Research platform. I also had the pleasure of meeting some great videographers, that showed me what great video can look like. This blew my mind, as I was still integrating what I had learned from that great photographer on my last trip.
The last trip of the year was a very special trip to the premiere of Sharkwater Extinction in Costa Rica with a lot of remarkable people. Being surrounded by people that care about the cause and are living it every day is an outstanding experience. This trip was capped off by an expedition out to Cocos Island where I was included on the research permit. I tagged and tissue sampled Tiger Sharks, Hammerheads, and a Giant Manta. This was a special trip and a special team, a very fun time I will remember fondly for the rest of my life.
The culmination and end to this fantastic diving and research year was being named to the Board of Directors of Fins Attached. This is a special honor for me and one I do not take lightly.
2020 and the Start to a New Decade
I have set myself a personal challenge for 2020. This upcoming year I am going to push my knowledge of video and photography, trying to expand my limited knowledge at this point to a new level. I believe that sharing the underwater world is the key to saving it, and that compelling footage is an integral part of showing the world what is there.
As for diving, I have started down the path of technical diving and plan to be able to reach that level of expertise by the end of 2020. There are places that need to be reached by researchers and scientists, and with the proper training I hope to reach it myself. It is a daunting challenge to make it to 330 feet safely, but one that I know I can do. Without pushing our limits, we do not know what we can accomplish.
Follow along with me on the adventure of a lifetime in 2020!