My so so holiday letter of 2018

2018 Christmas Letter

I still have remnants of Ebenezer Scrooge in me. For one, I don’t send Christmas cards. If you don’t know I’m thinking about you through the year, then one day a year isn’t going to make that much difference.  Secondly, while I do my share to support the local economy, buying cards and stamps seems terribly wasteful when I can send you an electronic greeting without killing a tree.

Some of my friends send that letter with all the news from the year.  It is a nice summary of events, many of which I’ve probably forgotten so thanks for that.  I figure if anyone in my family reads my mail, or friends follow me on Facebook, you know what’s happening.  

For posterity maybe, and to help me remember years from now, here are the highlights.

On January 1, 2018, Danielle and I had already moved to Tennessee. Morristown to be exact. She was filling in as a “hospitalist” until mid-February, when her family practice clinic opened its doors. DD’s clinic opened mid February, and I started working 20 hours per week about the same time.  Her work is clicking right along, though the hours are long. 

In January of 2018, I was recovering from a huge dive into community theatre, where I had accepted the role of Ebenezer Scrooge.  Daunting. Lots of time, work, memory work, reaching for expression of feelings but it was good. Not something I want to do full time but once in a while maybe. (That was in December of 2017. As it turned out, I was asked to take two different rolls in one play, Arsenic and Old Lace in the spring.  Then this fall, I was asked to take a roll in a relatively unknown play called “Adam’s Eve”. All fun, time consuming, gratifying, etc. Not sure when I’ll do that again.

And scooters.  Bought a blue Suzuki Burgman 400 and it was stolen out of our garage.  We’ve since tightened up security around here. Recently, in November or October, I bought the red Yamaha Majesty.  Here in TN, we get to ride a little bit even in the winter.

Right before Danielle started, we spent a week in the Keys.  AirBnB’s, the best being on a houseboat for two nights. Great fun. One needs to thaw out in the middle of winter, snorkel a little bit and smell the salty air.

I’m working for the Hamblen County Workforce Development & Education Partnership.  I do what I can to assist the CTE department at the county schools to integrate career skills and grease the skids for kids to get jobs.  So far that means, meetings, videos, web page, data entry and analysis, none of which require a lot of expertise, but basic familiarity. Jack of all trades am I, but a master of none. Great job, make my own hours, as long as it is about 20 hours per week on average, great people, and gives me some pocket change for my expensive habits. Like thrift stores and auctions.

Speaking of which, there is always something to do around this mini-farm.  With three dogs, two horses, two cats, it is sounding like a John Denver song.

Projects included:

  • New horse stall:
  • Garage storage
  • Richard’s workshop
  • Compost bins
  • Grass and leaf collection
  • Gardens
  • And much much more.

As for fun, the Florida Keys was great.  We still hit an occasional contra dance or a movie but most evenings we unwind with a book, often with a dog on our lap. We have season passes for Dollywood and take the grandkids there on occasion too. We hike, sometimes me with the dogs, and Danielle riding the local horse trails.  An occasional dip in the water ad kayak is an easy way to get away from it all.

I miss my men’s groups but do call a few of the guys on occasion.  I did attend three men’s retreats this year, two in NC and one in Nashville.  Two were great. Transformative.

I’ve lost three of the dearest friends this past year.  John Read, my surrogate father who took me in under his wing back in the mid 90’s, and his wife, Mary died within hours of one another.  I got to see them a few days before they passed. My friend Caroline Briggs passed in spring. Known her since the mid ‘90’s as well. Got to visit her in hospice about a week before she passed.  And dear Barb Czina passed this summer. I visited a few days before she collapsed. They were so good to me and I know they visit often. I feel so fortunate to have had such wonderful people in my life, and continue to.

It was year where I had more time to think, feel.  I even had my astrological chart done…very good things ahead.  I now have time to reflect, meditate, exercise. No excuses. The best is now, and the best is yet to come.

Looking ahead:  I assume work will continue to be good. I do wonder however what it is preparing me for next.  I hope to add public speaking to my list of activities, both for work and personal sharing. More videos will be made now that I’m getting the hang of the editing system. In the pursuit of fun and expression, I bought a guitar. I might learn how to use it. You have been warned.  


Response Ability

I’ve been thinking about this since my first cup of coffee.

What does “responsible” mean? Some people might be using the word “responsible” for past mistakes. The word itself is loaded with multiple and misleading meanings. Not surprising as we often here as children, “Can’t you be more responsible? (aka mindful)” .  “Who is responsible for this mess (guilty)?” “You will be responsible for making sure this gets done in time. (in charge)”

If I messed up, then I use the word blame,  guilty, or mistake. If in charge of something, then I’m in charge.  If I didn’t plan well, then I wasn’t mindful or forward thinking.

I now use the term responsible like two words response + able.  I am able to respond to events in my life. It is how I respond to things that are out of my control that matters.  A football player may be tackled, but he can respond by diving forward to get an extra yard.

Shit happens that I didn’t cause.  Car wreck comes to mind. Irate students and parents. Other people’s feelings and experiences.  But I am only in charge of my feelings, my thoughts and my response. I choose my actions. Others choose theirs.

So with past mistakes, and I’ve made many, my response now is “What is my take away? What did I learn?  And do I have to apologize to anyone for it? And do I have a mess to clean up, debts to pay, or something else?”


When shit happens that I didn’t see coming, I don’t waste time blaming or getting pissy.  I think “How can I respond in a way that is useful, helpful and effective? What lesson is there to be learned here?” Everything that happens, and has happened is to teach a lesson.  

I don’t dwell on the past.  What is done is done. My focus is what is now and where am I going.  What makes me happy and what doesn’t? And what do I need to respond to to insure that I’m more happy than not?


I choose not to hang with people that are negative.  I choose to surround myself with people who seek the better way of living (men’s groups). I choose to do things that are good for me, and learning to avoid things that aren’t. (Sugar, carbs)

I read and listen to inspirational stuff daily, retraining my thoughts, learning to look on the positive side of every event.  And not assuming control of things that are none of my business. My business is my mind, my thoughts, my beliefs and my actions and reactions. Other people’s stuff? Not my business.  Out of my control, out of my circle of influence.

I can’t control what others think or do.  I try to be supportive. Mostly though, I’m learning to be the best me I can be.  And hope that others do the same.


In alanon, they say “the best gift you can give your family is your own recovery”.  The happier I am, and the longer I can maintain that level of happiness, makes it easier for loved ones that might on occasion worry about me.