I have a confession.
It was a choice that went against many of my instincts, but, in the spirit of the season, I had to do it. My love of holiday and Christmas films, good and bad, also played into this decision. Reluctance took hold, but I did it.
I watched Best. Christmas. Ever! on Netflix, starring Jason Biggs, Heather Graham, and Brandy Norwood (or, as many may remember her, simply Brandy).
A starting off point in the plot for this film revolves around Christmas letters. Brandy's character sends detailed letters every year writing about the high points of the year. Graham's character, old friends with the aforementioned, doesn't believe the truth is being told and by the magic of Christmas (or a devious son), ends up at Brandy's for the holiday.
This ties into a newsletter, and something I've seen pop up more in recent years in holiday episodes, and sharing the good and leaving out the bad. For my Christmas letter this year, I debated how far to dig into this past year, especially to send out into the internet world. I don't get too personal when it comes to social media, sharing mostly my writing, thoughts on sports, and photos. I leave, in most cases, the truly personal stuff to close friends and family. But, it has indeed been a year, as the young folk say. And, if I have learned one thing from all those films I watch, at Christmas, you tell the truth.
Friends, 2023 has been a difficult one.
Earlier this year, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. With no options for treatment where she lives, we made the choice to have her come to Boise for all the steps, surgery, and treatments involved. A lot of travel took place on the lonely roads, getting to know state routes and highways a little too well. It was an oft difficult journey these last nine months but she is on the road to recovery, with a positive prognosis and outlook from her oncologist and other doctors. (A special shoutout to the doctors, staff, and more with the St. Luke's Cancer Institute, who are some of the most kind, caring people I've met.)
There were also professional roadblocks that popped up. In July, after about eight years, the sports website I contributed to decided to move away from paid contributors. Then, at the end of September, a big whammy: I was laid off from the company I'd been with a little over eight years. (Many others with their company suffered the same fate over the course of 2023, and I hope they have landed on their feet).
After the initial shock and worry regarding income, I looked for the positive. I saw this occupation loss as a blessing (in having more time to help my mom), and perhaps an opening to something bigger and better. Or, at the very least, a chance to focus on writing full time for a stretch.
After the release of The Dragon Slayer last December, I turned my focus to a handful of other projects I'd been dabbling with over the years. In recent weeks, I reached the halfway point of a new novel, Through the End of Time. The idea had been floating around since my college days and one I wrote off and on through the years. Originally, I envisioned it as a two-book series but am now aiming for two parts in one book.
I also, for the first time in about four years, dove into writing a new play. I have about 40 pages written of a first draft and hope to have a private reading sometime before summer.
Work, too, was begun on a new youth novel. It's a sequel of sorts to Of Snow Forts and Santa and my hopes are that I can have that available for the world by Christmas 2024.
In this regard, I'd like to thank everyone who purchased one of my four books (or all four, in some instances). Means a lot, especially in recent months without the steady paycheck coming in.
Though I am no longer writing for FanSided, I do continue to write about sports over on my blog The Journey of Now. I don't always share out on social media but I regularly post a couple of times per week. Much of it is sports related (Boston Celtics, Boston Red Sox, Boston College football, and Boise State sports). It's also a pop culture blog and/or a chance for me to keep my writing tools sharp. Here are a couple (non-sports) related favorites from the past year:
I also began my 12th year with Alley Repertory Theater. No directing or acting this season but am part of the staff, have been the dramaturg for each show, and help out in a variety of other capacities. Our production that just wrapped last night was Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical and I am looking forward to our spring show Boulevard of Bold Dreams by LaDarrion Williams.
In 2022, I began running again in earnest. That year culminated in the YMCA Christmas Fun Run, where I ran the 2-mile portion.
This year, I ran four races, starting with a 5k St. Patrick's Day run along the Boise River Greenbelt. I followed this up with a 10k in May, a 5k in September, and finished up with a 10K Christmas run.
I wanted to get in at least one or two races throughout the year but, you know, life. My goal for 2024 is to run in at least five races, one of which is a half-marathon. I've never done a full marathon but, if the cards fall into place, perhaps in October (a VERY loose goal).
FAMILY & FRIENDS
In June, my sister and her family made the trip out west. A couple of years had passed since their last visit and it was a special ten days or so. The house was abuzz in activity over this span but we had a lot of fun as this trip didn't involve any extra driving (especially for the group who already spent time on a cross-country road trip.)
My buddy Danny also made the trip to town in May. And while we captured no pictures this time around, it was a fun long weekend. Dinners, barbecues, and parties were also had with friends this last year, part of what filled my heart with joy.
I am grateful for all the love and support in my life. Whether we keep in touch or not, and even if it's a simple like or comment on a social media post, I appreciate you. Here's to a happy new year and a calm, peaceful holiday season (or, if you're not one who celebrates this time of year, a happiness in your life is achieved).
Be bold. Be kind.