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Jeff at 44


Tomorrow, I turn forty-five.

This year has been an aberration. A year of survival. A year on pause. It has felt like a personal affront. A rip-off. Like I paid for something expensive and it didn’t work and I can’t get my money back. Only it’s not money I’ve lost; it’s time. Middle age has a way of shrinking time. As the supply goes down, the value multiplies. I feel compelled to record what I accomplished, the motions I made. I have no conclusions, no lessons, no take-aways, only facts to mark the miles. Though the year itself feels like a net loss, I’m not going to list the steps backward. Nobody, least of all I, needs to read that. So, more for myself than for anyone else, here’s forty-four:


  • Kept my family healthy and safe during the pandemic
  • Managed my kids’ remote learning
  • Survived the Blue Ridge Fire
  • Survived a bipolar meltdown
  • Rehabbed from a shoulder injury
  • Said goodbye to Dottie, my feline editor
  • Welcomed two new dogs, Tank and Rebel, into my family, and trained them
  • Lifted 30,241 pounds during 185 workouts
  • Earned an orange belt in Karate
  • Read 27 books
  • Watched 69 films
  • Played Dungeons & Dragons 24 times
  • Celebrated Christmas and NYE by remote
  • Celebrated the BER months by putting up a themed tree in SeptemBER
  • Camped twice: once at the beach, once at Joshua Tree
  • Took my family on two mini-vacations to La Jolla and Palm Desert
  • Served on the board of my local conservancy group, Hills for Everyone
  • Joined the Chapman University Alumni Board
  • Paid for a significant remodel of my house in cash we saved
  • Set aside money for retirement
  • Helped a friend move


  • Launched my second novel, THE LIGHTNESS OF HANDS, during COVID
  • Wrote 20k words and a proposal of a new novel
  • Wrote 20k words and an outline of another novel
  • Produced 13 episodes of The Hero’s Journey podcast
  • Hosted 9 live Instagram events promoting other authors
  • Gave virtual talks at 5 school events
  • Gave 7 hero’s journey workshops for schools and SCBWI
  • Attended 2 personal/professional development seminars
  • Guested on 1 podcast
  • Signed books twice at my local B&N
  • Played one show as the lead singer of my 80s cover band