18 reasons for me to be thankful on Thanksgiving 2014

1. My children, who are my greatest blessing in life. I find joy in everything that they do. Many people warned me about how difficult parenting would be. They were wrong.

2. My wife, the ideal mother and best wife. I married the pretty girl and the smart girl, and I still can’t quite believe it.

3. In these not-so-easy economic times, I am thankful to still find myself with the means of providing for my family.

I’m in my sixteenth year of teaching and love it today as much as I did when I began so long ago.

My DJ company remains successful after 19 years in business.

My writing career continues to prosper. My fourth novel will publish in November of 2015. My fifth is nearly complete, and I’ve also completed a memoir about a season of golf and an essay collection based upon my Moth stories. I also have a on-the-side novel that I am pecking away at that I like a lot, and a couple other writing projects, including a screenplay and two musicals.

I’m also fortunate enough to be paid for tutoring gigs, speaking gigs. and a variety of other side jobs. Finding work is not been a problem for me, and I know how fortunate I am for this.

4. I am thankful for The Moth, the storytelling organization that allows me to take a stage and tell stories. Since I began telling stories in 2011, I’ve competed in 26 StorySLAMs, 8 GrandSLAMs and two Mainstage shows. My stories have appeared on The Moth’s Radio Hour and their weekly podcast, and I’ve been fortunate enough to win 15 StorySLAM competitions so far.


This success has opened doors to storytelling opportunities with organizations like The Story Collider, Literary Death Match, The Liar Show, TED, The Mouth and more. The Moth made me a storyteller.

5. I’m grateful to the supportive and enthusiastic audiences who have made Speak Up possible. I first proposed Speak Up about four years ago in an effort to avoid trying my hand at The Moth, and when we finally launched it in 2013, I thought that we might get 30-40 people per show.

We have since sold out every show and now have partnerships with outside venues and schools to bring Speak Up to them. None of this would be possible if not for our audience, who fills our theater and welcomes our storytellers with rapt attention and enormous support.


6. I am thankful for my friends, a collection of honest, direct, intelligent, successful people who miraculously accept me for who I am and stand by me in times of trouble. Many are like family to me.

7. I am thankful for the Patriots, who are playing well and giving me reason to cheer on Sundays.


8. I am thankful for my students, both past and present, for making every day an adventure. It has been such an honor to get to know them like I do.

9. I am thankful for canned, jellied cranberry sauce. We should eat much more of this throughout the year.

10. I am thankful for Bluetooth headphones and the limitless supply of podcasts and music that pour forth from them on a daily basis.

11. I am thankful for pickup basketball and the occasional collisions in flag football. I’d be thankful for tackle football if I could find someone to play with me.

12. I am thankful for Kaleigh, a dog who can admittedly annoy us to no end but is the only other living being willing to climb out of bed at 4:00 AM with me and head downstairs to work. Almost every sentence that I compose is written with Kaleigh underfoot.

13. I’m thankful for Owen, our twenty pound bulimic house cat who wakes us in the middle of the night and bites us from time to time but accepts all of our children’s poking and prodding and full-body hugs with patience and love.

14. I’m thankful for our many babysitters, and especially Allison, who take such amazing care of our children when we are gallivanting about.

15. I’m thankful for my literary agent, my film agent, my editor, the booksellers of the world and all the other bookish and entertainment professionals who make my sentences sound gooder and help my stories find their way into readers’ hands.

16. I’m thankful for golf. Oh so thankful for golf.

17. I’m thankful for my family. A father who I am finally beginning to know. A brother who is back in my life after many years apart. A sister who should be writing more. Aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews and cousins who my children are getting to know. And my wife’s family, who have taken me in and made me feel like a part of their family.


18. I am grateful for possibility.

Perhaps I will always be a slightly-less-than-midlist author who publishes a novel every year or two, and if that is the case, I will be a happy man.

I am doing what I love.

I have often said that I would like to someday write for a living and teach for pleasure, and while I am certainly not ready or able to give up my teaching salary, I am closer to this dream than I ever thought imaginable.

Really, really far away, too, but still closer than I ever thought possible.

But with every book comes the possibility for greater success. A larger readership. An opportunity for more prolific career. The dream of a best seller.

In short, possibility.

In addition, all three of my books have been optioned for film or television.  This does not mean that anything will ever happen with any of them, but once again, it represents possibility.

Then there is a memoir, a book of essays, a rock opera, a tween musical, a screenplay, my speaking and storytelling career, and more.

My life is filled with many unlikely ways to make my fortune. Retire young. Travel the world. Give my family everything they want.

None of this will probably never happen, and that is okay. I love my job and my students, and I feel incredibly lucky about the life I lead.

But I feel blessed with the ability to genuinely hope for so much more when so many cannot.