2012 will absolutely be a year I will never forget. Full of trials, tribulations—tragedy and celebration, this year was a rollercoaster for my family and me. During a layover a few days before Christmas I was pondering this crazy year. Actually I was making laps with a stroller through the Chicago Airport trying to keep someone (#1 on this list) occupied during a layover and my mind wandered like it always does. What resulted is the list below of the nine most significant things to happen to me this year.
#9: Became homeless. Well, not exactly, but it sort of felt like that. My childhood home in Whitman, Massachusetts went out of our family this summer. WOW! the memories at that place! Of course, I am happy for my mom. She didn’t need the hassle of managing a large older home. She doesn’t need to deal with the New England winters any longer. I support her decisions and have urged her for years to unload that puppy. But I can’t help feel nostalgia for the home I grew up in.
#8: Second novel nearly completed. I was on pace to finish this book by Thanksgiving, but life took priority. I am at 90K and expect to wrap it up with 8-10k additional words. I need about two weeks and expect to finish it by mid-January. After I wrote my first novel, Paws on the Ground, in Afghanistan I was just impressed that I had written a book. I worry that the second novel can never compare to the raw emotion that flowed for Paws on the Ground. Hopefully my writing training and experience will compensate.
#7: Health declined. Endurance events are no longer part of my life. Leading the pack on runs and killing it in the gym are not an option. It is very hard for me to admit this. Fitness has been very big in my life for so long. But the wear and tear on my body from 60 parachute jumps and five deployments have finally caught up with me. I simply strive to be healthy, do physical training with soldiers, and pass the Army’s physical fitness test now. I still hate saying that. It is like I lost a part of myself.
#6: Website created. You may have noticed that I have a website. I learned at the James River Writers Conference in 2011 that I needed a website. I built my own, but it was hideous. Fortunately for me my mentor and editor Ginger Moran’s brother is a branding expert and web site designer. Chuck Moran at Bald Guy Studio built this site. I love telling amazing stories about dog teams, advocating for dogs, sharing stories of soldiering and my adventures with writing. But honestly the best part has been meeting all of you.
#5: New job acquired. So the Army sends me to Fort Hood, Texas to evaluate a unit for a month this past June. While I was there I learn that I’m leaving my then current job in the Provost Marshal’s Office. I was selected to be the Executive Officer for the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Deputy Chief of Staff. I went from basically a 9-5 laidback job to a grueling, high-intensity position working directly for a general officer. Am I strange for liking this new grueling position more?
#3: Army promoting me to Lieutenant Colonel. Yes, you saw that correctly. Sometimes I wonder what they were thinking as well! I’m actually pinning the new rank on January 4, 2013 because I wanted my mom to be present, but it is close enough to include on this list. I’ve come a long way since I went to basic training as Private Hanrahan in 1993.
#3: Literary agent landed. I actually teetered on which was more significant—my promotion or my agent. Lieutenant Colonel status took longer, but the probability of landing an agent is lower. Really they are both huge steps, so I decided neither was more significant than the other. While I was in Texas this past summer (getting retired from my chill job), I received an email from Victoria Skurnick at the Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. She said she was halfway through Paws on the Ground and loved it. Victoria said she would get back to me in a few days. She did and offered me representation. It took me a year to land an agent and this link will explain how I accomplished this feat.
#2: Brother Brendan died. He was 40 years old and left behind three children and a loving wife. The cancer started in his nonsmoker lungs and spread to his brain before they caught it. By then it was too late. Here is a tribute I wrote for Brendan and the town that rallied around his family this summer. I miss him the most during football season. I miss calling him on Mondays to recount the Patriots game. I hate that he is longer in my life.
#1: My clone born. My life changed forever on April 17, 2012. My wonderful wife Megan gave birth to our little boy Brady Thomas. I rush home every day from work trying to arrive before he goes to bed. On weekends I’m excited to be the one that gets him when he wakes in the morning. When I want to sleep in or am just feeling lazy, I cast those thoughts aside because I want to provide a better life for Brady, just like my parents did for me. I want to be the best father, husband, man—and example that someday he will hopefully emulate. Brady Thomas makes me need to be a better man.
What a crazy year! I’m writing this post-Christmas Eve morning while the entire house is asleep. We are at my in-laws in Springfield, Missouri. My brother-in-law Jack and his family are here from Portland. The house is alive and vibrant this holiday season. It’s been a roller-coaster of a year, but I know I’m a lucky man.
Happy Holidays and here’s to hoping your New Year’s wishes come true!
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