Monthly Archives: January 2020

Courage to Make a Stand

Could we have avoided the Civil War? Pictured: Fort Sumter aflame during shelling in 1861. Smithsonian illustration.

Robert Carter III could have changed the course of American History when he made a bold move against his own self-interest in 1791. But you’ve likely never heard his name because he wasn’t a Pied Piper.

His grandfather, King Carter I, highest ranking representative of England in America, owned 300,000 acres anchored in Virginia on the Rappahannock River, plus 1,000 slaves, and 10,000 pounds cash (when few Americans held cash). In 1732 he and his son died, leaving Robert III sole heir. At age nine Robert was sent to the College of William and Mary to prepare him to manage his inheritance, which he received in 1749: 6,500 acres and 100 slaves. (1)

Then he traveled to London to study for a law degree before coming home to inherit the family title: member of the Virginia Governor’s Council, offering advice to Virginia’s executive and serving on Virginia’s Appellate Court.  He campaigned several times for election to the House of Burgesses, where Virginia’s laws were made, wishing to introduce legislation concerning emancipation. Failing that, he gained an appointment to the Westmoreland Appellate Court in 1752.

He retired from his activity for the British Crown in 1777 and swore a loyalty oath of the Commonwealth of Virginia. He supplied provisions and bayonets to the American Revolution and paid dearly when his docks and plantation were raided by British ships.

Carter learned from others and took actions that moved him towards his ultimate decision:

  1. His great-grandfather, John Carter, freed his slaves and provided them homesteads and livestock in the 17th century. Although freeing slaves was illegal in Virginia until 1783.
  2. He delayed the sale of slaves at the Bel-Air Plantation that would break up families, yet it began 18 years of litigation with his Tasker in-laws. (His father-in-law Tasker had served as Virginia’s governor.)
  3. After the slaves given to his daughter Anne for her dowry were sold away from their family, he provided his other daughters’ dowry in land, not slaves.
  4. In 1786 he sent his youngest sons to the Baptist University in Rhode Island not to return until 21, so they would be out of Virginia, where slavery was prevalent.
  5. After becoming a Baptist years earlier because he believed them to be anti-slavery, in 1790 he wrote the British Baptist elder John Pippar: “the toleration of slavery indicates the very depravity of the mind.”
  6. Quaker Warner Mifflin petitioned a Congressional committee to consider an emancipation plan, but slaveholder James Madison buried it in committee before it came to light.

On September 5, 1791, Robert Carter III, who at the time owned approximately 200 slaves, wrote a “Deed of Gift” establishing a plan for gradual manumission. He developed an intricate plan to release 15 number of slaves each year for the next 50 years (the number of slaves over the 50 years increased based on the birthrate for the slave women). This seventy years before the opening of the Civil War.

But this action was not without risk.  In May 1793, Carter, his family, and Negroes George and Betty were forced to flee by ship to Baltimore with the threat of being tarred and feathered by angry whites. Carter never returned to Virginia.  His home church in Virginia, Yeocomico Baptist, burned down six months after the Carters left. He hired a Baptist preacher Benjamin Dawson to continue the program in Virginia, but some officials doubted Carter’s power of attorney provided to Dawson. To ensure the program continued, Carter sold the remaining slaves to Dawson for $1. Dawson filed the paperwork with the Westmoreland County clerk despite receiving a beating from Carter’s son-in-law Spencer Ball, who’d hoped to benefit from the slaves’ labor.

Years later, in 1803, Carter wrote his daughter, Harriet L. Maund: “My plans and advice have never been pleasing to the world.” Problems continued when the judge of Frederick County refused Dawson’s attempt to record the deed for emancipation over family objections. Five years later, March 24, 1808, the Virginia Court of Appeals upheld continuation of the emancipation plan, authorizing liberation of people held in bondage. The program, taken up by other Baptists taking Dawson’s place, continued until 1826, twelve years after Carter’s death and just 35 years before the opening of the Civil War.

Carter was not the only person to devise a plan to emancipate his slaves, but there were few who went to such efforts– leaving their home and moving out of state for fear of his life–to see that emancipation continued, even after death.

Carter’s Emancipation Plan – Could it have changed history?

Carter’s plan initially set up sharecropping blocks of land for 15 blacks each year, ensuring released slaves had the essentials of life with a launch into work to provide for themselves and their families. Eventually the slaves were freed. Despite his strong religious belief, Carter may have also acted partially out of self-interest, fearing he would be the subject of a revolt like the ones in South Carolina in 1740 or New York City in 1741 or Louisiana in 1791. Some of these incidents were as much between poor whites fearful of being replaced economically by slaves trained to a trade by their masters.

Carter’s 1791 plan had challenges. Slaves who were not selected to be emancipated were disgruntled. The most reported slave revolt in southeastern Virginia, Nat Turner’s Rebellion, occurred 40 years after Carter began emancipating his slaves—time enough others could have followed his lead. He worried that they might revolt, but unlike the slaves on neighboring plantations, they did see a future in freedom, albeit distant. His neighbors were angry that he had encouraged his slaves to believe that they would be freed—eventually—raising the concern that their own slaves might rise, wanting the same deal for themselves. Or that the freed slaves might encourage others to rebel across Virginia.

 Ideas to free blacks were far and few. The American Colonization Society (ACS) devised a plan to offer freed slaves a one-way trip to what became Liberia, Africa, beginning in 1817. American Presidents James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, and initially Abraham Lincoln endorsed the plan because each did not believe free blacks could live in harmony with whites. Early proponents from the South feared that free blacks would disrupt their slave labor, adding to the dissatisfaction of their “free” labor force.

By 1830 northern abolitionists began the push for an end to slavery as an evil that demoralized the nation. Their efforts began to diminish the efforts of the colonization group, which were criticized as anti-black. Why leave the country if there’s a chance to remain here free? Reports from those who emigrated also discouraged other blacks from wanting to go. Of the 4,571 who arrived in Liberia between 1820 and 1843, just 1819 had survived by 1843 to disease and fighting on the continent. More blacks spoke out against being shipped to Africa. Lincoln rethought his support in 1854:

My first impulse would be to free all the slaves and send them to liberty in their native land. But a moment’s reflection would convince me—that whatever high hope (as I think it is) there may be in this, in the long run, its sudden execution is impossible. If they were all landed there in a day, they would all perish in the next 10 days, and there are not surplus shipping and surplus money enough in the world to carry them in many times ten days.”(ACS wiki) [Lincoln referring to the fact that there were a total of four million slaves in America, making it impractical to consider. A total of 13,000 blacks emigrated to Liberia between 1817 and 1861.]

Missed Opportunity

Carter’s neighboring plantation owners had tunnel vision, never thinking what the future might bring if they make didn’t make a small financial sacrifice then to join Carter or devised their own method to emancipate their slaves.

What could have been if they acted before the nation began a serious North-South divide, before the cannon roared at Fort Sumter, before 720,000 fathers and sons died and millions of dollars in homes, farms, livestock, acres and acres of cotton and tobacco, miles of railroads, and thousands of bridges were decimated, destroying future prospects for a generation and leaving the South in diminished prospects for decades to come. Divisions created within the country’s psyche have yet to be completely repaired. Was inaction worth the long-term fallout? How many families on either side lost a father or son? How many never recovered financially? Was it worth it?

 Carter’s 1791 plan wasn’t perfect, but as one man he acted to begin to solve a problem that he saw as unethical and immoral. Issues come up in every life that require us to investigate our souls for answers. Finding courage to act once we’ve weighed an issue is a personal decision. No one can decide for you, but as you make that choice, if you cast your net wider, a broader picture may come into view, yielding a decision for the ages.

  • (Robert Levy (2005) The First Emancipator: The Forgotten Story of Robert Carter, a Founding Father, who Freed His Slaves (Random House) The source for facts in this essay.

Baptists in America, A General History of the Baptist Denomination in America

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert-Carter-III/

What would Lincoln do now?

Abraham Lincoln, George Peter Alexander Healy, 1869. Hangs in the State Dining Room, White House in Washington, DC.

Lincoln, the American icon, has become the modern go-to guy for advice in times of crisis. His leadership in the heat of human history came 160 years ago, responding calmly in desperate times impresses us now. How did he prepare himself and can we see hints as to how he would respond today? While his 19th century jokes might be dated, could we gain from his humor and logical mind?  

  1. Lincoln didn’t just depend on the existing gray matter between his ears. He read voraciously—the law, the Bible, Shakespeare, military strategy (West Point texts), and literature. In what spare time he had, Lincoln spent the first year and a half of the Civil War pouring over books he’d asked the Library of Congress to send to the White House–texts West Point used to prepare its officers. Lincoln had scant experience in the brief Blackhawk War and wanted to be able to quiz military officers about battle strategy. Later he went on the battlefield — managing by walking around— taking at least five trips to visit his generals, usually when he wanted to see for himself. He knew the questions he needed to ask and when to let General Grant have at it himself. Today Lincoln would have a fleet of military officers and State Department officials to answer his questions, but likely he would take time to determine which ones were there for their country and which ones were there for themselves.
  2. While he never was elected to the Senate, his debating ability against Senator Stephen Douglas gave him national visibility that thrust him into the 1860 Presidential campaign. The thought that went into these debates helped prepare Lincoln for a national campaign, though in 1860 surrogates toured the country on behalf of the candidate, not the politician himself. Lincoln’s experience in the Illinois statehouse, one-term in Congress, multiple political campaigns, and five years’ as President provided ample opportunity to slip into tight spots and reason his way out. A pragmatic politician, he appreciated the need to solve problems more rapidly than prior generations.
  3. He gathered around him a “Team of Rivals, as historian Doris Kearns Goodwin termed them, a group of respected men, some who had competed against him and each other for the Presidency, including Secretary of State William Seward and Secretary of War Simon P. Chase. Lincoln, Steven Spielberg’s biopic, shows how these men disagreed angrily with him. Lincoln listened and realized he wasn’t always right.  But when Lincoln knew he was right, he moved.
  4. In the case of General McClellan, for political reasons more than military, it was a slow process. In August 1862, Lincoln realized war could not be won without radical change in his military leadership. He found himself between a rock and a hard spot with General McClellan, who ingratiated himself with his troops, believing himself to be superior to the President.
  5. For a glimpse of the political environment at the time, we have the first-hand account of Capt. Charles Francis Adams Jr., grandson and great grandson of presidents and son of current minister to Britain, saw his 1st Massachusetts’ Cavalry moved from South Carolina to Washington. This to counter the Union’s losses in the Peninsula Campaign due in part to McClellan’s failure to act swiftly. Adams found in the Capital City an “atmosphere of treason, jealousy, and dissension” (more than usual) with his main concern—divisions of the officers of the Army of the Potomac and Lincoln’s Administration.

Lincoln realized he needed a larger and more energetic military offensive in order to win the war. He understood slavery was the base of Southern political and economic strength and would need to be weakened or destroyed in order to preserve the Union. Yanking the popular Democrat McClelland out-right from his position would create too much chaos within and without the military, so Lincoln did it piecemeal as McClellan began to lose a grip on reality. McClellan wrote to his wife: ”I have no choice–the people call upon me to save the country and I cannot respect anything that gets in the way.” McClellan charged the “dolts in Washington” were “bent on my destruction.” He did not reinforce General Polk when ordered, but demanded “full and entire control” and waited to save his own troops to defend Washington, then leaked to the press a demand that Secretary of War Stanton, an arch rival, be removed to provide McClellan the control he craved.

Patience: On July 2, 1862 Lincoln wrote McClellan if he could not operate offensively, then “Save the Army—first, where you are.” Lincoln played the game of slow go and missed opportunities wishing not to “estrange the affections of the Democratic party,” and “not wanting to make McClellan a martyr.” Lincoln went up to meet McClellan after Antietam in an attempt to get the General to move. But it was 19 days before the General got a single man over the river and nine more days to get his entire army across. Finally, Lincoln devised a test: if McClellan let General Lee get away once again, Lincoln would remove him, and he did in November.

6. Lincoln chose his secretaries well, working them seven days a week. Twenty-something Journalist John Nicolay and lawyer John Hay had great access to the President, living down the hall from the Lincolns. They worked as he did–14-hour days, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year—no vacations (sometimes the duo would sub for each other for a week during the summer to vacation with sweethearts) , but Lincoln trudged on—no leisure, no golf. Perhaps a little physical diversion might have helped lift Lincoln’s melancholy). He would ride his horse alone out to the Old Soldier’s Home north of the White House, until the generals and Mrs. Lee realized the security risk.

Earlier in the war, Lincoln told Hay that the “central idea of the war” was to prove “popular government was not an absurdity.” (Hay Diary, Burlingame and Ettinger, eds., 20, (entry for 7 May 1861) Lincoln’s philosophy: the war would midwife a “new birth of freedom” by liberating slaves and thus moving the country closer to realizing the Founders’ vision of equality (a debate over exactly what the Founder’s vision truly was may continue to eternity–but Lincoln believed the nation could not survive long-term by stifling the freedom of four million people). Lincoln aimed the Gettysburg Address at common people, using a few (263) well-chosen, pithy, simple words. Due to its brevity, many newspapers ran the speech on the front page.

5. Instead of letting a general or a civilian get both barrels of his wrath, Lincoln delivered a slab of humor more cutting than rage. General John Fremont received such a lashing in May 1862 when he moved his troops off his assigned spot in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Fremont decided to go relieve General Banks. Lincoln’s response: “There are three kinds of animals: there is a horse & mule & a jackass. A horse when he is broken will obey the reins easily, a mule is hard to guide but still you can make him go rightly. But a jackass you can’t guide at all!” Some suggested the President should criticize Fremont in the press. Lincoln said he was far too busy to write for the newspapers (having no digital options, but if he did might find them a serious time-drain as well). This in an era before the media became the fulcrum launching divergent opinions out to the public.

6. Lincoln was a politician, but he lost his Congressional seat based on principle. In 1847 in his only term in Congress, Lincoln fearlessly attacked American intervention in the affairs of Mexico, as a “war of conquest brought into existence to catch votes.” He rationed if Mexico could be fair game, how about Canada next? He went with George Washington’s advice on foreign entanglements–don’t. Lincoln questioned President Polk’s insistence that the Mexican conflict began when Mexican soldiers “invaded the territory of the State of Texas striking the first blow and shedding the blood of our citizens on our own soil.” Shortly Lincoln issued eight legalistic interrogatories (those questions again), which became known as the “spot resolutions,” outlining his reasoning.

Lincoln cinched a noose around his Congressional future when he voted for the amendment asserting that the Mexican War has been “unnecessarily and unconstitutionally begun by the President.” Then he buried his political dreams for the decade when he took the floor of the House on January 9, 1848 to deliver an hour-long speech saying he could have remained quiet IF the President had not stated that the Mexican Government was solely responsible for the war.

Lincoln learned that when you have 1,000 troops from your Congressional District fighting in Mexico, their relatives and friends, and friends of friends don’t take kindly to disparaging comments about that war. The tremendous lands (much of the current U.S. from Texas west to California) and resources Polk and the nation acquired from Mexico at the war’s end, stimulated western expansion, but heightened North-South tensions about the future of slavery in new territories.

7. The Commander-in-chief knew the buck stopped at his desk. Lincoln honed his thought process over time: years spent reading the law, defending hundreds of clients in court, and listening to his constituents’ concerns, helped him sort through all the options, like a modern computer. The American people admire a chieftain who can command their allegiance, unite the sections, and arouse them with a challenge that will appeal to their better selves, like Lincoln–Thomas A. Bailey, a historian who focused on the presidents. He exhibited three attributes that leaders develop in order to gain the respect and full support of their nation: patience, kindness, and forgiveness.

8. Unlike many politicians and mortals, he didn’t bear grudges–had no time for them. Missourian Montgomery Blair, Lincoln’s Postmaster General, had written to General John Fremont thinking he had a friendly audience when he criticized Lincoln and his Whig policies as feeble. Fremont, beholding to the Blair family for his military rise, yet he bowed to his desire for press and leaked the letter. Blair went to the President, embarrassed, and admitted his foolishness. Lincoln replied: “Forget it and never mention or think about it again.” To save Blair further anxiety, Lincoln suggested Blair was really criticizing the aging General Winfield Scott but “he has done his country a noble service & it was natural to trust him–but his vigor is past.”

9. He didn’t forget a promise. Lincoln didn’t know he wrote his own death sentence when he went out on the White House porch on April 11, 1865 to address Washingtonians. He talked about the future after the surrender at Appomattox. Earlier he’d spoken with Frederick Douglass about extending the vote to black men who had fought for the Union and believed the time had come. The idea so enraged John Wilkes Booth, who lurked in the shadows on the edge of the crowd, that he raised the ante on Lincoln. Instead of kidnapping him as planned, he and his band of Confederate sympathizers would kill the President, thinking it would end talk of negro suffrage.

10. Finally, Lincoln as a lawyer studied the Constitution throughout his career and was well-versed on the details first established by the Founding Fathers. He built upon that knowledge during his five years as President. He took the job and the Constitution seriously and could not imagine needing to tutor a politician about its finer points, although during the Senate Campaign Debates with William Douglas cocerning slavery, he did just that.

During the Civil War some of Lincoln’s detractors pointed to his action to suspend the writ of habeas corpus as a blemish on his record. This writ allowed the government to arrest and detain civilians without charges. It empowered the Union military to arrest civilians who were guilty of disloyal practice. dHe ordered a blockade of Southern ports, and established military tribunals to try civilians in occupied or contested areas, without Congressional approval (though Congress did approve retroactively.

The man who tested the write was a Pro-Confederate John Merryman, a wealthy Marylander serving as a lieutenant in a pro-secessionist cavalry, who’d helped cut telebraph wires, burned bridges to prevent Northern troops from flowing down to defend Washington, and who prepared men to serve in the Confederate army. Merryman sued for his freedom, arguing the writ was illegal.

Lincoln drew his authority during the Civil War under Article 1 of the Constitution. Already members of the 1st Massachusetts Division and a dozen civilians had been killed in Maryland as they struggled at the railroad station with Confederate sympathizers.

On July 4, 1861, Lincoln sent a message to Congress: “The whole of the leaws which I was sworn to take care that they be faithfully executed, were being resisted, and failing to be executed, in nearly one third of the states. Must I have allowed them to finally fail of execution, even had it been perfectly clear that by the use of the means necessary to their execution, some single law, made in such extreme tenderness of the citizens liberty, that practically, it relieves more of the guilty, than the innocent, should, to a very limitee extent, be violated? . . . I should consider my official oath broken if I should allow the government to be overthrown, when I might think that disregarding the single law would tend to preserve it.

In my opinion, I violated no law. This provision. . .may be suspected when, in the cases of rebellion, or invasion, the public safety does require it.” The Constitution is silent as to which (President or Congress) is to exercise the power. Lincoln did not believe the danger was to run its course while the Congress’s gathering could be prevented by the rebellion.

Attorney General Bates: I . . . declare the opinion that the President has lawful power to suspend the privilege of person’s arrested under such circumstances, for he is charged by the Constitution with the ‘public safety,’ and he is the sole judge of the emergency which requires his prompt action. (Bates to Lincoln, Washington, 5 July 1861, OR, III, 2:28.)

Lincoln read the founding document as being broadly constructed, like Alexander Hamilton, flexible, but not infinitely malleable. Earlier in his career, Lincoln wrote:

“Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to prosperity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular the law of the country and never to tolerate their violation by others.”

Lincoln had a simplicity about him that might seem out of step with these times. But he adhered to basic principles of fair play, humor instead of anger, and hard work, (not allowing himself leisure, except for attending the theater, which we came to regret in April 1865). Old style, perhaps, and sticking to one’s principles can indeed get you fired in politics today, but down the long road, it brought Lincoln to the White House and returned a country from the brink. He never had the temptation to send messages digitally, though Nicolay or Hay’s would have had their fingers at the wheel if he did.

1 Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln, (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press), Vol.1. p. 216

3. Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals, (New York: Simon & SAchuster), p. 114

“Washington in Disarray,” Cycle of Adams Letters, 1861-1865. Vol. 1, Ed. W. C. Ford, New York Times Opinionator, August 27, 2012

Burlingame, Vol. 2, p. 318

4. Ibid.

5. John Hay, Wikipedia entry of Lincoln first meeting

6. Opinionator, Ibid.

7. Burlingame, Vol. 2, p. 154

8. Karl Weber. Lincoln, A President for the Ages, p. 132

9. Burlingame, Vol. 1, p. 318

10. Burlingame, vol. 2, p. 435

Lincoln, p. 155

Believe You Can

My beloved Skyline Drive on the Blue Ridge Mountains never failed to help me revive my belief in myself.

Take stock now that a year has turned. It’s not so easy I know as I recalculate the completion date for my book. Disappointment in myself could be an easy response. But this creative process, whether with books, frying chicken, or basketball takes time. Sometimes it takes more time than we want to allow and we give up. Not yet in my case because I saw what the people noted below were able to accomplish when they stuck with it.

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill

I’m not recommending that you wallow in failure, but that you consider it a steppingstone. What can you learn from it to take away to project 2.0, 3.0, or 500.0? Failing today can build a foundation for a successful tomorrow, if you embrace what you’ve learned and moved it forward.

Extraordinary belief yields amazing results

That’s what Thomas Edison did when creating the light bulb. It took 10,000 experiments with different materials and timing to create the perfect GE light bulb. As a boy, he finished his schooling at home with his mother, who believed in him, after his schoolteacher found him “stupid” and beyond learning. Maybe he was just resting his mind so he could later create 9,000 U.S. Patented inventions  and found a laboratory to mold scientific minds following in his path. Edison never gave up and when he hit his stride very few could keep up or meet his success.

J.K. believed and Stephen had a believer

The writer J.K. Rowlings, known today as the creator of the internationally renown Harry Potter series, which has captivated my grandson and millions around the world, hatched the idea for the books on a train in England in 1990. Not until 1997, after the loss of her mother and her marriage and with a child to raise, did Rowlings publish the first novel. She believed in the idea and with each publication more rolled from her fingers. Now financially secure, she doesn’t stop but keeps creating new ideas to play with our imagination—that’s what she does.

Stephen King, who has 50 spooky novels to his international credit, received 30 rejections for Carrie, his first novel that was later made into a movie. When he placed that manuscript in the trash ready to give up, his wife pulled it out and gave it another try. Having someone who believes in you can be a blessing, but sometimes you need to rely on yourself to keep on.

Harlan believed into his 60s and beyond

No doubt you’ve heard of Colonel Sanders, the fried chicken magnet. It’s shocking to know that his recipe has traveled around the world—something about salty that translates well. Well enough that Col. Sanders stores are ubiquitous in Beijing and Shanghai, popping up on many corners in the business district. But do you know the backstory? Harlan Davis Sanders submitted his special recipe for fried chicken using a faster pressurized method to 1,009 restaurants before one in Salt Lake City, Utah brought it in 1952.

Born in Indians, Sanders originally developed the recipe when he was 50 in 1939, but he didn’t take it around until he used a $105 social security check to help fund the trip when he was 65. He built his brand as the white-suited, mustache-wearing, Kentucky colonel, and the company grew to become internationally recognized. When Sanders turned 74, he sold the company for $2 million, retaining rights to the Canadian market and becoming a goodwill ambassador. Not a billionaire, but comfortable until his death at 90, when bhis body laid at the Kentucky State Capitol for viewing before burial.

Michael wasn’t always a superstar, but he practiced

Not all successful people are inventors or whip up a lip-smacking recipe, some enjoy a game and play it so well the world takes notice. Take Michael Jordan, an athlete born in Brooklyn, but raised in Wilmington, North Carolina, a small town the parents of five thought would be a better influence. Michael wanted to follow in the footsteps of his athletic brother, but being much shorter, he stuck with baseball, where he was an MVP pitcher and outfielder.

When a position on the varsity basketball squad opened, he thought the position would automatically be his, though he was 5’11.” Another player, 6’5” grabbed the spot. That got Michael’s attention and his lazy approach to practice evaporated. By the time he was a high school junior, Michael had grown to 6’3,” taller than any family member, and continued to perfect  his skills.  He made the varsity squad and scored the winning point for the University of North Carolina in the 1982 NCAA Championship against Georgetown. He played on the gold medal-winning 1984 and 1992 Olympic teams. For the Chicago Bulls, Jordan led the way to becoming an NBA All-Star 14 times, six times the NBA champion, and five times the NBA MVP. The official NBA website proclaimed him “the greatest basketball player of all time.” Quite a feat for someone who struggled to make the team as a sophomore.

Keep on keeping on!

There are days, many days, when it’s easy to question my progress on the book and I’m briefly tempted to hang it up. But I still believe I have a story worth telling. So in 2020 I’m vowing to keep at it, set goals, limit distractions, and move to the finish to get ‘er done. Join me in your quest, whatever it is, so we can be satisfied when 2021 rolls around!