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Friday, 05 January 2018


To beat cancer... Again...

Wishing you well, Mike. The old, simple and true formula - 'a page a day is a book a year.' Not that I've done that since a stretch in 2000 that coincided with a bout of paradoxically productive depression.

My current new distraction is a 2000 Chevy Tracker (AKA Suzuki Vitara) that will be a towed companion to my old camper. Good mechanical shape (I think) and needs cosmetic attention. And wonder of wonders, a 5 speed manual and rear (correct) wheel drive when it's in 2 wheel drive mode.

There's only one thing I would quibble with about that post: you're not just a fair writer. You're a really good writer. Don't doubt it, Mike. I'm a Librarian by trade. If nothing else, I know how to tell good writing from all the other kinds of writing.

Also, I started reading your columns and articles well over a decade ago. I came for the photo-dawg writing (thanks for that term) but I've stayed for the off-topic musings and I look forward to all of it.

So, thanks for giving us a teaser, so to speak. Keep writing that book. I've got a thousand projects-left-unfinished, too. It's time to dig into them and decide what to do. You're also right to say: if you haven't finished by [xx time period], throw the idea out. I have to do some of that too. But first, I have to finish my photo-zines which I *am* working on but about which I'm dithering far too much. If the "kids these days" can do it. So can I.

Happy New Year, Mike.


In April 2016, I was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. It's a strange disease - no-one knows the cause, and the prognosis is very variable - some people live 2 years, some 10, or even more. Of course, once diagnosed, you start to think seriously about the time left to you. In my case, the first reaction was the bucket list, but on reflection I realised that this wasn't something I wanted to do - it would have felt like desperation, and I didn't really want to allow that to happen to me. Of course, we are all really in the same situation - none of us knows when the curtain will fall. So my take on the situation (life) is finally this - no need for drama, but procrastination is a pretty ridiculous way of living your life. Go for it Mike!
Happy New Year to one and all.

You'll succeed, Mike. Writing is your gift and sticking to it appears to be the main challenge. I suspect most writers throughout history have climbed the very same hill.

My "resolution" this year, after many years of attempting photography, is to learn to paint. Acrylic on canvas. I'll either figure out brush strokes and color mixing/blending, or cut my ear off. We'll see which happens first.

This year I'm going to stop swearing. Last year my brother stopped grunting as got out of a chair or bent over. At 60 and overweight, I feel that no grunting is too big an ask, so it's no more swearing for me. Damn, that's gonna be hard!

Wishing you well.
And line me up to buy the book.
When can I send the money?

I have to say, this is gripping stuff. Really. Perhaps everybody has a story to tell, but very few of us have the chops to write it (I don't). You do. So, please, do finish your book about Xander. I can't really see how you won't. It will be part of your legacy to him.

I wish I had something equally inspirational to offer, but I don't make new year resolutions anymore - if indeed I every really did. My life seems to go on well enough without them. There's always room for improvement, so I tackle things as they come rather than saving them up for a new year.

Happy New Year, Mike.

Gordon Reynolds

So, now you are an official inspiration for me. Mostly, I don't make NYR's, but I have several this year. First is the easiest, losing some weight again. Have done it recently (60 lbs), gained a bit back, now shedding again---about 4-5 pounds since right before Yule. I'm on the road with an exhibition, out in L.A., then Toronto for most of February. This makes it both easier and harder at the same time: I pick AirBnB's between a 2-3 mile radius of the museum where I'll have to work, and walk to and from work. Good exercise, sheds some pounds. Problem is, all the good food there is in the cities I'm in. Eat salads at home, easy in L.A. but will be tough in Toronto---both too cold for salads and great Asian food!

Second will be an ongoing project to further develop my professional skills as a museum photographer. It's been gong well for more than 2 years now, need to ramp it up more in this coming year. I'll have good opportunities and now a great mentor.

Finally, got to get back in the studio to make art. My notebooks are so full, burgeoning, that they are now like volumes from the Hogwarts library, snarling at me whenever I go past.

Best of luck to you, Mike, and best wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year!

That's great news about the "Xander" book, can't wait to read it! Sounds like a good movie could be made from it, too (I'm not sure if anyone makes good movies anymore, though). And "just touch it" is valuable advice to pass on to creative people, many of whom are your readers!

Well, for what is worth, you know you have a customer. For both. Make sure you will have a worthy picture on the cover. Or not, don't want you to agonise on that and delay it further.

My resolution is the same, day after day, year by year. I'm just gonna wake up tomorrow and try to do the right thing. I'm happy to say it's been going OK, more or less, for quite a while.

Good luck with the book, Mike. Your dedication to, and efforts on behalf of Xander deserve to reach a wider audience than just your friends here on TOP.

If it's anything like this taster, it'll be a hit. May it go swimmingly.

Mine is new. I've done it before and it is rather mundane. I am going to lose weight and get back in shape, again. I have managed it twice before so I know I can. It is just a matter of practicing mindfulness in relation to my diet and exercise.

The thing is that in the past each time I succeeded I thought "I've got this now. I don't need to be so diligent in tracking things." But I've learned that mindfulness never becomes habit, it never becomes automatic. It only happens when you are deliberate about whatever you are applying it to. So, this is not something I will do and be done. It will continue for as long as I continue.

Your account of how you regained your new-born son brought tears to my eyes.
You are a true mensch

The resolution I plan to adhere to (at least today) is not to buy ANY new equipment in 2018 unless something breaks. I've got what I need (Olympus system + 1 Canon tilt/shift lens) to do the work I need to do.

Mike, I follow TOP daily and much appreciate your photographic reflections. After today's New Year's Resolution I must also say that your adoption of Xander had warmed my heart for the New Year.

Be well and all the very best, Ed Hundert

Vancouver, BC Canada.

P.S. I'm trying to return to film with an ancient Fuji GA645Zi. Wish me luck. I'll need it.

I will read the Xander book when you finish it, and you will...

Hard decisions for sure. Life happens and how we deal with it is what defines us. Congratulations on your choices.

I've got so many areas for improvement, the problem hasn't ever been finding one, it's been picking one. This year however, was easy. My granddaughter, on her own and out of the blue stopped eating meat and started focusing on whole plant.

It was while trying to understand where she was coming from, that I came to the conclusion that it was something I needed to do as well and I thank her for that. For me, the evidence was overwhelming and to ignore it just didn't make sense. Thanks for your referral to the "4Leaf Guide" by the way, it's a great resource and one of many that paint an unbelievable picture of the failures in our food industry.

So my resolution(s). 1) Understand nutrition and 2) implement a whole food, plant based diet. I'm older now but hopefully eating better will buy me a few more years to tackle the other items on my "to do better" list. That would be amazing considering how many there are though.

I enjoy your photographic insights and knowledge and most of all your style of writing about said subject.
And please keep on with your off topic meanderings. Anything you take the time to write about is, to me,worth reading.
Have a good new year and here's to the success of your adventures in writing.

Mike: You were kind enough to send me a preliminary Xander script many moons ago; which I have retained. I continue to read it to confirm to me there are still good, happy, positive, caring forthright people in this confused existence of ours.,
If the writing you sent me is an example of your family writing, then an expanded volume is required. And include photos which you have posted on TOP, for example Alexander sitting in a corner chair at the cottage, trying to work with his newest piece of computer hardware.

Enquire of tex andrews what exhibit he is involved with in very close to me, Toronto; it might be a worthwhile visit if he'd be interested.

Oh and my resolution this year, to try and ditch the four wheel walker and hopefully regain my vertical balance.

Mike, you better keep that resolution... with that teaser I can’t wait to buy the book. I also like an occasional mystery and will purchase that book too. Don’t worry I will not be comparing you to John.
As for resolutions, you have hit a nerve with me. I have been working on a screen play for over a year. When I retired, writing was one of the things on my bucket list, besides getting more serious about photography (learn photoshop). Over many years I have watched many terrible movies and I always said to myself that I can write one much better than that, so I vowed to write one after I retired. How hard could it be? This was a promise (challenge?) to myself and now I have to face it. Like you I find it difficult to hack away or touch it every day. One advantage you have over me is that I am not a good writer (thank God for spell checking) so that is one of the excuses I use for not finishing it. But this year I am going to finish it, at least the first draft. I am not getting any younger. I have no allusion of anybody being interested in it, nor do I need to make money from it. It is a personal goal for myself. Actually I think a better resolution and one easier to keep and more actionable is to “touch” it every day, I only have 60 more pages to go. Everything I have read about writing books basically comes down similar advice to just keep working it and that is what I plan to do this year.
Thanks for nudging me to write it down even if it is in a comment section.

Mike, I've been so eager to read the story of you and your son since you first hinted at the tale some time ago. It's great to hear that it's really going to happen.

People here say I can cook and I've been following you since the 37th frame. I'd like to make you a meal. Besides,I don't live far and do appreciate the light. But I'm just saying...

Thank you, Mike
Luv ya, Mike
Hope you stick to it.

No writer am I - but I am savvy enough to know a good story when I see one. The story of you and Xander is a cracker (thanks for sharing this today Mike - I've been wondering for a while) and you are a good writer. Touch it, touch it good, every day.

The world needs to hear the story of you and Xander. I'll buy that book. It's unfortunate that some of your readers feel that TOP should be sanitized of any personal discursion. I've been following you for over ten years and can't help but feel concern for your welfare and curiosity about your past. So by all means write that book, and don't stop including anecdotes from your life in the blog!

My photography-related resolution for 2018 is to resume making prints again, even though I am likely to be the only person who'll ever see them.

Looking at my photos on a monitor simply isn't the same thing as holding them in my hands, and worse, I think it has caused me to develop a few bad habits I will do well to banish.

So I've decided to shuffle my budget around a bit, sell most of my surplus toys to free some discretionary funds, and make a couple of prints from my outings each week, the expense be damned!

Mike, I've enjoyed your writing about photography since before the internet. But the story of you and Xander is a story that you HAVE to write. And when you have written it, I predict that all your other writing will be that much better, and will have come easier. (Don't ask me how I know this.) And I promise to buy a copy of the Xander narrative when it's published.

Resistance plus persistence equals consistency. Good luck.

You've got to finish that book on baby Xander. Are you simply telling the story or is there going to be an underlying father's rights theme? Either way, it's an important story. Get it out into the world.

In relation to your fixation on the amount of words: One of my favorite quotes from a well known Dutch writer is:
“ I wrote you a long letter, because I haven’t got much time.”

I'm voicing my support for your book about Xander. As a divorced man with a teenage daughter, I too came to realise that father's have very little rights and have to fight for what should be automatic.

Even though it's been over 10 years since those traumatic times, my mental health is still catching up.

I have the most wonderful relationship with my awesome daughter, and my only new year resolution is to continue to protect her and that relationship at any cost.

The other thing the years have taught me is how unequipped many men are at emotional intelligence.

That makes it hard to relate one's personal story to other men who often react with insecure anger towards myself.

Does any of this experience inform my photography. You bet!

@Chris Richards. I was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) aged 59 and I’m now 81. I’ve had a lot of chemotherapy, most of the recent stuff without serious side effects despite some of the early ones further damaging my immune system. There are several new more specific treatments available, others in trials and generally available on the NHS here in U.K., though I read they are prohibitively expensive in USA even with insurance. I’ve never understood the bucket list thing and prefer just to ignore the CLL and carry on normally. Maybe keeping generally fit helps, and having dog(s) ;-)

Wow, that's quite a story. Concentrate on one book, the one about your son. The others can wait their turn. For the record I like your occasional off topic posts.

I’m with Norbert.

And another little piece of the Mike Johnston jig saw falls into place. I suppose all us long time readers of your pieces like to think we know you , but not really. This story completelly changes my image of you. You were obviously a young man when you went through all that and all the more credit to you for it. And then look at the fine job you made of raising your son on your own.

Finish the book. You will have plenty of buyers from your blog followers so it will be a roaring sucess. I mean if that wannabe from Austin can do it so can you. (thats a joke mr Tuck)

Baby X
I always wondered why a lovely name like Alexander was chopped off to Xander, now it all falls into place ...

There are approximately a zillion bloggers/vloggers on the net talking about every concievable facet of photography. I love that this site is more than that and that snipet of Xanders story was amazing.

Ok, my resolutions.

1. Sort my photographs out and take my stock photography seriously.

2. Stop dreaming of the photos I could take in exotic locations one day and take advantage of what is here now.

3. Go under 12 hours at Ironman Bussleton in Dec 2018.

Mike, I'm not going to say anything about your book writing, as I know zilch. But having read your blog almost daily over the last 7-8 years, I've often wondered about Xander (I remember seeing his pic in the British Black & White photography monthly, of which you contributed years ago), as you never said much about his past. And now suddenly you've sort of "laid bare" and somehow I feel happy that I know that all the years of struggle (and joy too), you've successfully brought up a fine young man on your own. Man...that is some accompishment. I am so happy for you. Congratulations.

Write on!


I enjoy your site very much and the off topic posts even more, your site is one of my must, daily reads. The off topic provides a nice break which other sites do not have, well most of them anyway. I am probably the same age as you Mike and totally understand the "reflective" nature of your latest off topic post. Well written as always and thank you for sharing a small piece of your life experiences, I hope it provides you with that little extra turbo boost to finish your personal projects.

Hi Mike,

Good luck with your writing. Making it public will hopefully make it more difficult to give up.

I remember you saying a long time ago how you raised Xander against the odds but am shocked at the seemingly insurmountable obstacles you describe here. Such stories are of particular interest to me as I'm adopted (very happily so).

Regarding the process of writing, I'm minded to mention something I read recently that reinforces the idea of the work ethic in making progress towards a goal. It was written by a sports coach but it applies to any endeavour. The key point is summarised here:

The original blog post by Tim Ferris is at https://tim.blog/2016/12/14/mental-toughness/

In a similar vein I have watched this video about daily dedication to training a few times now; it too is focussed on competition but the mental focus and the ability to counter distractions can serve you well regardless of the nature of your goal:

Wishing you the very best.


Good luck with all three books Mike. Tackling one at a time might be a good idea though! :) When writing a PhD, and then the rather long book it became, I had a notice taped to my computer that said "enjoy the process". It helped me stay in the creative moment, rather than worrying about how many more chapters lay ahead ...

Michael Shaw’s comment shocks me to my core.

That story of you fighting for your son brought tears to my eyes, and that’s a hard row to hoe.

Keep up the good work, Mike, and happy and healthy new year.

Mike, I applaud your dedication to Xander and look forward to the book about it. My son, John, seen here years ago (Leica CL, 50/2 collapsible 'cron) https://photos.app.goo.gl/UPxoxJtr8rM1MoqC3 was adopted by my ex and I from Vietnam at three months of age. He has had enormous mental problems that would have left him dead by now had he remained in the little town he was born in. He had to have us to have someone to fight for him. I am so very glad you cared enough to feel that way for your son.

May you have a happy and productive new year, Mike. But even if not, you do know that in Xander you've already accomplished more than 90% of the world ever will?

I for one am quite happy to read about Xander, pool, cars or any off topic subjects Mike thinks might be of interest. Come to think of it, a post about coffee is long overdue.

I can only sympathize with someone who reacts negatively to your Xander saga. There must be something deep down that gets tweaked and leads to this kind of outburst. I can only hope and pray for them. Mike you probably don't remember an email conversation we had a few years ago where I related my very similar experience of becoming a single father of two baby girls. I feel for you and look forward to your telling of the story.

The story of you and Xander is compelling. Congratulations to you and Xander for making it through it and flourishing.

Your ability to analyse and honestly express your feelings and reactions is a big draw for me, and it applies when you write about cars and pool (I know nothing whatsoever about pool would normally have no interest in it) and not just about photography. I’m really looking forward to reading books from you, regardless of format or topic.

Having heard you tell he story about your fight to win custody of Xander in person, I have long thought that it would make an excellent book. I have been waiting patiently. Also, once the book is done you must produce the screenplay! When my wife is down she flips on the Hallmark channel on TV and watches what seems to be an endless stream of movies about poignant situations that turn out well in the end. This would be a no brainer for them to pick up.

John Camp nails it: persist.

Mike, your love for your son is evident in every word of this post, as well as in the many other posts you've written about him. But it's also evident in the photos of Xander you've published on TOP over the years, and so I wonder if your book wouldn't benefit from the inclusion of family photographs. Who knows, they might help give the book structure and even make it easier to finish. (By the way, I too would reserve a copy.)

TOP is a community, and one hallmark of community is that we care about each other. I'm happy to skip the pool blogs :-) but that doesn't mean I will leave this community I've been involved in for so many years. If one of your readers leaves the community over this heartfelt (and amazing) Xander story, I for one won't miss that person.

[All right, but look, let's all stop ragging on Michael Shaw, OK? I've had to edit several comments. I said I was sorry he didn't like the post, and I meant it. I'm always saying that a person's personal response to art is valid as long as it's sincere, and although I'd never claim the status of "art" for any of my posts, the same principle does apply. It was his honest reaction and he's entitled to it as far as I'm concerned. Sorry he's gone. And yes, I mean that!

But thank you for your kindness, Jim. --Mike]

In 2012 I discovered M43 cameras, TOP, and VSL, plus a large number of other photo blogs. Left standing: M43 cameras, Mike Johnston, and Kirk Tuck. Now, those camera thayngs cain't write worth a good goldurn, but you and Kirk can. For good writing, photo insights, and personal insights, I just ignore the odd ruminations on billiards and vintage cars, and enjoy the deft turn of phrase, sly humor, and a good short story.

Your story of Xander is one I would gladly pay to read. Do you need someone to nag you to stick with it and publish? I'll be glad to comment in that vein at each and every TOP post.

For 2018, Mike, Pax, and persist.

I've been reading your musings since the time when print magazines still roamed the earth. We also both participated on the Leica User Group for a while way back when where you wrote a bit about you and Xander, which touched me deeply. I vividly remember your anguish, and also the depth of your inner strength and conviction to be a father to your infant son. Please write the book.

My resolution is to finish my eighth published book in 2018. My other pressing resolution is to have more fun...

If you make one thing very clear, it is that you simply have to write the Xander book. I wish you god-speed. And if I were you, I would remain silent about it from now on, so as not to spill its power prematurely. Regarding the persistence John Camp advises, as you probably know, already the Roman writers maintained: Nulla dies sine linea!


ever since I first read here about how you fought to look after your baby son, I've held you in high esteem.

Please write this book.


After so many years reading a blog I guess it's inevitable one gets interested in the blogger. In your case it is even easier as you've put so many pieces of yourself in so many posts. Xander's story is wonderful and you sure have at least a future reader here at home (my wife is still battling with English...).

By the way, come on!, you have the gift of writing and you know it. Your style is fluid but wholesome and creative, without being ampulose (is that an English word?) or overconfident. And I believe it connects quick and easily with the reader, something so important. Go ahead, Mike!

Finish this book on Xander please, the world needs to hear real life nice stories. There's just too much agro out loose these day.
May I ask you, is Xander in contact with his mother? I'm sorry if I'm being nosy. I lived through a similar situation just after being born, I'm only curious because I've never been able to understand how my father never had any interest in knowing me.
My New Year's resolution is to begin my first photo essay/project. I've got no excuses, one of my best and closest friends is a Magnum photographer who's offered to guide me through it all. What more can I ask for.

I have followed the story of Xander for most of his life, as you let bits and pieces be known through your writing in the various camera and darkroom mags you were editing. I can't wait to read all the details.


I’ve been reading you since before water was invented. You could do a series of posts on lawn clippings and I’d devour every word.

I will buy both books, knowing that the hours of reading will be first rate. You ARE a tremendously gifted writer.

@BruceK: courage in your fight!

@Michael Shaw :
I've always thought TOP was about Mike, not Photography. Did I miss something?

What a memorable post. I look forward to your book about Xander.

Thank God there are fathers out there like you! This is a wonderful story that needs to be written. Uncovering and exposing the mystery and power of being a parent is a story worth telling! I wish you well!!!


We the Readers of the The Online Photographer, in Order to form a more perfect Blog, do hereby grant you, Mike Johnston, editor in chief of TOP, one day a week for the coming year 2018, to write the Xander book.

Wish you well, and write those two books, both books this year.

Go for it, Mike.

Dear Mike,

Agree with the others that you need, nay, must write the Xander story. The benefits to your psyche will be manyfold and as a bonus we get an MJ book!

I would also post photos of John Camp around town, you know, just in case.

Best wishes in 2018.

I look forward to reading your book about Xander. I like all your posts, regardless of subject.

Your creativity, your concentration power , attention span etc etc will likely suffer significantly as long as you have your iPhone turned on.
Good luck.

I enjoy the variety; coffee tips, Miata-lover, Zander-raiser, etc. All good and all grist. As far as I’m concerned, you’ll always land on Go and get to pick up 400 smackeroos; a real fine local rule!

let's all stop ragging on Michael Shaw, OK?

I too would very much like to read the book, but each to their own.

One of the good things about this place is that it isn't tribal - not even when it comes to serious stuff like camera systems...

Mike, I don't put much sense on paper, word and textwise but I have enjoyed your posts for years as a photog and as a person. This story about your son has to be completed, you have me on the edge of my seat.. I'm so happy you managed to create your life with him. As a father of a 5 yr old son and daughter(and having their loving mother here) I cannot imagine life without them. Normally I just browse and read but reading this I had to comment. Good luck with all your writing. Kind regards from the Netherlands, Ewoud


"Energy and persistence conquer all things." - Benjamin Franklin

"It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer." - Albert Einstein

I will be reading the Xander story before the thriller. Sounds rivetting, and I rarely read fiction.

Here's an idea... you write the first half of the book and Xander writes the second part. Or, I guess you could say he's already done that...

-Bob G.

Funny thing....my new year's resolution is to write a book too! My father passed away a couple of years ago and left me a wealth of info on his 50 year old battle with the the old English colonial government to keep a volcano he purchased on the Caribbean island of St Lucia. That journey led him to be the first person in the Commonwealth to present a Case before the Privy Council in the UK as a non lawyer. Thanks for sharing your story...

I'll happily queue up to buy the Xander book, Mike. Best of luck, and feel free to take whatever time away from the blog you need. I daresay your story could help a lot of single parents out there.


What makes a photographer?

Not just their technical and creative ability with a camera. Their photography is influenced by their interests and the experiences they have had in life. For me, the death of my sister was instrumental in my photography becoming more documentary. Precious, single moments of people's histories became fascinating and significant to me. The last photograph I took of my sister (the last photograph anyone took of her) shows the love in her eyes for her very young daughter. The photograph of that moment is available now to my niece, many years after her mother died, and she can see for herself that she was loved by her mother. She may not remember that love, but she can know it was there and that it was real.

What makes a writer? Not just their ability with words and their imagination. Their writing is also influenced by their interests and their experiences.

What I want to say is this: TOP is a photography blog, produced by a photographer and a writer. A human being with a history. Xander's story, your shared story, is a reflection of who you are. It is a defining moment in your life and an expression of your character. It shows us who you are. It helps us place your view of the world, your outlook on life. Mike the photography writer doesn't exist in a vacuum. Understanding more about you, your life now and in the past, your interests, helps me understand more about how you view photography, photographs, equipment, photographers, photography books, exhibitions, etc, etc. It enriches the TOP experience for me.

Please don't stop posting about cars, pool or your life as a father to Xander.

[Very eloquent, Roger, thanks. As I've often said, photography isn't about photography. --Mike]

As someone else already noted, the story of you and your son is a thriller. I'd also say you write it to strengthen others taking similar paths.

Also, John Camp's observation regarding the difference between discipline and persistence is astute. Discipline comes across as punishing in its difficulty. Persistence is something we know Mike can do, because we can see it in this blog.


What John Camp said.

I plan to take more photos.

Well, we had a disagreement on last years fiasco of an election but 1,000,000,000 thumbs up on your fight for your son. Having been through a fight for a daughter (not as drastic as yours) I know how draining that is. Much respect. Look forward to the book.

Bob Smith

PS, I said I was no longer reading TOP first, but never said I wasn’t reading you anymore ;-)

Here's one more reader who wants to read the Xander story.

Funny thing....my new year's resolution is to write a book too! My father passed away a couple of years ago and left me a wealth of info on his 50 year old battle with the the old English colonial government to keep a volcano he purchased on the Caribbean island of St Lucia. That journey led him to be the first person in the Commonwealth to present a Case before the Privy Council in the UK as a non lawyer. Thanks for sharing your story... All the best, Chester

It’s strange how words are important. Watching my wife Sarah with our two Rob and Molly .... all those years insisting on the eating of vegetables ...
She was so good at it ... and I realise now it was Persistence not Discipline that won them over ... to such an extent that while we remain omnivores they are both vegetarian now!

I too love your musings. In rural General Practice with a small Cottage Hospital and a Maternity unit (120 births a year), I got to know families over thirty years Seeing how things work, watching peoples courage through illness and adversity. How we grow through both joy and sorrow. Being alongside them as they age is such a privelege.

Today I met an old patient of mine in town. Having retired it was lovely to see her. I asked after her son. She told me he had died young from cancer two years ago, a year or so after I retired. When I said how sorry I was, she told me not to worry ... “Tom, Geoff said don’t worry .. its just the beginning of another adventure”. Brave of him, so sad for her. There is so much in all these moments. Pain and sorry. Loss and memory. The drama played out everyday in ordinary life is in everyway extra-ordinary as is the courage of people in every town and village. These are the great unwritten stories.

Those feelings you had in those first weeks must have been so hard to bear. No-one but you can write this story. No-one more able. Looking forward to reading it. Bon Chance!

You can do it. I've written a few. The key is exactly what you state above. Grind.

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