“A toast! To the road! May it lead to adventure and carry us safely back home.”— John Varley, Wizard 

December can be a busy time of celebrations, as well as a time of closing out one year and ushering in the new. For many of the exceptional leaders I know, finding ways to stay energized through this season takes a little effort.

I have three things I am doing that I will also recommend to others. 

Enjoy the outdoors wherever you are.  
I prefer temperatures between 80 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  Yet here in western New York, the temperatures have often been in the 20s with quite a brisk wind. It may not be my optimal weather, but getting out for a walk or a run is still refreshing. Because I live in a place with fairly low light pollution, the dark skies are full of stars.  Occasionally, I get to see the International Space Station pass overhead. Delightful!

Do some work you enjoy.  
I can’t think of any leaders I know who completely shut down their thinking about work during this time.  I certainly don’t.  Perhaps this is due to my upbringing on a dairy farm where days off just don’t happen. However, I know that when I do work during the holidays, I focus on work that I love doing.  I will be doing some writing for one of my next books.  I am very much looking forward to that.

Read something familiar that brings you joy.  
I decided to read John’s Varley’s Red Thunder again. It is a delightful space yarn where some teenagers meet an ex-astronaut. Together they get the far-fetched idea that they can build a spaceship to Mars.  I have heard sci-fi authors say that excellent science fiction requires one bit of magic; the rest has to be hard science. This one fits the bill.  Red Thunder is one of my favorites of Varley’s works.  It makes me smile every time, and this time seems to be the best of all the times I’ve read it.

My next newsletter will be in January 2022. I wish everyone an enjoyable holiday time and a delightful new year.

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,


Alan Willett

You can buy Red Thunder directly from John Varley in his shop.

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