Author Archives: Joe

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces.

Teach One Another, Be Kind, and Smile

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

—Matthew 28:19-20

Have you ever been a part of teaching someone about Jesus? I have been teaching in one form or another for the past twenty-two years whether at a university, private academy, or a museum. If you are or have ever been a teacher, then you undoubtedly know the joy when a student has an epiphany from something you’ve taught them, that moment when it finally clicks for that student or even a class as a whole. While I don’t believe in edutainment, I do enjoy departing knowledge in a way that is fun and relatable. Enthusiasm plays a major part in that. I have always found that when a teacher is enthusiastic, then that enthusiasm become infectious. If you are not enthusiastic about what you teach, students will not be enthusiastic about what they learn.

The same is true when spreading the message of love and acceptance that Jesus brought to this earth from heaven. When you open someone’s eyes to the message of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, it is a momentous occasion. Just think how this person’s life has the opportunity to be changed. Picture it now, the potential for all they can accomplish and the growth they will encounter through God’s love and acceptance. Impacting a life makes a mark on eternity.

Are you making a difference? Are you spreading love and acceptance or are you spreading hate and fear? Jesus wants us to love one another unconditionally. We may dislike people and their ways, but we cannot allow ourselves to hate because if we do, we are no better than them. We lower ourselves to their level instead of attempting to lift them up to our level. Ever moment of life is a battle of good vs. evil, love vs. hate, courage vs. fear, acceptance vs. discrimination.

Good will win out over evil. Love will conquer hate. Courage will defeat fear. Acceptance will bring us closer to God, where as discrimination only distances people from God. We must stay positive, because it is the only way to defeat the negativity that exists in this world. I hope today that you will smile at a random stranger. You never know when that might make someone’s day and lift their spirits. It never pays to be mean. We need to do acts of kindness every day because we do not know what another person may be going through in their life. Sometimes, a small act of kindness can make a huge difference in someone’s life, even though we are unlikely to ever know how much of a difference we make.

One smile to a stranger can change their life. One compliment can improve someone’s day. Never forget the importance of spreading joy and kindness to the world. The late comedian Robin Williams has given us so many things throughout the years: movies, unforgettable impressions and funny memories. But also some incredibly wise quotes. He’s been credited with saying, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” Think of it as karma. Good begets good. Evil begets evil. The cartoonist Scott Adams offered this piece of advice, Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” Author Henry James said, “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” We can do so much with just the simplest of gestures. Be kind and teach by example.

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Moment of Zen: A Long, Hot Shower

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Today is supposed to be a rather messy weather day. I wish I could stay in and just curl up on the couch and watch television, but alas, I have an appointment at the Headache Clinic this morning. I’ll have to be very careful driving down there. The National Weather Service issued the following warning (edited for brevity and clarity):

From 1 pm today to 1 pm Saturday, snow is expected with a total accumulations of 3 to 7 inches and wind gusts as high as 35 mph. The mix of snow and rain is expected develop this morning before transitioning to all snow in the afternoon and continuing through tonight. The snow is expected to taper off Saturday morning. It is advised that drivers slow down and use caution while traveling and allow extra time if travel is necessary.

My travel this morning is necessary. This appointment is my quarterly Botox treatment for my migraines. I am so grateful for these treatments as it seems to be working, but they are a pain, literally. If my headaches had not been increasing over the last two weeks, I might attempt to postpone my appointment, but I feel that this is something that cannot wait. As I wrote this last night, I had a bad headache. With the increased frequency and intensity over the past two weeks, I desperately need some relief.

On a totally different note, my Thanksgiving meal turned out pretty well, especially the cornbread dressing and the dessert I made. Here’s the recipe for the dessert I came up with (I haven’t thought of a name for it yet. Any suggestions?):


  • 12 oz bag of cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple (cored, peeled, and diced)
  • 1/2 cup pineapple
  • 2 oz. good vodka (I prefer Grey Goose)
  • 4 Philadelphia Cheesecake Crumbles
  • 1 can whipped cream (or make your own)

Preparation Steps

  1. Empty a 12-ounce bag of fresh or frozen cranberries into a saucepan.
  2. Add 1 cup sugar, 1 strip orange or lemon zest and 1/2 cup water to the pan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the cranberries are soft, about 10 minutes.
  3. Increase the heat to medium and cook until the cranberries burst, about 12 minutes.
  4. With 5 minutes left, add diced apples and pineapple and stir to combine.
  5. Add 2 oz. vodka and cool to room temperature.
  6. According to what consistency you would like the cranberry mixture, either leave as is or place in a food processor or blender and pulse to your desired consistency.
  7. Divide the mixture between 4 parfait glasses (or I used martini glasses). Top with one package of cheesecake, spreading evenly over cranberry mixture.
  8. Top with graham cracker crumbles and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
  9. Just before serving, top with whipped cream.

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Happy Thanksgiving 🦃

There is a lot to be thankful for. I have a much more open and honest life in Vermont as an out and proud gay man. I don’t have to constantly hide in the closet like I was forced to do in Alabama. I have some wonderful friends. One such friend is Susan. I don’t know what I’d do without her love and support. She’s been there for me when I need someone the most. I’m also thankful for all my blog friends out there. As long as you keep reading, I plan to keep writing. I’ve made some really wonderful friends through this blog. While I may complain about my job sometimes, I love what I do. I am very thankful for leaving full-time teaching to be a museum professional. I love working in the museum world, and I wish I could have discovered that earlier in my life, but I am thankful I have found it now. I am also thankful for my faithful companion, my beautiful Isabella. She brings me so much joy.

I’m also thankful for the beautiful meal I am preparing today: roast chicken (I prefer chicken to turkey), cornbread dressing, potatoes au gratin, collard greens, and/or butter beans. I know I’ll roast the chicken, make the dressing, and at least one of the vegetables. I haven’t fully decided. I also made a cranberry, apple, and pineapple dessert with a hint of vodka. Yum! I hope it all turns out like I want it to.

What are you thankful for on this Thanksgiving holiday? And what are you planning to eat today?

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Feline Friends

Cats tend to have a bad reputation. Some people assume they’re snobby, unfriendly, completely uninterested in their human owners, and prone to scratching or biting. But anyone who loves or owns cats knows that this couldn’t be further from the truth. While there has been significantly more research done on dogs than cats because they are harder to study, scientists are finally starting to change that. I am so thankful for my Isabella. She has saved my life.

I adopted Isabella at a when I was extremely depressed and lonely. I had moved 1,200 miles away from my family, and I had recently lost a very dear friend. There were days when I did a lot of crying, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to go on in this life. My two cats had stayed in Alabama with my aunt because at first I could not have pets in my apartment, and even when I talked my landlords into letting me have a cat, my aunt did not want to give up my cats. The loneliness and depression had almost become more than I could stand, and I knew I needed a companion up here.

Isabella has made the perfect companion nearly from day one. She took some time adjusting to my apartment, but eventually, she became the loving cat she is now. She’s never been one to cuddle, but she will lay on my hip if I’m laying on my side. She also just like to sit next to me.and just be near. She also seems to be able to sense when my blood sugar drops too low, especially if I’m sleeping, and she will wake me up so that I can get my blood sugar back to safe levels. In more ways than one, she has literally saved my life. I am ever so thankful for her constant companionship.

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