Underway Again.

When you are about to leave on a major voyage everything is different. Even the air feels different. I have always liked going to sea. But on a major voyage everything is different from the moment you wake the day of departure until the next morning. All of the preparations were completed days before. Your thoughts, words, and actions are finely focused but, time feels like it has slowed. The air feels electric. Every time you peer at the sky towards the sea, time pauses. You feel anticipation from deep within you. You are calm and relaxed. You are aware of everything around you, hyper-aware. Yet all your focus is on the job at hand. Each sight, each action, each sound takes on a special insignificance, not to be repeated for weeks or months.

Finally the time has come. You single all lines and take off the gangplank. Then you cast off. Slowly you pull out from dock, out into the channel. You are headed to sea. Passing the bouys to your left and right. As you approach that invisible line between river and ocean the air changes and you can taste the salt in the gentle breeze.

Passing the last bouy, salt air in your face a gentle swell rises to meet you as a calm sweeps over you. Buffeted by the sounds of surf and foul. You look pass the bow to the horizon as you increase to cruising speed.

You are at sea.



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Just Relax, Everything will be fine ~ I promise

Friday night I was having a conversation with a friend. My friend is going on a date Saturday with an old ex. They’ve been talking and things are going pretty good. My friend was understandably nervous.

My last words before we said good night were:

“You have a good evening too.
And tomorrow?
Just relax and enjoy yourself.
You do not need to make any life-altering decisions tomorrow ~ just enjoy 😊”

My friend was a bit relieved. Afterwards, while listening to live jazz at my favorite neighborhood coffee shop, I thought about our conversation.

At the time I was just trying to help my friend relax. But I started thinking about my parting words. I am a writer, but what I said was not prepared. I was happy for a friend and want the date to go well.

The more I thought about what I said, the more I thought about when I actually follow that advice, and when I need to.

My ex-wife and I have an amicable relationship now. She’s remarried to a good man. And with 1,500 miles between us we rarely argue. She is now doing very well at keeping me updated about our daughter, photos and conversations about important decisions concerning our daughter.

About once or twice a month I see an ex for coffee or drinks. Not a date. Just a friendly get-together to catch up on things. A chance for me to have conversation with an intelligent atteactive woman, with no pressure.

Thursday I had a second interview with a potential employer (yes, I am changing jobs).

So what do all these things have in common?

“Just relax stupid, and enjoy yourself.
You do not need to make any life-altering decisions tomorrow ~ just enjoy.”

Yet, often in life we become nervous about things when what we need to do is take a deep breathe, relax, and enjoy the moment.

So, as you start your new week, don’t forget to relax and enjoy yourself. You really do not have to make any life-altering decisions tomorrow.

Have a blessed week!


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Love Is A Verb

Tell me your love story.

Whether a kindergarten

crush to a marriage of over 50 years.
Maybe it was a glimpse of someone at an airport. Two pairs of eyes locked for a few seconds that has lasted a lifetime.

Rekindling an old flame.

Love at first sight.

A return to a love of years ago.

Whatever your love story is, I want to hear it.

Your story could appear in my new book

“Love is a Verb”

Send your story to Joe at:


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I’m Back

As you noticed I took a year off. I am back and feeling good. I’ll fill you in with my first post. Look for it before the end of the year.


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Drunks, Yoga Pants, Children, and Santa Claus

What do the four have in common? I’ll get to that But I want to start with drunks, yoga pants, and children. The three things that ALWAYS tell the truth.

When Elizabeth was about four years old we had just taken her to the Polaris Mall in Columbus, Ohio to have her photograph taken with Santa. Now a few days later we were in a different mall. I stood holding my daughter’s hand looking at another mall Santa pondering the dilemma I was now in. What would I say to my daughter when she realized this Santa and the other Santa were two different people?

I was deep in thought with no answer in sight when my daughter pulled my hand. I looked down at her, “Yes, Sweetheart?”
“Yes, Sweetheart?”
“That Santa,” she pointed to the new Santa. “He is a helper Santa. The other Santa is the REAL Santa.”
Wow, I escaped that one.

Over the years we always took Elizabeth to the Polaris Mall for a photograph with Santa, and it was always the same Santa. I noticed something else over the years though (Elizabeth is 11 now). The Santa at Polaris Mall was always Santa, even when he was on break not wearing his Santa suit. Kids would spot him and yank on mom or dad’s hand and point. This man, whether taking his lunch or doing his own shopping never stepped out of character.

Once he was doing his own shopping (out of costume) and I saw him walk out of a store while he was on break. He had the effect you would imagine Santa would have on kids. And though he was not wearing a Santa suit he did have on a red sweatshirt with the words “I could be…”.

As Elizabeth grew older and older I paid more attention to this one mall Santa when we went to the mall at Christmas time. Not once did I ever see him be anyone but Santa Claus – to everyone! Kids, moms, dads, half a dozen college girls getting their picture taken with Santa, it did not matter who they were, he is Santa. He is the same whether mom and dad are buying a photograph or not. Every person who crosses his path gets his undivided attention, the undivided attention of Santa Claus.

Now tell me – just how cool is that? We all talk about trying to be fair and just to those around us, but we all screw up from time to time. But, Santa Claus? He just cares about one thing. Have you been good this year? No matter the age, no matter the religion, boy or girl, rich or poor, Santa just wants to know if you have been good this year. And after looking into Santa’s eyes while we were at Polaris, I think he would make an excuse even if you had been bad and STILL given you a present.

By the time Elizabeth started school she decided that no one gave Santa Christmas gifts so she would. Long story short, every year since then she gave Santa a gift certificate for lunch.

Elizabeth is 11 now, and I do not know how many more trips we will have to see the real Santa who works at the Polaris mall. I live in Kansas now and Elizabeth is getting older. So when I picked her up for Christmas this year I said, “Let’s go get our picture taken with Santa.”
We got there and waited our turn. Then we both sat on one of the chair arms of his chair. After our photo he asked Elizabeth what she wanted for Christmas and actually spent quite a bit of time with her.

Then I did what I always do, I told a story. I told Santa how this beautiful daughter of mine saved my butt when she was four years old by telling me that this man. This man we just had our photograph with who was now listening to me with the same attention he gave to my daughter – is the REAL Santa Claus and the others are helper Santas.

I got up to leave and this white glove hand thrust up at me. “Thank you for telling me that.”
I looked into his eyes, and at that moment I realized Elizabeth is right. This man is the real Santa Claus. Year after year I have watched this man be all the qualities of the spirit of Christmas and have not seen him falter even once. He shares the love of the spirit of Christmas with everyone who crosses his path. And everyone who walks away from him, from 8 to 80, walks away with a smile on their face and a lightness in their step.
Is there any greater gift a man can give to the world?

As you are reading this Santa is back at the North Pole and probably asleep already. Elizabeth and I want to wish each of you a very Merry Christmas. We hope that the year 2017 will be the year your most desired dream will come true. Peace to you and yours.

So, without further ado, here is our photograph with the REAL Santa Claus.

Joe and Elizabeth Combs with Santa Claus.

Joe and Elizabeth Combs with Santa Claus.

Daddy telling Santa Claus a story.

Daddy telling Santa Claus a story.


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