Working for the love and not for the clock

“Success is often achieved in the 25th, 26th, and 27th hours of the day.” 

— ‘Old Italian Saying’ by Jim Chionsini.

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The official results are still out, but roughly 440 columns in newspapers and on the blog over the last eight-and-a-half years make for a successful mission. Add another estimated 500 columns penned for papers prior to “the blog period,” and as my military pilot friends would say, “We’re set for that 1,000th sortie.”

Reaching that realm is in no small way because of the sage advice above from my mentor and good friend for most of my life. So many of my columns were hammered out in those elusive hours. A time when you’re working for the love and not for the clock.

I typically require extra hours, even on a good day. But, at an age commonly considered the time for slowing down and taking life easier, that’s probably why my hand is still on the throttle, I’m gaining altitude and still good friends with the 25th, 26th, and 27th hours of the day. While some delight in crossing tasks off their”to do” list, throwing everything on mine and calling it a win if I get half of it done has always been my method.

An ex-military fighter pilot and former Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration team pilot said it best a few years ago. Applying military strategy to business planning, he compared his combat mission experience in the Middle East to running a business. “As long as you return from the mission,” he said, “there are no failures. Some are successful, the others you learn from in order to increase the success rate of future missions.”

For me, 2015 was a learning mission filled with surprises and adjustments, the kind that blurs the lines between celebrating success and taking a better shot at future missions. Regrouping in those familiar hours of the day, I went back to my favorite parts of connecting with people through newspapers: column writing and photography. So, I challenged myself to expand my column writing experience with a blog. And to put the fun back in photography, spend more “me time” with my camera.

The blog got off the ground and built speed early in the mission but ended the year as more of a learning experience before taking flight the next year. 

As I was fumbling for the ignition switch on shooting pictures, long-time Mount Pleasant friend and photographer Susan Prewitt unknowingly activated the afterburner with a Facebook photo challenge.

I accepted her challenge, but by Sunday, I was four days in and lamenting that it was only a seven-day mission. Hitting the deck just under the deadline, I uploaded a “moon set” photo taken at Lake Murvaul in Panola County when I lived there. The picture reminded me of two things. One, capturing that set of images was fun. Two, it required several sessions between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m. during full moon phases while working on the moon’s clock—not mine.

The fact that crafting a column about that photo became part of getting the blog on target was no coincidence.

It was just one small example of what I might have missed without those 25th, 26th, and 27th hours of the day.

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About “Moon Over Murvaul”— While living on Lake Murvaul a few years ago, I woke up early one morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. I discovered a moon bright enough to read a newspaper at 3:00 a.m. So, I grabbed a camera and spent the next half hour shooting frame after frame of the setting full moon images. The result was a collection of fantastic photos. The one I posted to Facebook for the challenge resembled what I would call a harvest moon. I’ve seen many harvest moons rising, but this was my first setting orange moon to witness. See the “Moon Over Murvaul” and other archived columns on the blog at

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