Children need unconditional love. They need to feel safe. When they feel safe, they are more likely to go out into the world and explore. They will be unafraid to take chances, and even mess up a time or two, because they know love will protect, cover and “never fail.”  

February is the season for love. Love your family by making your home a place that nurtures the best of who you can be – each of you. 

We are sharing with you some thoughts on resolutions, so this is a bit about looking backward instead of forward.

We all need goals, but we also need to be true to events that brought us to where we are at this moment.  We can fight them, we can embrace them, and we can always change them. 

As 2018 begins, I invite you to invest in the lives of the youth of our community. December was a fresh reminder of the desperate situations many of our young people face. The holidays bring many of these needs to the surface. Churches and other groups are more diligently looking to fill needs. Families are more ready to ask for help. But what many of us uncover can be disheartening. Families are often ill-equipped to guide their children through the teenage years. Neighborhoods bring bad influences. Peer pressure has never been greater. Teens have more people ready to feed them poor advice than ever before. 

I don't know if I buy into New Year’s resolutions.  A couple of years ago, I wrote about how most them fail before January 30. In fact, 33 percent of resoluters (is that a word?) admit defeat just from failure to keep track of progress. And 23 percent forget about what they set out to alter in the first place. Approximately 88 percent fail in total. Sort of pointless, huh?

I was a good student in high school and college. Mostly A’s in high school and then A’s and B’s at UA, as I pursued a degree in mechanical engineering. School was definitely challenging. There were often times each semester I thought there was no way to finish the coursework and keep my sanity. 

“Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?”Clark W. Griswold

If you are reading this, then most likely there is a reminder in your immediate vicinity that Christmas is coming. Soon.

Everywhere we go this holiday season, it seems everyone is "busy."  What does that really mean?  

There are many definitions, but "diligent, industrious, imply active or earnest effort to accomplish something, or a habitual attitude of such earnestness" is the one I would pick. 

Life is hard. We try to convince ourselves that one day, everything will fall into place just as we wish. We’ll no longer deal with the sting of disappointment. But, that is a day that never arrives. Friends let us down, we aren’t treated fairly, the promotion we know we deserve escapes us, and we are never fully recognized for the contribution we make to the world around us. And yes, even far worse tragedies happen in the world in which we live. The list of ways that life disappoints could fill this column 10 times over. I know I have grown more capable in dealing with these setbacks, but they still surprise and hurt.  

After enduring a balmy and unpleasantly humid September and October, fall has seemingly arrived, bringing those of us who tend to sweat profusely some relief. Time for turkey! And to climb up in the attic and break out the reindeer décor. 

I thought it might also be a good time to clean out the old electronic mail bag and actually respond to some questions and comments the loyal DCL readers send me or ask me in person (yes… believe it or not, sometimes people actually read my column and send inquiries). Shocking, right?

So, here goes. Feel free to send your own. I’m no “Dear Abby.” But “Dear Derek” has a nice ring to it.  

Q: Derek, will you ever post your favorite recipes or at least your favorite things to cook when at home with your family?

A: Recipes … Eh, probably not. “Executive Director” and “Executive Chef” are two entirely different things. I claim to be the former, but definitely not the latter. I leave the recipes for the experts (see Amy Poore’s recipes section). But I do make a mean jambalaya, which is a slightly altered version of my mother’s recipe.  My better half can also whip up a fantastic dish that we’ve named “Reef Chicken” as an honorarium to a now out-of-business restaurant we used to frequent. You’ll have to ask her if she’s willing to give it up.

Q: Derek, do you see the traffic situation in Tuscaloosa ever improving? 

A: Yes. In the summer when school is out. And during the winter break. In all seriousness, there are strategic plans in the works to relieve traffic issues across our fair county. But as you know, those things take time. And due to construction, the situation will likely get worse before it gets better. When it comes to traffic in T-Town, patience is a virtue (and apparently, a requirement). 

Q: Derek, Walt Maddox is running for governor. Any chance you’ll throw your name in the hat to be the next mayor of Tuscaloosa if he wins?

A: Negative. I honestly enjoy my current employment too much to give it up. Plus, Mrs. Oz might (replace with “could” … no, replace with “would”) take issue with the idea. And besides that, writing a monthly op-ed in a community newspaper does not necessarily qualify one to be THE mayor. Never say never, but replacing Walt with someone that can handle the challenges our growing city faces won't be an easy task, should he high-tail it to exotic Montgomery. And if that happens, all I can say is … choose wisely.  

I tweet insignificant things @ozborn34.      

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Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.


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