Skip to content

Things that Kept Me Going in 2021

The past couple years have been hard on all of us. Recognizing the challenges of the past year – which included COVID-19 infections, a major surgery, political and social unrest, and some unbelievable tragedies, I put some thought into the things that kept me going when times were especially hard.

I was hoping that the list would give me ideas on what might keep me going in 2022.

Happily, it has.

It would seem that trying new things, finding reasons to laugh, and filling my life with good people are pretty much the answer.

Good to know as we enter another potentially challenging year.




Our family is fully vaccinated, and for some of us, boosted at least once, which undoubtedly made an enormous difference when we all tested  positive for COVID-19 during the week following Christmas. Between the four of us, we’ve been injected with the Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Phizer vaccines. Each is a scientific marvel for which we are grateful every damn day.


Elysha and I took two weeks of sailing lessons this summer, then we spent the rest of the summer sailing on Dunning Lake. It was a joyous way to spend our summer days.


Jonathan Goldstein’s podcast was my favorite in 2021. The stories are brilliantly told, but it’s Goldstein’s humor and sweetness that I love most.

Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show

My morning ritual was to watch Colbert’s monologue before doing almost anything else, and I was never disappointed. I’d squeeze Seth Meyer’s “A Closer Look” and sometimes Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue, too, but Colbert was a never-miss for me in 2021.

Sarah Sherman, Cecily Strong, Bowan Yang, and Pete Davidson

These four comedians were my favorite members of the SNL cast in 2021. The whole show makes me happy, but I am most pleased when these particular performers are onstage.

Winding Trails

We spent most of our summer days at Winding Trails, the lake club to which we belong. We swam, went boating, and played all day. The kids spent weeks at summer camp, and we enjoyed sunset dinners of pizza and ice cream throughout the summer. It was a place that filled our souls.


I know that the pandemic put a strain on many marriages, but fortunately, this was not the case for me and Elysha. It turns out that the added time spent together was lovely and appreciated, and I think we supported each other brilliantly in 2021.

At least she supported me brilliantly, and I tried like hell to support her.

It’s good to be married to someone who you never get sick of being around and always find incredibly interesting. This has probably not been entirely the case for Elysha, but it has been for me in 2021. I couldn’t have done the year without her.

My students

I was blessed with two extraordinary classes of students in 2021. Both groups were wonderful to teach, but they were even better people to simply be around. While so many Americans were working remotely or in sparsely populated settings, I spent much of 2021 in an enclosed space with two dozen other human beings. Many of my clients couldn’t believe it. In the midst of enormous fear and uncertainty, my group of 18 and now 24 fifth graders were my source of inspiration, happiness, and purpose.


Equally supportive and appreciated have been the parents of my students this year. The parents of my students have always been kind to me, but last year’s two sets of parents – including the parents still with me in 2022 – have been especially sweet. Knowing what I face every day – a room full of potentially infectious but probably asymptomatic human beings who require a lot of reminders about wearing their masks properly – have made these people grateful beyond measure. A little bit of gratitude, whether it is spoken, written, emailed, or texted, can go a long, long way.

Hello Fresh

I learned to cook thanks to the pandemic and Hello Fresh. There are weeks in 2021 when I cooked dinner every night, which is astounding given that I could only cook pasta and hot dogs prior to 2020. Every Sunday evening, a box of Hello Fresh meals arrived, offering me the ingredients and instructions to make a delicious dinner, and with each one, I learned a little more about food preparation and made me feel better about doing something good for my family.

The New England Patriots

After a disappointing season of football in 2020 – a losing record and no fans in the stadium – the Patriots are back, and my friends and I returned to our seats for Patriots home games in 2021. I missed the last home game of the season with COVIS-19, but I was thrilled to be in the stands for all the rest, cheering on a playoff-bound team that I irrationally adore.

Playing with my children

Poker, chess, and the many other board games, card games, sports, and best of all, the constant wrestling, filled many of my days in 2021. I accomplished a lot less because I spent a great deal of time playing with my Clara and Charlie. I’m so glad I did.


It turns out that golf is an excellent sport for a pandemic. Outdoors, socially distant, and a perfect way to spend time with friends between grass and sky. I played a lot of golf this year and introduced a friend to the game. Every round of golf – even the ones played exceptionally poorly – filled my soul.

Loki and Wandavision

Both of these Marvel shows were wonderful. Wandavision was a love letter to the history of television, and Loki returned a bad guy to the screen who I can’t help but love. Elysha and I had so much fun sitting on the couch, holding hands, watching these shows.

Joey and Lionel

I launched a new business in 2021 with two partners, Joey in Canada and Lionel in Isreal. It was my most exciting project of 2021, and oddly, one of the most physically taxing given my surgery and the project’s requirements. But I expect 2022 to be a big year for us.

Tobi and Pluto

Our cats do some terrible things, but mostly, they brought me unfathomable joy snd love every single day of the year.

Kaia Pazdersky

I’ve been blessed with Kaia in my life for a long time, as a friend, colleague, and babysitter of our children. This year Kaia and I began writing a musical together, but even better, I was smart enough to hire her to work with me, first as my production assistant and then as my production manager. Life in 2021 was a lot easier with Kaia working by my side.

Springsteen on Broadway

After missing his first stint on Broadway, Elysha and I managed to see the show in 2021, and it thankfully coincided with that 6 week period post-vaccination and pre-Delta when masks were temporarily a thing of the past and we thought the world was returning to normal. For one night in a theater in Manhattan, it had, and I will never forget it.

Daniela Mendez

My kids have been fortunate enough to have Daniela in their lives for the last three years, including 2021 She took our kids to school every morning, picked them up every afternoon, and brought stability, kindness, and a fantastic role model into their lives every day. The more good people you can inject into your children’s lives, the better off they will be.


I spent an enormous amount of time in 2021 on this platform, consulting, coaching, teaching, and meeting with business partners, all from the safety of my own home. The acceptance of video conferencing as a viable way to work exploded my business in 2021, allowing me to meet new people, make new friends, and do work that I never before imagined. Had this pandemic hit even a decade ago, life would’ve been a lot harder and a lot more stifling without the near-seamless technology we enjoy today.

Joanna Burgio

I missed two weeks of teaching in November because of surgery and a week of teaching this month due to COVID-19, plus another two weeks back in January of 2021 when I was quarantined for 12 days after being exposed to COVID-19. That five full weeks of teaching missed in 2021, but thankfully, every one of those school days were taught by Joanna Burgio, who works in our school and filled in brilliantly for me every time. The kids love her, I love her, and she made my absences in 2021 far more bearable.

The Simpsons

Charlie and I started watching The Simpson in 2021, beginning with season 1, episode 1. Watching episodes alongside my son that I first watched 30 years ago in an apartment in Attleboro, MA with my buddy, Bengi, has been fantastic.

Surgeons and nurses

Surgeons and nurses made my surgery both successful and bearable. I still have a month of recovery ahead of me, and there is still some pain and unexpected neurological complications to address, but medical staff cut me open in 2021, repaired my body, and sewed me up. Pretty remarkable.

Sick leave

As started above, I missed more time from work in 2021 than in the last decade combined. Thankfully, the teaching profession is blessed with adequate sick leave, and since I have rarely used it, I had nearly 200 days banked away in case of an emergency, as 2021 proved at times to be. I know that many Americans are not blessed with fair and adequate sick leave, so I counted my blessings every day in 2021.

Moth StorySLAMs

After missing out on live Moth StorySLAMs for more than a year due to the pandemic, I returned to New York and Boston in 2021 and performed on the stages that I adore most. I was joined by a variety of storytelling friends on these adventures, including a former student-turned-adult. These were all memorable, entertaining evenings spent with dear friends doing something I love. On the nights when I won, it was even better.

Scott Gottlieb

Former Commissioner of the FDA has been one of my primary sources of public information since the pandemic began (in addition to my knowledgable and forthcoming clients medicine and  biotech). His information has been accurate, measured, predictive, and supremely helpful. His appearances on Face the Nation and CNBC were must-listens for me in 2021.