Sam’s Three Words for 2014

Maine_hike_Sam_Oct_2013We are at the midpoint of our Gap Year. Debbie has advised me to look ahead to 2014 using “three words.” I think she wants them to be inspirational. She wants me to reflect on the year thus far. After seven months of Gap Year indulgences, I am ready to give it a try. I understand it’s the cool thing to do in the blogosphere. The words I am choosing are write, experiment, and outrage.


During these last seven months my greatest satisfaction has been spending time writing and engaging with the community of extended summer people and year-rounders in small town Maine. Writing has become important to me. I am committed to writing this blog and to other writing projects (more about them later) in 2014.


Today we are back in DC and packing up our home in order to make a final decision. Should we 1. Trade (swap for a house in another country); 2. Rent (divide it into a house and a small apartment and rent one or the other); or 3. Sell. This decision is a biggy.

It represents a giant commitment in time and planning and it dictates the form our finances will take for the next year and beyond.

In February, during the cold Maine winter, we plan to visit Uganda where we will volunteer at a vocational school and explore the world of charity work. I do not expect to join Médecins Sans Frontières despite my heroic French linguistic “accomplishments.” I think I want to be closer to my family and grandchildren than such a commitment would allow.

But I will look into other options for volunteering abroad. In addition, I will dabble at the interface of politics and health care delivery in Maine as I look for inspiration in public sector work.

So we will continue experimenting on several fronts.


By this evening, the close of 2013, I will have disconnected myself from my career in Northwest Washington DC. My resignation from the Board of Trustees of Sibley Hospital has been accepted. I am ambivalent about that but I feel freed from some constraint to toe the line. I have made my farewells. I have passed the baton to my successor, a young physician. I am now ready to comment purely as an observer and no longer as a participant.

In that regard I will be exploring my outrage at most, if not all, things medical.

I was raised in a family that kept its opinions (professional, political, personal) muted and held in check. Do the right thing at work, keep your head down, keep your thoughts to your self as much as possible were mantras passed down to us.

I am ready to be more expressive. Lord Melbourne noted that “A doctrinaire is a fool but an honest man.” Outrage happens. We need more of it.


Photo: surveying possibilities from a mountaintop in Acadia National Park.

3 Responses to Sam’s Three Words for 2014

  1. Susan Martin January 1, 2014 at 6:09 am #

    Always enjoy reading your pieces Sam (and you too Debbie). The department where I am doing my master’s in International Health here in Sweden has multiple connections with the health system in Uganda so if you’d like any contacts do let me know. Happy New Year to you both and I look forward to the outcomes from each of your three words Sam.

    • Sam January 12, 2014 at 10:00 am #

      Susan, Thank you. I will be in Bududa in late February and early March. If you know of a contact already I will try to be in touch. Alternatively, I will check out Bududa and environs and email you from there. This is really just a learning process and recon trip for now. Sam


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