Mid-life Without the Crisis

It really isn't the destination, but the journey. May be cliche, but it's true.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Happy Constitution Day

I had the honor this afternoon of speaking at a Constitution Day celebration at our local community college, where I am adjunct faculty.  The theme today was "American as Apple Pie."  I even got a pie for speaking!  It was fun and I wanted to share with you what I said today.  So here is the text of my speech:

“American as apple pie.”  That’s an expression that we all know recognizes something that is truly, quintessentially American.  And though the expression itself appears to have made its debut in the 1960s, we know when we hear it that it refers to things that are as old as, as loved as, or completely intertwined with America.  Apple pie is certainly as American as…well, as apple pie. 
Yet, if we look at the history of apple pie, we find that it was not invented in America.  No, pies have been around for centuries.  One of the earliest recipes comes from 1381 and calls for “good apples, good spices” and other ingredients baked in a “cofyn” of pastry.   But these early European pies often had only one crust, were thin, and were lacking any sweeteners other than whatever the apple’s own nature had to offer.  Really more of what we would call a tart.

But once the apple pie came to our shores, it took on new shapes and tastes.  Colonists often ate pies for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  When apples were out of season, dried apples were used.  Over time, and with the influence of the cooking of numerous immigrants, the American apple pie evolved into the much more recognizable double-crusted, sweetened, thick pie that we know and love to this day.  Colonists often said of this new and improved version, “We cannot claim to have invented the apple pie, just to have perfected it.”

The same can be said of our U.S. Constitution.   We certainly didn’t invent the constitution, the U.S. just perfected it!
The Constitutional Convention was called for in February of 1787.  On May 25th, the work began.  By the time the process was finished, 12 states had been represented, and 55 men had done the actual work, debate and writing.  These men were farmers, bankers, lawyers, judges and merchants.  Some were native-born while others were immigrants.  Their average age was 42, though Benjamin Franklin was 81.  On September 17, 1787, 39 men signed the U.S. Constitution, which turns 225 years old today.

What began as an attempt to fix the problems of the Articles of Confederation, our young nation’s first form of government, turned into the discussions and debates that created what is now the oldest codified constitution derived from a single written source.  The 7 articles, even counting the 27 amendments later added, comprise the world’s shortest constitution.  Our Founding Fathers accomplished in 4 short months and in 1 short document what few others ever have – the creation of a lasting democratic republic.  

When that document was completed, Benjamin Franklin, the elder statesmen of the group, addressed the president and the assembled delegates before the vote and signing.  He commented on man’s tendency to consider himself always in the right and yet marveled at how the delegates put aside those views and reached compromise after compromise to satisfy the needs of the many. 
He noted that he expected American enemies to be astonished that any document could be created by the young nation, as he himself was astonished at how nearly perfect the Constitution was.  

He then addressed the president of the convention, George Washington, and said, “Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best."

I think it’s safe to say that we all agree with Mr. Franklin.

We can look, then, at this perfected document as the directions for government.  It is the recipe, so to speak, for our system.  And like any recipe for apple pie, we find there is a list of ingredients, the step-by-step directions, and the expected outcome.

The ingredients for apple pie generally consist of uncooked apples, a fat source, sweeteners and spices.  Many people will use a firm, tart apple, butter, white sugar and cinnamon, and some will use lemon juice to prevent browning during prep.  But the exact variety of each ingredient varies from baker to baker.  Since there are so few ingredients, each needs to be of good quality.

The ingredients of our constitution are similarly sparse.  We have a preamble, articles and amendments.  Those are common to constitutions the world over.  What makes ours so good?  Let’s look at the quality there.

The preamble states the goals of the constitution, and they are indeed lofty.  

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Then come the articles.  The first 3 set up our 3 branches of government:  legislative, executive and judicial.  The other 4 articles outline the relationship between the state and federal governments, provide a means of amending the constitution, assert that the constitution is the supreme law of the land, and provide a legal way for the ratification of the constitution to supersede the Articles of Confederation.

The first 10 Amendments were agreed upon as a way of getting everyone on board the ratification.  They are known collectively as the Bill of Rights and they do not give us rights – they recognize those rights which are inalienable.  The other 17 were added over the course of years through a process that is designed to be sufficiently difficult to weed out frivolous ideas.

So what do we have then as our quality ingredients?

·        Lofty goals in the preamble
·        Limited government in the articles
·        Rare changes in the amendments

Sounds good to me!

The directions for making an apple pie seem simple on the surface – mix all ingredients.  But it’s the preparation that is key.  The apples have to be peeled and cut just so.  Some people like thick slices of apple, others like thin, while still others like diced pieces.  The ratio of spices and sugar to apples gives different levels of flavor, and thickening of the natural juices can be accomplished with a little flour.  It’s all in the preparation, and preparation can be complicated.  

Our constitutional recipe calls for us to elect 535 members of Congress and 1 president, who join 9 appointed members of the Supreme Court to form the top tiers of our 3 branches.  But electing those 536 people and choosing those 9 is no simple task.  There are qualifications that have to be met, delegates, conventions, primaries, caucuses, general elections, electors, nominations, confirmations and so on.  The preparation in getting someone elected or confirmed is a lengthy and often painful process!  But it’s a necessary process.  

Choosing who will sit at the top of those 3 branches is as integral to the system as the branches themselves.  The Founding Fathers knew that while rule by the masses could get messy, tyranny was no more preferable.  The one must temper the other through a balanced system that allows input and consent of the governed, in a system headed up by a chosen few.  

This system of federalism (which divided power between states and the federal government), and the system of checks and balances (in which the 3 branches and the people can check the power of one another), are seen by some as being fractures of governmental power.  It is this fractured nature, they say, that leads to the arguments and impasse we often complain about in Washington, D.C.  But it is precisely this division of powers that the Framers desired.  They understood, as we should, that the division and arguments are symptoms of a healthy system – one in which dissent is heard and steamrolling is rare.  Too much ease might mean too much power being exerted by one branch or one part of a branch.  

This complicated, messy, fractured process builds exactly the government we need.  It is precisely the complicated directions of this recipe that ensure that the end result is what is desired:  a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
When making an apple pie, I always make my dough first.  I let it chill in the refrigerator while I work on the apples.  When my filling is ready, I cut the dough in half and put ½ back in the fridge to stay cool while I roll out the bottom crust.  Then I fill the pie and finally, take out that last dough, roll it out and create the top.  It is this double crust that often sets our American apple pie apart from others.

The preamble of the Constitution has that same double-duty.  It is one ingredient and does lay out the goals that were to be met by the constitution itself, forming the foundation of the ideas to come.  But it is also the top, the expected outcome, what we see when we look at the whole.  

The preamble was actually penned last by our Founding Fathers.  I find it interesting that the last thing they wrote began so profoundly.   We the people.  Because it is we the people that we want to see as the end result of our constitutional recipe.  We the people should be reflected in the faces in Congress.  We the people are behind the power of the White House.  We the people should be seen in the decisions of the high court.

So if you take quality ingredients, follow the directions, you’ll always get the expected outcome, right?  Of course not.  It is possible to follow a recipe and still not get what you expect.  Humidity, oven temperature and a host of other factors can have an unexpected influence on the final product.  Following the directions precisely is not a guarantee of a perfect result.  They say cooking is an art and baking is a science. 
So is government.  We can follow the directions and still have an unexpected outcome because of variables we can’t control.  But in government, as in baking, you won’t ever get what you want out of it if you don’t put it the required effort.

It’s been said by many people over the years in many ways – you get the government you deserve.  And that can be a negative comment or a positive one.  I believe if we follow the recipe, we the people will have the outcome we want and deserve.  A government that is responsive to the will of we the people.  A government shaped carefully by we the people.  A government that looks out for we the people.

But we must also remember the negative side of the comment.  If we the people are not involved, we really will get what we deserve.  If we don’t know what the constitution says, how will we know if it’s being violated?  If we don’t know what our rights are, how will we know when they’re being trampled on?  If we don’t care about who sits in those offices at the tops of those 3 branches, why should they care about us?

Just like with any recipe, if you don’t follow the directions, you’re not going to get what you expect.  If you don’t get involved in the process, your end result will not be a satisfying concoction.  If you let those who don’t know what they’re doing be in charge of the recipe, you won’t like what you get.

I challenge you today to read the recipe and follow the directions so you can get the dessert you want.  Read the constitution, get involved in the process by educating yourself on the issues, register and then vote.  And even if your pie doesn’t come out exactly as you hoped, you can have pride in knowing that you had a hand in making it.  

Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in quoting judicial philosopher Learned Hand said, “"Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women. When it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it.' But our understanding today must go beyond the recognition that ‘liberty lies in (our) hearts’ to the further recognition that only citizens with knowledge about the content and meaning of our constitutional guarantees of liberty are likely to cherish those concepts."

What Justice O’Connor said is true for all of us.  How can we cherish something we don’t understand?  It is for this reason that we celebrate Constitution Day – so that we can encourage others to learn about the foundational document of our government.  That we can recognize the difficulty in the process while reveling in the ability to take part.  

I think it’s wonderfully appropriate that the 225th anniversary of the signing of our Constitution would come in an election year.  What better way to celebrate the freedoms we hold so dear and those constitutional guarantees of liberty we cherish than to be involved in the step-by-step directions of making government?  

In looking back at our constitution, how it was made, how it has stood the test of time, the process we are invited to be a part of through voting, one can say that voting truly is “as American as apple pie.”

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Living Cheaply

Recently I've been asked a couple of times how I manage financially.  Now these people weren't being rude, just curious.  Let me explain.  I have not worked full time in over 4 years thanks to a layoff right before the financial crisis hit.  Yay for timing!

So now that my income is about 1/3 of what it once was, Hubby and I still have managed to pay off our debts and start saving.  The questions make sense now, huh?

So I thought it might be nice to share some of my tips and ideas that have helped us get by because there might be some others out there looking for ways to live on less.

I think it might be important to accept right off that if you need to live on less, you have to give up all notions of keeping up with the Joneses, or of being hip, cool or stylish.  Probably not gonna happen.  But if you manage your money well when the chips are down, when things improve, you'll be well-trained for living larger.

I think the main thing to do is to spend less.  Here are some ways we do this:
  • Eat at home - Eating out is expensive.  Buying ingredients at the store and making things at home is much cheaper.  It can also be a great way to bond in the kitchen and watch your weight.
  • Limit restaurant expense - We do eat out occasionally but we do it rarely (maybe once a month), we don't order the most expensive items, and we often get take-out to avoid all the expensive pitfalls of restaurant eating like appetizers and drinks.
  • Vacations?  What are those? - The only thing we can even count as a vacation in years was one overnight stay in Memphis.  Sorry, but that money needs to be saved just in case.  I can lay in the sun and read a book on my deck.
  • Libraries, my dears. - Speaking of books, I don't buy them.  Ever.  Not even digital versions for my Kindle for PC program.  You can get books free at libraries, many can be found online for free, and if you'll take good care of them, you may find friends who will loan you theirs.
  • Cheaper movies. - We only go to the theater for big sci-fi or special effects or blockbuster movies (think Batman or Star Trek). We wait for things to come out on video and pick them up at the video store.  We also make sure to take it back the next day to get a store credit that makes the next one we rent cheaper.
  • Brands, Schmands. - As much as possible, we buy off-brand items.  Sure, I have to have my name brand toothpaste, but why would I spend more on paper towels just to wipe up spills and throw them in the trash?
  • Coupons! - For those name brands, I try to find coupons.  I print coupons from websites like coupons.com, check all those ones that come in the mail, and look for other options.  I'm by no means an extreme couponer.  First of all, I won't spend money in order to get coupons.  I'm not going to buy a magazine just to get a coupon.  That's stupid.  And secondly, I'm not going to spend that much time on it.  I don't want couponing to become my new full-time job.
  • Cut back on extras. - I dropped my newspaper and magazine subscriptions.  Think about things that you don't really need and get rid of them.  They may be things that you enjoy, but if sacrifices need to be made, do it.
  • Limit utility expenses. - Those suckers add up fast.  So do things like wash only full loads of laundry or dishes, hang up clothes outside to dry and let dishes air dry, set your central heat and air at a temp that is comfortable but doesn't allow it to run all the time, take shorter showers, cut back on watering the lawn and washing your car, and so on.
  • No gyms for me. - I do exercise regularly, but not at a gym.  We go to the park or walk at the free walking track at the nearby indoor track.  I also work out at home with exercise videos or instructions found online for free.
There's a start for you! Check back later and I'll bring you more savings tips and ideas.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Books, Book, and More Books

If you've ever headed over to my Book Recommendations page, you know I keep a little notebook with me to write down book recommendations.  I make notes of who suggested it, whether I've got it on hold at the library, and what I thought of it.  I also recently discovered that the easiest way to put books on my "list" when I'm out at the giant movie/book/music superstore is to whip out my camera phone and take pictures of the covers.  They probably think I'm weird, photographing books, but really I'm just too cheap to buy them.  I use the college library since it's oh so handy.

So anyway,  I thought I'd fill you in on some of my recent finds.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith.  Yeah, I know.  But really, it's good.  I haven't seen the movie but it looks like an action tour de force.  The book isn't like that.  It's the weaving of Lincoln's own words and actions with a compelling fantasy narrative.  Several times while reading, I felt like maybe the book does a disservice to the historical and great Lincoln, but I couldn't help but enjoy the story.  I especially liked the ending.

5th Victim by Zoe Sharp.  Sharp writes about a close protection agent (bodyguard) by the name of Charlie Fox.  She was born with a golden spoon in her mouth, but joined the military and has endured some horrendous treatment at the hands of others.  In this novel, Charlie is hired to protect a young trust-fund heir after a series of kidnappings in their luxury circle.  Fox thwarts one attempt, but the circumstances lead to questions about who's behind this and why.  When Charlie finds out the answers, she will not be happy.  Check it out.

The Toss of a Lemon by Padma Viswanathan.  This is the story of an Indian woman from around 1900 to her death in the 1960s.  It is also the tale of her family members.  This is a story that's about the journey, not the destination.  You'll be introduced to cultures, beliefs, and customs that are probably unfamiliar, and may even make you angry, but the journey is wonderful and stays with you for days, especially as much of the story is based on the author's grandmother's life.  I didn't even want to pick up my next book so I could continue to ponder the life of Sivakami. 

Here are some on my "to read" list for summer:

The Hypnotist's Love Story by Liane Moriarty

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

In the summer, I usually read dozens of books, but since I'm teaching this summer, I haven't had as much time.  What are you reading this summer?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Summer Olympics!

I love how two different conversations can merge in your head and form something completely new.  I was talking recently with family and friends about snappy comebacks.  I said that I always think of them much later - I guess I'm clever but not quick.  Then later that evening, I mentioned I was excited about the Summer Olympics and someone asked me why.  At the time I said something like, "Because it's the top athletes in the world competing in amazing challenges."

My clever response came much later, but here it is.

The Olympics is a competition that began centuries ago, but has been revived and updated in modern times, and continues to change with the times.  It is an opportunity for the nations of the world to meet in battle without firing any shots, other than starter pistols.  Nearly every nation in the world, recognized or unrecognized, participates.  Athletes show what dedication, training, and persistence can yield in the human body.  The strength, grace, agility and speed of human bone, muscle and sinew are on display in a way that nothing else captures.  Olympic athletes are winners, are beautiful, are to be emulated.  For a few brief weeks, the whole world comes together in a way that is so rare as to be cherished - we are in friendly competition, cheer for one another, and are involved in an activity together, watching our world's greatest athletes.  It is a thing of beauty.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Authentically Me

Cyndi Lauper in the 1980s
I remember being a teenager and wanting to do my hair like Cyndi Lauper, pop star.  But I knew I couldn't get away with that color or cut because of some of the places that I'd have to go, like church or school.  Even if my parents had let me, I was pretty sure I'd be shunned or ridiculed for my choice.

As I've gotten older, those pressures and societal constraints have changed but not gone away completely.  I wouldn't exactly be able to wear my hair like Cyndi in my job as a college instructor (at least not at the conservative Midwest college where I am).  But at least I don't have to worry about my school mates or church anymore. 

I've come to realize that is one of the great things about getting older.  I can look back at those things that prevented me from expressing my true self when I was younger and make the decision to leave those things behind.  I'm going to be me whether anyone likes it or not, and those who don't like it will be ignored.

Whitesnake has a song released a few years ago called "Best Years" with the lyric These are the best years...of my life.  I can really relate to that because these are the years that I know what I like, I'm unafraid to express myself, and I'm unwilling to spend time with people or in places that drain the happiness out of me.  I will spend the 2nd half of my life with people I love, I will do things I like doing, and I will not spend time in places that make me feel bad about who I am or what I like.  I will be truly, happily, geekily, authentically me.

Of course, that doesn't mean I still want Cyndi's haircut.  But I still love this song:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Live and Let Live

Perhaps this week you've heard about the brouhaha stirred up by CNN commentator Hillary Rosen's comment that Ann Romney (wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney) has "never worked a day in her life." (BTW, she stayed home to raise 5 boys.)

Also this week, I saw a question to an advice columnist asking how to deal with stay-at-home moms who say, "I didn't have my kids to have someone else raise them."

It seems that there is an issue here between working moms and stay-at-home moms.

If getting older has taught us anything, it should be that we all have to make hard choices in life.  Maybe someone would have preferred to be a stay-at-home mom, but financial circumstances simply didn't allow that.  Or maybe someone longed for the busy life of working, but just couldn't see leaving children with a sitter.  We all had to make choices about how to live our lives and we have to live with the consequences, positive or negative, of those choices.

But we all need to remember that just because the choice we made worked for us in our circumstances at the time, that choice was ours, not someone else's.  Meaning that someone else's decision is not ours to make.

So don't judge one another about these decisions.  We don't know what someone else may be dealing with or the reasons they made the choices they made.  We should not be judging working moms or stay-at-home moms based on our own choices.

If growing older has taught us anything, it should be live and let live.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Votes for Women

Do you know what percentage of women in your age range are registered to vote?  Or how many voted in 2010?  According to the U.S. Census, women in my age range report being registered to vote at a 63.8% rate, but of those, only 38.6 actually vote.

Now I understand that there are times when it really feels like choosing the lesser of 2 evils when voting, and sometimes we are sick.  But also according to the census, the largest percentage of voters say they didn't vote because they were too busy or not interested.

So I'm issuing a challenge.  I'd like you to rent the movie Iron Jawed Angels.  It is the story of Alice Paul and the horrendous treatment she endured while fighting for the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, some 55 years after African-American men got that same right after the Civil War.  It is not a pretty picture.  If you don't have the opportunity to do that, then at least read about the Silent Sentinels.

I think that after realizing how hard women had to fight for the right to vote, we should cherish that right.  We had to fight to have a voice in our government - let's make sure our voices are heard.

Here's a link to the various census charts on voting.

Here's a link to the wiki article on the Silent Sentinels.

And here's a trailer for the movie, which is available from Netflix, but I don't know about other outlets.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring Break!

Yay!  I'm officially on spring break as of today.  You can probably tell because I actually posted a blog. :)  And while it would be great to go to the Bahamas or on a cruise like some of my students are doing, I am, instead, taking a short road trip with the bestie and then chillin' for the rest of the week.

Ang and I are going to see a Charlotte Brontë manuscript that she wants to see and then on to the site of Winston Churchill's Iron Curtain speech that I want to see.  (Can you tell who was the English major and who was the history major?)  While we're out and about we'll stop and see whatever roadside attractions catch our eyes, but mostly we'll gab, snack and listen to road trip songs.

Any suggestions for songs to listen to, places to eat in the Columbia, Missouri, area, or great snacks to try?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Coffee! Coffee!! Coffee!!!

Mmmm...I love me some coffee.  Granted, my earliest taste of coffee was the half-coffee/half-milk mixture my parents treated us kids to on occasion.  (I still take mine with cream and sugar.)  So I wanted to share a few things with you.

First, I'm super proud of the work my daughter is doing in Peru, working with fair trade coffee.  Here's her blog on the subject.  If you're interested in buying fair trade coffee, here's one source.  This is the brand that some of my friends buy and they say it's tasty stuff.  Pura Vida Coffee is the name.  I pick up the fair trade French Roast Sam's Choice at Walmart.

Secondly, I got to thinking about how Peru has this huge coffee export business, but no coffee culture, and that made me wonder about Spain's coffee culture.  And I happened upon this little article comparing Spain to Germany.  Nothing Earth-shattering, just an interesting look into another part of the world.

And finally, I found a recipe for homemade coffee creamer.  I did the math tonight and found that an off-brand creamer comes to 9 cents per ounce.  This recipe comes to about 6 cents per ounce.  Pretty good deal.  Plus, I can make the flavor that my local store no longer carries (for some weird reason).  Vanilla Cinnamon.  I simply added 1/2 tsp of cinnamon to the recipe.  I'm going to figure out how to make a mocha one - that will be good.

So those are some things to ponder and read over while you sip your cup of joe in the morning.  Hope you have a great day! Oh, and here's a video of my favorite singer, Robert Plant.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Getting Crafty

I am a very visual person.  I love to have words of wisdom, to-do lists, calendars, photos and other things I love in plain sight.  My cork board by my desk is full of such things.  But I also have a magnetic dry erase board that I write all kinds of notes on.  I decided the other day to update the look by turning some of those quotes into art.

First, I typed up the quotes in a word processing program and changed up the fonts, colors and borders.  Like this: 

Then I cut out and stuck my phrases to adhesive backed magnets.  They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.  Here are a couple of examples: 

These are a great size for photos
Avery sheets can be used in your printer!

 After peeling off the back, I just hung them up on my board and now I can use them to hold up more words of wisdom and to-do lists.  Notice the ones I made previously using pictures.  You can definitely personalize this idea to whatever type of picture you'd like to hang up.  Works great for fridge magnets too.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Peaceful Surroundings

I love peace.  I love a day where things just go according to plan and I can accomplish all the things I wanted and then some.  I had a day like that yesterday.

One of the things that I find helps me keep that peaceful feeling is to make my surroundings calm and peaceful.  For me, that means a clean, organized house.  Well, as organized as I can get in our somewhat small home that overfloweth with the things we collect and love.  But I really enjoyed cleaning the kitchen yesterday.  Hubby even joined in and did the dusting and vacuuming for me.  Awesome!!  While I did a load of laundry, I thought about how easy I have it compared to women years ago.

Think about how women used to do the laundry.  Scrubbing it on a washboard over a basin of water, wringing it out, hanging it on the line, ironing it out with an iron that had to be heated on a stove.  Yowza!!  I can throw in a load and go do something else, throw it in the dryer and go do something else, and then come back and hang it or fold it without worrying about ironing.  Easy peasy.

Modern conveniences sure make for a peaceful life and maybe when we get tired of dealing with them, we should thank our lucky stars we were born in the modern age.  Hooray for peace!

Tip:  Here's my best laundry tip.  If you hate dealing with socks and underwear as much as I do, you'll want to take note.  Put a drawer system in your laundry area.  I use those large plastic 3-drawer stack-able ones you can get cheap at the super store.  Put a label on the front of each one for each member of the family.  When socks and underwear come out of the dryer, instead of folding and carrying to the bedroom, just stick 'em in the right person's drawer and voila - you're done. 

Here's a lovely song to add to the peace of your day.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hello, 2012!!

I know, I know.  I've been a terrible blogger of late.  I tend to get caught up in other things and ignore this page.  I think that should be my resolution for 2012 - blog regularly.

Speaking of resolutions, I didn't really have any this year.  Instead, I'm going with themes.  Within each, I have concepts, but I'm letting things be very fluid and relaxed this year.  Here are my themes and concepts: 

1.  Learn something new.
  • Swedish - I'm getting back to learning a new language on Livemocha.  I'll probably have to review all my old lessons before I start any new ones, but that's okay.
  • Guitar - My mom gave me a guitar and I wanna give it a try.  My husband plays and I'm going to have him teach me.  I may not like it - I didn't stick with piano lessons as a kid - but I thought it might be fun.
  • Crochet - My mom crochets and she started teaching me last year, but I got involved in a cross-stitch project and never got back to the crochet.  This is the year!!  I'll probably try a scarf in Doctor Who colors.
2.  Do what's right even if no one else does.
  • Be Kind - This is not always easy when people cut you off in traffic, are rude to you, or whatever, but I'm going to work on doing the right thing anyway.
  • No Votes for Bums - I'm also applying this concept to my voting.  I won't vote for anyone who votes to violate our civil rights.  I know that means I might end up with no one to vote for, but that's okay.
  • Tell 'Em Why - I've also started writing to our leaders telling them why I will not be voting for them.  Again, may not make any difference, but I think it's the right thing to do.
So what are your goals, themes, resolutions and plans for this new year???