Sitcoms in the Time of COVID

2020 has been a year. I think we can all agree on that! We’ve all tried to get through a collective trauma (actually several collective traumas) in our own ways. Mine has been rather unexpected. 2020 gave me an appreciation for sitcoms that I’ve never had before. To be clear, I’ve always liked sitcoms. There have always been 1-2 that I’d watch regularly. Then there were the ones that I have on as background noise while I write (yes, I write to sitcoms in the background). But this year, I’ve found unexpected comfort in half hour formats, and even the canned studio laughter.

A sitcom doesn’t demand much of the viewer. We’re not asked to invest huge chunks of time. We can just dip in for a half hour if we want. We’re not asked to follow a complicated plot, or long character histories. Most of these shows don’t even have a villain really. Antagonists? Sure. But we don’t really see characters who are fundamentally evil at their core. We can turn off our brain as we watch, and enter into a world where nothing is so bad that it can’t be solved in a half hour, where people make conversation filled with witty one liners. Yes, too much of that is probably a bad thing, but I think this year it was very necessary.

Some shows that really helped me through this trying time:

From spoilertv.com

I think I discovered The Good Place in it’s third season. I think I first described it as a combination of Parks and Rec and Sartre’s No Exit. I binged the first two seasons and then I tried to check out the new episodes as they aired. Most aired pre-2020, but the show concluded in January 2020. Just before the pandemic. Fortunately that means we have the entirety of the series to help us through the year. The main character isn’t likeable at first. She’s sort of an anti-heroine. But when she dies, she finds herself in The Good Place, due to some sort of error. Over the first season (there’s a twist at the end of season one) we watch as Eleanor tries to learn to be good. It’s a sitcom that actually discusses moral philosophy, and how to live a good life. It asks what kind of reward is appropriate for lifelong good behavior. And what should happen to those who are bad, but for good reasons? Some heavy ideas for a sitcom!

From Booklynvegan.com

I also discovered Schitt’s Creek in pre-2020 times. It starts off as a more or less standard fish out of water comedy. When the ultra-wealthy Rose family go broke suddenly, they move to the small, depressing title town, and live in the motel there. But from that beginning, the show builds beautiful characters. We come to root for the Roses as they learn to live on less, and discover how to be happy without money. We come to care about the residents of Schitt’s Creek as the Roses involvement goes from necessity to choice. I think that each main character had a complete arc in this series, they grew and changed in a fundamental way. It ended in April 2020, in the pandemic’s early days. But again, that means we have the whole series to watch as reruns and help us through the rest of year.

Both shows have a positive outlook on life, which is something that I found I needed this year. In The Good Place, even when the characters weren’t in such a good place, they attempted to improve it. Their response to a broken, rigged system was to fix the problems and build something better. In Schitt’s Creek, the Roses lose their money and their lifestyle, but they find connection as a family that they lacked when they were rich. They explore their passions and embark on a new chapter of their lives. I think that’s a narrative that I needed to see this year. Maybe there will someday be some positive that can come out of what’s happened. I hope so.

Both of these shows seem to have strong themes of friendship, family, and community. I think that’s been one of the biggest casualties of 2020: the ability to physically be together as a community. Yes, we’ve found alternatives via zoom chats. But we’ve also missed the experience of sitting in a theater with an audience, all watching the same show and feeling the same thing. We’ve missed scoring a great table in a crowded restaurant. We’ve missed in person game nights with friends, and family dinners with crowded tables. I think some of my sitcom viewing preferences are speaking to that absence.

These are the most recent shows I’ve liked, but when I’ll also binge Friends, Frasier, or The Big Bang Theory. Friends are like my friends. Like the song says “they’ve been there for me.” A lot of these I’ve seen so many times that it’s like background noise at this point. But having them on in the background while I write does help me work. There are some British sitcoms I enjoy as well: The Vicar of Dibley, and As Time Goes By and though I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it, Coupling, I’ll write with those on in the background too, sometimes. I recently discovered I like The Golden Girls, so I’ve added that to my favorites list as well.

Have I forgotten anything I should definitely check out? What kind of TV has helped you through this year? Have you found comfort in anything that seems kind of strange at first?

On Race, Justice, and Other Pressing Issues of the Day (and also books)

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It’s been a crazy time. It continues to be. I saw someone say that it’s like the Spanish Flu and the mass protests of the late 60’s/early 70’s happened during the Great Depression. I also saw a tweet (can’t find it right now) saying that “Not even in my darkest hours of 2016 did I imagine telling my husband that we’d have to eat dinner out of our quarantine rations because I didn’t have a chance to go shopping before the police curfew.” And yet, here we are.

I haven’t posted until now because I wanted to give myself a chance to process my thoughts. That’s still ongoing, but I feel like I can start to express myself. First of all, I want to state that Black Lives Matter. Absolutely. Unequivocally. It should go without saying, but it unfortunately it doesn’t. So it falls on all of us to say it, and believe it, and act on it.

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I can only talk about this from my own experience as a white woman. One who reads a lot and tries to understand and empathize with others, but who has ultimately experienced the world from a position of racial privilege. A lot of the talk about institutionalized racism makes me think of a few things:

  • One is Thug Life, which is urban slang coined by 2Pac Shakur. It was also the name of a hip hop group consisting of  2Pac, Stretch, Big Syke, Mopreme, Macadoshis, and The Rated R.  The name is an acronym for “The Hate U Gives Little Infants F*cks Everybody.” I have to confess that I’m only familiar with it because it was referenced in a  best-selling YA novel The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I think it’s talking about institutionalized racism. The systems of oppression that we all absorb as we go through life (“the hate we give little infants”) then  oppresses the next generation, even the oppressors (“f*cks everybody”).
  • One is a song from the musical South Pacific called “You Have To Be Carefully Taught.” As a card carrying theater geek, this is more my musical wheelhouse.  Written in 1949 it was of the first songs in a musical to explicitly deal with racism, arguing that it’s not something that we’re born with but rather, something that’s nurtured within us.  In it, a man contemplating an interracial relationship talks to a woman contemplating a marriage to a man with two mixed race children from a prior marriage. The lyrics to the song are: “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear/ you’ve got be taught from year to year/ it’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear/ you’ve got to be carefully taught/ You’ve got to be taught to be afraid / Of people whose eyes are oddly made / Or people whose skin is a different shade / You’ve got to be carefully taught /  You’ve got to be taught / Before it’s too late/ Before your are six / Or seven or eight / To hate all the people your relatives hate/ You’ve got to be carefully taught. ” I believe that those lyrics are true, but we are taught racism even if our relatives don’t actually sit there drumming it in our “dear little ear” because systems of racism in our society teaches us and the ways that different races are portrayed (or not portrayed) in media.  Therefore, we reach a point where we either take part in that system, either actively or passively, or we can try to tear that system down.

I’m not going to say that I’m not a racist, because that doesn’t accomplish anything. In many ways, I’m luckier than most. I grew up with parents who explicitly taught me that no one was superior to anyone else on the basis of their skin color. They taught me that our merit is determined by our actions not our race, religion, nationality of ethnicity.  They read me anti-racist books as a child and made sure that I had exposure to people who were different from me, and that I interacted with people who were different. But I still live in the same world as everyone else. That’s a world that has systems of privilege and oppression built into it. I’ve benefited from those systems more than I deserve because of the color of my skin. I don’t like that, but it’s true nonetheless.

Over the last ten days or so, I’ve done a lot of reflecting about how I can help to rectify a system that’s been broken for hundreds of years. I wish that I had a definite answer, but I don’t. When I’m unsure, I look to books to help me. Fortunately #BlackLivesMatter has an awesome anti-racist reading list (as well as an incredible list of resources to help white people be allies).

 

 

I’ve read a few of these, but I hope to read many more. As an educator, I also hope to make use of some of these wonderful books in the future. I believe that reading has taught me empathy. It has taught me compassion. I believe that education can change the world. If we read with an open mind and an open heart we can learn to be better. We can learn how to be effective in changing these systems.  And don’t forget to buy your books from Black owned independent bookstores! There’s a pretty comprehensive list here.

I think that there are a lot of people who do want to support this movement, but don’t feel able to, either because they can’t protest or can’t donate. But there are other ways to make your voice heard. One of my favorite resources is 5calls.org. This allows people to call the appropriate legislators about issues that are important to them. Just enter your location. You’ll see a list of issues (at the moment there are a number of issues around police reform listed) . Click on one, and you’ll get the phone number of the legislator or representative to call about a certain issue as well as a suggested phone script (which you can modify as much or as little as you want). It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s effective. #BlackLivesMatter also has lists of actions that anyone can take from their own home for no money, such as phone calls, letter writing, and petitions. If you can’t go out to protest, or don’t have the money to make donations, there is still important work to be done. Most important of all, we have to VOTE for people who will make the changes that we need a reality. There is NO excuse for not voting.

The last thing that I want to do is add to the noise around this topic without contributing anything meaningful. But I believe that there are meaningful ways for all of us to help create a better world for all. The first step is often reading, thinking and looking inward. But that should be where it starts. The next step is turning it into meaningful action in some way. That way may look different for each of us.

On a related topic:

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I know that JK Rowling has come out with some trans-phobic statements of twitter that have hurt a lot of people. I love her work, but I do not support her statements or her opinion. Trans Lives Matter. Trans rights are human rights.  If you want to help the Trans community at this time there are a lot of ways to do so.

To learn more about the work that needs to be done, visit the Trans Justice Funding Project, The National Black Trans Advocacy Coalition, The Marsha P. Johnson Institute, The Okra Project, The Trans Women of Color Collective, and more. 5calls.org also has entries that support Trans rights at times, particularly when there is pending legislation about them.  Bookmark that site, since it’s so valuable for activism on a regular basis.

If you want to read more about transgender issues and gender identity, great. That’s important work that can to break down bias’ we didn’t even know we had. It can open minds and spur further activism. You can find a number of wonderful lists online for adults here and here, teens and young adults here, and children and teens here and here. You can also find lists for all ages.

It’s sad that JK Rowling chose to use her platform and influence to express harmful idea. But she also gave us a book series that teaches us to stand up for what’s right, that silence equals complicity and that by joining our efforts together we can accomplish great things. Let’s take that lesson and use it.

I’ve Been… (Lockdown Edition)

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  • Editing what I once called Frozen Heart, or what I might now call Frost. Which title do you prefer? Or a different one? It’s going alright, but I think I’m at the point where I need to call in a professional editor.
  • Writing. I’ve started a new project. It’s inspired by Cinderella. I never saw that as a fairy tale I’d want to retell (my first thought is always that it’s over done) but much like the case with Beauty and the Beast, I realized that I had something to say about it. I will say it’s a Cinderella I don’t think we’ve seen quite like this before, and a Godmother who is also rather unexpected. But it’s still a very new project, so, for now, I won’t say much more.
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    Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

    Locked down. My city has pretty strict rules about staying in, but even if we didn’t, I don’t think I’d be going out much! My weekly grocery runs are about as much stress as I can take. If you told me a few months ago, that it’s the only time I’d really go out, I’d have thought it would be something I’d look forward to. But between worrying about staying a safe distance from others and showering and wiping down my purchases as soon as I get home, it just doesn’t seem worth it!

  • Reading. I always read a lot  and this lockdown is certainly no exception. And if nothing else, this has convinced me that it makes perfect sense to have a huge pile of unread books in your space. This is a perfect example of just such an occasion. That’s a big “so there!” to anyone who ever told me that it was a waste of space! If you want to see what I’ve been reading lately, it’s all on here.
  • Working Out. Fortunately there’s enough of Youtube to keep me fit! I love some of these workout channels. Check them out. They’re a way to stay fit indoors (all have low impact workouts or at least low impact options so you don’t need to jump around and disturb the downstairs neighbors, if you have them)
  • Binging:
    • Ozark– It’s not my usually type of show (slow burn crime drama) but somehow I got drawn in and now I’m hooked! I’m just starting the third season, so no spoilers please!
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      netflix.com
    • Schitt’s Creek– I caught up on the finale last night. I’m really going to miss this show! Feel good viewing that makes you laugh is rare, and with the loss of this and The Good Place in the same year, it’s now lacking in my TV line up!
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    • Unorthadox– I saw this recommended a few places and I loved it. How often to we get a miniseries with no big “stars,” set in the Hasidic community, about a young woman’s self discovery? While it’s not exactly what I’d call action/adventure, this character driven drama is really compelling and absorbing. It’s only 4 episodes so you can binge it in a day if you want.
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      • flipboard.com
  • Oddly, socializing a lot. My extended family has gotten together for “virtual brunch.” My book club started doing virtual meetings. And I’ve touched base with a number of people to check in and see how they’re doing. It’s not ideal, but I appreciate the various ways that we’ve found to keep isolation for being too isolating.
  • A wreck. If any of this makes it sound like I’ve mastered quarantine, rest assured I’m just as nervous and stressed as anyone else. I’m just hoping and praying for the best for myself , my loved ones, the people around me, the people away from me and the world at large.

How have you been dealing with this weird, frightening experience?

Stay in and stay safe everyone!

The Season For Giving

First of all, I don’t believe that giving is, or should be, seasonal. It should be a way of life. These are some resources that make it easier to make helping others a regular habit.

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  • Charity Miles– Walk, run, bike, dance, jump or crawl for a cause. This app tracks your exercise and donates to a charity of your choice for every mile. It uses corporate sponsorship to make donations, so it’s a way to improve your fitness and earn money for charity, even if you don’t have much extra money yourself.
  • Donate A Photo– For every photo you share, Johnson & Johnson gives $1 to a charity of your choice. You can donate 1 photo per day.
  • Buengo–  We all need to declutter. When you do, take a picture of something you no longer want/need, post it, and choose what cause you’d like to donate the proceeds to. When someone buys the item, they pay the app and the proceeds are donated directly to the cause. Charities can also post items for supporters to purchase.
  • One Today- This is pretty simple. Donate $1 or more per day to the charity of your choice. Google covers the transaction fee, so the charity receives all of the money. You can set up daily alerts so you remember to give, and get a receipt for tax purposes.
  • GiveTide– This makes giving really easy. You download the app, connect a debit or credit card, and each purchase is rounded up to the nearest dollar. You can control how that’s done. For example, you can adjust the number of times per week that roundup happens, or arrange an auto-roundup at the end of the week.

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  • FreeRice– Basically this is a fun way to “waste” time with an online quiz, but for each question your get right, a donation is made through the World Food Program. While it’s unlikely to add up to huge amounts, every little but  helps, and it’s a way to help even when you’re broke.

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  • Turn your hobby into a way to help others. These organizations accept craft donations. So you can knit, crochet or quilt and help someone in need.
  • Give blood– OK, there’s something inherently icky about asking someone to give parts of themselves physically. But get over it. It’s quick, it’s free, and it directly saves lives. Most people only think to donate after a disaster, but it’s needed on a regular basis. It can take as little as ten minutes and the website tells you exactly what to expect.
  • Make a phone call. 5 Calls is a resource specifically for Americans (let me know if there are similar resources out there for other countries!) that allows people to call their representatives about issues that matter to them at home and around the world. It even provides scripts. Remember that your government should work for you.

What are some of your favorite ways to give back? Are there are resources that you know of that I missed? Remember that kindness also counts and it costs nothing. Be a sympathetic ear or a shoulder to cry on when someone needs one. Give what you can, even if it isn’t money. Every bit of kindness given makes the world a better place. That’s something that we can all benefit from.

A Call To Action

Since the 2016 election I’ve been reflecting a lot. I’ve always had strong political beliefs, I’ve always voted, but I’ve never been comfortable being openly “political”. However since Donald Trump was elected I’ve been participating more in political discourse. I’ve called representatives, I’ve blogged about issues that concern me, and I’ve protested. But lately, I’ve been asking myself if I’m doing enough. Am I simply being a “good German” while things that I know are wrong go on? Is calling my representatives enough when they are allowing these things to happen? I’ve been watching in horror this week as leaders argue the semantics of what constitutes a “concentration camp.” I think that if that’s even an argument that people are making, we’re clearly in the wrong.

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I know that we all have different resources. If you are financially able to make donations, I urge you to check out some of the links below. However, I know that everyone isn’t able to donate. So I wanted to share some information about other things that you can do to help. I am going to try to do some of these things I urge others to do the same.  One way that I feel like I can help is to spread the word to others about ways that they can help. I feel like we have an advantage now in that it’s so easy to share information widely. It’s harder to do things in secret. It’s my hope that everyone does what he/she can do and that adds up to a big difference.

  • Get involved with your local chapter of Sanctuary Not Deportation, which allows faith groups to offer sanctuary to immigrants fleeing ICE.
  • If there is a detention center near you, there are many rallies directly outside them that you can attend. It’s important that people keep physically going to these places.
  • Host a refugee if you have room. The Room for Refugees project is still trying to build a network in the US.
  • Learn the rights of immigrants. Keep this toolkit on your phone for easy access and share this information.
  • Municipal policy can make an immediate impact, so push your local politicians to support or build sanctuary city initiatives.
  • Help legal organizations near you that help immigrants.
    • If you’re close to NYC the New Sanctuary Coalition needs volunteers and donations. One of the most important thing that the NSC does it to organize rapid response to ICE raids. There are many rapid response networks already in place, but if your city doesn’t have one, here is information about how to organize one.
    • If you live near our southern border get involved with the Texas Civil Rights Project.
    • If you’re near Grand Rapids, MI, the Grand Rapids Rapid Response to ICE provides aid to families affected by ICE violence.
  • Plan. If you’re a mechanic will you to service buses transporting migrant children? If you’re in construction will you refuse to build tent cities? If you own a restaurant will you turn away politicians that support these policies? You may be asked to go along with injustice in some way.  You may not have time to think in the moment. Take some time now to think about where you will draw the line and how. Sometimes just clogging the works can help. I know this sounds a little silly, but remember at the end of The Sound of Music when the nuns messed up the Nazi’s car at the convent? That gave the Von Trapps a chance to escape. Losing paperwork can help. Calling journalists and delaying things until they get to you can help. Don’t get caught up in perpetuating something that’s wrong simply because you don’t know what else to do.
  • Share this information. Share this post. I think that a lot of people out there are frightened but want to help, but don’t know how.

Donations

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Please tell me what you’re doing to help and what other ideas you have for helping. If you have other resources that might be helpful, then share those.

This quote has sort of been my mantra during this period. It reminds me why it’s so important to have these discussion, even when we don’t want to:

“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”

What’s The Good News? Part 3

I’ve had a rough week, and once again it seems like the world has too. So here are some reasons to be happy:

  • A 10 year old boy walks a blind deer to a new patch of grass to make sure that she finds food, every day, before he goes to school.

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  • Bored teens like this one took a challenge to clean up an area that needed it.

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  • Doctors in Denmark have discovered that premature babies who cradled a crochet octopus toy had improved breathing, regular heartbeat, and strong oxygen blood levels. It’s believed that the tentacles remind the babies of the umbilical cord, and the toys have calming effects.  Babies with these toys are less likely to pull on their tubes. (x)

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  • A London HIV patient has been cleared of the virus following a bone marrow transplant, making him the second person ever to be “cured” of HIV. While the procedure can’t be used as a general cure, due to risks associated with stem cell transplants, it has the potential to be a crucial step toward finding a viable, large scale cure. (x)
  • Paul Barton is a volunteer at a rescued elephant sanctuary in Thailand. He plays classical music to the elephants on the piano. They find the music calming and soothing. (x)

  • An Indiana elementary school partnered with a nonprofit called Cultivate to repackage unused cafeteria food and give out on Friday afternoons to students who otherwise wouldn’t have enough to eat over the weekend. (x)
  • In Wales and Scotland a “Climate Emergency” was declared to address climate change, in response to protest. Both nations plan drastic reductions in carbon emissions.

What’s The Good News? (Part 2)

Because I needed some good news and I thought others might too:

  • Kim Smith started A Chance To Dance to allow children with special need and health issues to take an inclusive dance class

  • 70 year old Pat Smith spent a year clearing plastic off 52 beaches in England. It was her 2018 New Year’s Resolution, and she spent each week on a different beach of trash.
  • Kraft opened a free grocery store in Washington DC for government workers who  are not getting paid during the shutdown. Workers need identification and the store will be open Jan. 16 through Sunday, Jan. 20  at 1287 4th Street NE, two blocks from Union Market. More information is available here.
  • 13 year old Jaequan Faulkner opened a hot dog stand outside his house so that he could earn some money. When the Minneapolis Department of Health got a complaint, instead of shutting him down health inspectors chipped in $87 to get the boy a permit so that his stand could be licensed. They also contacted the  Northside Economic Opportunity Network who gave Jaequan pointers on running a business and keeping his stand clean. Jaequan plans to donate some of his earnings to charities that aid people with depression.
  • Tiger populations are rebounding all over the world, but Nepal is leading the way. They’ve doubled their estimated number of wild tigers in the country over the past ten years.
  • The Drama Book Shop in NYC has been a beloved landmark of the theater world for over a hundred years. It even won  an  honorary Tony Award in 2011 for services to theater. They were set to shut down due to expensive rents. But Lin-Manuel Miranda bought out the bookstore and will be reopening it in a different location later this year.
  • Lenny White, a barber in Northern Ireland, set up an old fashioned barber shop in a dementia care home. He plays music from Dean Martin and Elvis Presley, he has a barber pole and an old fashioned apron, and he chats with the men as he gives a shave or a haircut. The patients become relaxed and cheerful and some even sing and dance to the music as they wait their turn. Word spread to other care facilities and now White travels around the UK providing this service.
  • Arthur O. Eve School 61 in Buffalo NY, decided to address the city’s low literacy rate, by providing free books in a vending machine. When the machine was shown on twitter, a number of children’s authors offered to donate copies of their books.
  • The Lego Foundation has given Sesame Workshop a $100 million grant to provide play based learning to children affected by the Ronhinga and Syrian refugee crises. Sesame Workshop will partner with Bangladesh-based BRAC, the world’s largest non-governmental development organisation, the International Rescue Committee and New York University’s Global TIES for Children. They plan to use the grant to develop a number of projects including the following:
    • Scaling up BRAC’s network of Play Labs to address the developmental needs of children ages birth to six from Rohingya refugee and Bangladeshi host populations.
    • New Sesame Street videos, storybooks, games, puzzles and more featuring the Muppets to foster engagement between children and their caregivers, nurture developmental needs and build resilience for young children.
    • Sesame Workshop will create videos starring the Muppets – focused on play – to be shared through family-friendly mobile and pop-up viewings in refugee and host communities.

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      Children affected by the Rohingya and Syrian refugee crises will receive storybooks, games videos and puzzle featuring characters from the TV show
      — Photo credit: Sesame Workshop

New Year’s Resolutions 2019

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Every year I write down my new year’s resolutions and post them somewhere. It helps me be accountable. I am better at keeping them when when I write them down and share them.

So, while all of my 2018 resolutions still apply, these are some new ones for 2019:

  • Finish writing, and publish Frozen Heart. Also publish 1-2 other pieces during the year. Keep getting my work out there.
  • Continue to be vocal about things that I feel are important. This means calling representatives, writing letters, protesting, donating to causes I think make a difference and anything else I can do.
  • Try to spread happiness and positivity when possible. I feel like so much of what we’re faced with on a daily basis is bleak and hopeless. But I also think “seek and you shall find.” So I’m going to seek things that make me (and others) happy. I think just exposure to more positive things can break down the hopeless feeling that we can get.
  • Figure out my career path. It’s in flux at the moment and is fairly confusing!
  • Be more social. Don’t just fall into the staying inside and reading/writing/watching trap. Stay in communication more with people.
  • Don’t feel guilty for reading/writing/watching and staying in sometimes. In fact, don’t feel guilty about what I like/enjoy. Don’t apologize for liking, wanting, or consuming things that make me happy.

What are your 2019 resolutions?

 

Evaluating Last Year’s Resolutions

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Every year I write down my resolutions. It keeps me accountable.  So how did I do in 2018? Let’s see:

  • Continue to write on a regular basis and finish my second novel. Also, I will think of a title for my second novel.

I’ve finished the first draft of my second novel. Does that count? I probably should have specified if “finish” mean a draft or the whole thing! The working title is “Frozen Heart” but that may change because I’m not sure if I like it.

  • Publish Beautiful this summer.

  • Make more of an effort to submit my writing to publications and to publish my work in general.

I’m combining these two because publishing Beautiful was a Big Deal. It was a lot of work! I did submit my writing to a few other publications and I had a story published in Z Publishing’s New York’s Emerging Writers anthology, and I’ll have an essay about indie publishing in an upcoming magazine, but a lot of my time and focus was devoted to publishing Beautiful.

  • Continue to bother my elected officials on regular basis about issues that I feel are important. Also look for other ways to make a positive impact on the world.  Fight for what I believe in.

I certainly bother my elected officials regularly and I encourage others to do so as well. More information about that is available here. I encouraged people to register and vote this past November, and I have tried to put more positive energy out there in different ways. Sometimes in something as small as a blog post even. One thing that has frustrated me in the past is that I don’t have enough disposable income to give to causes that I find important, so the discovery of the Charity Miles app was really great for me. It uses corporate sponsors to contribute to charity for every mile I log running, walking, biking etc.  This has allowed me to work toward fitness goals and help several organizations including She’s The First, Save The Children, World Food Programme, Operation Smile and Charity: Water.  The app is free and I recommend it highly. Remember that with both exercise and charity, doing anything at all is better than doing nothing.

  • Get out and be more social. I tend to be a homebody, which is fine sometimes, but I do value my relationships with my friends and my family and I want to do more with them in 2018.

This is something I need to continue to work on in 2019! Not that I was antisocial this year, but when you’ve had a long week sometimes it’s tempting to just stay in over the weekend with a good book, some take out, and Netflix. But I feel like investing in relationships is worth the effort it sometimes takes.

  • Don’t be afraid of leaving my comfort zone (or rather, be afraid but do it anyway!) Try new things. Be open to new adventures.

My first instinct is to say that I didn’t do this, but then I realized that I’m going through a career transition that’s scary but will hopefully lead me to somewhere positive and productive. So I guess I’ve been braver than I thought this year!

  • Try to relax and enjoy things more. Don’t analyse every detail of everything and try to plan for all possible outcomes. Go with the flow more, and enjoy the present.

OK now this is something that I need to work on! I did relax and enjoy at times in 2018 but I am still very much a worrier at heart. So this is a resolution that I’ll need to renew!

I’ll post my 2019 resolutions in a few days.

How did you do on last year’s resolutions?

What’s The Good News?

With a few exceptions, it definitely feels like the news is pretty bad. Actually between floods, fires, shootings, bombings and more, turning on the TV or glancing at a newspaper has felt a bit like bracing myself for an attack. So I decided to collect small bits of good news as I find them. A lot of the time they’re not huge things. But they’re small ways that people are being kind and helpful to one another and seeing them reminds me that there’s still good in the world. So I decided to share a few in the hopes of brightening the spirits of others a bit:

  • This celebrity hair stylist gives free haircuts to the homeless. Sometimes a small change in appearance can make a  big difference in someone’s life:
  • Rosa’s Fresh Pizza serves 50-100 free slices to the homeless every day due to small donations from customers. $1=1 slice.
  • https3a2f2fblogs-images-forbes-com2ftrevornace2ffiles2f20182f092foceancleanfeatured-2The world’s largest Ocean Clean Up has officially begun. This $20 Million system aims to clean up, reuse and recycle the 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic found in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

 

  •   4 year old Austin Perine uses his allowance to feed the homeless.
  • 181030103100-southampton-bookshop-human-chain-exlarge-169October Books, a small nonprofit bookshop on England’s south coast, was forced to relocate after a rent increase. They were able to buy another space, just down the road, but relocating their stock furniture and shelving was a potentially expensive enterprise. So 250 local volunteers formed a human chain moving what they needed to by hand.
  • When this little boy’s sister got hit by a basketball she started to cry. He immediately gave her a hug and a kiss and then told her “you’re strong,” gave the ball back to her and lifted her up to help her dunk the ball.
  • This lady was trying to pay for gas with pennies. Some guys noticed, and gave her the cash that she needed to pay for it. She burst into tears at the offer, telling them that her husband had just died and she wasn’t usually like this. When she asked how she could repay them, they told her to “pay it forward”.
  • Donut City in Seal Beach California has opened at 4:30 am, every day for almost 30 years. When owner John Chhan’s wife, Stella suffered a brain aneurysm, she began the long path to recovery. He continued to run the shop by himself but got back to Stella ASAP. When his customers learned about the situation they bought more donuts and pastries earlier in the day, so that John could get home to Stella sooner. Sometimes he is even able to close the shop by 10am.
  • I posted this a few weeks ago, but the Charity Miles app uses corporate sponsorship to donate to charities for every mile you walk/run/bike/dance etc. Not only does the exercise make you healthier, but it’s all for a good cause. You can choose from over 40 charities that help children, animals, the environment, health and more. You can change the charity you fund-raise for whenever you want.

I guess the point of this post is to remind people that even though the news is bleak sometimes and absolutely devastating at other times, there are kind people out there, who put good out into the world in big ways and small. Sometimes just seeing it and sharing it, can make you feel a bit better.