Hamilton, Hype and Life in the Third Act

You can turn off the music by clicking the Play/Pause button in the upper right corner.

Life’s Third Act includes mildly unnerving experiences. Like watching your niece/Goddaughter graduate from High School. Wait, weren’t you an infant that I held at your baptism just a few years ago?

San Francisco is among my favorite cities. It’s charm and quirkiness make it special. My brother in law Tom and his extraordinary wife Vicky live in the East Bay area in the town of Martinez at the end of BART’s yellow line. St. Patrick and St. Vincent High School is a very diverse place. We came to the court yard early to get good seats. The people watching was fun and so was the fashion show. Blacks, Hispanics and Asians easily outnumbered the White folks. And watching your child or grandchild graduate is a pretty good excuse to – well – go a bit nuts. Something I’ve never seen before was blown up baby pictures attached to the end of a stick like a picket sign that were waived from time to time. I guess it’s to let the graduate know his or her family is still here. Mercifully there was no commencement speaker. Just the usual remarks from the Valedictorian and Salutatorian with inside jokes and regret that they were leaving what had been their second home for four years.

“As we begin to call the names of the graduates please hold you applause until the end”. Yeah, like that’s going to happen. It didn’t.

Vicki’s mother is active as a volunteer usher and season subscriber in San Francisco’s theaters. She was able to score pretty decent tickets for the Sunday matinee of the wildly popular play “Hamilton”.  My 20 year old nephew, Jake had seen it. His critique? “In spite of all of the hype it exceed my expectations”.  I have to agree. It was one of the more exceptional performances of anything I’ve ever seen. But there was something about Jake’s  comment that stayed with me.

I’ve thought the word “hype” was an abbreviation of “hyperbole“; “obvious and intentional exaggeration not meant to be taken literally.” So if the play exceed your expectations then what you heard about it wasn’t really hype. It was true.  Another lesson of living in your Third Act is noticing that the meaning of words evolve.  Jake had it right. The Urban dictionary says one definition of hype is “A fad. A clever marketing strategy which a product is advertized [sic] as the thing everyone must have, to the point where people begin to feel they need to consume it.” That’s Hamilton!

Also had a chance to spend an afternoon with two Michigan ex pats and grade school classmates on Memorial Day. Just lunch and a couple of hours of meandering through Golden Gate Park. Lot’s of gossip about teachers, classmates, and the old neighborhood. Oh, and bitching about Trump.

In the song “My Shot” Hamilton sings “There’s a million things I haven’t done, just you wait“. I know what that feels like, even in Act Three.

East Side Story

The Urban Consulate is a movement that describes itself as, “a network of parlors for city dwellers & travelers seeking urban exchange.” Operating in Philadelphia, New Orleans and Detroit they host conversations in a parlor environment with knowledgeable experts about important urban topics. In Detroit the Consulate’s proprietor is the genial but serious urban activist Chase Cantrell.

Chase is a friend who has been gently prodding me to attend one of these “conversations” and I did so last Wednesday. The topic was Who is it Built For? and featured a discussion regarding community engagement by urban planners Kimberly Dowdell and Steven Lewis.

The Urban Planning community is justifiably cautious in contemporary planning of grand redevelopments  in older neighborhoods. Author Richard Rothstein has been on the talk shows promoting his new book which is described on the Fresh Air web site.

Rothstein’s new book, The Color of Law, examines the local, state and federal housing policies that mandated segregation. He notes that the Federal Housing Administration, which was established in 1934, furthered the segregation efforts by refusing to insure mortgages in and near African-American neighborhoods — a policy known as “redlining.” At the same time, the FHA was subsidizing builders who were mass-producing entire subdivisions for whites — with the requirement that none of the homes be sold to African-Americans.

Detroit is a poster child for Rothsetin’s thesis. The Black Bottom/Hastings street neighborhood was wiped out by the construction of I-75, I-375 and the Urban Renewal along Lafayette and Larnerd just east of Downtown Detroit.  Urban Renewal came to be know as Negro Removal,

Dowdell and Lewis spoke passionately about the lessons learned and still being learned regarding the scope and depth of engaging the community from the very beginning of the planning process.  My ears perked up during one part of the exchange when Professor Dowdell reflected on her Detroit childhood and the family’s move from a home on east side to the more desirable area of the west side. I grew up on the east side just a few blocks from the City Airport (Coleman A. Young International Airport) at Gratiot and Connor. The east side of my childhood was strictly segregated.  As you walked south on Gratiot the color line was Harper Avenue. I spent many hours at the YMCA on Gratiot and Harper where whites and blacks mingled but no black family lived within a mile of my house.

Photo Credit Chase Cantrel

That got me thinking. All of the projects that are part of the Next Detroit or the New Detroit or what have you are happening on the west side. When the floor was open to questions my hand was the first one up. Why, I wanted to know, is all the attention west of Woodward and no buzz about anything east of Woodward. I was reminded of all of the projects along the river front many occurring within spiting distance from where I currently live. But here’s the thing. There are no formal redevelopment efforts north of E. Jefferson and east of Van Dyke. Professor Dowdell conceded some validity to my point. “I have to admit, we’ve always considered the east side a heavier lift”.

Why? I would contend it’s economics as much as race. All of Detroit’s traditionally affluent neighborhood except Indian Village are on the west side. Think Palmer Woods, University District, Sherwood Forrest, Green Acres, LaSalle Gardens, Virginia Park and Rosedale Park. The five Grosse Pointe communities are another thing all together. Another participant said he thought that the west side Jewish neighborhoods were more racially tolerant and consequently less resistant to integration. Also the more affluent are better able to move north to the emerging suburbs. As an undergraduate I studied social science under Otto Feinstien at Montieth College on the campus of Wayne State University. Otto’s parents brought him to this country from Germany a step ahead of the Holocaust. Otto’s scholarship traced the geographic movement of various ethnic groups through Detroit. He had lot’s of maps. The only good one I could find on the web was this which looks at Detroit area ethnic group in 1971

The brown area represents Black neighborhoods and the Purple are Poles, Italians and Germans. Follow Gratiot up from I-94 and you will see the east side of my youth.  On the east side the Black community remained south of I-94 while on the west side it went up to and over Eight Mile. My east side, while white, was solidly working class. Our parents were auto workers, cops and, like my father, firefighters. Every family had one car, usually a station wagon and a minority of the adults had a college education. You didn’t need one. The UAW made it possible to earn a very good living on the assembly line. These Poles, Italians and Germans eventually moved past Eight Mile to the Macomb County suburbs and became the Reagan Democrats in the 1980’s and the Trump Democrats in 2016

Detroit is now 84.3% Black. Do the east side – west side economic disparities matter today? I don’t know. But why does the east side continue to be a more heavy lift?

The Urban Consulate meets every Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. at the Mackenzie House at 4735 Cass Avenue on the campus of Wayne State University.  All are welcome.

Harry and the Chase for Paper

The year before I started Law School I saw James Bridge’s film The Paper Chase. It chronicles the trials and tribulations of first year (or 1L in the law school nomenclature) law student  James Hart portrayed by Timothy Bottoms. The opening scene is the first day of class. Just after Professor Charles Kingsfield (John Housman) enters the room he calls on Hart to recite a brief of a case in Contracts. Hart is befuddled and admits he hasn’t read the case. Kingsfield snarls at Hart for being unprepared and chastises him for not looking at the notices on the bulletin board where assignments were posted. When class mercifully ends Hart bolts to the men’s room and loses his breakfast.

Sometimes life  does actually imitate art. Because of the movie I checked the bulletin board before my first class in Contracts at the Detroit College of Law. Sure enough there were reading assignments posted there. I also attended a meeting sponsored by the law fraternity where they showed us how to use the wide margin note paper and properly “brief” a case (IRAC; Issue, Rule, Application, Conclusion). I showed up for my first class prepared.

Professor Matthew McKinnon was a brilliant Detroit College of Law student who was offered a teaching position immediately after he graduated. He was younger than a lot of us but he did his very best to take on a Professor Kingsfield persona. He walked into class, flipped through a deck of 3×5 cards with our names on them and said, “Mr. Einheuser please tell the class about the case of Hawkins vs McGee.” It was one of those surreal moments. Did I just hear my named called and pronounced perfectly?

“Is Mr. Einheuser here?”

“Yes, I’m here. Um this is a contract case”

“Mr. Einheuser the name of the course is Contracts; they are all contract cases”.

I remember I spoke slowly and unevenly but managed to explain the facts of the case, the issue that confronted the court, what the rule of law was, how that rule was applied to these facts, and the court’s conclusion.  I remember he shot a few more questions at me which I muddled through. And then he called on someone else.

My tentative but adequate performance was not what he hoped for. The point of the first session of law school is to scare the shit out of everyone so they wouldn’t  even think about showing up unprepared. He was able to make his point with the next two or three victims he called on who apparently hadn’t seen the movie.

It’s always good advice not to peak too soon. You know –  not be that guy that starts out strong and then goes into a steady decline.  But that was my law school experience. I had a full time job as an Executive Assistant to the Mayor during the day and I didn’t always give my night classes the time and attention they demanded. I would not have graduated without the grace of God and the support of my Study Group.

I got word last Friday that Harry Dalsey was taken by Pancreatic Cancer. It’s the devil’s disease!  Harry was one of the wittiest people I’ve ever known. His was a Seinfeldian kind of observational humor.  He saw and made jokes about life’s simple absurdities.  He livened up our Study Group and made Law School more tolerable.

His acerbic wit almost got us all into a bar fight.  It was after the final class of our final year. Only exams stood between us an graduation. Around 9:00 PM we went to the neighborhood dive bar The Elwood. There was a great rivalry between the day students and the night students and several day students were already there having spent the afternoon enjoying their own celebration.  Harry opined as how the night students had a superior education and would make much better lawyers.

“Why?” asked one female day student.

“Because we have much more real world experience than you do”

“I have experience”

“Oh, have you ever………”

His salacious question had a similar suggestion as last week’s controversial joke by Stephen Colbert. Her boyfriend jumped up, his chair when crashing across the floor and now everyone jumped up and faced off. Cooler heads moved in between us. I’d like to think I’d rush to the defense of my Study Group member and fellow night student. But I’d have preferred that the cause have been a bit more noble.

Harry is the second member of our Study Group that we’ve lost.  Gerald Van Vliet collapsed and died while jogging on August 3, 2012.  As I contemplate what life will be in my Third Act I feel enormous gratitude toward Harry and Gerald and the others who made my career and livelihood possible.

Go gently on your journey, Harry.  You’ve profoundly touched many lives, including mine.

  רוך דיין אמת

Baruch dayan emet  (Blessed is the True Judge)

My Detroit College of Law Study Group and spouses celebrating our graduation in 1980. Gerald Van Vleit is in the back row left and Harry Dalsey is in the back row 3rd from the left.

Walking Pneumonia (and the Boogie Woogie Flu)

Note: You can silence the music by clicking the pause button in the upper right corner of your screen.

 

Well it’s week three of enduring what people around me call “the Crud”. Coughing, sneezing and feeling just miserable. Monday around 3:00 PM Diane, my partner in business and many other things, called out from her office “Why don’t you go home!” How sweet, I thought. She’s being compassionate. But then she said “I’m tired of listening to you”!

I broke down and went to my primary care Doc yesterday afternoon. His verdict “Walking Pneumonia”.  I’ve heard of it before but never really knew what it means.

Walking pneumonia is how some people describe a mild case of pneumonia. Your doctor might call it “atypical pneumonia” because it’s not like more serious cases.

So sez Web MD.

If you have this condition, you probably won’t have to stay in bed or in the hospital. You might even feel good enough go to work and keep up your regular routine, just as you might with a cold.

Pneumonia with out the fringe benefits.

Since last July I’ve been on Medicare with a supplemental private policy I pay for myself. The office visit and a Rite Aide bag full of prescriptions all happened on the same day  with very modest co-pays. The Doc says I should be fine by the week end. I consider my self fortunate (blessed?) to have such access to health care. My Republican friends would say, you work hard so you have earned your health care coverage. (Sigh!) Which brings us to consider you know what.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office whose current Director was appointed by a Republican Congress says 24 million American will likely lose their health care in the next ten years under the new plan. Back when I was a trial attorney I’d prepare for any contested court hearing by writing an outline of my opponent’s strongest argument. Likewise in politics I really try to get in someone’s shoes and understand why they believe what they believe. Understanding the logic of the other side in the health care debate is beyond me. The argument comes down to provide tax cuts to people who make more than $200,000 annually at the cost of quality health care for tens of millions. It’s not an exaggeration to say People Will Die.

Last week end the Washington Post did a deep dive in West Virginia coal country. About 74% of these residents voted for THAT GUY and just about 74% depend on the Affordable Care Act or the expanded Medicaid for their health care. Again, trying to put myself in the other guys’ shoes to understand the logic just leaves me shaking my head.


Since the election I’ve changed the way I consume news. I’m weary of the 24 hour news cycle. And, frankly, I simply can’t stand to hear THAT GUY’S voice. I now curate morning and drive time listening with podcasts. During March the leading Podcasts are encouraging listeners to introduce pod casting to others in an effort they have dubbed “Try Pod”.

Washington, DC; February 22, 2017 – For the first time, leading podcast publishers have joined forces to introduce new audiences to podcasts.

During the month of March, the hosts of hundreds of shows including Stuff You Should Know, Planet Money, Missing Richard Simmons, and Crimetown, will encourage listeners to introduce a friend, relative or coworker to a new podcast, and, show them how to listen if they don’t know how. Listeners will be asked to share stories of why they listen and their favorite podcasts using the hashtag #trypod.

Here’s a good place to start; Episode 56 of Shankar Vedantam’s “Hidden Brain”. It’s called Getting Unstuck. 

At one time or another, many of us feel stuck: in the wrong job, the wrong relationship, the wrong city – the wrong life. Psychologists and self-help gurus have all kinds of advice for us when we feel rudderless. This week on Hidden Brain, we explore a new idea, from an unlikely source: Silicon Valley.

Life coaching from, who da thunk, Software Engineers. This is a great use of 28 minutes of your time – even if you are old enough to collect Medicare.

Have a great day and beware of the Ides!

Don’t Drink the Water

When I turned on the kitchen faucet, like most of you, I didn’t give much thought as to how clean and purified water got all the way from the river to my house. At least not until about two years ago when Mayor Mike Duggan asked me to Chair Detroit’s Board of Water Commissioners. Now I think about it a lot.

We are in the third day of a “Boil Water” advisory for a large area of the city and I live smack dab in the middle of that area. So I’m boiling water and dirty dishes are gathering in the sink because I can’t run the dish washer.

The problem originated in the venerable Water Works Park just up E. Jefferson from where I live. This is one of three intake facilities that suck the water into the system from the Detroit River.  A key pump failed and the water pressure in the effected area dropped. Water mains (the big pipes that bring the water to your house) are old. Over time they accumulate a certain amount of what I’ll simply call crud. As long as the mains are pressurized the crud stays in place. But a drop in pressure can stir the crud up and release bacteria.

This is an interesting lesson in the geopolitics of Southeast Michigan. From the first days of the city’s establishment Detroit has been responsible for all of the water and sewerage activities for the entire region. The system began in Detroit and was expanded to meet the needs of the suburbs as they sprawled north, south and west (can’t go east because of Lake St. Clair).

In the early 70’s urban planners expounded the benefits of Regional Government – combining municipal services over the boundaries of many individual suburban communities. They have had success with the concept in places like Toronto. Since the Water and Sewage system provided services to the entire region this was a good candidate for regionalization. But the idea of regional government coincided with the election of Detroit’s, first Black Mayor the Honorable Coleman A. Young. He and many Black Detroiters were suspicious. Why was it okay for Detroit to run the system for many decades until a Black Mayor was in charge?The idea of Detroit’s jewels was born. The white suburbanites were out to plunder Detroit’s jewels; the Art Institute, the Zoo, Belle Isle and the water system.

For reasons that are complicated and involve corruption under former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, the system came under the jurisdiction of a Federal Judge. On January 1, 2016 the fans of regional operation of the water system got their wish. The collecting and purifying of water and the treatment of sewage is now the responsibility of the Great Lakes Water Authority.

But as the saying goes – be careful what you wish for.

GLWA (glee-wah) leases the plant and equipment from Detroit and is responsible for all operations. Detroit is simply a retail customer like all of the other cities in the region albeit the largest at 45% of total capacity.

It’s GLWA that screwed up. And it’s not the first time. Residents of the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood got raw sewage in their basement after a very large rain storm last summer because 6 out of 15 pumps at the Conner Creek pumping station were off line.

Conner Creek Pumping Station on E. Jefferson

 

This is exactly what Coleman Young feared. If we don’t control the system Detroit will always get shitty service. Now for what it’s worth GLWA delivered foul smelling water to a number of Downriver communities earlier this year. How’s this for bureaucratic speak?

Cheryl Porter, chief operating officer for the authority, said that despite the odor the water is safe to use in any manner.

“In regard to the concerns about water quality in a number of Downriver communities, the authority has conducted extensive testing of its water at its Southwest Treatment Plant and in locations where odor is being detected,” she said in a statement. “Tests confirm that all regulatory water-quality standards are being achieved, and that the water is safe.”

In other words “hold your nose and drink”.

The “boil water” water advisory should be lifted today. It was issued in the first place in “an abundance of caution“.

I’m going to invite the CEO and the COO of GLWA to the next meeting of the Detroit Board of Water Commissioners. Someone has a lot of esplaining to do.  I think there will be a lot more wah than glee.

The Last Hallelujah

One thing you can say about Christian fundamentalists; they possess a much greater degree of theological certainty than most of the rest of us.

In spite of my own spiritual ambiguity I practice the religion of my childhood, Roman Catholicism.  I’ve been part of a faith community (we used to call them parishes) for a couple of decades now where the preaching is Jesuit and the music is Gospel. Not a bad way to spend most Sunday mornings. And for what it’s worth it’s significant to note that even Mother Theresa had profound doubts about the existence of God.

In his closing remarks last Sunday the Pastor observed that we had heard the last Hallelujah. I’ve not been paying attention to the liturgical calendar. Only then did I realize that today is Ash Wednesday the beginning of the 40 day observance of Lent. “Hallelujah” and “Alleluia” become Voldemort – words not to be spoken aloud during Lent.

The Lenten tradition involves fasting, praying and alms giving.  As kids we were instructed to “give up” something. This usually involved abstaining from candy, movies or some other personal privation. When I was an undergraduate I teasingly asked a Jewish friend what he was giving up for lent. He didn’t miss a beat. “The Goyim”.

During Lent we also revert to the old Catholic tradition of not eating meat on Fridays. This was something observed year round when I was a kid. The old Friday standby was mac and cheese, a dish I didn’t particularly care for. Thank God for peanut butter. The idea of not eating meat was thought of as a form of penance. I questioned the value of this penance when in High School I heard that one of the bishops had a standing Friday reservation at venerable Joe Muir’s seafood restaurant on Gratiot just south of Eastern Market. 

Seafood, of course, is not meat whether it’s canned tuna or poached sea bass. Eating meat on Friday was a mortal sin. Meaning if you did it and died before making a confession you went right to Hell. As a teenager my reaction to the news that we could now eat meat on Friday foreshadowed my career as a lawyer. “If it’s not a sin anymore what about all those poor bastards in Hell?”

Our friends who live downriver have this curious practice of eating muskrat during Lent. Is muskrat meat or seafood? A priest friend once remarked, “as far as I’m concerned anyone who wants to eat muskrat during Lent is doing plenty of penance”.

I’m thinking I’m not going to be giving up anything in particular for Lent. I’m making an effort to eat healthier which involves abstinence from some favorite foods. But that has more to do with concerns of the flesh rather than the spirit. I am going to make an effort to reach out to friends and acquaintances I’ve not had contact with in a long time.

Like a good play, life’s Third Act should include characters we met in Acts One and Two.

The Emperor’s New Clothes

I’ve not read a lot of Andrew Sullivan’s work. But he channeled many of  the troubling thoughts and fears I’ve been experiencing but trying to ignore for the past several weeks. His piece “The Madness of King Donald” shines a bright light on the elephant in the Oval Office; namely that the President is nuts.

He begins with the litany of lies which are verifiably untrue but for which there is never an acknowledgment or correction. The lie is repeated and often doubled down by a bigger lie. What kind of person does this? Someone in a very troubling state of mental health.

I keep asking myself this simple question: If you came across someone in your everyday life who repeatedly said fantastically and demonstrably untrue things, what would you think of him? If you showed up at a neighbor’s, say, and your host showed you his newly painted living room, which was a deep blue, and then insisted repeatedly — manically — that it was a lovely shade of scarlet, what would your reaction be? If he then dragged out a member of his family and insisted she repeat this obvious untruth in front of you, how would you respond? If the next time you dropped by, he was still raving about his gorgeous new red walls, what would you think? Here’s what I’d think: This man is off his rocker. He’s deranged; he’s bizarrely living in an alternative universe; he’s delusional. If he kept this up, at some point you’d excuse yourself and edge slowly out of the room and the house and never return. You’d warn your other neighbors. You’d keep your distance. If you saw him, you’d be polite but keep your distance.

Sullivan says journalists simply have to call him on his lies immediately and to his face.  We shall see.

The patriarch of the Ilich sports, gaming and pizza empire Mike Ilich passed away. His significant impact on the city I love cannot be overstated.  But you have to separate what he did and how he did things. He had his detractors. Stephen Henderson wrote of some of the ambiguity we feel.

But he also leaves a complex legacy. The strife over some of his projects and the public subsidies for them. The fans who decried the tenure of his ownership of two of the city’s major sports franchises. They are part of who he was, too.

Happy Monday to you all. I’ve got four days of work before I get to leave on a vacation to a very warm place.

Desearía poder hablar español.

 

Some Things I Discovered While Looking Up Other Things

I’m a reasonably well educated guy.  I grew up in a solidly middle class neighborhood and walked to a local Catholic school. For all of its challenges you have to give the Catholic church it’s propers when it comes to education. There were 50 students in each classroom but we learned our reading, writing and arithmetic.  I was thinking about than in during a recent Facebook thread on diagramming sentences. We did a lot of that too.

But in practical terms probably the most relevant course I’ve ever took was the non credit after school course in touch typing when I was a high school freshman. We sat at manual typewriters that had no letters on the keys. In the front of the room was a large chart with the QWERTY keyboard.  A white habited Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister whose name is lost to my memory drilled us in the order of the letters of the keyboard.  We would type each letter as we recited in unison A;SLDKFJGH [SPACE]. These were the home keys. And so it went for the upper row of keys and the lower row of keys. The drills went on and on until we were adept at touch typing; that is, typing without looking at the keys.

Who knew what an important role the QWERTY keyboard would become with the evolution of personal computing? There have been suggestions that QWERTY is obsolete.  But they will have to pry my QWERTY keyboard from my cold dead hands. Although here are some input devices I would definitely try.

Lately, I been learning about all of the neat things one can do to format documents in Microsoft Word. I’m immersed in different kinds of “Styles” and how neat it works when you take a “numbering style” and attache it to a “paragraph style”.  We lawyers love our numbered paragraphs. Once you learn how to do this editing and moving paragraphs is a breeze and  the numbering  stays consistent.

Here is a neat Word trick. Say you want to experiment with your formatting and need several paragraphs of “text” to play around with. Type this command =lorem(2,3) and you will get this:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Maecenas porttitor congue massa. Fusce posuere, magna sed pulvinar ultricies, purus lectus malesuada libero, sit amet commodo magna eros quis urna.

Nunc viverra imperdiet enim. Fusce est. Vivamus a tellus.

The first number is the number of paragraphs you want and the second number is the number of lines.

Alright, I’ve posted an entire blog without talking about politics. But that silence will end soon.

Ciao!

Drynuary

It’s no secret that I have a fondness for gin. It started in law school. I worked full time and attended classes at night. Getting home around 10:00 I found it a quick way to round the edges of the day’s stress and get to bed in time to do it all over again. Ever since then most evenings end with one or two (and sometimes three) martinis on the rocks. I once watched an “ex” order a martini during happy hour. He looked at me and said; “I blame this on you, Michael”.

I have colossal respect for my friends in recovery.  I wouldn’t describe my behavior as addictive. But I know some would disagree.

Inspired by my friend Nancy I’m observing Drynuary – a month free of alcohol.  She makes a good case in her Blog:

My main takeaway was how many adults old enough to know better still drink like college students, with the multiple rounds of Fireball shots, the mixing of beer and vodka and all sorts of vile crap, all served in plastic cups in horrible bars.

My second takeaway is that there’s nothing more boring, and intolerable, as a drunk. I’ve known a few, and that glassy-eyed stare they get brings back unpleasant memories.

Days 1-3 total fail. So I’m going public in hopes that fear of humiliation will increase the likelihood of success.

Here’s a story from the New York Times about someone who has been doing this for years.

I’ll keep you posted.

Holistic New Year’s Resolutions – Redux

Three years ago I first posted my Holistic New Year’s Resolutions. I’m dusting them off again.

A specific New Year’s pledge of mine – Resolved to write more. Hopefully my writing will survive when I’m gone.

  1. Don’t be nice – be kind

There’s a big difference.  Nice people are polite, smile and are friendly.  Kind people actually care.  Last year I received a random act of kindness.  I pulled up to the drive through window and was informed that the car in front of me had paid for my meal.  That was nice and who doesn’t want a free lunch?  But we should match our kindness to need.  Be aware of people you know who have suffered a lose or are otherwise hurting.  If you go to a funeral follow up about a month later with a call or a visit.  We all know people who have been through divorce or bad break ups.  Keep them on your radar and make it a point to reach out.  Your opening can be as simple as “I was thinking about you.  Can I buy you a drink?”

2Change from Within

Instead of focusing on weight or appearance change from within.  Seek and appreciate solitude every day.  For one friend who is a single mom it’s the 15 minute very hot shower in the morning.  I’ve tried driving to work as a moment of solitude but that doesn’t work for me.  Try meditating.  There are lot’s of YouTube videos with guided meditations.  If you belong to a religious congregation seek out the more spiritual aspects of your beliefs and worship.

3. Eat Better Food

Did I say I was at a drive through window?  I’m working on this.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says I should be eating 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables per day based on my age and level of activity.  I’m not even close. You can find out what they recommend for you.  One has to shop, clean and chop  those veggies.  But once you do that roasting, steaming, boiling or sauteing them is pretty easy.  And they taste pretty good too.

4. Spend Less Than you Earn

This is financial equivalent of burn more calories than you consume.  Keep track of your spending.  It’s surprising how many people don’t especially when using credit cards.  For $39.95 you can get Quicken’s Money Management software. You can automatically link your bank accounts and credit cards to down load and categorize all of your expenses. A free on-line version is available at Mint.com.  I’m not comfortable with all of my financial data and passwords on the cloud but I’m no expert on this either.  Make monthly contributions to your retirement as important a payment as your rent or car note.

5. Be a Mentor

Parents with children at home can skip this one.  Reach out to a niece or a nephew, a kid in the neighborhood or someone at work.  Give them the gift of your time and your wisdom.

6. Volunteer

You know how to do this.  Do it.

7. Be Creative

Former President George W. Bush took up oil painting.  The critics have not been kind but who cares?  I’m going to try to edit video…and be a bit more faithful to this Blog.

bush paintings

8. Get Rid of Toxic People in Your Life.

This may sound unkind but it’s really not.  You know who toxic people are.  They contribute nothing to your personal growth, talk about themselves way too much, whine but do nothing and are constantly critical about everyone and every thing.  I remember one such person criticizing mutual acquaintances to me and it made me wonder what he said about me to others.  Life it too short and we have choices about who to include and who to exclude in our personal environment.

9. Learn a New Skill

If it’s a creative skill you’ve got a twofer (see no. 7).

10. Be Mindful of Your Life’s Purpose

Indulge me as I get a bit “New Agey” here.  I do not believe we are accidents of evolution.  We all have a purpose.  Most of us are fulfilling our purpose without realizing it.  Being mindful of ones purpose makes it’s fulfillment all the more satisfying.  One’s purpose includes each of these three characteristics.

a. You are very good at it.  Be it writing, teaching, cooking, writing code or painting houses – you are better at it than just about everyone else.

b. You enjoy it.  My father used to say they don’t spell work “f-u-n”.  To an extent he is right.  Work is work.  But when we are engaged in our life’s purpose we are most likely to get into the “zone” in which all of our concentration and attention is focused and time loses its meaning.

c. You Make the World is A Better Place.  When it comes to saving the world few of us can do more than baby steps.  But all of those baby steps accumulate.  And they are very important to those around us that experience and benefit from our life’s purpose.

Happy New Year everyone.  I’m hoping it’s joyful, healthy and prosperous.