Friday, January 30, 2015

reviving a past custom

Remember when you were in school and got tons of Valentines? Remember how good that made you feel? Wouldn't it be cool to revive that custom? We have until the 14th of next month, so there is still plenty of time. Imagine how the homeless person you see every day would feel if you gave him a Valentine treat. Think about the elderly people you know who might not have a lot of folks in their lives anymore. I simple card could do wonders to brighten their day!

Sometimes Valentine's Day becomes a popularity contest, and I really don't think that was the original intent. I mentioned here last year in fact that many schools these days some schools have a policy that if you bring Valentine cards in to exchange, there must be one for everyone. I'm not sure if schools should get involved, but I do know it's not fun seeing some kids with tons of cards or gifts, and others with nothing. The same is just as true with adults. If you are going to spread around some joy, you might want to take care that you aren't giving to some in front of others to whom you are not giving.

The whole process though can be very simple. Those simple cards we used to give are still available. You can buy the boxes of classroom style cards with about 20 in a box, at most drugstores and discount stores. Pick up a few boxes of them and revive that old custom of giving them out to many, and give a little joy at the same time!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

INAM Quote

Words from The Bible and from political speeches are often quoted as are lines from great novels and movies.  Do you have a favorite quote? Is there someone whose words always seem to inspire you? John Kennedy was one of the most quoted people when I was growing up.  Anyway, do feel free to share them with us here!

I have a lot of favorites myself and occasionally I will be sharing those INAM (It's NOT about me) Quotes here.
One that I find particularly encouraging:  "A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him." - Sidney Greenberg

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Be Yourself

Be yourself.  That might seem like a tall order, or it might seem pretty simple.  At least you have something to think about today.
The great poet, essayist, and lecturer Ralph Waldo Emerson said "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." Indeed.
His words seem to ring even more true these days.  We all can resist though, what others may want us to do.  It shouldn't really be that difficult to  simply be ourselves!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Oh do you know the muffin man?

It might seem odd to be writing about muffins, but lately I have been eating more of them - a lot more.  Over the weekend I discovered that I am a diabetic, and so am much more conscious of my diet. Muffins are delicious, and it seems an occasional blueberry, bran, or even corn muffin can really hit the spot. I know, this supposedly is NOT about me, but given my current circumstances, I just had to relate a personal story.  There is another reason to mention muffins though. I'm told that yesterday was National Muffin Day. Sorry, that I didn't give you a heads up, but there's always next year.

I can tell you that today is Chocolate Cake Day and tomorrow is Punch the Clock Day. Oh and Thursday is Fun at Work Day and Friday is National Kazoo Day and next Saturday is National Puzzle Day. January seems to be filled with a lot of fun!

So what's it all mean? Well I write here about making a difference in the world and I can tell you from experience that whether it's muffins or chocolate cake or listening to folks playing their kazoos, happiness comes from fun activities and happy people, it would seem, are more likely to go out and do something great. Agree? Oh go eat a muffin!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Back from hospital

Usually here I talk about how we can all change the world and how we can make a difference. I'm always happy to share stories of hometown heroes. I don't write personal things as a rule because this blog is NOT about me, but this morning I need to make an exception. Usually I write here every morning except weekends.  Right after my Friday entry, I took and unexpected trip - to the hospital.

I'm home now. Found out by almost dying, that I am a diabetic.  There was definitely several learning experiences here.  One thing is to pay attention to any signals your body gives you.  Even if it is trivial, it might be the sign of something serious, so check.  I don't mean you have to run to the doctor, but check with information sources, and if you ever think you have an emergency, call 911 or get to the nearest hospital!  Another thing I learned is that lifestyle changes don't have to be difficult.  I need to change a lot of things now with diet, exercise, and medication, but I can do it and life can pretty much be the same as it was.
Another thing I learned is that heroes are everywhere!  The number of comments and well-wishes I have received in the past two days has been amazing!  The hospital people were simply incredible.  One of my nurses was named Angel, and she was a true angel!  I'll never forget these past few days!
Don't worry.  Tomorrow, I should be up and writing again at the usual time.  Hope you will be reading along then! 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Keep passing them on!

A couple of days ago we began looking at some random acts of kindness. Here are some more:

Share your smile generously.

Take an acquaintance to dinner.

Sponsor people in fundraising walk-a-thons.

Buy cold drinks for the people next to you at a ball game.
Donate time at a senior center.
Make a point of finding the name of a supermarket or drugstore employee and then praise him/her through that company’s corporate office.

Go through your closets and find several nice items and then donate them to a shelter.

Send a gift anonymously to a friend.
Pay for the person behind you in the movie line.

Give a pair of tickets to a concert or baseball game to a stranger.
Tell your parents/children why you love them.
When drivers try to merge into your lane, let them in with a wave and a smile.
Tell your boss that you think he/she does a good job.
Give blood.
Pay for the meal of the person behind you in the drive-through.
Bring flowers to work and share them with coworkers.
As you go about your day, pick up trash.

Call or visit a homebound person.
Pay a compliment at least once a day.

Transport someone who can’t drive.
Make telephone calls in support of equality urging others to put aside hate.
Say something nice to everyone you meet today.
Send a treat to a school or day-care center.
Volunteer at an organization that needs help.
Buy books for a day care or school.
Give toys to the children at a shelter.
Volunteer to fix up an elderly couple’s home.
Buy a pack of brightly colored stickers and give them to children you meet during the day.
Let the person behind you in the grocery store go ahead of you in line.
Invite someone new for dinner, either in your home or in a restaurant.
Volunteer at a hospice.
Say nice things randomly to facebook and twitter friends.
Buy some bottles of water and randomly hand them out to strangers on the street.
Drop off a plant or a plate of cookies to your nearby police or fire station.
Clean graffiti from neighborhood walls and buildings.
Buy a stranger a free pizza.
Volunteer to read to kids in the library.
Stop by a nursing home, and visit a resident with no family nearby.
Have a clean-up party in the park.
Bring coworkers a special treat.
Give the gift of your smile.
Draw names at work/school and have people bring a small gift or treat for their secret pal.
Deliver fresh-baked cookies to city workers.
Write “It’s Random Acts of Kindness Day! Have a great day!” on slips of paper and place them on parked cars.
Mow a neighbor’s grass or sweep a neighbor’s walk.
Offer to return a shopping cart to the store for someone loading a car.
Call an estranged family member.
Give a bag of groceries to a homeless person.
Give coffee to people on their way to work in the morning.
Leave a treat or handmade note of thanks for a delivery person or mail carrier.
Treat someone to fresh fruit
Sing at a nursing home.
Open the door for another person.
Leave an extra-large tip for the waitperson.
Tell a bus or taxi driver how much you appreciate their driving.
Give another driver your parking spot.
Give flowers to be delivered with meal delivery programs.
Give your full attention to someone in need and simply listen.
Spend some time serving food at a meal program for the needy.
Volunteer to be a tutor in a school.
Remember the bereaved with phone calls, cards, plants, and food.
Add some more in the comments section below!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Happy birthday Toan!

It seems I am saying something here at least once a month about Toan Lam, so what else could I possibly write about the creator of Go Inspire Go?  Well for one thing, today is his natal anniversary so it is appropriate to send our best wishes.  Also he recently sat down with Lisa Yokota on her San Francisco tv program Bay Area People, and discussed how he got from being a television host and reporter, to setting up and operating Go Inspire Go.  Click HERE to watch that seven minute conversation.
Now this blog is not supposed to be about me (and yes that is me with Toan in the picture), but I will hastily point out that although we have met and do keep in touch, I seldom see him - he's a pretty busy guy, and he also is exactly what we do write about here - he is someone who is making a difference!
Go to to find out more about them, if you don't already know.  Send them some inspiring stories or videos too.  You can even donate to help sponsor their coverage of wonderful inspiring people.  This is Toan Lam's idea.  This is Toan Lam's creation.  He continues to make it happen every day.  I urge you to click on the links there and watch some of the videos.  You will indeed be inspired!
I mentioned knowing Toan, and want to point out that I have seen firsthand that he is an inspiring person, not just when he is telling a story for Go Inspire Go, but wherever he is and whatever he is doing.  His tweets and facebook posts make you smile and help your spirit soar.  The encouraging and uplifting presence of Toan Lam is contagious too.  Check out his website regularly and you will be moved to a new level of goodness.
So, thanks for all those wonderful moments of inspiration Toan, and Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Change it yourself!

With all the requests I make for folks to comment on my words here, I sometimes forget that I do receive feedback from other avenues. Last night one of my dearest friends sent me the picture you see here and immediately I thought about what I would be saying this morning.  "Life has no remote.  Get up and change it yourself!"
Lying on the couch or in bed and expecting our lives to change without even lifting a finger, is an unreal expectation.  We see on the news more and more incidents that we think are unfair, and yet all we do is grumble.  Will anything change all by itself?  Now the fact that many people do get involved means that things can and will change, and often things in our lives change without us doing a thing.  Do we really want others to do all of our heavy lifting though?  Shouldn't we step up and contribute as well?
On Saturday I told you about Carlos Morales, a man in Phoenix who had just lost his wife after she gave birth prematurely to quadruplets.  Many people might have thought about how difficult the road ahead will be for this man and his four brand new babies, but most who hear the story aren't just thinking about it.  People are getting involved.  People are helping to make the changes needed to help someone else.  (By the way, the online fundraiser has already gotten 4,000 people involved in just four days, raising $145,101 and your help is most welcome too!  Just click HERE to donate or to get more information.  There is also a facebook page HERE).
It is heartwarming to see more and more people every day doing what is needed to make changes in their lives, in the lives of others, and in this great big world.  Yes, we cannot simply click a remote control, we need to get up and chance it ourselves!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

We can all dream

Forty seven years after The Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr's death, there still exists a divide between his dream and reality. It doesn't have to be that way though. We can all dream. We can all stand up for what is right. We can all make a difference in this world, just like Dr King did.

Today we reflect on the life and legacy of Dr King on this holiday that was created in his honor. I am inspired by a new generation of young activists and leaders who are continuing the fight for racial justice in America and are reminding the world that Black Lives Matter! In fact, as I have written here often, ALL lives matter. Our Jewish and Muslim sisters and brothers matter. Our gay, lesbian, and bisexual friends matter. Our transgender friends matter. Our Hispanic and Asian friends matter. The lives of every single human being matter.

In honoring Dr King’s legacy, let us all recommit ourselves to the fight to dismantle systematic racism, homophobia, discrimination, disenfranchisement, hatred, and the unjust targeting and killing of anyone in our society. We can not only ALL continue the dream, but we have the power to make Dr King's dream a reality!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Counting your blessings

Years ago, I managed a restaurant for a while and one day I waited on a woman who had no arms. She asked if we might have a table where she could position herself a bit away from it. I wasn't quite sure what to expect at first, but this woman didn't ask for us to feed her. She did everything for herself - with her feet. It was Amazing to watch her function at a dinner table with such a huge positive outlook on life.

You have probably seen basketball games on television played by people in wheelchairs. You normally think of running back and forth on the court, but these wheelchair bound players are simply incredible and so full of life. Who says you need legs to play basketball?

Have you ever caught yourself complaining about the simplest thing and than realizing how good you have it and how much worse it might be for others? I recall an old saying: "I had the blues because I had no shoes until upon the street, I met a man who had no feet." Think about it. The things we complain about, others might rejoice in.

Life is so full of blessings. Sometimes we are just too blind to appreciate them. With my recent health scare, I know I am much more tuned in to the little things. I'm personally thankful that I have so many friends too that help keep my eyes on these wonderful prizes every day. Isn't it great to have people like that in your life?

Friday, January 16, 2015

from my desk

Rarely do I break from my pattern of writing about hometown heroes and all the many ways we can make a difference in our world, but I have a few odds and ends this morning that I want to mention, including an update on what I wrote about here yesterday. I also want to invite you to subscribe and never miss a post.

This Martin Luther King weekend, there is so much I can write about a great man who really did so much. I mentioned him on his actual birthday last week though and I will mention him again tomorrow on the holiday. I do urge you to learn more about him. Just type his name into google or your favorite search engine and you will find tons of information!

Yesterday I wrote here about a tragedy that happened here in Arizona. A couple that had been trying to have a baby, were blessed with quadruplets, only to have the mother die shortly after childbirth. The mother's cousin set up an internet fundraiser for the father and babies, which I mentioned here, and the excellent news is the amount of money that is pouring in. Already they have raised $85,662, which is pretty incredible!   If you can help too, just go to
I am often asking for comments to be left below in our comments section.  A few days ago someone did indeed write something.  However, the message was an advertisement for their business and had nothing to do with this blog.  I deleted it.  I do hope you will feel free though to write about what we do here and also to read my posts daily - oh and tell your friends too! 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Helping motherless quadruplets

When a baby comes into the world, there are mountains of obstacles for him or her to overcome. Imagine what it must be like if you are born at the same time as three siblings, and your mother dies moments later. Yesterday morning, a new mother passed away at a Phoenix hospital after giving birth to quadruplets. She never even got to hold her babies.

Raising kids is not the easiest thing in the world, and the cost of course is more for each child you add to the picture.  A single father now is mourning the loss of his wife and at the same time must begin the process of taking care of four brand new children. Because the births were premature, all four babies will need to remain in the hospital for a while as doctors try to increase their weight and help them get stronger.  These motherless children won't have the advantage of being sung to, kissed, and help by their mom.  Dad, with some friends and family helping out, will be going it alone.

An online fundraiser has been setup and money is pouring in. Click HERE if you would like to help with any amount at all for the babies the Carlos Morales will be raising without their mother, Erica.  Please feel free to share this information widely too and keep Carlos and the babies in your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Happy birthday Dr King!

Although we will celebrate his birthday next Monday as a legal holiday, it was tomorrow (the 15th) back in 1929 that an American pastor, activist, humanitarian, and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr was born. So much has been written about this great man, even here in this place, but I wanted to acknowledge his birthday and also tell you that Michael was actually his birth name.  Perhaps that is one reason why I have always felt a closeness.

We know him as a "junior," so it is important to point out the indeed his father was also born Michael King. After a trip to Germany in 1934 for the Fifth Baptist World Alliance Congress in Berlin, the elder King decided he wanted to be called Martin Luther King in honor of the German reformer Martin Luther. He then changed both his, and his son's names.
The leadership of King, Jr - particularly in the area of nonviolent protest for basic human rights, will never be forgotten.  Instead of just one day a year, I think we should remember him much more for indeed he did change the world.  Today, and in the days ahead through next week's holiday, I urge you to find out more about The Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr and what we can all do to keep his legacy alive.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

You can almost marry anywhere

The map to the right shows the parts of the United States that have marriage equality.  It is becoming more and more clear that discrimination is going to end.  I can remember when places banned interracial marriage.  That has ended of course and soon the ban on same-sex marriage will be gone too.  How wonderful it is when prejudice gives way to fairness and equality!

The addition of Florida's 19.9 million people beginning this week, means that 70% of Americans now live in states where same-sex marriage is legal.  Florida's is the 36th US state where same-sex marriages are legal statewide. Which state will be next?  When will ALL American adults be allowed to legally marry?  (When I began writing this blog, same-sex marriage was only legal in five countries and two US states.  The list has now grown to seventeen countries and 36 of the 50 states).

Of course there are still so many parts of the world that discriminate.  We need to keep spreading the word:  marriage is about love!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Expand your horizons!

Expanding our horizons is one fairly easy way to change the world. When we increase the range of things that we know about or have experienced, we open up so many new possibilities. Is trying something new every day a pretty tall order? Consider doing it every week with at least one bigger thing every month.

Now to make this work, it might help to write some things down on your calendar. Certainly you can leave some events to chance, but planning ahead will give you a much better chance of success. Begin with events that take place in or near your community such as concerts or parades or fairs. How may of them have you always said "someday I should do that"? Well, why not make the next event your someday?
It's amazing how rewarding it is to broaden your horizons!  You don't have to limit yourself to scheduled events too.  Go out and try new things like tutoring a student, serving food to the homeless, answering phones at your favorite non-profit, or maybe some daredevil idea like bungee jumping or skydiving.  Go on a retreat for a weekend, either with a group, or by yourself.  There are so many possibilities!  Oh and if you really want to benefit, share your experiences as well!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Law enforcement appreciation

You walk out to your car after a long day at work and discover that someone has smashed your windows in an attempt to steal whatever might have been inside. What is the first thing you do? How about when you are driving on the freeway and a car is swerving in and out of traffic, bumping into other cars and showing signs that the driver is impaired. Will you be calling the police? We don't look forward to being victims or witnesses, but just about everyone will admit at some point that it is good that there are law enforcement officers around.

Years ago I dated a police officer, who worried about not seeing me again because of fear of making it safely through a work shift. Can you imagine going to work every day and wondering if you'll survive your to see your family that night? On average, between 100 and 200 sworn officers die in the line of duty each year (including various types of accidents). Additionally 50,000 officers are assaulted in the line of duty each year, and 14,000 officers are injured in the line of duty. It can be very stressful. In fact over 300 officers commit suicide each year.
Yes, there are bad police officers, just as there are bad employees in any field.  Think though about all the good our law enforcement workers do and about how they keep us safe.  For those most part, it's a thankless job. We expect them to be professional, courteous, caring and yet be ready to protect the public at all times and they must be prepared to make life and death decisions in a moment's notice, yet take an amazing amount of abuse at times.  My goodness!  Who would want such a job! 

In light of recent negativity directed toward law enforcement officers in several parts of the country, there is even more need to show our police officers that our citizens recognize the difficult and sometimes impossible career they have chosen, in public service to us all. Today is Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.  Say something nice to a cop.  Consider even putting a note or card in the mail to your local police department.  Relate a kind experience on facebook or twitter.  Above all remember that the vast majority of our law enforcement workers do a fabulous job for which we should all be thankful.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Long live the King

Was Elvis Presley an example of what we write about here every day? Some folks might say no. There certainly were controversies in his life, but who among us is perfect? The big question is did he make a difference in our world for the better, and the answer to that most certainly is yes!

Today I'm certain there will be adoring fans remembering the King of Rock and Roll on what would have been his 80th birthday. He died 38 years ago at the young age of 42, but even all these years later, hardly a day goes by when there isn't some reference to Elvis. Just last week when Donna Douglas passed away, we were reminded that she had starred alongside Elvis Presley in Frankie and Johnny. We remember those who were with him and the appearances he made and the news stories about him and of course his huge body of work. There really is a lot to remember too: his numerous television appearances (including live concert footage), his 33 motion pictures, and his hundreds and hundreds of singles.
Girls screamed.  Fans raced to buy the new records.  Movies all did well at the box office.  Some of them still do well today.  Oh and how about all of those Elvis impersonators? It is clear to me that this man brought a lot of happiness and left a lasting mark of the world.  He is one of the most significant icons of the 20th century.  Yes, the King of Rock did indeed make a difference.   Long live the King!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Big wad of cash

If you read this regularly, you will recall me writing for several days about a homeless man and a campaign to raise money for him. It turns out that might have been a scam of sorts, and so while all of that is being sorted out, I won't speak of that specifically, but one thing we learned from that is that people can be very generous. They collected a big wad of cash in just a matter of days.

The money already collected in the fundraiser I mentioned, would be enough for me to live on for the next three years or more! This was all from strangers, too. Imagine how much more might be raised if a fundraiser were held and people who actually know the recipient were contacted.
I have long believed that grassroots programs can really make a difference and that each one of us can do wonderful things.  We can change the world.  We don't simply snap our fingers and everything is suddenly better, but we work toward a goal and we do what we can.  In this case, many people contributing money - some only a dollar and others a hundred or more, and adding up to a very helpful sum.  Imagine what the world would be like if we all did this and did it more often!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

This could be the start of something big

It's the beginning of the year - the very first month. January begins with a major holiday and then has another, Martin Luther King's Birthday, tucked neatly in the middle, but this month is often looked at as the cold, boring, and grey "after-holiday" month. Does it have to be boring? Of course not! This could be the start of something big!

January could be the month that you decide to do new things.  For those who make (and keep) resolutions, it might already be the beginning of something really important.  Now I am not a big fan of resolutions because they seem to set us up for failure and only a very small percentage are kept, but if they work for you, and clearly there are some people in the small group, then go for it!  For everyone else, there are still many things that can make this an exciting month.

Since it tends to be colder this month, why not try out some new ways to eat oatmeal, it is after all National Oatmeal Month. It's also National Soup Month and the possibilities there are endless. I just made a nice pot of potato soup yesterday!

What else are we observing? Well, it's National Egg month, Bread Machine Baking Month, Dried Plum Breakfast Month, National Book Month, Fat-Free Living Month, International Coffee Gourmet Month, and National Diet Month. It's also National Eye Health Care, National Fiber Focus Month, National Hobby Month, National Hot Tea Month, National Volunteer Blood Donor Month, National Retail Bakers Month, and National Mail Order Gardening Month. Does this give you any ideas?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Cooler than the other side of the pillow

Yesterday we lost a remarkable man - someone who truly was "cooler than the other side of the pillow." Sportscaster Stuart Scott was good at his job and we will hear many speak of his groundbreaking hip-hop style reporting on ESPN, but I will always think of him as a man of great courage in his fight against cancer.

Stuart Scott came to find out about his cancer as the result of an unrelated surgery. He fought it and thought it to be gone, only to find it reoccurring.  During the original battle Scott once told his audience  "One of the coolest things about having cancer, and I know that sounds like an oxymoron, is meeting other people who've had to fight it. You have a bond. It's like a fraternity or sorority." If his cancer or the treatments were getting him down, he really didn't show it.
Stuart Scott was the kind of sports reporter that you always felt comfortable with.  Oh and those catch phrases!  My favorite was "Just call him butter ’cause he’s on a roll." So many tributes came yesterday after the news of his passing came, including from President Barack Obama, whom Scott had interviewed.  My thoughts though went back to last summer, when Scott was honored at the ESPY Awards for his fight against cancer, which he was still waging. That evening he told the audience "When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.”

Thank you Stuart Scott for the manner in which you lived.

Friday, January 2, 2015


Yesterday we began a new year and for many people that meant a list of things to do this year. Now while the whole idea of New Year's resolutions is to make yourself better, I have never really been a fan.  Personally I think we would do good to resolve ever single day to make it a good one and to make a difference in the world.
Now I am not saying it is wrong to make a list.  For some it works quite well.  Folks will resolve to quit smoking, lose some weight, stay fit, become better organized, spend less money, fall in love, and to spend more time with family, take a class, and any number of other things.  If we use this as goals, it can actually be very good, but when we put the pressure on and insist that these several things MUST happen, we often set ourselves up for failure, and that's why I have never been a fan.
Even though this blog is NOT about me, let me tell you, I don't make resolutions but I do set goals from time to time - not just at the beginning of the year.  Also, as I mentioned, I think resolving to make a difference every single day is such a good model.  Try it!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

It's a brand new year!

If you are like me, you'll spend the next few days writing 2014 on things and saying "next year" when you really mean "this year," because despite all of the noise we make every year on New Year's Eve, there really isn't a magic sign that shows us that anything is at all different. Today began pretty much like all days begin and so it will be for tomorrow and the day after. Yet something did indeed happen at midnight last night - the same thing that happens every December 31st. One year ended and another began.

Our magazines and news programs reminded us of the famous people we lost in the past year. For many, there were also private memories of family members and friends who died. We looked at progress, or the lack of it and news stories that touched our lives. There were many folks saying they were glad 2014 was over because they had not done what they wanted to.  What I kept hearing last night was that 2014 had let us down.  Of course I heard the same kinds of things said a year earlier about 2013!
We don't control all that happens around us of course, but we can control how we think about it and from where I sit, there was an awful lot of good last year!  I rejoice in my new friends and the time spent too with old ones.  I'm thrilled at the advances we are finally making in human rights.  It seems to me like more people are getting involved and making a difference.  I know that I am certainly not running out of things to write about here.
Will 2015 be good to us?  Will we be good to it?  We can certainly help to paint the picture.  It's a brand new year.  Let's make it the best one ever!