New year’s resolutions are intended to inspire if not commit, since sometimes we do not keep our resolutions and move on with the best of intentions. Most of us are sincere in our desire to improve a part of our life.
I like the tradition of making resolutions for the new year, one that calls upon us to reflect, reconsider, dream, and set goals for our lives.
So, I will look back on 2023 columns, reflect and offer resolutions, some of which may be me asking you to think about it.
The topic I have written the most about is the journey Paul, my husband, and I have been traveling since he was admitted to an in-home hospice program. I have posted those columns on my Facebook page which is public, and anyone can read them if interested. Yes, even predatory males which are easy to recognize.
Those of you who have read the columns know we are in our 18th month of benefiting from the services and caring of Assured Hospice. The resolution I want to share with you is one I have had since long before the beginning of this journey but so fitting to it.
“ … I vow to (bring) joy each day to my beloved.”
“ … I vow to (each day) ease the pain of my beloved.”
The sentiment is not original with me nor is the eloquence. These are the last two sentences of an “exercise to help us look deeply and heal our fear.” I found it years ago when I decided to take the plunge into examining death since there was much less time ahead of than behind me.
I find it sustaining especially now.
The exercise is a fairly long breathing exercise and starts with recognizing the inevitabilities of life – aging, illness, death – moves on to our personal responsibility and bring us back to the present and what is important.
For those of you who have interest, it can be found in the writings of Thich Nhat Hanh, a well-known Buddhist monk who has written extensively or you can contact me through the Gazette.
To fulfill promise of future for youths
The column “Showing kids they matter” was published in March of this year. I wrote about gun violence or accidents which is the leading cause of death of children and the concerning incidents of sexual assault and violence.
I wrote about the trend in children feeling hopeless and anxious and young men not forming relationships with women that lead to marriage.
I shared the sadness I felt for them as well as a society that did not encourage and support its children.
I shared my worry that we and the community do not do enough to send our young into the future with optimism nor create an environment of opportunity and responsibility to establish career, family, and community ties.
The most telling evidence of not doing enough is that the leading cause of death of people 18-45 years of age is fentanyl drug overdose.
Resolutions need to be so much more than stopping the import of fentanyl or shelters for the homeless. Our country needs to purposely resolve to shift its attention and resources to the young with policies and programs that readies them for productive lives and encourages the formation of young families that become a responsible part of the community,
The column “Death by ignorance” appeared in October 2022; its theme making appearances in 2023 columns. The theme is simple – pregnant women should receive the recommended care and treatment during pregnancies and calls out those medical conditions for which they are denied by law an abortion even though it has been medically determined they may lose their life and/or future fertility.
To find our voice of peace
I had an unusual number of responses to “Calling on pods of peace” in which I wrote about a way in which we can contribute to, even grow peace. The comments were all positive and thoughtful.
One reader made me laugh when she wrote it was a “kick in the butt.” The reader explained she knew she could gather a pod for peace and would get about doing just that by talking with others.
Another reader reflected on having similar feelings and went on to propose constructive ways to build peace, something I think should be shared with everyone. In talking out loud, we find we are not alone in our impressions and feelings.
”In search of empathy” (October) was the column that asks where has our humanity gone when we so easily look past the humanity of others, and make them our enemy thereby justifying our inhumane treatment of them.
I have written about former President Trump, now candidate, who chooses meanness, revenge, and threats as his primary tools to gain power. For reasons beyond my comprehension, he sees peace as an enemy of his and passes that on to millions of vulnerable people giving them permission to threaten and harm others. Peace cannot survive in the environment Trump proposes we live.
Resolve to reject the premise of mean if we do and build purpose from the inside out to make peace the most attractive option in our own homes, communities, and country.
One final Cooper resolve I will share is “do not wish time away.” Paul and I adopted the policy a long time ago. No matter how terrible the events of the time are at this moment, we are together and do not want to waste a minute.
My sincere thanks to Mike Dashiell and the Gazette for allowing me column space every other week; it is a privilege to be part of this fine weekly.
Happy New Year to all and let it be so!
Bertha Cooper, an award-winning featured columnist with the Sequim Gazette, spent her career years in health care administration, program development and consultation and is the author of the award-winning “Women, We’re Only Old Once.” Cooper and her husband have lived in Sequim more than 25 years. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.