Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tree of Lights

If you live, have worked or driven through the West Market Street corridor in Akron, between West Point Market and Acme over the years, you've probably noticed the long strands of twinkling lights that adorn the Akron Radio Center every holiday season.

Those 5,000 bulbs strung diagonally 3 stories high in the shape of a tree, with the beautiful star on top is more than just a festive annual holiday display. Each and every bulb represents a $5 donation, and every penny benefits Haven Of Rest Ministries here in Akron.

This Thursday through Saturday December 3rd through the 5th, members of the WQMX staff are holding our annual Tree Of Lights Radiothon. It's our goal to light every bulb on the tree and the star on top to beat last year's goal of $30,000 raised for Haven Of Rest Ministries.

Haven Of Rest provides food, clothing, shelter and educational programs to needy and homeless men, women and children. The Haven gets no money from the government, and relies on donations from generous business owners, corporations and individuals like you and me.

The Akron Radio center is the home of 3 great Akron radio stations 94.9 FM WQMX. 97.5 FM WONE, and 1590 AM WAKR, as well as the online news source for Akron: It is very important to the owner of these radio stations, Thom Mandel, that his stations support worthy causes in the community all year long. At this time of year, especially, when the weather turns cold, and thoughts are focused on giving, Thom's country station 94.9 WQMX presents the this extra special fund-raiser in the hopes hearts will be touched to give to this worthy organization.

A side note on the Tree Of Lights: country music fans may remember the legendary Akron country radio station, WSLR. Years ago, then program director Nick Anthony coordinated some of the first Tree Of Lights campaigns with the legendary disc jockey Jaybird Drennan, along with Rick Carderelli and my late husband Phil Cordle; broadcasting from the O'Neil's department store window in downtown Akron. Years later Nick brought the concept back to life as the Senior VP of Programming here at WQMX. For me, personally, it is wonderful to be a part of the Akron tradition that my husband was also a part of...while raising money for such a great cause.

If you'd like to help, you can donate to the Haven Of Rest by phone at 877-535-1563 or you can stop by the station until 7pm these next 3 days and make your donation in person. We're at 1795 West Market Street in West Akron.

God bless you for your support, whether it be financial or prayful.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Top 10 Things the Internet has Killed (or at least changed )

I found the following article, from The London Telegraph newspaper interesting and wanted to share the story. The author examined how the Internet has changed the way we work, play and even think. "Tasks that once took days can be completed in seconds, while traditions and skills that emerged over centuries have been made all but redundant," writes reporter Matthew Moore.

Here is his list of the Top 10 things, the Internet has killed or changed in our lives:

1. The art of polite disagreement -- The tone of debate has greatly sharpened and thanks to the anonymity, people can post cruel messages they never would dare say aloud to someone's face.

2. Telephone directories -- It's easier and faster to look up a phone number or address online than it is to dust off the White Pages.

3. Music stores -- No one wants to pay for music anymore since they can get it for free on the Internet.

4. Letter writing and pen pals -- A handwritten letter--ink on paper with a postage stamp--is fast becoming a relic since e-mail is faster, easier and cheaper.
The death of the handwritten letter has also taken with it the valediction, "Sincerely yours." Now we have "Best" and "Cheers." Or nothing at all.

5. Memory -- Can't remember the name of that actress who popped up in a new TV show? In just seconds, Google or Wikipedia will answer any question you think up, no matter how obscure. There is no need to remember facts when we can find them so quickly and easily.

6. Doing nothing -- When you have nothing to do, chances are you get online. Back in the day, you would have picked up a book, taken a walk in the park, played with your kids, hit the couch for a nap or just stared out your window watching the sun set. Now you check your e-mail and the status messages of your Facebook friends.

7. Photo albums and slide shows -- Printed photos are so old-fashioned. Now you post your digital photos online to share with friends and family. (Hint, Grandma still likes to get the printed photos. Be nice and print a few for her.)

8. Respect for doctors -- Thanks to all the health and medical information available online, we all think we know as much as the people who actually went to medical school.

9. Privacy -- It's not the government that takes away your privacy! You do that yourself when you post every little detail about your life on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.

10. Newspapers -- It's hard to sustain a business model where the news is always a day old and subscribers have to pay for it. Instead, you can get your news right now and free on the Web.

So while the Internet has offered us much and greatly enriched our lives, it has also taken away things--things that used to be precious or at least an ingrained part of our daily lives.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

In the summer of 2007, my sister and her husband, Martha and Dan Mosher hired a delivery person to deliver products to hospitals for their company Mosher Medical. Alan Watt has proven to be an excellent employee with his attention to detail and strong work ethic. He never complains, even when the deliveries take him late into the evening driving through a Northeastern Ohio snowstorm. He's one of those people that when you meet him, you somehow feel good. Like somehow, you'll be better for knowing him.

Last year, Alan needed to take a few days off to take his wife Teresa for some medical testing. Many tests and procedures were performed until the doctors finally delivered the dismal news. Teresa, a young mother of three little girls, was diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer.

Teresa and Alan are raising their family in a 1920's farmhouse with limited funds. The house is in desperate need of repairs. Last winter, the girls had to sleep on the living room floor because the upstairs windows were broken to the point they could not keep heat in the second floor. This summer they were without running water for 3 weeks. A generous neighbor was able to repair their well which remedied the water problem, but there are many more needs. Their furnace and water heater needs replaced and the electric system in their home needs brought up to safety standards. They are months behind in their mortgage payments and their medical bills, even with health insurance, have become overwhelming. They were looking at alternative medicine but have had to put off going to seek additional treatment because they don't have enough gas money to make the trip. Teresa contributes to the family income by teaching at the school the girls attend, but as the cancer spreads she will be unable to continue working. These are hardworking people that life has just thrown them into difficult circumstances. They would never ask for help. In fact, they often express their gratitude for what they do have, instead of complaining about what they do not have. They are truly inspiring.

I think the world of my sister and brother in law. They have worked hard to help Alan and his family beyond what a normal employer might do. It was no coincidence that Alan walked to fill an open position at their company. I believe God puts people together for a reason.

Generous friends and neighbors have stepped in to do what they can—but now, the medical bills and housing needs as we approach this upcoming winter have become insurmountable. We know that our world is full of generous and caring people that are willing to help a neighbor in need, even when you don’t know them personally. We’re hoping if we all pull together, and everyone can give just a little, we can help this family.

The short-term goal is to provide funds to enable them to keep their home and facilitate the necessary repairs as we approach this winter. The long-term goal is to set aside money for the girls educational needs in the future. A benevolent fund has been set up at First Merit Bank to raise money to meet these goals.

Please view the following link to meet the Alan Watt Family and consider donating to the benevolent fund.
You can stop by any First Merit bank location or mail your donation in any amount to:
First Merit
30 Springside Drive
Akron, Oh 44333
Make check payable to: Alan Watt Family Benevolent Fund

Thank you so very much, in advance, for your consideration.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Can't We All Just TRY to Get Along?

President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize, it was announced this past Friday, for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples," the Norwegian Nobel Committee said. From the reaction of so many, you'd think it was a "war" prize.

It is troubling to me to hear the outcry of the critics of this decision, not because I think the President was the most deserving person to win the prize, but because of the way some are using the honor to continue to criticize and tear down the man on a deeply personal level. The naysayers blast the decision, saying its "all about politics."

Isn't everything?

The comedy skit on SNL summed it up best, when the "parody president" humbly acknowledged he won it for simply "not being George W Bush." My thinking is, we've been so hated around the world for so many years, isn't the fact that we are now viewed in a more positive light from the outside in worth celebrating? Even just a little?

For the record, I'm not one to talk politics. I do have strong opinions on various issues, but I express them to very few. I stay away from political discussions, socially, in the workplace, and especially around my family, who gets along on most issues, but is now so divided politically.

Calling myself a moderate is probably a cop-out, but the bottom line is I try to use common sense in my voting preferences, never voting strictly by party but instead voting for who I believe to be the best candidate. Neither party's platform suits my philosophy. I lean fiscally conservative but socially liberal. While I don't want the government over-regulating my life or my pocketbook, too little regulation allowed for the greed and corruption that led us to this current recession.

I don't agree with every decision our President is making, but I sure didn't agree with many our last president made either. In both cases the personal attacks on both sides sickens me. I am so tired of the hate-filled talk that spews from the mouths of these talk show hosts every day. What happened to our ability to disagree and still respect the person, and the office? I believe that both George Bush and Barack Obama are good men personally. Men who love their country and their families. Men who believed they were and are making the best decisions with the information they have. Information we can't possibly know about. Information no candidate knows about until he wins the office; and only then he is presented with intelligence that would probably send our heads spinning.

There might be a million things wrong with the proposed health care plan, for example, but why say "no" to everything the president proposes, but come up with no viable alternatives? Why after 9 months, is this president being crucified for not fixing what it took almost a decade to create? I believe with all my heart and soul that the average American just wants to see our politicians working together for us instead of against each other.

A year ago the view from outside this country was so negative. The rest of the world viewed us with such disdain--and now--we are viewed more positively due to the diplomatic skills of our president. Does that deserve a Nobel Peace Prize? I don't know. But he won it. Along with the office of the President of the United States, because the majority of people voting seems to think he deserved both.

If he doesn't win another term, we've got 3 plus more years with this president. For for those who love's great. For those who don't it will be a long 3 years. But isn't it time we accept it and try to work together? Isn't it time for peace at home?

For the common good: can't we and our elected officials just try to get along?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Taylor and Company: Just Good People

You've probably heard stories of demanding, ego-maniacal superstars. You know the type. They want caviar and champagne and only the green M&M's in their dressing room. They treat fans, agents and stage crew alike with disdain. Especially prevalent are the young female stars like Lindsey Lohan or Brittany Spears who party all the time and end up in rehab. Maybe that's why it's especially cool that just when you think the age of big stars with small egos and treating the people who made you famous nicely is a thing of the past, you meet someone who brings back your faith in humanity.

That is the phenomenon that is Taylor Swift.

I'm blessed to have a job where I meet a lot of talented, famous people; some nice, and some not so nice. On many occasions (mostly when I was in pop music radio) I met a lot of the latter and wondered how they got so successful. And then, you meet someone who seemingly has it all together. They have talent, beauty, brains, business acumen, and a wonderful, kind personality. That has been my experience in the past with Taylor, and more recently in New York City when I witnessed her magic in front of the sold out Madison Square Garden.

Although I've had the pleasure of spending time with Taylor several times over the past couple of years, it was so refreshing to see this (still) young lady is as down to earth today as she was when she and her mom visited stations like WQMX to introduce her to country radio.

Back then, all those 3 years ago, after singing songs that were real, true to her age and life experience, (because she wrote every one of them) Taylor treated every person she encountered like gold. When at WQMX for a Rising Star Showcase, she met each listener with a smile. She didn't just sign a photo, she wrote a note, or drew a heart, or did something to make each person she met feel special. She thanked then, and continues to thank now, radio people for playing her songs, and listeners for listening to them. She seems genuinely surprised that people like her as much as they do, and always makes it seem like it was a privilege for her to play for us. Back then, several people remarked that there was something different about this girl from the hundreds we meet.

And 3 years later, there still is.

Taylor's stats are more than impressive. Her self-titled debut album produced five hit singles and was certified 3times Multi-Platinum. The New York Times described Swift as "one of pop's finest songwriters, country's foremost pragmatist and more in touch with her inner life than most adults". She was the biggest selling artist of 2008 with combined sales of more than four million albums. Her latest Fearless was the first album by a female artist in country music history to log eight weeks at #1 on The Billboard 200. According to the 2009 issue of Forbes, Swift is ranked as the 69th most powerful celebrity with over $18 million in earnings this year.
And she's 19.

Sometimes, talent, fame and fortune can mess with a person's head. How could it not? But so far, there is no sign of that with Taylor. Yes, she is worldlier. But she is surrounded by an amazing mom and dad, and a record company that feels like a mom and pop shop: Big Machine records, headed by President Scott Borchetta.

And speaking of Big Machine, the record rep I deal with in our region is a guy name Erik Powell. Erik is an example of being true to the company he keeps. I was standing next to him at Taylor's concert in New York. Erik is way taller than me, and at one point he scrunched down next to me so he could witness the view from my perspective. He said, "Sue, you can't see anything". I said, "Erik, welcome to my world!" He then guided me to the front near the stage, where I stood where I could actually see the concert. Talk about putting yourself in someone else's shoes.

Then, Erik did something really special. He made eye contact with Taylor's guitar player, who had been tossing picks into the audience of screaming girls all evening. Erik went to the edge of the stage and the player handed him several picks. He then went to the area of wheelchairs and made sure each young disabled child received a pick. Apparently, the two of them do that for most shows.

Pretty cool.

Customer service, kindness, and just being a "good people". That describes Taylor Swift and the people in support of her, starting with her family, to label exec Scott, to my friend Erik.

It's nice when success comes to good people.

Monday, August 17, 2009

That's Why They Call 'Em Crackberries

I said I’d never do it. I’d never get a Blackberry. Cell phones can be enough of a distraction, but a device that gets calls, texts, Internet access and emails from both home and work? No way. I was afraid I’d become like so many around me, checking email constantly. Hearing that “bloop” sound that notifies them of a text or an email from one of 2, 3 or more accounts. My sister said that since her husband got one she feels like another person is in their relationship.

Nope. Not me. Not gonna do it.

Then… my phone stopped working, my plan was up and I wandered into the store and, well, they got me. Now, I feel like I’m turning into one of “them". I have tried to ignore it when the notifications happen, but it’s hard. It seems like its calling my name while I’m driving with its insidious noises. I feel like I have to check. Like I’m missing something. I can’t help it!

Apparently, I’m not the only one. Experts have warned Blackberry type devices can be so addictive that owners may need to be weaned off them with treatment similar to that given to drug users. A study by New Jersey's Rutgers University School claims the Blackberry is fueling a rise in email and Internet addiction, with sufferers able to survive only a few minutes without checking for new mail. One key sign of a user being addicted is if they focus on their Blackberry ignoring those around them.

I have a friend who doesn’t own a cell phone. He is a successful professional businessman who basically just refuses to give in to the technology. I debated with him ever so slightly, although I don’t know why. He’s heard enough arguments over the years I doubt I can introduce anything new that would change his mind. I tossed in my reasons like safety on the road, emergencies, running late, an accident, and just generally being accessible—which was probably my worst argument.

He admitted that he sometimes wishes he had one, especially when traveling. But that he is carrying out his own quiet little quixotic campaign against cell phones, because he finds them so annoying when he’s with people that are constantly taking calls or checking email on their Blackberry while they are supposed to be doing business. He had me at that one.

My co-host Scott Wynn and I were talking about technology on the air the other day. A caller expressed her irritation at computers. She said she didn’t have one and would never get one. Scott said he’s never known technology to go backward and that like it or not, computers, cell phones, Blackberries, and smart devices of all kinds are not going away. And while that's true, I think it's a new challenge to find a way to not let common sense and good manners regress as the technology makes progress.

As I listened to that lady at the checkout line in Giant Eagle scream into her cell phone (why do people talk so loudly when on their cell?) I found that my friend's quiet little quixotic campaign against cell phones was making more sense that I may want to admit to him.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

To Protect and Serve

Scott and I received an email to the Wynn and Wilson Morning Show recently. It was from a loyal listener, who was also a police officer, and he was troubled by what he perceived to be "pot shots" that had been taken at police officers on our show. The subjects of the incidents he was referring to were controversial news stories involving police officers pulling people over and/or making a controversial arrests that we ended up talking about on the air.

3 of the incidents were recorded on dash cam videos which were up on You Tube and had received thousands and thousands of views by the time we talked about them. One was of a Grandma who got tasered. Another was of an officer pulling over an ambulance with a patient in the back of the car. The third was of a man pulled over for speeding while trying to get to his dying mother-in-law's bedside. And the final incident involved a Sandusky man arrested for mowing a city park that had become overgrown.

All of the situations had tensions flaring on both sides. The Grandma was a jerk, no doubt. She kept "daring" the officer to taser her. The Sandusky man was argumentative and in these 2 situations people could at least understand the officer's frustration. The other 2 were a little more dicey and after several views of the video, most people not siding with the officers.

We felt that these were pretty good morning show topics. They were major news stories that people were talking about. And so, after the news, we opened the phone lines and let people express their opinions. We aired both sides of the story. In my explanation to the police officer who wrote in, I did tell him that we said on the air that more than once that we believe these situations to be the exception and not the rule. We know that the majority of police officers are on the job to protect and serve. We can only imagine how difficult their job is each and every day. One of my good friend's husband is a police officer, and I know the worry and fear every time he goes to work. Still, even with that disclaimer, the calls that came in leaned against the police officers in these situations, and I understand how any police officer listening might feel a bit defensive.

I put a lot of time and thought into my email response back to him. And in the end, I apologized and meant it. We may not mean to offend or hurt others with our words, or even in giving the forum to others to share their opinions. So when that happens, I feel badly. I tried to explain that I think it stinks when a few bad apples reflect poorly on the whole bunch, but also that just because they are only a few doesn't mean they shouldn't be called out. When people are in positions of authority, they should be held to a higher standard, and when they screw up, it should be brought out big time.

This isn't true of just police officers. There are several professions where a select few tarnished the overall image of a profession. The same can be said for of any position where power and authority preside: from policemen to teachers, to politicians, judges or Catholic priests. If anyone in a position of authority is caught doing something that abuses that authority and trust; shouldn't we be able to see it if there's video? Debate it? Get mad abut it... and if they are found to be wrong, expect the repercussions to be heavy?

That police officer did get me thinking. These men and women take their lives in their hands every time they go to work. How scary it must be to know that a routine traffic stop could end up taking your life. How difficult it must be to go to work and know the majority of the people you will come in contact with are doing something illegal, immoral or worse. You Tube videos like that being played over and over again can have people mistrusting police officers more than is fair, because certainly we never see the heroic things they do every day played over and over again. That's just not news, I guess. But I would be proud to share any stories like that I hear...I'd love to give the other side now.

I know the majority of our police officers are there to protect and serve and I know they would be there for me and my family if we needed them.

And for that I thank and salute them.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Imagine: The Golden Rule

After years in management, I've encountered many situations where one employee comes to me with an issue with another. When I listen to one side of the story, it seems like there is no other view and I understand completely why they are upset. Then, thinking I know the entire story, I sit down with the other person, and wow, amazing how there are two sides to every story.

I've tried to use this technique when mediating an argument in my personal life, in particular when dealing with fights between my kids. One would feel they are so completely right, and after hearing the other side, the same applies. I've learned, through parenthood and management (in fact, being a parent really helped me at work) that the very simplest technique in resolving conflict really and truly is the golden rule.

The toughest part in this philosophy is to live it myself. To practice what I preach. But the more I do it, the better it works, and it seems to help me release some anger and frustration when in a difficult situation.

When I find myself in a situation when I am upset with someone I try to pretend I am in their shoes. Sometimes, in my mind, I argue their point back to myself, taking their side. If someone is upset with something I said, I try to think about if someone said those words to me, how I might take it. I have found that maybe it's the context, or the history of conflicts in the past. Maybe you or they are bringing up old feelings with a current statement and maybe, just maybe the frustration has nothing to do with you. So many times, we personalize things, and make it all about "us" that we lose perspective on the argument. If, during a conflict, we were able to think about the others' life experience and what they might be feeling, it is amazing how you and they, can sometimes soften and the situation can be diffused.

I believe that people come into your life for a reason, and that even the worst circumstance can teach us something. I was reflecting on this recently after thinking about a person who came into my life a couple of years ago. Highly critical, defensive, and negative, this person found fault in almost every person and situation in his life. And because of his high IQ, he had an inability to see any view but his own because he thought he was always right.

Now that so much time has passed I can see the situation more clearly, and my experience with him while negative at the time, helped me grow and learn. It was dealing with him that taught me a lot about handling challenging and negative people. The ultimate lesson I learned from this person was that sometimes, no strategies work, and that walking away for good is often is the best and only solution.

Two people looking at a similar set of circumstances can draw completely different conclusions based on their life experiences. Two people can look at the same painting and see a completely different picture. The key to resolution might be to get each side to look at the situation from the others' point of view. To literally step into another's shoes for a minute and try to feel what they feel, face their circumstance. To think that maybe that person behind the counter snapping at us may be on no sleep because she is caring for an elderly parent.

Imagine if we could practice this strategy not only in our home, but in our workplace, our country and our world. Imagine if the parent yielding the fist had the view of the child looking up. If the criminal with the gun were standing behind the counter. If the prison guard were looking from behind bars. Imagine if leaders of a country viewed the world from the perspective of the people living in the town.

My prayer is that even if just for today, we imagine we are someone else. That just for today, we treated another exactly how we would want to be treated.

"Imagine all the for today. You may say I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us. And the world will live as one." ~John Lennon

Monday, May 25, 2009

Defending The Defenseless

Anyone who knows me knows I have a heart for animals. And while I am partial to dogs, my respect for living creatures goes beyond the pets we've had in our home over the years. I am blown away by things I've learned about the innate sensibilities of so many animals I've seen on various Nature Channel programs. From the long-lived family loyalty of the elephant, to the "mate for life" philosophy of geese, I think we humans can learn a lot from these supposedly "wild" creatures.

I've lived most of my life in selective blissful ignorance as to the plight of animals outside the "pet" world. I go to the grocery store and select my bacon, chicken, turkey or beef without much regard to how the meat got there. I just haven't wanted to think about it.

Now I know, and I can't turn away. Before you read on, please know that I am not one of those extremist, crazy PETA members. I am moderate in my views on most issues and take a very common sense approach to all things environmental and animal-rights involved. But now, to me, preventing horrendous animal cruelty is common sense. I have recently chosen to stop eating meat, but I respect that not everyone shares my feelings. You can still be a meat-eater and promote an anti-cruelty platform. My decision is less about choosing to not eat meat, than choosing to no longer support the inhumane and unhealthy practice of factory farming where 95% of the meat we eat comes from.

Even if you are not an animal lover you should be concerned about the beef and poultry supply you consume. Many researchers believe that the high incidence of cancer in the U.S is not from consuming red meat alone, but consuming red meat pumped with chemicals, antibiotics and hormones being shot into these animals on factory farms. It is thought that today's 9 to 12 year-old kids are developing way too early because of these hormones they are consuming. Additionally, the filth in which these animals are living affects the meat you eat.

Many people have a vision of cows grazing in the fields for years on grain and grass, and chickens roaming, cage-free in the chicken yard until they are humanely slaughtered in a clean kill. Maybe if I knew I was getting my meat, eggs and poultry from a free range farm where animals were treated well I may go back to my carnivorous ways. But in good conscious now, I can't.

Back in the days of our ancestors, this is how animals in our food chain were raised. Cattle roamed the land. Chickens were fed on grain. Pigs hung out with their moms and piglet siblings. farmers knew naturally the benefits of this lifestyle. And they learned to understand and respect these living creatures for the intelligent living beings that they are. Most farmers from "the old days" had a love and respect for animals, even to end.

Many people who have spent time with pigs compare them to dogs because they are friendly, loyal, sensitive and intelligent. Considered smarter than 3-year-old human children, pigs in their natural habitat will spend hours playing, lying in the sun, and exploring their surroundings with their powerful sense of smell. Now, 97 percent of pigs in United States today are raised on factory farms.

On factory farms, pigs spend their entire lives in cramped, filthy warehouses, under constant stress from the intense confinement and denied everything that is natural to them. As piglets, they are taken away from their mothers when they are less than 1 month old; their tails are cut off, their teeth removed and they are castrated all without any pain relief. The reason for tail removal? It is a sensitivity device. Pigs won't move around with no tail, as bumping into something causes excrutiating pain. They are forced to stand still. For years. Then, after spending their entire lives in overcrowded pens, their hair is removed in boiling water before their slaughter. Recently, 60 minutes aired an undercover documentary on a factory farm, showing workers laughing at the pigs squealing in pain.

The situation for factory chickens and turkeys isn't much better. They live in cramped cages, beaks removed and shot full of hormones and antibiotics so they become fatter, never leaving a cage from birth to slaughter. The meat we consume from cows is also artificially enhanced. For veal, the calf is removed from its mother at birth, placed in a dark box and pumped full of stuff you wouldn't want to know about to produce their tender taste.

So you're thinking "I feel bad about all this but what can I do?"

You can support legislation to prevent the insane cruelty to animals. Currently, cows, pigs, chickens, and any animal on a farm is considered property and as such they have no protection from any cruelty laws. You can support local farms who practice free range farming and a cage free lifestyle for poultry.

Or, you can give up meat.

Yeah, I know, here comes the age old argument that in requiring standards business will suffer. Some factories could go out of business and jobs lost. There is always a price to pay for doing the right thing. Yes, adding requirement for a factory adhere to environmental standards, or a car manufacturing company to do the same will cost money. And enacting laws to protect animals...and our food supply will also cost money.

But the cost of doing nothing long-term is much higher.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

When You Have Kids Of Your Own...

"Someday you'll understand. Someday, when you have kids of your own". I remember hearing those words from my mom. And I remember the first time the revelation hit me that she was right.

It was one of those times when my daughter asked me if she could go somewhere and do something I just didn't feel good about. I don't remember the exact circumstance, but I remember the feeling. I said "no" and had to not only suffer through the tears and hurt of a disappointed child, but also the recollection of my mom's words.

I was never one of those "because I said so" parents. I always tried to explain my reasoning, even if they never understood it. I recall the many times I tried to change my mom or dad's mind after they said their initial "no". They too, would explain their reasoning, but it was never good enough for me. If they said they didn't want me hanging around this or that kid, I assured them of that child's character. If they said they didn't feel like I'd be safe, I'd give them enough facts to underwrite an insurance policy. Adult supervision? Heck, they probably hired security! But my mom's intuition was stronger than anything I was selling, and she would end it with..."someday you'll understand. Someday, when you have kids of your own."

End of discussion.

By the time I had kids of my own I figured there would be no pulling the wool over my eyes. Although I'm sure they did more times than I'd want to know. And there were so many times I said no, gave my reasons and after the words and the sales pitches and the arguments and finally the tears of disappointment subsided, I would say those words and realize that I guess it is inevitable: women do eventually turn into our mothers! Whether it was the toddler years, the elementary school years, the teens or into college, I've learned parenting can leave you feeling pretty unpopular with your kids sometimes. Those times when you say no when they want a yes. Those times when they want approval, and you can't give it. You want them to understand that it is out of a complete and total unequivacle love that you are making the decision you are.

At different times my girls have told me that I am their best friend, and while I appreciate the sentiment behind those words because I know they are expressing the bond we have, I tell them I don't really want to be their best friend. I tell them they have plenty of friends, but they only have one mother. I earned that title, I'm proud of that title, and it's the most important role I have in life; so being a friend can be a sidebar. I'm their mom, and someday they'll understand how important that is.

Someday...when they have kids of their own.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ramblings On Akron: My Hometown

Last night I was reminded (once again) of just one of the many reasons I love my hometown. An evening spent at the Northside listening to live music from a great band reminded me of the rich music heritage that exists in our little corner of the the Akron/Kent/Cleveland world. I grew up here, and like many of my friends, have gone through stages of lovin' it and wanting to move. Although I admit that most of the "wanting to move" reasons hit me in February!

I was at Kent State during the heyday of the "New Wave" scene in the late 70's and early 80's, and regularly hung out at JB's to see The Numbers Band, Unit 5, The Action, and Hammer Damage to name just a few of the local bands who played the bars during those years. I also recall an amazing country/rock band, Buckeye Biscuit, as well as one of the great blues guitarists who still plays around, Frankie Starr. Of course our area also has its claim to fame with artists that went on to be downright famous in various genres: Chrissie Hynde, Jim Brickman, Tracy Chapman, Eric Carmen, and others, but last night was a real treat, because I sat and watched some amazing local players who gathered together for a jam session under the name of "The Mid-Life Chryslers".

The Chryslers, with Akron native Mark Lee Shannon and a guy you might have heard of: Michael Stanley also featured a cast of great players, most of whom have played together in various Michael Stanley projects. This formation treated us to a blend of rock and blues, featuring some of Marc's originals as well as covers of classic rock and blues songs from Sly and The Family Stone, to The Rolling Stones, Clapton and tons more. Paul Christensen was exceptional on sax. Marc's passionate guitar playing and vocals were soulful. And Michael had a few blistering guitar solos himself. It was a great evening of music.

One of the highlights of the night for me was non-musical. I met one of the owners of the Northside, Michael Owen, who gave me and my friend the rich history of the building that is home to the club. The rooms above have been lovingly restored and contain an artist colony featuring boutiques and galleries upstairs. The galleries are housed in a myriad of small rooms, one after another that in Akron's historical heyday, was a brothel. Each of those rooms were used for, get it. Across the street in another historical building is a glass blowing gallery. And of course, the famous Akron institution Luigi's is right next door to the Northside!

As Michael talked about his "neighborhood" on this little block of downtown Akron, he made me smile. He said Akron has all you need. it's a small big town--or a big small town, and it has at least "one" of everything you'd want to do. From every genre of live music, to live theatre, to art galleries, museums and such. It's just that once you do it, you have to keep going back to the same place!

Working in radio, I am blessed to see a lot of live music. But there is nothing like watching a gathering of exceptional musicians who are playing because they just love to play--having the kind of fun you can feel in an intimate setting like the Northside.

To quote a famous MSB song "This is My Town"...Akron. And I don't have to apologize that I grew up here, raised my girls here, and am still gainfully employed here (Thank God) And I fell in love with it again last night.

And oh, the weather helps too.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Faith and Religion: Reflections for Easter

I have never doubted my faith. Raised in a traditional Catholic family by parents who lived what they believed, I always knew there was a God. As I got older, I went through the phases most of us go through. Questioning the doctrine, or what I perceived to the "rules and regulations" that made up the Catholic Church. In college, and in my young adult life, I went from trying various churches and denominations, to not going to church at all. Marriage and children had me running back to the Church, wanting to instill the faith and value system I grew up with into my children.

I worked in Christian radio for 5 years before coming to my current job, and I was exposed not only to some of the greatest music in the world (along with country music of course) but also a great many faith-filled men and women. I was also exposed to more churches over those 5 years than I ever had been in my life. Not only the various denominations inside the umbrella of Christianity, but also non-denominational churches. And on this Easter Sunday morning, as I read the various scriptural accounts of the disciples of the events that happened on that Sunday over 2000 years ago, I reflect on the strength of my faith, and the weakness of my religion.

I think of the many sermons I've absorbed that were different interpretations of the very same passage. I think about the tolerance of one religion's stance on an issue and another's lack of tolerance on that same issue, and I smile and think "who has it right?". Could it be that this great God of ours has allowed there to be so many different paths to the same destination because He knows how different we all are? I think many of the men and women who think they have it all figured out will get to heaven and look over on the left, and see the Jew, the Methodist, the Pentecostal, the Charismatic, and the Orthodox, and then look to the right and see the Lutheran, the Catholic, and the Baptist; and ahead to the man or woman who never went to any church at all and say "Hmmm, they made it too!". And the Three Who Are One will just smile along with us, and impart the ultimate understanding to us all.

For me, today is a day to focus on those things that unite us. To reflect on the strength of my faith and on the weakness of my religion. And to ask for continued help on this journey I'm on. I don't know much, but I do know this: I believe the various accounts of what was written down and passed along through the ages. Because even through thousands of translations the message remains the same. I especially love the Easter passage of the women who ran to the tomb on Sunday morning and were greeted by the Angel who said:

“Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.” Matthew 28: 5-7.

The Easter Season begins today.

Happy Easter.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Fig Newton Moments

Although my husband's been gone for almost 7 years this June, I still have such intense flashes of grief at the most inopportune times, they almost knock me over. The pain is so deep it feels as if it happened just yesterday. How can this wound feel so fresh sometimes? Am I insane?'s been 7 years! I should be over it. Move on girl! These are the things I tell myself. It is because of those moments, I decided to attend a grief session, at the Hospice Center in my area, and it helped me so much.

The moderator talked about these very moments; and she described one of hers. While grocery shopping, rolling her cart down the cookie aisle, she told how she instinctively reached for the Fig Newtons. That may not sound strange, but the thing is, she didn't like Fig Newtons. But she always did the grocery shopping for her dad, and her dad loved them. Her dad has been gone for more than 2 years, so why did she, at that moment, set herself back in time and grab those Fig Newtons as though she planned to take them to his house? She called it a "Fig Newton Moment", and she said broke down, right there and then, cookies in hand...sobbing in the aisle.

She then reminded us that for those who were mourning multiple losses, the Fig Newton moments occur all over the place and who you're missing gets all mixed up. It made me feel less insane to recall that since my husband died, I lost a beloved aunt, my dad and most recently, my mom. And that its normal to miss them all at once and forget who I'm grieving and just feel plain old SAD!

So, I began to feel a little better about the fact that I seem to be the only one who doesnt' like Spring. Everyone around me thinks it is a great time of the year, and I just don't. Springtime for me is one Fig Newton moment after another. Phil died June 13th, and I recall that March and April were so torturous that year. I wanted the weather to get nice so he could enjoy what I knew would be his last spring. Every morning I'd check the weather forecast (and working in radio, I always knew the forecast) and it was always rain, rain mixed with snow, and then an occasional tease of a sunny day with a high near 60, if we were lucky. It was probably the coldest spring I can remember, or maybe it wasn't but it seemed that way. I was so angry. At God? At Mother Nature? At Dick Goddard? Can't we just have a nice day so he can enjoy what few days he has left?!

We had an okay May that year, and finally, by June 1st, the weather got warm. In his last 2 weeks of life when he couldn't get out to enjoy it. Of course the weather was fabulous on June 13th and beyond...especially on that Father's Day Sunday when we had his calling hours.

Every Spring since, I get the blues when I read the forecast, and it calls for rain mixed with snow... especially when its almost April. I get filled with emotion when I step outside and its cold and the rain stings my's like someone is pelting me with Fig Newtons!

So many of us are grieving so many things each and every day. You don't have to experience a death to experience grief. Your Fig Newton moment may come in the form of a song on the radio reminding you of a lost love as you grieve a divorce. Opening your closet looking at your work clothes may feel like a punch in the stomach as you reach for your sweats because you lost your job. The empty dog bowl in your kitchen reminding you of your beloved pet.

Loss comes in many forms, and it isn't something you get over. You just get used to it; and hopefully learn empathy and compassion from that pain. You are not not going nuts when you feel it...and neither am I. In fact, you're probably nuts if you don't.

So lean into it...and then, let's have a Fig Newton together, maybe with a cup of hazelnut coffee?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Stuff I'm Thankful For

The lousy economic news hit a little closer to home recently, as one of my colleagues lost his job, and another good friend and her husband lost their home. I can't help but ponder the unfairness of all this as I think about how those AIG Execs are probably sitting around planning how to spend their bonuses. And the really frightening thing is that no one, not the IRS or even the President of the United States has the power to fix all the craziness.

I spent some time with my girlfriend this past Saturday night, and I was inspired by her attitude. Yes, they had lost their home, but, she said, they had so much to be thankful for. They were staying with her husband's mom, who loved having them. Her daughter was forging a new special relationship with her grandma. She and her husband now had some breathing room with some of the stress of the home loss behind them. They were looking forward. Things would get better she said. And, things could be worse. Wow. What a perspective.

One of my new favorite blogs to follow is called "Diary of A Frugal Hen Without A Rooster". Ms Hen has been through a lot in her life, struggles that would have others laying down and giving up. But often, God gives people amazing challenges, and then gives them some kind of a forum so that they can help others. And this is what He has seemingly done with both of these women. One of the things Ms. Hen does occasionally is jot down a list of the things she's thankful for. When I came home from work today, I was feeling a little down and blue, but then I thought to myself "snap out of it"! If others with worse problems than me are able to get up every morning, face the day and put one foot in front of the other and get on with life--than I can too. And I took a page out of the Frugal Hen's blog and made my own list:

I'm thankful for...

My health
My precious daughters
This roof over my head
Ringo, Tami and Charlie; always here to keep me company when I am lonely
My job, and that its one I enjoy
My eyesight, even though I complain I need reading glasses
My 6 siblings
The wrinkles around my eyes. I guess I must smile a lot
Every sunny day we get
My God
Hazelnut coffee
My digital camera
Stoli black martinis
The fireplace in my family room
My car with 133,000 miles and still running, and paid for!
The fenced in yard
Friends who inspire me
Co-workers I like
Good music
Red wine
This computer I'm typing on
Fuzzy footie socks

I know I could come up with more but I am getting tired, and I'm thankful I have a bed to go to sleep in. The next time you have the blues, might I suggest creating your own list.

It really is a great reminder than things aren't so bad after all.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Stars Are People Too

I recently returned from the Country Radio Seminar held annually in Nashville, Tennessee. CRS (as it is called) is 3 days of seminars and networking with other radio and music industry professionals. But the highlight for so many attendees is the opportunity to witness incredible musical showcases. The record companies are able to introduce the radio the rising stars in country music, as well us give us the chance to reconnect with the stars that made us fall in love with country music to begin with.

On the final night of CRS is an event called the New Faces of Country Music Dinner and Show. This was the 40th anniversary of CRS, and this year's show began with an entertaining video recap of experiences from years gone by. Artists like Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, Dierks Bentley, and many more told stories about how nerve-wracking their New Faces performance was. They described their fear of playing in front of "radio people" who might hate them, think they stink and who had control over their careers. Impressing those in the room, or blowing it might mean the difference between getting their song played on the radio...or not.

As I wandered out of the room that night after hearing performances of this year's crop of New Faces: Kelli Pickler, Chuck Wicks, James Otto, the Zac Brown Band and Lady Antebellum, I thought it mind-boggling that these talented people were probably relieved the night was over, and that like the many who came before them, they were probably nervous, to play that room in front of all of us.

And I realized, that no matter how famous or infamous, in the end we're all just people. We all put our pants on the same way--even though some of them might be a bit more expensive than others! We all have egos that can be crushed and feelings hurt by a harsh word or stinging criticism. And it's this understanding that turns some of the New Faces into superstars, because they can connect with real stories about real feelings and real life; and that is what makes country music so great.

That night, I may have been there a "radio professional".

But more importantly, I was just a music lover and a country music fan.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Changes In Latitude...Changes In Attitude

Can a change of physical space really change our mood, our outlook and perception of a effect: our attitude?

I admit that while I am a normally a person with an overall sunny disposition, the gray skies of Northeast Ohio this winter has been especially trying on me. I can take the cold. But I can't get used to day after day of gray. However, I know that a positive attitude is crucial for survival in any situation...whether it is surviving a Northeast Ohio winter, or a trying situation personally or professionally.

The last 2 weekends, I've been blessed enough to have been able to get away; first to visit my daughter in San Francisco, and the second to visit my sister in Fort Myers.I have to say the sunshine has had a therapeutic effect on me. San Francisco's weather was not remarkably warm, and even Ft Myers was cool by their standards, but the sunshine and blue skies made all the difference. I laughed as the temperature fell into the 50's and everyone turned their heat on. When it hit 50 in Akron 2 weeks ago, I saw a man driving with the top down on his convertible!

I am contemplating how to I am going to keep this attitude of sunshine with me when I land. I've been listening to the audio version of the book "The Secret" on my Ipod, and I believe the overall message, that how we think affects how we feel. Further, our thoughts can have a profound effect on the outcome of our lives. The idea that attitude is everything.

This is not a new concept. It's been written about in many books including Norman Vincent Peale's best seller "The Power Of Positive Thinking". The Secret, however, is a slightly different expression of this age old theme, perfected.

The Secret explains the Law Of Attraction. The Universal Concept that "like attracts like".

Think about it: aren't there some people who exude an energy that just feels good to be around? They smile, they make you feel good when you talk to them; they light up a room when they are in it. Often, if you spend any time getting to know these people you may find that they have had challenges in life that, when compared to your own, are at the very least the same, and often, worse. Conversely, there are people who exude negative energy. They complain about everything, even things that in context, don't seem to be as bad as others face with a better outlook.

Negatively surrounds some while others positivity surrounds others because, The Secret explains, within the The Law Of Attraction; energy, like a magnet, will attract similar energy. In effect, you will get what you put your energy and focus on, whether wanted or unwanted, whether you are thinking good or bad. Your thoughts (both conscious and unconscious) dictate the reality of your life. So, essentially if you really want something and truly believe it's possible, and you put positive thought and energy into it, you'll get it. If you focus on the negative, putting attention and thought onto something you don't want means you'll probably get that too.

While much of what is in this book gets a bit ethereal and new agey...I have found these overall concepts to be true. When things go wrong and I am focused on how wrong they are going, the day gets worse. If I can switch my attitude, and focus on how things will go better, things do improve.

You may not be able to control whether the sun comes out in Northeast Ohio, but you can control you sunny disposition. A smile can light up a room. Praise can counter a harsh word. Calm can diffuse tension. Empathy is salve on a wounded soul.

Hanging on my refrigerator at home, and the door of my office as well as the bulletin board of my co-worker and friend Chuck Collins,( which is why we get along so well :-) is the best quote I have ever ready about Attitude. It is by Charles Swindell, who said:

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes."

Surround yourself with people who have a positive outlook on life. Extricate from your life those who suck the life out of you with their negative outlook.

Think sunshine and it will come...even if in our hearts and minds.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

We're All In This Together

If you can find a silver lining in the clouds of our long cold snowy winter, it would be that there is some sense of unity that forms in our collective misery. On my drive home during the big 24 hour snowfall this past week, I saw a number of examples of this. I saw cars stuck in driveways or parking lots and neighbors or even strangers helping out. We live in Northeast Ohio and we all have the comradarie of being in this together. A big snowstorm tends to bring out the helping gene in people. My silver lining came in the form of a special gift.

A brand new "kinky" shovel.

If you haven't heard about the kinky shovel you are not alone. My morning show partner, Scott Wynn began to extol its values earlier this month when I was complaining about my sore back from shoveling snow. He said "you should get a kinky shovel!" He explained that this modern marvel was ergonomically designed with a kink so it eased the pressure on the back when shoveling; or something like that. Trying to take his advice, I went to the store and couldn't find it. There was no brand called the kinky shovel and the next day, I told Scott that. When he stopped laughing long enough, he explained that the kinky shovel was HIS description of the bend in the handle ---not a brand name. What did I know? He kept calling it "the "kinky shovel". I was picturing Billy Mays solving my problems with this brand new device that practically shoveled the drive for you for only $19.95!

I was not alone. Several callers--all female--also went to the store looking for a kinky shovel; but could find none! That prompted Scott to write a blog about the miscommunication between meant and women.

When I came in next morning, there it was: a beautiful blue kinky shovel. I'm not quite sure if Scott was trying to ease my shoveling pain, or my save me the embarrassment of asking the men in the store where the kinky shovel was. (I had joked that I may not have come home with a shovel, but I sure might have come home with a few phone numbers!)

As you might imagine, the snow continued to fall, and boy was prepared! I had the chance to use that shovel quite a bit. Yes, the "kink" is in a spot where you aren't required to bend as much. Problem is, I am all of about 5 foot 1 and it, like most things in the hardware store, is designed for a man, or at least a taller person in general. So, not only did they extend the length of the handle to account for a bend, the bend, or kink in my shovel is in a location that is a little different that my body type calls for. Like a too-short batter at the mound, I had trouble with the length of the handle, and found I had to to choke up on my kinky shovel to get it to work for me, which as you can imagine, as I tried to describe it on the air, opened up a whole 'nother can of worms!

Maybe its time to move to a condo!

Note: you can read Scott's version of the kinky shovel story when you click on his link (to the right) Scott Wynn's Window.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What Are You Waiting For?

I had another one of those moments. You know, the ones. You feel like you've had an epiphany, and you swear you'll keep that feeling, and learn from it and be forever changed. Until life gets in the way and that feeling slowly drifts away, and you go back to the day-to-day.

It happened on my getaway weekend to Florida. While enjoying time with my family, feeling the warmth of the sun on my face and the vitamin D replenishing in my body, the phone rang. My sister's dear friend had been diagnosed with cancer. She was in the hospital, and my sister was soon on the next plane to be at her friend's bedside. As I sat in the sunshine offering prayers of strength and healing; I drifted back to a time when I sat at my husband's side while he fought his brave battle with cancer, and I began to think "what am I waiting for?"

After Phil died, I made a 4-year plan. I was going to get my girls through their teenage years, through high school and into college. And then, I would start to think about my life. After my second one left for college, I found myself thinking "I'll get them through college, and then I'll do some of the things I want to do."

I remember a post on a support group site I was on, where a woman expressed her regret at something she found in her drawer after her husband's death: A sexy Victoria Secret nightie she had never worn, still with its tags. She had bought it to wear on a romantic weekend away that some unforeseen event prevented them from taking. Her husband asked her more than once to wear it, but she kept saying she wanted to save it for another weekend away. Save it for something special.

What was she waiting for?

I put off things I want to buy or don't go on vacations or take more time away from work with family and friends. I say it's because of work, groceries, car and mortgage payments or tuition. And while it's all in the name of responsibility, and I say I'm planning for the future, maybe its an excuse. Maybe the future should be NOW. I've watched people around me, the same age, or maybe 5 or 10 years older than me work and work and say "I'll do this, or that or travel when I retire" and then drop dead of a heart attack or die of cancer never having the chance.

What are we waiting for?

I've had another epiphany, and this time, I am going to pay attention. I'm not waiting anymore. I know the economy is bad. I get that we shouldn't spend money on things we can't afford...but life really is too short. I'm going to live for today. I'm going to use the good china for everyday dinners. I'm going to use the guest towels all the time. I'm going to invite people over, and not worry if the house isn't clean. I'm going to open my mind, my heart and even my wallet, (ever so responsibly) and spend some of the money I work so hard to make. I'm going to de-clutter, de-stress and just plain simplify. Because you can't take it with you.

Erma Bombeck wrote a piece several years ago that I just love called "If I Had My Life To Live Over." In it were gems like this: "I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage. I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace. I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because I just had my hair done. I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime."

I'm going to live my life and have some fun. Wanna join me? And if you are hesitating...

What are you waiting for?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Hope For A New Year

Over the last couple of days I've caught a lot of those "top stories of the year" type of programs. Yep...the reviews are in...and the news is not good. The financial industry, the housing market, the automakers, the nation's retailers and the average Joe would agree that the economy is in the tanker. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue, while other pockets of chaos keep popping up daily in places like Gaza, India....and in our own cities, suburbs and in some households.

With all this bad news, however, I still feel a strong sense of hope. Maybe I'm crazy, but I think a lot of good can come from hard times. An interesting example of this was a story I just heard on the news the other day. CNN reported that divorce rates are falling in a big way. First of all, couples are finding paying 2 attorneys is darn expensive. Secondly, the housing market is so bad, they can't sell their homes, or their homes' value has dropped below what they owe, so that after selling and splitting assets both parties will have nothing. Finally, the child support or alimony one would have to pay, added to the expense of 2 households has put divorce plans on hold. One couple interviewed decided to just stick together, and low and behold, they are working through their issues and are happy they stayed together.

Those of us who grew up with parents or grandparents who lived through the depression have heard the stories of sacrifice. Admit it, maybe you rolled your eyes more than once as you heard again and again how "you kids today don't know how good you have it, because back in my day..." Yeah, times were tough back then, we know. But do we? The fact is, the lessons they learned and the advice so many of us passed on now seems like wisdom from the Dali Lama. Maybe its time we head back up the mountain and heed some of that sage advice now.

As I think of the way my Dad and Mom ran their household, and their parents before them ran theirs, I think that if we ran our family finances, our businesses, heck even our government this way, maybe we can turn things around. And now that we've come so close to hitting rock bottom, maybe we will.

I hold out hope that in 2009 we can pay down our debt, not buy it if we can't pay for it, start saving, and learn the difference between wants and needs and teach that to our children.

I hold out hope, that under the leadership of our new president, we will be inspired to work together, on both sides of the aisle politically, and that tolerance among the races, the sexes, the creeds and classes develops more quickly as the realization that we are all in this together sinks in.

I hold out hope that the lessons learned through our watching the results of greed and irresponsibility become conduits for change in the world, in our country and in our homes.

I hold out hope that these lessons will sink in sooner than than later, and the quick, decisive action on the part of our government leaders will turn things around a lot more quickly than those "experts" predict. Hey--it could happen! Heck, what do they know? This time last year, the supposed "experts" sure didn't predict this mess!

I hold out hope that somehow, some way, this is the year we make progress in the areas of education and health care.

And I hold out hope for our our our neighborhoods and in our families.

We are the greatest nation in the world because of our diversity. There is no one set of rules that will fit us all, and it is through compromise, acceptance, and tolerance that we will come out of this together, and stronger.

Here's hoping for a great 2009...for all of us.