Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Thousandth Man

A lovely poem was brought to my attention today by my uncle. Considering the tone and tenor of my posts lately, this seemed very apropos for the blog....

So rather than me going on and on -- for once! -- I will allow a far better writer than I to speak for me tonight:

The Thousandth Man
One man in a thousand, Solomon says,
Will stick more close than a brother.
And it’s worth while seeking him half your days
If you find him before the other.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine depend
On what the world sees in you,
But the Thousandth Man will stand for your friend
With the whole round world agin you.

“Tis neither promise nor prayer nor show
Will settle the finding for ‘ee.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of ‘em go
By your looks, or your acts, or your glory.
But if he finds you and you find him,
The rest of the world don’t matter;
For the Thousandth Man will sink or swim
With you in any water.

You can use his purse with no more talk
Than he uses yours for his spendings,
And laugh and meet in your daily walk
As though there had been no lendings.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of ‘em call
For silver and gold in their dealings;
But the Thousandth Man he’s worth them all,
Because you can show him your feelings.

His wrong’s your wrong, and his right’s your right,
In season and out of season.
Stand up and back it in all men’s sight –
With that for your only reason!
Nine hundred and ninety-nine can’t bide
The shame or mocking or laughter,
But the Thousandth Man will stand by your side
To the gallows-foot and after.

                                    Rudyard Kipling

Monday, January 30, 2012

Not In Our Control.... In Our Control....

Sometime this past weekend, it occurred to me that perhaps I should spend some time clarifying -- or explicating -- or some sort of fancy-schmancy word -- the whole concept of "not in our control".

This concept is something I have discussed a bunch of times on this blog, including in my blog about New Year's resolutions (read here) or my last blog about how fra-gee-lay our life is (read here). Yet I realize I have neglected to, well, "expound" upon the idea.

And all of you know how much I love to expound! Give me a soap box and I am on fire. Fire I tell ya!

Of course, in reality my desire to go into detail about the idea of things that are "not in our control" and things that are "in our control" is because I have spent this past weekend experiencing the fruits of Murphy's Cabin striking again..... That is, I have spent the past weekend without water -- or, without much water.


Not in our control......... In our control....

Other people's behavior ..... our reaction to other people's behavior....
(ie, telling the grumpy clerk to go stick it up their arse)

Making other people love us ...... loving ourselves......
(ie, Because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!)

Hollow's desire to wander ....... breathing deeply and only worrying a bit ....
(ie, she will come home, she will come home, she will come home)

Wildlife behavior..... our reaction to wildlife behavior
(ie, getting away from the very disconcerting sounds of coyotes nearby rather than remaining seated on the log, and posting on Facebook while yelling "Go away")

The extremes of weather...... our reaction to the extremes of weather
(ie, not leaving the door open to the basement "mechanicals area" on one of the coldest nights of the year)

Um, yes.

~ ahem ~

~ cough, cough ~

Oh fine. I admit it. I managed to leave the door to my basement mechanicals area wide open on Friday night. W-i-d-e open. And it was cold. Damn cold. Antarctica cold.

And believe it or not, I was not even drunk. At least not yet.....

It originally started out logically enough. I had run out of room upstairs to have my big coffee table in the living room, so decided to move it down to the basement. So after the pups' evening walk, I went to the basement, turned on the lights and opened the door so that I could go get the coffee table and carry it downstairs without having to set it down to get the door or the lights. I went back upstairs, tried to pick up the coffee table, managed to budge it only a smidgen, made a mental note to get help from a friend, and gave up. Shut the front door, and proceeded to get out of my outdoor clothes......


I woke up Saturday morning to discover no running water in the cabin. Um, crap.

I get dressed, go outside and downstairs, walk into the basement, and my first thought is not "Why the hell is the door open?!?" Nope. My first thought is, "Why the hell are the lights on?!?"

Yeah, not just a hat rack. And no, only a natural blonde when I my provided my age in months. Yeaaaahhhh.

As yes, it did actually take me until after I realized that the pipes were frozen to finally register that the door had been open when I came downstairs.

~ sigh ~

My first thought, was "I can handle this. Really I can!" ~ big smile of false confidence ~

Oh alright, I'll admit my first thought was actually "Frick. Crap. Shit." Possibly several times. Possibly in several different versions. Possibly in several different orders.

So. I went upstairs, turned the heat for the radiant in-floor heating of the room directly above the frozen pipes wayyyy up. Then proceeded to go take the desperate dogs for their morning walk. Returned, checked on the pipes. Yup. Still frozen.

And no. I was not surprised by this.

Went upstairs, found a hair dryer, and went back downstairs and began heating the pipes by hand. After five minutes, got bored of this.

Did I mention I have the attention span of a gnat? Oh yeah, this would probably be obvious since I managed to open the basement door and then completely -- completely -- forget I had done so not 3 minutes later.

Um. Yeah.

But, being a productive gnat, I began to search my basement for something more useful, like a space heater. As I had discovered I could have a firm belief in the previous owners having left behind lots of productive things. Seriously, I have half of a plumbing store's inventory down there!

And why yes, what did I discover in a back corner, on a top shelf? A space heater that looked like it was from the Eisenhower era. I suppose this should have concerned me..... But did I mention that I have the attention span of a gnat? So yeah, that thought only crossed my mind ever so briefly.... Instead, all I cared about was whether the damn thing turned on when plugged in.

Tada! Working space heater! So, I plugged it in and placed it next to a portion of the frozen pipes. I wiped my hands satisfactorily and went upstairs, half thinking I should whistle a little tune.

Which I did not do.

Instead, I got upstairs, felt a little less smug, and decided to call my ~ wonderful fabulous brilliant amazing ~ handy man. (And no, he does not read this blog, nor even know about its existence, so that was just gratuitous complimenting.)

I explained he had a stupid client (and no, I did not get any reassuring comments from him at this point, only a sort of snort), and was hoping I could check with him as to whether I was handling the situation, um, "correctly." He said he'd be over in a few hours.

I wiped my hands satisfactorily, and went upstairs to my office, half thinking I should whistle a little tune.

Which I did not do.

Instead, I got upstairs, began to tinker around in the office, and heard a strange noise. I cocked my head, and listened again. Huh. I think that might be the sump pump. Now why would the sump pump be going off?

Um yeah. Not just a hat rack. I swear.

HOLY CRAP!!!!!!!

I race down my spiral staircase, out the front door and down to the basement. Water is pouring, spraying, flooding every where. The sump pump is frantically pumping away to get the water back out of the basement. The space heater is sitting in the direct line of one of the sprays of water, the house furnace in another.

HOLY CRAP!!!!!!!

The culprit? The house's water system pump (which is not the pump that brings the water up the well and into the house, but the pump that takes the well water from the holding tank and pumps it up and into the house) has cracked. The water from the well holding tank is quickly flooding out and into the basement, while the well pump has turned on and is trying to pump more water into the tank.


I try to close the valve at the bottom of the water tank, but of course its frozen open. I find a valve labeled "deep well pump" and turn it off. The spray finally begins to lessen, and eventually becomes a drizzle. I'm soaked, the basement is soaked, and the house pump is a loss.

Frick. Crap. Shit. Now we're talking money.

Did I mention I have a wonderful fabulous brilliant amazing handy man? He showed up, assessed the situation (shook his head), took notes (shook his head), made a shopping list (shook his head), and said he'd be back (shaking his head).

He was back a couple of hours later with a small pump he had at his house, a bunch of additional plumbing supplies, and pizza. I offered a beer. Seemed a pretty fair trade.

He then worked in the basement jerry-rigging a temporary pump for me to ensure I had at least some water until the plumbing supply stores opened on Monday morning. He worked on a Saturday night from 7 pm until near 9 pm. When he left (shaking his head), I had running water.

Yep. Wonderful fabulous brilliant amazing.

Okay, so maybe the pressure was pretty nonexistent.... and by nonexistent, let me explain: water pressure is rated as "pounds per square inch" or "psi". Most pumps provide household water in the 40 to 60 psi range (ie, the pump turns on when the water drops below 40 psi, and turns off at 60 psi). The new pump? It was providing water at 5 psi.

Yes, you read that right: five. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

But.... I had water. I had indoor plumbing again. Wheeeee!

So, the lesson of the weekend.... as I sit here on a Monday night, having paid a pretty penny earlier today to buy a brand spanking new top-of-the-line pump, eagerly looking forward to my handyman arriving tomorrow bright and early to install said pump, is to remember one very very important thing:

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


That must be Italian.
Uh, I think it says FRAGILE dear.
Oh, yeah. 
- Conversation between Mr. and Mrs. Parker in "A Christmas Story"
Wow. What can I say. I fully intended to get back to writing about the actual cabin, and stopping these random philosophical (deep, meaningful, profound.... bwahahaha!) postings. And then, well. As the philosopher says, "Shit Happens."

(Clearly that philosopher knew my mother -- but not so well that he didn't realize the proper response is "Oh Shit.")

I gotta be honest, I was already in a pretty weird emotional state last weekend -- either too much drinking or not enough. Too much company or not enough. Too much life or not enough. Something. I was personally going with the classic theory of "ignore it, and maybe it'll all go away."

~ snort ~

As really, does that ever work?

Of course not. In fact, this brings us to the number one reason why I believe God actually exists: because there must be someone up there with a damn wicked sense of humor. Damn wicked. And yes, I do realize that there are some holier-than-thou folks who are going to say that I just doomed myself to hell by using the word "damn" in the context of God.


(And in case you have no idea what that means, as I suppose one might if you were that type, that means I am sticking my tongue out and making the loudest sound I can by blowing air out over said tongue.)

You know what? I believe in a God with a sense of humor, a sharp, witty, and, yes, a sometimes wicked one. Someone who loves us unquestioningly and unconditionally, but who is also a full, robust, personality -- who can appreciate pain, loss, despair... and love, joy, happiness.... and humor.

Must have a sense of humor. (First on just about every one's dating list, right? So why not in your "God list"?)

But, I digress. Only sort of this time, as really -- I've been thinking a lot about life, God, and fragility. And that's some pretty deep shit.

(Oh... sorry, mom. That is actually not particularly an appropriate use of the word in her lexicon. She actually did not think very highly of curse words, but she did reserve the right to use one -- if absolutely necessary and appropriate...)


On Monday I found out an ex-boyfriend of mine had a stroke over the weekend. He was only in his early 50s. His situation is better, though it is still very touch-and-go in terms of long-term progress. It appears his mental faculties are in pretty good shape, but his physical status is very much up in the air, and most likely not going to be very good.

He was my first "serious", "real", "talk about marriage" boyfriend. Obviously, that was all he was, as I started this out by noting he was an "ex" boyfriend. Yet, that initial status, no matter how long ago it was, means he will always hold a special place in my life, and in my heart.

I firmly believe in the idea that people come in and out of your life for a reason -- and no matter how short or long of a time it is, they can still have a profound impact upon you, and so always maintain a starring role, even looking back, at that moment in time. 

I suppose this in some ways references back to a few of my other postings... Like about Transitions and about Friendships. Hey, at least I'm consistent in my thinking!

In reality though, what this post is really about is the fragility of life, or life as we know it.

I know that the stroke of my ex-boyfriend really threw me for a loop. At first, I was not sure why. It had been years since we dated -- and although we had always maintained a friendship, it had been appropriately distant, though warm, as our lives changed and progressed without each other. We were different people, originally and as time passed -- there is a reason why things had not worked out. And yet, he was a starring role in my life at one point, and so he always remained a part of my life.

That is why it finally hit me: this changed everything, on so many levels. For me, it was not about the "what ifs" at all (though I think several of my friends may have wondered about that). It was that a character in the play of my life, a character I always just assumed would always be there, always be the same -- and I suppose I "depended upon" that being true -- was no longer what it was, was no longer who he was. It was a stark illustration of how quickly life can change. For him, certainly, but for every one.

I suppose it's a bit like the "Sliding Doors" theory (see the Transitions and Other Profound Crap post again).... In a moment, the smallest -- or biggest -- of things can change everything, alter the way our entire life plays out going forward.

His life is changed irrevocably. And it was an absolute reminder and message to the rest of us how quickly our lives can change irrevocably -- or even end. Our lives are fragile. Fra-gee-lay...

I did not make any New Year's resolutions, as I really don't believe in them (see here). But, as I noted in that post:
It just means to focus on things that are a bit more in our control. Such as we cannot even hope to "be happy" -- but we can hope to focus on being a better person, and in so doing, find ourselves a happier person.

And clearly I was on to something. This past week was a horribly stark reminder that things are most definitely not in our control. Nor are they on our time frame, or based upon our will.

Oh yeah, that God thing? Remember the classic saying having to do with God, stated in Christian religions (though clearly referenced in all religions that I am aware of) as:
Not my will, but Thine, Be Done.
- KJV, Luke 22:42
 Um yeah. Not.In.Our.Control. Whether you believe or not. Not.In.Our.Control.

Which means I am back to what seems to be the overriding theme of my posts lately, and, in fact, Murphy's Cabin itself: Things are not in our control, so we need to focus on only what we can control. And that is, noting what is truly important in life.

This is usually not what we think it is -- as it is most definitely not inanimate objects. Think animate objects.... Think people, friends... Think not sweating the small stuff. Think living life to the fullest, because you never know when everything might change irrevocably.

I think my grandpa put it best:
Live every day as if you are going to die tomorrow.
Prepare every day as if you are going to live forever.

For life is fra-gee-lay, and we have no idea how many days, or even hours or moments we have left to share with the truly important things (people) in our life.

So go. Go now. Go and share. Go and live life fully. Share your love, your life, and let the people who are important know that they are. Live. Joyously and with reckless abandon. Go.



Thursday, January 19, 2012

Make New Friends, But Keep the Old....

I have been thinking about friendship a lot lately.

Obviously, as most of you have figured out, a lot has been going on in my life the last couple of years, all starting from when my mother died in 2009. Needless to say, it's been a bit of a rough patch. Not as rough as many other people I know (and whom I send my love and thoughts to now, again), but it still has not been all Pollyanna.

Who really is an awful awful kid to read about. I mean, seriously? That kid needed to be taken out back and shot, not forced down so many of our throats.... Ugh. I really think my hang-up on "blond perfect smiley happy shiny women" started because of that book. I much preferred Shel Silverstein's little girl:
There was a little girl who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead
And when she was good she was very very good
And when she was bad she was horrid
Sorry. Yet again, an irrelevant tangent.... I'm pretty good at those.... As a girl once said to me my freshman year at college: "Do you ever take a breath?"

Umm. No. Not really.

Back to the point of the post: friendships.

I am sure every one has heard the lyrics:
Make new friends
But keep the old...
One is silver,
The other, gold.
I will admit that while I always really liked those lyrics, I'm not completely sure I ever truly understood them. At least not until I got older, and found out a few truths about life.

It is said that you never know who your true friends are until you are in the foxhole -- and you look around to see who is in there with you. Of course, when you add in that I grew up in Washington, DC -- and yes, the city proper, not in one of the surrounding suburbs -- the situation can only seemingly get worse. After all, the most famous quote about Washington and friendships is:
"If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog."
-- Harry Truman
I have two. Dogs, that is. So I am soooopah popular. Really. Up there with the "blond perfect smiley happy shiny women"....

Clearly though, friendships can be an uphill battle. For every one, not just those of us who fancy ourselves "creative, artsy, sensitive" types....  (Stop griping you people who know me: okay, okay, I'll take out the "sensitive" part....!)

And I can say from personal experience -- and from talking to every single one of my friends, and most of my acquaintances -- it is very very hard to find those people who will be right next to you in the foxhole. Sometimes it is just because people don't know what to say or do during a crisis, sometimes it is because you were not as good of friends as you thought, sometimes it's that the other person is not as good of a person as you thought. Whatever the reasons, when the shit hits the fan, it can sometimes be a very lonely place in that foxhole...

The truth be told though, the most important thing to acknowledge in this discussion is that it is not always the people you have known the longest that are there in the hole with you -- sometimes it is someone you just met, and it may surprise the hell out of you...

Which is why the song is really so good.

Old friends often prove to be incredible because they've known you for so long. They know your flaws, faults, frustrations -- your bitchiness, your short temper, your impatience -- they know your good points, your positives, and your charm -- your humor, your quirks, your affections. They have been around so long, they actually have their own skin in the game. They have had the chance to weigh all your good points against your bad points, and make an informed decision that they want to still hang around you. They are most definitely gold.

New friends though have not yet had the chance to weigh the good against the bad. They may not know you very well at all, they may know only one side -- or the other. They don't have any skin in the game, and may not even know when something is wrong, let alone what to do about it or why to care. Yet they can offer so much, reflecting a new side of yourself, teaching you new things about life and your own personality, bringing out new qualities. The good ones are definitely silver -- so valuable in and of itself -- with the chance to become gold.

Many years ago, I made a conscious decision about friendships: I was no longer going to bother being friends with the people who were "out of sight, out of mind" friends. The kind that were tons of fun when you saw them, but rarely made the effort to be in touch with you when you were not around. And it's not like you had to move away to be "not around"! The ones you could pretty clearly see would never ever be in the foxhole. I decided that it was no longer (if it ever was!) worth the idea of having "quantity" in friendships, but only "quality".

It was not that my life had gotten any busier, and I was just trying to focus on a few people with quality effort on my part -- it was that I realized I was surrounded by a lot of lovely people, and also by some really really key people. So no matter how much -- or how little -- time on my hands, why not focus it on those key people?

It is not that love is a single pie that gets divided. On the contrary, I believe very strongly that love only increases exponentially. So if one is surrounded by lots of really key people, you will have plenty of time, effort and love to share.... So the matter is the quality of the friendship -- not the amount of love, effort or time.

And my, did I have that quantity versus quality thrown in my face in the last few years.... No matter how well prepared you are for the idea that friends may not prove to be good friends when you really need them, it still hits you with pretty brutal force when you look around the foxhole....  But this is not a post to complain about those friends who have proven to not be there during difficult times. This is a post to highlight those that were...

In the past few years, rather than be disappointed or depressed by how few people really proved to be there at times when I most needed a hand, I have been incredibly touched and grateful to those people who were there. In many cases, pleasantly surprised even!

There were friends who went above and beyond -- and continue to do so. Friends without whom I could not have survived, without whom I would not be the person I am today. Friends who, like the religious poem "Footprints", carried me when I thought I was beyond any more effort. This included friends I had known for years and friends I had only barely gotten to know. This included family (of course) who proved to be friends, as well as related. It includes people to this day who have taken the time to read my blog posts and Facebook posts, and to send notes of concern -- despite any real day-to-day interactions other than digitally.

Basically, it was every one who took the time, no matter how small or large, to say "I see. I care. I want you to know you're not alone." As the foxhole can be quite dark, cold, scary and lonely. So it is amazing how much even little things can mean -- and how much their absence can really hurt.

And the friends who did the large things? The above and beyond things? They have reserved a special place in my heart, and in heaven.

If they believe. If they don't, well... then in wherever the hell they want to be!

So tonight, take the time to reflect upon the friends who have been there for you during tough times. Take a moment to say "thank you" to them. Toast them, praise them to any one who will listen, and say a little prayer of gratitude for how very lucky you are to have them....

As when you look back at your life, you will see those footprints in the sand, and see when you walked with someone, and when you were carried by them.....

Monday, January 9, 2012

If I didn't need the exercise....

I went out of town this past weekend for one reason, and one reason alone: to be able to watch tv.

Yep. I choose to live in an isolated cabin with no television and barely any internet, and yet.... And yet sometimes ya just gotta watch....

Okay, so it's actually not just that. It's because it was the first weekend of playoff games in the National Football League. And I happen to love sports.

Okay. Not all sports. Professional basketball is just useless to me: put 100 points on the board and 2 minutes on the clock, and then maybe we have a game and I'll watch. Otherwise, with such a short shot clock, there is no strategy, no plays -- just egos running up and down the court showing off.

But there are some sports I do just love, and will go out of my way (ie, drive an hour to a friend's house) to watch: Professional and college football. I also really like college basketball and professional baseball, but not necessarily enough to drive an hour.

I will be honest, there is a much deeper reason and meaning to my love of sports: my father. For those of you who have never heard of the writer, philosopher and thinker Michael Novak, he is worth researching a bit, and you can check out his website here. And I swear it's not just personal bias.

Okay, maybe just a little....

I know I have talked repeatedly about my mother, and all the things she has given me and taught me. My father was also a critical teacher in my life, but I will admit that the one thing I associate most with him is sports. He, of course (he is a writer people!), wrote about it (see here), a book chosen by Sports Illustrated as one of the top 100 sports books of all times.

But he also watched it religiously, played it, lived it. So if you wanted to spend time with dad when he was in town -- you did as well. He taught me how to focus and how to ignore fear by throwing baseballs straight up in the air as high as he could and having me catch them barehanded. He taught me plays, strategy, rules and regulations. He taught me to note the camaraderie of the fans, the importance of the team working together, and the anticipation and tension and release that occur during every game -- a million times during every game -- and the joy of those lessons and those sensations. He taught me that sports were sacred, and bonding....

Which just means that while I might allow myself to skip most of the season nowadays, I will absolutely ensure I can watch my team(s) in the playoffs.

So I basically invited myself over a friend's house, and she and her husband generously and graciously took me and my two pups in for the weekend. It was lovely. Especially since they happen to have a huge yard with an 8 foot high perimeter fence. Yep. Hollow proof.

And I got to watch the games. And what games they were this weekend! Okay, well -- there was one game that was actually interesting!

More than that though, I watched "teevee".... And um, that was where the problem is, and a reminder of why I have so far chosen not to install satellite television at the cabin: I sat there and watched and watched and watched.

It didn't seem to much matter what I watched (though I'm partial to crime shows and home shows), I was just mesmerized. I didn't manage to go to bed before 3 am a single night while I was there. It was delicious, it was awe-inspiring, it was awful, and dangerous.

I barely walked the dogs (I might miss the end of a show, or the next one on after that one, or a commercial!). I barely showered, I didn't eat full meals. I sat and I watched....

I did nothing. And loved it. 

Which is probably why I fully deserved my arrival back home at the cabin this evening.

I open the vehicle doors, let the dogs jump down, grab one bag and turn to go open the front door, and.... out of the corner of my eye I see Rilke barely in view up the drive, and Hollow sprinting after him.

~ sigh ~

As a friend pointed out -- they surely had lots and lots of peemail to catch up on. Umm yes. Clearly their inboxes were quite backlogged. As I saw no sight of them for an hour.

And then just now, on our late evening potty break? Well, Rilke came back when called. Hollow did not. She still has not made an appearance....

So it's become even more blatantly clear to me: these dogs do not need me. Frankly, they are pretty happy with the toys, treats and dog food.....but I think, given a choice, they'd probably actually hesitate.... Clearly they do not need me for their exercise or adventures.

Which just means.... If I didn't need the exercise, I would give up worrying about ensuring they have at least 2 hours of vigorous exercise every.single.day. I would give up on worrying about them period -- and just hope they have enough sense to come home at night before I lock up for the evening.

But the problem is? I, ummmm... do need the exercise. And I ummmmmm.... do need them. I need the camaraderie, the sense of a team working together... And yeah, probably the anticipation, tension and release of their disappearances. Well. Maybe not that.

~ sigh ~

Still waiting on Hollow.....

Oh wait, I just saw that the motion sensor light by the front door has just come on....

Collar cams. Yep. Collar cams.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Ringing out the old year....

New Years....

Of course tradition says that New Year's Eve is supposed to be this grand event -- a predictor of the entire year to come in fact.

Bah humbug.

Or, in honor of my mother, (bull) shit.

Like all other holidays nowadays, it's a manufactured thing that just puts a lot of stress and strain on the time, in this case, the end of the year....

Certainly New Year's is a good excuse to reflect back upon the year that just passed. To acknowledge our mistakes during the year, and focus on what lessons we can learn from them. To celebrate our accomplishments from the year, and focus on what lessons we can learn from them.

For many people, all of this is summed up with making "New Year's Resolutions". Capitalized of course because some people really do think of this as some grand concept. Unfortunately though, since most people who do resolutions do not put the required time and thought into their actual resolutions, it's not a grand concept at all.

The most important thing for all of us to understand is that we do not control and can barely impact "external" factors -- we can only control and impact "internal" factors. And even then, our actual influence upon these internal factors is considered rather tiny.

My acupuncturist recently told me that in Chinese medicine, they believe that we only control perhaps  5 percent of ourselves. We are simply not in touch with the other 95 percent. That means there is a LOT out of our control...

That also means that any New Year's Resolutions hoping to control this 95 percent, no matter how well intentioned, are bound to fail. But, what does this mean?

Does it mean to not make resolutions? No. Not in the least. It just means to focus on things that are a bit more in our control. Such as we cannot even hope to "be happy" -- but we can hope to focus on being a better person, and in so doing, find ourselves a happier person.

Indeed, that is the point: so many times our desired end results are achieved through what may seem like circuitous routes. We cannot just make ourselves happy -- but we can focus on making small changes within ourselves that ultimately make ourselves happy, and our lives better.

We can also focus on what is truly important, not what may seem important in the moment. For example, ourselves, our friends, our loved ones.

It is a lesson that was certainly emphasized to me tonight. I was absolutely ready to feel sorry for myself since I was spending New Year's eve alone, in front of the television. Instead, several friends from across the country decided we could all spend New Year's Eve together via Skype. So I did not spend the night alone at all -- I spent it with dear friends, feeling loved and cherished, and offering the same in return. Exactly how one should ring in the New Year -- exactly the sort of predictor of the new year that one should hope to achieve.

So, as the new year begins, remember to offer thanks and love to those who made the past year bearable. To those who were in the foxhole next to you, and who loved you not just despite your worst moments but even because of them, to those who offer equal and mutual friendship....

And say "buh bye" to 2011, and hello to a year filled with possibility.....