Another year has arrived, and I am reminded that it is time to update my New Year’s resolutions! Most likely, some of mine are similar to or overlap with yours.

Resolutions: Fitness

First off, there is that pesky weight gain that coincides with fall celebrations. Whether they come from too much partying, excessive sweets, calorie-laden holiday meals, or simple inactivity, daily walks and other forms of exercise are part of the antidote.

My father, gone now for 25 years, would have been 99 years old this coming May. He had a sense of humor about my struggles with weight and other issues as a teenager, and his advice holds true today. “The best diet,” he said, “is pushing your self away from the table.” I’m trying to keep that in mind.

He also advised one not to be too self-conscious about perceived flaws. A blemish on the face? No problem. “A man running for his life isn’t going to notice.”

I am certainly no athlete, and am especially uncoordinated when it comes to any sport involving a ball. I love to watch good dancing, but try to teach me a simple step, and I am certain to mess it up.

Swimming pool at Solage, Calistoga, CA

However, I have a lifelong love of swimming. Add to that, a beautiful, uncrowded pool to swim in, good endurance to compensate for lack of speed, and the solution to excessive holidays might be close at hand.

Walking and hiking are also among my favorite activities. I should do it more. On Friday, I joined a group of new friends for a hike on Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County. Nearly 20,000 steps, 9.2 miles and elevation equivalent to 60 floors later, according to my iPhone, I came home exhausted and not a pound lighter. But what fun it was!

Resolutions: More walking, hiking, swimming and gym exercise in 2019. Sound familiar to you? It is to me, as this is one of my oft-recycled resolutions.

Resolutions: Environment

Reducing one’s carbon footprint can be difficult, especially on an individual basis. Some say that it is too late to reverse the damage to our planet from toxic waste generated by manufacturing, pesticides, plastics, fossil fuels and more. U.S. carbon emissions rose by 3.4% in 2018, the biggest increase in eight years.

World wide, the will to reduce carbon emissions appears to be outweighed by both practical and economic issues.

Recycle, Re-Use, Donate

While many things are beyond our individual control, we collectively can make incremental changes that will slow the degradation.

I have been a recycler since the late 1960s, back when only glass, washed, de-labeled, and sorted by color could be taken to the recycling center.   Now, many of our towns and cities provide pick-up bins for mixed recycling, trash, and compost and the job has become easier.

Plastics continue to overwhelm us. From shampoo bottles to prepackaged food products, plastics are with us everywhere, choking our oceans, proliferating in our trash. The amount of plastic that is re-used is extremely small.

One option to reduce plastic use is beeswax-covered cloth, sold in specialty stores and online. I received a packet as a gift in October, and it became one of my favorite gifts to give during the holiday season. The wraps can be used to cover bowls, wrap sandwiches, and protect cheese and other food products. Instead of plastic wrap, beeswax cloth keeps foods fresh, and can be washed and re-used.

What else can we do as individuals? Carry re-usable water bottles and eliminate plastic water bottles. Re-use or donate old clothes and buy less. Encourage local businesses, if not already required, to use compostable containers for take-out. Donate to reputable non-profit organizations that work toward a healthier environment.

Reduce use of automobile. When buying new, choose hybrids or electric.

Having grown up in suburbs, I have always loved to drive, especially on mountain roads. Driving gives one a sense of freedom and adventure. That said, on average, I have driven fewer than 2,800 miles per year in my now 16-year old car. It is a lovely car, the nicest I have ever owned.   Sometimes, when I see newer, larger cars, with back-up cameras, spacious seating, and better sight lines, I get a sense of envy.

However, I live in a city and can get around by bus or train relatively easily. It is not an enviable city to drive in, either, with tons of new construction, double parkers and other hazards for drivers. As long as I can drive, I will, but new cars or frequent use are not necessary.

Resolutions: Re-use, recycle, reduce, compost and eliminate food waste.  Use public transportation when practical to do so. Downsize and donate.

Resolution: Write!

This is the time of year that most reminds me of the importance of social correspondence. Those letters and/or notes recapping your activities of the past year are so welcomed and enjoyed.

Thank you to each of you who reads Social Correspondence, for being both a reader and a writer. I am very grateful. And for those of who have sent me letters and encouragement, I could not be more appreciative. It makes my day!

At a recent festive holiday party, a longtime friend of mine from the book industry expressed surprise that I write a blog about letter writing. “It must be all your friends who read it,” he remarked. The implication, while good-naturedly expressed, was that the topic is not of broad interest.

And indeed, when I started writing Social Correspondence, the audience appeared to be primarily people that I know.   Over the years, however, that has changed. Far more “unknowns” check in, sometimes finding and responding to posts from years past.  It is a bit of a mystery, but how wonderful to know that the topic of letter writing still has appeal.

Resolutions: Write more letters. Write more blog posts. WRITE!

And to each of you, I wish a very happy, healthy, productive, and fulfilling New Year.


After Three Years of Decline, Carbon Emissions Rose Sharply in the U.S. in 2018 by Kevin Flower. CNN, Jan. 8, 2019

U.S. Carbon Emissions Surged in 2018 by Brad Plumer. The New York Times, Jan. 8, 2019

U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Spiked in 2018 by Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis. The Washington Post, Jan. 8, 2019

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