Wishes for Good Fortune, Influence, Daily Kindness and Hope in 2018

I came across this rock outside a Jacksonville hospital a few months ago.   At the time, I thought the location outside the cancer wing was probably appropriate, but the image stuck with me.  In 2018, and in every year, I hope for something better.  Whether we’re talking about political leaders, financial goals, Fernandina or our health, my wish for all of you is for a better 2018.  May you have health and happiness in the coming year, may you and your family make the coming year better and may our communities improve with your help.    Hope is a powerful thing and finding people constantly willing to remember “hope” is the key to make things better.

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About 12 months ago, I spend an afternoon with my youngest son and his friend at a paintball range.   We ran, were pummelled with paint balls and I also took a potentially serious fall.  Beyond finding the fun a struggle, I fell on my right knee and came very close to doing enough damage to require surgery.  On top of an increase in weight and several shoulder surgeries over the past 5 years, I just wanted to be healthy.  One more injury was just incredibly depressing to me and I made a resolution in 2017.   Resolutions aren’t worth much if you don’t follow through, but I take my resolutions seriously.   In the last year, I’ve lost around 65 pounds and spent an average of 6 days a week in the gym.   My blood pressure is perfect, my cholesterol is under 200 and my resting heart rate is sometimes as low as 47.   At 54, following through with that single positive change made a world of difference to me and to my family.   My wife, noticing the changes, didn’t want to be left out.  In the spring, she began to spend time in the gym and my sons are even beginning to change.   One resolution makes a bigger difference than you might think and we all influence someone.

Our political leaders set the tone for a community, but I’m very disappointed in the ways elections can be influenced by slanted coverage.    I’ve noticed this in local and national media, as I’m sure you all notice.  Daily, I have conversations with my sons, often unaware of the missing pieces in coverage.  I’ve watched newspapers state a policy is to avoid endorsements prior to an election and identify writers….but then publish an unsigned endorsement, so glowing, the angels sing and the actual letters began to glow on the page.   I hope we manage two things in 2018.  As a community, we need to see candidates clearly.   Think about what they say and whether they have any agenda other than improving the community.  Think about coverage and whether information is biased.  The old “garbage in-garbage out” is true in our decisions at a voting booth.  If your sources are all biased, then the vote doesn’t make sense.   I hope to spend more time becoming an informed voter and giving back with connection to the community.  Whether I volunteer as a community moderator, publish posts here or find other volunteer opportunities, I will share rational views of the world and look for better ways to influence others.  On that note, I want to compliment another local blog, the Fernandina Observer.   Suanne Thamm, Susan Steger and their numerous volunteer writers, are one of the most unbiased sources for Amelia Island news.  While I’d love to be added to your reading list, I find their coverage, particularly of local political events, to be exceptionally accurate.

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I’m on my way out the door for a long walk on a cold January 1st, but think you can see where my priorities and, I hope, your priorities might be in the coming year.   We all need to think about the things that matter.  Health matters more than money.  Family matters more than work.    Life is short and we all need to use each opportunity to make the world a better place.   We all influence someone and all have opportunities each day.  Whether you take a neighbor something to eat, smile or wave to someone you recognize or stop to give someone a ride….small things make a big difference.

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