1. Basketball. Best game ever. And how ’bout those Warriors?
2. Books. I set a goal this year to read 75 books. Confession: I had to cram like crazy in December. Still, I made the goal. (Find me on Goodreads here. Read about some books I love here and here and here.)
4. Paul Thomas, M.D. Dr. Paul and I met for the first time in Salem in the middle of February. We both closed our offices for the day to testify in front of the Senate Committee on Health Care against a bill that would bar Oregon’s children from public and private school if they were missing just one vaccine. (Read my testimony here.) Paul has 11,000 children in his practice in Portland and his YouTube channel has over 67,000 subscribers. If there is one person in the world who is dedicating his time and energy to insuring the health and safety of America’s children, it is Dr. Paul.
5. The Kindness of Strangers. I interviewed all sorts of people doing kind deeds for an article I wrote on alternative ways to give during the holidays. There was so much suffering in 2015. And there was also so much goodness. Here’s even more proof that you can rely on the kindness of strangers.
6. Little Libraries. These have been popping up all over the United States and beyond. My daughter’s preschool has a little library that I keep stocked on Park Street just below the Boulevard in Ashland. Our town of only 20,000 boasts several other little libraries as well. For locals: there are two on Liberty Street and one on Clay Street, among others. Books are just so awesome (see #2). These libraries are a way to build community and share your love of reading with strangers (see #5). I love them.
7. Bacteria. I’m grateful for all the beneficial bacteria that cohabitated with me in and on my body in 2015 and I’m looking forward to another year of symbiotic living. Bacteria are us. Listen to my first ever radio feature about the zoo in you.
8. Learning about the dangers of acetaminophen. Although I’ve been researching and writing about autism for several years, it was only recently that I became aware of the possible link between autism and acetaminophen. William Parker, Ph.D., associate professor at Duke University Medical Center, explains it well in this referenced article. I’m grateful that in 2015 we threw out the Tylenol and all the acetaminophen-containing products in our house.
9. Our utility bills. We’ve been worrying about the drought in Oregon and global climate change. But instead of fretting and doing nothing, we decided as a family to try to be proactive and do everything we could to reduce our water consumption, energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions. Our utility and water bills were lower this year than they’ve ever been for our family of six, so I think our resolve has been paying off (or maybe my kids just don’t shower enough).
10. National Public Radio. I listen to it every morning, most evenings, and on the weekends. I’m constantly impressed by how NPR’s hardworking radio journalists report on and analyze the news. Find a station near you.
11. Homemade Halloween costumes. My littlest and I were Raggedy Ann. My 14-year-old was a ninja. My 12-year-old was headless. Our French exchange student was a zombie. Our costumes came out pretty well this year.
12. Big ideas. It’s good to brainstorm, talk about, and implement big ideas. Dr. Paul (see #4) and I had a big idea in 2015. It’s coming in 2016 to a bookstore near you. Our publisher wants us to wait on the big announce. Stay tuned. [Edited to add: The book is out now and has been an Amazon bestseller since its release. If you have a friend who’s written a book, here are 7 great ways to support them.]
13. Facebook. I know people like to complain about it, suspend their accounts, get mad that their posts aren’t seen by enough fans. And, yes, it can be a terrible time suck. But it is a **free** platform that connects you to people all over the world. I have no complaints. Facebook was my friend in 2015. (Here’s my Facebook parenting page. You can also follow the public posts on my personal page.)
14. “Healthy” gingerbread houses. We made our first gingerbread houses ever. We used this dough recipe, coconut chips and popcorn for snow, jolly beans (healthier jelly beans), fruit slices, pretzel sticks, pecans, and leftover Halloween candy.
15. Persimmons. The persimmon harvest in Ashland was fantastic this year. I didn’t care for persimmon when I first tried them when I was about 21 years old and three of my four children claim they don’t like them. But in my old age I’ve discovered that persimmons are the best fruit ever.
Looking for a new paradigm for the new year? Join me on Saturday, January 9th, 2016 at 140 S. Third Street in Central Point, Oregon, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. I’ll be giving a lecture entitled, “A New Paradigm for the New Year: How to Bluff, Cheat, and Fail Your Way to Becoming a More Successful Writer,” hosted by Southern Oregon Willamette Writers.