As so many of us are contemplating what we want out of the new year that’s dawning, I found myself making a list of what I managed to get accomplished over the last year, which happened to be my 50th.
While I didn’t do anything that by conventional standards was notable or headline-worthy (no bestsellers, no blockbuster deals, no gorgeous bouncing babies, house purchases, etc.) I was happy to see, in review, that it’s been productive–and more importantly, productive in a way that helps other people, my own personal mandate.
(Note: Only one of the things on this list involves making money. Also note: This list is not in any particular order.)
1. The cooking group I lead at the Downtown Women’s Center (for women in need) helped them win a $25k grant from the Halo Foundation. We can’t solve homelessness by making dinner for people in need, but we can feel a part of our community and provide a healthy meal for those who don’t have access to what most of us take for granted. Even better that we stoked their coffers, too.
2. I researched and spearheaded a movement that led to a rent abatement for over 100 of our neighbors due to the loss of our beloved swimming pool and other services here on my beloved Bunker Hill. (I also managed to keep swimming, elsewhere.)
3. Working with another neighbor, we managed to clean up a deteriorating area of our community and involve/alert local officials, as well as draw media attention to the problem.
4. I’ve been working with Bhutanese refugees to help them with their all-volunteer media service that chronicles their resettlement around the world, a fascinating experience for me and important work for them. Very interesting counterpoint to what I encountered while in Bhutan volunteering at a radio station there.
5. Of all the interesting places where I am fortunate to be asked to talk about the themes in my book, Radio Shangri-La, an all-girls Catholic school in San Diego and a gathering of hundreds of youth at the Kroc Peace Center were two highlights. Love talking to kids.
7. I interviewed Michaela Haas, the author of a compelling book about female Buddhist spiritual leaders, at a meditation center.
8. Along with my brother and boyfriend, we wrangled my parents and elderly aunt to a baseball game (a dream of theirs to see the new stadium in Miami.) Later in the summer, we corralled my boyfriend’s infirm mother for a fun outing that involved ice cream and “freaking unbelievable hamburgers.” Seeing her laugh was worth the entire trip.
9. I’ve read a lot, lot, lot, partially for my research on my Joan Kroc book but partially just because, which makes me happy especially when I hear people complain they don’t have time to read; I feel lucky that I do make time for this.
10. My part-time paying job, at KCRW, allows me to meet and talk with incredibly interesting people doing incredibly interesting things, usually having to do with art, usually mostly underfunded and otherwise unpublicized. Being able to share those conversations with the radio-listening and Web-viewing public is an honor and a delight. It’s a rewarding (to me) application of my media background–which I resolved to put to better use after my book sold and allowed me to “retire” from daily news back in 2008.