Resolutions for 2016 on Things That Really Matter

‘To Do’ in 2016: New Year’s Resolutions

2016 calendar from the Nature Conservancy

This year’s calendar from the Nature Conservancy

Walk more. Even though the general consensus is that we should walk 10,000 steps per day, the folks at Live Science point out that doing anything beyond what you usually do is an improvement. So if 10k steps seems daunting, try for 5,000. Then work up to a higher goal. Pick up an inexpensive pedometer or spring for a Garmin or FitBit wrist band to keep track of your steps and motivate you to keep moving.

Read something hopeful. Try Bill McKibben’s great memoir, Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist, the story of his experiences as a leader in the *successful* protest against the Keystone XL pipeline. Together, we CAN make a difference. Focus on success as much as on the work that remains.

Read it in paper. Research shows that sleep and concentration are negatively affected when we read on a digital, electronic device. Kindles and iPads have their place, but like Elvis, paper books will never die. Check out more medical benefits of paper.

Voting Rights demonstration in front of the Supreme Court

Demonstration in front of Supreme Court in 2013. Photo: David Sachs/SEIU

Support voting rights. This is the first big voting year since the Supreme Court removed key provisions of the Voting Rights Act. Now it’s very, very important for all of us to speak out if we see someone who is blocked or discouraged from voting.  Get informed about the sneaky ways that voting rights of certain groups are abridged. Read more on this important topic from Marc Morial, CEO of the National Urban League, writing in the New Pittsburgh Courier.

Live more sustainably. Use public transportation. Ride a bike or a scooter. Walk to work (See #1). Buy local foods and eat what’s in season. Don’t let the faucet run or leave the frig door open. Turn down the heat and put on a sweater (See Jimmy Carter, 1977, a president ahead of his time). Or be really ambitious and build an earthship.

And another thing — Don’t make your resolutions list too long or too complicated. A few things done consistently beat a huge list that just gathers dust.

What the Hobby Lobby Decision Means for Men

A Bible is not a health care plan

This is not a health care plan

Obviously, the Supreme Court’s decision to allow Hobby Lobby to deny female employees prescription drug coverage for birth control pills has a dramatic impact on women’s health. But it poses plenty of troubling issues for men too. That’s because the premise underlying the decision views the rights of a “closely held” corporation as superior to the rights of an individual. And not just any right — the right of an individual to control his/her physical person.

Had the “public option” not been dropped from healthcare reform, we might not have this problem. But as long as the US expects employers to shoulder the primary responsibility for providing health insurance, this conflict of values will be a source of contention. If the Hobby Lobby owners choose to ignore scientific fact, viewing some forms of contraception as abortifacients, that’s their prerogative. But that’s no reason they should block an employee’s access to a particular type of medication. Hobby Lobby is, after all, merely a middleman in the health insurance supply chain.

The Hobby Lobby decision raises several pertinent questions for all people. Can a “closely held” corporation…

  • Refuse to insure fertility treatments for men and women, since they interfere with divine will?
  • Refuse to insure Viagra and similar drugs that encourage male sexual activity beyond a seemly age?
  • Block procedures and medications to treat sexually transmitted diseases, clearly only contracted by the immoral and promiscuous?
  • Discriminate against gay men? Perhaps their flouting of Leviticus disqualifies them from receiving healthcare altogether.
  • Single out HIV and AIDS patients? (I wonder if one could get treatment on the condition that he or she proves the HIV was contracted via blood transfusion or another way that is acceptable to the employer.)
  • Take this idea beyond healthcare? For instance, do the Christian consciences of Hobby Lobby’s owners exempt them from public accommodation laws?

Bottom line: Do you control your body? Or does your employer? Or the state, in the guise of five old men clinging to inherited privilege?

It’s an easy out for some to say, “If you don’t like it, don’t work for Hobby Lobby,” but that’s not the point. We’re on a slippery slope and there are 48 similar cases working their way through lower courts right now. As Justice Ginsberg wrote in her dissent, “The Court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”

Yep, It Gets Better: Tim Anderson, Author of ‘Sweet Tooth’

Sweet Tooth by Tim Anderson. Book Party Invitation for May 28 at WiX.

Come to the book launch on May 28 at WiX in Chelsea, NYC.

Tim Anderson is the author of Sweet Tooth, a gay diabetic memoir and Tune in Tokyo: The Gaijin Diaries. He lives in Brooklyn with his husband, Jimmy, and his cat, Stella, and also writes young adult historical fiction under the name T. Neill Anderson. Tim blogs at seetimblog.blogspot.com. He is interviewed here by Michelle Tompkins, an award-winning strategic communications consultant and writer. If you are reading this, you’re invited to the Sweet Tooth book launch party on May 28, 6-9 pm at WiX Lounge in Chelsea, NYC.

MT: Tell us about Sweet Tooth.
TA: It’s a funny, gay diabetic memoir of adolescence and angst in the 80s. It starts with my diagnosis, at age 15, with type 1 diabetes, and the concurrent realization that I was just unavoidably, irrevocably gay. It was the worst summer ever.

MT: Did you face bullying?
TA: Oh sure. Some genius saddled me with the nickname Tinkerbell Tim when I was in 4th grade. It followed me until I switched schools in 8th grade to get away from the bullying. High school was much better because by then I’d found the punks and goths and thrift store bombshells/new wave weirdos that became my people.

MT: What are you passionate about?
TA: Health care. I can’t believe the health care debate in this country is so idiotic. Folks can say what they want about Obamacare, but for this type-1 diabetic it’s a dream come true. I didn’t have health coverage for years because of my pre-existing condition, which meant that I paid out of pocket for insulin, blood testing supplies, doctor visits, blood work, and all the rest of it–things I needed to merely stay alive–and then had to live in fear of something else happening to me and not having any coverage. I wish we had single payer, but I’m happy enough just living without worry.

MT: How did you get started writing?
TA: My first book, Tune in Tokyo, started as a series of emails I sent to folks back home while I was living and working as an English teacher in Japan. People really responded to the stories, so I wrote the manuscript but couldn’t interest a publisher. In June 2010, I self-published it and then miraculously got a great review in Publishers Weekly. That’s how Amazon Publishing found me. They reissued the book in November 2011 and brought it to a much larger audience.

MT: Humor is such an important part of your books. Do you use humor to deal with difficult situations?
TA: Sure. I don’t know another good way of dealing with them! I’m constitutionally incapable of not trying to lighten the mood by coming up with a zinger.

MT: What kind of role do music and pop culture play in your book?
TA: Music was a lifeline for me as a teen and Sweet Tooth is infused with music and pop culture. I was lucky enough to be coming of age during an era of really incredible music made by ultra-stylish weirdos. And it wasn’t just a soundtrack to what was going on in my life, it was also what introduced me to the playground that is the English language. It was the lyricists whose words I always had bouncing around in my head that got me interested in nailing down an emotion or state of mind via the perfect chunk of language. Morrissey is a master of that. The Smiths are the main touchstone in Sweet Tooth because the thematic content of so many of their songs dovetails so beautifully with what’s happening in the story.

I was also very moved by the movie Torch Song Trilogy, and not just because it was about being gay. It was the writing and the story and the zingers. And as dark as it got at times, it still had an “It Gets Better” quality to it that spoke to me.

MT: What are your hopes for your book party on May 28?
TA: That people show up!  Wix Lounge in Chelsea is a great space and a great sponsor. I used one of their web templates to design my own author site. I’m really looking forward to reading from the book–I haven’t done any reading events for it yet, so this will be its maiden voyage.