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Well, it's a new year but it really doesn't feel much different from last year. Even though there's a vaccine, the coronavirus is still a gray cloud hanging over us. Combine that with resolutions that typically don't last more than a month or so, and it's not a good start to the new year.


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The new year is a date on the calendar. It would be like saying Wednesday really does not feel any different from Tuesday. It is a mindset and an attitude. And, obviously, yours is focused on the negative – not the positive.


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I know I should treat the new year as a new beginning. You know, the concept that's the basis of countless articles and news features. But it just seems like an almost impossible task.



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Speaking of difficult tasks ... how is the new computer? I know that you were dreading having to deal with it. In fact, you fought it until you finally had no choice.


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I know. But now I love it! It's so fast and much of what I thought was going to be difficult to learn was actually pretty intuitive, even for me. And I know this might sound crazy, but the best part was that since all of my old emails (all 25,000+ of them!) are now archived, opening Outlook every morning's no longer stressful.


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Makes sense. I am almost afraid to ask, but I know you were freaking out that the discontinued version of Franklin Planner software you use for all your "to do" tasks might not transfer. Any luck?


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Initially, I was freaking out because I had a ton of stuff on it. But then I started preparing for the worst – that everything would be lost – and that's when I realized that I didn't use or need most of it. Although all the old data did end up being lost, the software transferred. Now, I'm only using Franklin Planner for important things or where I need reminders. And I love seeing only a few tasks vs. long lists of things that would make me feel like a failure for not getting through them!


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So, let me understand. The new computer is like a clean slate. Where you can focus on important things versus agonizing over things that are merely carried over. Is that correct?


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Exactly! You call it a "clean slate" but I see it as a new start. It's just a coincidence that it happened at the end of the year. Anyway, it's great!


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OK, so how about taking that same approach to the new year?


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That's why you changed the subject to my new computer! You tricked me. But I'll forgive you because that's a really interesting way of looking at 2021. But life's not that easy. You can't ignore the past. With my computer I really had no other choice.


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You are not ignoring the past; you are merely putting it in perspective and hitting "reset" before moving forward.


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A reset … I like that! I know it may just be words, but that just seems so much better than a resolution.


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That may be because a reset allows you to truly start fresh, to focus on what things you want to do or do better. Since you are not overwhelmed with lists and "good intentions" from the past, it is easier to identify what is truly important. Including things that may have gotten "lost" along the way. And, that is before taking into consideration that the pandemic has changed everything.


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There's an understatement. When I was looking at my old lists it became obvious they were filled with many unimportant tasks. But what was really a wake-up call was realizing how many things that I took for granted – that I just didn't appreciate enough at the time and now miss.


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I think many of us do. It sounds like a cliché but a crisis forces us to think about what is truly important as well as what we take for granted. Often times it is a personal crisis, as you well know, but this happens to be a crisis that is impacting everyone.


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And almost everyone I've talked to, talks about how it's not only impacted their lives but made them relook at their priorities.


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That is to be expected. But, unfortunately, when a crisis passes, it is easy to fall back into our old ways. Except this crisis has been going on long enough that it is hard to remember what we used to consider "normal" …


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I know, and that makes me sad.


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I think that is where we started this conversation, with you choosing to look at the negative versus the positive.


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I'm sorry, but it's not easy to look at what we're all going through as something positive.


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Well, it is not something we would intentionally want to go through, but we are here now. And, 2021 is the start of a new normal.


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Well, in that case I think we should wish everyone a Happy – and Healthy – New Normal!


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You just did.

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I don't know about you, but I keep thinking about Jackie's Facebook post on Cinco de Mayo. I'm not sure why I even paid attention to the email notice that she posted something since, as you know, I don't "do" social media.


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Sometimes, inexplicably, something compels us to do things we would not normally do. Regardless, as soon as you forwarded it to me and I read her opening words, "Some may say I don't have a right to talk about this day …" I was curious. And then, infuriated.


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Based on the first words you said when you called me, it was obvious you were livid. Jackie may well be the most amazing person I know, not only for her knowledge and experience in the adult education world but for her creativity and passion. So, for someone, anyone, to say that she's less than who she is just because she doesn't speak her "so-called" native language is beyond unbelievable.


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It is ignorant. Insensitive. Naïve. Racist. Shall I continue? And, it says so much about the person making a judgment about her, based solely on her skin color and last name. As expected, Jackie was very professional as she did not say who said it, but for her to post something that personal means it hit a nerve.
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Is it possible that this summer might actually feel a bit more "normal" than last year?


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Define "normal," as I am confident we are not returning to normal, but instead are transitioning to a new normal.


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Fine. I just meant in comparison to last summer when I was hoarding toilet paper, fully stocking my pantry and freezer, and constantly wiping down seemingly every surface in my house.


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I guess you could call it "the summer of survival" since we were not prepared for the pandemic, especially not the lockdowns.


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Exactly! Which means that this summer will be more like a pre-pandemic summer in that we'll have more freedom, especially for those of us that are vaccinated. And it feels great.
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Something happened the other evening, and before I could become annoyed, I started laughing because I was "guilty" of the same offense … just not recently. Looking back at what, at the time, were my mortifying actions, I realized that anyone who drinks and types (whether email or text messages) has probably done it.

It has been proven that alcohol reduces your inhibitions – some people think they become charismatic, others become the world's greatest dancers (or lovers), while others believe they can see things with more clarity and need to share that knowledge. And, the list goes on. (I know that Red loves lists, but since she does not drink, the list would be impossible for her to understand … although many of us could see it as a checklist, "Yes, done that!")

So, have you ever been holding back your feelings (good or bad) about someone, and then one evening you have a little too much to drink and decide to let them know your inner-most thoughts? It could be a family member, a friend, someone at work, a romantic relationship (past, present, future "prospect"), or given social media, even a stranger. You let your thoughts and feelings run from your head (not sure the brain is involved, other than to help your fingers fly across the keyboard) through your electronic equipment … and then out into the world.

Sometimes you realize it almost immediately, and you futilely try to "recall" the message before they open it. More often, you do not see the error of your ways until the next day when you vaguely remember sending the message (or, possibly, multiples messages), clinging to the hope it was a bad dream … until you see it in your sent file. Or, even worse, finding a response, which you are not sure you want to read.

What made me laugh was that this time I was the recipient, not the sender (the first email was an expression of deep feelings, the second questioning if I had received the first one, both obviously alcohol-induced), and I decided not to let them off the hook. Since I had been out at a business dinner, several hours had passed, so I politely replied, questioning the reasonableness of each email and then asking if alcohol had been involved.

And, I could not help but wonder,

If there are car breathalyzer devices that require you to submit a breath sample, and if your alcohol level is at or above a preset level, it will prevent the vehicle from starting … should there not be similar devices that would inactive the "send" button on your computer or smartphone?

P.S. – I think Wikipedia's breathalyzer entry is fascinating, but doubt Red would agree.