Inez Castor

We've survived the first of the big holidays in a season of excess and ambivalence. Some of us would just as soon skip December but that's not an option. We're going to have to get through the month one day at a time.

Our community, like our country, is divided and suffering.

Perhaps family members are far away and in danger. Some who were a single paycheck from homelessness last year have fallen off the edge into horror.

My grandmother knew hard, scary times, too. She raised six children

during the Great Depression, and lost a son during WW II. Life may have

been less complicated then, but it wasn't any easier.

Gram had a little technique for getting through life that might help

us now. I offer it up for your consideration. All it takes is a

commitment to do four simple things every day. Do something for

yourself. Do something for another. Sing a song. Say a prayer.

The something that you do for yourself can be anything from a cookie

with your afternoon coffee to warming your pajamas by the stove.

The important thing is to do it consciously, as a gift to yourself

and an act of love.

Doing something for another doesn't mean involvement with a

volunteer agency or organization, but a simple one-on-one act.

It might mean handing a bag with some fresh fruit and a couple cans

of stew to a Dumpster diver, feeding wild birds or offering to visit

with an elder so that a caregiver can slip away for a break. Again, the

important thing is that you do the act consciously, with your heart open

and loving.

Singing needn't - and in many cases shouldn't - be done in public.

Sing in the shower or in the car on the way to work.

No fair skipping this step; it may feel silly at first, but the act

of singing releases endorphins, the body's natural tranquilizers, which

is why even singing the blues feels so good.

Saying a prayer is a delicate suggestion, but like the other three

steps, we've got lots of leeway. The only criteria is that we

consciously talk about something on our minds and hearts to something

which is not human.

You can talk to a Creative Force, by whatever name you choose. You

can talk to a tree, a totem, a saint. I talk to all of the above - may

as well cover all the angles.

I submit for your consideration the opinion that every one of us is

doing the best we can with the understanding that we have.

No matter what our politics, our spiritual beliefs, our degree of

education, affluence or poverty, we really are doing the very best we

know how under trying circumstances.

If we commit ourselves to these four simple steps through the next

month, we'll find ourselves in the first week of January. From there, on

a clear day, you can practically see spring.

Reach Inez Castor, a longtime Triplicate columnist, at