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Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Year Ahead

It's Jan. 1, the first day of 2017.

I can't say I was sad to see the end of 2016. Like every year, it had its ups and downs. 

On the down side, I broke my wrist while on safari in Kenya and needed emergency surgery at 1 a.m. Despite having one of the top surgeons in Kenya do the surgery, and despite the bones now being fully healed, the wrist still isn't totally normal. But it does what I need it to do.

I dealt with an itchy rash on my back and sides for a good part of last year. And despite being seen by two physicians and two physician assistants who specialize in dermatology, I still don't know the cause.

Worst of all, I lost my sense of smell and sense of taste following a terrible cold in late July.  The specialist I saw said the virus most likely killed the olfactory nerve, so the odds of getting these senses back are not in my favor, but I haven't given up hope just yet. 

And of course, the biggest down side for me and millions of others is the election of a lying, ill-informed, arrogant buffoon to the highest office in the land.

On the plus side, I got to travel to several amazing places -- Ireland, England, Kenya, Costa Rica, India and South Africa, plus Monument Valley, Yellowstone and the canyons of the southwest -- this year. 

My daughter married a terrific young man who serves his country in the US Air Force. Their plans to deploy to Japan were halted when she developed a vision-threatening eye condition, but at least they still live not far from me. 

I had surgery on both eyes to remove cataracts, which significantly improved my vision.

I'm not going to make resolutions for 2017. I do, however, hope to lose a few pounds that I gained during this year's travels. I hope to improve my photography skills and get more of a following of my photography site ( All proceeds from sales of prints and other products will be donated to the Save the Elephants scholarship fund, to help deserving pasturalist students attend high school.

I hope the slaughter of animals for their ivory and horns, and for 'fun' by big game hunters, comes to an end. I would love to see more protections for America's great predators (bears, cougars and wolves), but that seems highly unlikely under the incoming administration

And course, I would love to see an end to the humanitarian crisis in Syria and in the Middle East at large.There is no place in a civilized world for terrorism. I don't care which religion people practice, but which religion to follow, or not follow, must be an individual choice. No one, not in the Middle East or in the US, should be forced to live according to the dictates of another's religious beliefs.

Rather than tearing people down, let us work to lift people up. If you don't like what someone else believes or practices, ignore it. Go on about your life. Does the fact that a gay couple wants to be treated the same way as straight couples are treated really impact your life? Does a gay couple's marriage threaten your marriage? I don't see how or why it would. So why try to take away rights we all should have. Don't believe in abortions? Then don't have an abortion. But don't take away that right from a woman who believes it is the best thing for her. The same can be said for other things, including religion. 

We humans can do so much better than we are doing to help people and the planet. Let's all devote ourselves to doing whatever we can in 2017 to help make the world a better, kinder place. A good place to start is working on ourselves. Are we the best people we can be? I know I'm not, and that's a very good place to start.