Fewer dogs won’t bring happiness, but this might

My new year's resolution to focus on the good things like paid leave

I need to stop griping about all the people who bring their dogs on public transit. I got particularly grumpy the other day when a woman had her dog sit on the seat next to her while weary commuters stood in the aisle. But the griping and grumpiness doesn’t cause the people or dogs to behave any better. So I’ve been thinking I’d make stopping griping my New Year’s resolution. That seems more achievable than my usual lame attempts to change unhealthy habits – and might even help me maintain the positive outlook that’s supposed to improve health and longevity.

I’ve also been thinking about my hopes for 2020.

I hope that my vegetable garden produces abundantly, that my son and his wife get busy producing my grandchildren, and that the Mariners manage a winning season.

I hope that Washington State’s new Paid Family & Medical Leave program is spectacularly successful and that everyone who needs it signs up.

I hope that employers across the state encourage employees when they take leave and welcome them back when they’re ready to return. Healthier, less stressed people who feel supported at work make more productive and loyal employees, after all, and there’s even a break on premiums for smaller businesses.

I think about Selena who returned to work four days after giving birth so she could save her precious few weeks of paid leave for when her son was released from neonatal intensive care; Evelin whose father ended up in the emergency room multiple times because he couldn’t afford time off work for the surgery he needed; Sean who ruined his own health trying to work full time and arrange round the clock care for his dying father; the many small business owners who urged the legislature to act so that their workers could have these life-saving benefits; and so many others whose stories inspired those of us who kept coming back to the legislature year after year until they approved a comprehensive program.

I hope all of them are happy and thriving today.

I hope that our culture begins to value caregiving as the necessary, valuable work it is, and to applaud rather than disparage those who take time to care. I hope that all babies, not just those born lucky, get the boost to health and well-being that comes from having their parents with them for the first months, that our elders have the support of loved ones through their last days, and that everyone with a health crisis has the time they need to heal.

I hope that our elected leaders in city hall, Olympia, and D.C. make progress against income inequality, systemic oppression, and climate change – and that we the people encourage them to make even more.

I hope that everyone everywhere manages to find at least a few moments of joy, peace, and love – including all of you who are reading this.

Happy New Year.

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