Well, after the partying is done and the confetti is swept up, after the last tourists have returned to their homes and life in D.C. resumes its normal frenetic pace, the president, his administration, congress and the people need to get on with life. The rest of us… we need to get on with life, too.

We were all urged, during the president’s first official speech after his swearing in, to be willing to go the extra mile, to do more, to demonstrate that, while the citizens of the United States have many good things, they are also tough enough to do the right thing. Like my grandparents, who were young adults during the Great Depression, we need to focus on the really important things in life, pull together and support each other, and do what we can.

I don’t know about you, but I was motivated by this. I had been putting off finishing the readings for my homework this week — and finishing the short paper that is due tomorrow. I decided that, blurry vision or no (I have an eye infection that makes it hard to process what I am seeing), I could do this. So I did. The readings are done, the paper nearly so (just tying up loose ends).

What else can I do? I will meet in a couple days with a student I normally see on Monday because the holiday meant we didn’t have a chance to work together and I don’t want to go two full weeks. I will meet for a snack with a friend on Friday. I will spend some time tomorrow looking for my address book so I can send out some new year’s notes. Connecting with people seems to be a good thing to do right now.

And next? Try to figure out a way to study for the next set of tests I will take… contact the school to be sure I am on the right track with my studies. Get my financial aid form filled out as soon as our current year’s taxes are complete. Clean out the closet, finding the clothes that I no longer wear that may yet be useful to others. Get the rest of the bookshelves up on the walls so I can walk around the house in bare feet again — the boxes of books are a bit in the way. And pick up the knitting needles and the rest of that large skein of yarn…

These sound like such baby steps. But they are important, to my productivity and to my family and friends, and to the people in my community. I am not likely ever to make a direct difference in the life of somebody in Africa or Asia, or even on the other side of Washington state, but perhaps if this corner of the world is a little better because of my actions, then the rest of the world will follow.

Our children are watching us! Are we teaching them how to take charge of less-than desirable situations and make the best of them that we can? Or are we teaching them how to complain and wait for rescue (remember the princesses in Shrek III)? We don’t have to solve everything today, or overnight, we just have to make a start.

The next steps are the first steps.

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