Ten Ideas
Off The Wall, January 01, 2010

I almost know what you were thinking when you opened the newspaper today and turned the page to my column. You expected to read about New Year’s Resolutions or maybe, comical comments made by my Aunt Ilse in response to my 52 Off the Walls I wrote in 2009. Surprise… Sorry to disappoint you. Some newspapers may repeat the same old same old every year, but I’d like to come up with something of originality. After all, I believe that is what you expect of me. So, I thought I’d present “ten” ideas for the new year that may add a spark to your life, a deviation from the norm, so to speak.

Here’s an easy one. Write or better yet, type 2010. Had to think a little bit on that one didn’t you? I’ll admit. I had to, even if you didn’t. Aren’t there just a few like me?

Here is one of my favorite things to do – as a 2010 plan, take a walk on Creekside Path. It runs parallel to Loyalhanna Creek. One can easily access it from Harrison Ave. There is parking next to Opco. A nice wooden sign is displayed at the entrance to the path. Take a friend or the whole family. I often see owners walking their dogs. It is relaxing, scenic and a good place to meditate if you decide to go alone. And if you have heard negative rumors, put them to rest. They are unsubstantiated.

If you are looking to eat better, get away from the sugar substitutes that come in colored packaging, and give Stevia a try. Some have told me it is a tad sweeter, but then, don’t add as much to your food. One of the beverage companies now uses the middle of its plant in its drinks. That tells me efforts are being made to get away from the unhealthy products. I have been using this substitute for years when I want to add a touch of sweetness to cereal, oatmeal or iced herbal teas.

Be more hospitable. Now, that’s definitely a 2010 idea. If you don’t know the person you may be sitting next to at a club, city council meeting or at church, in particular, tell him (or her) your name and ask him theirs, so everyone becomes familiar with everyone else. Next time you see him (and you don’t have a senior moment), greet him by name.

Maybe, for example, if you are walking on the Earl G. Dalton Fitness Path through Legion Keener Park, and you see two girls walking together, you may want to call out, “Hi Karen and Kathy,” and they just may respond to your friendliness.

When was the last time you got a formal invitation to come and worship at Holy Family Church, 1200 Ligonier St., Latrobe? You say, this is your first? Then make the best of it and drop in for a visit. Nobody is barred from entry. Masses are Saturday, at 4:30 pm, and on Sunday, at 8 and 10:30 am and 6 pm. Youth are invited to attend Sunday evenings in the Social Hall at 7 pm. There, now it’s official. Can’t say no one asked you to come!

I want you to try one food that you thought you may not like to eat just by hearing about it or looking at it. I’m only asking that you try one for the whole year. Now, how hard is that? I’m tired of hearing people complain how “yucky” foods are they’ve never eaten before. The moral of the story – either eat it or complain not!

That brings me to the next subject that is aggravating at best. Many have gotten into the habits of putting others down for one reason or another. Not good, hear me? Not good at all. If Emma Jean feels she has to put down Billy Joe because his ears are too big, and his nose looks like it was rolled up in a hair net, let me put it to you young lady. God created Him that way. Be kind instead of insulting.

And since I am talking about our Heavenly Father, I want to point out something that many people have failed to realize. In everything we do, He is taking notes, and we will be held accountable for all our actions come judgment day. Now, many of those things can be erased from our slate if we go to confession. I don’t know about you, but the only time my plate is clean, for the short duration that that occurs, is right when I come out of the confessional. I love those so many minutes of getting my act cleaned up. I have no doubt that you may feel just as free as a fish swimming downstream in the clear mountain waters, where threats exist not, and the exhilaration is at its peak.

On the other hand, I can’t be sure if that is the way a fish may feel, for I never was a fish, and since I never was one, I can’t speak comparatively. But let’s try, just for the heck of it!

- Paul J. Volkmann
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