Last week, I got to wondering what I would resolve if I were living in Babylon some 4,000 years ago. That’s how long New Year’s resolutions have been around, according to historians, including those who dabble on Wikipedia.
As a Babylonian, would I resolve to stop sacking and pillaging for kicks? Maybe abandon my hopes of reigning over all of Mesopotamia? Stop griping about the Goddess of Inspiration messing with my pottery-making attempts?
Wary of making resolutions myself (I can't seem to wait to break them), I am going to go out on a limb this year—I vow to say "yes" a lot more and look happy about it. Lose the nay-saying, put-upon bit, in other words.
I have a dear friend, an artist who works in an art store, whose first words are whenever he comes on the phone, "Yes, I can help you."
It's never, "Can I help you?" He goes to the extreme of erasing all doubt about his intentions at the outset. I've always found that gutsy, generous and noble.
Speaking of gutsy, generous and noble, two people I interviewed last year personify those qualities, and 2012 looks full of promise for both. They are and .
Chef Jack, 11, who is home in Redondo Beach cooking up a storm following a bone marrow transplant at UCLA Medical Center last August, is looking forward to his first "official" cookbook signing at in Riviera Village on Jan. 22.
The book, Twist it Up, co-written with his mom, Lisa Witherspoon, is a compilation of recipes Jack has put his own "twist" on, he said. His love of cooking all started when he got hooked on the Food Network during frequent hospital stays. First diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) at age 2, he endured 39 months of chemotherapy, only to have the cancer return in 2006.
On Dec. 4, Jack celebrated his 100th day free of the cancer that struck him for the third time last year. He’s back whipping up delights with his mom (they made herb-crusted rib roast for Christmas dinner), and tossing the football with his dad, John, and brother, Josh.
"I am so thankful, for this is my best and happiest Christmas EVER!!!" he wrote in his Chef Jack blog.
As for Jack’s resolutions for 2012, he said, "I want to have my full strength back by next summer and my book to be a best seller." Proceeds will go to the Jack Witherspoon Permanent Endowment for pediatric leukemia research at Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach.
The other good news has to do with Beebe, a Redondo Beach resident who has been fighting breast cancer since 2005. The oh-so-popular gym director at in Manhattan Beach has undergone repeated chemotherapy treatments, which resulted in hair loss—something she manages, not with wigs, but with an ever-changing parade of fun hats and bandanas.
Beebe’s kids, Bret and Krista, along with and many others, keep the lively director in bandanas and T-shirts, which Bret Beebe designed and sells on his website. The proceeds go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
As for Karen Beebe’s resolutions for 2012, she aims to "live another year fighting my cancer battle with the warrior inside of me." Inspired by those with battles larger than her own, she said, "I want to remember how blessed I have been. Most of all I want to make more time for my dear family and friends that have made my battle worth fighting. Then I am going to buy more bandanas."
To find out what others are hoping to accomplish in 2012, I decided to talk to some folks around town, including many I profiled last year.
One, , a Redondo Beach Realtor whose upbeat attitude has carried her over many an obstacle, including going from riches to rags in Saudi Arabia, offered several resolution ideas in her Patch blog. She suggests hugging a senior, adopting a pet from a shelter, and being kind to oneself and open to others.
As far as Clay-Duboff’s personal resolution, she said she plans on "devouring life with eyes, ears, mouth and heart."
If anyone can do it, Clay-Duboff can. She proved that in 2000, when she had to reinvent herself after she and her daughter, Baxter, were left penniless in Riyadh after her husband died of a sudden heart attack.
Even city councilmen strive to do better. Matt Kilroy, who represents the Fifth District of Redondo, is on a mission "to embrace a healthier lifestyle," he said.
To do so, he plans to join "a [walking group], engage in a sport or physical exercise at least three times a week, and eat more fruits and vegetables."
Is Councilman Kilroy biting off more than he can chew? I just may check up on his progress in six months or so.
Barbara Meltzer, a Los Angeles publicist who helped with a story about making holiday cards for lonely seniors, had a novel resolution.
"I recently interviewed Margaret Mead's daughter, Dr. Mary Catherine Bateson, who told me that if we do not reflect upon our experiences, we do not learn from them and wisdom will elude us," Meltzer said. "So, one of my resolutions for 2012 is to carve time out of each day for reflection."
Meltzer, who represents Home Instead Senior Care in Torrance, a provider of non-medical, in-home care and companionship for older adults throughout the South Bay, called her two-hour interview with Bateson "truly ... a gift."
Tom Lasser, a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army and one of the leading sparkplugs behind the Redondo Beach Veterans Memorial, admitted failing his New Year's goal before he ever got started.
"I told my wife I would try and lose some weight for a resolution, but I'm fibbing,
"Lasser said without a trace of guilt. He did express a wish for 2012, however: "peace and a better economy."
, who leads the with the zeal of an activist and the energy of a cheerleader, has her hopes pinned on the local economy.
"My wish for the new year is that our local businesses prosper in 2012 and beyond!" Smeltzer said.
Charlie Scola, better known as of catering fame, has been involved with charitable endeavors for 30 years, including events such as the Jerry Lewis Telethon, March of Dimes, At Risk Youths, Feeding the Homeless, and Make a Wish Foundation.
PartyCharlie’s goal for 2012, he said, "is to get 12 friends to get involved in some type of a charity, even if it's donating one hour a month. What a wonderful world it would be if we all donated one hour a month."
Redondo's caterer and party-planner to the stars added, "You don''t have to be money rich to donate [time], just rich in your heart."
I can say "yes" to that.