I think at the beginning of every new year, we inevitably reflect on the joys (and let’s face it, some of the struggles) of our past year. We know what worked…and what truly did not. After this mental inventory, we set our minds to the things that we may hopefully improve upon, as we dive into all that’s ahead of us in 2020! Simply put, new year, new you. I, like all of you, do the same. But, as seen in my new initiative supporting shelters and their beloved animals (Going to the Dogs), I’m also trying to turn my attention to the greater good and what we can all be doing together to make this world a little bit of better place for everyone.
When I look at the daily discord and turmoil on the news, I wonder with increasing urgency, what will it take for us to all come together (because we all have so much more in common as humans than our current divide infers). I know, I know, these are lofty, complicated questions and they are a Mount Everest in terms of the problems we face and the solutions we so desperately need.
So where do we begin? My personal answer is to start small (and local) and get back to basics – one being, civility. When did we get so lost? When were manners dismissed as an important foundation of our society? And frankly, why are people so very comfortable being so darn rude? Why do some feel that just because a platform for expressing their opinion exists, they are guaranteed the right to spew out whatever “brain fart” (as my partner calls them) they may, without the discipline of verifying sources and fact-checking in regards to the veracity of the statement?
I have two books that I enjoy reviewing for a dose of common sense (as well as a before-bed giggle, they are filled with both wisdom and humor) – Lucinda Holdforth’s Why Manners Matter: The Case for Civilized Behavior in a Barbarous World (2009), and of course the very handy Life’s Little Instruction Book (H. Jackson Brown Jr, 1991). With 10 million copies sold in 33 different languages, chances are, you’ve heard of it!
Holdforth maintains (and I tend to agree) that manners “require a range of attributes that are deeply unfashionable today. Patience. Self-control. Awareness of others. A readiness to make those small Emersonian sacrifices”. A self-professed potty mouth (which caused her family to pause when she announced she was writing a book about manners!), she is not speaking of Emily Post-esque etiquette. She is addressing a disregard and disrespect for our fellow man at a much deeper level, during these most trying of times. I can’t help but think more kindness, consideration, courtesy and genuine care for each other would be an excellent jumping-off point for change and unification. It certainly won’t solve everything, but it is contagious, and with that in mind, perhaps the beginning of a potential shift.
Lastly here are some bullet points of the advice garnered from Brown’s pages. His advice delves deep in wisdom but also skims along the surface with humor – a dual approach we should all embrace in the New Year!
Click here to download printable version.
As I head into the new year with refreshed resolve, I look to what I may personally do to help. I have mentioned in previous posts, it was my major health hurdle of this last year that brought me to my new initiative and philanthropic passion – Going to the Dogs – and the commitment I have made to giving back to the shelters who save, heal and house our furry loves before they find their forever families!
And while my love of animals makes me want to help them ALL (I have been crying over the koalas, kangaroos and the death of, at last estimate, a billion animals, who have perished in the horrible fires of Australia), my focus will start with my local dog and cat shelters. 100% of the proceeds from my new Birds and Bees Collection (created with Ciner) will be donated to shelters in the different areas where I live, starting with one in Connecticut. And I’m hoping with your help I shall be able to add more locations with time.
With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I wanted to offer a featured piece of jewelry (which is an offshoot of my collection) at a price point that would appeal to everyone. This piece directly benefits (and can adorn!) the cause I am championing – animals in need.
I call this piece my Love Locket. The idea originated with a beautiful gift given to me by Rosa when my beloved Lucky passed away. It was a locket – with one side holding his beautiful photo and the other housing a lock of his fur. It was this thoughtful gift that gave me the idea for a special Valentine’s Day feature piece to introduce after my collection had gone to market.
My photos showcase how it looks on all – from human to furry! It comes in two sizes and the length of the chain on both is 17 inches.
There are many ways this locket can be used – it can be worn with loved ones inside (people or furry!) or hung on the mirror of a dressing table or bedside as a memento, just as mine is (a way to make me feel closer, daily, to my good boy, who is no longer by my side). Whether purchased as a gift worn in celebration and honor of those we love the most in life or in remembrance of those who are no longer with us, they are the perfect keepsake. They are even pup-friendly (although my dogs prefer a ribbon around their necks to a chain!). The Love Locket is a timeless, classic gift for any age and can be monogrammed to make it personal. So when a friend loses a beloved pet, it is a thoughtful gesture to engrave a heart and send that along with a copy of “Rainbow Bridge” (Britton, 1994) to show we are thinking of them.
So Happy New Decade! May we find a way to make each other laugh, share thoughts without rancor and bias and defeat hate by showing respect to one another in these complicated times.
The Heart Locket and The Birds & The Bees line are available at the Carolyne Roehm Shop.
Click here to visit the shop.
As a certified etiquette consultant, (I graduated from the Protocol School of Washington in McLean, Virginia many years ago), I heartily agree with so many of your comments and was pleased to see that there is someone who still cares about the little niceties of life. Thank you for a great article!
Thank you, Rebecca! That is quite a compliment coming from someone with your background! And I agree – the niceties you mention, at the very least, make the days brighter. But they also accumulate and can change outlooks and eventually (hopefully) maybe even outcomes. All my best to you in the new year!
Many thanks for your article and wishing you good health and happiness in 2020. I ordered the hearts for in celebration of Valentines Day …… keep posting!
Patricia – excellent! You will not be disappointed. As I mentioned, they are a design/though based on one of my favorite gifts that I have received. I sure you (or your loved one) will wear them well! Wishing you all the best in the new year.
I love this post. These very same thoughts run through my head constantly as I read the news, hear of bullying stories at my daughters school etc.. If I may be so bold to suggest, what we have lost is a sense of who we are; divine beings created in the image of God. Because God is love, we too are love. However, we forget that and due to our own selfish, and self-serving behaviors, we don’t display the image of God to those around us. I personally pray and meditate ask God to help me be a source of love everyday of my life. God is always the starting point if we are to come back to the source of love and understanding. I hope this may be of benefit to you on your journey as well.
Kelly – this is beautifully worded. And I think no matter what our beliefs are, we have so much more that connects us as humans than we are portraying these days. We owe it to each other to lift each other up and help each other along. Thank you so much for your inspiring words!
I always look forward to reading your posts, Carolyne. Thank you for sharing this list, which will be printed out and framed. A reminder of what we need more of in this world. Hope that 2020 will be a good year for you (and for all)!
Cynthia – I hope this new year brings you health and happiness for you and your loved ones! Enjoy the list and if you don’t own the book, get it (or borrow it)! It’s filled with more of the same charm and wit! I return to it often.
Oh Carolyne,, It is just so comforting to know that there are other people out there that feel the same as I do about living our everyday lives with great care and respect for others. Kindness Matters is the stamp I put on the back of my handmade cards as a little reminder that we should all take a few extra minutes each day to be respectful to and of others in our lives. I try to practice at least one random act of kindness toward others each and every day even if it is to hold a door open for someone or sending a card just because to a friend I have not heard from on a while.
Take Good Care and hope you are much better. Maybe one day you will share what happened to you last year.
Irene – I think that is a beautiful way to live. Because just one act of kindness, even in words (which we ALL have plenty to spare), can change the course of someone’s day. Eventually, those gentle shifts can become more powerful if we all make that our practice. It teaches our young, it makes us feel good and hopefully, it uplifts another. Who is to lose? And at the very least, it’s knowing when to, perhaps, not say something unkind, or just frame our opinions in a more thoughtful, respectful productive manner. All the best to you in the new year! Hoping 2020 brings you much joy!
Oh and yes I ordered both hearts, I do not have any animals so thought the hearts would be a treat just for me. Cannot wait for them to be delivered !
Thank you for supporting such a wonderful cause! They are so lovely – wear them in good health (and love!).
FDR said it best. “Do what you can, with what have, where you are…. ” That and the golden rule would take us all regardless of what our personal opinions are a long way to making our world a better places.
Heather – I love that quote. And if we focus on the “do” part, maybe we’ll realize that in today’s contentious climate, sometimes our actions may be far more valuable than just yelling our opinions at each other!
Sorry…. Quote is from Theodore Roosevelt. Please edit.
Yes, thank you!
Welcome back, dear Carolyne – Your evocative post has certainly reigned on all the desirable qualities we would hope for everyone with common sensibilities to adhere to, but most importantly to re-focus on how to share in living our lives in decency, kindness to others, and with a continuing outreach to contributing what is worthwhile in our lives: giving to others the charity of our hearts and, most importantly, giving to worthy causes which are succinct and beneficial. I so love your idealism and your practicality. You are a tender reflection for all of us who have followed your blogs and gorgeous publications for a very long time and have had the unique privilege to share your eloquence, your most beautiful photographs, your intricate paintings, and now to channel all of us to equally share in your “Going to the Dogs” momentum. I Pause for Paws! (My term, but certainly worth re-sharing). Great pix of Dear Lucky. And he surely was lucky to have you in his life, too.
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Thank you, Meg! My humble opinion is that we could all do better with a bit more manners in our everyday lives because boundaries seemed to be pushed and crossed way too often these days! Thank you so much for your kinds words!
Hi carolyne. This is Bobbie. I don’t know if u remember me but hope you do! I met you and did your hair for a bit. I loved reading your article. I hope this year brings you tons of good health and happiness. I think of you so often!
Hi Bobbie! Yes! Thank you so much and I hope you are doing well (and still making people beautiful!). Wishing you the best in 2020!
Lovely, manners! Might I suggest you edit your message to delete ‘brain fart’? It isn’t polite! I enjoyed every word of your message except that. Happy New Year!
Hi Allison! I know it is neither lady-like nor polite but as I said, my partner uses the expression and I think it accurately describes the problem (with a dash of humor). We all have the right to express our opinions, but with that privilege comes the responsibility of checking facts and not merely regurgitating something you have heard. Nor following whatever party line you like. In my humble estimation, it is one of the biggest problems we also have with today’s media. My dream in the midst of all of this is to have more unbiased fact-checkers! Best, CR
I think God created special people for different times in this life. Some He made superior in certain areas, but He did not make us develop those talents; He merely bestowed them to us. You are, no doubt, one of the most creative and talented people to ever live on this planet and I continue to be amazed by your stamina, zest for life, superior taste, and creativity in so many different areas.
However, what I respect about you most is that you did not waste your talents. You developed each one with the utmost exuberance and totality in spite of bad days, sadness, and sickness. That hard work and tenacity is what is so very rare about you. Nearly all of us are given talent of some kind, but few of us persevere, turning our talents into a living, breathing thing for hundreds of thousands to learn from and enjoy. In this regard, you are a fine example to all who love and value their life on this earth. You have certainly been blessed and fortunate in many ways but YOU were the one to decide to expand each of your talents to its fullest. That decision, Ms. Roehm, has inspired and made so many take a deep breath and smile! Thank you!
I am going to be honest – this brought a tear to my eye! Thank you so much for your beautiful words of support and encouragement. They were a very welcome part of my day. I have always felt very fortunate to be doing what I love and what makes me feel joyful and fulfilled in this life. We ALL have talents that will bring happiness/help to others. May 2020 be the year we all try to inspire and uplift each other! Your response certainly did that for me!
It’s truly sad how manners & civility have disappeared. I believe the internet is to blame for a lot of what we are hearing. People hide behind their screens and make comments that one hopes they wouldn’t make to another’s face. Civilization, as we know it, has changed and not for the better. I no longer watch the news, as it is too depressing and disturbing. All WE can do is remain polite and kind to others. A little Grace goes a long way in making those around us feel respected.
Well said, Joanna. And I think you are on to something. The internet certainly has the power to connect us all, but there are times when we need to take a mental vacation from the current-day intensity of what we are reading minute to minute. Many of my most beloved hobbies encourage me to disconnect and just be in the moment. We all owe that “pause” to ourselves. And you are so accurate, a little grace does go a long, long way! So keep up the good work!
I so loved this post, so many of the points ring true. Kindness, consideration, courtesy and genuine care I agree are beautiful attributes in a person. It has been wonderful to witness the kindness of so many people across the globe helping humans and animals through donations or volunteering in the recent Australian bushfire tragedy. It warms the heart amidst all the sadness to know there are so many kind and caring people.
Victoria – I couldn’t agree more. Australia certainly needs our global attention and unification. Their crisis is heartwrenching and I am so humbled by the sacrifices being made on the ground to save people, their homes and the wildlife. The only silver lining of a crisis is that it brings people together. And I am committed to continuing to find ways to support them, as their struggle will assuredly endure. Here, at home, I want to operate from a place of gratitude and connect with my fellow man in a meaningful, respectful way on a day-to-day basis. Wishing you all the best in 2020!
Carolyne, you are a beautiful person inside & out. I have long admired you for all of your many talents but most of all for your love of dogs! What you are doing now is special beyond words to me. For many years, we had four dogs & I often thought of your menagerie! Sadly, last year, the youngest of our four, Scarlett, passed at 14. Our home was so lonely until we were chosen as the lucky adopting family of BooBoo, a seven-year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel through Cavalier Rescue! We are in heaven again.
I just ordered the smaller heart locket as I already have a gold one with photos of our dear dogs who have passed. Now I will have a lovely silver one to keep those sweeties close to my heart.
My husband & I both so enjoyed reading your words of wisdom on the true meaning of life. My husband even printed them up & will share them with his staff at their next business meeting. Thank you, Carolyne, for sharing such a beautiful & heartfelt post with us! We wish you good health, love & joy throughout this new year & decade.
Kathleen – I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your Scarlett. But from your kind, thoughtful words I can tell that BooBoo has found a wonderful new family to love him. It always amazes me that after such loss (and I’ve experienced many), we are able to make room in our hearts for more! Wear the locket in good health and thank you for supporting such a wonderful cause. Wishing you and your husband a fantastic 2020 filled with all the best.
Beautifully done!! franki
Thank you so much!
I completely agree with you, Carolyne. But, while books provide a nice reference, as society becomes more and more secular, this is the result. If you truly value your fellow man, in every sense of the word, you first need to have a guiding compass, and that compass is non other than the Creator of all us and everything. As HIs face disappears from society, the behavior will become much worse. Sorry, but stay tune. You don’t need to look too far to know His character – the 10 Commandments, that can be reduced to 2: Love Him (if you don’t know Him, you will never love Him) which will generate the love for your neighbor. I have found myself in situations where by just saying this, I found myself under siege in the most aggressive way.
Thank you for your perspective – I truly appreciate all pints of view.
DID YOU WATCH THE GRAMMY’s last night?They had to BLURB A LOT because of the language!
Loved the tributes too KOBE……..what a LOSS HE IS and SO SO SAD!
My Mother loved watching him play basketball and the fact he spent time in ITALY!MY husband is from ITALY and we lived there for three years!
ANYHOW, manners weren’t taught when my SONS grew up……that means the last 32 years!I think we were the ONLY Family in our neighborhood who taught them to wipe their mouth after sipping their milk etc.
They also grew up with cloth napkins!I hope a bit sunk in!Families were TOO busy to have meals together……..dinners were NOT home cooked in general.A lot was LOST in this last generation coming up.Then the cell phones appeared and Video games.
I could go on and on!!
It’s all VERY SAD to me especially the way we dress as a society now!There is no respect for the performers its all about ME!!!
How comfortable can I be in the OPERA HOUSE!I see a lot of black and grey……..even during the HOLIDAYS.Where is the MERRIMENT and JOY!?
WE ALL have our heads in our phones now!
Will these kids be able to TALK TO EACH OTHER?
I keep hearing stories about how they TEXT each other even if they are in the same room!!
THANK YOU for your GREAT line of JEWELS!I bought the BIRD RING and LOVE IT!
I own a DOG, CAT and pet PIG who lives in the HOUSE so you know I am an ANIMAL LOVER times 12!!!
Chickens and one DOVE TOO!
I hope you continue to mend……………HEALTH is EVERYTHING as I TOO have had a bout with EPISODES as I call them for the last FOUR YEARS!NO one seems to be able to Help me and I am getting worse!
Thank you so much for supporting such a wonderful, worthy cause. I’m so happy you are enjoying the ring – it’s one of my favorite pieces. As a fellow lover of animals, I’m delighted to hear about your menagerie! And yes, loss has defined this last week for me as well – personally and in the news. With loss comes the thought of legacy, and how we may best honor those who are no longer with us but made a tremendous impact on our lives and world. I intend to pay homage to the memory of those I love and admired through doing better for others (whether that be people or animals!). All the best to you in 2020!
I just returned from a week in Whitefish, Montana, a small town where everyone seems to know one another. It was like returning to the days of Sheriff Andy, Opie and Aunt Bee. With their small courtesies, the residents care about one another and brought me, a stranger, into the fold of family and friends. The way they went out of their way to speak to me and make me feel like I was a part of their community. Sunday night I left and had a layover in Denver’s airport. Back to the real world where harried travelers, if they speak to one another at all, are focused on themselves. Getting in line first. Irritated at the woman who’s having trouble getting her bag into the overhead compartment. No smiles. No “let me help you with that.” Thank you, Carolyne, for starting us off right this year by reminding us to be kind to one another. I hope you’re regaining your health and wish you all the best. Brenda
Brenda – Whitefish, Montana, sounds like a welcome destination for us all! And as hard as it was to reacclimate to the “real world” that ideal does exist and is somewhat attainable for us all, if even on a much smaller scale in our own lives and homes! Wishing your more Whitefish moments and pleasantries in 2020!
Thank you for your heartfelt post. As an Honorary Consul and someone who is very much about protocol and manners, I found it refreshing to see your words. Thank you for making our world more beautiful and gracing all of us with elegance, charm and kind words and works.
Blessings and peace,
HC of Spain Martha Vera
Dear Martha, I am happy to know we share the commitment to good manners and grace. When I watch television and read the news what seems to get reported is the ugly side of human nature it makes me sad. Thank you for your kind words. carolyne
Dearest Carolyn, the LOVELY small heart locket arrived today & it is stunning! I already placed our dog BooBoo’s photo in one side & will wear it proudly & with love. I thank you for the beautiful, gracious response you left to my earlier comment. Your beautiful spirit will make wearing this lovely necklace all the more special for me. Sending you early Valentine’s wishes & our wishes for continued good health & happiness for you & yours!
Kathleen – I am so thrilled that you like the locket! It’s such a sweet way to keep our loved ones close. I hope BooBoo continues to ease the pain of your loss. There is no better remedy than loving our pups!
Oh how I adore the bullet points..especially the 5th down. Thank you for this Carolyne. The was a wonderful post.
Mary – thank you so much! Hope you are home and safe!