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.