RANCHO PALOS VERDES, CA - JULY 28:  The mailbo...

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In my car I keep one special letter. More about it later though.

I saw in my local newspaper that apparently 75% of the people who live in the city I live in (one million and growing fast) will not be making New Year resolutions. I wonder why. Perhaps they did it once and failed? Perhaps they did it twice and failed again? Perhaps they did it three times and found out they cannot stick with the program?

Anyhow, I am writing this to encourage you to do something this year: take a pen and paper and write.

In the Jan 2, 2012 copy of the New Yorker Magazine, Roger Angell wrote a piece entitled “Life and Letters” It’s good. In fact, it was so good I cut it out to show my kids. Kids tend to use electronics. They rarely write letters.

Being my dad’s son I cannot begin to tell you how much I appreciated letters I got from friends after he died on Nov 30, 2011 from pancreatic cancer. I went to be with him in his last days. I drove home late at night, all alone, driving his car, and thinking how cruel cancer can be. I wrote about that—emails sent to my dear wife back in Canada. I mentioned how hard it was to see my dad suffer through the agony of a viscious and cruel cancer, eating away at his frail body every day. In addition I wrote those ideas down in my journal too.

When I returned to Canada from Capetown I discovered she printed them off. On paper. To be kept in our family for later perhaps.

So here is my challenge to you for 2012: use a pen and paper more often.

My dad did that. It’s his last letter to me that I keep in my car. It is close by. I often look at it and see what his mind was up to when he was still well — unaware that he would be dead a few months later. It’s a special letter as you can imagine.

Which special letters will you write in 2012?

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2012-01-02T09:00:24+00:00 January 2nd, 2012|Guidance|


  1. Zuzana Gardian Jan 02 at 4:54 pm - Reply

    Dear Dr. Nieman, I love your New Year’s letter message. Exchanging letters – that is exactly what I’ve been doing with my son since October last year, who is in Grade 1 now. Btw. it is an excellent fun way how to teach a child writing/spelling skills. We try to write both English as well as simple Slovak sentences (our mother language). I also carry in my purse his very first letter written to me and keep all his letters in a special box. I love all of them :-).

    I don’t do New Year’s promises every year, but 6 years ago I decided to start a new healthier journey that began with one simple message on my mirror: “I am going to get healthy and stay healthy” … about a year ago I changed that message to “I am healthy and I am going to stay healthy!”… Since my children were born, I’ve been reading and learning a lot about healthy lifestyle and I am trying to share my knowledge and my own experience with everyone around me. Eating the right food hasn’t changed only my life, but also changed my family and improved life of many people that I know 🙂 – that makes me very happy. I remind myself every day at least 5 things that I am grateful for and I am trying to stay positive and hopeful and healthy.

    Happy New Years :-).


  2. Drpeternieman Jan 09 at 3:08 am - Reply

    Thanks for your ideas—-it sure nakes us all realize the power of written notes

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