The adage, “Actions prove who someone is, words prove who they want to be,” is at the center of my workspace. It is haunting me today, as I delete so much of what I have written and start this column all over again. I am sparing you the Laverne and Shirley theme song, my deep dive into the layout of a grocery store, and my long observations of drivers today. Just taking action with my words.

Since there are only a few weeks left in 2021, the beginning stages of that state of mind that comes at the end of every year is here. It is a similar feeling I have every week as I take action before the arrival of the finest garbage trucks and drivers. I can sometimes be seen running to the alley early Thursday just after I hear the hum of the truck coming.

Oh the delight of a successful Thursday morning. Every single week a truck comes and takes all that trash, a luxury. There have been a few dark weeks this year that have gotten back on track by the bright light of Thursday morning trash pick-up.

So here’s to removal of trash from 2021.

My action, with these words, is not spreading fear or anger or frustration. That doesn’t mean I don’t have some, but I am going to manage my trash. I can take it out without showing it to you. For this moment, I would like to sincerely give thanks for the good things around. First, I would like to thank the wonderful families, teachers, support staff, boards, and parent organizations that serve our young people in Forest Park and Proviso. As we practice compassion, forgiveness and kindness, good things happen to all of us.

Next, my deepest thanks to the village of Forest Park, including our staff, administrators, elected officials, police, fire, public works, community center, and all the support agencies that support you. The park district deserves a note of gratitude, especially for the outdoor fitness opportunities available. Of course to our Forest Park Library, Historical Society, volunteers in youth sports, Kiwanis Club, Arts Alliance, Chamber, my fellow Forest Park Review co-workers and all the businesses in town, thank you for carrying on with grace and dedication.

There has been so much fear and anger expressed, not only nationally but locally, and so much hurt, it is OK to focus on what is going right, and there is so much more good, always.

While some have said we all benefit from assuming best intentions of others, this is a common theme in good leadership theory. Yet critics say that giving people the benefit of the doubt allows systems and people to excuses problematic behaviors, forces people to deny their feelings, or can create toxic cycles of aggression. I just feel better when I am making space for positivity and optimism and not being cynical about everything and everyone just makes me feel better.

So cheers to all of you, be well, and to the next year, we’ll drink a cup of kindness, for auld lang syne.