Noe Valley Voice December-January 1999-2000

Ways to Turn Over a New Leaf in the Next Millennium

By Steve Steinberg

Well, it's New Year's again. Time for those perennial and sometimes pesky resolutions. This year it's a little different, though. Your New Year's resolutions must not only be for the upcoming year, but for the new century and the new millennium as well!

To help you with this daunting task, the Voice asked various professionals in Noe Valley what they thought was the wisest New Year's resolution, especially for the year 2000. Here are some of their replies:

"Any resolution that extends one's life is a good one," says Jonathen Gray, a local psychotherapist who specializes in helping people with addiction problems. He notes that a change that will improve your life expectancy, such as quitting smoking or drinking, often coincides with other momentous changes in a person's life, such as the birth of a child or the start of a new job. But any way you look at it, it's a millennial accomplishment.

If you're going to make changes, it's important "not to have a long list of changes," says Iris Stallworth-Grayling, a therapist at Noe Valley Psychotherapy on 24th Street. Rather, she says, a person should "focus on one aspect of themselves that they are not comfortable with and really concentrate on changing it."

You should expect that the course of change will not be linear, Stallworth-Grayling adds, "but will involve progress and falling back." The trick is not to be discouraged by reverses. "Break down [the process of change] into small achievable steps, so you won't be overwhelmed by the enormity of what you need to accomplish." Your success in one area will inspire you to make changes in other areas as well, Stallworth-Grayling says.

After you've transformed your inner self, you might want to take a look at the inside of your house or workplace. Too much clutter? Too many unpaid bills lying around? Allison Van Norman, a professional organizer, urges people to resolve to do a 5- to 10-minute daily pickup in their homes or offices. "That makes the biggest difference in my clients' lives," she says. Use that time to put away everything you took out that day, as well as to go through the mail.

If you're a renter -- a soon-to-be organized one -- the best thing you could do for yourself in the next millennium is save up and buy a house, advises Christian Connelly, a mortgage banker for the Bank of America. "It's such a wonderful investment -- it will vastly improve the quality of your life," he says.

Victoria Hamman, a Noe Valley naturopathic doctor, has one word for the new millennium: "Detoxify," she says. "I would detoxify on a regular basis and rid the body not just of drugs and alcohol, but of all the environmental toxins we take in."

Dr. John Pierce, a physician with Noe Valley Family Medicine on 24th Street, recommends that we switch our emphasis from one of treating illnesses to one of maintaining wellness. "You should do whatever it takes to maintain your physical functioning. Be physically active, avoid situations that make you angry, and get a regular checkup."

Pierce adds that participating in the community, in whatever form you choose, is also a positive step toward the future. "The health of the community is equally as important as our own individual health."

Father Mario Farana of St. Paul's Catholic Church on Church Street agrees that this is the time to renew relationships with family and friends. Much love is returned when we give it, he says.

"People are most happy when sharing with others," says Farana. And at the end of life, "people don't think about how much more money they could have made, but rather about how much more time they could have spent with their loved ones."

Entering the year 2000 gives us a perfect opportunity to reconsider our values, says Keenan Kelsey, pastor of the Noe Valley Ministry on Sanchez. "We have to realize ourselves and make life choices based on the values that are important." Kelsey adds that progress and change, in ourselves and in the world at large, "have to be based on values like truth, harmony, tolerance, faith, and love."

Reverend Karen Oliveto, pastor of Bethany Methodist Church, says her wish is that "we all will make a millennium resolution to give up greed and create a community of plenty for everyone." In that way, Oliveto continues, "we will be able to provide a sustainable future for our children and our children's children."

Speaking of children, Noe Valley psychotherapist Susan Frankel, who specializes in parenting issues, says that she would like to see parents resolve to "create more flexibility, generosity, and kindness towards themselves as parents." This will enable them to be kinder to their children and "to parent with more grace and less stress" for years to come.

Finally, let's not forget our animal friends and what we can do to make their lives better. Celia Sack, co-owner of Noe Valley Pet Company, says she hopes pet owners will resolve to "take their dogs to the beach as much as possible. It makes them so happy. And a happy dog makes for a happy owner."

Whatever your resolutions for the new millennium, may they bring you health and happiness and contribute to a better world for all of us.