All of us have aspirations for a better coming year. We might write our goals down, or maybe not choose to admit what they are… even to ourselves. Unfortunately, some of the most important life changing things that could make us happier, better people are never on the countless to-do lists at year’s end. Here are ten I challenge you to consider:

1 – Dance in the rain. The very next time you have a downpour that could cause flashfloods grab someone near you and recreate your own flashdance- just like in the movie. Or if you prefer, pretend you’re in a ballroom or disco bar. Or just hold that other someone getting drenched on your behalf and sway ever so slightly. Savor it. Sear it into your soul. Spend time recalling the invigorating touch of nourishing raindrops, the titillating sound of splashing water on hard earth, and the smell of your immediate world being bathed in love raining down on you from God above.

2 – Kiss like young lovers. Hard. Long. Often. Purposefully. Stare into your lover’s eyes. Even if you’ve been married 50 years or more. Even if you’re exhausted from work. Or the kids are breaking things in the next room. Or you just burned dinner. One day you will be glad you did, and do, and always will until that opportunity passes and you no longer can… because one of you is gone.

3 – Marvel at the stars. Lay down in the grass at night and stare at them. Feel the lawn tickle your skin. Smell the rich earth. Sit out on the porch and watch them twinkle… while cuddling a loved one. Wonder what lies beyond those stars. Wish upon the brightest burning fire in that night-sky. Make note of each moon stage. Make-out in the dark. (Even if you’re 102!)

4 – Commit to a matinee day. Twice a month be inspired by what is on that big screen. Or be terrified. Perhaps angered. Maybe saddened. No matter your reaction, you will be MOVED emotionally. Then think about it all week. Let it fester and grow, and CHANGE you in some small way.

5 – Support the dreams of others. Listen and encourage. Applaud their accomplishments. Make a toast to little achievements. Mention their success, no matter how small. Buy their products purposefully- books they’ve published, CD’s they’ve recorded, produce they produce. Attend recitals of your friends’ children. Go to community plays. Ballgames. Neighborhood gatherings. Be a small part of something bigger. A unique little piece of the puzzle, without which, it isn’t complete.

6 – Converse with store clerks. Cheerfully inquire about their day. Have a happy comeback or an understanding look. Thank them for waiting on you. Even when they frustrate you; fade anger into forgiveness. Realize their significant other may have just left them. They might have recently been diagnosed with cancer, or simply can’t pay the light bill. Be their light for that moment your life touches theirs.

7 – Smile at kids in crowded places. You know, the ones hiding behind an adult but sneak a peek at you? Or the toddlers that toddle after mom while whining nothing translatable in sad little voices? (We can assume they’re hungry or tired, because toddlers are always hungry or tired.) Smile at the wild school-aged kids running down the aisles or trying on the nail polish. Find humor in these under-disciplined, out-of-control, what-is-the-world-coming-to pint-sized people. If you do, you will go more gently into that good night one day.

8 – Send cards to seniors. Not just any seniors. YOUR seniors. Grandmas (whether real or inherited), aging parents, the lady at church that sits alone in the back… the neighbor across the street. Put their birthdays in your phone. Take a minute from your busy day to choose just the right card at Walmart or Target. Write a note inside. Mail it early enough so they receive it by their special day!! (Or hand-deliver with cookies you baked yourself.) Seniors, more than any other age group, truly appreciate your thoughtfulness. Truly.

9 – Hug tighter. Hug tighter when you meet your friends for lunch, visit the folks in Ohio (or wherever they live), see that great aunt in the nursing home, greet your kids after school, or your honey home from work. HUG LONGER. WITH PURPOSE. Every. Single. Time. Let it be the first thing written in your Eulogy. You. Hugged. So. Tight.

10 – Make lemonade. No, really. Buy those lemons you have hand-picked, sniffed, squeezed and lovingly gathered. Measure out the grainy, white, pure cane sugar that is so-not the devil incarnate we have made it out to be. Add water and ice to dazzle the senses with pure delight in the clink and swoosh of it. Fill tall glasses proudly and share with someone you have chosen to honor with your presence and your handmade demonstration of love. Repeat often enough to feed your soul but not destroy your blood sugar levels. (This balancing act, by the way, is the secret to life.)

The resolutions on this list, my friends, will probably extend our time on this earth more than any new gym membership. (;