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Time To Take Stock

I was pleased when a Public Service Message (PSA) request appeared in my inbox with the subject line: Take Stock in ChildrenMentor Training. I’m aware of what an excellent program Take Stock in Children (TSIC) is, having mentored with the organization for several years. The expression “take stock” also jumped out at me. It’s an interesting idiomatic expression, particularly when used around this time of year. More on that later; first, the PSA:                                                    

The Brevard Schools Foundation is seeking caring adults to mentor Take Stock in Children Scholars. Mentor training is held each month at the Educational Services Facility in Viera, 2700 Judge Fran Jamieson Way. Upcoming trainings are scheduled at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, January 9, and Tuesday, February 5. Take Stock in Children provides a unique opportunity for low income, at-risk students to escape the cycle of poverty through education. The program offers students college scholarships, and hope for a better life. To make a reservation for mentor training or to learn more, call 321-633-1000 extension 462. Information can also be found at:  Brevard schools foundation dot org.

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I cannot overstate my appreciation for organizations like TSIC. Every aspect of the program is professional, inspiring, challenging, impeccably well-organized and fun! The time I spent mentoring (only about one hour per week is required) enlarged my sense of pride in myself, my community and most importantly, helped ensure a college education for a deserving young lady.

Now back to the expression “take stock.” A cursory google searchturned up two primary meanings. The second, which is “…to have faith in, give credence to, or attribute real significance to” is clearly relative to what taking stock in children does through mentoring, education and guidance.

It’s the time honored ritual and obsession with “taking stock” of one’s life around the New Year that really confounds me. This quest for self-improvement is, of course the primary reason to take stock “…to reflect on the state of your life, to examine the sum total of your possessions, relationships, accomplishments and goals to the present time.” 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for self-reflection and commitment to self-improvement. What I find tiresome are the same old “New Year’s Resolutions” we hear declared just because the calendar has turned a page. I stumbled upon a list of popular New Year resolutions on the USA.govwebsite with links to helpful resources. I bet you can guess all of them: drink less alcohol, eat healthy food, get a better education/job, exercise, lose weight, manage stress, quit smoking, recycle, save money, take a trip and....last but not least, volunteer to help others.

Is it just me or does this collective ritual become silly after a few well-meaning attempts?  According to a study cited in Wikipedia, 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail. I mean, if there’s an area of your life that needs improvement, just feel free to go for it! Why wait for a new year? I’ve never been big on New Year’s resolutions - or the whole over-blown New Year's Eve celebrations, for that matter...but that's for another day - or year.

Since you've suffered this long through my cynical anti-new year's resolution rant, I'll share with you this charming and clever early 20th century New Year's Resolution postcard.

If you happen to be a person who dutifully takes stock and commits to  New Year's Resolutions, I wish you great success in the new year and always. Oh, and if you know anyone interested in becoming a mentor with Take Stock In Children, please forward them the above PSA. Happy New Year!