A week ago, I became another year older. I celebrated with a circle of friends on a brand new patio I installed this spring and summer. It was a lovely August evening, not too hot, a slight breeze, and not too chilly as the skies darkened.

There have been enough birthdays in my life that I now take most of them in stride, but this one was a bit momentous on two counts.

First, my mother was my age when she died. She died from poor rural healthcare and her own Finnigan stubbornness. She was convinced that “gallbladder” was code for being a hypochondriac, and she was not about to have that horrible label attached to her. So, she died, at what I think of now as a young age.

Secondly, because I am a mere two months older than my mother when she died, I am asking myself what I am going to do with the rest of this precious life to make the world a better place.

As I read the newspaper and keep track of friends on Facebook, I am constantly reminded of the growing needs of families, communities, countries, and our planet, putting all of us and our children at peril in one form or another. We are all overwhelmed and have no idea where to begin.

There are many things that call to me. I am committed to justice and equity, worldwide environmental stabilization, control of the war and gun industries, comprehensive health care for everyone, reducing overpopulation, and bringing care and compassion back into our political system.

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Everyone knows there are growing problems across our globe, but we all seem at a loss as to what each of us can do to make a lasting difference.

My efforts are meager. I have reduced my trash footprint, but I am only one person with one small trash bin. I flush only when necessary. I walk when I can. I smile at everyone I encounter and chat with anyone brave enough to have a conversation with a total stranger. I donate to and volunteer for worthy efforts, shop local, eat organic, and am a member of The Good Old Broads for Wilderness. (Look it up!)

Yet, it all seems so meager, so not enough, and so overwhelming.

What can one of us do to solve our huge problems?

I have no good answer. But, one thing I am totally committed to is my vote. I have never missed an election and use all the varied resources to become a well-informed voter. My criteria is always what is best for all of us, not just for me or for the few.

Now is the time. Please, make your vote be a major priority. We can change the world one vote at a time!

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Dianne Roth is a mother, grandmother, teacher, and freelance writer. She can be reached at: baglady@cmug.com