MUSINGS FROM THE LAUNDROMAT | September’s New Year’s resolutions

September! Such a beautiful month. I’m writing this on the tail end of a stretch of golden warm days. Mornings and evenings bring with them a hint of the cooler weather that is on its way.

Driving by Coe School recently, the sounds of kids in the playground brought me back to the days when my kids were there. Back-to-school displays are front and center in the stores and just looking at a box of crayons conjures up the distinct smell I remember when flipping open the lid and pressing the flattened tips against my nose.

This time of year has always felt more like a beginning than the first day of January ever has. My energy is high and I am ready to get to work whether it’s pursuing new writing avenues or helping a friend or family member with a project or participating in an action for a cause that is important to me.

As the month whizzes by, we are closing in on a year since the presidential election. Our country is more divided than ever. Racial tension is reminiscent of the Civil Rights movement, so prevalent when I was a schoolgirl in the 60s. Health Care is a national crisis and we are at risk of losing so much, depending on what happens. People from other countries who come to the U.S. for refuge are being sent back to face lives we cannot imagine. School budgets are being cut. The poor are becoming poorer. Our climate is in peril. It seems to me that it is time for us to take the reins. Because, in reality we cannot rely on our government or our so-called leaders to take care of these, our most dire needs.

Instead of waiting until January for our New Year’s Resolutions, that so often center around self-improvement, we might make a resolution or two this month, based on one of the causes that we hold dear. Putting our heads in the sand and pretending everything is — or will be — okay is not going to make it all go away.

I am going to continue to focus a portion of my writing on the environment. I feel certain organizations that help refugees calling my name. And I am increasingly moved to help the poor and homeless in our community.

Just last week, my Queen Anne book club met to discuss Matthew Desmond’s book, Evicted, Poverty and Profit in the American City. This New York Times best seller focuses on a handful of real people who have suffered eviction and the downward spiral into poverty that eviction causes. While many of us who live in the affluent community of Queen Anne cannot imagine such a life, the Queen Anne Helpline, run by neighbor and book club member Lisa Moore, sees people from our own community who are living a close-to-the-bone existence every day. Little things like donating clothing and food supplies are helpful as is simply acknowledging and smiling at a down and out person on the street.

There is so much we can do, whether locally or nationally or globally, depending on our abilities. But the main thing I am feeling these days is the imperative to begin acting, to make a resolution not to wait for someone else to do something. And to make sure that those little children heading back to school, fresh crayon boxes in their backpacks, have a decent world waiting for them when they finish school.

What’s your resolution going to be?

IRENE PANKE HOPKINS ( is a freelance writer and essayist who lived on Queen Anne for 20 years. Her work has recently appeared in Real Simple Magazine and 48° North as well as on the website,