Originally printed January 3, 2013 10:20AM

I am turning the calendar and embracing 2013! The start of the year brings a feeling of renewal. Start with a fresh slate and a renewed spirit, and employ good habits — financially, emotionally and for your health.

Many times, the lack of a plan, or simply indecision, keeps you up at night. By being prepared and having a game plan for things like day care and car pools, you can avoid life’s potholes.

The website for emergency school closings in Orland School District 135 is www.orland135.org. For Consolidated High School District 230, the website is district.d230.org. Weather information for both also can be found at www.emergencyclosings.com.

Provide teachers, school staff and family members who have permission to pick up your child a list of contact numbers and contingency plans so everyone is aware of the game plan.


The Midwest, and specifically Chicago, has shortened days, cold weather and the capacity to get really glum very quickly. The holidays are over, and celebrating has ceased.

Pick up your mood by taking a walk outside on some of the nicer days or head to a local gym and engage some of your endorphins. Orland Park has two indoor tracks available for resident and member use.

Sixteen revolutions around the track at the Franklin Loebe Center equal one mile, and 10 revolutions equal a mile at the Sportsplex track. Check the village website at www.orland-park.il.us for updated information.

Walking Orland Square Mall also is an option. Mall walking with the Square Striders, sponsored by Ingalls Health, is an indoor walking alternative. The mall opens at 8 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 9 a.m. Sundays. Access the lower-level Sears entrance.

If you’re still not feeling it, invest in a Seasonal Affective Disorder light. This mood disorder may see some relief from doses of time spent with these light therapy, high-lumen lights that mimic sunlight.


You joined the gym, you are paying the membership — get there! This is a great time to stop smoking, embrace a healthier diet or start (and stick with) an exercise regimen.

There are tons of resources on the Internet. Try to find a lifestyle change you can continue. If you start a diet with the intent of stopping when you reach your goal, the chances of failure are higher.

By embracing a change with which you can live, your chances of success are better. For example, a plan that has you at the gym five times a week and allows you to eat only 1,200 calories likely is doomed. Find a plan that fits your lifestyle.

Do you work long hours? Consider adding a walk at lunchtime, and you will achieve a lifestyle change.


This is a perfect time to take stock of your assets — not only what you have in the bank, but also your monthly expenses.

Some credit card companies offer a free review of yearly expenses, breaking them down into categories such as restaurant and gas. Take a sober look at where you are spending your money. Is it all worth it?

Also, are you paying interest on a meal that only cost $30? Could you have eaten at home, instead? Tightening the budget is not cutting every fun thing out of your life; it is planning on thoroughly enjoying the things for which you are paying. Being cognizant of where the money is going can be eye-opening.

While looking at expenses, check if any of your utilities have gone up exponentially. Did an automatic renewal happen, thereby raising your rates? Check in, from time to time, on insurance policies, cable, home phone and cell-phone contracts to ensure you are getting the best deals.


Keeping your brain working may seem difficult sometimes, but learning new things, reading and trying something inventive can help your mental capacity.

Check out the Orland Park Public Library or Moraine Valley Community College for classes that interest you. Also, consider a noncredit option, with new online learning opportunities courtesy of the Massive Open Online Courses.

Coursera.org, Udacity.com and edX.org, among others, offer free courses written by professors in an effort to provide free educational resources for people. There is some chatter regarding efforts to certify these classes and, perhaps eventually, open up more opportunities for the general public to earn college credits.

Let’s make 2013 a year of new beginnings.