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thLady Liberty is back. Or, rather, some dude wearing a Statue of Liberty costume is back, and standing outside a local tax-prep place. Instead of lifting a lamp beside the golden door, he’s waving a get-your-taxes-done-here sign at the passing traffic.

I’ve seen at least two dudes dressed this way lately, greenish robes bulging over winter wear and spiky crowns sitting uneasily atop messy mops. The facial hair is a bit jarring, since the real Lady Liberty is clean-shaven.

Being willing to don a silly costume and stand outdoors in the cold tells me something about these guys: They want to work.


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thRegular readers already know about my daughter’s blog, I Pick Up Pennies. They probably also know about her 19th year, when she nearly died from a rare neurological disease.

Since then Abby has gone through a lot of physical and psychological torment. She spent a couple of years on disability due to a lack of jobs that meshed with the residual effects of Guillain-Barre syndrome. (The fact that she found not her “dream” job but the World’s Best Boss is miraculous.) Post-traumatic stress disorder and a mental health issue that’s finally been diagnosed as Bipolar II have made it hard to get through some days.

Her husband lost his job shortly before the wedding, and his own health issues have worsened to the point where he is now on disability. The two of them bought a house before they were really ready (i.e., before they had a big enough down payment) in order to take in his bankrupt parents.

A careless driver hit them and totaled the car that was supposed to have lasted them another four or five years. Home, car and other issues have continued to pop up (almost $17,000 in 2014 alone). In the past few years she has endured five miscarriages and is considering whether or not to try again.

So how’s she handling all this? With an astonishing perspective, if her current blog post is any indication.


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thRecently someone contacted Stacy Johnson of Money Talks News to ask for articles on non-costly ways to give back to the community. That assignment wound up in my lap, resulting in “You don’t need to be rich to lend a helping hand: 42 free or cheap ways to give.”

Researching it was fairly simple, because I do a lot of this stuff myself and also take inspiration from readers’ examples. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that giving is the perfect antidote to the midwinter blahs.

Here’s why.


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happiness of pursuitAs others have pointed out, the Declaration of Independence doesn’t guarantee us happiness – merely its pursuit. Entrepreneur and author Chris Gillebeau has written a book that uses numerous (and varied!) bliss treks to illustrate how we might seek our own personal definitions of fulfillment.

The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life” is based on the author’s own personal challenge (to visit all the countries of the world before age 35) and also on the fascinating endgames sought by others.

These aren’t famous people with deep pockets and a need to tell the universe how great they are. Instead, Guillebeau chose “ordinary people working toward extraordinary goals.”


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thIt was a good year for found money: a $20 bill, two fivers, a singleton, 13 quarters, 47 dimes, 15 nickels and 216 pennies, plus a ngwee from Zambia. (You find the most interesting specie in Coinstar machines.)  

That $41.86 will become a $50 donation to the Alaska Food Bank. As my 8-year-old nephew and I stacked and wrapped the coins, I pointed out that while it’s fun to find a $20 bill even the pennies add up over time. I’d be writing about this, I said, and maybe it would remind them that dimes add up to dollars.  

“Maybe it will remind them to pick money up,” he said. “Or not to drop it.”


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