The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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Michele Bender

March 30, 2013

MICHELE BENDER | Springing into action for Easter

JOHNSTOWN — Happy Easter!

People expect certain routines at specific holidays.

They count on fireworks and sparklers on July 4.

Easter demands a basket of colorful eggs and candy.

Festive ornaments, angels, drummer boys and tinsel should adorn Christmas trees.

I enjoy messing with tradition. I’m an unconventional gal.

On Halloween, I passed treats out from old Easter baskets. (I’m sure kids thought, “That can’t be left from April, can it?”)

During one particularly snowy winter, I stockpiled two cartons of snowballs in my basement freezer. On July 4, friends and I pelted each other with my “Siberian M-80s,” chilling on a sweltering afternoon.

My Christmas tree features a Marilyn Monroe theme. Santa, snowmen and garlands get a rest while trendy Marilyn ornaments and figurines add elegance, glamour and sparkle to my season.

The Wise Men on my mantle approve.

I defy convention because, without realizing, our lives can become flat.

We just concluded Lent, a time to re-evaluate ourselves.

I learned a lot over the past three years. I repeatedly planned self-improvement efforts (start diets, exercise). But the start times were generally “tomorrow,” which never came.

There’s never a good time to begin things that are hard to do.

God put up with a lot from me: Apathy, procrastination, laziness. But then He gave me the solid kick in the dupa that I needed, and my life turned around.

Thanks to hard work and “after-market” body parts, I’m healthy, and it’s magical. Doctors scrutinized my organs with scopes, blood tests, X-rays and MRIs. Everything has either been repaired, removed, or replaced. God has a purpose for me or He wouldn’t have showered me with those blessings.

So, instead of New Year’s Resolutions, I decided to make Easter Resolutions.

Resolution 1: I’m more “portable” now, so I resolve to get out and meet folks, do some volunteering, help however I can. Since 2010, I learned that if you “believe” in yourself, you can do “unbelievable” stuff.

Resolution 2: I resolve to master walking a quarter mile (or more) outdoors, here in my ’hood or wherever I can.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or we can rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

I bought a gizmo called a “rollator,” essentially a walker with wheels, brakes, a basket, a seat and a backrest.

It enables me to walk till I wear out.

Then I lock the brakes, sit down, catch a second wind and continue.

And it’s red!

I’m not where I was. I haven’t reached my destination. I’m not even sure where I’m going, but I’m on my way.    

If you spot me out cruisin’ with my “candy apple red” 4-wheeler, honk, wave, or say “Hi.” Wanna join me? Pull over and stop. We’ll explore the ’hood and chat.

Maybe I’ll show you a new wrinkle.

Michele Mikesic Bender is a Johnstown resident and a member of  The Tribune-Democrat’s Readership Advisory Committee.

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Michele Bender
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What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

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