don't hang up-this is not only about how we talk, except talking sure is vital to an overall healthier new year. there's big talk about caroline kennedy's "ums" and "you know" speech tics, but why wasn't she helped to overcome such discrediting impediments? ah, intervention in general is so achingly needed but so rarely employed by mental, physical and spiritual health professionals and elected officials. and there's way too little concerned talk about the f-word peppering the illinois governor's taped phone calls, or his excuse that, "ten of millions talk that way every day!" the women's movement once assailed obscenity use for being "mostly sexual pejoratives demeaning and threatening to women." to the whole human race, really. the new york times once published professor barbara lawrence's scholarly anti-f word critique, which drew interest worldwide. its failure to get enough strong and consistent support is all too apparent. that's why this column repeatedly rails against, for two examples, the socially acceptable aversion to growing/being old in our culture, and government's relative unconcern with "crimes of traffic." these city "crimes" are the foremost pedestrian threat of drivers' potentially lethal turning habits, the anarchy on two heels and a too-high speed limit. that includes for police car chases too, a likely factor in the tragic death of a 45-year-old mother crossing the street with her two teen daughters last week. adequate acknowledgement-where, for example, we acknowledge whatever another has said with at least a sentence or two before giving our own take on an issue-is so vital to overall health. it was once called "meeting a person where they are," which also meant listening (but not to monologists) without interrupting. related communication skill workshops were held in churches like roman catholic epiphany and madison avenue and central presbyterian. communication has a lot to do with fulfilling "love one another" creeds and everyday "just getting along." i'd vote for anyone who made communication/conflict resolution skills mandatory learning from pre-school through graduate school and to life's very last class. back to keeping some holiday glow-just one or two strings of lights left on one tree on each block, and in public places (hospital and nursing homes!) and also at home, makes such a difference. but protest malevolent fluorescents and naked emperors' upcoming ban on kindly incandescents and their failure to curb the real light blight, excessive light use! singing together, or solo, those peace and goodwill songs helps keep that holiday glow. but not too loud. nor should the talk we encourage be high decibel either; except with the population aging, distinct enunciating and sufficient volume are very real musts so that nobody is left out. oh, it's snowing! shovel and de-ice big-time, puhlease, including crosswalk entrances and bus stops, so the not-so-steady-of-foot can get out. even then keep smiling because science says it's actually good for our health. of course, smiling at sins of omission (like non-shoveling) or commission is not. here's to more working together for a just and gentle, peace and goodwill kind of new year. many thanks for heeding these orders-oops-i mean considering these suggestions. i hope you are still smiling.