DEAR HARRIETTE: I hate learning about politics. I find everything so repetitive and boring, so I just end up not keeping up at all on current events. This leaves me completely unequipped to participate in a simple conversation about today's state of affairs. I feel stupid not knowing basic things about modern politics, but I just can't bring myself to read the paper or watch the talking heads with any regularity. What should I do? -- Fox Snooze, Staten Island, N.Y.
DEAR FOX SNOOZE: We live in a democracy that exists so that the people can have some dominion over the policies and laws that govern our country. The system needs the people's participation.
I believe it is our responsibility to pay attention to what's going on in our national and local governments so we can insert our voice when needed. Is it always interesting? No. But it's not possible to hold onto the freedoms that we cherish without being willing to pay attention to what's going on in politics. To turn a blind eye to politics completely seems unwise to me.
That said, you don't need to watch all the talking heads or read every newspaper. I recommend that you pay attention to a broad range of media outlets, including foreign sources, so that you can keep abreast of what's happening in our world.
By the way, I believe the reason so many people choose not to pay attention is that they have the luxury of doing so. We live in a relatively safe country with many perks, including the general belief that we will not be in harm's way. Let's not take that for granted.
DEAR HARRIETTE: The gym and I have always had a strained relationship. Recently, however, I gained some momentum and was going nearly every day and working out for an hour. But I got a bad cold and had to stop exercising for about two weeks. Now I can't bring myself to go to the gym. How do I get my momentum back? -- Inert, Shreveport, La.
DEAR INERT: It is tough to restart an exercise regimen, especially if it isn't a natural part of your daily schedule. The good news is that you can drum up the energy to move your body.
If the gym seems too far to reach, wake up and turn on your TV to one of the many exercise programs that come on each morning. Or pop in an exercise DVD and get moving. If you feel like leaving your home, get up a half hour early and take a rigorous walk before starting your day.
Over time, you may find your way back to the gym, but the baby steps you take now will serve you in the future. You can do it. Get up, stretch, move your body. You are worth it!