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Five Things Returns Jan. 5

The end of the year and the beginning of a new one is always a time for reflection and planning. At least, that's how I try to treat it. The wild ride that has been 2016 won't magically even out when the clock turns over to midnight on Jan. 1, but the changeover is a good opportunity to think about what I've been doing, how I'm doing it, and what it all means.

Like many people, I was surprised by the results of the presidential election. I've been asking myself how so many smart, observant people didn't see a Trump victory coming, and wondering if we really are in a new era -- or if I just didn't notice it before. At any rate, I think we need more understanding, more useful conversations, more listening.

So when I ask myself how my work can contribute to the world in these divided times, I come back to the idea of connection, especially with people who aren't in our daily orbit. There was a lot of talk during the election about being too much in our "bubble" -- whether that bubble was conservative or liberal, urban or rural, religious or secular. So how do we get out of our bubble? We listen.

Each episode of Five Things is an opportunity to learn about someone's life and what's important to them, as we talk about five treasured objects. In our first season, we heard from a Guatemalan immigrant about a handmade doll that she's taken with her throughout the world, from a university president about the ice formed by sweat while hiking in the Antarctic, and from an elementary school music teacher about a note from a kindergartner. Sometimes voices break and tears well up, and usually there's laughter too. Through it all, there's common humanity.

I'm very happy that we're bringing back Five Things for another season, starting Jan. 5. This new series will include conversations with a comic book artist, a poet, a couple of singer-songwriters, and a Congressman, among others.

And while you're waiting, you can always go back and check out previous episodes in our podcast feed or online. Consider it an invitation to get out of your bubble.

Subscribe to Five Things wherever you get your podcasts.

Or listen here.