03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

2009's Top News Stories

If you're anything like me - living in this mad, mad world of information overload - it may be difficult to look back at 2009 and remember the big news stories that defined this year. There are the stories that were shocking; others were tragic; yet there are also the stories that we may have felt a personal connection to ... the stories that touched our souls, not solely because they were sensational, but because they resonated with our personal experiences.

Personal experience, that depth one gathers through achievements, hardship, or merely time, sparks that quintessential embodiment of purpose ... why we're here, the meaning of life. Particular stories reflect our past joys and future hopes.

Here's my list of 2009's top news stories. What are yours? And why?

1) The death of Michael Jackson
2) President Barack Obama taking office
3) The fallout of the economic downturn, namely, unemployment.
4) Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and North Korea
5) Susan Boyle's amazing rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream"
6) The green factor
7) The ongoing fight for gay rights
8) The North Korean detainment of journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling
9) The desecration of journalism and the need to preserve the flow of true information
10) Tiger Woods' fall from grace

We grew up with Michael Jackson. Jackson's music transcends categorization. He was an entertainer, an icon, a devoted father. Yes, I followed the media bombardment during his child molestation trial. At the time, it didn't seem possible. In 2009, Michael received our collective forgiveness and from some, a renewed admiration.

Today I listened to Michael Jackson's music while driving in the car. I couldn't help singing along and moving to the beat while passing motorists probably glanced and chuckled at my exhibition of freedom. It was a good day.

In 2009, stories about politicians' infidelity and celebrity indiscretions seemed to dominate the headlines. What should we really be concerned about? What is churning now that we can respond to in order to change the course of history?

Together we may voice our sentiments. Will the policy makers listen? Probably not. Will affluent movers and shakers lend their support? Perhaps. All we can do is put it out there, and continue to speak out.

Technology now makes it possible to ignite a movement. Short of that, by encouraging people to think about their own important role in this world, we can move mountains. That's it: strength in numbers. Yes, your vote does count.

Let's say goodbye to 2009 with a sense of reflection combined with hope.

Plan to do something. Whether it's finding a job, spending more time with your children, or working toward that goal set years ago. Widen your perspective. There is no time like the present.

As Michael sang, "Heal the world. Make it a better place. For you and for me, and the entire human race."