Resolutions

It’s the start of 2019. A new year. A new start. My teachers, when I was little used to say the same things every year. A new year is like a blank notebook. A fresh start. An opportunity for you to draw a line under things that happened last year and a chance to make the future brighter and better than before.

So many of us start making resolutions.

I’m going to lose weight.

I’m going to read more.

I’m going to meet my friends more.

I’m going to…I’m going to…I’m going to…

Here’s what I think…

You’re curvy or you’ve put on a bit of holiday weight. So what? People love you the way you are. You have to learn to love yourself.

Ok, you haven’t read as much as you would have liked – it’s ok. You were doing other things. If you get the time, you will read. No need to beat yourself up about not reading.

You have been busy with life so you haven’t had the chance to meet up with friends. Guess what? They’re also in the same boat. Set a date. Go. Don’t put pressure on yourself for having to meet up frequently. It’s ok. Everyone understands.

There is so much pressure on self-improvement. Unless you’re a racist, woman hating, homophobic, animal torturing and anything else despicable – you’re a pretty wonderful human being. Stop beating yourself up. Accept that something’s you can do, other things you can’t.

If you have to make a resolution – try this one – love yourself more. Say positive things to yourself. When those thoughts begin to lurk in and like worms, begin to dig away in your brain, telling you that you’re not good enough; not pretty enough; not thin enough; not clever enough: not funny enough – take a deep breath and stop. Start telling yourself what you are good at. Start telling yourself what a difference you make to the world.

Enjoy 2019. Enjoy the adventure ahead. Start believing (if you don’t already), how absolutely brilliant you are.

NB: if you are racist, or misogynistic, or a homophobe, or cruel to animals or simple troublemaker who gets kicks out of hurting others – you do need to have a word with yourself. You need to sort your issues out. None of the above ‘feel good factor’ stuff applies to you.

The rest of you – you are brilliant. Believe it!

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Failure

When I was a tiny little dot, my father decided to take me to watch a karate lesson, to inspire me to take up martial arts. I think I was about 5 or 6 years old at the time. My memories are hazy, but I remember that my mum was not with me – that felt strange in itself, to be going somewhere without my mum and my sister. It just didn’t feel right. I don’t remember the building, or where we went. I simply recall my dad opening a door to a large room filled with men in pristine white karate uniforms with black belts tightly tied around their waists. All the men were carrying out synchronised manoeuvres and were shouting words in frighteningly loud voices. I remember finding these men terrifying! Within a few seconds, I must have started screaming and crying inconsolably because my father just could not pacify me, he drove me home.

Years later, I too have two daughters, and even before they were born, I also developed a huge sense of anxiety and fear – how am I going to keep them safe and secure? How am I going to protect them? How are they going to protect themselves when I am not around? So, when my daughters arrived, I already had a plan of action developed – Taekwondo. By hook or by crook, whether they liked it or not, they were going to learn how to stand up protect themselves if ever the need arose.

You see, I wish that my dad had taken me back to those karate lessons, perhaps when I was a bit older. I completely understand why he couldn’t – he was carrying out further studies after working all day, my mum didn’t drive at the time, it was a difficult time. But I know now why dad would have wanted me to attend those lessons, but he also knew that I wasn’t ready for them at that time.

I didn’t give my girls much of an option, or a choice about it. I spoke to them long and hard about what Taekwondo was and why I wanted them to learn it. I showed them videos on YouTube of little children learning martial arts and what they were able to achieve and the benefits of learning this amazing discipline.

Luckily, I found a family run club, the instructor understood straight away my anxieties for my daughters and reassured me that they would benefit and thrive from learning Taekwondo. She wasn’t wrong. What attracted me to this particular club was that the accomplished black belt instructor was female. I’d only ever seen and heard of male instructors. Since the girls have started attending the lessons, there are at least two other female instructors which is brilliant because my girls can see that it isn’t simply a discipline practised and taught by men. Women and girls can achieve and become warriors too.

In March when they joined, my eldest was already a confident, sparky little girl. It was my shyer, more reserved younger daughter that I was worried about – but to my delight, she is becoming more and more confident as each day passes. I do attribute a huge chunk of this success to Taekwondo. I don’t stay and watch the lessons – there’s no need for that, and my presence would be more of a distraction than a help. But I do watch her in the last 5 minutes of the lesson, before it’s time to finish, and I’m proud to see her looking at her opponent’s in the eye whilst they practice their kicking and punching skills. I’m impressed to see her having a go at carrying out ten push ups and then sit ups too. She’s become more assertive at home and at school too, more confident about disagreeing with others and putting her point of view across.

These skills you can’t grade: confidence, assertiveness, walking around with your head held high, becoming easy in yourself instead of anxious. But from a parent’s perspective, these developments mean the world to me.

When the children are ready, their instructor puts them forward for grading and inevitably, not all children pass their grading. What I loved reading later on, was the instructor’s attitude towards failing. The gist of what she wrote was this: failure doesn’t matter. Failure is a part of life. Not everyone passes everything on the first attempt or even second attempt. Failure helps you to develop, learn and grow and teaches the incredibly valuable skill of perseverance. It is ok to fail – the question is – what have you learnt from failing? And what will you do next time to succeed?

When I read what the instructor had written – by heart just swelled up with joy. This is what I want for my girls as well – to not fear failure. No one wishes for failure – of course not, we all want to succeed in life, I pray for their success all the time. However, at times failure is more valuable than success – it makes you more determined, makes you wiser, makes you empathise with others who have found something challenging and you learn to help others along the way. It helps you to develop coping mechanisms with life when other situations are challenging.

In terms of pushing forward and developing good emotional well-being in children and ultimately in adults – surely we should all look at failure in a different way? It’s not a bad, terrible thing – it’s an opportunity to learn. An opportunity to grow and develop. It may not be something that you would want – but it’s something that helps you nonetheless.

I was talking to my husband about this in great depth and we both shared stories about times when we had failed in certain areas of life – and how we had persevered because failing and then giving up was not an option. We discussed the strength of character it took to try again and ultimately how much sweeter the prize was when we achieved our goals.

We have to teach our children to able to pick themselves up, dust themselves down and go for their goals again if they did not achieve what they wanted, the first, second, third, fourth time – keep going, keep learning, keep growing.

Failure doesn’t mean that you are a bad, rubbish, worthless person. Quite the opposite. Life is telling you to have another go. Go on. Try again. Show the world what you are made of. And when you achieve your goal – there is no other feeling quite like it.

I’ll finally leave you with a story that I only heard quite recently but will stay with me forever. WD-40. WD-40 is an everyday household chemical that people use to lubricate and get rid of the noise from squeaky hinges etc. The reason why it is called WD-40, is because it was on the 40th attempt that the scientists developing it got the formula just how they wanted it. 40. 40 attempts! If that doesn’t illustrate the point that from failure and perseverance, comes success – I don’t know what else will.

Meanwhile, keep pushing yourself and the people you love to try new things in life – and if you fail, you fail. Shrug it off, try again and enjoy the journey.

Step back in time

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the app ‘Timehop’, most of you probably have it.  If you don’t, I’ll explain what it does.  You can link it to the photos on your camera roll, to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Dropbox etc, and everyday it gives an update of any photos, or Facebook statuses, or tweets you may have written on that day years ago.  I love it.  Everyday, it shows me memories of photos and videos of my little ones that I or others took and I marvel at how small they were.  I marvel at videos of them when they were only 18 months old and how I could understand them perfectly at the time – but I look back at their broken English, and attempts to communicate, gesturing and nodding – like a game of charades – and I think how nobody else would probably understand what they were trying to say, but my husband and I did.  

Yesterday, as is my daily ritual, I opened Timehop again, and saw a series of photographs and videos that physically hurt my heart.  It reminded me of a time when I desperately wanted to be in control of my life – but nothing could have been further from it. 

Let me digress and travel off track a little.  On the BBC at the moment, there is an advert that has caused a bit of a controversy amongst some viewers.  The advert shows a teenage boy and a fraught mother.  It’s Christmas time and the mother has to work – she can’t spend the time that she would have liked to with her son, and her son resents her for, as he sees it, putting her job before him.  As a viewer, you can see the conflict in both of those people.  Mum has to work.  The son probably gets that too – but he wants to spend some time with her.  The mum is also torn in half, she needs to work, but she also wants to spend time with her son.  We see shots of them both struggling in their different settings, both angry, both frustrated.  Finally, the mum runs out of work, races to be with her son and they spend the perfect evening together, reconnecting.  

Why the controversy?  I wondered why people were outraged.  I wasn’t.  I got it.  Having felt that way many, many times in my life, I understood how that mother felt.  I never wanted my own children to feel that way about me.  You see the objection to the advert was that it was a woman.  Why do women have to feel guilty about going to work and having a career and leaving children at home?  I think those people are misguided.  The advert wasn’t trying to say that.  My interpretation was, in a world where we seem to be living to work, instead to working to live – there are times when we need to take a step back, revaluate what is important, the times and moments that we will never get back, and grab those moments so that we can live without regrets.  

The photos and videos that I referred to earlier, was my eldest’s very first Christmas play, when she was in Reception.  I had resigned myself to the fact that I couldn’t go.  I didn’t bother asking my boss at the time, whether I could go because…because I didn’t want to put anyone out.  It was alright, I convinced myself, my husband would be going, she would have one parent there to watch, that would be ok.  It didn’t matter if I didn’t go.  That’s what I told myself.  

The day of the performance finally arrived, and all I could think about was making sure that she was ok.  I hugged her and explained that she was going to be brilliant and that daddy was going to take lots of pictures and videos, so I wouldn’t miss a thing.  From an extremely early age, she has been incredibly emotionally intelligent, so she just smiled and said that everything was fine.  With a heavy heart, I drove to work.  Now the play was starting at 1.30 in the afternoon, and my husband had to pick his parents up from Heathrow that morning.  A completely straight-forward job.  He was keeping me updated about the flight and his arrival time and all was going well – until the flight was delayed.  The airport was about 2 to 2 and a half hours away – and we were in trouble.  Chances were that he wasn’t going to make it back in time, and our little 4 year old was going to have no one there to watch her in her first performance.  

I felt anxious anyway about not being to watch her, but knowing that we had promised that Daddy would be there, and for her to not see anyone in the audience was too much for my heart to bear.  Feeling distraught, I went to my head and explained the situation to her.  I’m not sure how articulate I was, but she could see the distress that I was in, she was completely wonderful and let me go.  

I made it.  I made it on time, to watch my daughter play the part of a sheep, singing her songs and doing the actions that she had spent hours at home learning and perfecting.  All the other parents were sitting together, they all seemed to know each other, I found an empty seat somewhere in the crowd and suddenly there was a bustling of excitement as the play was about to start and the children were walking in.  

Looking back through the photos, I remembered my daughter’s face, so wide-eyed with amazement as she took seconds to process the fact that I was there!  Mummy was there to watch her.  And then she waved excitedly as I blew kisses and waved like a crazy person back at her.  

The play began, and I sat back in my chair wondering at the might of God.  Even though I thought that this was an event that I was destined to miss – the Almighty had other plans.  Genuinely, it felt like a Christmas miracle.  My husband didn’t miss out either.  20 minutes into the performance, he arrived and saw the rest of the play too.  Both of us had tears of both pride and joy and relief in our eyes…

Although it pains me to look back on those times, I’m also extremely grateful that I was able to make life choices and decisions that helped me to redress the imbalances in my life.  I’ll be honest, a few years on and I had forgotten about that time.  But the photos and videos brought everything back to me, like a jolt of lightning.  

One of my mantras in life is to have no regrets.  Life is short and unpredictable, so at times, we have to make life choices that may seem bizarre to others – but are right for us.  I am grateful to God every day for being with me, and helping me to not live a life of regret.  And I will never forget the day that I was not supposed to watch my daughter’s play – but God had other plans.  And for that memory, I will be thankful and grateful forever.

The sunrise

This morning my youngest was getting ready in her room, putting on her school uniform, tidying things up, making her bed, finally pulling the curtains open. I was in my room doing pretty much the same things when all of a sudden she gasped with surprise. ‘Mummy!’ she screamed. ‘Mummy, it’s the sunrise. Have a look at the sunrise!’

At this point, I had two choices. Tell her that’s great and get on with my jobs as I was running late, or go and have a look to see what she was so enthralled with….

I chose option 2. And when I went into her room I thank God that I did. Out of her window, on the opposite side of the street, past the roofs and chimneys in the distance, the sky was incredible hues of pinks and purples. I couldn’t see the sun but it delighted me to see that she was making a grand entrance. Trees were silhouetted against the background and I hugged my youngest as tightly as I could, thanking her for alerting me to this beautiful sight.

I hope she remembers that. When she’s older and has children of her own, curly haired, bright eyed, beautiful children of her own who get excited about sunsets and sunrises and the colours of the sky – I hope that she too can drop everything in a heartbeat and share their awe and wonder with them.

Tomorrow is a painful day for me. My father passed away 31 years ago. He was 33 years old. There are so many things that I never got to share with my father, so many things I never got to tell him, that he never got to tell me.

I know that he would have loved his grandchildren. All four of them. Their curiosity. Their humour. Seeing the world again, through their young, innocent eyes would have invigorated him. He would have loved their spirit, their intelligence, how they care about others.

Life is cruel at times. When I think of him, I remember him as a giant of a man, kind, stern, brave, full of wisdom. Then I remember that I am older than he was when he passed away – and it never fails to astound me.

If getting older has taught me anything, it is this – growing old is a bloody privilege – not something terrible. A privilege. Grey hairs, sagging skin, hair loss, weight gain – none of it compares to growing old to see your babies grow into toddlers, children, adolescents, adults and then seeing them have children of their own…that’s a miracle. A gift – not something that everyone gets.

What I would give to share my excitement about the colours of the sky during the sunrise, with my father – I cannot even begin to explain. But it can’t happen. So I make sure that I share those moments with my loved ones so that they have those memories with me.

Life is too short to be busy doing jobs – and forgetting to live. So – you’re a couple of minutes late for work? You’ll never share that excitement of the sunrise again. Life is a gift. Getting old is a privilege. And your children – they are only little once. Spend time marvelling at how wonderful life and the world is when they are little…because looking at the world through their eyes makes everything more beautiful for you too.

Ambition

It’s interesting – the word ‘ambition’.  The definition in most dictionaries for this word is, ‘a strong desire to do or achieve something’.  The word conjures up an energetic go-getter.  Hardworking.  Determined.  Lets nothing get in their way.  Ruthless at times.  Focussed.  People to be admired!

Ambitious people don’t understand people who don’t put their careers first.  Ambitious people don’t understand when people have other priorities in their lives and therefore are not motivated by money or promotion.  Ambitious people find those people very difficult to understand – because they do not know what motivates them.

Family, you tell them.  Yes, but everyone has a family, I have a family – what makes yours so important?

And therein lies the difference in perspective.  A career driven person is deemed to be ambitious because they are chasing a desire to be financially successful and achieve status and respect because of their talent – what they do.

A family driven person is also ambitious.  They have an overwhelming desire to have a family life where they can look after their partner, be there for their children, be present and mindful and make their house a happy home.

Sadly – this is looked down upon as a lack of ambition.  But if we go back to the definition of what ambition actually is – then what is the difference?  Following one path will make you financially rich and secure – but it may come at a cost.  What cost?  Not being able to be there for the ones that you love because of the demands of your job.  Not noticing that anything may be wrong with the ones you love because of the demands of your job.  Having to neglect the ones that you love – because of the demands of your job.

Following the other path may mean that you are seen as lacking commitment by your employers because you put your family first.  You may miss out on opportunities for promotion or not even be considered for certain roles because you don’t give your ‘all’ to work.  This may mean that financially you are not as well off as you might have been, if only your thought processes or approach was different.

In each case – neither person is wrong.  It is not wrong to want to be successful in your job, to be talented in an area and want to strive to reach new heights and be good at what you do.  However, it is also not wrong to want to look after your family.  To have the time to tuck your children in bed so that they sleep peacefully.  It is not wrong to refuse to take on additional responsibilities at work, because you know that takes time away from how much you will be able to be there for the ones that you love.  The latter choice is not a lack of ambition – it is a different ambition though  – to have a successful family life.

If we could – we would marry the two up.  Be extremely successful in our careers and have plenty of time to spend with loved ones.  Some people to manage it – at least from afar, it appears that they do…

But the point of my blog today is, let’s not dismiss the homemakers – the people who make a choice to stay at home and look after their families; or the ones that decide that they only want to go ‘so far’ in their careers.  Let’s not think that they are lacking in ambition, are lazy, or just don’t have what it takes!   Let’s dig a bit deeper and realise that their ambition – to create happiness and stability in their family homes is one to be admired as well.  These people that are there to comfort their loved ones, who have the time to ensure that their family is healthy (mentally, as well as physically), and happy  – these people are just as important and necessary and are just as deserving of respect as those who are financially successful and receive promotion upon promotion.

It is important to remember – and this is where I will end really…a job is just a job.  If you love it – that’s brilliant.  I have a job that I am fortunate enough to love.  But it’s the people in my life that drive me.  Not money.  Not finance.  Nothing else.  It is the people around me who look after me when I am feeling sick, or tired, or need cheering up.  It is the people in my life who I share my happiness and successes with, who make me laugh and bring me joy.  Jobs will come.  Jobs will go.  Family and loved ones – we should do our best to keep them forever, and make as much time as we can to be with them.  Money, you can earn again.  Promotions, you can achieve those later.  But once a person that you love has gone, or once your child’s childhood has changed into adulthood – no matter how much you try to turn back the tides of time – you can never get those people, those moments or those missed opportunities back ever again.

Good enough!

I don’t think there is a profession in the world, where the ‘must do better’ culture does not exist.  Every person I speak to, regardless of position, profession, part time, full time – the factor that is in common between us all is – striving to be better all the time.

What’s wrong with that, you may ask?  Absolutely nothing at all.  Nothing! How does anything ever improve if people are always doing what they have always done, in the same way, never questioning, never analysing, never reflecting on how things are.   And it’s certainly the culture that I was brought up with, both at home and in the workplace – have goals, strive to do better, achieve more, smash targets etc.

The one area – that I feel, the ‘must do better’ culture isn’t helpful – is parenting.  In fact, I was fortunate to sit in on some training at school, about ‘Attachment Theory’, and the impact this has on children in the very first few months of their lives.  How babies are treated by their parents, at the very beginnings of their tiny lives, goes onto shape their behaviour and how they form relationships with others as they grow bigger.  It comes as no surprise, that the children who display a lot of ‘unlovable’ behaviour, need the most love, and the psychologist who was training us, explained that if you remember nothing else – ‘connection first, then correction’.  Which meant create a connection, a relationship with those children who present challenging behaviour first – then correct their behaviour.  For those of us who have been teaching for a long time, or have worked predominantly with children who can present quite challenging behaviour, this came as no surprise, although it was nice to have that soundbite to take away; ‘connection, then correction.’

What was particularly refreshing, and actually blew my mind a little, was when we were learning about attachment theory, and the significance of the first few months of a baby’s life, the psychologist called effective parenting, ‘good enough parenting’.  I was stunned when I heard it.  I repeated those words again and again in my mind.  Good enough parenting.  Good enough parenting.  Not good parenting.  Not great parenting.  Good enough.

This meant that as a parent, you were doing what you could to respond to the baby’s needs – be that milk or nappy change or sleep or comfort – you were trying to solve the problem.  You might not get it right every time, but at least you were trying.  You are being good enough.  You’re trying your best.  You are good enough.

In many professions – it’s not ok to be ‘good enough’.  You have to be the best!  That’s all I’ve heard since I was tiny – aim high, reach for the stars, be the best.  But the hardest job of all – parenting – it was so incredibly refreshing and calming to hear – if you’re doing your best to meet your child’s needs, even if you don’t get it right each time – you are good enough.  And you know what?  I’ll flipping well take that!  I’m happy to be good enough as a parent.

One of the things that causes me the most amount of concern, is am I giving my own children enough opportunities to do things out of school?  Do they go to enough clubs?  Are they getting enough exercise?  Are they learning enough instruments?  Do I need to teach them some languages?  Should they be going on more playdates?

After that training – I’m now thinking to myself – are they fed?  Do they have clothes to wear?  Are they getting to bed on time?  Are they reading and doing their school homework?  But most importantly – are they loved?  Are they loved? Are they loved?  I can categorically say, yes to all of those questions.

And I am happy to say, that I pronounce myself bloody well good enough!  All the other stuff – it doesn’t even matter.  If I want my children to remember two things about their children, it’s that they felt happy and extremely loved.

What more could anyone ask for?

Time to live

It is the first day of my summer holidays, and I’m delighted.  I had a lie-in. Woke up feeling relaxed.  It was finally here.  The day that I’d been waiting for, for weeks on end.  The hallowed first day of the summer holidays.

My husband has known me for over 10 years now, and he knows things about me, that I forget about myself.  How I need to drink water after a shower because I get dehydrated; when I’m feeling tense or drained, I need to get to the gym because the weights and the cardio make me feel a thousand times better……and he also knows how difficult I find the last day of the school year – even though my body may have been crying out for it for weeks…

I have just finished working with the most amazing group of children, (every year I feel like this about my class), and this year it’s such a wrench saying goodbye to them all over again.  The amount of love I’ve received from these children has been phenomenal, and I’ve absolutely adored them.  Everyday this week, I’ve come home, my arms laden with gifts and cards – some handmade, some bought – all equally precious, thanking me for what I have done for them. And I’ve been immensely grateful, some of the unexpected messages have touched my heart, and I’ve found it difficult to switch off.

Thinking about a group of children everyday, thinking about what they need – teaching isn’t just teaching – you’re counselling; you’re nursing; you’re caring about their aches, pains, cuts, dry skin, fall-outs with friends; home-life issues; sharing stories; knowing when to be sympathetic; knowing when to be humorous; knowing when they’re hungry or tired or grumpy or just too plain-old-hot.

So, I’ve been dragging myself out of bed everyday.  Giving myself pep-talks – come on, you can do this!  Three more get-ups; two more get-ups; one more get-up; final day.  And then I come home.  Drained.  Physically and emotionally.  And I realise that I won’t have to care for that set of children everyday anymore.  And it hits me – like a lead balloon – every year, without fail – and like a fool, I never see it coming.  I’ve been so preoccupied with my own tiredness and needing to get to the finishing line – I forget how sad I get when I come home, knowing that ‘that’s that’, for another year.

But it’s not just incredible, loving children that I’ve met this year.  I’ve encountered some phenomenal adults too.  Once in a while, you meet people who are absolute beacons of strength and positivity.  People who have suffered loss or illness in their lives, have had to make life changes, and haven’t let life beat them, get the better of them – instead they walk around, head held high, as an inspiration to others.

One person I met recently, was really successful in her job, running half marathons, working hard, playing hard, never resting – then her world came crashing down as she developed ‘chronic fatigue syndrome’.  From being a hyper, energetic, high performing individual – she described the pain she felt when she couldn’t even put one foot in front of another to walk.  In order to recuperate, she had to make substantial life choices – give up the job that she was doing, concentrate on healing her body and getting back to a position where she could function again.  She’s in a much better place now, but as it’s a condition that will never go away, she has to be careful not to overdo things, to know her limits, slow down before things spiral downwards for her.  Whenever she sees me though, she’s always greeting me with a massive hug and a kiss, making sure that I’m ok, telling me not to work too hard – and I feel humbled.

And then I met another incredible, phenomenal woman.  I only spoke with her for 7 minutes.  But I don’t think that i will ever forget her.

My friend introduced me to her, and explained that she wasn’t well.  I felt confused.  In front of me sat a petite woman, I guessed in her 40’s, with glowing mocha coloured skin, shiny black hair cut into a bob, sitting quietly and still – just an immense sense of stillness about her.  She opened her mouth and in a very matter of fact way explained that she was living with cancer.  Bewildered, I didn’t know what to say, but the fact that she was so open, made me feel that she wouldn’t mind if I asked her questions.  I was right, she didn’t mind.  She explained that she had breast cancer, but the doctors were not able to operate because the cancer had spread to her spine and ribs.  The doctors were incredible with their treatments, and she had carried out a lot of research to support their treatments with a massive lifestyle change and using alternative remedies too.  She explained how cancer thrived and was most comfortable in bodies with a lot of acid.  The acid was in processed foods and food that contained a lot of pesticides and growth hormones.  She was having a mainly vegan diet and only bought organic food to reduce the amount of acid in her body and make the conditions in her body, more alkaline based.

I asked if stress caused more acid in the body, she replied most definitely.  It’s so important to eat well and avoid stress as that helps your body so much.

If it was up to me, I would have carried on talking to her for as long as I could. But I had to leave.  But she and her words stayed with me.

Both women made me think that we – everyone – we have to slow down.  We must slow down.  We are a world of people pursuing money; having the nicest houses; having the nicest cars; having the best holidays; leading the high life – but does any of that matter if you don’t have your health?  Mental health?  Physical health?

I, for one, am going to slow down.  Love life.  Love people.  Not stress.  Not worry.  Eat well.  Be happy.

Life is too short, and on the flip of a coin, circumstances can change within a heartbeat.  So I will avoid those who enjoy drama, those who enjoy competition, those who revel in the misery of others, those who are there to make life harder for others.  And I pray that I meet more people, who inspire me, who remind me of what life is really about – people who make the world a much better place.