This will be my last post of 2011 and I want to keep it short, sweet, and on point, so there will only be the top seven. They say that seven is a magical and mystical number, and I think it is a good starting point. I have settled for seven since I have so many things that matter to me, way too numerous to name.
The past year has been an action-packed collection of incredible highs and discouraging lows. I have experienced, once again, the importance of focusing on the things that truly matter. To do otherwise is an enormous waste of time, energy, and resources.
2011 reinforced some critical values and gave me some deep clarity and insight into the things that make my life as rich and blessed as it is.
Here are the top seven things that truly matter to me:
1. My family and friends. Without them, I would be lost. They are the people who are my greatest teachers, my solace, my strength, my inspiration and my heart. This is not to say that they can also drive me mad. The goodness and generosity of my family is worth all the struggle, aggravation and stress that come with human relationships and dynamics. I love the people in my family, and extended family, with a ferocity and strength that is able to overcome the little annoyances and fusses that may arise.
2. My career. Years ago I would never have imagined how important my career would become to me. I was a stay-at-home mom for ten years and when I went back into the workforce, I had to struggle and deal with things that prevented me from really loving what I was doing. Working was a means to an end- a way to support my children and myself. While I still have to work to pay the bills, I actually love my work now. My career brings me incredible satisfaction and makes me feel complete as a person. I actually do get paid to do what I love- writing.
3. My marriage. Yes, of course I consider my husband to be part of my family, but as those of us who are married know- marriage is a very different “animal”. I have been with my husband for many years, but we only married in 2011. Being a wife to the man I love has taught me that marriage is something that must be worked at daily, and it is probably the most challenging and difficult relationship in life. That said, it is also one of the most glorious and sublime states a person can hope to have. I was single, after my first marriage ended, for over 20 years. I didn’t think I would ever marry again. I was afraid to fail again, so I avoided the possibility of marriage for many years. But I have come to realize that despite the difficulties, frustrations, challenges, and heartaches- marriage is truly wonderful and I am so thankful for mine.
4. My health. Such a cliché but so very relevant, especially as one ages. I am so very thankful for my health and the health of my family and friends. Good health is the foundation of so many other joys and it gives possibility to so much. I never take it for granted and it is something that makes all the difference.
5. My sanity and sobriety. While there are many days where I question the former, the latter is something that truly matters to me. Mental illness and addiction bring incredible unhappiness, chaos, strife and misery to so many people, their families, and society at large. I am grateful to have both and I pray every day that all those who struggle with either, or both, will find the strength, grace, and courage to seek the help they need. I encourage ALL people to work to help those who suffer with these conditions in any way they are able. The differences between a life of sanity and sobriety, and that of mental illness and addiction, have no compare.
6. My integrity and self esteem. Without integrity and self esteem, or self respect, life would be an empty and hollow existence. Even if you managed to amass a financial fortune or incredible fame, what would it matter if you weren’t a person with integrity? And if you live your life without self-respect or esteem, you can’t possibly find a way to enjoy all the other wonderful parts of life that make it worth the struggle. In truth, without self-esteem, self-love or respect, you can’t truly love anyone else in a healthy or productive way. I am happy that I have reached a point in my life where I feel content and at peace with my integrity and self-esteem. It took many years, many lessons and a great deal of pain- but I feel that I reached the point of being comfortable, happy and proud of the person I am.
7. My spiritual faith and my love of country. As they say, last but not least- my faith and my love of country are two things that keep me grounded and bring me incredible joy. If I did not have either of these blessings in my life, I would truly be lost. I don’t push either of these things on anyone. I believe they are two of the most personal and private aspects of a person. But I will give testimony to the value and the goodness of both. I love God and I love my country and I am not ashamed for anyone to know. They have both brought infinite happiness and satisfaction to my life. I am grateful to both for my life, my blessings and my many opportunities.
I wish everyone a blessed, joyous, serene, and prosperous 2012. May you find the things in your life that truly matter to you, and find a way to live life to its fullest.