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Far Away Lessons Hit Home

This column was started in New Zealand while on a vacation with my husband, Pat. It was the most amazing time of my life to visit a country so pure and beautiful with very little damage to its environment. Only four million people live in New Zealand and one million reside in the capital city, Auckland. I believe we saw more animals than humans. The most spectacular place on earth with a land untouched by humans. Everyone has a dog! WiFi is not always available, so we disconnected and found ourselves really connecting to one another and everyone else around us. It was so inspiring and cleansing to be free from the media, social network and phone calls. 

My biggest observation was the people here do not obsess about their phones. In fact, you rarely ever see anyone on their phones. Even the young people are off their cellular devices and actually socially interacting with conversation. What a blessing to their society that they do not have a strong WiFi service. They are extremely social and totally engaged with their surroundings. The outdoors is their playground and they are very happy. We could learn a thing or two from the New Zealanders. Being behind the times is actually being ahead of the times.

As I toured New Zealand, it brought back many memories of my mom and dad. My ancestors were speaking loudly and I was listening. My dad wanted to emigrate to Australia from Scotland, but my mom insisted on emigrating to the USA where her one and only sister had already moved. They decided to emigrate to New York City to raise a family together and, boy, did we have a great childhood with seven siblings and six cousins spending every holiday together along with summer vacations on the Jersey Shore.

I thought to myself what a different life we would have lived if we settled in Australia. For one thing, we would have been so far away from all my aunts, uncles and cousins. Our relationships would have been very different. Family is everything in my life. They will do anything for you at any time of the day or night. We had great times and suffered losses of children and spouses. I love my family dearly and the community that I live in as well. I take nothing for granted. Blessed and thankful for this journey.

Traveling so far away made me appreciate my friendships and relationships in this life. It also made me think about what really matters in life. During this holiday season, the presence of one another is so much more important than the presents we receive. I want for nothing and strive to live fully each day. In our house this year, we are not buying any electronics. In fact, we are trying to really teach our young adults about the value of spending quality time with one another.

Henry David Thoreau wrote, “I went to the woods because I wished to live fully in the moment and not when I came to die to wish that I lived.” We have one beautiful life with many twists and turns. Maybe we can make a conscious effort to put down our cell phones and computers. Spend time with the ones you love and live your life fully. Say yes more than no. Be well, be happy, be healthy, be grateful. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. We are overflowing with abundance.

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