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Remember what matters most in 2021

The other day I posted on social media asking people to share a photo of something in their lives which brings them happiness.

What was interesting and uplifting was seeing the responses.

The things were not, in fact, “things.” No cars, video games or designer gear.

Instead, the comments were filled with photos of smiling faces—children, grandchildren, spouses, friends—and a number of furry friends of the feline and canine variety.

It is important to know what–who–matters most in our lives. I believe that lesson has been brought home to us more than ever over the past year, a year filled with so much uncertainty, chaos and sorrow.

We are now in 2021 and I think we experienced a global sigh of relief when 2020 faded into history. A new year marks a fresh start, the turning of a new chapter in our lives.

There are so many challenges still ahead of us—the healing of a fractured nation; getting a firm handle on this pandemic, saving lives and slowing its spread in our communities; making sure our children’s educational opportunities remain intact in a time of pandemic and keeping our small businesses not only surviving, but thriving, just to name a few. It’s the challenge of living our best life, of maintaining our sense of community, when things are still somewhat chaotic and uncertain.

So let’s keep the mental images ever present of what brings us happiness, joy and satisfaction in our lives. Material things can bring us comfort and a certain sense of false security, as those can all be taken away from us in the twinkling of an eye.

Our faith, our inner strength, our determination, our attitude, our courage—these things can help us through all the challenges we face. The love and support of family and friends, even when it must be experienced at a distance, go a long way in making each day a little easier.

I encourage all of us to take care of those we love in 2021; to protect them from health risks as we also protect ourselves.

If we truly love our families and our friends and we genuinely care about our employees, co-workers and classmates, we will heed the guidelines set by the Alabama Department of Health and continue to wear masks correctly, wash our hands/sanitize and socially distance—and yes, to do so even if and after we have been vaccinated. We may very well be tired of it all and eager to return to “normal,” but the numbers make it clear we can’t afford that right now and, perhaps, not for many months to come.

Let’s look for ways to lift one another up in 2021; ways to inspire, encourage, protect and support one another in our homes, our schools, our businesses and our community at large.

And keep remembering what—who–matters most.