Hard year teaches what really matters

This week I’m sure there are a lot of people thinking about their New Year’s resolutions.

Whether it’s to lose weight, join the gym, or giving up smoking, chocolate, alcohol or sex – or all of the above.

I, too have made a few resolutions after a year of steep learning curves.

I spent New Year’s Eve in Sydney, but unlike the thousands who were watching the fun and fireworks from under the Harbour Bridge, or from the Botanic Gardens, sharing an end-of-year champers with their friends and family, I was with my lovely daughter in a hospital hoping that 2013 will be a much less stressful year than the one that has just passed.

Many readers may have seen my story in the Illawarra Mercury at the end of last year in regards to the health of my beautiful Cybergirl who has been an inspiration for many of my columns over the past four years.

And although the past year has been one of heartbreak, hard lessons, and angst, it has also been one in which my family and I have learnt what is important in life.

The struggles have been a reminder that there is more to life than having the most, the newest and the biggest and that the things we often take for granted – like our health and wellbeing – are some of the most important.

The Newtown tragedy a week before Christmas hammered home to me that life can be taken away or changed in an instant. 

The families who dropped their kids off to school in the morning, perhaps after an argument over their tardiness in getting into the car, or the fact they didn’t make their bed, will never have the chance to remedy that situation. They will forever remember that last harsh word, or the fact that, in their hurried state to get to work, they perhaps did not pay enough attention to their children, believing that they’d get the chance to make things right after work and school.

  I still have the chance to hug my daughter, and tell her how much I love her, and I hope that the time we’ve had to spend together in less than ideal circumstances over the past 12 months will be ones that she will also treasure. 

Although the hours together have not been all sunshine and lollipops, they gave each of us a chance to talk in a way that perhaps would not have been possible otherwise.

It has also helped me realise that a bit of mess in the kitchen, long grass in the yard, and a washing basket full of mismatched socks is not something over which to lose my mind. 

Rather, I’ve learnt that you should never put off till tomorrow what you can do today, and that dinner every once in a while can constitute something that doesn’t contain the five main food groups.

Chocolate before breakfast can also make the rest of the day just that little bit brighter.

So, while Cybergirl and I watched the fireworks from the fourth floor window I made my own resolutions for this year – ones which I am determined to keep.

Kiss my kids more often, tell those I love just that as often as I can, learn to relax even when the floor is sticky.

And although sometimes it may seem more important to meet that deadline, wash those clothes or make the dinner, it’s just as important to take the time for a quick cuddle and to lend an ear to a friend, the family and even a stranger – because it’s those little things that make the biggest difference.

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