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 Most of us welcome in the New Year with intentions to make some positive changes

in our lives by setting goals and resolutions. This year I have a different kind of goal

than in past years. My goal is to continually be aware of what really matters in my life.

I live in Ojai California which is a lovely valley surrounded by beautiful mountains

and orchards. On December 4th the largest and most destructive wildfire in the

history of California erupted in our little valley. I was confident right up until the

end that it would be contained quickly.

I was wrong – I was awakened by someone pounding on my door and told to

evacuate because the mountains around us were on fire. I looked outside and saw

flames on all sides. In that moment I had to decide what I should take, what really

mattered to me? I discovered that very few things were that important – it was all

just stuff.

I didn't have time to gather up grandma's silver or other items that might be

considered valuable. When I looked back at the odd assortment of items I had taken

I realized that what was precious to me had no dollar value (except for my favorite

leather boots).

What mattered were those items that represented friendships, love and family. I

grabbed photographs, a box of memorabilia, pictures my granddaughters made for

me, a locket my son gave me when he was young and a few other necessities.

It's not necessary to go through some sort of catastrophic event to become mindful

of what's really important and valuable in your life. Decide to put some attention

this year on what truly matters to you, especially those things that have no

monetary value. Is it more important for you to spend time with your family, renew

friendships or just have more fun?

I am happy and grateful to tell you that my house and all my "stuff" was spared. I am

once again enjoying my stuff but a lot less concerned about using coasters on the

coffee table.

In the finally tally what mattered most was gratitude to all the first responders who

came to our rescue, friends and family who were all willing to take me in, and a

community that supported each other in the aftermath.

People taking care of each other – that's what really matters.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!