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Happy New Year to you all!

I hope 2012 brings you a wealth of love, happiness and positive experience. To those of you who may not have started the new year in the way you would have hoped, I would like to pass on the words of a dear friend “each day with its highs and lows brings one closer to equilibrium”.

The word HUMILITY resonates with me this month. Just after Christmas friends of mine lost their son in a car accident. Not having suffered such a tragic loss, I cannot begin to understand their sorrow and despair. Often when incomprehensible things like this happen, we pause to reflect on the meaning of life, and even commit to changing the way we live. Sadly, we are by and large fickle and quickly revert to type. I read somewhere that heaven and hell are made in the last minutes before one passes – hell is when one realises the miracle of life was wasted and heaven, when one acknowledges that life was well-lived. What that is, is personal to each of us.

During this period of sadness and self-reflection I was fortunate to visit family in Italy. I hadn’t seen my cousins in some 20 years. What struck me most is that none of us spent time trying to find out what the other did or how we had each spent the intervening years. We simply got on with enjoying each others’ company. We ate, we sang, we walked through old and new cities, we hugged (a lot), and mostly we laughed. The simplicity of life struck me with all its force. For me, a life well-lived is one filled with kind and loving gestures, and honesty – not just toward others but toward ourselves. It doesn’t come from impressing others with the cars we drive, the houses we own or live in, the clothes we wear. I had to dig deep when I realised that sometimes I pay lip service to “appearances”. Our social conditioning and need for acceptance are more far-reaching than we think and it is only when we are confronted with that and decide to make a choice about what we value that we realise this.