I know it was difficult for many of us to imagine ever seeing the year 2000, yet here we are, embarking on 2008.
It may seem hard to believe, but here we are, so I suppose we need to make the best of it.
Each year brings us a new set of challenges, which in turn, could make each of us just a little bit wiser - IF we take the time to reflect on what we've learned.
Let me share a few of the things I've learned in 2007.
• You certainly can't please everyone all the time and there are some folks you can't please anytime. I've pretty much always known that, but I've just now realized that it's usually simply not worth losing sleep over. We are each faced with decisions, many of them difficult, on a regular basis and we simply have to choose what we know to be the right thing, whether others agree or not and as long as we've done that, we can't give ourselves an ulcer over the judgment other folks may pass on those decisions.
• Bad things are going to happen. No matter how good life is, things are going to get shitty. I've always known that, but it's taken me this long to realize that it goes both ways. What gets shitty, must and will eventually get better again.
• Having a positive outlook on life, or, at the very least, being cheerful really does make life better. I've frequently been accused of being a cynical pessimist, but I've always viewed myself more as a realistic optimist. It's not that I see the glass as half empty, I actually see it as half full. I'm just keenly aware that it may get knocked off the table and spilled any minute. I'm still not sure I've learned how to have a positive outlook on life, but I have at least learned how to approach life cheerfully — most of the time. I've found that even if I'm not feeling particularly cheerful, if I try to be cheerful, I catch my mood improving.
• No matter how hardened you think you've become over the years, some stories will still make you go home and cry like a baby.
• A good church service on Christmas Eve will shake you out of a severe case of the "bah humbugs". Many thanks to my mother-in-law and her church for welcoming me to a service that reminded me why we should all rejoice.
• You can quit smoking four times during the course of a year and still find yourself standing in the parking lot on New Year's eve smoking a cigarette. Hopefully in 2008 I will learn that I can't smoke "just one" cigarette and hopefully I will develop the discipline not to smoke that "just one" cigarette that inevitably leads to countless more.
I am afraid that 2008 will be a difficult one for many of us as violence and mayhem escalates across the world while our economy here at home continues to decline. Hopefully we'll all be able to face it together, cheerfully, without being judgmental of one another and if it gets really shitty, we'll all sneak out to the parking lot for "just one" cigarette while we wait for it to get better.