Saturday, 20 April 2013


My absolute favorite flower in the world is the Sunflower. It symbolizes happiness and faith, always turning it's head to the sun to take in it's rays. For me, when I gaze up at the tremendous head of a sunflower against the bright blue sky, it fills me with feelings of joy and gratefulness. In my garden, you will always find a row of sunflowers somewhere.

It's important to be reminded in life about being grateful and the sunflower does this for me. We all need to appreciate everything that is given to us, all the opportunities we are presented with in life, and for our existence in this world.

When I look around me in life I see so many things to be grateful for. The ocean, trees, birds, wildlife, lakes and rivers. In Canada we experience religious freedom, access to health care, education and equality. With all the atrocities that are befalling so many places in the world, all the hunger, war and disease I am thankful ever day for where I was born and all that I have in my life.

In my life I've been very lucky in the fact that I've learned some truly important life lessons early on. My first lesson I learned is from my parents. They both grew up in the Netherlands during WW2 and then later on immigrated to Canada as a Newlywed couple with $300 and a dream. They taught me that when you work hard, you will accomplish greatness. They taught me that nothing is forever and that not one thing on this earth is ever really yours. At some point in this life you will leave it all behind. A very important lesson indeed.

Then, when I was 20 years old, I began my career working in a hospital. It was here that I learned my second great big lesson in life. And that was, everyone dies, and you're usually not that old when it happens. Now I know on some level, we all know this and are aware of course that some day we will die but when I first started working in health care I was very na├»ve. Up until that point I had lived a pretty charmed life. I went to school, spent time with friends, and no one I ever knew close to me had died. I was sheltered from the whole life and death cycle.  So when I started working in the hospital I was completely blindsided by that side of life. And it made me realize early on that appreciating every moment, and trying to make the best of the life you are given is of upmost importance. That lesson led me to make a choice in my life that then led me to my third big lesson in life.

My husband and I took a job working for a very wealthy couple. They were an absolutely wonderful family that didn't let their wealth change who they were as individuals. They were the real deal. And unbeknownst to them, they taught me some of  the most important lessons of all. They taught me that

1. Things don't make you happy, friends and family do.
2. The size of your house doesn't matter, the family inside it does.
3. Money doesn't make losing someone you love any easier.
4. Money can't buy you your life back.
5. Someone always has more, no matter how much money you have

Money is a powerful thing. We all need it to survive. Food, shelter, clothing. But money is more than that. In our society that we live in today, money is also required for social acceptance. The ones with the most toys wins. As a society we no longer consider personal satisfaction and happiness as the basis for success. It is the perception that others have of us that is the basis for our own success. The big house, the fancy car and the designer clothes. The problem is, this won't bring you joy or fulfillment. Nice things are nice. But that's it because they are still just things.

For me, personal satisfaction comes from life experiences. The simple pleasures of a warm campfire at night, watching my children as they sleep, or a really great sunset at the beach with my husband holding my hand. These are the things I appreciate. And they don't cost me a thing.

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