The only thing that matters in our life is love

Jan Fowler

is author of the best-selling book, “Hot Chocolate for Seniors”(winner of national & international awards); winner of Gold Halo Award from the So. California Motion Picture Council for Outstanding Literary Achievement; winner of First Place Excellence in Journalism Award (SPJ –Southern CA); Town & Gown “Phenomenal Woman” Award; former television host & KSPA radio host of “Senior Living at its Best with Jan Fowler”; speaker, contributing author for “Savvy Women Revving Up for Success”; founder of Starburst Inspirations, Inc. 501(c) (3) nonprofit which supports Redlands Drug Court. Jan welcomes feedback and comments about her columns and invites you to leave her a message on her website.

The only thing that matters in our life is love

Happy New Year, everyone. Normally, I wouldn’t think twice about wishing everyone joy, happiness, and a wonderful year ahead.

But today is a day of mixed emotions for most of us because the recent holiday season was like none other in modern history.  But after nine months of coping with death and dying during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have finally seen the release of some new vaccines which offer us the promise of hope for the future.

And whereas a holiday season normally brings families together, this year, public health experts strongly advised us not to travel but to stay home, be inventive, and help keep our communities safe.  While we must respect these guidelines, staying home can often lead to darkness, worry, loneliness, and depression.

Although children and adults of all ages generally feel a surge of excitement over the closeness of family traditions, none of that felt the same this season.

But people are finding new ways to make the best of it all and ward off dark times.  Some ‘shared’ New Years Day dinners via Zoom while others gathered  outdoors and ate on porches next to fire pits or under heat lamps. We’re all doing the best we can under the circumstances because no one wants get sick or spread the disease.

But even though we’re all trying to be cautious, it’s important to hang on to some family traditions just to maintain a sense of normalcy.

Several of my family members and I ate our holiday meal outdoors on the patio next to a heat lamp during the early afternoon when the sun was high.  And when we went inside we made it a point to keep windows open so that we could have healthy fresh air circulating.

It’s amazing how the very act of counting our blessings cheered us up and made us feel good.  When we began to feel sorry for ourselves because we were separated from other family members, we offered a prayer for those with empty chairs at their dinner table because someone in their family had died of COVID.  We’re still among the lucky ones.

Sometimes we have to work at keeping our spirits high during these uncertain days.  Calling family members to remind them how much they mean to us helps us feel better.

Doctors are advising us to get outside and walk whenever possible.  Fresh air is good for the mind and soul, and so is exercise.  So if we’re feeling low in spirits, we might brighten our day by raking some falling leaves or bring flowers indoors and place them in a vase where we can see and enjoy them as we move about our home.

Above all, be good to yourself, treat yourself with love, compassion, and forgiveness if necessary.  And expect the best from others. To love yourself is not selfish.  It’s nurturing.  And if there’s no one around to nurture you, then practice nurturing yourself.

As my dear and special friend, Fran Gambino, reminded me earlier this week, “The only thing that matters in our life is love.”

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