Long-time readers of the SageBroadview Blog are already familiar with my story but permit me a moment to fill in our new readers. On May 4th, 2008 (just as the Great Recession got under way!) my family and I were in a serious car accident. My husband and two sons were banged up but otherwise fine; I had multiple abrasions and contusions and my neck was fractured in two places. While recovery was long and slow, things could have been much, much worse.
Each year since, I use May 4th to reflect on my life and lessons learned in my recovery:
Take a short break from whatever is occupying your mind. Go to The Art of Gratitude or take out a pad & pen and write down 3 things you are grateful for today. Do it now; I will wait for you.
After our car accident, countless friends, family and professional associates rallied around my family and me in unimaginable ways, reaffirming how precious it is to be part of a community. One of my favorite comic strips, Calvin and Hobbes, sums it up succinctly: “Things are never quite as scary when you’ve got a best friend.”
If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day — go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime — help someone else.
— Chinese Proverb
Since 2008, my husband Dave, sons Dominic and Devon, and I use every May 4th as a reminder to celebrate life. (Bonus: May 4th is also my dad’s birthday, my cousin’s birthday and my brother’s wedding anniversary so we already had much to celebrate on this eventful day.) This year we’re doing Mindful in May as a family. Our purpose is twofold: To embrace meditation, which has proven to be such a powerful daily practice in my recovery, and to give back by helping to raise money to fund access to clean, safe water. It costs only $35 to bring clean water to one person for life. That’s a pretty amazing gift to give someone this May.
It really is important to do all those boring foundational things.
You never think it will happen to you, until it does. That’s why it’s crucial to invest in appropriate life insurance and disability insurance. Do it today, not “someday,” along with creating a will and other important estate-planning documents. There also is much to be said for having a well-funded emergency savings account. Even if you have insurance, there are so many out-of-pocket costs when you go through an unexpected crisis. Believe me, those costs add up, and can really throw a wrench in the works of an otherwise good financial life plan.
Speaking of that plan, it’s not just about creating one (although that’s important too). It’s about keeping it real and relevant on an ongoing basis, so you can live it through thick and thin. As one of my favorite singers, Mary Chapin Carpenter, says, “Life astounds us in an instant, changing all we know.” As you face your own challenges we want to be there to help you connect your financial decisions with your deepest life goals.
Let me end with some wonderful words I found in my travels around the Internet:
“Let us not forget, or lose sight of how strange and beautiful is life, how much we love each other, and that a part of us will die when any of us dies. Having each other gives us an anchor in this world.”
“Help us to be creative, to seek great things, to build, to dream, to film, to write, and to finish. To give what’s demanded by the project we are working on.”
“Help us to have reverence for life, for each other, for other views and perspectives.”
“Help us to be good. Help us to help those who are suffering, to comfort those who stand in need of comfort. And to celebrate the victories of others.”
Written by Ben Blair