5 ways to create your best life

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I love this quote. We are here on this earth for a purpose. Some people spend their lives wondering what their purpose is whilst others never question it all. Many lose themselves in the daily routines of life and live life less purposefully than they deserve. Why do you wake up in the morning?Recent research shows that a lot of people don’t know the answer to that question. They have lost their purpose in life.

An easy way to regain this sense of purpose is to ask yourself what is your passion. What is the thing that you would do for the rest of your life never getting paid for it? What makes you so passionate that you want to share it with others in your life? It might be something creative, writing, painting, singing. It might be your family, your business. Whatever it is, it is important to acknowledge the importance of this passion in your life and enable it to expand and develop every day.

This quote makes me wonder what our world would be like if we did not impose self limitations in our lives? If we truly believed we could achieve everything we wanted? If we knew in our hearts that we encompass all the skills and knowledge that we need to succeed in making our wildest dreams a reality. We need to start believing in ourselves.

If you ask what is the speed at which a child learns to read, researchers find the average age and schools then build a curriculum that enables children to learn how to read at that average speed. Is this what we want? A world of average? Average achievements? Average abilities? We are capable of so much more than that but unfortunately we do not live in a society that encourages better than average from everyone. Certainly everyone has the innate ability to be better than average in some area of their lives. Some people have a high intellectual ability, others are more talented with their hands, some people have amazing music capabilities. And yet, we all attend the same schools, do the same exams, adhere to the same rules and standards, essentially established to create a more uniform population, an average one at that.

What would you achieve if you knew you could not fail? Positive psychology has proven that instead of attaining a certain level of success and then allowing ourselves to be happy and proud, we should, in fact, first allow ourselves to constantly experience the positive emotions of happiness and fulfilment which produces greater efficiency and hence creating more success in the area of our choosing.

Without focusing on the specific experiences that may have caused you to settle for mediocrity in your life, it is more beneficial to emphasise the ways in which we can influence positive change in our lives, to create our best lives.

1. Gratitude
Be grateful for everything in your life. If it’s 90% perfect don’t spend your time focusing on how to make that 10% better. Instead focus on all the things in your life that give you love, joy and happiness and then whatever was not quite right will come into line with what you want or maybe it just won’t be important anymore.

2. Take control
Many people live their lives believing themselves to be a victim of their circumstances. However, you only need to look at the most successful pop stars to notice that many of them had a less than charmed upbringing. You are the only person in control of your life. No one can make you feel bad without your permission. If some one is rude to you in a shop don’t let that ruin your day. If your thoughts don’t make you feel good, let go of them. Other people have no power over your thoughts and it is only your thoughts that make you happy. Take control.

3. Make time for yourself
Yes, sometimes it’s easier said than done, but it’s so important to even take 5-10 minutes a day just for yourself. This is not a time for you to write out your schedule for the day or plan tonight’s dinner, instead, this is where you switch your thoughts off, focus on your breathing, listen to calming music if you like, sit out in the sun if you can… Whatever it is, take this time to relax and know that you are worthy of it. Appreciate yourself.

4. Make goals/bucket lists/list of inspiring ideas
Life can be so hectic that we often get distracted and lose creative ideas we have or dismiss them with excuses of lack of time, money, freedom etc. Excuses are the disease of the mind to justify not following your dreams. They enable us to block out our true desires in order to save ourselves from potential disappointment (we think) but really everyone knows the biggest regrets are not the things you attempted and failed, but the things you didn’t even have the courage to try. Figure out what it is you are truly passionate about it. It is your calling. Write it down and put it somewhere you will see it everyday, as a constant reminder that you are striving towards something great.

5. Positive affirmations
Every morning, before you get up, give yourself a minute to be grateful for another beautiful day. Predict the wonderful things that will happen during your day. Write out or repeat five positive statements e.g I am healthy. I am loved. If possible repeat these at intervals during the day. In physiology, the repetition of these affirmations strengthens the neural connections in the brain which makes our beliefs stronger and easier to access every day. This repetition of thought which becomes our belief system, is what influences our perception of the reality surrounding us in the physical world. Essentially, we create our beliefs which in turn changes the world we encounter, therefore, thought manifests into reality. Each day it is important we choose our thoughts carefully to create the future we truly desire.

It is my dream that we all become aware of the innate power we have within us, harness it to create positive changes and soon be living the lives of our dreams xxx

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A walk in the park

image As I relaxed on my balcony enjoying the warm evenings sun, I casually observed the goings on below me. Several older women, all accessorised with small dogs had stopped to chat on the path and a few cars driving by. A peaceful scene by all means until my thoughts were interrupted by an incessant drumbeat, which actually sounded like a marching band, so I decided to investigate. Upon entering the park, it was clear that from above, the leafy branches of the palm trees cleverly disguised the hive of activity that happening right underneath me. I located the source of the band music which was coming from a practice room under the ground. I decided to sit for awhile and enjoy the music while observing some girls training hard, a little boy blowing bubbles and a few adults rollerblading, beside a large colourful monument. On my walk home I saw the dog enclosure in the park was full of people and their dogs while others sat at the little cafe drinking coffee. A father and his sons practised their basketball skills while moms kept a close eye on their children in the playground. Large groups of people gathered around a game of kickball (like netball I believe) and cheered for their favourite team. Lone joggers expertly weaved themselves between these crowds as they continued their daily exercise routine. Students, with their arms full of books, leaving the library after a hard day of studying. So much was happening here, in this little park, that I was oblivious to from above, in the comfort of my own balcony. It made me think about how life is like that. When we are too busy being caught up in our own lives we miss the beauty of life that constantly surrounds us. Happiness comes from the small things in life so let’s try not to forget to come down from our balconies every once in awhile and enjoy the experiences life has to offer in the small things. 20140507-105056.jpg 20140507-105047.jpg 20140507-105110.jpg 20140507-105128.jpg 20140507-105142.jpg 20140507-105417.jpg

Fiji Flashback

I’m so grateful that the weather has been so nice here in Ireland recently. Today is going to be 18 degrees if you can believe it (that’s like 28 in Australia!) but sometimes I allow myself to drift off to memories of island life in warmer seas. I decided to use my notes from my old travel diary to create today’s post about the beautiful Fijian islands that I visited a few years ago.

From the place you’d rather be this lovely Monday morning…

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Day 1

I arrived at Sydney airport at half 6 this morning and was greeted with the delightful surprise that I cannot go to Fiji on a one way ticket hmmm! Why do they sell one way tickets so? I ended up buying a very expensive return flight on a flexible fare to allow me to change it ( you never know I might want to stay!) problem sorted 🙂 When I arrived in Nadi (pronounced Nandi) airport I was greeted by 3 men singing and playing some native song and they all wore flowers in their hair! It was just lovely!I was even given welcoming beads to wear 🙂

Bula means hello and welcome!!
The resort shuttle bus soon came to pick me up and off we went.My driver’s name was Joe and he was very nice. The roads are quite bad and the driving is atrocious and my suspicions were confirmed when I later witnessed a bus crashing into a car!! Interestingly this incidence did not deter my ambitious desire to attempt the local bus getting into the main town, which isn’t far away as I am staying on the beach! The bus was about 100 years old and had no windows and I can’t even begin to describe the gear stick!! So far, no other tourists, just me, which is probably why, once in the town, I was accosted by every shop owner trying to get me into their store! Opting for the safer choice, I got taxi back and watched an amazing sunset from the rooftop, overlooking the beach.

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Day 2
I spent the morning organising my trip and I decided on a bula combo pass, which includes sea transfers and accommodation and food to the Mamanucas and Yasawas. Apparently I will be lucky to have electricity so will have no internet or phone coverage on the islands! The man in the office has kindly requested chicken and chips for me for lunch and dinner at each of the resorts hehe! (Priorities!) Chilled out on the beach for the day!

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Day 3
Got picked up at 7.15am (what kind of holiday is this?!) and spent the day on the boat. We passed many of the other islands I didn’t choose to stay at, so was nice to see them all. Some of them are tiny seriously! My first island stop is Bounty Island for a few nights. I met some lovely people staying here as there is only one resort on the whole island and set meal times so everyone has to come to eat at the same time when called. It’s quite funny! I’m not sure a roasted pig constitutes chicken and chips, but I embraced the challenge of trying something new. It wasn’t so bad 🙂 One of the days here I kayaked around the whole island… In 20 minutes!!

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Day 6
It seemed the mana flyer (my transport for the day) was on Fiji time, (everything runs late but don’t worry we’re on island time!) when it didn’t turn up to take me to my next island but later, it transpired that it was late because it actually broke down and a little replacement boat came to collect me 3 hours later. While I was waiting I lay out by the pool and watched a little Fijian boy having a scuba diving lesson in the pool. It was very cute! I had my doubts about the dependability of the replacement boat when the engine suddenly stopped mid ocean! Uh oh! I immediately imagined myself heroically swimming to the island with an adventurous tale to tell in the end. Luckily it was just a case of pulling the pipe that was sucking the petrol out of a canister and putting in another petrol container. It had run out of fuel and I found this immensely amusing! I was quite happy bobbing away in those gorgeous waters anyway… As long as the fish didn’t get me ( silly fear of fish.. I’m working on it lol!)

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Eventually landed on Mana island. It seems the lonely planet book review was quite accurate about the resort I was booked into, which is why I didn’t want to stay in this place, but according to Ab, who booked my trip, it was the only place that would accommodate my chicken and chips every day request. I found out later that the english couple next door to me were the only other people in the resort and turns out it was Ab who booked their trip too. It was so unprofessional,more like someone’s home. It didn’t even have a name on the establishment!

Anyway, I went for walk and booked my trip on the seaspray for tomorrow. On my return, I asked about using the internet and turns out there’s no electricity until 5pm. It was raining and stormy so I went to lie down only to find 2 black bugs on my bed eggghh!! There was a loud banging noise and I discovered it was a man making cava, a Fijian drink. I’m curious as to what it tastes like because it looks like mud lol!

Day 7
Had fun today on the day trip to Monuriki which is where Castaway, the movie with Tom cruise was filmed. I needed the fun after a horrendous night last night. Briefly, there were many over living creatures keeping me company in my bedrooms me so my sleep was intermittently distrusted by my compulsive need to use the torch on my phone to check and make sure there was nothing crawling on my bed! At about 2am I heard a strange noise. I shone the light around the room. Nothing. And again… The strange scratchy noise. I shot the light directly in front of my bed to see a dark shadow perched upon the other empty bed. Frozen in fear I mentally calculated how safe it would be to get up and turn the light on. Oh wait… No electricity. Bloody marvellous!! Ok maybe I imagined it… So I look again and there is a big fat rat. Omg!! Grabbed bag and legged it out of the room, with my heart racing.As luck would have it the door to the reception was closed and no one was about so I sought refuge in the building next door. It was a bar that I had watched a traditional Fijian dance earlier. I sat, curled up in a ball, on that chair,a fraud to sleep but my fear disappeared with the night and my spirits rose with the sun and I was ready to enjoy another fabulous day in Fiji.
We visited a few other smaller islands as well as a local village to participate in a cava drinking ritual with an elder from the community.

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Day 9
Finally, some luxury. I arrived for four glorious nights in Malolo. Walu beach, where I was staying, was specially built for the reality show called The Resort!!! In fact Bounty Island, which is a 20hectare coral island, was used for Celebrity Love Island while Mana was the setting for tv show, Fiji Survivor. ( I think I deserve that title!lol!) I spent these few days chilling I a. Hammock, reading by the pool, learning about the medicinal purposes of plants found on the island, enjoying food cooked underground and I even made my own bracelets from leaves and coconuts. I feel very accomplished lol!

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This is really the colour of the water!!!

This is really the colour of the water!!

I’d love to hear about your experiences of Fiji. There are so many more islands to visit I definitely will return.

7 days to see… Florida

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Day 1
Starting location: Orlando airport
End destination: Orlando
Main attractions along the way: Orlando

Description
I really wanted to rent a vintage VW bus for the week but they were all booked out for Easter. Check them out http://www.floridavwrentals.com/
I would advise booking your rental car online. Try these sites.
http://www.thrifty.com
http://www.expedia.com
http://www.rentalcars.com/florida

We ended up renting a car from advantage and they lived up to their name and took advantage of us. Beware of unnecessary upgrades and insurance costs. You should not have to pay anymore than the price given on your booking.
Begin your trip with a jaunt into the city. It is best explored on foot so park your car on a side street and off you go. We discovered a very cute Mexican themed street where we lunched on quesadillas and enchiladas.
Our villa was booked on Florida Vacation Villas on http://www.hotels.com.
Thanks to technology we followed google maps the whole way to the house. I would happily have moved in forever. It had a swimming pool, outdoor Jacuzzi, 6 bedrooms and a games room in the garage. It even had an air hockey table, which I love!

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Day 2 – 3
Starting location: Orlando
End destination: Orlando
Main attractions along the way: Disneyland

Description
Tickets can be bought in stores along the road offering specials. Otherwise you can buy packages online. https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/tickets/

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Day 4
Starting location: Orlando
End destination: St. Petersburg
Main attractions along the way: Tampa, Clearwater Beach, Madeira Beach, Treasure Island Beach

Description
Just a two hour drive from Orlando, is the large, popular tourist spot that is Clearwater Beach. It was very busy but we found a nice spot by the water to enjoy a few hours of sunbathing and swimming. We stopped at several beaches enroute to St. Pete’s, some of which I have mentioned above. It seemed like every stop had miles of gorgeous white sandy beaches, each more beautiful than the next. We arrived at St. Pete Beach in time to observe the gorgeous sunset, and listened to the waves crash as day became night.

If you have extra days, optional stops
* Honeymoon Island
* Caladesi Island

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Day 5
Starting location: St. Petersburg
End destination: Siesta Keys
Main attractions along the way: Anna Maria, Holmes Beach, Bradenton Beach, Longboat Key Beach, Sarasota Island

Description
Enjoy the incredible views of the Gulf and tiny beaches as you cross the famous 5.5 mile Sunshine Skywalk Bridge. Taking the scenic coastal route, you will have lots of opportunities to stop beautiful beaches along the way, some of which I mentioned above. Long bridges connect each of the islands, and the drive is very enjoyable across the Gulf of Mexico. A good place to stop for lunch is Sarasota. We chose to picnic in Sarasota Island Park and Marina and enjoyed the sunshine and the artistic displays in the park. Next, we took Ocean Blvd. and Beach Road to Siesta Keys, which apparently was awarded No. 1 beach in 2011. It certainly deserved its title, as this massive beach not only had volleyball nets, picnic tables and loud dance music, it also had the most unbelievably soft sand I’d ever felt ( I even rolled around in it and I’m not the fondest of sand generally!). Once a year, this beach holds world sand building competitions where people come from all over the globe to produce some marvelous sand creations. Every Sunday there is a drum circle held on the beach at sunset and as luck would have it, we were there on a Sunday (of course!), and got to observe people of all ages dancing, playing music and even hula hoop dancing. Coincidently, I had bought a hula hoop earlier that day, but my skills are atrocious so I didn’t partake, but promised myself to practice before next time!

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Day 6
Starting location: Siesta Keys
End destination: Fort Myers
Main attractions along the way: Venice Beach, Sanibel Island, Tarpon Bay, Lighthouse Beach, Bowman’s Beach

Description
The first stop of the day is Venice Beach. It is a large white sandy beach and was very quiet when we were there. After a lovely morning walk, we headed for Sanibel Island which is famous for its shell beaches. I have never seen anything like them before. There are shells of all shapes and sizes and if you make a quick stop at the touristy information office, they will give you plenty of informative leaflets so you can tell what type of shells they are. Shells are a great souvenirs to bring home.

There are many activities to choose from on this island especially water sports but I would recommend the Thriller Dolphin cruise. It leaves from Tarpon Bay and is a 90 mile exhilarating ride around the two islands while dolphins chase your speed boat. In the evening you have many beaches to choose from on the island. We drove to Lighthouse Island, which was another beautiful strip of white sand lined with the warm, turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It was here, one of my life dreams came true. As I was out swimming, two young dolphins swam in close beside me. I’ll admit I got a little scared as I recalled (falsely I’m sure) an article about being bitten by dolphins ( I watch too many movies!). Despite this, it was a magical moment for me as I watched them play for a few minutes before gliding off into deeper waters. To top a wonderful day off, watch the sunset at Bowman’s Beach.

If you have extra days, optional stops:
* Captiva Islands
* Cayo Costa

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Day 7
Starting location: Fort Myers
End destination: Miami airport
Main attractions along the way: Naples Beach

Description
This drive was less than 3 hours so we had time to stop for some last minute sun at Naples Beach before heading to the airport. There is a state park here for some nice walks.

If you have extra days, optional stops:
* Miami
* The Everglades

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To go or not to go that is the question… How to make life changing decisions.

Impromptu road trips, last minute flights to exotic destinations, spontaneous ventures into the unknown… these are familiar experiences for many young people with a free spirit and a yearning for adventure and exploration. I, myself, have had many moments like that which have blessed me with the greatest of memories. But at what point do we have to slow down in life and look for more stability, perhaps contemplate settling in one place with one person? I have been asking myself these questions recently and I’ve found there isn’t a universal answer that can be applied to everyone, we must just listen to our hearts and find our way. We each have our own destinies to fulfil, some may travel forever, some may never travel and then some just slow down when it feels right.

Two weeks ago I booked a flight back to Sydney and marvelled at how I hadn’t even considered the option until a friend suggested it. It seemed like the perfect idea, back to my friends, my favourite place and a guaranteed great time. But after a few days I noticed something was amiss. Where was the excitement , the enthusiasm and elation that usually precedes my trips to Sydney? I began to analyse the situation from every possible perspective with the dreaded fear I’d made a mistake.

During this time I tried to convince myself that my spur of the moment booking was the correct decision (Ssshh brain, I’m never wrong!!) but I still couldn’t shake the negative feelings I had, so I did what any logical person would do. I spoke to my friends over there and they convinced me it was a great idea, as I knew they would. I frequently looked at videos and photos I had taken during my last visit there, boat parties, beach parties, pool parties and not surprisingly , I began to look forward to it.

Three days to go, I packed my suitcase, said some goodbyes and while I still wasn’t totally convinced, I wasn’t allowing myself to consider the alternative. That is until, the day before the flight, when I realised that although there may be many reasons to return to Sydney my heart simply wasn’t in it. It was a difficult decision to make because my heart and my mind were in a challenging duel for many days while I helplessly spectated and waited for the eventual victor to emerge. Thankfully it was my heart.
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If you’ve ever asked me for advice I’ll probably have told you not to stress or worry, the answers cannot come to a muddled mind, simply declutter your thoughts and allow your heart to tell you the way to go. But I must admit, this time I struggled with my own advice and even sought the advice of many others although this also conflicted with my firm belief that we have all the answers inside, if we quiet our minds to listen.
But here I am, still in Ireland, obviously not half way to Sydney and I know I made the right decision. I cannot say what specific reason there was to not return except that I must always follow my heart and this time it was not telling me to go to back to my beloved Sydney. Even though the bigger picture is still a mystery to me I have every faith that only good things are on my path and that if it’s meant to be I will return some day to Sydney. Until then XxX

Stay tuned to see where I end up!
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My five favourite… Islands

Gozo Island, Malta

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A gorgeous day trip by boat from Malta is the beautiful island of Gozo. The best way to explore this tiny island is to rent a car and head off to all the famous sights, like the Azure Window, while marvelling at the unique countryside along the way. My favourite place, that I revisited last year, is this tiny town, Xlendi Bay. It is the perfect place to unwind after a busy day of sightseeing.

Yasawa Islands, Fiji

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It’s impossible to choose just one of these treat-sized islands as each one is pretty much the same but all equally stunning with crystal clear waters and all inclusive resorts, these islands are the perfect retreat if you want to do absolutely nothing but relax.

Oahu, USA

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It’s difficult to choose just one Hawaiian Island also but I think Oahu is the most diverse, with lush,green rainforests, white, sandy beaches as well as shopping and outdoor activities to suit everyone, not to mention its famous surf spots.

Fraser Island, Australia

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Fraser Island can be a 1 or 3 day excursion from Rainbow Beach. There are miles of uninterrupted beaches and beautiful lakes and forests. A unique attraction here is driving on the beaches while looking out at the dingos (wild dogs) chasing your vehicle and whales breaching out in the ocean. A visit to this island isn’t complete without stopping to see the lovely Lake McKenzie and also I really enjoyed the short flight over the whole island, which also gave us a great view of the islands famous shipwreck.

Ibiza, Spain

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Having lived in Ibiza for five months, I have very fond memories of this island and despite being renown for its club scene, Ibiza also has many scenic locations to escape from the craziness every once in awhile. It is said to have a very powerful electromagnetic force, like Hawaii, which keeps people returning every year, and while I don’t know if it’s that or the great djs, I would definitely recommend the ibiza experience to everyone who wants a little fun in their lives.
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If life is a shopping basket, how do you fill yours?

Clothes, shoes, iPhones, go pros, the list goes on. On a daily basis we are bombarded with an assault of tantalising temptations that cleverly try to steal our attention and our hard earned money. As a reformed shopaholic myself, I am all too familiar with the lure of shiny, pink things in every shop I see. Stationary and suitcases are some of my more customised weaknesses. But what are our possessions really saying about us? I am what I have? Are we defined by our material purchases? Furthermore, does society evaluate our worthiness based on what we wear, what car we drive and what we own?

In fact, it is apparent that our own self worth is intrinsically bound to these material aspects of our lives. Indeed retail therapy is a not a new trend. A bad day in the office is often cured by a new dress or pair of shoes. Another issue with this consumer lifestyle is how it satiates our dangerously growing need for instant gratification. Attaining those desired, yet equally unnecessary purchases with a credit card,when you can’t really afford it, equals short term happiness at a very high price. We do feel better if we look good but to what extent are our experiences of happiness correlated with the accumulation of paraphanelia in our lives. Travelling is one of the best things you can do to gain perspective on this. By observing the poverty in other countries we can begin to fully appreciate how fortunate we are and also realise that life is just as satisfying only having one (pink!) suitcase of clothes to choose from.

Why is it that we are constantly seeking happiness from the environment around us when what we really should be doing is looking within? The answers to all our questions, thoughts, fears, the inspirations and ideas we need to move forward, everything we need can be found within ourselves. Fill your shopping basket with friends, activities that you enjoy, time to be alone to reflect on all the amazing gifts you are given each day and most importantly fill it with love. These are the most valuable commodities you can attain in life.

Wealth is not in possessions… but in time. It is the only thing we cannot buy. When our time is up it’s up and as most of us will not be given a warning as to when that will be, it is imperative that we make the most of now. Many of the generation x abide by the unstated law that you must work hard your whole life to enjoy a well deserved retirement. That may seem the sensible thing to do but is it the best that we can do? Considering that we can take nothing for granted, not even tomorrow, today is the most precious gift we can be given. Appreciate today. Enjoy the now. Whatever small task you are completing, do it with love and attention. Life is made of small, insignificant moments but when you appreciate each of those precious moments they become your greatest life.
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