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The first hundred years are the hardest.

That has always been my mother’s go-to quip -- which she adopted from her mother -- when someone in the family complains about life.

I never gave it much thought; I typically just smirked and shrugged it off as a favorite family aphorism.

But I started to think about its significance -- and it began to really resonate with me -- since the start of the pandemic. It hit home even more, while recently engaging in a pandemic chore . . . cleaning out cabinets and purging them of outdated, unnecessary, and unneeded items. While providing a feeling of domestic accomplishment, the mundane task provided perspective on a year which will certainly become synonymous with challenge and loss. Stuck in the back of my kitchen junk drawer was a plastic bag filled with a rainbow of rubber bracelets. Many of them were pink, some yellow, and others were purple, teal, or blue. They reminded me of causes or conditions which I supported, or from which I suffered and recovered. I was reminded of the proverbial phrase -- “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” -- which played for awhile like a continuous loop in my mind.

On a few occasions since last March I lamented about how 2020 was supposed to be “my year.” You see, I really felt deserving of a good one, after surviving breast cancer and unexpected complications in 2018, and managing a practice with two employees on back-to-back maternity leaves in 2019. So when the proverbial ball dropped in Times Square in 2020, I toasted to a new year filled with health, happiness, and fewer professional challenges. Indeed, 2020 started off strong with great expectations and anticipation of personal and professional success. And since 2021 has begun, I realize just how successful 2020 was, given how traumatic and tragic it could have been. In 365 days, my definition of success changed from what it was at the stroke of midnight on December 31, 2019.

I am healthy. My business survived. My family, friends, and employees are Covid-free. My adult

children are employed. Yes, 2020 was challenging. But I am fortunate. While maintaining perspective, I resolve to remain positive and no longer sweat the small stuff.

Life is complicated. Nobody said it would be easy. Generally, our existence is comprised of a series of challenges and struggles, interspersed with phases of ease and comfort. When successful, the latter periods outstrip the former. How we deal with and overcome periods of adversity define our character and create strength.

My mantra this year – borrowed from the etching on a yellow rubber bracelet -- will be to live strong. Added to that will be to love strong, work strong, and play strong. I don’t expect life to be easy over the next year, let alone throughout the following 41. There is still so much in my personal and professional life that I want to achieve and accomplish. Success takes planning, time, commitment, strength, and a certain dose of good fortune.

I wish all of you a year filled with health, happiness, and prosperity; a year in which we will continue to adapt, survive, and thrive.


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