2020 has been a crazy year. It doesn’t seem to be slowing down much, either.

The pandemic has given me time to reflect about what’s important, and what I believe.

This morning, I was thinking about how I was raised with certain core values. Others I have come to over time, but here’s a list of what’s important to me.

  • When someone is working on something, offer to help.
  • Do the best that you can- don’t take short cuts.
  • That said, don’t make the job any harder for yourself or others than it has to be.
  • There is honor in hard work. People who labor and sweat for a living deserve our respect, and their hard physical labor makes much of our life possible.
  • Do your part. Contribute. Make a difference.
  • Do work you believe in.
  • Personal integrity is important. Don’t forget that. Remember to draw the line when people are asking you to do something that puts this at risk.
  • Be kind and generous with others. Trust people to keep their word.
  • This may mean you are taken advantage of by others from time to time. Regardless, you will always know you were doing the right thing, even if they weren’t, and you’ll be able to sleep better as a result.
  • Forgiveness is important. Try not to hold a grudge.
  • Most people are doing their best every day. Sometimes their best isn’t good enough. That disappoints everyone, but mostly those who are trying but face uphill battles that we may not appreciate.
  • We all need to experiment and try new things. Not everything will be successful. But over time, if you’re observant, you get much better at designing new things and have many more successes than failures by not repeating the same mistakes over and over. Learn and Iterate.
  • When someone is nasty, they are often acting out of pain or fear. It may be a reflection of what is going on with them, not you. Try to be kind to them, even when it’s hard.
  • Turning the other cheek doesn’t require you to stay there and take it repeatedly. Get out of the way. You learned the lesson- don’t be a masochist.
  • Stand up for yourself. You teach people how to treat you by what you put up with. Draw lines when needed.
  • Remember that the words you say can leave a mark, so be careful with them, especially when dishing out frustration and anger with your kids.
  • Remember to say you are sorry. Not “sorry, but..” with a rationalization, but a heartfelt sorry and apologize when you are in the wrong or have hurt someone.
  • Tell people what you need, and even what your failings or shortcomings are. We aren’t perfect, but if you tell people where your challenges are, they are almost always understanding and can work with you and help you where you struggle. Covering up or hiding the bad stuff doesn’t make it go away. It just makes it a nasty surprise later on, when everyone figures it out, anyway.
  • Know when to talk, and when to be silent. This isn’t easy, especially when you like to think aloud.
  • Sometimes you can’t tell people everything you want to. You have to learn how to keep a confidence without keeping secrets.
  • Find people you can trust. Keep the ones you can trust completely close and cherish them. That said, don’t give people the keys to the kingdom on first meeting- trust is something you earn over time. Dole it out in doses.
  • Love people in your life unconditionally. Be there when they need you,
  • It’s ok to help even when someone doesn’t know (yet) they need it. Sometimes they don’t want to ask, because they are worried they will look weak or will feel like a burden. Spend time with them and the simple things often help the most.
  • Trust your gut- and remember, when people show you who they are, believe it the first time. But don’t let the bad apples change you completely, even if their actions leave a mark. They made those choices, not you.
  • We get to choose how to respond to events in our lives. Make good choices as often as possible.
  • Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself. Try not to wallow. You may never forget the pain, but let it be instructive rather than destructive.
  • Look for the unexpected gifts life brings you. Even in the pandemic, I’ve learned to appreciate my kids for the adults they are becoming, and cherish the time together, even if it wasn’t what any of us chose or how we thought we would be spending this time in our lives. There is a gift even in this time of confusion and sorrow.
  • Most of all, do what you believe in. Put your money where your mouth is. Volunteer. Get involved. Work hard.
  • Show people you are determined and aren’t going to wait around and hope someone else solves the problem. If not you, who? As my friend Jennifer Iannolo says- No one is coming. You have to rely on yourself- but don’t be afraid to ask for help or guidance when you need it.