Well, it seems like yesterday I was writing about the beginning of 2020. I’m serious. When I began to play my treasured Christmas music back in late November, I had a feeling I had just been listening to it a few months before. There just doesn’t seem to be as much time between annual holidays as there use to be.

As Brooks said when he was released from prison in the movie, “Shawshank Redemption,” “The world as gone and got itself in a [expletive] big hurry, or so it seems.”

In the face of the speed of life and the rush we all seem to be caught up in, here are a few takes for 2021:

• Take stock in your life’s accomplishments. We’ve all done some good. It’s easy to never be satisfied with who we are or what we have accomplished. We, as human beings, are cursed with the thought that we never quite measure up. So, be kind to yourself.

• Take a look around. If you are inclined to feel sorrow for yourself, you won’t have to look far until you see someone whose life is in much worse shape than yours.

My mother use to say, “One half doesn’t know how the other half lives.” I think that is true. Keep your eyes open to the struggles of your fellow man and fellow woman.

• Take a friend to lunch. Stay in touch with the people you care about. And tell them often how much they mean to you. This is especially important as the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt.

Several people who were near and dear to me died in 2020. Most, age wise, were in their 80s and 90s. But lately, I’ve begun to notice a thinning of the ranks of more people my age. I’ve always heard there are more tears of regret than tears of sorrow shed at funerals. That could well be true. If you love somebody, tell them.

• Take your time. Thoughtful reflection takes time. It is something that can’t be rushed.      

Strong relationships require a significant investment of our time. That’s why I take my role as a grandparent so seriously. Little folks have a need to know they have someone’s full attention. It makes them feel valuable when someone is carefully watching.

• Take a walk two or three times a week. Once it becomes a habit, increase the length of your walks and then, increase the speed of your walk. It will help clear your arteries and it will clear your head. Do it for yourself and for the people you love. You can thank me later.

• Take a trip. You know, the one you have always wanted to take.

While your health is still good and while our country remains relatively safe, go for it.

• Take a break. Sometimes you just need to get away.  A longtime friend of mine recently informed me, “I took off one whole day and had myself a kicking, screaming fit. When it was over, I felt better.”

Sometimes you just need to let it out. Sometimes it may be accomplished by quiet reflection, and sometimes by kicking and screaming. On occasion, I get away and give myself a good talkin’ to.

Just go with whatever works for you. If you opt for the kicking and screaming, I suggest you do it alone.

• Take a few minutes every day to talk with God. It’s a dangerous world out there – a complicated, dangerous world that seems to grow more dangerous by the passing of each day. I learned long ago that life is much bigger than I am…much, much bigger.

John Kennedy is given credit for saying, “Oh, God, your sea is so great, and my boat is so small.”

Of course, to talk with God, you must be on speaking terms with Him. If you have settled that issue, let me encourage you to exercise your right and privilege for a few minutes every day.

If you are not on speaking terms with God – and while it is still fresh on our minds – may I suggest a journey that began in Bethlehem? It will take you to a cross.

Jack McCall is a motivational humorist, Southern storyteller and author. A native Middle Tennessean, he is recognized on the national stage as a certified speaking professional.

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