All that matters

My husband and I have had a few more getaways since our two-week trip to Scandinavia in September. For some reason, these trips sort of stacked up and we’ve been gone as much as we’ve been home since early November. And truthfully, we’re pooped.

I’m a homebody to begin with. A homebody that likes to travel . . . I know – kind of an oxymoron.

I’m just so happy to be home.

While we were away this last time in Santa Fe, New Mexico, fires broke out in our beloved Los Angeles and So Cal areas. Talk about feeling homesick. We were missing home already, then sick with worry about what was happening . . . so afraid for people that we care about who could be tragically affected by the fires.

Once we got home and knew that no one we know was adversely affected by the fires, we relaxed and just melted into being home. What a joy, relief, comfort . . . did I say joy . . . to be back in our cozy nest.

However, the first night we were home, I had nightmares about the fires. In these dreams, I kept running through the house trying to decide what I should take as we had 15 minutes to evacuate. It was horrific. I ended up with the cats, my purse, and a few pairs of jeans (talk about priorities – good grief). Of course, Michael was grabbing all the sensible paperwork and his cameras. (Smile)

The next morning, I couldn’t shake the feeling that we should be better prepared for the possibility of having to evacuate someday (horrible to think of, I know, but more and more, a possible reality in So Cal).

It’s an interesting exercise, if a bit unsettling. Everything that truly matters surfaces pretty quickly.

So, what if I only had 15 minutes to evacuate my home? What would I take? Here’s what came to mind in seconds:

  • Our sweet pets,
  • important papers,
  • a few precious momentos – those things that could never be replaced. Like handwritten notes from my mom that I keep in a special box under my bed . . . and photos, the old ones that are not digitally saved,
  • computer hard drives and laptops,
  • a few pieces of art that have special meaning,
  • Michael’s cameras and equipment,
  • and maybe some clothing, if time,

That’s about it. Nothing else came to mind very quickly which was enlightening to me. So much stuff in this house, and yet what matters most can be loaded into a single, small car.

Of course, my heart would break to drive away from this building I call home. This place that holds my joys, sorrows, hopes and dreams, good times, sad times, and lots and lots of laughter and memories made with precious, precious people.

At this time of year when we can tend to go a little overboard on indulgences, it was a nice reminder that a joyful life can be a very simple one.

As it happens, a few months back, Michael and I decided to forgo giving each other birthday and Christmas gifts anymore. We just don’t need or want any more stuff, and if we do, we’ll decide in the moment. We would rather indulge in more experiences together. Hence the trip to Santa Fe that was a late addition to the schedule. And tickets to see “Hamilton!”

I guess what I’m saying is that these terrible and tragic events can teach us or remind us of what really matters – and that’s a true gift. It’s so easy to get caught up in having more, when the best gifts of all are the people and pets we love most in the world, and to feel safe.

So, what about you? When you think about having just a few minutes to decide what to run with, what would you take?

In this beautiful season, I wish you all much love, peace and comfort, and the joy of knowing what really matters.

At the end of life, what really matters is

not what we bought, but what we built;

not what we got, but what we shared;

not our competence, but our character;

and not our success, but our significance.

Live a life that matters. Live a life of love.

Till next time,


(By the way, I’m taking a few weeks off from posting, so I’ll “talk” with you next year.)



  1. Lauren
    December 15, 2017 / 8:35 am

    I love this! It is so true and I am trying to teach this to the girls as they grow! ❤️ Love you!

  2. dona
    December 15, 2017 / 8:49 am

    That’s a pretty scary dream! As I read your blog with a big smile on my face because I love your writing, I stopped and thought about what I would take with me. Honestly, the first thing I thought of, besides my dog, was photo albums and all the cards I’ve saved for over 30 years under my bed in a box. I would take all my photos and my sons paintings. And that is all that matters to me, I would not miss anything else. Thank you for teaching me to appreciate the little things in life that matters. Love you!

  3. Debby
    December 15, 2017 / 9:32 am

    Beautiful words as always. Have a relaxing break until next year!

  4. Melanie
    December 16, 2017 / 6:16 am

    I live in Southern California, right between the 2 wildfires. For me and my husband, the main concern is evacuating my horse to safety. The rest seems insignificant. I realized quickly what really matters. Passports etc. kept in an easily accessible place, but material things don’t really matter and can easily be replaced. The things of the heart can’t. I like your idea of no gifts between you and your husband. This year we’re focusing on grandchildren.

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