I am now a “seasoned” widow. What I mean by this is I am accustomed to living on my own and making decisions by myself that I would have made coupled in partnership with my husband. With this solo path has come some lessons I’m not sure I would have learned otherwise.

I’ve learned while many come to her aid, there are some who will take advantage of a widow early on—because the predators know that she is vulnerable in her grief.

I’ve learned some hard won lessons on how to be discerning. I’ve made some good decisions over the years on many accounts and some poor investment decisions—like investing in another’s entrepreneurial dream—(I’ve done that three times) but all have taught me well.

They say, “never mix money and friendship” but some of my friends are absolutely the ones I would bet on. And, I’ve only done so, knowing that the investment made can go either way–and likely the other way. One must be willing to lose on high risk investments. High risk = High reward—on a rare occasion! In other words, if you can’t afford to lose the money–don’t invest it on stakes that are too high.

But one hard-earned lesson sticks out as the most important of all. It’s vital as a rule in life to choose our battles. Of course, I remember this strategy in parenting, but I’m surprised how much I need to use this at this time of life as well—in all areas to avoid too much drama.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that as we grow as humans, there are not necessarily fewer conflicts with people. In business dealings I’ve found that the stakes get higher the bigger you play.

I’m not one to do battle over “small stuff.” It’s just not worth it to stir a pot that needs to simmer and cool off or be thrown out altogether.

So I take my time and think it through. I ask myself, who will benefit from this conflict? The battles I decide to fight are the ones that may have an outcome that positively affects a larger group of people than myself and is never just about the money to be lost or gained—but about the principle. Truth is, we have one limited resource—and that’s our energy. Any energy that isn’t bonded to powerful intention is reactive and quickly becomes wasted fuel that burns out–specifically, burns me out.

My energy matters to me, so I choose my battles wisely. And when it’s time to battle, I do it my way. The calm way. The strategic way. The way that wins.

So before I act with judgement, I wait to settle down. I wait until I’m in a state of love not unlike a parent that knows they are doing the right thing to discipline a child’s bad behavior.

I tell myself never to react from a place of anger but from a place of what I feel is most right. I push myself to always act in the righteous sense of asking, “how is humanity best served by justice here?” And, if I’m going to do battle, it’s going to be well-thought-out; I’ll strategize first. Truthfully, good strategy can only come from a place of inner calm and resolve.

These tactics always help me feel like I come out on top. I may not always be right, but I always feel good about the way I’ve handled myself.

Once the dust settles, there are no grudges, only lessons learned. And, when I decide to move forward, it’s with peace not bitterness. I refuse to allow life’s craggy road to be anything but one with curves and lovely scenery along the way.

I choose to live vibrantly—no matter what.

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