A friend and I were talking about life. She was complaining about all the trials and tribulations she was facing. She asked me "How do you manage to survive?"

My answer was simple. I had been thinking about that very topic for years. Having lived for 71 years, I have developed a few ideas about survival. I told her – "Just keep jumping."

To me, life is like a foot race. But, the race is not just a simple run – it's a hurdle race. Now and then, hurdles are thrown up in front of us and we must navigate them safely without tripping, falling, injuring someone else or ourselves, or giving up the race.

When we're young, the hurdles seem insurmountable. However, when we're young, we're more able to jump high and get over them. Little children learn daily lessons about how to overcome certain hurdles. Our youngest grandson is a risk-taker who loves to climb. If something gets in his way, he will attempt to annihilate it so his progress is not stopped.

The fact that you don't get invited to your Junior Prom is a BIG hurdle for a teenager. But, no one said that a date is necessary. So, jump that hurdle and go to the prom with a few friends. In the scheme of things, "no date" is no big deal.

In school, schedules and organization are the keys to a good outcome. If your English professor assigns a ton of work over the holidays, use self-discipline and get a little done every day instead of waiting until the end of vacation to do the whole thing. Making a string of smaller hurdles instead of one BIG one is a smart thing to do.

When family problems come your way, it might seem as though your whole existence is spent jumping and running and jumping some more. Try to remember that every family has issues and that nothing lasts forever. "This, too, shall pass away."

Financial worries are tremendously high hurdles. Actually, sometimes those darn budget hurdles have to be attacked differently. Maybe you can't manage to fly over the hurdle. Maybe you need to dig down deep, cut your expenses, tighten your belt, and crawl from underneath the barrier. In my experience, I have found that people can make it through money problems by being smart and thrifty.

Perhaps the worst and highest hurdles are those that come with illness. It is awfully hard to navigate through life when you are sick. As wonderful as modern medicine can be, not every disease or illness can be cured. Even if you do everything your doctor tells you to do, there may still be a bad outcome. And, after you have done your best to stay healthy, relax, stop jumping, and let the darn hurdle turn into a staircase.

Keep jumping, friends!

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT DR. SMITH, SHE CAN BE REACHED AT HER EMAIL ADDRESS: JSMITH1313@CFL.RR.COM OR IN CARE OF THIS NEWSPAPER.