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Published January 23. 2010 09:00AM

I was sitting peacefully on the couch at our daughter's home in Florida, reading a good book. The baby was napping, the two big dogs were out in the back yard, the older kids were in school, my daughter was at an appointment, and the television was off.

The house was quiet. The phone wasn't ringing, there were no loud video games being played, and I was relaxed and comfortable.

Then, all hell broke loose. The dogs started barking at a neighbor's dog. That noise woke the baby, who started wailing for "Mama." The phone rang as I rushed upstairs. As I rescued Colton from his crib, the answer phone clicked on and it was a telemarketer. Luckily, I didn't have to answer.

I quieted the baby, yelled at the dogs, and tried to reclaim some peace. But, once little Colton is awake, playtime starts. So, Grandma and Colton played with blocks, nesting barrels, and puzzles until Mama came home.

Soon after Mama arrived home, it was time for Grandma to pick up Conor from 1st grade and then go for our middle school granddaughter Kiele at the bus stop. Then it was time to think about cooking dinner. Grandma never got back to her book until early the next morning - when everyone in the household was sound asleep except her (and the two big dogs).

This whole sequence of events served as a reminder that we humans must set priorities as we navigate through each day. I could certainly have returned to my book and let Colton play alone. I could have stayed reading on the couch and let my daughter drive for Conor and Kiele. I could have gone to my bedroom and taken a nap instead of helping with dinner preparations. But, my priorities are to spend as much time with my family as I can when I visit them. I can read a book anytime. Being of help and comfort to my loved ones is important to me.

Some folks just don't know how to set the right priorities. Sometimes they forget that they are not the most important person in the world. Their selfish attitudes allow them to think solely of their own pleasures and not about someone else's needs.

Now, before you think that Dr. Smith is making herself sound too good to be true, I must tell you that I wasn't always so aware of setting the right priorities. When I was younger and more foolish, I usually thought of myself first. There were times when I could have been a better daughter, sister, mother, aunt, and friend. But, we can learn from our mistakes, vow not to make them again, and go forward with renewed purpose.

The old adage "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is a fine way to set your life's priorities. Asking yourself the question "Am I able to help someone by my actions?" may make a big difference in your choices.

Once upon a time, a wise man said to me, "Living rightly is the hardest thing to do." He was correct. It's not easy to "live rightly" unless you forget about your selfish wants. Take the time during this early part of 2010 and re-evaluate your priorities. You won't be sorry.


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