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Happy New Year, everyone! We are wishing all our readers a happy and healthy 2014. Now that we are past the hectic holiday season, we are left to look ahead and plan for the upcoming year. In reflecting on my past year, I noticed how my brain immediately went to the things that went wrong or the things that didn't come to fruition like I had hoped. Its funny how that happens. Part of it is human nature- we are hard-wired to remember and avoid situations that were painful for us. But there is an element that I want to focus on today, and that is comparison. It is when I start looking at others who have what I want, that I start coming up short. When I made a list of the top then things that happened this year, I was astounded by how good I felt! That all goes out the door when I start the game of comparison.

Our society is built on this concept, and there isn't an advertisement out there that doesn't tap into this. We are supposed to look at the various marketing in the media and remember just how much we don't measure up. If only we had thinner, healthier, fitter, more beautiful, less-aging bodies. If only we had more money to buy more stuff- cars, houses, vacations, college educations, electronics, toys. If only we had more relationship success- more friends, a spouse, a better marriage, kids, grandkids. We look at the media and find the ways our lives don't measure up. "Why does so-and-so have it all together, and I don't? If only I had ____, I would be happy." These are signs of a losing battle with comparison.

Don't get me started on the effects of social media! I was reflecting on how difficult this year was for me, although it was full of wonderful moments too. If you look at any of my social media posts, you would have no idea some of the struggles I dealt with. Why? Because people don't post struggles, they post victories. Even when I was in the hospital for close to a month last December, I posted the little victories, not the daily Heparin bruises, or the discouraging readmissions from vomiting. People tend to post life highlights, and when you are dealing with a chronic illness, there may be long periods of illness where you don't post. Fortunately there are secret groups where patients can post all sorts of brutal honest accounts of their current suffering, but this is hidden from the general public. Instead, when patients are sick and confined to their house, they sometimes spend hours looking at all the other fun adventures that healthy people are having, which in turn makes them more miserable!

It's the people closest to us that know the depths of our lows that are truly the best reminders when reflecting on the past year. There are a few close family and friends who can walk through the valleys with us and also celebrate on the mountaintops. That makes life truly worth it. So as we look forward to the rest of 2014, let's give thanks for those who have walked the journey of chronic illness with us. Let's remember the power that the media has to skew our perspective, especially on our down days. Instead of comparing illnesses, lets find commonalities and encourage each other. Let's fight back against comparison and live in the present moment- its all we truly have!

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