Magical moments are embedded in ordinary life… but until we have been forced to slow down and pay attention they slip away, unnoticed, which is something I have personally learned over the past few months.

For some reason, I became the person that inherited several family photo albums from my parents and finally had the time to look through them and give the pictures that have special memories to each of my siblings.

As many people know seeing old family photographs can elicit emotions and take us back to a time we have long forgotten about, remember the old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words?”

Well, this project was not only a trip down memory lane but brought out feelings inside of me that offered another perspective about my family.

I believe gaining wisdom through the years has helped bring this experience full circle for me. The joys and sorrows of family are mixed together as salt and pepper can be mixed, and as inseparable.

Old family photo

My family in the 70s

Every family has their issues, some people are born into wonderful families; others have to find and create them. I also think family is not as much about being related by blood, as it is about relating THROUGH LOVE.

Being a member of a family is a priceless privilege that costs nothing but love.

Every family member has their own unique version about their childhood and looking back I remember feeling different and wanting to explore the opportunities that I believed in even though it wasn’t always accepted by my parents.

As I was reminiscing through the photos my thoughts and feelings went back to those difficult times.  I remembered how hard I fought to be myself and struggled to be seen and understood. Seeing the pain on my face and willfulness in my eyes and looking back noticed how bound and determined I was to go to college; follow my dream to become a teacher and I DID!

OSU Graduation

My Parents at my OSU graduation

My 1st Year Teaching

My parents visiting my classroom!

It has been a long journey of self-discovery, a path that all of us have to walk alone and I realized that my childhood experiences made me the strong and resilient person I am today.

I carried anger and resentment for years from the lack of support back then, but now I have found peace within myself, and looking through these photos certainly helped heal a part of me I had hidden from myself for a long time. 

Lesson #1: The dreams for your life must be yours, they can’t belong to anyone else. 

The struggle is worth it; it taught me to deal with problems and welcome them as challenges; anything is possible if you believe in yourself.

The question I found myself asking lately; “What Really Matters?”

Life at its essence boils down to one day at a time. Today is the day! 

Right now, we need to stop taking so much for granted, everyone knows at some point they will live the last day of their life.

I started thinking about how I would live that that and what I would do if I had just one day left to live.

I have come to realize that if I can get that picture in my mind of maximizing one day, I will have mastered the essence of living because life is really nothing more than a series of days, right?

If I can learn how to live one day to its fullest, my life will be rich and meaningful. 

At first, I thought I would want to create something memorable, but then I realized that my perfect day would be filled with the best of simple things.

This is what my last day would be like: 

I would wake up early and go through all the things I am grateful for and then have breakfast with a group of very special friends. I would tell each of them how much they mean to me and give them a gift that would represent our scared friendship.

After breakfast, I would like to get in touch with people who have been special to me—people who have mentored me over the years and taught me about life. I would also call relatives or other people who I may have hurt and apologize for whatever went wrong between us. More importantly, I would ask them to find it in their hearts to forgive and to hold on to all the good memories and release any negativity towards others.

In the afternoon, I would enjoy some time for simple pleasures like spending time in nature and going for a walk, hopefully on the beach.

In the evening I would have a special banquet for my family and share with them the gifts they have bestowed upon me; I would want them to know how their presence in my life was the best gift I could have ever received. 

Hopefully, it can be videotaped so that they could share it with others after I die.

I guess I have had time to think about what really does matter, how about you?

How would you design your last day? 

Lesson #2: If we are living our lives the way we should, everything should be in such an order that we wouldn’t change the last day of our life from any other day.

Please always remember that none of us is guaranteed a long life. We’re not guaranteed anything but today. 

I also realized that life’s tragedies are made up not as much of the great failures as much as of the simple pleasures and kind gestures missed.

We all have time to push the reset button and appreciate one another. When we truly love others, our love makes each of us a different person, and it makes each one we love a different person too. 

Why not start now? What is one way you can do this?

During the most challenging times and what we might consider a world crisis at the moment can teach us the most valuable lesson…

Lesson #3: Gratitude.

There is a book I read recently that told a story about a man who has always had a positive outlook on life. He shared one of the greatest lessons his mom taught him. The Legacy of the Golden List.

He explained that every morning before he got up, he would lie in bed and visualize a golden tablet on which was written ten things in his life he was especially grateful for.

The important concept here is “passion before tasks”. It requires devotion and a sacred place to practice and brings grace to the day. Our hearts will speak to us if we take the time to listen.

There are so many things to be grateful for, how do we put this into action every day?

Write down ten things you are grateful for and see what happens, I bet you will think of more than ten! Don’t hold back! Showing gratitude, opening your heart, and giving back the more you will receive. I see it happen all the time, especially now!

Writing a kind note to an elderly relative, going to the store for someone are just some examples, but it is important to remember when you give something to someone that it is given in the right spirit, not out of a sense of obligation.

Discovering the things that you already have to give to others will unlock the gift of giving and let you enter into a sense of purpose in your life.

When my clients tell me how much I have helped them it warms my soul and what is so wonderful is they have also helped me in more ways than they will ever know!

I have had time to reflect on the people I have met over the years and so many have touched my heart because it was a mutually “giving relationship.”

Sometimes we resist giving because it hurts to meet others in their place of need and suffering. It can be easier to make ourselves separate than to enter into someone else’s world of pain. Generosity insists we meet people where they are and it requires courage, but if we can stop looking at just the pain our curiosity will allow us the move toward it with compassion. Giving is the antidote to emptiness, it helps cure the wounds of our soul, we give and we grow.

I will leave you with some questions to ponder….

  • Next month, next year or twenty years from now, what or who will you be valuing?
  • Will you be filled with gratitude about where you are?
  • What would your life be like if you only did what was easy?
  • What will you change when life slowly starts winding itself back up again?

I know the last few months have been a different experience for everyone.

This time has taught me to slow down, recognize what is important to me in my life, and understanding the importance of gratitude and simplicity.

My Family Today

What lessons have you learned lately?

Maria Bucci, M.Ed LPC DWC-F. Daring Way Facilitator by Dr. Brené Brown

Maria Bucci, M.Ed LPC DWC-F. Daring Way Facilitator by Dr. Brené Brown


  1. I love you so much & only hope I bless your life nearly as much as you bless mine! I will cherish our friendship forever!

    • I have missed our time together and the face to face connection with you!! I am very excited you are moving back and looking forward to having fun, laughing and seeing your beautiful face!!!

  2. Thanks for sharing your story Maria and for prompting me to love in THIS moment! ❤️

    • Sheila,

      You are a brave warrior and no one knows more about courage than you do!! Thank you for your message, it means a great deal to me!

  3. Good morning Maria, I just finished reading your message and I sitting here thinking about what a beautiful way to start my day! I blessed to see that God had us cross paths at one time and hope for the day that we can maybe share a lunch or adult beverage together again.

    • George Ann,

      I don’t know why I am just able to read your message, thank you for your wonderful message! I always looked forward to seeing you when I worked at Grizzell Middle School, your kind spirit and warmth towards everyone inspired me every day!! I would love to get lunch and catch up with you soon!! Thanks again for all your support!!!

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