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This Is Your Life, Are You Who You Want to Be?

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Since losing my husband in the war in Afghanistan when I was just 25, I have learned so much in my short 28 years of life. Fighting my way through the challenges and hardship has caused my thought process to completely change. I am in a constant state of remembrance of the brevity of life. We only live once. We only have one chance at this life. I wanted to share some of the greatest things I have learned in the midst of the trials and the pain.Thank you for reading.

1. If you don't ask, the answer is always no.
This one phrase can pretty much some up my life. Don't be afraid to ask. The worst that can happen is you will be told no and you'll be in exactly the same spot you're in now. Don't be afraid to ask. It can change your life and make your dreams come true.

2. Growing old is a privilege denied to many.
The older I grow, the more I realize how lucky I am to be given the privilege of growing old, and to be able to enjoy all of the stages of life.

3. Don't spend your life chasing after material things -- you will waste it. The only thing of worth is relationships.
It is so sad for me to watch and see how many people are chasing after such meaningless things in this world. None of them will make you happy. The only thing that is meaningful is relationships, and helping others. That is where true happiness and fulfillment lie. Don't waste your life chasing folly.

4. You are responsible for your own actions.
No matter what happens to you or how hard life is, it can't be an excuse forever. You are responsible for your life, and what you do. Actions have consequences. Don't be a victim. Be an overcomer and be a conqueror.

5. Learn how to let go.
This is probably one of the hardest for me. It is so hard to let go of those I love, and I try to hold on to toxic relationships with all I have. I don't want to say goodbye. It is important to realize when it is time to let go.

6. No one will ever complete you.
It is such a lie that someone else will complete you. A relationship can only be healthy when two whole, complete people come together. You can't trust someone else to complete you. God forbid that something happens to your partner? You have to be complete on your own before you enter into a relationship, or it won't have a solid foundation. You will also be deeply disappointed if you think someone else can complete you or fulfill you.

7. Never let the sun go down on a fight.
You may never get the chance to say sorry. You may regret it for your whole life. Always work things out.

8. This life is temporary.
Anything in this life you could lose at any time. Nothing is permanent and everything comes to an end. This is not a negative thing -- it is just important to realize this world is not permanent.

9. Take the high road and do the right thing, even when it hurts.
Yes, turn the other cheek. Don't get walked all over, but be the one who stands up and says sorry. Let go of your own selfishness and pride. Be the bigger person so one day you can look back and have no regrets.

10. Don't arouse or awaken love until it so desires.
Don't try to create or fabricate love. The real thing will happen naturally, in the right time, and with the right person. Don't force it.

11. It is better to marry young (not too young).
Yes, I said it. Having dated at a young age and in my older 20s, there are definite differences in age groups. There is an innocence in our younger years -- when people actually open their hearts and believe in love. When people get older they close up, and many won't open their hearts to anyone.

12. Life goes on. Whether we like it or not.
Even when our world stops -- life still goes on, and we have to go on, too. Many times in life we can sink or swim -- and we have to keep swimming to keep our heads above water. Life will not stop for us to give us time to bandage our wounds.

13. Let a man be a man. Be a woman.
Chivalry is not dead. Let a man open the door for you, buy you dinner and treat you like a lady. It does not make you the weaker sex.

14. Protect your heart. Guard it with all you have.
As the Bible says, guard your heart, for in it flows the power of life and death.

15. Unforgiveness will kill you. Literally.
They say that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. It will affect your health and will cause you extreme unhappiness. Just let it go.

16. Don't covet.
We will all have our time and be blessed, just in different ways and at different times. Your time will come. I promise. Learn to be happy for others and what God has given them.

17. Persistence and determination are key.
If you want something or know something to be right -- never give up, and never give in. Ever.

18. You will fail.
I can't tell you how many times I've fallen flat on my face -- and how hard it has hurt. Or how much I wanted to give up. Failure is one of the most painful challenges in life, but it is where we learn the most about ourselves and who we really are, and we grow leaps and bounds.

19. Your word is all you have.
If you say something, mean it -- and don't say you will if you won't. If you give someone your word, go through heaven and earth to follow through -- and people will trust you with anything.

20. Character matters. A lot.
Only you truly know who you are, what you do when no one is watching, and what you are made of. Make yourself proud that you live with integrity. Be a man/woman of honor.

21. No matter how dark the night, the dawn will break.
Life is hard, but there will always be light at the end of the tunnel. Push through the pain, and never give up. The deeper the pain, the more beautiful the joy. The darker the night, the more beautiful the sunrise.

22. We are all people.
Whether it is the President, Angelina Jolie or Derek Jeter, we are all people. Be respectful of their positions or accomplishments, but treat them like people, not like God. They will appreciate it, too.

23. Choose your friends wisely.
Iron sharpens iron. It is important to have friends who will challenge you, help you grow and love you for who you are. You become who you spend your time with.

24. Don't live to work, work to live.
Make time for your family, friends and those closest to you. Don't spend your life working. Work so you can enjoy your life.

25. Never stop dreaming. Ever.
You can accomplish anything you set your mind to. Anything.

26. Don't settle for a mediocre life.
I know we are in hard times, and many of you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel -- but it is there. There is still opportunity, and the American dream still does exist.

27. Instead of always asking, "Why," ask, "Why not."
"You see things; and you say 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say 'Why not?'" -- George Bernard Shaw

28. Ignore the critics. Prove them wrong.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. -- Theodore Roosevelt

29. This is your life. Are you who you want to be? Ecclesiastes 9:10-11:

Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom. I have observed something else in this world of ours. The fastest runner doesn't always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn't always win the battle. The wise are often poor, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don't always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being at the right place at the right time.

30. Don't believe the lie that you can't make a difference -- you can. You are the difference.
We have the power to change the world if we want to. We are in control of our country -- not Congress. Apathy is dirty little pill -- it is vital we pay attention to our world, our country and keep our eyes open.

31. Who cares what they think, they don't matter anyway.
Don't worry about those who don't really matter. Be yourself -- there is only one you, and let your voice be heard! No matter how loud or how soft.

32. Be who you want to be remembered as. Write your own legacy.
You only have one chance at this life. You are in charge of your destiny, legacy and what others will remember you as.

33. Don't be afraid to be vulnerable -- to let people inside and see who you really are. To be you.
Nothing is as gentle as real strength, and nothing as beautiful as the pure, vulnerable and honest heart. Don't be afraid to let people inside to see the real you.

Please feel free to comment below with your thoughts on other lessons we can all learn from. I am going to write another blog and compile it from your comments.