When we respond to the rhetorical question “What matters most,” our answers become the declaration of who we are and what we believe to be most important. It blends our past theories and experiences with our current existence and belief systems. I am fascinated with the idea that if you ask a thousand people the same question… you’ll get a thousand different answers. Some responses to “what matters most” may have a familiar ring to them, but each answer will be as individual as each individual.

Recently my husband Rich and I were celebrating with our children in their neck of the woods. Admittedly, I have struggled with Empty Nestor Syndrome (since my children went off to Kindergarten.) So, it is no surprise that our children will always be “our babies” to us. As loving, thoughtful, hard-working and independent adults, each living on their own between Brooklyn and Philadelphia, finding a way to travel to be together is hands-down “what matters most to me!”

During our get-together’s we always indulge in food frenzies, sporting events, theatre, museums, strolling through the most beautiful parks, football toss and the constant search for the best breakfast venues. Honey’s Sit ‘n Eat on South Street in Philly and Jane in Soho, Greenwich Village are our top picks thus far! We seem to plan our day around our meals and restaurant ventures. Engaging at one of the many delicious restaurants and pubs that are central to our visits, we drown out the city sounds with laughter, storytelling,  the attack of the all-consuming appetizers  and the frequent toasts wedged between eating and drinking. Confession: I am the “toast queen” of the family so it’s a given that I will lay down the first toast. I plead guilty to giving long-winded, novel-length toasts, and to get a word in edgewise my children (kindly) instruct me to keep it short and sweet.

When we raised our glasses on this one particular evening, I emphatically stated  “here’s to what matters most!” We clinked, sipped and gulped before spring boarding into the meaningful dialogue that ensued. Three simple words became the impetus for an insightful family conversation sparking responses as distinct as each one of us. 

My husband Rich took the helm and reiterated his role (model) position in our family and his promise to provide unconditional love and support in every way, shape and form. His fatherly and patriarchal confidence instilled the same in us. I loved listening to each of our kids as they described their individual goals and how they wish to pursue their chosen paths. They were cognizant of what mattered most in their lives. Family, gratitude, health and mindfulness were unanimous in response to what matters most to each of us.

Is “what matters most” a question or a statement? I believe it serves as both. If you ask yourself what matters most in life, it becomes an introspection. When your response is released through words and expressions, it becomes your affirmative personal statement. Being authentic with your response and honest with yourself will allow you to keep your priorities in check. When “what matters most” is aligned with your intentions it will resonate and become your beacon to lead you to fulfillment. 

“What about you, Mom?” Inquiring minds want to know!  After all I made the toast that became the catalyst to our thought-provoking word exchange. Hmm … “I believe that what matters most is “knowing what matters most.” “Knowing what matters most” has become my GPS; Guide to My Personal Statement. I have always known what matters most to me. My GPS remains my life compass in the event I get lost. I use it to navigate the course. Knowing what matters most always leads me home. Some days I follow the trajectory of my path. Other days I lose my footing. My favorite days are when I create a brand new path. All days I remind myself that the road to success is always under construction and that “fulfillment, is a planted seed, that must be nurtured not guaranteed.”

I raise my glass to you all. L’chaim!

Jayne Bonilla is a passionate mom and a compassionate person, who is crazy about writing, storytelling, paying it forward and making people laugh.

Check out Jayne’s website at http://www.makeashortstorylong.com and feel free to email her at [email protected]