Are you happy at the moment?
Yes, I am. Of course, I wish certain life circumstances were different, but I acknowledge they are what they are by my choice. For instance, I really wish I were retired, could head south for the winter, and visit family more often. I choose to continue working one more year to meet our long-term financial goals. Plus, I do find it rewarding to teach struggling learners to read.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned this year?
By observing myself more closely this year, I have become more aware that all my actions, big and small, seemingly significant or not, result from choices I make and subconscious programming I don’t always choose to override. And that every choice and action has effects for better or worse. I have also become much more conscious that tomorrow is no guarantee, and to give love, time and attention to people close to me while I can.
What do you most want to achieve in the next 12 months?
I want to have the manuscript of my next book completed. The book is about sacred texts and what they teach about our relationships with our fellow earth beings; how we treat them, what that says about us, and how how that shapes us individually and collectively. I plan to share excerpts on my blog as I write and look forward to reader insights, opinions and feedback.
What’s your secret to happiness?
Gratitude. I have learned to find the silver lining in every cloud, and to appreciate and give thanks for my many blessings. The more difficult side of practicing gratitude is giving thanks for what I don’t perceive as positive in the moment. I always make it a point to glean transformative life lessons from difficult experiences so that they help me be a better person.
What’s one ritual or practice keeps you grounded?
Practicing gratitude and taking short meditation breaks to focus on my breathing, get in tune with my physical self, and experience the present moment. That is very calming and stabilizing for me and my sometimes overactive mind.
What’s your biggest regret?
My biggest regret is that I didn’t spend as much time as I could have with loved ones while they were still here. And that sometimes I held back emotionally from them or that I was impatient and judgmental of them instead of being more compassionate and understanding of who they were. I wish I had shared more of my inner self with them and had encouraged them to share more of themselves with me on a deeper level. I am mostly thinking of my mother and some of my relatives as I write this. I wish I could be granted just one minute for expressing how important they were to me and how sorry I am for not doing better. This is one of those tough life lessons that shapes me for the better today.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?
I taught my boys to be responsible, independent men and to help others. Knowing that my perception of a most important lesson may not necessarily be theirs, I forwarded this question to them. Here are their responses.
Sean: Financial awareness and valuing what you have/earned.
Jim: This is not a simple question and can’t be answered simply. It’s not like everything can be neatly rolled up into simple statement. Sometimes it’s the small things; the everyday encounters, truth when it hurts, hugs when you want to scream, sacrifices that go unrecognized for decades, gentle reminders for the hundredth time, and of course utilizing the evil eye.
So I’m going to go with the Top 3 in no particular order:
1. Value of hard work from watching you put yourself through school after divorce. (He was 5 and Sean was 3 years old.I was also working a full-time job)
2. Value of a family support system and unconditional love. (My family was my safety net. Although they lived hours away they were always there to talk or take the boys over extended school vacations.)
3. How to squeeze a $1.50 out of a dollar 🙂 (We squeezed lots of dollars.)
What bad habit would you most like to change about yourself?
Eating too much junk food and too much food in general. I have a really sweet tooth and I overdo it, to the demise of my health and my weight.
Aside from motherhood and marriage, what are you most proud of in your life?
My amazing sons who have grown up to be loving husbands and fathers. I was determined to beat the depressing, failure statistics about single parents and their children and we did. About myself, I like that I am a lifelong learner, not only of facts, but of evolving as the best version of myself – a continuous work in progress.. I am proud of myself for putting myself ‘out there’ and sharing what I’ve learned via my website, blog, book, and interviews like this.
A recent accomplishment was writing and publishing my first book, Rescue Me: Tales of Rescuing the Dogs Who Became Our Teachers, Healers, and Always Faithful Friends. It was a big project with a steep learning curve. I am most grateful to the nine amazing women who shared their dog adoption and rescue stories and helped bring the finished book to completion.
Rescue Me is a fundraiser for shelters and rescues, raises sensitivity to the plight of homeless dogs, and encourages responsible lifelong pet guardianship.
When were you happiest?
I am most happy when I’m “in the zone” researching what interests me at the moment, writing, and relaxing with a good book. Moments of bliss are snuggling under the covers with my hubby and my dog Teddy on lazy, chilly weekend mornings.
What ten words best describe you?
Introvert, homebody, loyal, caring, perceptive, student of life, teacher, dreamer, evolving, a realistic pollyanna
Val Silver is an award-winning author, holistic wellness educator, reading teacher, and animal welfare advocate. She wrote her first book, Rescue Me: Tales of Rescuing the Dogs Who Became Our Teachers, Healers, and Always Faithful Friends, as a fundraiser for homeless dogs and to celebrate the human-canine bond. She believes it takes education, positive action, and compassion to create better lives for all creatures-animal and human. Val lives in northern New York with her husband and Bichon/Shi Tzu mix, Teddy. You can find Val on Facebook, Twitter, and on her website – Tapinfinity.