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Live right. Be worthy. Make a difference. This is the philosophy governing GirlHQ. The definition came about, quite by mistake, when a colleague asked how my daughter and I seem so happy, so calm, so close all the time. We breezed through the teens without yelling, without all the things many others complain about when raising children. I want my daughter to not just be a kid but to also have a road map to living a fulfilled, happy life. That doesn’t mean we zen out over crises. It does mean we keep all obstacles and difficulties in perspective.

Being an aware, active participant in every little decision and every big decision alleviates much of the day to day “overwhelmed” narrative common in today’s culture. Social media blurs the lines between public, private, personal, and emotional space. I am exceedingly private about certain aspects of my life. When I share something publicly, it’s generally well known already by the people who matter most to me. As in: my daughter is awesome and I am – yet again – proud of her character, her work ethic, her devotion to being a great human being. Or: my bestie makes life better. Or: love matters and I’m humming a happy tune like a Disney princess today. Life is good. Or: I almost died (ICU for my life) and really want women to know that getting your checkups, fighting for yourself, and for better healthcare, is really important. Life is tenuous at best, leave everything on the table. Remember to tell everyone you love that you do, in fact, love them.

Live right. Forgiveness plays a huge role. Forgiving ourselves for mistakes matters. Forgiveness of others does too. Not punishing people who we choose to keep in our life is difficult. Forgive and keep them in your life, or forgive and cut them loose. Pick one. Don’t string yourself or anyone else along. That is cruel laziness. Forgive and let it go. Once you get the hang of forgiveness, a lot of emotional space is freed up on your heart’s hard drive. Forgiveness frees up time to express devotion to our loved ones, our communities.

Living right is about self-discipline. Love, forgiveness, volunteering, and setting an example are core principles. It means accepting people for who they really are. Accepting moments of great connection for what they are: moments. We spend a great deal of time wanting things to be different. Let it go. That is a waste of time and treasure. Spending an afternoon with someone you admire doesn’t mean it has to evolve into a forever kind of thing. Maybe, it’s just an afternoon. Make the most of it. Put the memory someplace special and revel in the happiness. Take the good from every moment in your life and meditate on it. Learn from the heartbreaks and disappointments but discard the pain. Pain serves negativity, not your soul.

Be worthy. Know your worth and live it. Whatever your talents, passions, and gifts are: embrace them and grow from there. We can’t all be polymaths, or cutting edge publishers of digital content, or human rights advocates, or builders of globally recognized hubs of justice and peace, or musically gifted prodigies. We can all be masters of goodness. Of capacity building in our families and relationships and communities. We can live interesting and worthy lives. A couple who devotes their entire life to each other, their home, their friends, and family with grace while privately fighting with nature and biology and infertility are living worthy lives. The men and women serving in our military too. Aid workers in war torn countries. Teachers who inspire. Mothers and fathers who choose their family over status. The kids donating time at a soup kitchen and listening to the stories of a homeless man or woman. Listening to a stranger in their moment of need. Whispering to a stranger that they have toilet paper tacked to their shoe, or lipstick on her teeth. Whatever. No act of kindness is too small or too big.

Doing the right thing is always worthy. Sometimes it means walking away from someone or something that doesn’t work in your life anymore. Remove emotional, spiritual, professional clutter from your life. Work with colleagues and for causes, companies that represent the kind of person you truly are. Understand money is just money, it isn’t everything. Don’t be defined by money or other people. Define yourself. None of this is easy but it is worthy of you, your inner peace, and certainly a worthy lesson to teach your children, interns, and others you influence. Love and goodness are the legacy we build every day.

If you live right, be worthy – then you will already make a difference. Choose activities, whether intellectual or physical pursuits, that increase your appetite for life. For love. For intellectual and spiritual stimulation. That spur you on, inspire you to do more with every day. Laugh out loud. Cry out loud too. When you need to grieve: do it. Wail. Sob. Yell. Curl up with your blanket and a photo or whatever you need. Let it go. Whatever you cannot control, let it go.

Finding a place less busy, more focused on love and goodness gives us a chance to be better. To do more. Make more money. Be our best, most authentic self. No one has a moral obligation to stay in a place where your beliefs, your values are compromised to the point of being unrecognizable.  We have no obligation to hold on tight to that which does not work.

Anne Lamott says it best:

You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people want you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.

After waking up in ICU last September, the urgency of living right, being worthy, and making a difference was fierce within me. I knew I would live and be safe. When I close my eyes, I still feel the warmth and presence of our Creator I felt before the blood transfusions and heart monitors and surgery. All the love I ever experienced was there, all in one place, in one moment – peaceful and serene, without want or question.

For each of us, the journey is different. I don’t know what feeling God’s presence is like for others. To me, it was about discovering pure love and peace and optimism. Take the wins as they come. Discard negativity daily. Persevere. Choose love.

—Media Lizzy