Nothing is more important than our relationships with the people we love. I just returned from Germany, and feeling so full after my stay with the Falkes, and my long overdue visit back to the beautiful area where we lived tewnty years ago. It was incredibly satisfying to take myself outside of my comfort zone by traveling on my own, however the most valuable part of my trip was the reconnection with old friends after 17 years. I am so much richer for realizing the strength and importance of old friendships and how they survive over time, if you make the effort. Certain people deeply touch you to your core, and it's a wonderful feeling to be aware of, and to reflect on why. I believe many more people could have that connection if we allowed ourselves the time to go there. My German friend, Irmela, has given me two pieces of advise in my past that I have never forgotten. They each give an example of one of the many wonderful ingredients that make up her personality. The first was that I needed to slow down and allow time for myself. We were on vacation on Marthas Vineyard together and she was specifically referring to the morning hour and sitting down to a peaceful breakfast. It's an outlook on life that carries way beyond breakfast, a quality of life that one may or may not choose to control and practice. Her second was in reference to teenage daughters and their emotions. She said to me, "Barbara, I have found that most often all they need is a hug." I know that this also carries far beyond teenage daughters to so many of us and our needs. We get ourselves into trouble when we don't listen and empathize, and when we make assumptions about ourselves and others. Too often the critical task becomes our obsession with fixing something, that may not be our job to repair, but our opinions, judgements, and fears constrict our understanding...I try to remind myself not to control things, but to be open-minded and engaged and to listen and have faith.