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“Rap mogul Jay Z recently fell under criticism for song lyrics that stated, “Just for clarity my presence is charity.” While the bravado of that statement may leave a bad taste in one’s mouth, we all could benefit from adopting a smidgen of Hova’s mentality. So often we CHOOSE to surround ourselves with people that cause stress, drain our energy, and make us feel bad about ourselves due to an unrealistic sense of obligation to those individuals. Unfortunately, these people tend to be those we care about the most: family and friends with whom we share a long history. The reality is, neither blood relation nor history obligates anyone to be subjected to energy, attitudes or behavior that brings them down. It is not arrogant to recognize that your presence is a gift to the individuals in your life. A gift can be given and it can also be taken away. When you value yourself you do what is best for you; even if it means putting distance between yourself and someone for whom you care deeply. When you are able bodied, able minded and financially independent, being subjected to those that are a source of stress and unhappiness is a choice. Don’t complain about these individuals. Make a choice and a change. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn says, you are the result of the five people with whom you spend the most time. Are you the person you want to be? If not, it may be time for a circle check.” -April Watts