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Don’t Make A New Year Resolution. Do This Instead.

Realize something important

Three older women who are sisters, smiling and posing in a row in front of a river, with distant city buildings.
This is the last photo taken of "the three MacLeod sisters". Original photo taken by Don Benson Photography.

Another year has almost gone.

In 48 hours it will start fading into black and white, like an old photograph.


Fifty years from now, in 2073, what we wore this year will be laughed at, our haircuts will roll eyes, our social media processes will seem clunky, and I’ll definitely be dead.


If you cast your mind back to the beginning of this year, what were you expecting?

Did the year unfold as you planned? No matter how much effort we put into planning a perfect year, I’m sure all of us experienced unexpected moments in it, and they are the ones that impacted us the most.


For me, this year held four major life events: my retirement in January, the marriage of one of my nieces in February; the birth of a grandson in July; the death of my sister in September.


My retirement is shaping up well. The marriage and birth were wonderful experiences, full of joy, laughter, and delight. Smiles sprinkled the air like heaven-lit confetti.


The death of my sister Christine was a soul-moving experience – for her as well as for those gathering around her bed over several weeks. We have no idea what she’s doing now, but it’s different from what we were all expecting last New Year’s Day.


In an article in which he listed 74 examples of key life events, like Birth, Divorce/Separation, Buying a Home, Loss of a Pet, Business Failure, and Retirement, John Spacey included the heading:

Realized Something Important.

Often the most important things aren’t public events that happen around us or to us. They are things that happen deep inside us that no one else sees.


On New Year’s Day, while you do the customary looking back over the past year, see if you can find a moment when you Realized Something Important in 2023.


What was it? How did it change you?

In the hurly-burly of everyday life, have you forgotten what you realized? If so, remind yourself now, and find a way to embed it into the new year.


While sitting beside my sister as she slowly approached a doorway that only she was privileged to knock on because it was her time to die, I Realized Something Important:


Death is a gift we will all receive.


Our birth and death are gifts. We don’t remember asking for birth, and few of us ask for death.

We are presented with them. We’re given them as presents.


When we’re born, we have no idea what life will do with us. When we die, we don’t know what lies in store.


Both life and death are gifts from the upswell of universal potentiality.


As the spiritual philosopher and author Alan Watts phrased it:


We do not "come into" this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean "waves," the universe "peoples." Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe.


None of us knows exactly what next year will bring but I guarantee that it will change us all. We bring change into our lives with every breath we take, until we take our last one.


Whatever this new year brings you, I hope you experience some moments when you Realize Something Important because they are the moments that will change you the most (like the realization I had, that death is a gift we will all receive).


You are never too old to Realize Something Important.


Share what you’ve realized this year by writing it in the Comments section.


And thank you for your company this year.

I enjoy posting these little articles discussing ways we can change ourselves and the world, even if it’s just a little.


With love, Marlane

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Thank you Marlane. For the past year I wake up in London excited to read your wisdom, often your words are so what is needed its like a personal message just for me. Thank you again.

Marlane Ainsworth
Marlane Ainsworth
Dec 31, 2023
Replying to

Hi Sarah. Thank you for taking the time to post such an encouraging comment. I'll keep writing for another year! 😊 It doesn't matter where we are in the world, we're all finding ways to work with whatever Life leaves on our doorstep. I hope you're enjoying holiday time with family or friends in London. Love, Marlane

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