Actually, years mean nothing. It’s what’s inside them.

— Simon Van Booy, author

Now that the year is coming to a close, people comment on how quickly the time passes. Those remarks cause me to respond with, “Time seems to fly but if you look back at all that happened in the past year, you’ll remember how much you accomplished.”

Because I journal daily, I have a record of what I did during the year. On New Year’s Eve, I stay home, have a quiet dinner and go to bed early to read my journal for that year. Things I forgot leap off the pages. Sometimes I am surprised by how much I’ve disregarded.

This year has been a banner year for me. My health is better than it’s been for a long time, my writers workshop culminated with a successful book signing for the 26 students who published their work, my older daughter married a wonderful man and my oldest granddaughter became engaged.

In addition I read several delightful books. My friend Jane McCutchen and I published “The Adventure of John Quincy Quail.” My updated version of “Paths to Freedom” has been well received.

On New Year’s Day my mom passed away, as did a friend’s daughter, so my year started off with a heavy heart. When you lose a parent, holidays, anniversaries, birthdays and other family celebrations are affected by their absence. Father’s Day and Mother’s Day now fall to my children to celebrate with me. The younger generation fills the gap.

This year I experienced an epiphany. Miraculously, I’ve learned to focus on each day as it comes, and that casts an aura of peacefulness around me. Instead of worrying myself crazy trying to fix things and people, I accept every day as it presents itself.

Every time I find myself thinking of unpleasant situations or impossible-to-change circumstances, I chide myself to turn my thoughts to more productive reflections. Surprisingly, I’ve become adept at controlling my thoughts. Why spend precious time considering situations that may never happen? Burying thoughts of doom has become a game to me.

Turning my attention to enjoyable projects, such as reading, writing, bridge strategy, practicing my putting and emailing people I haven’t heard from in a while enables me to brush aside distasteful mental scenarios.

These projects force me to be focused. Maybe some people can think of more than one thing at a time but I cannot. If I become distracted while I’m playing bridge, I can’t play well. Same goes for reading, writing and golf. I must pay attention.

My end-of-year advice is this: Stay in the moment. Reduce your expectations. Realize that the universe is providing everything you need to complete the day with happiness and contentment. Remember that to worry about what you don’t have is to waste what you do have.

Tell people in your life how much they mean to you. Hug them. Appreciate the love they freely give you. Take the time to smile and say “I love you.” Maybe this sounds corny but you will feel blessed when they smile back and say, “I love you, too.”

Alexis Powers is the author of several books and lives on the northwest side. Email her at or view her website at