So, we have all made it! The final weekend of 2023 and I wonder how many of you are spending this weekend, reflecting back on the year which is about to end. We all do it. And the more so, the older you get. The range of emotions which come up as you look back can range from anything. From joy, gratitude, loving, happy, healthy, to sorrow, grief, regret, pain, and so on.

How many of you are making the famous New Year resolutions. I don’t anymore. Why? Because in the main, the majority have long flown out of the window by the second week of the month. Yes, there are of course always things that I think I would like to do, but why make it even harder after the Christmas festivities (and I think for the majority of us: overindulging) then why want to start the life-changing diet on New Year’s Day. Probably like me your fridges and cupboards are still full of over-buying for Christmas. Certainly, all my shopping I did online but having to go into the supermarket for the one thing I had forgotten (spring onions), reminded me big-time of how chaotic the shops are, and you begin to wonder if people think if they are ever opening again. I cannot give any sensible reason why we all do this, go overboard, but we do……

So here I am at the end of this year, which in the main has been very good for me. I have achieved and done a lot. Some projects lost; others gained. Formed new friendships, lost others. Been confronted a few times with death, old school friends, other friends and of course the people we all know from television, music or theatres and concerts. And there have been a lot. There always are as the socials depressingly remind us, every year, about the people lost in 2023.

Younger people will maybe not be reflecting on the year gone by, more planning the fantastic NYE party and fireworks. It is a tradition here and no matter how desperate the economy is, hundreds and thousands of Euros worth will be lit and send up into the sky. I used to buy when my own children were younger, but now it is virtually banned everywhere I was surprised to see major traffic jams yesterday of people buying just across the border in Germany. Spending a small fortune, because ‘hey it’s tradition, isn’t it? And hope that they don’t get stopped by the police at the border. Hospitals are preparing for the storm of firework victims. Strange but it is so. I usually watch the ones from London, across the Thames on BBC, best view ever in the comfort of your own home.

It has never been my favorite night of the year. Ever since I was a child to be honest. In England they did not used to have fireworks, this was more a tradition on the 5th of November remembering when Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the House of Parliament and failed. Sadly, many may say today seeing what a farce our governments are, at home and abroad.

How has your year been? Can you look back and reflect positively or negatively. Obviously, it is going to be a mix of the two. I think for me, things that were very positive were the travel trips I made, the new contacts I encountered, the fact that I finally mastered all the rules of Bridge and now play weekly. The work I did, the books I translated, my own writing. The meeting to inspire my new book (the sequel to A Second Chance) and a magical meeting with the Friesian horses, during my trip in September. A new car (albeit that it was badly damaged in the storm at the end of October). It had to go into repair and quite by chance I picked up it this morning, all bright and shiny new once more. It is little things like this that make a year positive. Of course, there have been bumps, dents and bruises at some stages, but they have passed now, and I really feel there is no point looking back in any other way than that it was an important lesson. An example: after nearly two decades or working with someone and many of you reading this will know exactly who I mean, without me mentioning any names and suddenly, a disagreement, and then making the choice, which I did, to walk away. I have sort of got to that stage in my life that sometimes walking away or severing the cord is the best for me. And I do it, without regret. I am not saying it is easy because it does hurt sometimes, but it is the best long term. Sometimes over the years friendships and such like become toxic and often you plod on thinking, we have known each other for so long, and basically going against your intuition when it no longer feels right.  Without realizing that in the main it is better to move on.

I am grateful for 2023. For the things I learned. The things I saw and did. The places I visited. The friends I have and most important of all, my own close family. The joy on the faces of my granddaughters at birthdays, and Christmas. The birthday parties we have in my garden.

The funny things they say. When my family were growing up my own parents lived too far away to see them regularly and I see now how grateful I am that I can pop round any time.

The more negative things in 2023, are done and dusted. Literally. Without any doubt important life lessons for sure, but no regrets. 

In a few days stepping into 2024 (the numbers add up to an 8) and this is the connection to love. What the world really needs right now. Much more love, tolerance, and compassion towards one another. 

Thank you to all of you who read my blogs during the course of the year. I wish you all a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year. Try next year to be honest and realistic with yourself. It makes things so much easier. When things don’t feel right, make a choice (we all have the right to make a choice) and then one which is for you. Don’t make impossible resolutions and then end up depressed during the second week of January, because you couldn’t keep them going. Do it at another time of the year. January is a long wintry month, after the full-on December month. We have all overspent and need to tighten our belts.

Be positive, enjoy the simple things in life. Get out into nature, talk a walk. Go to a movie, or a concert. That was something else I really enjoyed just before Christmas, a classical Christmas Proms concert!

Clear out the cupboards, donate the excess of food to the people who don’t have any. Clear out your wardrobes of things you no longer wear and take it to the Charity Shop. Declutter your possessions and your mind.

And remember love yourself. This is not an ego thing. If you can love yourself, you radiate love to others like ripples on a pond.

Look into a mirror and say to yourself this is going to be the year when I …….. (fill in this bit yourself).

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Jill Kramer

Hi! I'm Jill and I'm a passionate author of books, short stories, columns and blogs.

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