We are days away from the new year. Another opportunity to grow. Another opportunity to share light and love. Another opportunity to give back.

The wait of the welcoming year brings the chance to write a new chapter of life. The new year brings a freshness that is hard to explain. It smells like that first cup of coffee in the morning. It shines bright like the twinkling stars on a clear Central Texas night. It feels like that hug from your loved one. For some it brings the desire to restart, or start everything afresh.

Every year has ups and downs. It has peaks and valleys. Every year has its trials and tribulations. But every year wraps up and a new one begins. A new year full of opportunity and adventure. We know each year will not always be easy, but we do know it is new with the chance to paint that canvas to fill joy and happiness in not only our own hearts, but others.

Before I look ahead, I like to take a moment (or more) to look back. The reflection gives me perspective. It also allows me to see if I could have done or said something differently to have had a better or bigger impact.

The year 2017 held a myriad of emotions for all of us. The past year held sadness with the loss of loved ones. It held happiness with the births of sweet little ones ready to change the world for the better. It held frustration with difficult days where emotions were drained. It held a glow of pride when goals were accomplished. It held love, because family and friends are always close at hand whether, it be in distance or in the heart.

When you look back, don’t forget the hard times and the struggles, but focus on the good. The saying goes, “people don’t always remember what you did, but they remember how you made them feel.” Remember those people that filled your heart. Remember those people whose hearts you filled.

So as the new year approaches, resolutions are being crafted and parties are being planned. For our family, the new year celebration is pretty low key. I love to watch the ball drop at Times Square. I love the sound of Auld Lang Syne playing on the television and the thought of a new year ahead.

I typically don’t make resolutions and sometimes, in Army life, I think it’s easier not to, but I do want to accomplish some things in the new year. Most years my list looks the same. I want to be a better human. I want to make a difference in the world. I want to find a purpose. The key to all the things I want to do it is to make the world brighter. Sometimes it seems silly — I am just one person. But then I think if I can just help one person smile bigger or feel better, I have achieved my goals.

So whether or not you make a new year’s resolution, think about what you can do in the next 365 days to fill your heart. What can you do to fill others with joy? At the end of the day, it’s how you made someone feel that they remember. When your heart is full, it spills over and the gift you give others is something that is treasured for a lifetime.

May you be blessed to spend this new year with your loved ones. Be grateful, and you will have good things come your way. Let the New Year replenish all the joys in your life and keep your spirit glowing and undaunted.

Reena O’Brien is an Army spouse and Herald Correspondent. She lives on Fort Hood.

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