Making the most of the new year

Caitilin Punshon
I have been thinking about the word make. We make friends. We make cakes. We make music. We make people laugh or smile. Sometimes I think about all the things I can't do. There are days when it is hard to get out of bed. I think about all the mistakes I make. But this year I don't want to worry about all the things I can't do. I want to think about all the things I can do. What about you? What do you want to do this year? Can you make this year magnificient?
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Caitilin Punshon on 18/01/2012
A man and a woman sitting in a laneway laughing and smiling. The back wall has bright colourful graffiti.

We make each other laugh and smile.

I'm not really one for making New Year's resolutions. In fact, the last one I made was many years ago. And it was to not make any more resolutions. I'm not against the idea of a new year being full of new hope. I just don't see why it is necessary to wait until 1 January to change your behaviour or develop new habits. If there is something you really need or want to do in your life, then surely any day of the year is a good one to begin.


Rather than making resolutions I have been thinking about the word make. It's a good word. It means to form, create, construct or alter something. When we make something we bring it into existence through our deliberate actions. That's pretty amazing when you think about it. What's even better, though, is the way the word make sits so nicely alongside so many other words.

For instance, we make decisions and we make impressions. We make music and art and wishes. We make friends. We make homes. We make rules and we often make exceptions too. We make cakes and quilts and sandwiches and jam. Some among us might make history. At our finest, we make people smile or laugh. We might even make their day. We make believe. We make love. We make do.

Make happen

Lately, I have found myself getting distracted and discouraged by the things I can't do. And the problems I can't solve. Instead of getting stuck in such thoughts, this year I've decided I'm going to try to think differently. I want to focus on what I can make happen. Even if sometimes it doesn't seem like much.

I don't always make the bed. In fact some days I barely make it out of bed. But even on a bad day, I can usually manage to at least make breakfast or a cup of tea. There are times when it feels the only things I'm capable of making are messes and mistakes. But there's always a chance I can make up for it the next day.

Make a difference

I am shifting my perspective by choosing to think about what I can do and make. I may not be able to change what I am actually able to achieve. But hopefully I won't feel as bad about the things I can't. I already know it is not going to work every day. The many years I've spent living with the limitations and frustrations of chronic illness have taught me that. However, they have also taught me that I can survive despite the difficulties. I guess what I have learned is to try to make the best of things in whatever way I can. That's what I'm aiming for this year.

One thing I know is that it is hard to make up for lost time. So as the year begins it is worthwhile wondering what you want to make happen in 2012. What mark do you want to make? What are you going to aim for? Whether you make New Year's resolutions or not, you can still make a decision to make a difference.

You can choose to make your life meaningful. You can make it matter. You can make it magnificient. Even if you don't always make the bed.

Readers comments (5)

Thanks Caitilin, an inspiring piece that speaks to us all. Doing what we can now, and being happy there in the bare manifestation of a moment sounds like a recipe for peace.

Thank you for your comment, Margot. I agree that being happy in the moment works well in theory. Unfortunately, like a lot of recipes I try, it doesn't always turn out the way I expect.

I like it. I am wondering whether you will/ have print out this piece and stick it to your fridge or study wall and refer to it when it becomes all too difficult to make the positive stick. Sometimes, for completely inexplicable reasons, we become stuck in a certain mindset and finding a positive is like trying to leap a tall building in a single bound - or even a small building. I believe the positive mindset is the best. Wish for things and they will come to you - with a bit of hard work usually, but I am wondering how you stay positive when something in you brain just won't cooperate?

I love your ideas on the meanings and applications of the word "make", Caitilin. Even if we only make a mess (like my hair which is falling out in chunks) or a mistake, we are still here and still going. Right now you are making lemonade out of your life's lemons by writing to share, support and inspire others. Go girl!

I enjoyed your thoughtful, carefully considered philosophical ponderings Caitlin. Thank you for sharing them with us all. I fully understand the need to 'live in the moment'- a very Zen concept that should not be so hard to grasp but is always a challenge. I am just emerging from a mere 3 months of Chemotherapy. I lost all my hair , my energy, my life as I knew it has been on hold. I cannot imagine what over 20 years must feel like.

You are incredibly brave and strong. I love your positivity. Embrace the small things...bigger things will follow!

Wishing you a strong Dragon year in 2012


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