Since our peaceful, joyful, family Christmas day, I’ve spent some uncomfortable hours with the dull ache of disappointment and embarrassment, wondering how to make amends to my sister and brother-in-law for forgetting their invitation for my husband and me to share a special meal with them and our brother on the Friday between Christmas and New Year.

I’d looked forward for weeks to spending time with my siblings, but without checking my diary I’d invited another person to our house that evening. There’s no excuse. Not only did I hurt  people I love, but John and I also missed one of the highlights of our festive Christmas season.

When my sister rang to ask where we were, I confessed that I’d forgotten. As if that wasn’t bad enough, when I eventually looked in my diary I saw  that it was the birthday of one of my granddaughters. I’d bought and wrapped her present before Christmas, but I’d forgotten the day completely.

On one level, not checking my diary was a simple mistake, but not to use it or the calendar by the phone for a week? There’s something about this forgetful behaviour that disturbs me. My decision to make some changes takes effect from today.

It’s mere coincidence that it is almost the end of the year. New Year’s resolutions have never been part of my life. In the past couple of decades, each year on my birthday I have reviewed the previous year. A long time ago, a friend gave me an illustrated notebook with beautiful paper, and I’ve used that to record any past achievements and write to plans for the next twelve months.

A shelf full of old journals
A shelf full of old journals

One year, I worked through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. I began to write three pages in longhand every single morning, followed by a long walk.  That process changed my life as I allowed myself to become more creative across all dimensions.

The next year, I read Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. In 365 little essays, one for each day of the year, Breathnach writes about ‘six practical, creative, and spiritual principles – gratitude, simplicity, order, harmony, beauty and joy’. It took some work to transpose meditations about seasons and celebrations applicable in the northern hemisphere to Australia, but the effort was worth every moment.

Much loved books
Much loved books

But over the past few years, some of the foundation elements that made up my well-ordered life have slipped. This is partly the result a dramatic change in life-style brought about by remarrying when I was almost seventy, after living alone for almost thirty-five years; and partly because I’ve become less physically robust as I’ve aged.

Since I sent the completed manuscript of a book to an agent three months ago, my life has been in the limbo of ongoing waiting for her verdict on my work. A writer of any age who isn’t writing can be very grumpy indeed, as well as disorganised and forgetful.

Diary 2014
Diary 2014
Calendar 2014
Calendar 2014
A three-pages-every-morning journal
A three-pages-every-morning journal


Now it is time to change, to return to the simple principles and practices that I love and that help to keep my life ordered, abundant and creative. I am a writer and I write! And I promise to use my diary regularly.

A desk waiting for a writer
A desk waiting for a writer

There’s a happy ending to the story of the meal with my siblings. Yesterday, our brother invited us to his place for dinner tonight. And my sister sent me a reminder message on Facebook, complete with exclamation marks. I’m loved and forgiven..

10 replies on “Resolutions”

  1. We did miss an evening with you that we were looking forward to, but all will be well in a few hours when we dine at Pete’s this evening.
    It’s the time of the year when we can relax and although I have this years and next years diary with me on holidays, I haven’t looked at them all week! Maybe I’ve missed an important date, and now I’m afraid to check!
    Love you Maureen, and if that lovely husband of yours has incurred this problem – bless him!

    1. You’re right, Elizabeth. All is well again. The problem was entirely of my making, and John was supportive of me. Good night with you, Rosie and the two Peters. Thank you. Love you too.

  2. Time of Your Life
    Do you reflect upon the years gone by
    as you prepare for yet one more,
    with promises and resolutions
    that you have made before?
    Do memories of people and places
    once as sharp as any knife
    now blend in bits and pieces
    in a kaleidoscope of life?
    Do you squander precious minutes
    seeking reasons why you’re here,
    contemplating your life’s purpose
    year after passing year?
    Persuade yourself to understand,
    it matters not the reason.
    Your purpose is to seize the life
    in every passing season!
    Learn to see things differently.
    Let your thoughts and actions change.
    Allow your views of past and present
    to slowly rearrange.
    Let your spirit start anew;
    become focused and aware
    of the moments and the blessings
    that surround you everywhere!
    Do not permit past memories:
    the where…the who…the how
    to become more important
    than the ones you’re making now.
    Live life in person;
    inhabit every day.
    You may not like where you are now,
    but you’re there anyway!
    A lifetime is a puzzle,
    every failure, each success
    adds another jagged piece
    to fit together with the rest.
    To finish the picture
    and view the masterpiece whole,
    fill the time of your life
    with your heart and your soul.
    Acquaint yourself with your feelings
    and heighten your senses.
    Experience living.
    Put down your defenses.
    You don’t have to know why
    you are you, and I’m me.
    Believe it is what it is
    and it’s how it should be.
    You did not choose your date of birth,
    nor do you know your last,
    so live this gift that is your present,
    before it becomes your past.
    Linda Ellis, copyright 2011

    1. Thanks for your timely and comforting response, Wes. I sometimes find my frailties hard to bear.

  3. Welcome to the age of forgetting!! Some of us arrived before you and some of us are younger. Must have been quite crushing for you,, hopefully you have recovered now dear friend.
    It is OK to be a little forgetful now and again, all will forgive you.

    1. Rosemary, thank you for your kindness, as always. I really did feel humiliated. But of course Elizabeth and Peter were lovely and all is well again.

  4. How timely ‘meeting’ you on LinkedIn and reading this post is for me, Maureen! Thank you. I too have noticed a decrease in my prospective memory since having my husband at home over the last 6 months. I’m in my 40s so I hope it is more to do with sharp changes to routines, context and habits rather than age. Some research suggests prospective memory is different from other memory and has a complex relationship with time management, so better memory may lead to better organization, and better organization may, as you have already identified, lead to better memory.
    My husband starts a new job next week and I am full of excitement at the prospect of the whole house once again becoming my ‘office’, rather than one desk! I’m armed with new notebooks and a paper diary, having given into the fact that my brain remembers more forward plans if I’ve written them by hand, rather than typed them into an electronic diary.

    1. Hello, Lisa. Thank you for your comment. I’m glad my post touched you. I’ve known for many years that I need to keep myself organised if I’m to function well. I also have to be organised if I want to be creative. Good luck with your writing in the house you will have to yourself.

  5. Oh, Maureen, I do this sort of thing all the time. I put things on my ‘phone’, which of course doubles as a diary these days and which I carry everywhere, then forget to check it or have it on silent so that when it pings to remind me, I don’t hear it. I tidy up my email inbox and delete important messages with things like rental car hire confirmations … I blame it on the hectic pace of life today. And on having to think for six …

    1. I don’t have the excuses you have Louise. John and I live quiet, simple lives. These complicated only by our involvement with nine shared adult children (all with partners), twenty one grandchildren, one great-grand-daughter who is the joy of our lives, and another on the way.

      Fortunately, my sister and brother-in-law have forgiven me for forgetting, and we’ve shared a couple of fun meals since my lapse.

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