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Excerpted from The Gift of a Year by Mira Kirshenbaum. Copyright © 2000 by Mira Kirshenbaum. Excerpted by permission of Penguin Putnam, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"I just said no more waiting for things to open up."

  Mira Kirshenbaum, The Gift of a Year, Part 2

Endless Possibilities

Every woman's special year is different. Listen to the voices of some women of different ages and backgrounds as they stand on the threshold of giving themselves the gift of a year, and listen to the very different kinds of years they're looking forward to. By the way, I happen to know that all these women pretty much got what they wanted. Why? For the simple reason that they spent a year focusing on it. They said, "This will be the year I ..." and then they did it.

Susan. "I loved writing poetry when I was young. And it was good. But, you know, the weeds of everyday life kind of choked out any room for poetry. I kept saying, heck, you can always find a few minutes a day to do a little writing. But what happens is that you put out so much of yourself for work, family, and friends, that you're pooped. When you do have free time, all you want to do is tube out or zone out or hang out. The things that are really important to you that don't fit in to the boom, boom, boom of everyday life you just postpone. So I just said no more waiting for things to open up. They never will. No more saying I'm not going to do it unless I have all the time in the world. I'll never have all the room I'd like in my life for poetry. But screw it. I'm going to write a poem a week anyway. And I'm going to push things aside—big things and little things—as I need to just to make sure I write that poem a week. This will be the year I look back on and say, `I wrote fifty-two poems and saved myself from drowning.'"

Ann. "I've just been going, going, going. When have I been able to ever give myself the luxury of asking what I want to do with myself? You know what would make this year great? If I could just figure out what I want to get out of my life. Not what other people want me to want. Not what I think I should want. But what deep down I want in the sense that it's the truth of who I really am."

Julia. "I've been giving to others for so long. To say nothing of what my job's taken out of me. I need a year to lie fallow. I'm just drained. I know there's a minimum I've got to do, but beyond that I need a year to do nothing. I can't tell you how much I need a year where I do nothing but take naps, catch up on my reading—feed myself in all the different ways I've been hungry."

Ally. "I've been weak for too long. I mean I don't stand up to people, I go along with things I really don't want to go along with, I don't make things happen. I know there are strong women out there. I want to get some of what they've got, so I can be strong for myself. I want to take assertiveness classes and public speaking classes and martial arts classes and do everything I can to bring out the strong woman I know I have inside me."

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