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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.

"The gift of a year is a time for you, and you can run around, if that's what you need, or you can stand still."

  Mira Kirshenbaum, The Gift of a Year, Part 3

Melissa. "I'm only twenty-nine, but still, I can't believe I've gotten to this point and I don't even know myself. I don't know what's wrong with me. I don't know why I do things. I don't know who I really am. What a great year this would be if I could just dig in and figure out what makes me tick. If I can just get a handle on my problems, I know I can start solving them."

Vicki. "My career's going okay, but for a long time I've wanted to travel to the Amazon to live with one of the native peoples. Don't ask—if you take anthropology in college, you get these kinds of ideas whatever else you do later. But I've diddled along and I haven't sunk my teeth into it. I know that if I focus on it, in one year I can make it happen, or at least get launched in it. I'm sick of postponing something I know will make me so happy."

Michelle. "I've been complaining about my job, my relationship, even where I'm living for a long time. The truth is I need to make a decision about them one way or the other, and I'm as far today from making those decisions as I've ever been. I'm tired of living up in the air. If I can make some final decisions this year, one way or the other, and end my ambivalence and get on with my life—this year will be a turning point for me."

Wendy. "I'm so sick of the way I've been phoning it in on my job. I'm better than this, and I can do better than I've been doing. I know I need to figure out why I haven't been so successful. If I can learn from that, this will be a great year. Then I can look back and say, `This time you did well, you were successful, you came out on top, you made some money, you set a standard, and you met it.' I don't expect a lifetime of success in one year, but I want to do what I can to reorient myself toward success."

Do you catch a glimpse of the full range of possibilities, based on what women are doing with their special years?

The gift of a year is a time for you, and you can run around, if that's what you need, or you can stand still. You can do something different, or do what you've been doing in a different way. You can take something off your plate, or put something new on your plate. You can satisfy an old dream, or you can discover a new dream. Your special year can be anything you want it to be.

Don't be misled if I go on to talk occasionally about how one woman climbed a mountain, another woman painted landscapes, another laid the foundation for starting a business, another repaired her relationship with her father. You do enough for people already. The last thing you need is to worry about impressing people with whatever it is you do with your special year. Just take care of whatever is most important to you.

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