Did you notice? Even before 2023 rolled around, ads for weight loss appeared on TV. Many made resolutions for the new year even before the ball dropped in Times Square. Maybe you did too.

New Year’s resolutions are certainly not a new thing. Even in the early 1900s, these noble declarations centered around three topics: having a stronger work ethic, developing moral character, and restraining oneself from earthly pleasures.

Over the years, resolutions have evolved from denying physical pleasures to general self-improvement. Medical sociologist Natalie Boero of San Jose State University has suggested that twenty-first century resolutions also reflect one’s status, personal wealth, and self-discipline, an echo of New Year’s resolutions from decades ago. Items in both charts tap into an ancient and powerful longing for a fresh start.


For me, keeping my friendships and connections with family remain high on my list of priorities for 2023. Call it a resolution, but I intend to stay in touch with my friends and family as often as possible. One friendship I’ve treasured over the years is with Carolyn Phanstiel, a colleague at Florida State College.


Carolyn and Marian celebrating birthdays at a faculty tea at my house, 1999.


Carolyn Phanstiel and I have been friends since 1987, the year I met her at Florida State College, then a two-year college in Jacksonville, Florida. We have forged a fine friendship over the years, she from Queens, NY and I from Rheems, PA. One of our last activities together as English profs was writing companion pieces of our lives for our children: complimentary stories of our school days, celebrating holidays, and the trials and triumphs in our personal lives. In fact, Writing Rheems and Queens sowed the germ of an idea for publishing my own memoir.



We are both retired now and I see her less often, but every year she sends a Word Gift at Christmas time. Here is one she sent last year. The matching quiz for 2022 came in early December, always my first holiday greeting. And always, signed with the sentiment “Oceans of love”!


1E  2D  3A  4C  5B



Speaking of words, every year since 2015, I’ve selected a word for the year. One year my guide word was “Intention.” This year I have chosen this word:


To me, “Breakthrough” means: any significant or sudden advance, development, achievement, or increase, that removes a barrier to progress – adapted from dictionary.com


“Early Morning Run” print of pastel painting on paper artist Cliff Beaman


I hear bold intention in the word breakthrough: vivid vision, audacious action and hilarious hope, goals for my personal, family, spiritual, and work life this year.

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Have you made a resolution for this year? Or chosen a special word for 2023?

What are you especially looking forward to in this new year?