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11 things to think about before the year ends

Filofax 2013

When Oprah offers advice, I tend to listen.

So when I received her email suggesting “11 Things Every Woman Should Write Down Before the Year Ends,” I decided to try it. I’m not sure what insight this will bring me or how it will improve anything but I have no doubt something I write here will end up making a difference somewhere in my life.

In typical Lois fashion, though, I’ve waited until December 31 to tackle this so I’m going to try to make these answers short and sweet.

Please join me, even if you just answer a few of these questions.

1. What Younger You Would Like About Present You

My younger self would be very happy that my hair is still long, I’m still married to Michael and that I’ve actually made writing my profession. She would be proud that I’m up on the latest music, even if I don’t like a lot of it, that I still feel like I’m her age inside and that my kids think I’m fun.

2.The Watched/Read It List

This prompt says you should keep a list of all the books you read and movies you watch because it will reveal patterns, showing your changing tastes and moods. That may be true for books, where I do know that I go through periods of reading only mysteries/thrillers, but as long as I see movies for work, keeping a list will only show me what I had to sit through. Trust me, I would never have chosen to see The Wolf of Wall Street – in fact, I really wish I could un-see it. The movies I loved this year were Her, Saving Mr. Banks and About Time. The book that finally got me back into reading was Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things. Gorgeous.

3. The Mistake You Never Want to Make

I make mistakes all the time. Most of them are no big deal, live and learn, blah blah blah. The mistake I don’t ever want to make is taking my life or the amazing people in it for granted. I am so lucky and so aware of that, and it would be a huge mistake not to acknowledge that every single day.

4. Your Ideal Outfit

The question is, “In your perfect world, what are you wearing right now? Why aren’t you actually wearing it?” Well, I guess I would be wearing a sweater from Anthropologie or Free People, flattering skinny jeans and Ugg boots. The reason I’m not wearing that is because I’m lying in bed answering these questions. I do need new jeans.

5. A Deep, Dark – Shhh – Secret

Sorry but that ship has sailed. I revealed my deep, dark secrets during Blogger Idol and I am now 100% an open book.

6. The Most Unexpected Compliment You Ever Got

Hmm. I’ve received some really powerful, generous comments about my work, so the compliment that stands out may seem a little shallow but it’s the one that comes back to me at random times and makes me feel so loved. We were in college and I had just gotten out of the shower. I had no make-up on, my hair was wild and Michael wrapped me in his arms, looked me in the eyes and said, “You are so beautiful.” I certainly wasn’t but the look of pure love in his eyes and the fact that, to him, I was, was absolutely overpowering to me and has stayed with me all these years later.

7. That One Quote

“You know the one – it’s that line that makes even the worst day seem better.” Well, I don’t know if I have an all-purpose one like that but I do have a few that help, depending on the challenge. “Done is better than perfect” pushes me out of the paralysis that comes from striving for perfection. “All things must pass” got me through high school Earth Science and still gets me through the dentist. “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end” is pretty much how I feel about life.

8. The Best Surprise You’ve Ever Had

Michael was finishing his master’s degree at the State University of New York at Binghamton, where we went to college, and I was starting mine at Boston University. We tried to see each other as often as possible but it was hard. One weekend we both went home to Queens, and on Sunday, he drove me to the Greyhound stop at Dunkin’ Donuts to get my bus back to Boston. We didn’t want to leave each other and, at the last minute, he said, “I’m going to go with you.” He didn’t have any of his stuff and his parents had to come pick up the car but he got on that bus with me, and I don’t think I stopped smiling the entire ride back. Thirty something years later, I’m still smiling. Best surprise ever, and possibly one of the reasons I’m obsessed with Dunkin’ Donuts.

9. Your True Happiness

They say you’re only as happy as your unhappiest child, and I totally agree with that. Honestly, if my family is happy, I’m happy. What would be a moment of real bliss, though? The first picture that pops into my head is lying on the deck of a cruise ship, wrapped in a blanket, reading a great book, with an endlessly refillable iced tea next to me, surrounded by the beauty and peace of the ocean.

10. Your Favorite Failure

I’m not going to talk about this because it involves other people but I believe everything happens for a reason and leads you to where you are. I’m very grateful to be where I am right now.

11. An Amendment to the Bucket List

I have never actually written a bucket list because I’ve always been afraid it’s going to feel like all this pressure and I will ultimately feel like a failure if I don’t accomplish everything on that list. But I’m going to bite the bullet this time and put it out there. I want to have a syndicated column (that I get paid for writing) like Anna Quindlen’s Life in the 30’s or Erma Bombeck’s At Wit’s End.

And, with that, we head into 2014. Here’s to a great new year! xo



  1. I don’t think I could answers these questions right now. What I can do is say I am so glad for your happy life and the joy and love you feel every day. That makes me smile.

  2. Well said…. my favorite is your last entry… you put your BHAG out there and now let the universe bring it to you. Love your writing…. keep it coming. Happy New Year Lois.

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      Thank you so much! I had to look up BHAG — and I LOVE IT! Happy New Year to you, too. Hope it’s a great one! xo

  3. Edee Lemonier says:

    What an awesome list, Lois!

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      Thanks, Edee! Can NOT wait to meet you in 2014. I’m sure that will be a highlight of the year for me! xo

  4. I have 11 hours to complete this list…

    Seriously, these are great writing prompts. Thanks, Lois!
    (May your iced tea glass always be filled.)

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      Right?! I loved these prompts and rushed to finish them before the end of the year! Can’t wait to read yours, and thanks for that great wish. I love it — and you! Happy new year, my friend. xo

  5. Cause you are so beautiful

  6. Janie Emaus says:

    I’d like that column, too!

  7. I had never seen these questions before, but I like them! May have to give them a whirl, even though I missed the deadline! 😉 Happy New Year!

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      No real deadline — remember, done is better than perfect! Happy new year, and would love to read your answers if you post them!

  8. Rachel M Harari says:

    Reading your list reinforces WHY you are such an incredible writer and WHY you truly deserve a syndicated column. What terrific responses to some very thought provoking prompts. You have that flair my friend. My hope is that you never stop thrilling your audience with your prose and that I start reading that column real soon xoxo

  9. Pamela Lear says:

    So inspiring … you do have a way with words! I’m so glad to see that you read Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel “The Signature of all Things”. I thought it was brilliant also. My other “Best of 2014 book” was “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena” – – also gorgeous and brilliant.

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      Will have to read that one. I LOVED The Signature of All Things. And I loved seeing you in San Diego. Come back soon! xo

  10. Beautiful thoughts. We have a LOT in common. I feel as if we are already friends; and THAT is the point of writing, isn’t it? Congratulations on being a connector and inspiring others. All the best to you in 2014.

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      Susan, we’re going to need to go for coffee one of these days. I feel like we will have tons to talk about! Happy New Year!

  11. Interesting questions to ask yourself at the end of every year – I guess they naturally lead into resolutions!

  12. I actually kept track of all the books I read last year for the first time (101, in case you were wondering) and enjoyed being able to look back at them all. I haven’t tried keeping track of movies, but (minus rewatching movies I own), there wouldn’t be nearly as many of them as there were books.

    Happy 2014!

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      Happy 2014 to you, too! Will have to check out your list of books! What was your favorite from last year?

  13. That was fascinating. Tell me about the column you write about movies. rEally enjoyed this post and I’d be in bed also if I had a choice.

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      We will have to find some time that we’re in the same place at the same time to just sit and talk. I want to hang out with you!

  14. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    How did I miss this one?? I love your answers and I know that, with your talent and can-do attitude, this year will bring more wonderful things into your life (like me next month). <3

  15. A very good list to add to my ‘to do’ items. Happy 60th birthday dear Oprah! I loved reading Anna Quindlen’s column when I was younger. Just downloaded her new book which looks like a wonderful love story.

  16. Loved this so much! we have more than a few things in common, too.

  17. My favorite quote, the one I keep coming back to, the one I am planning to have tattooed on my arm, is something my dad has always said to me whenever something feels insurmountable. “If it was easy, anybody could do it.” And then he goes on to list all the reasons I’m not just anybody and why I can do whatever it is that seems so difficult.

    For the record, I have the sweetest, most encouraging daddy ever!!

  18. I love this, Lois. How did I miss it the first time around? Love your honesty and how in touch you are with your inner self

  19. What a great list of prompts. Love your responses. I’ll have to give these Qs some thought.

  20. What a wonderful post. I always like it when I read something and notice myself smiling 🙂 It always amazes me how reading something intimate about a person almost makes you feel like…friends. 🙂 Happy New Years!!!! And Wes Hal!”—Be Whole!

  21. I’m impressed by the picture of you that emerges from your answers to the prompts. I’m guessing that the young you would be very impressed by the person you’ve become.

  22. I love everything about this post, but most of all the writer who I heard reading it in my head in her NY accent. 🙂

    I will be playing with this in my journal today, so much to sift through in my mind, but two of the quotes I always go back to are:
    1) (From Eleanor Roosevelt) “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
    and the next one came from my mama:
    2) “Always walk into a room like you deserve to be there.” I taught my daughters this one and C recently told me she has shared it with the girls in her dorm. Love that!
    Thanks for the wonderful writing prompt. After my morning errands, I will be snuggled up, wrapped in a blanket with a cup of hot tea (since we aren’t supposed to reach freezing temps today), and writing a last entry in my journal for 2014.
    Happy New Year to you and Michael, dear Lois! MWAH!!

  23. I love this list of things to consider before the start of a fresh new year. Asking yourself these questions makes you sit back and take stock and really think about your life…past, present, and future.

  24. Wow! So much to think about here! I love these questions! Happy New Year to you!

  25. I’m writing these down as fast as I can before the year ends…all thought provokingly wonderful. Happy New Year, Lois!

  26. Well, I’m glad to see I’m consistent and that my comment was first from 2 years ago. I love this post, and your answers and, for always, I love you my friend. Happy New Year. xoxo

  27. I love that I got to learn a little bit more of you! Happy 2016!

  28. Great things to consider (and write down) before the year is over! One I can answer off the top of my head is what old me would like about present me: That I’ve not given up on getting published (traditionally… in a book, not magazines or newspapers as I’ve been there, done that). Perhaps 2016 is the year I’ll make it happen.

    Cheers to you and yours and a fabulously fine, healthy and happy 2016!

  29. These are all great things to think about! I can’t wait for the new year!

  30. These are great! I’m off to find a piece of paper and a pen LOL

  31. Love your tips! Can’t wait to work on that list! There are some deep thoughts in some of the points you’ve listed! Love it!

  32. This is a wonderful reflective post for the beginning of a New Year. I’m excited about new beginnings.

  33. That is a great list. For me I evaluate the year before and see what I need to work on.

  34. You make some very good points in this post.
    It really makes one introspective.

  35. I like the question of what the younger you would like about the current you. Whata a neat perspective!

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