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This time of year is the end of things and the beginning of things and in between is a confusing state of introspection as plans of all sorts start to mould themselves into being.

As the year’s end comes into view, thoughts of a new one bring a mixture of excitement and anxiety. Excitement for the possibilities in the 12 months we have ahead, a world of endless options and hope of living a life the way we want to. Yet there is also anxiety caused by uncertainty and instability and for many it will be another year of hoping for better.

Part of my plan for the New Year is to get my health in order — yes a trope of undulating dullness, I know. But needs must, and now that I’m 40 I feel like I’m looking into a chasm carved out of a lifetime of bad habits, from which I am determined to emerge into a healthier version of myself and grant myself a few more years of life. There has been too much eating and drinking and not enough moving in 2019, so this year I will take pains (quite literally) to get myself into shape once again. I’m sure I said the same thing last year. But I’m more determined this time round, and can feel my body cry out for some exercise — literally cracking and groaning with every movement. The normal cracking sounds have become part of my own unique musical theme tune that, with a bit of effort and a lot of training, will hopefully fade into the background as I get fitter and fitter — or simply change notes. Watch this space as I, and millions of others like me, begin January on a healthy high — and hopefully don’t end up flat on our faces in February.

These next 12 months will be the best in your life, because they are the only ones that matter.

- Christina Curran, journalist

There is something wonderful about the unifying capacity of New Year celebrations. While Christmas is a religiously festive time for many, the New Year is a celebration everyone on the planet can enjoy, as it heralds another tiny fraction of time that we as human have conquered the world and gives us a chance to revel in our glorious achievements and be mindful of the things we need to change. A year is infinitely small in comparison to the time the earth and universe have existed, yet it holds so much power for us, and considering this year also rings in a new decade, there are calls for nostalgia and, for some, nausea — has it been ten years since I was a junior reporter?!

For me this year has been a rollercoaster and I’m hoping for a more relaxed 2020. One can dream. We are but mere fragile creatures on this whirling wheel and I for one will try to combine enjoying life with trying to stay alive for as long as I can. It’s a tight rope we all walk.

In the meantime I shall say this. Be kind to others and be kind to yourself. You’re not that bad and you’re not that good. None of us is perfect, but we were all made that way. And that’s alright.

The New Year can be what we all want it to be — as long as we’re all open to other people and honest with ourselves. These next 12 months will be the best in your life, because they are the only ones that matter. Wishing you all a very Happy New Year. See you on the other side.

— Christina Curran is freelance journalist based in Northern Ireland.