CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- New Year's Day is my favorite holiday -- 365 brand-new days, 12 delicious months, 52 amazing weeks. It's the ultimate new beginning. The chance to take lessons learned from last year and put them into effect. OK, I'm strapping myself in.In addition to being a new year, 2012 has the special distinction of having prophecies surround it. You've probably heard that the Mayan calendar ends in December -- Dec. 21 to be exact. Whatever that portends is unknown. The planets also will be aligned during that time in a configuration they've not had for 26,000 years. Whether this is of significance is also unknown.There are many theories and predictions, though -- everything from a cataclysmic event to the end of the world. One prophecy foretells that "the light and dark forces will fight until then, and then the light forces will win out." And History Channel just ran "Armageddon Week." Yikes!Prophecies are kind of like statistics -- elements involved in them can be interpreted to show "proof" of a certain theory. It might be a hidden message in the Egyptian pyramids or an interpretation of an ancient hieroglyphic. Maybe it's a passage from the Bible, the Torah or the Quran. A teaching from Gandhi or Buddha -- or a quatrain from Nostradamus.Curiosity-seekers abound among us. And our nation was born out of faith-based pioneers. Sometimes these forces align, and sometimes they conflict. We've sure seen a lot of turmoil, strife, natural disasters and political unrest in the past several years. Is this all leading up to something, or have these occurrences always taken place -- and we're just noticing them more in the 24-hour news cycles?Whatever does or does not happen on a global level in 2012 remains to be seen. All the more reason, in my mind, to live life fully as we go along. (Note to self: Remember, that's how you named this column -- to remind you that this is not a dress rehearsal).So, how will you be living your life these next 364 days? And I don't mean how many resolutions you have or how many goals you want to achieve. That's the way I would have looked at things in the past. Now I'm focusing more on the journey than the destination.
What will this year be like? How will I show up in my own life this year? During the holidays, my brother-in-law made the statement that there are pretenders and contenders in life. That stuck with me. I don't think any of us want to end up like Marlon Brando in "On the Waterfront," ruminating that "I coulda been a contender."Being aware and being present don't sound like very lofty goals, yet those two characteristics have everything to do with the quality of life we experience. How many times have you sent your "representative" out into the world -- going through the motions -- instead of really showing up yourself? Have you stopped to think how you might have cheated yourself out of a richer experience?Lots of times we have one foot in the past and one foot in the future, and we're missing the present. We're either too busy worrying about something that happened in the past or projecting into the future. While we're doing this, we're missing out on our lives today.I'm not saying we don't need to plan or have goals. Certainly, we need structure. It's just when the process starts to overcome the end result that we may need to take a step back. Hurrying through life really has no purpose -- and is certainly not very fulfilling.Our speed of life has expanded exponentially in the past decade. That doesn't mean, though, that we have to hurtle through space just to keep up. After all, what's the point? If we're always striving, we're never arriving.That's what gives this day such impact. We get to take stock of the year we're saying goodbye to and to welcome the one that's ahead of us. I like to refer to it as "the year in review and the year in preview." A foundation of gratitude helps to set the stage for things seen and not yet seen.Enjoy your clean slate. Anticipate the palette you're bringing to it and the rich tapestry you're weaving. As author Carlos Castenada said, "The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same."Linda Arnold, MBA, is a certified wellness instructor and chairwoman/CEO of The Arnold Agency, a marketing communications company specializing in advertising, public relations, government relations and interactive marketing. Reader comments are welcome and may be directed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston, WV 25301, or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.