'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only." - Charles Dickens, 'A Tale of Two Cities'.

'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only." - Charles Dickens, 'A Tale of Two Cities'.
The new calendars have been hung in the Murphy household. On New Year's Day we dined on pork with a side of black eyed peas for prosperity, an old custom. 2018 is here, a blank page waiting for us to write our stories upon.
I borrowed from Charles Dickens, a favorite author as regular readers of this column must know, for the opening lines of this column. Although 'A Tale of Two Cities' was first published in 1859, the words continue to ring true today. It's pretty prose, easy to read and lyrical on the tongue.
And the meaning, at least to me, is relatively simple.  2018 and our lives are largely what we make of them.
Although we are all driven and affected by outside events that weave a background, we have choices to make, actions and reactions.
Every year has high points and low points, good moments and not-so-good ones. I've never had a year that turned out totally positive or one without at least a few good times.
I've learned to roll with it, to take the bitter with the sweet and to carry on, sometimes one step at a time.
At the start of each new year, I always have hopes and dreams. Once, I dreamed of a time when I would see my first novel accepted and published. I reached that goal almost eight years ago but there's always a new goal to strive to reach.  
A new year is a mystery. Last year, I began the year as a substitute teacher, something I had done for the past eight school years. Before the year was very old, that changed as I began writing for the Neosho Daily News on a regular basis, instead of just a columnist. Soon, I became a staff writer  and reporter with a full-time job.
2018 is the 18th year of the third millennium, the 18th year of the 21st century, and the 9th year of the 2010 decade. It's 2018 Anno Domini (AD) or Common Era (CE). It's 2018 in the Gregorian calendar.
This is my first column of the year, in the first Neosho Daily News edition of the year.
My calendar is already filling up with dates and 2018 is waiting to happen.
I plan to make it the best it can be - who wants to join me?


Lee Ann Murphy is a staff writer and writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.