While wrapping Christmas presents, baking cookies and watching Netflix and during the cousin craft day, I’ve listened to an array of stories about my youngest daughter’s first semester of college. But in the wee hours Tuesday, I asked Phoebe to write down advice she has learned this semester and would like to remember. She wrote:

As every first-year college student would like you to believe, I’m sure I’ve reached complete enlightenment over my first 119 days at Anderson University. (This was written with utmost sarcasm.) I have truly learned a few things about other freshmen: Some still don’t know how to measure

laundry detergent, and some just don’t even bother with laundry in general. But most of all, I’ve learned a lot about myself. So as a note to myself:

Dear Phoebe,

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Please remember to:

1. Go outside your comfort zone. It’s never too late to try something new. This year I joined a gospel choir. It was incredibly different from the traditional,

Latin-song school choirs I’d participated in. This gospel choir was fairly disorganized and not perfect at any given moment — and I loved every second of it. It fit my personality better than I could have imagined and brought me a lot of excitement.

From the second week on campus, I attended a ministry called Differently-Abled, where we went and spent time with mentally handicapped residents of a home. We sang songs and did crafts.

By the third week, it became my resting place, where I could relax and be entirely myself, completely rejuvenated for the week. Trying something different is something you can’t regret: Either you love it or you learn from it.

2. Enjoy people. I am surrounded by new people every day, as well as some of my oldest and greatest friendships. I spend time with people who enjoy life, who can laugh and be serious when the moment arises. We drink tea and talk about our futures, but we do our best to live in the present and take time to appreciate the moment we are in.

When I step back and look at the people who fill my life, I’m sometimes amazed by the joy that is carried throughout simple conversations. It’s healthier. Next time you run into an old friend, sit down for coffee and don’t make plans for afterward. The simplicity of being in the moment with someone you love will do wonders.

3. Love life — since it can be a curious thing, filled with ups, downs, diagonals, even zigzags. No matter what comes your way, press on.

Rolling with the punches has been quite a learning experience, but it has become more apparent to me that we all have a bit of Joe Frazier in us. Life will always bring frustrations and disappointments, but having determination and positivity makes all the difference.

No matter the age, 8 or 80, actualizing a goal becomes possible the moment we decide we want it. Rocky Balboa put it quite simply: “Every champion was once a contender that refused to give up.”

So as you wind down the holiday season and begin to prepare for the last party of the year, don’t fall for the post-Christmas blues. Write your resolutions, begin a new year and look forward to what’s to come. You don’t control what will happen, but you do control how you react, and that’s all you need to get where you want to.