During the summer, when getting up to run at the crack of dawn didn’t mean donning four layers of clothescoldplay and a wool cap, I was able to run longer distances simply because I didn’t have clothes weighing me down. Moreover, with the kids on summer break, I didn’t have to worry about getting home in time to help pack lunches, get breathers started, and make sure Sophie and Jacob were ready for school.

My route was always the same: I came out of our neighborhood, down the main street of Bouquet and a then a left turn on to Newhall Ranch Road, a steady incline that goes upward for about a mile and a half. The road leads past a new development and there are few cars out and about at 6:15 AM. I can run in the road, on the asphalt as opposed to the cement sidewalk, which does a number on my knees. Throughout the summer and into the fall, save for the jackrabbit that always seemed to be waiting for me at the top (I named him “Captain Jack”), I was alone my thoughts, my music, and the sound of my feet slapping down on the ground.

On clear mornings, when a light breeze carried away the morning fog, before the haze settled in, it was possible to look out over the Valley I reached the top of Newhall Ranch Road. Down below was always peaceful, the potential of the new day unspoiled.  One morning, as I made the turn to return down and make my way home, Coldplay’s “Reign of Love” began playing through my iPod. I slowed to stop to take the view; I was filled with hope and optimism. From where I stood, the future felt wide open and I thought I could accomplish anything. It was one of those mystical instances you see in movies or read in novels in which the hero has an epiphany that he must seize the day. I was so inspired that I practically sprinted down the hill and a breakneck speed.

That was one of my favorite moments this past year.

It’s amazing how just a short period of time can pass and that feeling of optimism can dwindle.

Yesterday morning, as I ran through the streets of our neighborhood, the sky gray and the sun crawling over the horizon, I fell deep into thought about this past year and what the future has in store. It’s that time again, when self reflection takes place and for some reason we all decide what changes we’re going to make come January 1st, as opposed to making those changes next week, tomorrow, or within the next ten minutes. Passing by dark homes with the lights out and the residents asleep or just about to rise, I worked past my demons trying to slow me down, staring straight ahead at a road that seemed to go on forever.

A recent conversation replayed in my head. While discussing the goals and ambitions I set for myself in my twenties, I remarked to a friend that “the future was wide open” back then. It was an off the cuff remark, but one that has flitted about in my head for months. Why is it that we take to heart career shortcomings and don’t always take credit for the great things we do in our personal lives? I, for one, am always measuring my worth on how little I’ve achieved in my path to becoming a filmmaker. I wanted so much, yet life hasn’t worked out that way.

I shouldn’t need reminding of the possibilities the future holds. All I need to do is stand back and watch Sophie and Jacob play and laugh, to see them express their love for each other. All I need to do is remember that special morning when I could see for miles and Coldplay’s gentle hymn played. Still, it’s comforting that people care enough to give me a nudge when my thoughts are glum and my mood is a little blue. That’s what this time of the year is about: caring for one another, having your friend’s back in their time of need, even if they’re thousands of miles away.

In that conversation, my friend was quick to respond, “the future is still wide open.” These simple words put me at ease and kept me from falling into self doubt and despair.

As I continued my frigid run in the cold December morning, I scrolled through my iPod until I found “Reign of Love,” appropriate for Christmas holidays, wouldn’t you say? The piano began, then Chris Martin’s quiet vocals. I dug deep and found an extra burst of energy, forging ahead, believing that the future is wide open.

Happy Holidays.