What's the Word


A few years ago, I read a Facebook post by someone who had given up the idea of New Year's Resolutions. She didn’t give up on self-improvement; but she changed her way of thinking about it. And, whoever she was, I’m so grateful because she changed mine too.

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Rather than making a list of tasks and goals meant to be accomplished, we pick a word. Usually a word that challenges our current way of thinking and will most likely push us beyond the self-inflicted boundaries of our lives. 

Tonight, I was approached by a dear friend who loved this idea when I told her about it a while back. She embraced the idea of setting intentions for each new year and has been blessed by its effects on her life. I was thrilled to hear her say that she has friends that have also adopted it and who hold her accountable to her own word through the year. I hope that I’m not breaking a confidence by telling you that her word was “courage”, but I just love that she had friends ask her throughout the year, “how are you living courageously?”

In 2014, my word was “wow”. Such a simple little palindrome. But what a gift it was to have this word as my reminder to stop and enjoy the beauty of the space I was in or the scenery around me.

This was a definite "Wow" from 2014

Then again, so was this.

Another year, I was tired of the feeling I was having that I was spacing out during lectures and being a bit selfish during conversations. My word had to be “listen”. And I truly felt that I absorbed more of the important messages and sounds that came to me that year. Music was more enriching; conversations went deeper.

Last year, my word, thanks in great part to Elizabeth Warren and the other women of courage that are standing up for the voiceless, pressing for social justice, and changing the conversations around civil rights, was “persist”. It helped me push through a lot of crappy medical situations, and it reminded me to speak up in my town and community about some topics that are really important to me, but that weren’t necessarily on the radar of the wider public. If Windsor ever gains a dog park, you can partially thank my word of 2018.

There is a simplicity in turning to a word that tends to reveal itself to you and applying that word to a given situation. So much simpler than to try and remember a list of things you really ought to do. My resolution to learn to knit cables was great for the one pair of socks I made that year, but it doesn’t really carry over into my general interactions with the greater world! (Also, my sister-in-law wears them during Giants’ games, and you can see how ineffective they’ve been for her and her team over these past few years.)

You may be wondering at this point what my word will be for 2019. I have a short list that I’m mulling over, but there have been years that the right word has come to me in the final seconds of the old year… literally as the ball was dropping. So I don’t want to tell you until it’s set. But I’d love to hear about some of the words you would consider adopting as your own in the coming year. What needs work? Where are you feeling your focus should be? What one-word concept would serve to improve your presence in the world?  

This blog has been an outlet of persistence in my own self-care during this miserable disease. It lifts my spirits and clarifies my emotions during the cloudy times. Also, as I wrote last week, it’s a touchpoint in each week that reminds me that I’m still alive. And your responses have been a blessing on top of a blessing. Thank you for reading this year; thank you for responding with so much love and honesty. I’m looking forward to the path that this blog will take us in the coming year. 

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