I love the one-word prompt. After three years, it seems that a single word seems to distinguish itself at the end of the year without much reflection. Perhaps it is habit at this point. There was some small catalyst this year, some snippet from the news that provoked a feeling I had not felt for a while upon hearing the news. Maybe it was the results of the Alabama special election. It took a split second to recognize it. Hope. It feels like cheating to uphold this word for 2018 as it comes with more ease because I was given it. I was given hope when I saw that tiny heartbeat on the monitor. I came with none, certain for confirmation that we would only have this life for six weeks. I was given hope that there was someone growing strongly with utter indifference to the previous night’s gush of blood and my fear. I have opted out of news and politics, allowing myself to focus on our private family world, but after November there was some hope again. People had been working hard while I rested, and candidates were making headway in causes I supported. There are other places hope is breaking through in my life. In work. In our finances. In my practice. Not that I was living in despondence. But my hope was less pronounced. It was incrementally pushing me forward.
This year I think it will be more central.
It is not big and sweeping, like the hope of my young adulthood. It is soft and encouraging. It is not about overturning. It is about the power to learn more, to do things differently, to show up in new ways and in new places. It is about effort, not outcome.
It is pragmatic and structured, not boundless and vague.
As I reflect, I think it is always there for me in some form. Maybe the difference is that this is a year where I can savor its influence.
(PS Here are my words for 2015, 2016, & 2017)
v. (used with object)
to subject to a process of vaporization and subsequent condensation, as for purification or concentration.
To extract the volatile components of…
To concentrate, purify, or obtain by…
To remove by…
To extract the essential elements of; refine…
To let fall in drops…
I suppose it’s a habit. Without much thought, as the year ended my mind began to wander and sort and sift through words. I suppose I could make it a goal, or an intention. But it’s more of a come-to-Jesus as I stand at the front porch staring down the horizon of the upcoming year. So that is what you will be. Okay. I breath it in and let it swirl around and begin the process of acceptance.
My life does not revolve around the calendar year, and still a single word emerges for the third time. The collection of these 365 days is so much bigger than a word, and it’s as simple as it too.
I think that is it. I think that is 2017. I can see it in big ways and in small. I can see it in my work and my parenting and my partnering and my practice. I can see it in my closet and our budget. As if the universe has said, “enough.” Enough accumulating. Now pare down. Now find the essence.
At first the prospect was scary. And already I am becoming accustomed. I am training myself to ask what is necessary. With money, with time, with thoughts.
I think scarcity will be my nemesis.
I need to practice gratitude, to breathe it in fully. And I am hopeful I will be filled with a quiet, bare beauty.
Last year I chose a word, or, more accurately, a word engulfed me. Vulnerable. I walked into an invitation to be more involved where I previously avoided commitment lest I be disappointed. I decided to pursue a nagging curiosity about teaching yoga. We dove feet first into an adoption application. I continued along the precarious precipice of small business life. Then other things took advantage of the opening for vulnerability. And I made it to the end of the year. I survived. And I feel silly using such a grand word when others are handling things of such a larger magnitude, but last year felt big to me. It was terrifying and exhausting and oh so worth it. Thank goodness.
Then another word started tiptoeing around my thoughts towards the end of the year. Patience. I was so sure this was my mantra for 2016. Then an Instagram post from Emily McDowell and an email from a dear friend with this word: intentional. It was as if someone else articulated my thoughts, their words resonated so deeply with me. I want to walk through 2016 with purpose. I want to partner intentionally, mother intentionally, work intentionally, practice and teach yoga intentionally, write intentionally, photograph intentionally. All these things I have been doing, I want to keep doing intentionally. I want to perk up my ears when other women have those discussions about work life balance because I am learning balance does not magically appear simply because you are balancing your time between two things. And this is where the year of vulnerability comes into play. Because when I do these things and do not “just see what happens” but move forward towards an intentional end, I leave myself open to big stinking, not particularly attractive failure. And when I get there, because I think failure in some shape or form is kind of inevitable, I hope I can congratulate on all the planning that got me there.