I do not do resolutions. I do not try to change everything that didn’t go quite right before January 2nd. I don’t. I cherish my sanity too much.
I do choose a word to focus on for the year. Some years, I remember well. 2014 was BRAVE. 2015 was BUILD. I don’t have a clue what I picked for 2016, but if I were to pick a theme word, it would have been year of GO. I traveled more last year than I ever have, visited more countries, experienced new things. 2016 was one of the best years of my life, but like everything else, it has been packed away like a suitcase.
For 2017, I wanted something different. A word that focused more on being in the moment, than planning out futures and goals and things and forgetting about the now. I’m really good at living in next week and ignoring today. So, my 2017 word needed to be about being fully present in the right now…
I chose SAVOR for my One Word. I want to savor what is good today, now, this minute. I want to learn to be more impulsive, less held down by plans. I want more everyday memories, less waiting for the perfect moment. This year, I want to savor each day because there is always something good that happens.
So, this post is a bit late, a poor omen to how the rest of 2014 will be, I hope not. For the past three years or so that I have been blogging, I have chosen a word, a One Word to guide my choices for the year.(Kinda like Frodo and the One Ring but without the creepy Black Riders following me around).
Last year, I chose the word–IGNITE. For parts of 2013, my word represented my choices: I remembered why I loved teaching, why I loved writing. Looking back over 2013, I see how my one word helped me back better choices like submitting my poetry and fiction for publication and attending a writer’s retreat in Michigan. I published a couple of stories, began writing a novel that I still love, overcame my fear of flying (I have a strong hatred for O’Hare), and adopted a kitten (really the kitten has nothing to do with my One Word just throwing it out there in case you wanted to know).
Even with a strong One Word showing for 2013, I didn’t plan on choosing another word for 2014.Until one chose me.
The word niggled at my brain. It found its way into my new favorite song with the title as my word. Now, my 2014 theme song. This word wouldn’t let me go. Despite wanting to focus goals and checking off boxes next to things that I accomplished, this word, this one word kept hounding until I accepted:
My One Word for 2014
Brave looks like submitting more writing, consistently putting myself out there for both acceptance and rejection.
Brave looks like being bold with my words, saying what I need and want.
Brave looks like fierce honesty coupled with compassion.
Brave looks like blogging consistently, being more open both online and in person.
Brave looks like embracing imperfection and accepting that I can’t be perfect.
So, here’s to a BRAVE 2014.
Maybe, going to Mordor with Frodo would have been a safer idea.
I watch the days tick by as January hurries ahead. Perhaps, you’ve noticed my silence in this space. How I told you all about my new word, how it would ignite passions and ideas. Then nothing. Maybe, you’re shaking your heads (if anyone is still here besides my husband who is required to read my blog). Somedays, I wonder if I need to keep writing things out in poetry, if I care any more, what’s next. All the wide questions and big ideas swirl about my head, and I watch amazed. And say nothing, this is okay with me.
Sometimes,when we most want to speak, we must remain silent.
It’s a slow process. This word ignite–I don’t fully understand it or how to live it. Sometimes, I want to dump out all the things that are coming to light this year because ignite brings purifying fire. Burning away the rubbish parts, the things that hinder and dissuade me from reaching beyond myself. I need this slow burn. To purge me of the worst parts–the anger, the world-weariness, the stress of everyday living.
But sometimes, this is not the space for all things.
Lately, I have held back a great deal from this space about my healing, becoming myself, remembering how to be brave. While I admire those who can write out their lives unmasked, I have not been afforded that luxury. I hold back what’s on my heart and mind for what won’t piss off those who wish me ill or those I love ill. Part of me wants to post some snarky vendetta against cyber stalking and using the internet to spy on one’s “enemies” as a ludicrous waste of time. But I won’t stoop to that level.
In this silence, I have remembered that I am strong and brave–most importantly, I have a voice.
Part of my One Word “ignite” is learning to use my voice so that it brings healing and not harm. Can’t fire do both? Maybe, there is danger in this word. If I use it to burn shame and guilt into those whom I believe deserve it most, or if I choose to ignite the fires of hope and discourse.
So far, I have experienced my word more than any other year. It has reawakened my passion for teaching. It has inspired me to join a writer’s group. It has encouraged me to submit stories. It has pushed me forward to define my goals for my life. For now, this is enough.
If you have been reading this blog for awhile or if not, you know that I’m not much on resolutions. And I’ve had some success at my One Word tries. Mostly, I picked words that weren’t terrifying or unfamiliar and chalked successes up to something a bit more focused. It is easy to say that this year will be different, but I don’t know if it will or not. All I know is this:
I’m different this year. I’m stronger. I’m braver.
I want to ignite those passions that have lain dormant for years.
I want to use my voice to ignite louder discussions of grace.
I want 2013 to be the year that I ignite something far bigger than myself.
For my One Word 2013, I chose ignite. Not that wasn’t obvious by now. In some ways, it feels a bit like playing with fire not knowing its potency. And in other ways, it feels like my whole life has been spent knitting this word together like a glove for just a time as this. My words scares and uplifts me, but I’m ready for the journey.
Bitter cold winds gnaw at the threads of my purple down coat. I stuff my hands in my pockets because I left my gloves inside. Frosty pale clouds hide the moon, and the flood lights shine out over my sloping yard. Tethered to my right hand, Ginger tugs at her leash bouncing in circles, trying her best to dart farther than the six feet allowed. I really don’t enjoy our night time walks because they scare me just a little.
I would rather stay close to the light, the safe zone, the place of certainty.
Close to the house, the light floods the porch and twenty feet into my yard. Living in the middle of no where, I imagine all sorts of things lurking in the shadows. Snakes, raccoons, coyotes, rabid dogs–anything could jump out, attack me from the imposing woods. I tug gently on Ginger’s leash all the while knowing she will drag me closer to the fringes, closer to my uncomfortableness. But my Ginger doesn’t like to stay in those well-lit twenty feet. She wants to search the fringes. The place where the light meets the scraggly tree specters, the place where I can’t see my next step, the place where darkness overpowers light. The fringes.
But I don’t want to go near the fringes.
In the light, I am certain of everything. But life can’t be lived well if we don’t venture beyond what we know is safe. Too often, I refuse to leave my illusion of safety, to risk being away from the light, to search the fringes. Most of my life, I shied away from those risky fringes. When I chose to major in English, I knew I would teach rather than write. Why? It was safe. The fringes of risk beckoned, but I didn’t move toward them. My feet firmly planted in the bright, blinding light because I believed God only gave us safe, antiseptic choices. His will intertwined with maintaining our comfort, with working in rational ways.
Sometimes, we must search the fringes.
I wish in all of my church going days that someone would have motioned me toward the fringes. But it pushed me towards the sensible things–marriage, family, domestic endeavors. All wonderful things, but far away from those dark fringes where faith and grace await. The places where it is risky, the place where God wants us to go, the place where faith overpowers our delusions of safety. The fringes give God a place to show us who He is, to illuminate His Will. But first, we must get out of the light, the safe zone. I admit that I don’t really know how to leave my safe zone. I never have. When I read about the glorious risks others attempt, I feel that tug towards the fringe, towards the uncertain.
This year, I resolve to search the fringes.
To understand God, beyond my safety zone. I want to explore those wild, dark and risky places where Grace awaits. I need to learn how to escape this prison of safety.
I do not have the power to keep any New Year’s resolutions.
Since an early age or when I discovered everyone else making resolutions, I would mentally list all of the areas that would be so radically changed by December 31st. I never succeeded. One such year, I wrote my resolutions down in a beautiful blue journal. Of course, I would faithfully write in said journal all year(resolution #2 on the list). My list of resolutions was the only entry. Like so many others, I shrugged off my lack change and went about my daily life. No more thought given my list, my resolutions.
And there is a great community with those of us who can’t fulfill any of our resolutions.
We joke about our diets. We taunt those who have gym memberships that go unused. All of those books that we intended to write, friends to visit, to places to go, art to make–we shove them to back burner. I did. Something always became too urgent, too pressing for me. In my frantic life, I rushed from one emergency to another. I mean isn’t true that full calendar equals a full life? Deep down, I think not.
Rather than a list of changes to make over a year, I will structure my life to fit my One Word.
For 2012, I chose the word RESOLVE.
This means in 2012, I choose things with more purpose, resolve to finish what I start. Rather than talking about my writing projects, I resolve to place my rear in the chair and write. For me, I resolve to be tenacious and selective of my time, the things that drain out the life from me. I will find myself saying yes to more things that frighten me, pushing myself beyond what I think I can do. Part of my resolve is to leave no room for fear to grow, to live in my soul, my heart anymore.
But more importantly, I resolve to live each day of 2012 by my One Word.