Today is New Year’s Day, that day we set aside to announce to the world (or as I say sometimes, to “God and everybody”) out New Year’s Resolutions. You know, those things that we say we are going to commit ourselves to accomplish in the coming year.
I’ve made resolutions. And after about a week, I’ve forgotten them.
Then I “met” Ali Edwards through the late Big Picture Scrapbooking website and found her year-long class “One Little Word.” (By the way, it’s still available on her website, aliedwards.com.) Instead of making resolutions that we will either forget or just not keep, she recommends that we think of a word that will express what we want to get out of the coming year. The more complex the word, the richer the results. I liked that idea, and I dove in. I mean, how often can you buy a year-long online class for $31.00 or so! Seriously! The content was wonderful. (Now, if I could only complete all the activities and finish that darn One Little Word Scrapbook. I did read every single lesson, though. . . . .)
Then, in the last year or so, I met another online friend, a photographer and printmaker, Jennifer Upton. Her work is so swoon-worthy! She taught an online class called “Reframe,” in which she encouraged us to look at our everyday with new eyes and see the beauty in the ordinary and mundane and chaos. That class and those ideas have resonated with me for a while.
Last year, my word was “seek.” I am in a place in my life where I am seeking things out—learning new things, experimenting with things, discovering things. For instance, during one of my last medical checkups, my liver enzymes were high, and the doctor told me to stop taking products like Tylenol. Well, what’s a migraine sufferer supposed to do if she can’t take the one product that produces some results (Excedrin Migraine formula and the generic versions of such). I had to “seek” alternative relief. Thank goodness for the Internet and my job teaching at a college where the instructors are nurses, pharmacy technicians, or pharmacists! I found essential oils that relief my pain! That is just one way that my word last year helped me. This year, when I went for my physical exam, my liver enzymes were normal, my lipid panel was “Great!”. Now, I need to implement that word “seek” to find ways to lower my blood pressure and blood sugar. I’m seeking in November and December a healthier lifestyle. I’m not resolving to go on a diet or go to the gym three times a week or any other practice. I am seeking out healthier choices and seeking ways to implement exercise into my routines.
As I write this (in December), I haven’t yet settled on my word, although I am close. There are some words that shimmer and that I come to. Over the next four weeks, I am joining a ReFrame community to explore how to incorporate a “one word” into my practices. You can follow along with me on Mondays here on the blog.
So, let’s get started. If you haven’t already found your word (or perhaps it found you), these are some ways to start:
1. List the things you want to achieve or do in the coming year. It may be something like traveling, preparing for retirement, learning a new craft, finding new, healthier practices, reading a book a week, or something like that.
2. List some words that “embody” those goals. For example, you could choose the verbs from the sentences you wrote for #1—travel, retire, learn, etc. Here are some additional thoughts about the words you might list:
a. Nouns name things or qualities. So maybe, like my year this year, you have experienced events that caused you grief. You might want to focus on “joy” in the coming year. Try to make those nouns very specific. For example, “happiness” or “success” do name qualities that we might pursue, but we may be able to name the emotion more specifically. (More on that in a minute.
b. Verbs are action words. You may want to choose an action verb to help you “do” those things you want to accomplish.
c. Adjectives describe things. So again, perhaps you may want to be more “joyful” or more “grateful” or “loving”. As with the nouns, try to be as specific as possible.
3. After you have spent some time brainstorming words, choose the ones that seem to “shimmer” or stand out (I’m borrowing language from Christine Valters Paintner, Eyes of the Heart, when she talks about receiving images to photograph during contemplative walks). Look those words up in a dictionary and/or a thesaurus. You might even go so far as create clusters with these words. Look at the synonyms and antonyms. Notice how the connotations change with each word. Perhaps one of those synonyms is a better fit for you than the original word. (This tip comes from Ali Edwards.)
4. After narrowing your list to a few (two or three), let the words sit with you a bit over the next week. Meditate on that word. During your day, see whether that word fits into your personal and/or work life.
I would love to see what words you have chosen for 2016. You can leave your word in the comments below. I’ll see you next week!
Edited: If you’ve followed me this week, then you know that I have selected the word “Abide” as my word for 2016.