Tag Archives: one word

One Little Word 2017



In January, I chose the word DARE as my one word for the year. Something happened along the way. I sort of dropped out of following the word through the year.

But then, something else happened. I dared to go back to full-time teaching! I started a new job with Newberry Academy. I took on the head of school’s “dare” to teach/advise the desktop publishing class, aka yearbook, something I’ve never, ever done before. And I “dared” to teach world history. Keep in mind, I am a certified ENGLISH teacher. I’ve never taught a social studies class before in my entire career.

I love it! I love teaching in a small, intimate private school. I know my students—and am getting to know their parents on a first name basis. Seriously. Of course, I discovered that I’ve taught some of the parents before in my life as a public school teacher. And then, there is the one student whom my own son taught when he was the middle school band director in town! That’s a sobering thought. . . . I have a son old enough to teach middle school students who are now my high school students.

This year, as I looked at Ali Edwards One Little Word class and wondered momentarily whether I should take it or not—and I am—my word came to me:  GROW.


Odd.  I will be sixty years old in February 2018. And I feel I am still growing.  I talked to the head of school last week and told him I’d like to take the AP certification course this summer. He’s willing to pay half tuition. I believe it will “grow” me as a teacher. Besides, I haven’t taken a formal literature/education class in more years than I can remember. I am looking forward to professional growth.

And I signed up for the “graduate” course with Emma Davies and A Year with My Camera. I want to grow as a photographer. I will be teaching my yearbook students more about photography next year so that we get some really interesting story-telling photographs for the yearbook.

I want to grow as a creative person. I want to grow my writing. I haven’t put much effort into my novel in the last weeks. I plan to do that during this Christmas holiday break. I am going to live up to my word that I won’t answer any emails until I go back to school on January 3. Nope, I just won’t do it.

There is the old saying, “Bloom where you are planted.” Well, I may not “bloom” this year, but I do intend to grow—personally, professionally, creatively.


One Word Friday


Have you chosen your word, or did your word choose you?

How are you going to keep it in the forefront this year? I found a verse from on the books of the Apocrypha, Wisdom 3:9, that speaks to the idea of what it means to abide.

Those who trust in him understand truth,

and the faithful will abide with him in love,

because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,

and he watches over his elect.

I used my new Cricut machine to cut out the words of this verse to make a canvas. Right now, this canvas is hanging on the Christmas stocking hangers in the living room because I haven’t decided where to put the canvas for the year.


Sometimes, our words make us feel uncomfortable. “Abide” makes me uncomfortable. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to abide in right now. Is it words? Gracious, I’ve been reading a whole heck of a lot recently, so I guess I am abiding in those words that I am reading.

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Is it “art”? I have started a daily art journal practice, of sorts, following the ideas of Gina Rossi Armfield’s No Excuses Art Journaling, as well incorporating ideas from Theresa Reobinson’s Right Brain Planner. Each day I record a little bit about my day—a color that I like or that suits my mood, a word to guide me through the day or that expresses my feelings or my mood, a simple drawing of the weather. I use a ittle watercolor, or acrylic paint, a dip pen and India ink and sometimes I write some song lyrics to describe the weather. (Do you know how many songs there are about RAIN? I am beginning to find out!) Another thing I am trying to do is to record more images of the ordinary things around me, not necessarily every day, but several times a week. This week, I have photographed the orchids that are blooming in my home. I have two windowsills full of “moth” orchids, and one oncidium orchid.


This week, I am “abiding” in the joy of these new blooms, the color that they add to the room, and the feeling of lightness that they are bringing to me, after a fall and early winter of grief.

This week, I invite you to find a way to abide with your word. Use it in art. Write it on sticky-notes and put those colorful squares where you will see them throughout your day.

And when that word feels uncomfortable, abide in the dis-ease it brings to you. That discomfort may be telling you that this is the word you need for the this time.

January 1—Time to Reframe


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.

One Word—Abide


I’m not sure how long I’ve been selecting a word to guide me for the year. I think I began in 2009 with the word Joy, after we lost everything in the first of two house fires. Since then, I have chosen words such as Intention, Create, and Seek. The word Seek has had special resonance with me, and wants to cling to me as I go into 2016. But so does “abide.”


This word came to me this morning during my quiet time. I set aside about forty-five minutes to an hour each day to write my three pages of “morning pages” (a la Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way), read my Bible and write in my prayer journal. This morning, after weeks of thinking my word would be “reframe,” which still clings to me, but not in a way that I feel comfortable with, I found the hymn “Abide with Me” floating through my mind.

Perhaps the word came to me because I sometimes think “musically.” I hear melodies in my head, portions of lyrics drift through my consciousness. Or maybe, after weeks of hustle and bustle and busy-ness of the holiday season and all the preparations, I just needed to think of “abiding” in peace and quiet. I had finished a study of the book of Numbers, and while I wait for the next “big” study, I knew I needed to find something that would allow me to abide in God’s word. And there it is: ABIDE; Jesus’s invitation to “abide in me” while I ask him to “abide in me.”


There it is. My word for 2016—ABIDE. I have “joined” the tribe at One Word 365, a huge community of others who have joined this movement to let a word guide them throughout the year. In addition, I have joined Ali Edwards’ One Little Word class to find ways to keep the word in the forefront during the year.

An old hymn begins, “I don’t know about tomorrow.” And I don’t know what tomorrow or the day after that will bring. But I can begin to abide in today and in God’s love for me and in creation and nature to find that peace.