Tag Archives: word of the year

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.


The Third Quarter Has Begun


I realized I have not written since June.  So much has happened since my last post, namely I am leaving my part-time teaching position to take  full-time teaching job in a local private school beginning in two weeks.

This is the year of living daringly, of taking chances, of stepping into new possibilities.

Moving back into secondary education is definitely something I had not expected to do, though the possibility has always been there. And now that I think about it, I am ready to take this dare.  It will certainly be a challenge with six preps, including two things I’ve never done before professionally: teaching World History and advising the school yearbook/Desktop Publishing class.  I said the head of school (aka headmaster) suckered me into the latter assignment.  But seriously, I would not have accepted it if I had not wanted to give it a try.

Going from teaching four days a week to five, teaching for four weeks with a month off between mods, will certainly take some getting used to!  I will have to figure out ways to keep up with my creative pursuits and my photography in different ways.  I will also have to figure out new ways to work in practice time at the piano.  Jack’s wedding will be here before you know it!

I hadn’t given the word of the year much thought in the last couple of months, but somehow, I think the dare was working in the background. I realize that I have been out of the secondary classroom for six years.  I will have to re-evaluate what I have been doing for the last few years at Remington.  I will have to re-learn how to relate to teenagers and preteens (I will have that one class of squirrelly seventh graders! In a way, I am looking forward to teaching those middle-schoolers!) And I will have to give myself the pep talk almost daily that I can teach World History.  (It’s just another form of ELA, right?  Reading, thinking critically, analyzing, synthesizing. . . . )

And so, a new school year begins. . . . .

Besides, this new teaching job gives me an excuse to shop the school supplies and office supplies and find really neat stuff to use!

My Word for the Year 2017—Dare


To dare:

  1. :  to be sufficiently courageous to <no one dared say a word> <she dare not let herself love — G. B. Shaw>
  2. : to have sufficient courage <try it if you dare>
  3. :  to challenge to perform an action especially as a proof of courage <dared him to jump>
  4. :to confront boldly : defy <dared the anger of his family>
  5. :  to have the courage to contend against, venture, or try <the actress dared a new interpretation of this classic role>

My word for 2017 has chosen me: DARE. I cannot begin to explain why this word keeps resonating with me because, if the truth be told, I am a coward. I am afraid of taking chances, making mistakes, and getting messy. But this year, I am going to try to channel my inner Ms. Frizzle (of Magic Schoolbus fame), and take some “dares.”

When I looked up the word, there are all kinds of grammatical notes with the word. it can be used as a verbal auxiliary, and a transitive verb, and as an intransitive verb. It can take direct and indirect objects, or not.

No matter, though, how the word is used grammatically as a verb or even as a noun, it means I have to step out of my comfort zones, take risks, and have the courage to do what I may not want to do. This is the year of being daring.

I am not sure where this word will take me. Last year, I allowed myself to abide in my mourning after losing my father in August 2015. I found myself this year “in a better place” at the end of the year. The mourning has lifted even though I still grieve for Daddy. This year, I could enjoy the holiday season without loss. Yes, I missed Daddy sitting at the table this year, but I didn’t want to throw Uncle Lee out for sitting in Daddy’s chair! I did break down when I visited his grave on Christmas Day, but I was able to smile when I told Mama that I had given a memorial to the church’s building fund. I could not do that last year. I needed to abide in the mourning.

This year, I will be daring. I’ll be sharing my dares throughout the year in this space. Tuesday night, one of the performers on the Kennedy Center Honors special sang “The Impossible Dream” as a tribute to President John F. Kennedy, for whom the arts center is named. This has always been a favorite song of mine, and I am going to claim it as my “anthem” for this year. (Click on the first line of the lyrics to hear Ed Ames sing this song!)

To dream the impossible dream 
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far

To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause

And I know if I’ll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I’m laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star

Photojournal Monday—Out on a Limb


I think I am an online class junkie. I signed up for three classes, at least they are “sort of” classes: Ali Edwards’ One Little Word, Art to the Fifth’s Documented Life Project: the unPlanner 2016, and Theresa Robinson’s Right Brain Planner four-week class. (Am I nuts?) Notice I’m not taking any photography classes right now? Nope. It’s not that I don’t want to, but I need to focus on the ones I’ve signed up for that I haven’t finished yet! There’s the Photoshop Artistry class that I’m half-way through. And there are the saved lessons from Kim Manley Ort’s classes, and a couple of others from Katrina Kennedy. I need to find my focus, literally and figuratively.

The classes that have my attention right now are Documented Life Project and the Right-Brain Planner classes. For several years, I made and kept a mini-album I called “The Book of Days.” I used a variety of techniques to create calendars and then throughout the month, I would record snippets of my days. The DLP is similar. Someone else, though, has done the hard work of creating the templates! Thank you, DLP leaders!

In the DLP class, the theme for January is “Out on a Limb: Trying New Things.” Art journaling is a new thing for me. I’ve dabbled at it, but nothing seemed to take. Then I discovered this year, the No Excuses approach to art journaling, which led to the Documented Life Project 2015 (I just glimpsed it, didn’t sign up), and finally to Right-Brain planning. I have a mess. So, my limb is art journaling.

As a photographer, though, I have to include photographs and images in my journal. One way to do that is to create photo flimstrips. I think I love them. I can print out a strip, trim it down, and tape into my “unplanner” or art journal and have a record of my week or day or month—which ever I choose to document. I am not worried about whether my journals or planners are archival safe right now. I’m just working with the here and now. This project is for ME, not necessarily for posterity. If there is one thing that losing things in two house fires almost back to back has taught me is that the things of this world are just temporary.

So, here is my first filmstrip:

Out on a limb filmstrip

When I walked through Dreher Island Sunday afternoon, my photography “goal” or intention was to look for images that represented the literal aspect of this month’s DLP theme: Out on a Limb. I discovered that the hard part was finding isolated limbs. One of the things I love about photographing nature during winter is the graphic nature of things. Bare trees are lines and shapes and angles and curves. As you can see from a couple of the images I chose, I used backlighting to create a silhouette effect, and that just emphasizes the graphic qualities. I can see that I will use this template often to create a snippet of my walks and days and weeks and months.

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.