Think Twice: Find your rally word for the new year (column)
January 6, 2016
A few years ago, some friends and I created a new method to our New Year's resolutions, in part, because we wanted our plans to last more than two weeks. Instead of promising to be productive or begin a fitness regime, we decided to choose a word of the year.
As a writer, this idea made me hyperventilate, and panic crept into my raving, literary mind. How could I possibly choose just one idea to shadow the entire year? How could I resonate with a single word when I had a hundred of them? Choosing one for 365 days seemed to be impossible. My friends urged me forward.
The first year, our initial list looked like something construed by Hallmark's creative team. The brainstorm included, but was not limited to, the following:
Inspiration, peace, forgiveness, soul, imagination, joy, clarity, essence, motivation, trust, purpose, happiness, intention, faith, humor, gift, kindness, love, light, intention, gentle, be, gratitude, health, believe, energy, creativity, effort.
As we came up with possibilities, my mind exploded. More panic ensued. I wanted to use all the words. However, a few stood above the rest, and I narrowed my search. The word needed to resonate but also encompass an intention. It needed to offer possibility and comfort. It needed to act as a beacon for my life. I took a breath and closed my eyes. If it didn't work, who cared? A storm trooper wouldn't shoot me down — it was an experiment.
The first year I chose clarity, and throughout the year, I found it again and again. I found the clarity I needed to manage previous New Year's resolutions: like better organization and a more fit body and mind. My word-of-the-year hung above my head and pushed me through indecision and inner turmoil. Sometimes, when life seemed brutality murky, I didn't understand why I'd chosen the word, but in the end, it made sense.
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A few years later, I picked light as my word. Wouldn't you know? It became one of the darkest years on record. Three kids started three new schools, a few health issues surfaced, rejection piled up, our dog of 15 years died, as did my cousin and more than one local friend. Where the heck was the light? But when I stopped fighting and surrendered to what was, my brain began to move beyond the pain, and the light emerged. It made me understand and reflect on my life in a way that gave me hope and positive energy.
It's amazing what just one word can do. Believe me — it works better than resolving to lose weight or to become more productive. It can provide a new direction and offer an understanding about life's twists when nothing seems to make sense.
My word for 2016 is SPIRIT. It might direct me towards a deepening sense of spirituality, or it could create a livelier lifestyle. Maybe spirit will show up as an acronym for some magical transformation. Perhaps a horse named Spirit will grace my life. Who knows? But I'm ready for the new year with just one word.
Carrie Brown-Wolf lives in Silverthorne.
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