Sure, a lot of people do this “Word of the Year” thing. And I’m a fan. I’ve loved the idea for years, choosing a word that will help keep you on track or blow up your track and set you free. A word of the year is as big a commitment as you want to make. Chose one quickly or slowly, stick with it no matter what or change it if it’s not working for you. It’s not a lifestyle, it’s a word for your growth
Words are powerful, even small, short words. Choose a word that will remind you of who you are in tough times, a word to make you laugh, feel loved, honor who you, or how you want to show up in the world.
Last year, I chose “heart.” I don’t like heart symbols, don’t use them in my art, but love the word itself. It contains both he word hear, heat, and art. If you like anagrams, it also can spell hat, earth, rat, her, the and ret. But I was going for the word itself. (Although I liked the hear, heat, and art part.)
A talisman joined my collection last year. It looked like both the sprouting seed and a flaming heart. It is inscribed with the Hebrew words, Tikkun olam, “heal the world.” It has a crack in it. Healing can only happen if something is damaged.
The word “heart” is synonymous with courage to me. Strength, risk, daring all take heart. And I made two decisions that worked out well while using my word of the year.
- I decided to drop connections that weren’t made from the heart. Harder than I thought, but it made room for deeper connection.
2. And then, in mid summer, I made a decision that took a lot of heart. Never thought of myself as a risk-taker, but it seems I am. We decided to relocate from the suburbs to downtown Phoenix. Lots of excellent reasons; still, a tough choice.
Applying for a mortgage when you are a female sole proprietor of a small business is a hell you might not likely imagine. Lenders assume you are a drug dealer or money-launderer, and start from there. The process cuts across the grain of how I work–give me a list of 20 things to do and a deadline, and I’m good. But no, that’s not how it worked. I’d get randomly-spaced phone calls, texts and emails throughout the process, with a sharp reminder that if I didn’t reply in 30 minutes, the loan might be canceled. Tough when you make a living teaching or coaching, neither of which don’t lend themselves to constantly checking your phone.
I needed a lot of renewable heart to get though that process. A few times, I wanted to abandon the whole idea.
The next piece of heart I needed was the order in which we undertook the move. We found the place we wanted before we put our house on the market. I crunched numbers and worked out a ridiculously complicated process in which we would buy first, renovate floors and walls in the new place while living in the old place, move in, fix up the old place, then sell it. For a certain amount of time, I would have two mortgages.
Benefits: no storage packing and rental, no multiple moves in and out of an apartment, no apartment deposits, no living in a house for sale and keeping it spotless all the time.
Heart was the engine that pushed the plan into place. None of it was easy, which reminded me of the strength and power of heart. That was a good word of the year.
That’s the kind of word you need for a year of use.
Now, about the giveaway. Here are the steps to participate:
- Think of your word for 2015. Do you remember it? Did it work for you? That’s a rich field to start digging in for a new word of the year.
- Flip through a dictionary. Some words are easy to grab: compassion, love, kindness, even heart. Those are all nouns (identifiers.) Favor verbs (action words) over nouns. Some words (love) can be both a noun and a verb. Choose carefully.
- Some words will be hard to imagine in your current life. Maybe you don’t have a dictionary anymore. In that case, grab you e-reader and look at the fourth word on the third line of every odd-numbered page. That should turn up some interesting choices.
- Make a list of five words. Narrow it down to three. Choose one.
- Don’t re-use last year’s word. It’s done the job. Or not. Move on.
- Write the word in your calendar on the same day of the month as your birthdate. Each month, review the word and see how you are using it or avoiding it. Don’t be afraid to change a word that isn’t working.
Post your word for 2016 in the comments on the blog by December 31, 2015 by 6 p.m. Pacific time.
For those of you who read this blog in your email, please do not email me your word. Leave it in the comments.
Putting it in the comments will not only help others consider new word ideas, it is also the only place to get chosen for the giveaway.
The giveaway? Danny Gregory’s book, Everyday Matters. It’s about writing and drawing and surviving when you think you can’t survive. Have it already? Enter anyway. If you win, give it to someone you care about. They will love you.
I will randomly draw the name of the winner from the comments on December 31 and post it in the first blog of 2016. International participants are encouraged–I’ll mail the book to the winner.
—Quinn McDonald is a writer who loves words. She has not yet chosen her word for the year, but she’s making a list.