I first encountered the concept of a “word of the year” about 2 years ago. I’m honestly not sure exactly how long this has been a trend, but I’m pretty certain it’s been longer than that. I’ve come to accept the fact that I’m often late to the party.
It’s okay though. I don’t mind. I get there when I get there. Or I stay home in my jammies instead. Whatever . . . .
If, like me, you aren’t familiar with the concept of choosing a “word of the year”, the idea is that you select one word to replace the litany of New Year’s Resolutions so many of us repeatedly make and break, and instead focuses all of our intention on this one personal word that is meant to give clarity and focus to your life during the year.
Since you all know that I am NOT a fan of New Year’s Resolutions, I was intrigued by this idea.
Shortly after I was first introduced to the idea, I found myself listening to a podcast where the hosts were talking about their guiding words (they each had one) for the year. These particular hosts were a couple of (very young) moms and they were discussing how their words had helped guide them throughout the year. I honestly have no idea what their words were, all I can recall is that neither of them spoke to me.
But . . . that’s just the point. Each one of us has different strengths and weaknesses. Different hopes and dreams. Different goals and plans. Different habits – be they good or bad. And different intentions. So each of our words will be different as they reflect the things about our lives we want to change and/or achieve.
I toyed with the idea of selecting a word last year, but it felt like a lot of pressure. One word to guide me through the entire year. I just couldn’t commit. January came and went and I still had not decided on a word. Not that I think this is an impediment – if your “word” comes to you in February or March or even November, I believe whole-heartedly you can still embrace it. (That’s one of the reasons I hate New Year’s resolutions – I don’t get the point of waiting until January 1st to make positive change). But then my mom got sick, and while in retrospect this was probably the best time to select a word of the year to help me navigate the rocky waters ahead, I abandoned all “optional” activities and just focused on survival and getting to N.J. as much as I could without completely abandoning my children. Sigh.
This year, however, my word has been calling to me, albeit quietly, for awhile now. And as I looked around my house in the days after Christmas I knew without a doubt what my word would be: CALM. (If you could see my house you’d understand. Not only are there Christmas gifts still populating the family room waiting to find a home, boxes of decorations not quite yet put away, one Christmas tress still standing tall (and bare) in my family room and countless leftover boxes, bows and gift wrap scraps, I have also already undertaken two home improvement projects and so I’ve got paint, painting supplies and pieces of painted furniture, not to mention the entire contents of two rooms strewn about my downstairs).
But it’s okay – because I am calm.
There are so many things I’m drawn to about the word calm. Perhaps the most important is its implicit promise of inner peace in a crazy world. And I don’t think I am the only one who could use a little more peace in her life.
I am all too often the opposite of calm – anxious, stressed, hurried, overwhelmed, impatient, frustrated, angry, rushing, busy. These are the words I would use to describe my life on a regular basis.
And I am tired of constantly feeling under pressure. Feeling my heart race as I rush to dry my hair and put on my make-up. Feeling my blood pressure rise as I look around at cluttered surfaces. Feeling my head pound as I anticipate the thirty-two stops I have to make between the hours of 3 and 8 p.m.
I just want to feel calm. By the end of 2018 I am hoping to feel more relaxed, peaceful, calm, serene, easy-going.
So, while I cannot control the weather, the traffic, the schedule, the decisions other people make that routinely affect my life, the illness (that comes with having 3 school-aged kids in western Pennsylvania in the winter), the homework, the projects, the errands, the activities, the constant home improvement projects, politics, the news, or the mess that seems to take over my house (okay, maybe I can control that last one a little bit, but honestly I think I’d do better learning to ignore it), I can control how I react to it.
This is not an epiphany – it’s something I’ve know for a long time. Being a classic Type A personality I like to be in control. I like to plan and organize and anticipate and prepare and manage situations. But, clearly, this isn’t working for me anymore.
They say doing the same thing everything day and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. So, this year I am going to focus on calm. Every time I start to feel overwhelmed or panicked or anxious or rushed, I am going to take a deep breath, close my eyes and repeat “Calm, Calm, Calm, Calm, Calm” to myself.
I don’t expect miracles. I know it’s going to take awhile before I start to feel the way I want to feel. It’s going to take work and practice and intention. But I am confident that the payoff will be worth it.
I am well aware that as the mom I set the tone for my entire household. When I am unhappy, everyone is unhappy. My kids feed off of my energy. If I can learn to be calmer, I know they will be too. And, I think, this realization might be just the extra motivation I need to keep working towards calm.
I can almost envision a home and a life where calm reigns and I know that that is a place where I want to live.
How about you – do you have a word of a year? Is this something you’ve done before? Or is it something you are giving a try for the first time? I’d love to know how your “word of the year” is working for you!