My 2018 Word of the Year

So, every year I choose a word to represent the year. Actually, most years I choose three words.  And usually I write a blog post about my words in December.  Well, December is long gone and I never wrote the blog post.

And that’s because I felt uninspired about choosing a word–or words.  Usually they come to me easily. This year, nothing.  Was it because of the year in politics and current events? It was a tough one, no matter what your political persuasion.  Was it because I have fifty-one projects going and can barely focus on all of them, much less choosing a word? Probably.

But two things happened to finally change this. First, we attended a Burning Bowl service on New Year’s Eve. This is a most wonderful event that I love. You go through a whole process of writing down what you want to let go of and then literally throw it in a huge flame.  There’s something about sitting in a candle-lit sanctuary with hundreds of other people all focusing on intentions that is wonderfully affirming. And while at that service, I read something that has stayed in my mind ever since.

Every moment of every day is a new beginning.

I have so many things I want to accomplish (witness the aforementioned fifty-one projects) and sometimes I get caught up in what I’m not doing. Not taking all the steps. Not eating all the vegetables. Not writing all the words. But if I can remember that every second of every day I can begin again? That is hugely comforting. I don’t have to do all the things at once! And if I fail, in the next moment I can begin again.

The second thing that happened was, funnily enough, in another church service, this one called a White Stone service.  The white stones come from Jerusalem and symbolize freedom–because in biblical times when prisoners were released from jail they were given a stone to remind themselves of freedom.  One thing that happens during this service is that there’s a meditation wherein you get a word.

My word came to me immediately.  Breathe. As in, with every breath, a new beginning. A new chance to begin again. Freedom. I don’t have to do all the things all at once. If I feel like I’m screwing up, I can go back to my breath and remind myself–begin again. The best part of it is that my breath is always, always with me.

So that’s my word and I’m excited to see if I can remember the simple instruction it gives.

Do you have a word–or words–this year? Care to share? Leave a comment!

My Word for 2017

So many people do this that it’s become cliche. But, oh well, I’m going to do it anyway because it is fun. What I’m talking about is choosing a word–or words, as I usually do–for the new year.  Half the time I lose my words to the mists of forgetting and if you asked me in March what my words were I’d grace you with a blank stare. But the thing I like about doing it is that it helps me set an intention for how I want the new year to feel.

I usually share mine in early December and I usually choose three. But this year I couldn’t come up with even one, let alone three.  Maybe it is because 2016 has been a year.  Right? I love Christmas and this time of year beyond all reason and most years I’m sad thinking that it will soon be over. But not this year.  While I’m enjoying the holidays, I’m also looking forward to a bright, shiny new 2017.  I’m looking forward to the hoopla of the holidays being over and January arriving.

Nothing terrible has happened to me personally, and a lot of good happened: a new grandson born, my fourth trip to France, teaching at Sitka, wonderful clients, old and new, and lots of writing.  But when I look back, the year felt draggy and sort of gloomy. I attribute a lot of that to the bruising election we experienced here in the states and an outcome which was shocking to me.  All of that cast a pall over the year.

And when I delve a bit deeper into my personal and professional life in 2016, I see a lot of unfinished business. Unhealed pain in my body, un-lost (is that a word?) pounds, a messy office that never seems to get organized, and worst of all, unfinished books. And one unsold book (that would be the novel my agent is pitching).

So on some levels, 2016 feels like a wash.  And looking back is a bit discouraging.  Which may be why I was having trouble finding a word. But then this morning I was reading a blog post and the author mentioned the movie Failure to Launch. And it hit me: that was it! I was close all last year but I just never quite was able to hit the launch button.

So there you have it, my word for 2017: launch.

As in, launch those books out of my computer and into the world, launch out of the physical pain, launch a lovely, clean office. And more. I’m sure there’s more I need to launch. Sure of it.  A friend emailed me and said that after the election he feels called to step up in some way.  I do, too. And I’m sure you’ve seen the similar rhetoric, with people calling us all to rise and lift and uplevel. I considered all those words, but none of them seemed right.

Instead, launch!

So stay tuned, world! There will be no failures to launch next year because launch is my word. And I’m going to remember it past January. I am, I am.  There will be books, and maybe a program (not making any promises on that one). And more blog posts, more regularly. The plan for now is to write blog posts twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday,  and send a newsletter once a week on Sunday.   Blog posts tend to be more focused on actionable advice, while newsletters are more intimate and chatty. Plus I offer free stuff. (If you haven’t signed up, the form is to the right.)

And this will be my last missive until next week, December 27th.  So until then–Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukah or happy times for whatever you celebrate.

And please do tell me your word or words in the comments below if you feel so inclined.

Photo credit: NASA.

My Three Words for 2016

Ha, you thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you?celebration_champagne_cheers_240063_l

Because every year I choose three words to guide me.  Except usually I do it in early December.  Not this year, though.  For some reason, most of December seemed like one big blur to me this year.  But never mind.  Here it is the last day of the old year and at last I’m getting to it.

Oh, whoops, apparently I was a bit late with my words last year, too, which I discovered when I went to find that link. But better late than never–truly.  That is one cliche that is very true.  Anyway, I like to choose three words because it sets the tone and intention for the coming year.  One of my most favorite activities during these dark days is to plan for what I want to accomplish in the new year.  Hey, new year’s resolutions? I LOVE them.  I do.  I dislike all those naysayers who say they don’t work.  And I consider my three words of the year as sort of mini-resolutions.  What I want my year to be distilled into simple, easy to remember form.

This year, for one brief, misguided moment, I thought I might actually choose only one word.  Ha! That lasted about half a second.  Because in my world, more is more.  More is better.  More is the best.  So three words it is and here they are:




One could consider these odd choices, or perhaps one could not, if one were odd like oneself.  So here’s a bit of explanation.

Momentous.  I really want to evoke the idea of mindfulness, but all the words I could think of that were related to it and even the actual word itself were sort of blah.   And then, while looking up something else, I hit on the word momentous, which means,  “of great or far-reaching importance or consequence.”  Yes, indeedy, I would love me a year like that.  And the added bonus about this word, which is quickly becoming one of my favorites, is that it contains within it the word moment.  Which is a fine substitute for being present in my mind.  And being present through meditation is one of the rich gifts I gleaned from 2015.

Festive.  This word means “joyous and merry,” and that is how I like my life to be.  We are a family that celebrates everything, as one of my daughter’s friends once said with disdain (my daughter took it as a compliment and so did I).  But it is easy to get un-festive if one if worrying about being momentous.  So I want my year to be made up of many, many festive moments.  And finally….

Vigorous.  Because this is the year my lower back and knee pain leaves me.  (In my continuing search for ways to accomplish this, I’ve found a new tool: ashiatsu massage, also known as Oriental Bar Therapy.  Check out this link, it is when the therapist USES HER FEET ON YOUR BODY. And it is amazing.) So I’m looking for health, glowing physical health, but again that word, health? Insert buzzer sound here.  So I came up with vigorous, which is much more, well, vigorous, don’t you think?

So there you have it.  Momentous, festive and vigorous.  My three words for the year.  Do you choose a word or words? Care to share in the comments?

**Oh, PS: I thought this was interesting.  The word of the year, according to Dictionary.com, is identity.

***And, PSS, or PPS, whichever is correct, we still have a couple of spaces left for the Room to Write retreat in Nashville next week.  Start 2016 out right, with a weekend devoted to writing! Click here for more info.

Photo by a_glitch, from Everystockphoto.

Three Words for 2015

I'm a bit late with my words this year.  It's sort of because they have been rolling around in my head and sort of because I was doing other things and not thinking about it.   But here we are at last.  We got here. Or more to the point, I got here.


At least I didn't choose wine as one of my words of the year.

Some backstory: Every year I choose three words to guide me in the new year.  Most people these days choose just one word, but ever greedy and grasping for more, I follow Chris Brogan's lead and choose three.  

Some years the words stick with me and guide me all year long and others I tend to forget them by mid-January mid-February.  But I still think that even if they aren't front and center in my mind, they are invisibly guiding me.  Which reminds me of a story.  (You probably knew there was one coming, right?)

Years ago, when I was a fledgling writer, I was involved with a local writer's group, and it was my job to accompany an at-the-time famous author around at her workshop.  This actually turned out to be complicated and confusing because she was married, and not just married, but married married, as in one of those people who is always spouting off about how great her husband was and how fantastic their marriage was.  Said fantastic husband was due to accompany her to the workshop. But then she called us and explained that no, the husband would not be with her, but another man would–her lover.  But then when she appeared for the workshop, she was with the husband.  Like I said, complex and confusing.  I never did figure out what happened there.  

Believe it or not, that's not the story I meant to tell.  The story I meant to tell is this: the famous author mentioned that when naming a character, it is a good idea to consider the meaning of the name.  Not because your reader is going to necessarily know that, but because that meaning subtlety imbues the character with that meaning and the reader will subliminally pick it up.

And that's how I feel about my three words of the year.  Even if I forget them in my conscious mind, they are there guiding me in my subconscious.  And I can use all the subconscious guiding I can get. And now, since this post is going in directions I didn't anticipate, let's just cut to the chase, shall we?

My three words of the year are practice, possibility, and permission.  Yes, all Ps.  Isn't that great?  I love when that happens.  

Practice.  I mean this in terms of a writing practice, as you likely guessed.  A writing practice that I do every day.  I pretty much do this now, but it is something I want to do more of.  At the moment, I get up early and write–most days.  Every once in awhile a ringer thuds in and I find myself cruising the internet for an hour before I realize what's happened.  I'd like less of that in 2015.  As I write this, I'm realizing that this is the best word for a year ever, because really, practice is everything.

Possibility.  Because, duh.  I want 2015 to be rich with possibilities.   Splendid stuff I've not even yet thought of.  Wonderful surprises.  Glorious opportunities.  Fun and festive events.  Got that, universe?

Permission.  Okay, so this one takes some explanation.  I kept thinking that my third word would be rejection.  I know, but hear me out.  My thinking was that if I was putting work out in the world, asking people for things (like to host a book signing or a reading, for instance), and creating new products a lot, as is my plan for 2015, I would be sure to get some rejection.  And this would be a good thing, because it would mean I was putting stuff out there.  But then I realized that stating I was looking for rejection was not the best message.  So I spent some time looking up likely antonyms that would get the idea across and came up with permission.  As in permission to put tons of stuff out there without worrying about failure and rejection.  Plus, permission starts with P.  So its perfect.  And I will stop now.

There you have them.  My words for the year.

Here are posts from previous years:

My Three Words For the New Year (2011)

Three Powerful Words For an Amazing New Year (2012)

It's One Powerful Word For the New Year (2013)

Three Words for 2014

And a post on why you shouldn't choose a word or words, just for fun.

Are you choosing a word?  Or words?  Care to share it?

Photo by jurvetson.

Three Words for 2014

Words_letters_printing_265580_lMan oh man.

I went upside down and all around over this post.

Every year I choose either a word or three words.  The idea is that the word or words will guide my thoughts and actions as I navigate through the upcoming year.  

Choosing the words is an interesting process. Usually, they just come to me and I know intuitively that they are the right ones.  There's a kind of clunk inside me when the word comes and I know it's the one that is meant to be.  Last year, I chose one word.  The year before, there were three. And the year before that, three as well.

This year I struggled to arrive at even one.  Nuttin, and I mean nuttin, was coming to me.  I thought of plenty of possibilities but none of them seemed right. No clunk was forthcoming.  

I thought about gratitude, because I am so freakin' grateful for my life and all the people in it (including you, dear reader), and I thought about freedom and I thought about service and I thought about happy and I thought of all kinds of other words that went in and out of my brain so fast they didn't make an impression.

And then, this morning, out of the blue, they came to me:

Aligned. Focused. Zealous.

Taken one at a time, we have:

Aligned.  I want my actions to be in alignment with my strongest held beliefs around creativity, spirituality, and how I spend my day, hour to hour, moment to moment.  I want to spend time writing every day, no matter what, and I want to keep up with my meditation practice and spiritual studies (both of which have been somewhat lacking lately).  I want to eat the kind of food that I know nourishes me, and move my body in ways that will make it feel good.  And most of all, I want to act in alignment with my highest and best self.  

Focused.  This is the key to a successful writing life.  Actually, I'm pretty sure its the key to a successful life, period.  Sometimes I'm really good at it.  Sometimes my brain is all over the place. Working in bursts helps me, does it help you? I set the timer for 30 minutes and in those 30 minutes all I do is writer, period.  But sometimes I resist even doing that.  Sigh.  I have a rebellious nature–and it sucks when I rebel against myself.  At any rate, I want me more focus this year.  I've got a gazillion projects I want to bring into the world.

Zealous.  I believe this is my new favorite word.  Here's the dictionary.com definition of the word: (adjective)ardently active, devoted, or diligent; full of, characterized by, or due to zeal. Synonyms: enthusiasic, eager,fervid, fervent, intense, passionate, warm. Antonyms: apathetic; lackadaisical. Now who among us would not want to be zealous?  I want to be zealous for my writing, for my leisure pursuits, for my family and friends, for my life.  And when I think about it, I pretty much am zealous for all those things–I just want to make sure my actions are in alignment with my zealotry.

Phew.  I made it.  And I am zealous for my three words!

What about you?  Do you choose a word or words for the new year?  If so, what might they be?

Photo by Daino_16. 

It’s One Powerful Word For the New Year

For the last two years, I've been in the habit of choosing three words to guide my next year.  (You can read the posts explaining my word choices for 2012 here, a check-in post here, and the words for 2011 here. For another blogger's take on the process, check out Sandra's post at Always Well Within.) 

But this year I'm doing something a bit different–choosing one word.  That's because this one word has been pulling at me for a month, insisting it is the word, and the one and only word that will mark my 2013.  In general, I am a "more is better" kind of person, and such is the case with choosing words for the year–why choose one when choosing three is so much better?

My word won't let me do that this year.  And so, with no further introduction, here is that pesky word that won't let go of me:


I want to be:

Fearless on the page.

Fearless in my personal life.

Fearless in my career.

A Course in Miracles says that you've got two choices: love or fear.  So, by definition, this year is going to be about offering a whole lot of love.  But to me, the opposite of fearless goes even deeper than love, if that is possible.

To me, the opposite of fear is faith.

Faith in my ability to splash words on the page.  Faith that this is the bottom line of what I need to do in the world.

Faith that good will triumph over evil.  That somehow, someway, we will transmute horrendous events like the Newtown Sandy Hook massacre.

Faith that love really does trump fear.

I'm not at all sure I know how to be fearless, and I'm guessing that's why the voice within was so insistent that I choose this word for 2013.  Because lately it seems that little things have made me anxious.  That fussing over my writing is easier than just letting the words flow.  That obsessing over the possibility that something bad might happen is more common than enjoying the moment.

And, somehow, that wise voice within knows that striving for a practice of fearlessness is the antidote to all of the above.  I'm not about to go jump out of an airplane or climb Mt. Everest.   The kind of fearlessness that most interests me is the kind where I meet the demons within.  The ones who say the words I put on the page are silly.  That nobody will think my novel is funny.  The ones that remind me how many other talented writers there are in the world.

Yeah, those.  Responding to them fearlessly is my number one task this year.

So that's my word for the year.  Are you choosing a word or words for 2013?  Please share it or any thoughts you might have about this in the comments.

***By the way, if putting words on the page is a goal for you in 2013, you might consider giving yourself the gift of coaching.  My current clients are accomplishing great things.  Wouldn't you like to join them?  Check out my coaching page here.  It's a wonderful present for yourself.