Sunday, January 29, 2012

Word Up!

Happy New Year, friends!

Have you ever chosen a word for your year? A word to serve as touchstone, ballast, gateway to meditation or the like? A few years ago, some of my writer pals started the practice. That year, I coopted a word that a lot of folks selected – fearless. As in: be fearless in writing that shitty first draft. Be fearless in entering the Golden Heart. Be fearless in your queries and your pitches and the pursuit of your dreams. It helped me to frame my questions: am I doing xx or not doing xx out of fear? Knowing the answer to that didn’t always have an impact on my actions, but it sure provided a keen understanding of how I moved through the world.

Fearless was a good word.

The next year, my boss announced his retirement and the word I landed upon was change. I had a bead with the word hanging from my cell – word of the year as phone bling! When one friend caught sight of the bead, she asked me why I thought I needed to change. For me, for that span of time (in this case, I kept the word for a couple of years), my WOTY helped me remember simply that change is inevitable. Change happens. Change in and of itself is neither positive nor negative. It just is. But how I react to change? That’s on me.

Last fall, I laid out a few scenarios of what the months from September through December could look like as we said goodbye to the old boss and welcomed the new. I didn’t like the one where I used pizza and adult beverages as stress relief. That nightmare vision helped me make a change of my own – and to date, I’ve lost around sixty-five pounds.

Yay for change!

When this year rolled around, I knew it was time for a new word. I have a tendency to hibernate from the world. I think a little of that is okay – gotta recharge the old batteries, right? But the more I hibernate, the harder it is for me to snap out of stasis.
So after a lot of deliberation, I chose engaged. Engaged in writing. Engaged in healthy living. Engaged in the warp and weft of my life and the lives of my friends and family. Now I can ask myself: does xx keep me engaged with my dreams/goals/hopes/life? The answer may not always be yes. But the answer will always inform my next decision.

Engaged in self-awareness!

All words are on the table. I think the only rule is: choose a word that resonates with you. My mom picked kind, because she’d like to be kinder to herself this year. One writing friend opted for simplify. My runner-up word this year was dance.

So what’s your word of the year?


  1. Awesome post, Keely. I'd never claimed a word for the year. In the past, I've claimed a verse (as in a Bible verse)--either a life verse or one for a certain amount of time. So I understand the concept. After talking with you and The Eight, I came up with my word(s) for this year . . . yes, see, because I'm used to a whole verse of words, it was hard to narrow it down to just one. LOL!

    My words for the year are: BELIEVE and BALANCE. 1.) Believe it can happen. 2.) Balance, as in living a balanced life.

    Excellent post! I hope to hear if other people have claimed a word for the year.

    And I love your word this year . . . ENGAGED is wonderful.

  2. Well first of all - CONGRATULATIONS on the weight loss! You rock my socks!!!

    A word for the whole year? Hmmm, I'll have to think about that. First one that comes to mind is Glitter. But that probably won't really help me with anything. Ha-ha! ;-)

  3. Great post!! Good word, too! Mine is productive. I'm setting goals and being more productive in my writing and in life.

  4. Hi Candy! Love your choices for word of the year. Believe - as opposed to Belief - is great because it implies action and intent. And balance - so important in this hectic world!

  5. Kerry - my sister magpie - I LOVE Glitter as a word for the year!! And I think you can make it work! Knowing that glitter attracts you, you also know when it distracts , whether it's a surface shine, or eternal like a diamond. So, yeah, I think glitter is awesome!

  6. Jennifer! Welcome! Productive - a great prism to look at your decisions and actions. Does xx activity get me closer to my goal? Is xx productive? Yes, another keeper word!

  7. Keely! Sixty-five pounds? You definitely rock it!

    And I love the word engaged. It is so easy to retire from the world, and engaging it takes effort for a lot of us. I'm glad you've reminded us that the effort is worth it.

    I think my word for 2012 will be persevere. Lots of changes for me in the last few months, but I want to keep on keeping on. Thanks for the boost in the right direction.

  8. Jane! Happy New Year! Persevere - has the benefit of rhyming with your last name! Sort of, at least. I've finished two marathons in my life - I understand perseverence. The miles from about 16 through 24? Torture. I wanted to stop each step, each breath. My mantra was "I can do anything for two minutes." Perseverence in motion, baby. Love it.

  9. Keely, I think I needed to find your post today -- it's so great for where I'm at in life. I've heard lots of people talk about this idea of choosing a word but have never done it. This time, you've resonated with me!

    Your original word, fearless, rang true for me, but the word I settled on is completely unsexy: it's NOW.

    I'm a procrastinator-a serious one. The word now will remind me to do the uncomfortable task now, not tomorrow. Answer my friend's letter now, Work on the writing, make the reservation,and pray NOW. And, especially, enjoy the moment and reap the rewards NOW!

    I love the idea of bead or charm hanging from something you use every day. So inspiring.

    Thanks for a great post! And here's to "engage" being the best word ever for you!

  10. Hi Liz! I used to be a Mary Kay consultant. My national director was always telling us to become a member of the DIN-DIN club - "Do it Now, Do it Now, Do it Now." I can totally relate.

    And you are so right - not only do you need to respond to the letter, write the chapter and complete all the persnickety chores life hands us. We also need to celebrate NOW. Experience joy NOW. Acknowledge love NOW.

    Good luck, Madame President, on living in the NOW this year!

  11. Keely~

    Let me add a resounding WOW to your weight loss. Fantastic!! You go, girlfriend!

    Let me also concur with how fabulous your post (Ya, I'm a writer. *g*)

    Just one word? Geez. I love so many that have been used. Guess I'd have to say Goal. My goals are to accept that which I can't change, to be kinder to myself and to focus on my writing.

    Here's to meeting all our goals!

  12. Lynda - thanks for stopping by and thanks for the good will!

    "Goal" really cuts to the heart of things, doesn't it? I think acceptance and self-kindness are terrific goals, my friend.

  13. Keely,

    A fabulous post! I'm very fortunate to see the changes you are making in your life and to say it is inspiring doesn't begin to describe it. Thank you, my friend, for being that inspirational beacon.

    I've been trying to think of what word I would claim; that would push me onward and inspire me to my goals this year. Typical...everything I thought of was at least three words or at the minimum two! But, not wanting to cheat I finally hit on the perfect word that satisfies all the phrases that came to mind - Cowabunga!

    For me it means - reclaiming myself; daring to pursue my dreams and not fearing the outcome; not worrying about the "what if", but enjoying the experience anyway and since time is passing, I might as well do it. Shoot, I might actually succeed!

    As in so many ways Keely, you are an inspiration and joy!

  14. Kim! Cowabunga, lady! That is a word full of energy and verve - much like you, so it's not surprising it picked you!

    Your description reminds me of the Depp version of Alice in Wonderland - you are reclaiming your muchness! Woot!

  15. Engaged is a good word, Keely. I chose "Open" because Deborah told me to. LOL.

  16. Great post, Keely. I love your word engaged and thought about using it too, but came up with ACTIVE. As in
    -Active listening- really hearing what others say
    -getting ACtive- and getting to the gym
    -Actively going after my writing and marketing goals
    -Act/ing instead of watching- for example, I've had a pile of clutter on my porch bothering me for 3 MONTHS. Today I took 10 minutes and cleared it off.

  17. Evie - Deborah always knows best, so OPEN must be the right word for you this year!

  18. Lynne - Active - excellent! I'm staring at a pile of clutter in my living room. Like you, it's been bugging me and I've put off cleaning for Way Too Long. So, you actively pounced on a problem and I will engage in a solution to mine this weekend. Score!

  19. Great post, Keely. I've never thought about having a word of the year, but I enjoyed reading about your words of the years.

    Off the cuff, I choose "connections." I have various efforts here and there, but I don't feel like everything fits together quite yet. I want to network effectively, without bugging folks to death, and I want the connections to matter.

    Sometimes when you post stuff to loops, twitter, or even FB, you get no reply and its possible to feel even more alone. I want to respond to folks who reach out to me and vice versa in a real way.

    Connections are important to me, so that's my word for 2012.

    And mega congrats on taking charge of your health. Only good can come from that!

  20. Great post, Keely. "Engaged" is an excellent word... and hook! Of course I had to look. :-D And congratulate you! Two marathons? Go, you! My word would probably be BETTER. Try and take better care of myself (ahem, I'm sure I couldn't run 10 miles, let alone 26!), be a better mom, writer, person... Have a great week!

  21. Maggie - I agree with you that people are hungry for meaningful connections and that our digital world doesn't always feed the need. What a great ambition to make the why of communication more important than the how.

  22. Jill - hi! Better is a great jumping off point, because then you can start digging deeper - if the desire is to be a better writer, now you can ask, Better How? and begin formulating mini-goals to get you there.

    I remember learning an old mantra - must be a 1970s feel-good chestnut: Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better.

    That's the truth and I'm sticking to it! LOL!

  23. Oh, to thine own self be true! How smart you are, Keely, to pick a word that you can say fits where you are on your journey. It's kinda hard to choose one, ya know?

    But you've encouraged me to think, think, think... That's always a good thing!

  24. Keely, you should be so proud of yourself! Your determination to be brave and adventurous by engaging in life this upcoming year is inspirational, as is your weight loss! Yay, you! What an uplifting, purposeful post. I think I need to borrow your WOTY because I'm a hibernator, too. Thank you for setting an awesome example! :-)

  25. Great post, Keely. What an accomplishment for you. Keep up the good work!

  26. Keely, engaged is such a powerful word. Good for you! As a fellow hibernator, I know I sometimes don't want to be engaged. So much responsibility to self and others. If I'm not engaged then I have nothing to lose right? Makes whining and complaining so easy. Your post has given me reason to reconsider my "word of the year" and I believe change it to something more powerful, more engaging, more accountable. Thank you!