Word for the Year Wrap-Up

When I wrote about digging for a word of the year, I didn’t know it was going to be so popular. I’m delighted it was. One person told me they hated the idea, that as a Renaissance person, she preferred a theme of the year, but that was fine with me, too. One of the 30-day writing participants picked Hillel’s philosophy of “If not now, when?” as a theme. I’m not making or enforcing rules, I’m tossing out suggestions.

The card I chose. Or it chose me.

“The word should be limber and supple, without any stiffness of punishment, or hashmarks to measure yourself with and find yourself coming up short. . . It should be a good, chewy word that will last a whole year. ”

People made all sorts of suggestions: Easy, Fun, Kindness, Light, Salt, Share, Notice, Free, Celebrate, Action, Laugh, Dream, Explore, Heart, Simplify, Enjoy, Think Less, Let God, Weave, Intention, Trust God, Begin Again, Namaste, Rediscover Joy,  Change, Weave, Bold, Refine, Create, Surrender to Divinity, Synchronicity, Connect, Delight, Risk, Emerge, Prolific, Nest, Grow, Survival, Gift, Choosing Life, Possibility, and many more, even Efficacious.

What a great group of words! I hope they show up often in your lives. Visit them often, don’t let them slip away. I love the idea of “Salt,” both as a verb, as in “salt that great idea away for a while,” and as a noun, in the folkloric “meat loves salt” way.

Reviewing my own, I chose Light in 2010, Step It Up in 2011, and this year, well, it’s a different direction. At the end of December, I attended a ritual in which we wrote down what we wanted to leave in 2011 and tossed the pieces of paper in the firepit. We then were blessed and smudged with sage, cleansed with a selenite wand, and sent to choose a card from a basket. The card held our word for 2012. I chose “Suffering.” My eyes must have bugged out because the woman holding the basket said, “You can throw it into the fire and choose a new one.” That, I felt, would be like riding to avoid the appointment in Samarra.

I turned the card over and it said, “The cause of all suffering is craving. Desire

What suffering means in this case.

things that YOU do not have, and suffering will follow. Realize this and peace will be YOURS. Suffering will disappear and contentment will reign.” I know this to be true about myself. When I want [any item from my impressive list of cravings–starting with my 7th-grade need to be one of the cool kids]  I turn miserable. I hate being miserable alone, so I bring other people with me into my misery. Eww. So I’m keeping Suffering as my first word.  You may notice it’s not a fun as some of the other words. . . .uh-oh, craving again. It’s necessary. Now, moving on. . .

I did allow myself another word. STAY. I found the word on someone else’s blog and she kindly offered to share it with me–and I want to offer her a guest-post here. She will have to contact me, though, because I thoght I saved her website link, but it vanished.

I love the idea of Stay. Stay when you want to run away from problems. Stay and enjoy the nice things someone is saying about you. Stay with your feeling of inadequacy until you realize it’s not your feeling, just a shadow. Stop running into the dark, stop fleeing away from those hard feelings. Stop hiding from your enemies, your talent, your meaning-making. Stay.

Happy 2012 to all of my wonderful readers, including those with good ideas, who made me laugh, and who show up for my workshops. I am so grateful to be on this side of 2012 with all of you.

–Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach, journaler and writer. She teaches what she practices.


40 thoughts on “Word for the Year Wrap-Up

  1. I had numerous words running thru my thoughts as my word for 2012 and then yesterday i received my daily message from “the universe” and it spoke to telling a person across the room that you don’t know that you love them. that resonated for me – so my word for 2012 is LOVE – and sharing it with not only myself but everyone i come in contact with. Feel that i cannot even begin to imagine the impact on me and many many others as i offer and they receive such a blessing!!!

  2. Suffering to me is a good word, because it will make you look deeper at the ways you suffer and how you can change things. People often suffer in silence because they do not want to cause turmoil, but turmoil can lead t change and is the suffering necessary, when they could simply state their opinion? I know for years I was the quiet one when it came to stating how I felt and I went with the flow, suffering in silence so to speak.
    My word is very personal for me. I am celebrating life, and that I am alive. I almost died of heart failure due to a heart defect I did not know I had in 2010, and it took me a year or more to fully recover from open heart surgery to repair the defect. This last summer we explored the country and visited family, taking things at my pace.
    Now I am looking at what I want to do with the rest of my life and focusing on the positive, so I celebrate life. Yesterday I had positive test results, but my car would not start, I was stressed out, and more, but I focused on the positive test results and celebrated that my heart was good and I was no longer at risk of heart failure. My heart is doing great. I am moving forward and enjoying every day, even the little bumps in the road, like when the car will not start. We have my son’s truck while he is gone to AIT, so my took it and I drove his car. It worked out, and nothing was lost. Celebrate. It is below zero here and I hate the cold, but I am alive to suffer through it, so I celebrate that.
    Sorry my post is so long. Thank you for your wonderful inspiration.

    • I’m so happy you are alive! Alive to realize that things in context take on a different size and shape. Alive to realize that a life-altering event is sometimes more than enough to make us happy for every day we are on this side of the ground. Good for you!

  3. I really enjoy how the word for a year movement has exploded in the last few years. So many bloggers are choosing words and it is so interesting to see what they choose, especially if they give their reasons. Think I may have to do a post tomorrow on why I chose my word ‘weaving’.

    It is also interesting to see how many can’t pick just one. Guess once the choice is made, there is often the question “Did I choose the best?” (Or is that just a P characteristic?)

    I read a blog post on a completely different subject–on a writers’ blog, a discussion re: not using writing prompts–and a second word popped off the page and really hit me with its appropriateness. That word is ‘deliver’. I am intrigued with the meanings behind ‘deliver’, though I think I am going to keep ‘weaving’ for 2012 and write a note on my 2012 calendar for early December, reminding me to consider ‘deliver’ as a next step. I may need to grow into that word before I take it on for a whole year!

  4. No word was “happening” until all at once on the way to work “Rejoice” popped into my heads followed immediately by “gratitude”. I think it is really a message. I have been overlooking how much I have in the way of a good life and companionship and have focused on the little missing bits. So I guess I’m on my way to word colored future.

  5. I love “stop running into the dark, stop fleeing away from those hard feelings”.

    I realise how often I usea glass of wine to do just that – take the edge off the hard feelings, so I don’t have to REALLY feel them.

    I’ve decided today to join a good friend and food and nutrition consultant/blogger Paula Mee in her invitation to a January alcohol free detox. It feels like it might fit quite well with where the walking and writing is taking me.

    I’m sticking with “If not now, when?” as my 2012 theme. In 13 months I hit 50. “when?” is starting to feel more finite than it did before. I know in my heart I have much opening still to do. This experienceand the support of others experience is huge.

  6. I am enjoying your blog Quinn. I find it very interesting and inspirational.

    I contemplated a word for the year but found it difficult to come up with just one–perhaps that was a hint to pick the word “decision” but I didn’t. Since I am starting my first art journal calendar, I decided to pick a word or theme for each month. This month it is “meaning.” I will record any meaningful observances in my journal but I will not pressure myself to find something meaningful every day or even make an entry every single day for that matter. It would take the fun out of it! I’m curious to see how this works out!

  7. Listen and Hear. I need to post those two words on my monitor as a daily reminder to really listen and hear what people around me are saying (shut my mouth and tune in to them) and to listen to myself and hear what I really want.

  8. The word that chose me for 2012 is conspire….it has popped up repeatedly in various venues and forms. I am considering its meaning still. I love the supportive community you have cultivated here and the inspiration and reflection your posts always give to me.

  9. I’m still pondering my word selection, but had to make an observation. Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly LOVE you any more, you referenced “appointment in Samarra!” One of my absolute favorite stories.

    Thank you for all you do.

  10. My word is LIVE. In that spirit my life partner, Tish Vallés, produced a YouTube video titled “Live Like Picasso.” It’s impressive. If you’d like to view it send me an email and I’ll send you the link. Otherwise, Happy New Year whatever your word. Let the imaginative storm begin!

  11. A word for the year has really resonated with me. I have chosen the word “listen.” I spend a lot of time hearing, but not always listening – especially to myself!

  12. great post. stay. love the definition you use.
    thanks for the great conversation! (I posted my word on my January 1 post, and it’s “preparation.” Preparation” to be a better teacher, to step up into what the world has in store for me.

  13. Thanks Quinn for all you share – so inspiring and encouraging, always!
    I have had a word for the year since 2010. My first word was ‘flow’ for that year and then in 2011, the word that came to me was ‘delight’ and for this year the word that ‘will not let me go’ is ‘generous’. I am looking forward to seeing how this emerges. Generous can so often be thought of in a monetary context but there are many more meanings e.g. something that I like to offer others is ‘generous listening’ and this is something that I receive too. So I am intrigued to see how this will unfold.

    • Ohhh, generous is a great word. I use generous all the time when I thank people. Thanks for being generous with time, with kindness, with help. It rarely has to do with money, it often has to do with time and soul.

  14. I like the word ‘stay’. It speaks to perseverance and patience and simply ‘being’ in whatever the moment has to offer. Mine – this year – is to ‘be brave’. We’ll see where that leads…
    Happy 2012!

  15. Thank you for sharing so much with us, Quinn, I love reading you every day. I think ‘stay’ is a very good word, especially in the meanings you give. I will have to remember it this year, I know there are a lot of things in my life I need to stop running from. Looking forward to a year of meaning. Happy New Year. Donatella

    • Thanks for being here, Donatella. It’s so interesting to see what people do in their lives; I love when they stop by. Yes, running from. I so identify. Stay can be very revealing.

  16. Stay is a wonderful word. I might have to borrow it.

    I have found myself resisting this exercise this year (though it seems to have caught the blogosphere like wildfire) – I don’t know if it is because I haven’t yet found a way through the polarities – either a sense of heaviness and obligation I do not wish, or cannot take more of, or a lightness that I do not entirely believe, or that somehow comes with the craving, the measuring up, the scrutiny to see if you’re there yet.

    Thanks for sharing your choice of words and the process with so much honesty.

    Happy new year.

    • Stay is a great way to take measure without judgement.I lean toward making decisions quickly, and taking action. Often that’s very useful. When I do the same thing emotionally, I can move away from discomfort for the simple reason of action, moving away. Emotionally, it’s very valuable to figure out what the discomfort is really about. It’s the reason I chose suffering to go with it. That avoids over-thinking. It’s a complicated pair, but I’m a complicated person. You can use stay and see how it feels. If it’s not right, another word will float into your life. You don’t have to stick to one word just because you chose it.

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