That Word of the Year

Remember your word for this year? How is it showing up in your life? Are you finding it useful? Interesting? Notable?

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Have you forgotten it? Had to look up what it was? With January and February over, now is a good time to re-consider your word. You don’t have to keep it if it’s not serving you. If you don’t think of it at least once a week, it may not be the right word for you. And nothing is preventing you from choosing a more suitable one.

On the other hand, if your word keeps showing up in front of you, you have chosen a useful word. How are you working with it? What does it say to you?

Is it encouraging? Is it motivating? Does it comfort you? Inspire you? Are you using it in your conversation more often?

Today is a good day to think about how often you use your word–in conversation, in your journal, in your prayers.

Leave a comment and share what’s been happening with it. Trade it in for a more powerful or soulful one. Or be happy that you chose the perfect word for yourself and this year.

-Quinn McDonald is keeping her two words for this year. She’s finding them more challenging than she thought.


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.

Word for 2012 and a Giveaway

A word to savor for a year.

Day 9 for the journaling practice group: What word will you choose to use as a guide, talisman, and meditation focal point for 2012?

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Thank you to everyone who re-posted or re-Tweeted the original post on choosing a word for 2012. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to spend some time at the end of the year reminding yourself what your old word was, and seeing how it served you in 2011? It might also be a great time to warm up the new word, to see how it feels in your hands and heart.

To everyone who asked “how do I use the word?” here are some suggestions:

  • Write it in your journal and date it, just so you can remember what it is. You are going to commit to it for a year, so keep it close.
  • Write it on pieces of paper and leave it in places where you’ll find it–wrapped around your toothbrush, stuck to your cellphone, in a shoe you’ll wear this week. See what the word brings up in that moment you discover it anew.
  • Write it on your calendar for the middle of the month. See how you are living your word.
  • See how you can put your word into action, whether it is a verb or a noun.
  • Watch yourself to see how the word shows up in your daily life.
  • Do you use it as a shield or as a sword?

A great quote I heard watching the trailer for The Iron Lady. The words were put into the mouth of Margaret Thatcher, and while she may have never said them, they make a great quote about choosing your word:

““Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

Rita Ackerman made and photographed these inner critics. I liked her photo better than mine, so I am shamelessly using it.

Now for the giveaway: Leave your word for 2011 in the comments, and share your new word as well. Readers will then get great ideas for their word of the year. Everyone who leaves a word will qualify to win an inner critic with a mouth that zips shut. I’ll give away two inner critics, handmade by Rita Ackerman. Our international clients seldom get to participate. This time, if one of the winner of the random draw is international, I’ll splurge for the postage.

The winner will be drawn by random selection on Friday, Dec. 23, at 9 p.m. Arizona Time (GMT -7), and announced on Saturday, Dec. 24.

–Quinn McDonald is the author of Raw Art Journaling, Making Meaning, Making Art. (You get free shipping till Dec 31.)

Choosing Your Word

Never a friend of New Year’s resolutions, I discovered another ritual with more spiritual engine power and more potential than a spur of the moment list. The ritual is choosing a word of the year. You choose a word that will symbolize the year for you–set the intention or create a verbal amulet.

Light poem from Shapeways.

The word should be limber and supple, without any stiffness of punishment, or hashmarks to measure yourself with and find yourself coming up short.

I prefer verbs–because they embody action. And taking action is a favorite step of mine to get unstuck or move ahead.  Of course, there are also the state of being verbs: is, am, are, was, were, be, being, been. Small verbs, but powerful in their own way. You have to know a lot about yourself to choose a state of being verb.

Other people prefer nouns–things or ideas: creativity, intuition, freedom. Nouns can be things you hold in your hands–paper, pen, seeds, feathers. Or they can be things you hold in your heart: wishes, wisdom, peace.

Now is a good time, at the end of the year, to think of a word you can hold and use for all of 2012. Choose a word that will last, that will build you up and support you. You can choose a word that is both a verb and a noun. The one I chose for 2010 was light. I could light a candle or a fire. I could help others discover the light hidden within them. I could make someone else’s load light. It was a good word for the year.

Your word can be any part of speech, and you can use it in as many ways as you want–present tense, active voice, transitive with an object or not. Use it as many ways as you can and see how you change it and how it changes you.

Custom made light poems at Shapeway.

If you keep a journal, you can write it down and visit it every week or month and see how that word has shown up in your life at the end of every week and how you would like it to show up the next week. You can write it on a piece of paper and put it in your pocket and rediscover it every day. Write it on a key you use every day and remember it when you use the key to unlock a closed door. Think of the word when you push open the door and move beyond what you couldn’t see into what you can experience.

Begin now to choose a word. It should be a good, chewy word that will last a whole year. This year I used the phrase “step up,” and it was a powerful tool with sometimes surprising results. It’s tempting to keep it for another year, but each year needs a new, fresh word.

What are the words you want to invite into your life for the year? You don’t have to know–this is the time to taste words and test them. Leave them in the comments, if you’d like, and tell us why.

Disclosure: I found the light poem link online. I’m not advertising it, I’ve never used the service, no money or good exchanged hands for my mentioning the product.

Quinn McDonald is a writer and creativity coach for whom words are  the heartbeat in her life.