In 2011, I decided to uproot my previous practice of selecting a bible verse for the year and chose instead a single word to be my focus. I have loved having a single word because it is simple, focused, easy to remember, and pops up in all kinds of places when you aren’t even looking for it.
My first word was STILL and 2011 was a year full of question and upheaval and change. STILL served as my constant reassurance that I could just stop and wait and listen.
In 2012, the upheaval became tumultuous and everything in my life changed. I left my job as a high school teacher after 15 years and in 2 weeks packed our family and moved to a new city. My word that year was TRUST and I clung to it like crazy.
Last year my word was PEACE. It came to me quietly as I sat in an advent service. It seemed inappropriate all year as we continued to try to settle into our new city, new jobs, new life. Last year was anything but peaceful. Yet in the end, everything moved forward and now I am sitting in my new (and hopefully forever) home thinking about my word for 2014. And I learned that peace and peaceful are two very different things.
I don’t have an elaborate process for selecting my word. It seems like as soon as I begin thinking about how I need to begin thinking about my word for the new year, a word comes to me. And I just stick with that. So as I began thinking about how I needed to start thinking about my new word for 2014, CONNECTION popped into my head. Connection isn’t as sleek and catchy as my previous words. In fact it feels large and a bit clunky, unwieldy even.
And then I read this…
“…the heart of spirituality is connection…” Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown argues that spirituality is necessary for cultivating a resilient spirit and a wholehearted life. She writes, “Feelings of hopelessness, fear, blame, pain, discomfort, vulnerability, and disconnection sabotage resilience. The only experience that seems broad and fierce enough to combat a list like that is the belief that we’re all in this together and that something greater than us has the capacity to bring love and compassion into our lives.”
That seems right.
For me, 2014 will be a year about connecting and re-connecting. With my authentic self, with my family and friends, with God. The past few years have been about tearing down, breaking apart, digging through what has been. In 2014, I want to continue that process. I would love to say that this will be the year where we reach the bottom, regain our footing on the solid foundation of our lives, and start to rebuild. But I also thought that’s what peace was supposed to be about. I’m beginning to think that there isn’t really a moment when that happens. Maybe it’s more like connecting with God, with each other, with ourselves, helps us stop the free fall. Maybe its more about grabbing arms, holding tight, and wedging into the world around us. If we do that, our feet won’t ever have to touch down and we won’t ever need to know where the bottom is.
As I was preparing to post this, one of my favorite artists, Kelly Rae Roberts posted about a similar practice she has. You can read about it here. She also mentions Ali Edwards who I was introduced to through Brené Brown’s art journaling ecourse (more on that soon!) Read about her One Little Word project. I find these women very inspiring on my search for the life desired!