Category Archives: One Little Word


My One Little Word for this year is “reveal.” I chose it because I wanted to pay attention but in a different way than the words “notice” or “focus” or “attend;” I wanted to be open with an awareness that notices both the subtle and the outstanding, with reflection and integrity essential to my being.

Little did I know in January that by mid February I would be in a new job.  Maybe that is the power of holding a word alive.  Maybe it is the power of walking with all those words before this one: notice, delight, pilgrim, weave, mindful, rubato.

many blessings and OLW

What I love about all the trappings that go with my faith is the lens they provide to view the world and myself. Stories, traditions, sacraments, community – it all adds up to some pretty rich ways to push on the way I decide to be human in the world.

This is a really round-about way to share the “vision” board I’ve made to go with my One Little Word this year – rubato. (the temporary disregarding of strict tempo to allow an expressive quickening or slackening, usually without altering the overall pace.) Crazy word, I know! but it is the kind of word that lets me be creative in a million ways.

How I want to connect with this word is challenging to explain but mostly I feel it is a way to think about my humanness.  Rubato to me is about the tempo I decide to set each hour of my day, the tenor of my life in the presence I have in the lives of those around me – whether with sound or silence, and the emotional engagement I bring to life.

About the time I was playing around with visioning my word, I started to read the blessings in Jan L. Richardson’s newest book, Circle of Grace. I found one that made me think of my word so I decided to illustrate it with my photos.  I would never have been introduced to Ms. Richardson’s writings and art if it hadn’t been for my faith community.

I am thankful for that and here is my “phoetry” for this blessing I’m choosing to go with my OLW, rubato:


rubdrube rubf ruba

One Little Word

The year is coming to an end and it is time to think of a new “one little word” for 2016.  I love this process of reflecting on last year’s word and thinking about possibilities for next year.

writers ignite

Margie is a friend-who-is-a-writer I communicate with regularly.  Today she sent me a connection to her blog  referencing an email note we exchanged.   I chuckled because she had no idea I was about to blog about our support of each other as writers and reference the same email!

I don’t think I could attend to communicating in writing on a regular basis without the support of friends like Margie.  I have a nice list of people who check in with me, read my stuff, and encourage me to keep at it.  Their support is visible, audible and often tangible.  But there is much that is invisible and intangible and audible only in my head!

The email exchange I was going to reference today is part of a weekly check-in that Margie and I have.  She has arranged with me to email her a little note on Monday mornings as a way to say “hey, are you writing?”  The unsaid portion of that exchange is that I am thinking “hey, I care about you and your process.”  So I’ve got a reminder on my phone and tablet to check in with Margie on Mondays at 6 am  – although I have to admit I turn it off on holidays.  I have sent notes, scraps of poems, photos, drawings I’ve made.  It is a way I get my own juices going too.

Last week I sent her a poem I’d found on the website A Year of Being Here.  (I found this site when I was deciding on my One Little Word and wanted help jump-starting my way to being “mindful.”  I get a poem from them everyday and I just love it!)  I offer this connection to others who don’t have a Monday morning companion like I do.

The poem I enjoyed most this week is this one:

“Down on My Knees” by Ginger Andrews, from An Honest Answer (Story Line Press, 1999).

cleaning out my refrigerator
and thinking about writing a religious poem
that somehow combines feeling sorry for myself
with ordinary praise, when my nephew stumbles in for coffee
to wash down what looks like a hangover
and get rid of what he calls hot dog water breath.
I wasn’t going to bake the cake

now cooling on the counter, but I found a dozen eggs tipped
sideways in their carton behind a leftover Thanksgiving Jell-O dish.
There’s something therapeutic about baking a devil’s food cake,
whipping up that buttercream frosting,
knowing your sisters will drop by and say Lord yes
they’d love just a little piece.

Everybody suffers, wants to run away,
is broke after Christmas, stayed up too late
to make it to church Sunday morning. Everybody should

drink coffee with their nephews,
eat chocolate cake with their sisters, be thankful
and happy enough under a warm and unexpected January sun.

on your mark – get set – get writing!


OLW 2015

This will be my fifth year engaging in the “One Little Word” practice.  I find choosing a word to contemplate for the year works both as a lens to the outside world and to all the inner workings going on in my heart and mind through time.

Last year my word was “weave” and yet it seemed all I did was unravel.  That’s okay; sometimes it is the anti-word at work just as much as the chosen one.  I learned a lot about myself. But come the end of November I was ready to stop the disintegration and figure out a way to pull myself back together. I couldn’t even write my own words in the notebook I kept all year – I just kept throwing other people’s poetry, art and photographs into the sleeves.

I was eager to move on to a word choice for this year but it has been difficult.  Another writer’s description of the activity as akin to picking out a new purse – checking for zippers, inside pockets, snaps, straps and heft – feels like what I’ve been doing. My ears have been picking through words for over a month, consulting the dictionary, thesaurus, quotations, inspirational phrases, —- ad nauseam.

There are so many things I want to pay attention to but I need a word that describes more than just being responsive.   I want my consciousness to be deeper because of attending.


This is the first year I’ve chosen a word with such a short definition: attentive, aware, conscious.

My OLW for 2015 is “mindful.”  Not “mindfulness” – and I can’t really explain why – yet – (surely at the end of the year I’ll be able to tell you why.)

Right now, what I can say is: mindful for me means thinking and caring deeply and trying to be really aware.  I want to nurture my vulnerability as well; it is not the cautious kind of mindful I want for myself.

The little strings across my heart are vibrating to this poem by Derek Walcott these days:

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine.  Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you all your life,
whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.


the blueberry, the bee and me

IMG_7367I know it only makes sense to me
but this is what I see:
a blueberry, a woman and a bee.
The berry is whole, perfect, singularly unique, a gift of nature;
the woman looks the way I want to feel, calm and happy in her world;
the bee has work she knows how to do and is good and busy at it
and it is work that matters.

I know it only makes sense to me
but this is what I weave:
a blueberry, a woman and a bee.
I’m trying to be whole and happy,
being and doing what matters.

IMG_7372 IMG_7373 IMG_7374

phase or phenomenon

How does the choosing of a single word move from phase to phenomenon?

I have been in conversation, listening to or reading about, the words friends are considering or have chosen to be their One Little Word.   Whether or not this is a tradition for you, consider the challenge of this practice and contemplate how it could be significant for those who do it.

I love words – exploring their etymology, definitions, use in colloquial and literary forms. When I heard of One Little Word in 2011, the  concept of taking “ownership” of a word for a year seemed like an armchair adventure.  What I hadn’t counted on was that one word would have me engaging with the world more attentively than I had before.

Moving into my second year with a new word, I realized quickly I wasn’t putting one word down and picking up another; both words became a part of my life. This practice was not a phase, it was becoming a phenomenon.

The revelations shared by friends are just as phenomenal.  For some the word is like a sonar they send out pinging in the depths of their days, trying to figure out what is out there.  For others, it is like a personal coming home parade with signs on every corner, ribbons on every tree, a confirmation of who they are or have become.  Some of my friends use the word like a prayer or mantra to remind them to stay on a chosen course.

Now in my fourth year, for me each word is like a private Hubble telescope in my backyard. What I see tells me plenty about myself, my world, and helps me think more clearly about the future.

And here is a note from a teacher involving her students in an OLW project, how cool!