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.
Today was the day I decided to spend time reflecting on my last 6 months with my One Little Word. Ali Edwards, who has put together the prompts I am using in this process, has a long questionnaire for June’s reflection. Having participated in this project for a few years now, these types of prompts are not my favorite. I like the creative ones where I use photos, song lyrics or poetry. A straight up list of questions is rather dry and daunting.
But – because I have done this a few times now – I’ve come to learn the value of this step. For one thing, forcing myself to answer questions chosen by someone else leads me to new discoveries. For example – “are there companion words cropping up this year,” “what is stopping you from fully embracing your word and your intentions for yourself?”
Since I always dip into the dictionary when I’m writing, I discovered a new word too. It is a practice I knew about, just not the word for it: kedge – to move (a ship) by means of a line attached to a small anchor dropped at the distance and in the direction desired
I think my monthly play with my one little word is an exercise in kedging – putting a figurative anchor out in a direction I want to go and pulling myself toward it.
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:
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.
I’m catching up a bit with my One Little Word notebook. I decided my entry for June would be a photo story on my footwear and how it relates to the “delights” of this season.
My slippers were a Christmas present a few years ago. The soles are wearing thin and I would like to replace them but the sheepskin in the toes is still fluffy so I will make due for a while longer. At home, I usually have my slippers on. When July comes and it finally gets hot enough for me to enjoy the coolness of tile on my tender arches, I forgo my slippers and begin the summer task of toughening up my feet for pavement and beach walks. But every morning I pop on my old slippers to take the dog out for her morning constitutional and they are the last thing I kick off before plopping into bed at night. My slippers bookend the day for my tootsies.
The boots were a luxury purchase for me a while back. They are lined with sheepskin and come up to mid-calf. The first heavy rains of autumn have me digging in the hall closet for them. I pull them on over my sweats for walking to the field with Sasha in the morning and then leave them standing by the closet door where they remain ready for little jaunts the rest of fall and winter. It isn’t until a measurable snow fall that my boots get christened with a real seasonal walk, the soles becoming caked with mud and debris. When the spring rains subside, I toss them back into the closet as though removing them from the hallway will propel me more forcefully into a warmer and dryer season.
Sandals and sneakers become my shoes of choice in late spring. It is with childlike joy that I dig them out in late spring or whenever it becomes warm enough that I am reaching for skirts and Capri pants. Real summer weather banishes my work and closed-toe shoes to the bedroom closet. Parked like school buses, they will remain out of the way until the beginning of the school year. All season long I alternate between sandals and my walking shoes, depending on whether it is town or country that beckons. In between outings, I’ve usually kicked the shoes to the edge of the doorway by the dining room where they catch at the corner like flotsam from the tide on a harbor buoy.
There are two kinds of footwear I keep in my car ready for a spur-of-the-moment adventure: hiking shoes and flip flops. This way I can heed the prick of a wild burr on whatever journey I am on – stopping by a shoreline for a quick photo, hiking up a little hillside to see the falls I think might be there, or the decision to shed shoes altogether and slip on flip flops when my feet get dirty or hot or both – and the way home is long.
2011 was my first experience with One Little Word. My word was “notice.”
I have thoroughly enjoyed this endeavor. While I didn’t always like the prompt suggested by Ali Edwards, and occasionally created my own, I found the questions and tasks provocative and worthy of thought. Discerning why I wanted to engage in the prompt, or not, was often the most valuable part of the exercise. It helped that I was intent on creating a book that I treasured, not just a collection of monthly projects. (It was sweet to hear my daughter say, “I want this book someday.”)
The months that were the most fun for me involved photography, art and poetry. Prompts where I felt forced to take a perspective that wasn’t natural for me were the most challenging but thinking about why the prompt bothered me told me things about myself I hadn’t been aware of.
I love the word I chose this year; in fact I don’t think I’ll really be leaving it behind next year, rather, my new word will become a layer over the old – like lace over silk. I am sure the two words will interact with each other in ways I can’t imagine. I’m excited to see what happens.
I’ve been thinking hard the past few weeks about a word for 2012. Knowing how it felt to explore my word creatively and in writing over this past year has me looking for a word with lots of dimensions.
Right now I have chosen the word “thirst.” I’ve got a week for it to take up residence in my soul before I begin a new journey.
I thought about being thirsty all week and realized I was most thirsty for delight – 2011 was a tough year. So my One Little Word for 2012 will be “delight.” Bring it on!
September’s prompt for One Little Word was to think about the battles I’m engaged in and to consider whether I want to continue my crusades or surrender. I’ve been thinking about this prompt for the whole month; it has certainly been worthy mettle.
What I noticed in thinking about battles – since NOTICE is my one-little-word – are the types of battles in my life. There are challenges I’ve taken on or that have come my way that have been transformational in making me who I am. They have become the very fiber of my life, to surrender would be like separating muscle from bone.
But it would be interesting to rediscover the essential skeleton beneath.
Other battles I choose to take on, and gird myself appropriately – the way I don a down coat in winter, madras shorts in summer, flip flops at the beach.
These battles require pockets in my life to hold extra necessities, belts to keep things secure, neosporin for the blisters.
I want to get my battle thinking down on paper before the coming of October and a brand new prompt.
But maybe I’ll pull a white flag from my closet and wave it around for awhile.