My One Word for 2021 #OneWord2021


pine-cone-sig

 

I’ve been participating in One Word since 2017. Wow. Five years.

This quote from 2018 says it all:

Every year around this time I say, “It’s going to be different.” Well, gentle readers, it鈥檚 not. It’s quite the same. Which is to say, I let myself get caught up in a shitstorm of stress and overwhelm by choosing others instead of myself, by over-committing, by working too hard on things that don’t bring fulfillment or happiness, by helping everyone but me.

I’m feeling a bit like Scrooge. Another year? Another One Word? Bah! Humbug.

And so, of course, I was in for a visit from… 馃懟 馃帄馃帀

The Posts of New Year’s Past:

 

One Word for 2020 was:聽Focus. Focus on one thing at a time to avoid overwhelm? Fab plan, lady. Alas…

One Word for 2019 was: Move. Getting unstuck was sort of the idea. I鈥檓 still stuck but heartily sorry for it and flailing for a helping hand out of the pit.

One Word for 2018 was: Self. It was a good choice. It worked. A little. Some of the time. Not as often as I’d hoped.

One Word for 2017 was Accept. I did not accept anything. I sort of UN-accepted pretty much everything. I faltered. Failed. Moved on.

 

What I’ve learned from these Posts of New Year’s Past is I’m trying to be positive, providing some word to nurture, encourage, help… That’s lovely, but something was pulling me away from that. 2020 was a tough year. For many people. For many reasons. The celebration of that year being over is everywhere.

I’m not celebrating. Not yet.

I decided I’m not going to force positivity on myself. Oh, I know I mean well but, hell, things kind of suck at the moment, new year or not. Why not acknowledge the suckiness? And why force positivity when we all know that never works?

When you shove those negative feelings down, they resurface. Always. In one way or another, they bob up like a rubber duck in a tub.

So I’m going with a negative One Word this year.

Sort of.

I’m acknowledging the negativity that clouds my life and letting myself know it’s okay to not be okay about it.

My focus word for 2021:

ALLOW

With everything going on, I’m giving myself permission to feel however I need to feel. If I feel bad, that’s okay. If I feel sad, that’s okay. If I feel stressed, angry, or hurt, that’s okay.

No guilt. No “should”. None of that nonsense.

I’m allowed to feel however I feel.

If I happen to feel good, or even happy, that’s allowed, too. So, yay.

As always, a definition (*nerd alert*):

allow

[蓹藞lou]

verb聽
  • give (someone) permission to do something.

grant someone the right 路聽give one’s blessing toapprove of聽路聽give the go-ahead to聽路聽give the thumbs up to 路聽give the OK to聽路聽give the green light to

I’ve got the green light here, my friends. The go-ahead. The thumbs-up. I’ve been granted the right and given a blessing. What else could I ask for?

  • give the necessary time or opportunity for.

Time and opportunity to feel. I guess that’s what else I could have asked for. *shrugs* Got it.

  • admit (an event or activity) as legal or acceptable.

My feelings are hereby legal and acceptable. Right on.

I’m allowing myself to feel however the hell I feel without the dreaded “should” and “shouldn’t”. And without guilt. I’m allowing my feelings to break free of that self-imposed New Year’s cocoon of positivity, emerging in whatever shape, size, and color they are. If I feel angry, well, The Hulk and I can hang out for a bit. If I feel sad, so be it. If I happen to feel happy, it’s going to be a genuine bubbling glass of joy.

 

Happy New Year, my friends. 鉂 Here’s to your goals, aspirations, resolutions, or whatever floats your boat. Cheers! 馃

Have you ever taken part in the One Word Challenge?

If you haven’t, why not try it? Or think on it a moment and leave one in the comments. What could your focus be this year? I鈥檇 love to hear what your One Word is for 2021.

Hey, Lovely People… It’s #WorldKindnessDay

 

 

It’s Friday. TGIF, right? Also, it’s the 13th. Which means, well, it’s Friday the 13th. So… Spooky, creepy, unlucky, and all that jazz. But here’s a cool thing about today:

It’s World Kindness Day.聽

What a lovely thought.

I mean, sure, yeah, every day should be World Kindness Day. Just like every day should be Earth Day. That said, regardless of wishes and whatnot, today, November 13th, is World Kindness Day.聽

I’ve always been a fan of RAKs (Random Acts of Kindness). I also sort of like the whole being nice to people on a regular basis thing. And this day is rooted in a desire for more kind acts, random or otherwise. So count me in. Always.

A global celebration of being nice? Yes, please.

I know a lot of people (including me) will say we need this now MORE THAN EVER. Seriously. Look around. With everything going on… But then, really, not so much. We always need this. We do.聽

While you’re being kind to neighbors and computer screens full of colleagues, remember to be kind to yourself. (That’s one some of us forget. *ahem*)聽

ThoughtBubble

 

Here’s to kindness, both given and received.聽

My random thoughts in (slightly over) 200 words.

 

Hoping things are kind in your world today (and always).

Happy World Kindness Day, my friends.鉂わ笍馃寧

https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/world-kindness-day/world-kindness-day

https://inspirekindness.com/

https://worldkindness.org/about-us/

#WorldKindnessDay2020 鉂わ笍馃寧 #BeKind #MakeKindnessTheNorm聽

A Canopy of Green

 

 

The trees haven’t started to turn.

Usually, this late in September, there’s at least a splash of color touching the uppermost tips of maples and oaks. The proverbial fall picture鈥攜ellow, orange, and red. The fiery gems of autumn.

But when I go for walks, I’m covered by a canopy of green.

It’s weird.

When I look out the window this close to October, I want to see a seasonal landscape. The jewel-toned leaves of autumn are gorgeous but, also, they would bring some normalcy to life. I kind of need that right now.

Yes, I know. I know there鈥檚 a scientific explanation (weather and such) but it somehow feels like nature is apprehensive. Like it’s mirroring the angst. Like the leaves don’t want us to see what color they are. They hide beneath their chlorophyll so we won’t see what the world really looks like. And right now, this year, the uncertainty of not knowing what color the world will be is too much.

 

 

My random thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

How are things in your world? Has some semblance of normalcy returned? Any autumnal color in your neck of the woods?聽

 

Happy Autumn, my friends. 馃崈馃崅 (And Happy Spring to my friends in the southern hemisphere.)聽

The Grass is Always Greener

 

 

You know the proverbial grass is always greener on the other side. Well, it’s literally true here. I’m perched on dried-out, shriveled-up, light brown blades. Looking out the window, it’s like I’m living in the desert. I eventually had to call someone. Here’s what he said:

“Your lawn is really stressed.”

Oh, man. I laughed.

There’s so much stress in this house, it’s seeping outside? I mean, our lawn聽is stressed? It’s kind of funny.

 

I recently wrote a post about some silly perks during this difficult time but, that said, it’s tough. What with fear, sickness, isolation, uncertainty… The normal, everyday stress that plagues us has been plugged into an amplifier. I guess that’s what happens and we’ll just have to ride it out. But that’s life right now, isn’t it? Yeah. It is.

But here’s the thing, my bloggy friends:

Stress looks different for everyone. It feels different. It comes from different sources. Always has. But now, with the shared experience of a global pandemic, everyone is supposedly “going through the same thing”.

I get where this is coming from but it’s wrong. The assumption is that everyone’s stress looks the same right now. And alleviating that stress looks the same as well.

It doesn’t.

It never has and that holds true now. There is no one-size-fits-all.

We all have our own stress. We all handle it differently. We all need individual coping strategies.

My neighbor’s grass may be greener, but perhaps, when I walk over to admire their lovely lawn, I notice their front door is hanging off its hinges. Maybe their house has termites. Who knows?

So be kind to yourselves. Don’t buy into the notion that, because we’re “all dealing with the same thing”, we should all be able to find relief with the same things.

If you like yoga, downward-dog do it. If you like meditating, breathe in…breathe out. If you like running, go for it. (I, personally, do not. Unless I’m being chased by a bear. Or is that when you should stay still? I don’t know. And sincerely hope I don’t stumble upon a bear anytime soon.) Take bubble baths, hug trees, drink tea, garden, bake… Whatever floats your boat. Sail away, my friends. 鉂

 

My Sunday thoughts in (slightly over) 200 words.

ThoughtBubble

How are you, gentle readers? How’s the stress level around your house? How are you dealing with it?

My One Word for 2020 #OneWord2020

 

pine-cone-sig

 

I was going to switch this up a bit for 2020 but guess what? I’m not. This is (unfortunately) perfect:

Every year around this time I say, “It’s going to be different.” Well, gentle readers, it鈥檚 not. It’s quite the same. Which is to say, I let myself get caught up in a shitstorm of stress and overwhelm by choosing others instead of myself, by over-committing, by working too hard on things that don’t bring fulfillment or happiness, by helping everyone but me.

One Word for 2019 was: Move. Seriously. Like Move Yer Arse, Girl! Or, you know, something nicer, like, Excuse me but would you mind moving? Same, same. Getting unstuck was sort of the idea.

I’m still stuck but heartily sorry for it and flailing for a helping hand out of the pit.

my One Word for 2018 was: Self. It was a good choice. It worked. Some of the time. Not as often as I’d hoped.

my One Word for 2017 was Accept. I did not accept anything. I sort of UN-accepted pretty much everything. I faltered. Failed. Moved on.

Well. Isn’t that something? And here we are again. Another year, another word. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

 

I’ve noticed my blog has its share of posts about overwhelm. Just a few, really, not, like, dozens. Ahem. So I got to thinking about being overwhelmed. Too much. Too many things. So, naturally, I need to make lists. And prioritize. That will work. Except for the times it doesn’t. Which is to say always. Or never. Whatever.

I’ve got to sort out my priorities. This is more important than that. That is more pressing than the other. Things get put on The List, shifted, knocked down a number, back up, and so forth and, soon enough, nothing is done.

So, instead of putting my life on a piece of paper in order of importance, I’m changing my mindset. (FYI, this is always,聽always, a good idea. You should try it.) I’ve always sucked at multi-tasking but I’m not sure that’s what this is anymore. I’m thinking it’s more that I’m utterly unfocused.

So here is my ironic focus word for 2020:

FOCUS

I was at a cemetery last month and grabbed my phone to take a picture.

When I tapped on the screen to focus on the little pinecone in my face, the gravestones blurred in the background. And vice versa. Right? Because whether it’s a mobile phone or a fancy camera, it cannot focus on more than one thing at a time.

I hadn’t written my One Word post yet but, there, right then, in that cemetery, I wrote it in my head.

I’m not prioritizing the pinecone over the gravestone. But if I try to focus on both of them, they’re both blurry and I don’t get either one. If I tap and zoom in on one, I get an amazing shot. Then, *tap*, another great shot. Done.

Obviously, there will be times when something will demand my focus be drawn to that issue or situation but I will focus on it and move on.

If I’m constantly trying to focus on everything, then everything is out of focus.

Narrow my focus and, boom, I’ve got a clear shot.

As always, a definition (because I’m a nerd):

 

focus

/f艒k蓹s/

noun

  • the center of interest or activity.

center, focal point, center of attention

Get me a spotlight, man. I’m shining it on whatever shit needs attention. Laser focused, my friends.聽

  • the state or quality of having or producing clear visual definition.

clear, clear-cut, well-defined

Producing a well-defined, clear-cut visual? Please hold. Your patience is appreciated. The clear visual will be with you shortly.聽

verb

  • (of a person or their eyes) adapt to the prevailing level of light and become able to see clearly.

Seeing clearly? Yes, please. Adapting and becoming able to see clearly are HUGE challenges for me. Two great goals. 聽

  • pay particular attention to.

give emphasis to, highlight

Dude, this makes me want to whip out one of those big, neon yellow markers and highlight the hell out of the book of my life. On it!

 

I’m going to focus this year. I know I said this last year but 2020 will see another book from me. The manuscripts are sitting here glaring at me. They are more patient than I.

Happy New Year, my friends. 鉂 Here’s to your goals, aspirations, resolutions, or whatever floats your boat. Cheers! 馃

Have you ever taken part in the One Word Challenge?

If you haven’t, why not try it? Or think on it a moment and leave one in the comments. What could your focus be this year? I鈥檇 love to hear what your One Word is for 2020.

 

When the Year Grows Old

 

When the Year Grows Old

And often when the brown leaves
Were brittle on the ground,
And the wind in the chimney
Made a melancholy sound,

She had a look about her
That I wish I could forget–
The look of a scared thing
Sitting in a net…

But the roaring of the fire,
And the warmth of fur,
And the boiling of the kettle
Were beautiful to her…

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

The year has grown old, died, and been reborn. It is ‘new’. There are beginnings. Yet I acutely feel the year growing old.

When the clock struck midnight December 31st, when the calendar ceased to count days for 2019鈥hat happened?

Nothing.

It’s as if I鈥檓 waiting for some unknown force to press the ‘reset’ button.

As I work on my One Word for 2020, I realize I鈥檓 stuck. Not in my decision of which word to choose but in the way I feel caught at the end of last year. In a time when I listened to the wind whistling a melancholy tune and brittle leaves scraped the window panes, begging to be let inside.

When I had the look of a frightened bird flapping helplessly inside a net.

Yet there is a difference. The trap has weakened, loosened. I can breathe.

I find familiarity in the world around me and there is comfort and beauty in that. In the moments when I take that first sip of coffee, tie my hair up with an elastic band, lace my warm, winter boots. When I lose myself in sunlight creating intricate patterns on my floor or notice wind catching a hydrangea flower hidden since last spring.

Sometimes, when the stress is too much, when the weight is too heavy, when the ropes are too tight, our struggles increase the pain. Sometimes relaxing into the discomfort and fear is all we can do and, sometimes, that shifts our world enough to see the beauty.

 

Health and happiness to you, gentle readers.

 

My Brain Freeze

 

 

I looked at the frost on my flowers the other day and thought, “Huh. That’s like my brain right now.”

You know when you were a kid and ate ice cream too fast or slurped one of those slushie things? It was like, “Whoa! Brain freeze!” Remember that?

Yeah. That’s not what I’m talking about at all. It’s more like stumbling out of bed at ridiculous-o-clock, shuffling into the kitchen, opening the cabinet, and staring at the coffee mugs.

Almost daily now, I find myself in the middle of a task and I get brain freeze. I just stop what I’m doing and my mind goes to sleep for a second. What was I doing? Why did I come in here? What was I looking for?

This has happened to me many times, of course. Usually in the early morning. But now it’s like permafrost鈥攊t lasts all day.

On top of that, I think magical things are going to happen. Not consciously but in a “this-will-be-completed-with-no-assistance-from-me” sort of way.

If I stare at the coffee maker, I will have coffee. If I stare at the computer screen, my page will be edited.

I’m getting time back by focusing on what’s important and ditching the rest (which is awesome) but I’m not getting the stuff done I’ve made time for. I know. Irony is delicious. Just don’t eat it too fast.

Maybe I need to get used to having that bit of extra time before my frostbitten brain can thaw and function properly.

ThoughtBubble

My Sunday thoughts in (around) 200 words.

 

I know everyone wonders what they went into the kitchen for at one time or another but, realistically, how often does this happen to you? Should I be worried? 馃槈

I think I just need to adjust to this new-ish schedule. Hopefully, after a transition period, this will mean I actually finish the books I’m working on and get them out into the world! *fingers crossed*聽

 

My One Word for 2019 #OneWord2019

 

pine-cone-sig

 

Wow. So this is fun. I love reading posts from past years and seeing I’ve learned my lesson…

Every year around this time I say, “It’s going to be different.” Well, gentle readers, it鈥檚 not. It’s quite the same. Which is to say, I let myself get caught up in a shitstorm of stress and overwhelm by choosing others instead of myself, by over-committing, by working too hard on things that don’t bring fulfillment or happiness, by helping everyone but me.

So, last year, my One Word for 2018 was: Self.

It was a good choice. It worked. Some of the time. Not as often as I’d hoped.

The year before that, my One Word for 2017 was Accept. I did not accept anything. I sort of UN-accepted pretty much everything. I faltered. Failed. Moved on.

And…here I go again. Another year, another word, another promise. Despite everything, I really do believe in the power of focus words (and in the power of me not failing). Success to me and my One Word!

It’s difficult choosing just one word when we writers love language the way we do, but, unlike past years, it wasn’t too bad this time. I’ll say right up front, I did shop around for synonyms because it’s not a pretty word but, eh, what the hell. Here it is, my friends:

MOVE

As I said, not the most beautiful word but, seriously, check this out:

 

move

/mo蜑ov/

verb

  • go in a specified direction or manner; change position.

proceed, progress, advance

Proceed? Advance? Count me in.

  • change or cause to change from one state, opinion, sphere, or activity to another.

change, shift one鈥檚 ground, change one鈥檚 tune

Changing opinion/activity as we speak (or, read, whatever). Already whistling another tune, my friends. Done.

  • take action, act, take steps, do something

inspire, prompt, motivate

鈥渟he was moved to act鈥

Dude, just reading this makes me want to DO SOMETHING. Watch me take action. I am motivated! I am moved to act!

  • provoke a strong feeling, especially of sorrow or sympathy, in.

stir up (an emotion) in someone

affect, touch, upset, disturb, make an impression on

鈥淚 was deeply moved by the story鈥

This. Yes. This is what I hope to accomplish with my writing so I’m keeping this one in here. I would love to provoke strong feelings in readers. Affect people. Even upset or disturb them with my stories. It’s all good as long as it makes an impression.

  • make progress; develop in a particular manner or direction.

make progress, advance, develop

I’m marching here. I am. Advancing. Stepping ALL OVER the enemies: self-doubt, imposter syndrome, procrastination, stress, overwhelm… I am making progress!

 

I’m moving. And 2019 will see another book from me. (Preferably two.) Here’s to moving, my friends! 鉂

Have you ever taken part in the One Word Challenge?

If you haven’t, why not try it? Or think on it a moment and leave one in the comments. What could your focus be this year? I鈥檇 love to hear what your One Word is for 2019.

 

Safe Upon the Solid Rock

 

Second Fig

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

Another of Edna’s poems to ponder and share. Though, honestly, there’s not much to ponder here.

To quote a lesser-known poet, ‘brevity is the soul of wit’. (I jest. I actually do know Shakespeare penned that. But we’re getting away from the subject at hand. Which is to say, this poem is brief and witty.)

And it is here today because, yet again, Edna’s words have moved me and I want to share them.

How easy to find stability on solid rock. And yet, what else will you find there? True beauty lies in dreams and desires. These are often found perched on less-than-solid ground. Is instability a part of being creative? Of following dreams? I don’t know.

But if it is, I’m letting my feet sink into the sand where my shining palace stands.

It could collapse.

That beautiful place I’ve worked to build.

I could lose everything.

Or it could remain.

I could gain everything.

Best not to dwell too much but, instead, look upon the ugly houses I don’t want.

Then, I daresay, I will be willing to live surrounded by the glimmer of my dreams or sink with my shining palace.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Can we indulge in our creativity and follow our dreams while still keeping our feet on solid ground? When it comes to your dreams, are you willing to live with uncertainty?

 

 

Shifting Focus

 

 

Self.聽

It’s a tiny, loaded, powerful word.

For people whose natural inclination is to take care of others, using time and energy to care for themselves can be upsetting. Depending on the person, it varies from slightly uncomfortable to downright distressing.

When faced with the idea, there may be a freak-out: 鈥淲hat?! Myself? How will…? What can…? I聽can鈥檛 do that!鈥

You can. You really can.

Here鈥檚 a thing I鈥檝e realized.

If you have a tendency to focus on others, it鈥檚 difficult to shift that focus. It may seem unlikely to happen. Impossible even. When you begin focusing on your Self, you鈥檒l find a thought popping up often (the persistent little bugger):

鈥淚f I鈥檓 spending all that time taking care of myself, I won鈥檛 be able to take care of anyone else!鈥

Wrong.

鈥淚f I鈥檓 spending all that time taking care of myself, I won鈥檛 be able to take care of everyone else!鈥

That鈥檚 it, my friends.

 

Take that in. Accept it. Embrace it.

My random聽thoughts in 200 words or less.ThoughtBubble

You can’t do it all.

Don鈥檛 be that person. The harried, stressed, wreck who tries to help everyone and tries to do everything to the detriment of his or her Self, family, health, relationships…whatever.

Yes, this means you have to make decisions. When will you agree? When will you decline? Choose wisely. And ditch the guilt. (It can be done. I have faith in you.)

 

A lot has happened since I chose ‘Self” as my One Word for 2018. Some of it good. Some of it not so good. All of it eye-opening. Take care of yourselves, gentle readers.