January 14, 2011

All through the hectic holidays, I avoided taking time to focus on a word of the year for 2011. It was almost like I was afraid. It’s a big commitment—I’ve got to live with this choice all year!

Finally last night I sat down with a long list of words I’d compiled over the past few weeks. The first word that had popped into my head was “possibility”—with echoes of Emily Dickinson’s line, “I dwell in possibility.” One morning I woke up with the thought, “I want to create beautiful things,” so I added beauty/beautiful to the list. I love my life and don’t want to change it—I just want to make it richer and more vibrant. Vibrant, bloom, more, fruitful and flourish were the next additions to the list. These all had their merits, as did the half dozen other words that I had to choose from. But nothing resonated with me quite the way “open” did last year.

I find that I often discover what I really think about things by writing about them, so I took up my list and started writing random thoughts about what I want 2011 to be like, what I want to focus on this year, and so on. This year I want to improve my level of confidence, to live more consciously and have more fun! I want to flourish instead of feel as though I’m bumbling along just making do. I’m ready to heal some old emotional wounds—BUT I don’t want to be so serious and earnest all the time. I want to be more light-hearted instead of worried and anxious. And that’s when a word sent a tingle up my spine: light. Light, not heavy; happy, not sad; bright, not dark. Open the windows and let in the light. Get rid of excess—weight, stuff, wrong-headed beliefs—and lighten up. Maybe that’s why I started the year off cleaning out my office?

Light has an aspect of consciousness to it that appeals to me: casting light onto my thinking and my actions instead of operating in a rote manner. It has a positive connotation, a certain brilliance. It can be a noun, verb or adjective. The properties of light are quite intriguing and offer scope for future analogy. “Light” works perfectly with “open”: the door is cracked, the window is open, the light can shine in.

So. Here I am with my bright, shiny new word of the year. What effect will it have?

(If you’ve chosen a word or theme for the year, please share!)

We all walk in the dark and each of us must learn to turn on his or her own light. ~Earl Nightingale

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  1. I enjoy reading about other people's experiences/plans for adopting a word for the year. It was fun to read about your process for choosing a word for 2011. But, I'm a little confused ... did you pick 'Illumination', 'Illuminate', or 'Light'?

    For myself, I've really enjoyed adopting a word the past 2 years and I'm excited about my choice for this year. Adopting a word has felt sort of like a 'buddy' to me these past two years. When I'm thinking about some sort of problem or issue I remind myself about my focus word and usually it provides some direction for me. As for 2011 I picked multiple words, a phrase, "Color My World" - which I described on my blog.

  2. Hi, Claire--sorry for the confusion: the actual "word of the year" is "light." (That's what I get for changing the post title at the last minute.)

    I like your description of your word of the year as a buddy--I've already found myself checking in with my word when I'm looking for direction. I can see thinking of my word as a buddy who can remind me of where I want to go.

  3. I like your idea of choosing a word to concentrate on this year and I like the idea of 'light'. Last year was a difficult one for me as well in a variety of ways, so I am also hoping to not always feel so weighted down by worries. It's not always possible to control the things that happen in life, but certainly attitude is something that can always be worked on!

  4. What a great choice! Loved reading your post. You write very well. I haven't chosen a word... not sure if I will. I chose one last year.... and promptly forgot all about it! (I know, I'm a hopeless case ;-)

  5. Danielle--I often think about the only thing we CAN control is our attitude. My hope is that "light" will guide me this year to lighten up and be less worried and anxious. I certainly hope 2011 is a less worrisome and difficult for you, too.

  6. Teresa--I did almost the same thing last year--I paid very little, regular, attention to my word. I want to be a bit more mindful this year!

  7. I like your choice of Light! It works in so many ways, and you've covered them all. I chose "More." I know it's a simple concept, but I felt I had a really good start on art this year, and I want to do More. I'm using it in an action sense....more art, more organization, more simplifying, more action... :-)

  8. Kelly--"More" was one of the words I seriously considered, because I felt that I liked how everything was going--I just wanted more! I hope your year is full of more of everything good!

  9. So enjoyed reading this! Words resonate with me as well - some serving as watchwords through situations or guides during a special time. I have never consciously chosen a word to serve this purpose, though. This year I'd like to mindfully choose (this may take some thinnking!). I love your word, too.

  10. Elizabeth--Thanks, Elizabeth. I much prefer word of the year to New Year's resolutions! You'll have to let me know what your word turns out to be!


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