January 13, 2012

This is my third year of choosing a “word of the year” to guide me—sort of a theme that sums up the attitude I’d like to take with me for the coming year. In 2010, I chose open. Last year, I chose light. This year, the word is…


And it scares me to death. Why, you ask? Passion seems a little out of control, just a little “out there” for me. It feels risky, like I’ll be forced out of hiding. Passionate people tend to get noticed. I’m not sure I’m really comfortable with that. Passion can get people in trouble.

There were other words I was considering: focus, clarity, flow, commit (and more). They each capture a little piece of what I’m looking for in 2012—I’ve felt stuck for a long time and I want to be un-stuck. I want a smooth, vibrant flow of energy streaming through me, instead of operating in fits and starts the way I have been. I want to focus that energy on a few important areas instead of shooting off into the atmosphere every which way. And I want some clarity of purpose, so I can commit to those goals.

Specifically, I’ve been struggling with that clarity and commitment to my writing for several years now. I believe it’s mainly been fear that has held me back from making a commitment, from really going for it. I’ve been afraid to feel passion for my writing, afraid I won’t have anything to say, afraid no one will read my work and that they’ll hate it if they do. What if people read my work and it makes no impression at all? Or maybe, just maybe, I’ll become successful and that will bring a whole new set of expectations and anxieties.

Passion can override all of this. I’ve seen it happen before, most notably with my horse. I was a 40-year-old beginner rider with limited experience with horses and a distaste for getting dirty and sweaty when I found Tank. My passion for horses, and more specifically for him, swept away my fears and my reluctance to get dirty. (Like Rose in Titanic, I’m usually more of an indoor girl.) I still get scared (and I still hate being sweaty) but my passion for playing with Tank makes up for it. I’m looking to unleash some of that same passion in other areas of my life.

Totally worth all the sweat and dirt
If I allow passion into my writing, it won’t matter what other people think, good bad or indifferent. What matters will be that I said what I needed to say, I allowed my voice to speak.

In all areas of life, I hope living with passion will fill me with energy, with enthusiasm, with strength to carry on in the face of setbacks and obstacles. I’ve already noticed that I go through each day with a little more interest and curiosity because I’m looking for things to be passionate about. It’s so early yet, but I feel optimistic about a passion-filled 2012.

What are your expectations for 2012? Did you choose a word of the year, and if so, does it scare you a little bit?

**By the way, what first gave me the idea of passion as a word of the year was seeing The Million Dollar Quartet at my local performing arts center. The passion of the original performers, as well as the actors/musicians who did the show the night I saw it, woke me up to the fact that I’ve been going through life lately in a rather ho-hum manner. “Quartet” is a fantastic show and if it comes to your town, go see it if you can.

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  1. I like your word. It seems sort of adventurous, and as if you're willing to try new things. If I were a writer I would be filled with those same uncertainties, I think. It's scary putting yourself and your work out there, but maybe the first step will be the hard one and it will get easier after that? If I were to choose a word I think I would pick optimism--after a rocky few years I'm ready for good, new things!

  2. I love that you've chosen Passion as your word for this year. Yes it's scary, but it's also wonderful to do things with passion. And to read passionate writing is great as well.

  3. Danielle--It is scary to put yourself out there--you feel sort of naked and exposed once a piece of writing goes out!

    Optimism is a good word--I feel that way myself, like 2012 is going to be a good year.

  4. Chery--I'm looking forward to seeing how passion affects my writing and my day-to-day life. I know it won't be boring!

  5. Hi Kathy,

    Thanks so much for stopping by to say hi. We did have a great trip.

    I have enjoyed all three of your recent posts. This one really spoke to me so much. I have passion for taking pictures, and for my sweetie, and I recognize the feeling that comes to mind when I think of the word passion. I too am on the verge of really sinking my teeth into writing this year. I can feel the passion for it, but I need to really settle down and spend time on it. It is like a wave cresting and I know that soon I will be carried away and my fears will be gone and I won't be able to stop myself from typing away.

    I can't wait to read your books someday soon!

    Kathy M.

  6. Hi, Kathy--I'm the same way--once I let the passion of the writing in, the fears fade away. It's sometimes hard just to make yourself sit down, isn't it? Let's hope this is the year we both really get going. Hopefully, you'll keep us posted on your blog. And thanks for the encouragement--maybe we can exchange our books someday!!

  7. What a great post! You certainly have passion reflected in your writing about this subject. Yes, passion is scary because some people just won't get it...but the right ones will. I find myself seeking many of these same goals in my artwork - especially the clarity. Clarity of purpose, clarity of rendering and color. Maybe that's my word for the year? I read somewhere these three words: clarity, conviction, and courage, and took the time to write them down to call them to mind later.

  8. Thanks, Elizabeth! I hope you have a year full of clarity, conviction and courage! And I look forward to seeing more of your beautiful art work. (I have the small painting of flowers I won on your blog awhile back taped up on my desk!)