Thursday, December 10, 2020

Just One Word

Words dominate our lives. We speak and sing them, read them, write them, hear them, and think them. The barrage of words — from both external sources and from our own internal dialogue — can be distracting, even overwhelming. 


It can be helpful, then, to step back from the barrage of words and focus on just one. 


Every year, people all over the world do just that. I first heard of the “one little word” movement in Spring 2009, when a friend told me about Ali Edwards, famous designer of everything scrapbooking, who had shared the “one little word” concept on her website.


In Edwards’ words, “one little word” involves “choosing one word for myself . . . a word to focus on, to live with, to investigate, to write about, to craft with, and to reflect upon as I go about my daily life.“


I’ve chosen a word 7 times in the 11 years since I first heard of “one little word”; I didn’t choose one for 2020. 


As the chaos of the past 10 months — personal life changes, the pandemic, violence in cities across America, and the election process — has swirled around me, I’ve felt scattered and unfocused. Perhaps that is why, for several weeks, I’ve felt compelled to chose a word for 2021.


Maybe you, too, have felt untethered, awash in the messiness and uncertainty of 2020. Perhaps, like me, you want to put all that behind you, regroup, and move into the new year with a fresh focus.


If so (or even if not), I invite you to join me in choosing one word for 2021. 


There are no “rules”. If you google “one little word ideas” or “word of the year ideas”, you’ll find that people have chosen words that range from the downright frivolous to extremely serious. The word can represent an aspiration, a dream, a character trait you wish to develop, a person . . . the options are endless. 


You can also choose from an endless array of ways to focus on your word. Some people share that they don’t *do* much; they are simply mindful of their focus in a way that is appropriate for the word and for them. For example, a friend who chose the word “pause” for 2020 shared on social media that she has been intentional about pausing before speaking and for at least 24 hours before making any decisions, including purchases outside of normal everyday/month ones.


Others take different approaches.


One etsy member creates and sells word-art featuring his one word every year; several participants have written books based on their word. The friend who first told me about “one little word” back in 2009 chooses a word with her husband (and their children, when they were still living at home). Each family member focuses on that word in their own way throughout the year; they also look for “their” word on signs, posters, etc., and take pictures of their finds. At the end of the year, they create a family photo collage and display it in the family room.


As 2020 draws to a close, consider choosing “one little word” for the new year. Think about it, pray about it if you feel so inclined;  don’t stress about finding the “perfect” word. Participants often share that while it may take a few weeks, perhaps even until a few days into the new year, the right word will simply become apparent.


I’ll be sharing my own word for 2021 at the end of the month and invite you to share your word then. I look forward to hearing what you choose!

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