Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Word Can Lead You...

This is my annual end-of-the-year invitation...
                                    to choose a word, not a resolution.

I have been doing this in January for 5 years,
              ever since I read Christine Kane's blog called The Resolution Revolution.
It has changed me over and over.

Here's the invitation:
       Instead of making futile promises to "fix" something (like lose weight, or get out of debt)...
            choose a WORD toward which to tilt your life.
Then let go...  and see where it leads.
Be curious about it.  Be sincere about your choice
            and allow it to slowly, deeply change you.... for 12 months.

My first year I chose the word Truth.  sigh.
I suppose the wise voice inside wanted me to cut through the bullshit- to help me peel things away and stare straight at, well, the truth about things.  When I chose the word I had no idea where it would lead me. At the end of that year- through reading, journaling and exploring-  I realize I had let go of a lot... a lot of "masks" I had been wearing, a lot of stories I was believing.
  The word "truth" had led me fearlessly out of pretending... closer to authenticity.

Choosing a word sets an intention.  That is all we need to understand.
It is not a verb.  not an action.  not something to add to the to-do list.
Instead, it is something to wonder about. It is best to choose a noun. Something with a life of its own. Something to lead you, not something to conquer.

And like a treasure, it is best to hold it lightly. gently. with reverence. with confidence.
The rest is an adventure.   Just follow where it leads.

Other years, I chose the words; TranscendenceLove... and Blossom.
Last year it was Patience.

I am drawn to words that are mysteries to me. Ones I can not define yet. Concepts that intrigue me.. and often intimidate me.
I tend to be kinda serious. Philosophical.
You don't have to be.
Just be sincere.

Many of my friends do this on New Year's Day now.
Some of the powerful words I remember them choosing are :

ACTION             COMMITMENT            JOY             Courage

           TRUST              Presence         Ease           HOME

I used to host a "Soup and Sisterhood" dinner each January. 
Girlfriends would gather and reflect on the year they had spent with their word. Many were shocked at how their life had shifted because of this simple exercise. Some admitted they had forgotten about their word for long stretches only to find it had been subtly working its magic at a foundational level. 
Our conversations were fascinating and inspiring. The whole thing felt so creative!
And as we blew out the candles, we would say farewell to the word that had kept us company for 12 months...
and offer up our new word for the year- a bit wide-eyed and curious about what it had in store for us.

I never know what my word will be.
Not until I sit in the quiet, candle lit, heart open... do I hear the whisper of it.
I am often surprised by what surfaces.  Surprised, but never unsure.
When I recognize what my word of the year is... it's as if it has risen from a solid place in the belly, not the head. It is a "gut" knowing.  Held out... as an invitation.

I encourage you to try it this year.
You won't regret it.
Christine Kane's blog explains it further.

Happy New Year!

ps-  I'd love to hear about the word you choose if you feel like sharing.  We learn so much from each other :-)


  1. I chose the word breathe a week ago and it is fitting right in with this concept you shared with me a couple of years ago. It is already changing my life - in traffic, with family members, in friendships, through times when my heart quickens when it feels or hears something. I am on the way. Beth, you are a super star in my book. Thank you for the many gifts you offer us. But please choose the word 'travel' at some point and come and visit us across the Pacific.

  2. That's a tantalizing word, Marcia. I wonder how many layers of meaning it will reveal to you over the months. I love to notice how many things my word ends up being related to during the year; like- the body, the mind, the heart, my relationships, and, for you, maybe MUSIC! Breathe. lovely. (love the idea of "travel" as a word. I'm getting skype, does that count? ;-)

  3. Blossom was close, but you have to actually be growing in the garden before you can bloom. So, instead, "resurrection." I can hardly believe I have the courage to say it. Actually I don't, but I'm just going with it. Remember Masaro Emoto's experiments? They changed the chemical structure of water by just placing a written word against a glass of water. I still don't get it but it's the season of faith... xo.

  4. Resurrection is an amazing Word. it is enticing, it is a intimidating, it is, I imagine, so misunderstood and misused.
    Yes, Resurrection is a big one. a powerful one. Seems like a focus that could lead you to what you are longing for... if you hold it gently.

    And, I find as the year goes on, that I first choose my word with a "me" focus (understandably)... but, over time, it opens and relates to other things. For you, that might include Nature, relationships, a dream believed to be dead.... or simply HOPE resurrected.

    Thanks for being brave and sharing. It helps us all.

  5. My friends and I have been sharing your blog post with each other and on FB for a few years now. I just selected my third word since reading this blog for the first time. My word is connect. Last year was alacrity and balance the year before. Thank you.