I started picking a Word of the Year back in 2011. I chose strong, which ended up being the perfect word for that personal shitstorm of a year. 2011 was so chaotic, so outrageous, so terrifically bad that it truly became comical. I say that with seven years of perspective; at the time I wasn’t so sure I was going to make it. The year was so out of control that it couldn’t contain the insanity to just twelve months, so it then bled into a good portion of 2012. The word that year was grateful. I was grateful as hell that I’d made it through the previous year in one piece, but I hadn’t yet started my gratitude practice; that was still many months in the future. So while I was grateful in word, I wasn’t so grateful in practice.
2013 brought enough, because I absolutely positively had had enough.
2014 was all about story, because I wanted and needed to write my own story.
2015 I intended to be mindful, and I got a good start on that. Still working on it.
2016 was effort. I wanted to put more effort into what I was doing in and with my life.
Then came time last year to pick a word for 2017 and I just couldn’t. I was emotionally exhausted from the Presidential race and election results, from the online hatred, from twelve months of just crap. I just didn’t have it in me.
Turns out the Word of the Year for most everyone was resist, with the subtext of survive. Good words for an absolutely unbelievable year. Looking back now, if 2016 was a shitshow, then 2017 was the year that stumbled into that shitshow hollering “HOLD MAH BEER!” as it careened into attendees, taking a crap in everyone’s shoe as it puked into their handbags, all while groping and and sneering and mumbling incoherently. 2017 was a bloody nightmare and sweetbabyjesusonapony I am glad it’s over. Two straight years of increasingly intense dystopia in the making is enough.
Several weeks ago I started feeling the familiar pull to choose a word for 2018. I was hesitant, because the dark side of my personality (seriously, I really do have one, it keeps me awake at night and is annoyingly loud at times) whispers in my soul that we’re all on a greased slide to hell and why even bother? But the pull was stronger than those whispers, and a word very quickly made itself known. Previous years had me considering several words until one felt right; this one came and beat me over the head until I agreed to acknowledge it.
As a society and culture, we are more connected than at any time in history, yet at the same time we are more disconnected from each other than ever before. It’s so easy to fall into us vs. them when the nameless and faceless “out there” (vague arm waving) are them.
In choosing connect as my word this year, my goal is to make that my central guiding force for the next twelve months.
Connect with strangers – make eye contact, use their name if known, see them because we all just want to be seen
Connect with my responsibilities – find a way to harness the squirrels in my brain and make them all work together
Connect with my desires – interpret this however you wish
Connect with reality – sticking my head in the sand and ignoring things isn’t going to make them go away
Connect with my readers here – I miss the community and want to grow it
Connect with my husband – after nearly a quarter century together, some reconnection is a good idea
Connect with my sons – in four and a half years they’re going to be launched
Connect with my life – to be the pilot of this stunt plane, and no longer dragged along behind it
Connect with my future – the groundwork starts now because luck = preparation + opportunity
Over the next year, I want to look at every problem, every opportunity, and think, “How can I connect here?” I know I will fail at least as often as I succeed, and knowing that going in is healthy.
And here is where I diverge from my usual encouragement for you to pick a word of the year that works for you. This year is different.
In 2018 I challenge you to connect as well.
Connect with strangers, people you don’t know. People who are different from you. See them.
Connect with your desires, however you interpret that.
Connect with reality, because it’s too easy to numb ourselves and hide while the world shits on us.
Connect with your life, your future, because it’s yours and yours alone.
Connect in whatever way that word resonates with you.
Here’s to a better 2018.