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Dec 31 2015

When your last Word of the Year picks its successor

when your last word of the year picks its successor*Tap tap*

This thing on?

Where are the damned lights?

What the…what happened to my stack of drafts? Why are they all over the floor?

And who the hell is in charge of dusting around here? I swear to god I’m going to quit calling it dust and instead call it by its scientific name, Star Stuff.

Oh my, it’s quite Star Stuffy in here!
Isn’t it beautiful, seeing the Star Stuff dance in the sunshine?
Make your mark on the universe, write your name in the Star Stuff on the shelf over there!
Oh, the Star Stuff bunnies are reproducing under the couch! Awww, cute widdle baby Star Stuffs!

This place is a forgotten, nay ignored, pig sty. My own fault, I suppose. I should probably do something about that.

So. Word of the Year. I’ve picked one for the last several years, and it’s been pretty hit or miss as to the efficacy of the word in my life. When I pick the word, I struggle with it all year. It’s as though if I want it badly enough, it’ll work. Nope. I saw that with 2012’s grateful, 2013’s enough., and 2014’s story. Those words and I battled all year, and I eventually gave up on enough. that fall; I don’t easily give up on my word. But when I sit and allow the word to bubble through my brain and the word chooses me, then I see huge gains. In 2011 strong got me through a really tough year, even though in retrospect I was strong to the point of stoicism. And this year mindful changed the direction of my life.

Because I made mindful my word this year, I was able to stay more in the moment, good and bad. I oversaw the second household move in four years without completely losing my mind, and in fact was the calmest I’d been in years. I’m less angry at winter (so far) because I appreciated the hell out of every warm moment of the summer. No, I didn’t meditate a whole lot, but I stayed more present in my life than I’d had in years. I’m calmer, more centered, and more grateful for my life than I’ve ever been.

A couple weeks ago my mind started wandering towards picking a new word. Bold was the leader for a great long while, because I want to work on being bolder in my life (and to anyone who thinks I’m already pretty bold…no…I’m pretty reserved for the most part). Open made a run, because I want to be open to new experiences etc. As time ticked down to today, I frantically searched WOTY lists, hoping a word would jump out at me. This is how act, emerge, enrich, strive, evolve, challenge, and fearless came to flirt with me.

At this point mindful just shook its head in pity, went into the hidden cabinet of my subconscious, and pulled out effort, and placed this kicking and screaming word into my arms. My reaction to that is not unlike the reaction I’d have to someone handing me a newborn saying, “Here, for you!” Shocked, horrified, indignant, angry, panicked, curious, humbled, exhausted, and delighted…all wrapped up in an ooooohhhhhhhh fuuuuuuuucccckkkkkkk ribbon. The ribbon is yellow, by the way, the color of insanity.

Last year the universe shoved me together with mindful, and so mindful returned the favor. All those other words I considered? Funny, they all require effort. Last year I noted that

I want to write AND teach and play flute AND homeschool AND rock as a parent AND have a strong marriage AND be a reliable and loving friend AND have a well-oiled household AND be prepared for the unexpected AND have time for myself.

Requires effort there, Jen.

If I want to write more? Finish my book sometime this lifetime? Effort.
Be more present for my family and friends? Effort.
Have a strong, well-run flute studio? Effort.
Read the books on my ever-growing TBR list? Effort.
Have hobbies that rejuvenate me instead of make me feel guilty? Effort.
Want to finally drop the 45 pounds of unnecessary weight you’ve been hauling around? Effort…ain’t gonna happen because you’re a nice person and shit.

As I looked around, I realized that every single thing I feel guilty about, everything that nags at the back of my mind, everything that causes me to be angry at myself…is because I haven’t put effort into it. I know that a great part of that is because I am so worried about overextending myself again. I’m really, really good at doing that. But after the chronic fatigue syndrome diagnosis last spring I just backed off of everything. My challenge this year will be to put more effort into my life without knocking myself into exhaustion again, for the umpteenth time. And while a lot of people may argue against me on this, I’m inherently lazy.

So as I trusted the universe last year when I was thrown into an arranged marriage with mindful, I will trust last year’s word that effort is the right word for 2016. I’m certain there will be days when I overdo it, or when I lose my shit trying to balance it all, but I’ll figure it out. Mindful isn’t going anywhere; just like strong is still with me after five years it will still guide me through the days. I’ll just need to be mindful of my energies and limits as I put more effort into the awesomeness that is my life. I can do this.

And I will.

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