It’s a new year, time for a new word. But not just any word. My Word Of The Year (cue fireworks and inspirational music and dancers and please let’s not forget the hula-hooping llamas this year, m’kay?).
For the last several years I’ve chosen a word through which I’d focus my life. 2011 was a miserable horrible bitch of a year and strong got me through it. 2012 was about recovering from the previous twelve months and grateful helped an awful lot. In 2013 I decided enough was enough. For 2014 I was determined to make my story count. Some years the word worked better than others.
I started tinkering around with possible words back in October. For awhile I thought Be was going to be it. And then the universe took a swipe at life and they started rolling around trying to give each other wedgies and wet willies and my attention was otherwise occupied. Next thing I knew it was Christmas and not a clue as to 2015’s word. I figure in the last year words couldn’t get through the daily crap to be heard. Sure as hell has been the case with writing and blogging and thinking and imagining. Thankfully we had the most chill holiday in recent memory and my brain was finally allowed to play around with words; the universe and life had been sent to their rooms, grounded until further notice.
By then Be had lost its luster, and no other words were poking me in the brain. Intention tried but didn’t get very far. For a week or so fierce was a strong contender, but then I realized I was in a really growly mood and that probably wasn’t the best mindset for picking a word. I was urgently journaling (because I often don’t know what I think until I start writing) and Tom was popping the champagne on New Year’s Eve before I finally landed on my word. We’re not sure how well we’re going to get along this year, my word and I, but we’re together for the next dozen months and willing to give it a solid go.
Yeah, mindfulness is all the rage right now. It’s a matter of time before the mindfulness backlash articles join all the gluten free backlash articles and once again I’m mocked for my choices in life.
It’s just…it’s time.
I’ve been unhappy for years. There. I’ve said it. I went back and reread the old blog posts about my words, and nearly all of them mentioned how crappy the year was and how stressed and miserable I’d been and how I planned for the next year to be better. Several years of that shit. And here I am, nine years after starting a blog, still pouring my heart and soul into words on the internet, vowing to ease up on the stress and be content, still bloody miserable as hell. It’s one thing to just think you’ve been stressed and miserable for a long time, it’s another thing entirely to have it in front of you in black and white, in the very words that came from you. Like a time machine of vowels and consonants, poking you in the eye, taunting you with how you haven’t improved and you still suck and why haven’t you figured out how to fucking manage adulthood yet. Nearly J’s entire life. I’ve been struggling and sad and feeling out of control and stressed for nearly his entire life. That’s hard to admit. Has nothing to do with him, and everything to do with me.
I can’t and won’t continue like this. Something has to change. And not just change, but drastically change. So many things have changed over the past few years, things we thought would make everything all better: new job, new house near family, homeschooling, me working, me not working, plans and hopes and dreams and ideas, this and that and the other thing…but none of those made any difference in how I felt. The only constant in all of those changes was me and how stressed and miserable I was. Everywhere you go, there you are. The problem is me. All me. Just me.
So in trying to find a word I was stuck. I needed something that would encourage me to heal myself, to like myself again, to have something resembling inner calm again, so I can go do the stuff I desperately want and need to do. I’m starting to feel that if I center myself, start at ground zero so to say, start with a strong core of resilience, then I can have the wildly varied life I crave. It’s unpredictable and often makes me batshit crazy, but I crave it. 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. I just…I don’t have the energy to do it all. That can be chalked up to unchecked depression and anxiety, an unstable emotional core, and feeling like I have very little control over anything. Also, too often I’m just too tired or overwhelmed or depressed to cope, and things get pushed aside or the importance downplayed (if it’s not important then I don’t care and then I don’t have to hurt that it’s not getting done…oh, HI THERE PERFECTIONISM). I don’t want to live like that anymore. So I was trying to find a word that would help me get to the point of liking myself again, of knowing myself. I’m not this stressed and angry and bitter person I feel I’ve become in the last several years. I don’t want to be that person.
Some of the most authentic and soul-baring writing I’ve done in years, right there.
So the word for 2015 is mindful. It’s not one I came to easily. That word…it’s an arranged marriage. I’m sure by December we’ll have grown to respect and maybe even love each other, but right now we’re just strangers in it for the long haul, sneaking sidelong glances when we think the other isn’t looking. The universe shoved us together saying, “Trust me for once for crissakes,” and so I shall. I don’t know what mindful will look like in my life this year. I’m sure there will be meditation (another thing I’ve been told for the last 20 years to explore), and I’m equally certain there will be no small measure of frustration. Beyond that, not a clue. I do know the last two weeks I’ve had not a single anxiety attack and have moved through my days with calmness and ease. No small accomplishment, given all the chaos here right now.
That is just so beautiful and honest and heartfelt, Jen. Incredibly touching. Here’s to a wonderful, calm and fulfilling year for you! Hugs to you, my friend <3
It WILL be a wonderful, calm, and fulfilling year. The first two weeks have been fantastic.
I needed to hear this too. Thanks Jen.
Last year my theme was gratitude–something that was very hard to do during the. worst. year. This year it’s forgiveness (of myself) for being imperfect. Last year I diligently practiced German and wrote down something I was grateful for every day. This year, I want to keep those habits (and I made them habits)–but if I slip? Meh. No big deal.
Wishing you a very peaceful, mindful 2015. At least your annual exam’s over? 🙂
Snerk…yes, at least the exam is over. That was one of my last 2014 to-dos.
I love the honesty in this post, and I hope 2015 is unlike all the rest in recent memory.
2015 will stand atop the previous years and (with great kindness, of course) laugh at them.
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Laughing with kindness 🙂 I love it!
Girl. Welcome to the jungle. I’ve been fighting these same feelings and frustrations for years. Prozac has been my friend in many regards, but alas, the negatives keep knocking at my door. I have a 13 year old daughter that is starting to exhibit signs of severe anxiety (smart, involved, perfectionist 13 year old daughter- you can relate, no?). I’ve decided that meditation needs to be started in ernest and then taught to my girly. I did it when my youngest was super young, like had no siblings young, god. Sigh. That was a long time ago. And I remember the clearheadedness. The ability to just pause, breathe, and move on through the day. I miss that. I miss the being centered. So here’s to Google-ing meditation, mindfulness, and calm… then actually putting that knowledge into practice.
I can’t wait to hear stories of the new house. I have to say, an office in a loft by yourself seems positively luxurious. Much mindfullness and power to you, love!
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We definitely need to get together this summer for a drink. We share so much and I am also getting to the end of a very long rope. We now live in Chicago. Email me. We will figure it out.
Hope you’re doing ok hon. I’d love to get together, but at this point everything is on hold until summer so I can figure out why I’m so tired all the time and deal with that.
Have them test for Epstein Barr. It is the virus that causes Mononucleosis. It can also trigger Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
I’ve had mono twice; once in 1992 and again in 1997. I don’t doubt that has something to do with it.
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