2021 Year In Review / 2022 Word of the Year

Happy New Year!

I have really struggled this year in writing this post, not because I had trouble with choosing a word – this year that was the easiest part of this process.  The difficult part is writing a post that recaps last year without underpinning it with the politics and the continued divisiveness of this country which has managed to seep into just about every aspect of our daily lives, including the staggering loss of life from a pandemic that unfortunately and wrongly has also been politicized.  I don’t want to give any more oxygen to the negative churn that grips us and continues to divide us. I’m tired. I’m frustrated. I’m sad. I’m angry.

My purpose for having a word of the year is that it serves as a touchstone, a talisman or guiding light for the new year.   It’s meant to promote positive qualities such as growth, learning, healing, strength, courage and hope.  As I read these last words back, I realize that the scope of this exercise has changed and expanded over the years.  In 2015 when I began choosing a yearly word to guide me, my goals were simple and much more personal. My first word, EMERGENT was chosen to help guide me as I began a journey of growth both personally and in my writing. RESILIENT, DEVELOPMENT, BALANCE were all chosen to continue and sustain that journey as well as to provide new goals to work towards.

The words that I have chosen for the last couple of years have expanded beyond that original intention and encompassed what was directly happening in my life as well as the world around me.

CULMINATE was a reminder of the nature of most things we encounter in life – to recognize a high point, there must be a lower point. To have a crescendo there must be a quieter time. Understanding and accepting the ups and downs and up again and down and so on, knowing that each event will have a beginning and an ending. This is the flow to most things in life.

RENEWAL was an ambitious choice for last year. It was hopeful, and I realize now a bit unrealistic. I chose it because at the time I felt battered and bruised by the events in my personal life as well as in the world around me.  My hope was that 2021 would bring rejuvenation, and a restoration back to some sense of normalcy. On some levels it has. My mistake was underestimating the time involved to complete such monumental changes. When I think of renewal in terms of some of its synonyms – restoration, recharging, replenish, rejuvenating, revival, rebirth, I realize that these are all processes that take time, work, patience, diligence and sometimes pain as we strip away the old layers to expose the new growth beneath. Progress is slow and the changes hard to see from a day-to-day perspective. It’s only when I stop and look back at where we began, that I can see change and growth and that is encouraging. I can see that my own healing has begun too.

So, like the previous words BALANCE, RESILIENT, PERSISTENT that I have carried forward through the years, I will carry RENEWAL with me into this new year as well, and continue to work towards it.  I will shore it up with the word and talisman I have chosen for 2022.  My hope is that this word is also taken up by anyone that needs its strength.  My WORD of the YEAR for 2022 is FORTITUDE.  May it serve us well!