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!

2020 Year In Review / 2021 Word of the Year

Once again a year has come and gone at a pace that seems to increase the older I get. For 2020 though, there were plenty of reasons; and many of them were not good. My intention to choose a word of the year for 2020 was lost in the churn.   

An inevitable journey we will all one day make, set its course for my mom during the summer of 2019 and came to its natural end in March just as a worldwide pandemic was gaining strength. My 2019 word, Persistent, aided me throughout the year in several areas, pushing me forward through tough days that increased in number and speed through the end of the year and well into the next. The lessons that I have learned in my continuous effort to master 2018’s word, Balance, came in handy on numerous occasions, as I struggled to juggle my personal and professional life while maintaining households in two states.

For 2020, the best word to describe the year for me and most likely many others is not something that could’ve been foretold. It’s not one that envelops a guiding power, but one that contains a life lesson that we all will participate in, most likely, in one form or another, many times during the course of our lives.  It is one that is clearly seen in hindsight and embodies so many aspects of life in general, but especially so for me in 2020.  My 2020 word of the year is CULMINATE.  

It is a reminder to me of the natural rhythm of things – the ebb and flow, peaks and valleys, beginnings and endings of all journeys we take in life. It serves as an opportunity to reflect, or refresh before continuing on, hopefully more mindful that nothing stays forever so we must live in the moment, use our time wisely and appreciate the here and now, because it’s all we have.

2020 drastically changed life as we all knew it when the COVID-19 pandemic gained a grip on the world and did not let go.  Here in the US, we are still struggling, more than most, to regain some control, and return to life that more closely resembles life before the pandemic. We find ourselves deeply divided as a country, trying to find a way to hold ourselves back from the edge of ruin, dangerously disagreeing about the course our country should take, and reeling from the staggering loss of life in one year, that has now surpassed the US loss of life in the entire time span of the Vietnam war or World War I. 

The outlook was bleak then, as it has been for a while. But I have hope. 2020 has left me exhausted, bruised, and battered, but I believe that better days are coming. I choose to believe that 2020 was the culmination of many systemic, and underlying issues that were left to fester, untreated too long.  Many of these issues have been exposed now and can no longer be ignored. We must begin the work to address them and help them heal. My hope is that 2021 will be a year for new hope and healing. My 2021 Word of the Year is RENEWAL.