Word of the Year for 2011

As I wrote about yesterday, I have begun choosing a word for the year rather than deal with resolutions that would fall flat quickly.

Choosing a word for the coming year proved a bit more difficult for me than in the past. I have a baby due near the end of January which makes it hard for me to envision exactly what my year will look like.

Obviously there will be a new little loved one in my happy little family and I know it will impact our daily lives dramatically, but it’s hard to fathom what that means until it actually happens. So when it came time to start looking ahead for what I want in 2011, I was having trouble pinning it down.

While on the phone with a very dear friend last week, I mentioned my word of the year conundrum and said I may just carry “shine” with me from this year right on through to next year, but that I didn’t feel it was quite right.

Let me say here that there is absolutely nothing that can take the place of a friend who thoroughly understands you and can help light the way when you’re lost. And my friend did just that.

As I talked to her about my need to prepare myself for new motherhood, being able to care for my family and also make sure I don’t lose myself along the way, she suggested the word she saw for me: “nurture.”

I thought about it. I rolled it around on my tongue a little. I let my imagination conjure images and definitions. The more I thought about the word “nurture,” the more I felt both at peace and energized by its possibilities.

So I’m going with it. Because this year I want to nurture my little baby boy when he gets here. I want to continue to nurture my husband and my stepson. Equally important, I want to nurture myself, my desires, my creativity, my quiet time. I want to continue writing because that’s where I get my focus and my drive.

The dictionary defines “nurture” as follows…

  1. to feed and protect: to nurture one’s offspring.
  2. to support and encourage, as during the period of training or development; foster: to nurture promising musicians.
  3. to bring up; train; educate.

It’s the second definition that really hits home for me: “to support and encourage.” That’s what I want to do for myself, my family, my friends, my acquaintances, and my home in 2011.

What will you choose for your word of the year?

Word of the Year: 2010 Recap

For the past couple of years, I have chosen a word for the year. Where a lot of people make resolutions and often drop them before the end of January, a word brings about a different kind of awareness.

I learned of the idea from Christine Kane’s blog. The idea is to bring more awareness into your life about how you are living and how you want to grow. Rather than say “I will exercise more” and then beat yourself up for not doing that, you choose a word that embodies whatever it is you want more of in the coming year. It could be anything: ease, creativity, self-love, laughter, or clarity, for example. Then throughout the year you hold onto your word and, hopefully, realize that over time you are seeing a shift in your life.

In 2009, I chose the word “focus” to help myself break some nervous habits and to teach myself to devote my attention to the task at hand and not get distracted.

As that year came to a close, I started mulling over new words for 2010 and settled on “release” after being frustrated with an overflowing dresser drawer. What started off with me gathering things around the house for donation turned into me dropping things (quite literally releasing objects repeatedly) and, while still in January, I lost both my dog and my grandpa.

At that point in time I decided I wasn’t ready for “release.” It was too much too fast and I began to think about changing words.

I decided instead to go with “shine.” This stemmed from a song my grandma and I used to sing when I was little: “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.” It felt like it was time to let myself be me without apology, without trying to fulfill anyone else’s expectations- just to truly shine in myself.

To a certain extent I think I’ve done that. I spent this year getting to know myself better and letting my true self come out for others to see. It has been an important step in my personal growth.

Now I’m looking forward to 2011 and what I want for the coming year. I have a new word for the new year which I will share with you tomorrow.

In the meantime, did you choose a word this year? If so, what came out of it? You can read what happened for others at Christine’s blog.

Christmas Eve

It’s Christmas Eve, which to me brings one of the most magical nights of the year. Friends, feasting, and a reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas are on our agenda this evening. I hope that this day brings you magic as well.

In the words of SheDaisy in one of their Christmas songs, “the secret of Christmas is not the things you do at Christmas time, but the Christmas things you do all year through.” I wish for us all to remember that now and in the coming year.

May your holiday be warm, merry, and bright.

Wishcasting: Winter Wish

Wishcasting

Wishcasting badgeIt’s Wishcasting Wednesday so the gorgeous soul Jamie Ridler is inviting us to cast our wishes and support others’ wishes. Today Jamie asks, “What is your winter wish?”

This one didn’t take me long actually. With my baby son due near the end of January, I wish for a smooth final month of pregnancy, an easy delivery, and a graceful entrance to motherhood. I wish to embrace our new addition, to continue to support and be supported by my husband and stepson, and to ensure I remember to make time for myself.

What is your winter wish?

Thankful

While wishing it also seems appropriate to take a minute to reflect on what I am thankful for. Today I am thankful for the cheerfulness of Christmas decorations. For lights and trees and stockings and garland and wreaths. I am thankful for the time I will get to spend with my husband and stepson in the coming week and I am thankful to be fortunate enough to have my current big decision be what we will eat on Christmas day. We are truly blessed.

Experiment: Will Anyone Get Up for a Pregnant Woman?

I was at the mall this weekend finishing up a little Christmas shopping. My husband and stepson were there also and we split up for a bit because my stepson wanted to shop for me. (So sweet and thoughtful!) We made arrangements to meet up in front of a particular store an hour later, which worked out nicely because there was a row of three couches there.

I got to our meeting spot about 10 minutes early, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to rest my feet. After all, I’m now eight months into this pregnancy and carrying around much more weight than I’m used to. When I got there, however, all of the seats were full.

Now I’m not the type to ask people to get up and I was content to stand while I waited, but I also thought it would be a good opportunity to run a little experiment to see if anyone would offer up a seat to the pregnant woman.

I positioned myself at the end of the row where most everyone sitting would be able to see me and I set my bags on the ground. I should add that I was wearing leggings and a fitted sweater, so unless someone thinks I actually swallowed a basketball, it is very obvious that I am very pregnant.

Let’s also consider that this is Christmas time, generally a time of year when people may be feeling more generous.

So what do you think happened?

Did any of the four men occupying one couch get up? No. A few of them made eye contact, but that was it.

Did any of the women occupying another couch get up? No. Some of them didn’t notice me at all, though one made eye contact and looked away.

But here’s the kicker… did the woman closest to me, who had her packages on the couch next to her offer to move her packages so I could sit? No.

Seriously.

Honestly, I was surprised, especially when it comes to the woman who took up seating with her shopping bags. How sad that courtesy and compassion has sunk this low, particularly at a time of cheer.

After 5 or 6 minutes, someone got up to leave and I took their seat. Incidentally, it happened to be the seat on the other side of the shopping bags. And yes, I smiled at the woman across her shopping bags. Not a nasty, sneering smile, but a genuine smile. And I felt really good about it.

Now let me restore your faith in humanity a little bit. After meeting back up with my husband and stepson, we went to Brookstone where between my belly, the bags I was carrying, and the mass of people in the store, I found it difficult to maneuver the small aisles, so I found a somewhat out of the way spot to stand while my men went to browse.

I was standing there for probably two minutes when a Brookstone employee came over and asked if I’d like to sit in the massage chair. She explained that we couldn’t run the chair since I’m pregnant, but she welcomed me to rest as long as I would like.

Maybe kindness isn’t dead yet.

What do you think? Have you experienced or witnessed any seat offerings for pregnant women, the elderly, or otherwise?

Small Wins and Yummy Treats

I just made Rice Krispy treats for the first time ever. Seriously.

It’s probably one of the most cliche desserts and the commercials always spoke of how easy it is to make them. So why have I never made them? I was afraid of working with gooey sticky melty marshmallows. I couldn’t envision that going well.

And yet today, I felt compelled to brave the Rice Krispy treat. I survived melting marshmallows, survived pressing sticky treats into a pan, and they are now cooling in the refrigerator.

Hopefully they’ll be delicious. I’m still scared to cut them. Haha!

What silly little fear can you tackle this weekend?

Pause Before Reacting

I’ve been reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, which follows her journey through a year of trying various happiness resolutions.

The biggest lesson I’m getting from the book isn’t necessarily her particular resolutions, rather it is to stop and think before reacting in a situation.

Throughout the book Gretchen gives some examples of irritating moments in daily family life.Like when her kids are bickering or when she or her husband are in a bad mood. You know those times.

What I’ve found intriguing is that due to her happiness project, she was sometimes able to pause in that moment before reacting to look at things from a different point of view, then react more creatively.

It’s easy to yell or join the bickering or get defensive or say something resolutely to the moody party like, “then just fix it.” In her moments of pause, however, Gretchen had the presence of mind to realize how she would normally react and realize that such a reaction may not solve the problem or may even add more stress to the situation.

For example, when she found her two daughters arguing and crying, she marched to their room and almost told them to “knock it off” or some other such parentism. But she didn’t. She stood in the doorway, realized that probably wouldn’t actually make them stop, and instead said something like, “Crying always makes me thirsty. I’m going to get you girls some water.” Soon they were all in the kitchen drinking water and Gretchen even got her girls to laugh.

Wow.

So that’s the sort of mindfulness I’m trying to bring into my own life now. When I feel a gut reaction rising, I’m pausing (when I remember to) to ask myself if whatever I was about to say will actually help the situation. If the answer is no, I’m taking another minute to get creative with my responses.

When my husband gets yet another work call on a night or weekend, rather than what has become my standard reaction (a huff or rolling my eyes or asking, “seriously?”), I’m trying to be more mindful of the fact that he’s just as irritated about the interruption as I am. It doesn’t help to have me adding my annoyance to the situation. Instead, I try to give him a sympathetic look as if to say, “I know it stinks that you are stuck working during free time.”

Or like yesterday, when my stepson came home from school hyper and without saying hello told me he was going to a friend’s house, my gut reaction was to say something like, “Not even a hello? Just ‘you’re going to so-and-so’s house? You didn’t ask our permission. What other homework to you have? What about chores?”

Instead, I paused. I realized a stream of questions and parentisms wasn’t going to make for a lighter mood. I also realized that my stepson often says he has plans that turn out not to go through and this might just be another kids-talked-at-school-but-didn’t-run-it-by-parents-yet situation.

Having that moment really helped. From there we had a discussion about the school project for which he is partnered with the aforementioned friend and what they need to accomplish together. We talked about the good grade he got on a quiz and we discussed what homework he had. I asked him if his friend had spoken to his mother yet, to which the answer was no. So I sent him on his way to carry about his afternoon and asked him to get back to me when he had talked to his friend and to please let me know what time he would want me to drive him over and what time he needed to be picked up.

No bickering. No struggle. And you know what? The plans never materialized, so had I gotten worked about it in the beginning, it would have all been for naught anyway.

That Gretchen sure is onto something.

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