Posted in Faith, Word of the Year

Choose Your Word of the Year 2019 (helpful reminders and simple steps)…Find Out Mine

A “Word of the Year” is intended to be a kind guide that walks along side of you during the year, not a harsh master that dictates a set of “to-do’s” (God knows we don’t need any more of those voices in our heads).  It’s a friend that accompanies you during your journey.  (The Dolly Mama)

When I was a young girl, I had the New Year’s resolution every year of reading through the Bible.  On January 1, I would read 40 chapters of the book of Genesis and then by January 8, I would be on Genesis chapter 43.  I’ve made that same resolution about 20 more times at points in my life and guess what, I have never read through the whole Bible no matter what I’ve tried.  It’s been the same for me with exercise plans, diets, organizational goals, etc.  You know what I mean.  You feel the same pain.  Bottom line.  Resolutions don’t work.

On the flip side, I’m all about HOPE.  I love a fresh start.  A new day.  A new week.  A new month.  And especially a NEW YEAR.  Hope is what “rocks my socks.”  And God knows this about us.  That’s why we have fresh starts every morning, even every moment.  I don’t know what I would do without the place where I can begin again, take a first step toward change, growth and healing, and then come to that same redemptive position again and again.  HOPE.

Hope, my first Word of the Year (hereafter known as WOTY) in 2015, is the main reason why I opted to throw away all New Year’s resolutions and choose a WOTY.  I need hope.  Hope is an inner, gracious guide that allows room for us to change and grow.  Resolutions are harsh external masters that heap shame on us when we “fail” to keep them.  Here’s why:

  • A resolution concentrates on “DOING.”  A WOTY values “BEING.”
  • A resolution instructs.  A WOTY inspires.
  • A resolution is mandatory (“work out three days a week”).  A WOTY allows for room to go at your own pace (taking the next baby step).
  • A resolution is limited in possibility (“lose 10 pounds”).  A WOTY is expansive and limitless.
  • A resolution can be “broken.”  A WOTY cannot (it is a gentle friend).

I am so thankful that my husband stumbled upon the idea.  It has been life-changing as we approach the end of an old year and the beginning of a new one.

If you’ve never done this, it’s a lot of fun.  While you hopefully have some “time off” from your regular duties (unless you are a mom, of course), today or tomorrow might be a good day to spend the time.  Or any time in the next couple of weeks.  I know people who spend an hour (me) and some who spend a weekend (Allen).  (Click HERE to understand why that’s the case.)  It’s not a race.  It doesn’t matter when.  But it might matter if.  It might seem overwhelming.  It’s not.  It’s just fun.   Give yourself the treat.

Helpful reminders:

  • Concentrate on who you want to BE(come) this year, not what you want to get done.
  • Be true to yourself.  You want your  word to represent your unique needs and desires.
  • Remind yourself that it doesn’t have to be perfect. This isn’t traditional goal-setting.  This is grace-filled friendship-making. There is plenty of room to change your mind.
  • It’s intended to be a kind guide that walks along side of you during the year, not a harsh master that dictates a set of “to-do’s” (God knows we don’t need any more of those voices in our heads…I call that “shoulding” all over yourself).  It’s a friend that accompanies you during your journey.

Simple steps:

  1.  Ask yourself a simple question:  What do you need?  Many times, we concentrate on improving ourselves instead of being kind to ourselves.  This is a huge starting place.  Don’t skip this step.  Write down all the random things that come to your mind.
  2. The next question can be (after you haven’t skipped the first one) who do you want to be(come)?  Write down a few of the most important things that jump into your head.
  3. Make a list of words that come to mind.  Write as many as you want.  It can be a noun, verb or adjective.  If you need help, click on this printable alphabetical list I put together for you for some ideas. ( Word of the Year Ideas)
  4. Cross out the words that don’t work for you.  Narrow your list down to at the most 10 words.
  5. Check out the definition of each of the words, its origin, synonyms and antonyms.  You might just be surprised at what you find out!
  6. Give yourself some time to process the list.  Allow yourself to “try each one on for size.”
  7. Take a deep breath and choose your word.  Take a few minutes to write your thoughts about how you hope it might play out in different areas of your life and relationships.
  8. Write your word down on something and post it on your mirror, your car, your computer, wherever you will see it every day.  You can even buy a customizable bracelet by clicking HERE (I don’t get anything from this.  Just thought it was a cool idea.)  I found a picture and put it as the background of my computer (it will feel weird to change it out).  Look at it each morning and remind yourself about this friend who is with you today.
  9. Give yourself permission to change your mind.  If you want to, take the time to reflect and re-evaluate your word at any point in the year.  I did that at the three-month (click HERE) and six-month marks (click HERE) during 2018.

An Update From Yours Truly:

My WOTY for 2018 was “tend.”  This friend is not something I want to give up.  I love her.  She’s been a kind, yet forceful voice in my life, the best of the best.  I have a long way to go in this friendship with “tend.”  The good news (light-bulb moment just now) is that just because I make a new friend does not mean I have to give up my old one.  “Tend” can come along with me into 2019 and who knows, maybe my new word will stand hand-in-hand with her.  When I think about all my WOTYs since I’ve started, it makes for one wonderful Dolly Mama posse (HOPE, BECOME, DEPTH, and TEND).   That makes me super happy.

Now, that I’ve welcomed them all, I would like to invite another new friend into my life for 2019:  my Word of the Year is SHALOM!

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SHALOM means the “presence of true human flourishing in all areas – social, emotional, physical, mental and spiritual.”  I want to make decisions for myself with this friend as my guide.  I am really excited about what she will bring into my life.

I pray today that you would consider joining me on this journey.  May your Word of the Year provide the Shalom that you need!


Would love to know your Word of the Year once you’ve chosen it.  Write it in the comments section (if you remember to come back here after you’ve done the process) or even more fun, a comment on Facebook or Instagram!  I like those more!

 

Posted in Friendship, Grief

Grief – One Friend’s Journal Entry (For Steven)

“True love between two human beings puts you more in touch with your deepest self.  The pain you experience from the death of the person you love calls you to a deeper knowledge of God’s love.  The God who lives in you can speak to the God in the other.  This is deep speaking to deep, a mutuality in the heart of God, who embraces both of you.”  (Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love)

Grief.  Most of us try our very hardest to shy away, or even run away from it.  We question what to say when someone is grieving.  We are unsure how often or even if to “bring it up” once life supposedly goes “back to normal.”  We don’t know what to expect from ourselves or what the other might need from us.  Should we come close or give the other space?  It can be a very confusing time for everyone.  And truthfully, if I can speak candidly about myself,  I don’t like to be in pain or be with others in pain.  It’s just downright uncomfortable.

The past couple of years have been filled with family and friends who are grieving.   And like most things in my life, I am not an avoider.  I want to throw myself headlong into the process, engage in it, learn from it, deal with it.  After all, it’s fairly new to me and I’ve heard that it’s horrible, sacred, beautiful intimate, and gut-wrenching all at the same time.

I lost my own sister-in-law, Denise Maret, just under a year ago, after a year-and-a-half long battle with colon cancer.  My brother and 19-year-old niece are left to raise my nine- and ten-year-old nephew and niece, along with the help of their grandparents.

My friend lost her precious brother to suicide.  He has left behind a wife, three children and two grandchildren and her heart is broken.

Our friend and former babysitter lost both her dad and her husband to cancer during her two pregnancies and she is left to raise two young children alone.

I reconnected with someone on Facebook who lost her only son to teen suicide.  This was the second time she lost a child, the other, a daughter, in early infancy.

A friend from church battled kidney cancer for many years.  His wife faithfully cared for him, only to lose him.  He missed his step-daughter’s wedding by only three short months.

One of my best friends from high school lost both of her daughters, her only children, in a tragic car accident on Good Friday.  They were only 19 and 20 years old, absolutely stunning girls, one only 10 days away from her college graduation.

You have your own stories.  So much horror.  So much sadness.  Grief multiplied.

This is probably where you want to click off, log out, go find puppy videos on the internet.  Me too.  At times.  But not today.  Come with me.  Lean in.  Learn along side of me.  Today, we will catch just a glimpse inside the world of my friend, Annie, who lost her baby brother to suicide at just 51 years old.  I promise you that it’s not all horrible.

When she first shared this journal entry with me, my heart was filled with horror, joy, sorrow, connection, injustice and comfort.  Yes.  All of those things.   Loss feels raw and sad and terrible and wrong, but also sacred and beautiful and precious.  Entering in to the pain allows our hearts to be touched with a deeper knowing and beauty that we will miss if we click away.  I ask that you would read on.

Annie’s Journal Entry on 6/17/2017.  Four months later.

Steven is gone.  He is gone.  He is gone from me.  How can this be?  How can he be gone, just gone?  I don’t feel disconnected from him . . . but definitely disengaged.  He is not here to hope, or dream, or plan for a future together.  All those things are gone.

My connection to a future here that includes him is gone, and nothing will take its place.  It is an empty space…and it will stay empty.  It is a space that holds his absence and my missing him.  My own future will always hold this empty space.  I am suffering.  I will suffer, but I will not be destroyed or left desolate by an empty space.

This empty space where Steven is missing is a sacred place.  I would rather have this sacred, empty space than no space at all.  Our love and connection to each other created a space for our future together.  If there had been no love and connection, there would be no space – – and I am thankful for it, for our empty space . . . for my empty space.

I am thankful for all the other spaces, the other spaces that are full – – beautiful, cherished spaces filled to bursting with love and life and memories.  Memories of the two of us.  All the precious moments we had together and apart-but-connected.  All the treasured memories we had together with others.  Those spaces are filled up and will stay full . . .
nothing will change that.

I don’t have you with me now my Steve, my beloved Steven, but I am forever grateful for you – my one time little brother, my forever friend.

Posted in Anxiety, Faith, Health

Not the Boss of Me!

“I will not be mastered by anything.”  (The Bible)

Fitness trackers are the latest things in the exercise world.  Promises of helping you become more active, eat and sleep better and ultimately, turn you into a healthier human being abound.  I bought into this promise about two and a half years ago.

Dosed with excitement because a friend was using a FitBit, I ordered one immediately, very excited to get my 10,000 steps and track my sleep.  At first, it served me well.  I was paying attention to my activity level and exercise, walking more, going to bed earlier and becoming what I hoped was a healthier person.

Very quickly, however, this servant “became the boss of me.”  I found myself leaving family at Thanksgiving evening and going out alone at 9:00 pm in the chilly darkness to get my 10,000 steps.   At 11:50 pm one night, I began running in place just to eek out those last 300 steps, missing the mark by just a few as the clock struck midnight.  I became obsessed.

It worsened when I bought my husband one for his birthday and found there was also a “community” I could invite friends to.  Now, I had others to compete with, especially the man I shared my home with.  I spent my days keeping track of and trying to beat those who walked miles and miles a day.   I became a lunatic about “keeping up” with the person who had the most steps.

The day I realized that it was no longer serving me, but had become my master, was a light-bulb and life-giving moment.  It wasn’t just about FitBits, but about life.  I recalled a quote by John Seymour, “Emotions are excellent servants, but tyrannical masters.”  I realized it wasn’t limited to emotions.  It wasn’t limited to FitBits.  Most things in life make great servants, but terrible masters.  Here’s a taste:

(Aside: my FitBit just buzzed to remind me to get off my behind and get moving…WOW)

  • Emotions

Anger, fear, sadness and happiness are all great servants.  Anger causes us to act for justice and right the wrong in the world.  Fear prevents us from doing things that would harm us or warns of impending trouble.  Sadness helps us process through loss and heartache.  Happiness invites celebration of blessings.  However, each one is a terrible master.  Rage causes both physical and emotional harm.  Anxiety cripples.  Depression paralyzes.  The pursuit of happiness at all costs can destroy.

  • Money

Much good comes from making and using money.  We care for ourselves and our families and even provide for the poor.  However, money as a master can be all-consuming, with the result many times being workaholism and even soul-wrecking addictions.

  • Power

Many of us exercise power in our worlds.  We influence the next generation, bring people together for a cause and lead others to a better place.  However, the thirst for power produces dictators at every level, and even, at its worst, war.

These are just a glimpse.  What about food, shopping, phones, medicine, exercise, just to name a few? And in the end, something as simple as my FitBit.

I am certainly not opposed to my FitBit.  In fact, it’s one of the things I love (see What I Love and Don’t) and if you click here, you will be brought to Amazon to find out more about the one I wear.  It sits proudly on my wrist and some days I do better than others allowing it to be the boss of me.  The problem doesn’t lie in the technology.  It resides in me.

When I sense the “take over,” as I like to call it, the simple questions I ask of myself are “Who is the boss?  Is this my servant or am I the one in chains? Who is serving whom?”  The immediate answer in my heart tells me all that I need to know and I am reminded of the great and loving Master who never makes me a slave, but calls me a friend and a daughter.

Now I will ask you.  What might be something in your life that started as a really wonderful servant, but now may have become your tyrannical master?   Feel free to comment below, just hold it in your private place or maybe share with a trusted friend.  Lastly, and as always, please share and subscribe below so that you don’t miss out.