A Year in a Word

Starting in 2008 I adopted a tradition of choosing a theme word for my year...the essence of what I intended to create month over month in my heart and life. I have adored this simple practice and treasured it as a way of re-centering and re-focusing throughout the year.

And it's that time again!!

But before I get into this year's word, I want to take a peek back at the words of years past and all the beautiful creations that have spawned from this purposeful practice...

2008 was the year of EXPRESS. This was the year I started my blog (hence the "expressing" myself). I chose the word mid-year after I heard about the concept from my big sister and decided I'd stick to choosing verbs if I could because I loved the implied action that comes from verbs...literally getting MOVING in your life.

I remember feeling all bottled up this year. I had started a great new job the year prior and by all accounts should (there's that word...) have been happy. But I wasn't. I knew I was ignoring my whisper. I knew I needed to get writing and get real with myself. So I chose EXPRESS and thereby gave myself that little permission I needed to be me.

And what did I end up with to show for it? Well, this blog for one.

I also made the leap to have a real conversation with my boss about my role and ended up transitioning into a role that better suited me by year's end. I made an incredible new friend that ended up only being in my life for that season. But when I look back, I smile knowing that she was exactly what I needed at exactly the right time to help me truly embody the spirit of expression I so desperately desired.

2009 followed as the year of HEAL. I could go on and on about this one. I suffered a neck and back injury in 2004 due to one of those stupid why-on-earth-did-I-think-that-was-a-good-idea accidents that leaves you kicking yourself for years to come. And because of it I was plagued with chronic pain which, coupled with the emotional pain of lots of baggage left unchecked, had left a pretty dark spot on my heart.

So I committed to myself that this year would be about addressing those wounds, both physical and emotional, and allowing myself the space I needed to feel them...to acknowledge them...and then to let them go like a ship gently passing on the horizon. And what a year it was!!!!!

A surprise photo for my year of "HEAL" from Lacy on the beaches of sunny California

I was so open to whatever package that healing would come in that this is the year that I'm quite certain the "other side" was doing back handsprings with excitement. This was the year of Michael the Medium...Francis the Healer...Dr. Wong the Miracle Worker...and Kayla the Intuitive. My whole world quite literally transformed this year because of one girl's humble intention to heal her body, heal her heart and her life. Me.

In 2010 I chose ADELANTE.  A Spanish word to match my Spanish dreams! It was my first year to deviate from a verb, but what it lacked in motion it made up for in cultural charm. Adelante translates as forward or ahead. And that's exactly where I wanted to look in 2010....FORWARD! Brian was set to apply for study abroad in Spain that February, and all I could think about was propelling us forward to making that dream a reality.

You all know the rest of that story...he was accepted into the program and we spent the bulk of 2010 preparing for our Spanish sojourn. Among the stress and heartache that comes with being in a career that isn't quite suited for you, I was able to keep my eyes ADELANTE and find the joy in knowing that each day was bringing us closer to our goal. With that mindset, I survived a summer without my husband while he interned in Houston, I took my first vacation ALONE to my beloved Costa Rica, I packed and closed on our house mostly solo, I adopted the go-with-the-flow attitude needed to live in transition, and I gracefully rolled with the punches when a surprise surgery rounded out my year.

Solo vacations = lots of long arm self-portraits  :)

Brave little pin cushion

Turning in my keys on my last day of work Dec 15, 2010

And then the clock struck 2011! And what a year it has been! This year was the year of PROMISE. Promises realized...an adventure full of promise...a reminder to keep the very precious promises I made to myself. And it has turned into so much more.

Arriving in Spain that first day was the most intoxicating "promise-fulfilled" ever. Since the day I left Spanish soil in 2002 I vowed I'd live there again one day. I didn't know when or how, but I knew I'd make it back. And I did. Super. Freaking. Cool.

I had also made a very important promise to myself going into Spain, and I chose my word this past year with that in mind. I promised myself that I would ENJOY EVERY MINUTE of that trip...that I wouldn't feel guilty for not working...and that I'd devote my energy to pure creative bliss...writing when I wanted, sleeping when I felt like, and basically honoring every whim or urge oozing from my beautiful body.

And boy was I tested. I literally spent the first few weeks waking up every morning in a panic that I needed to get to work. Yuck. I was offered a short-term job in Barcelona by our apartment locator that I considered for about 5 minutes before I reminded myself of those very important promises. And when Brian didn't yet have a job back home and we were tempted to worry and potentially ruin our trip with anxiety about the future, I remembered our promise to enjoy this experience in each and every moment.

I think I could devote a book to the promises fulfilled this year. Heck, maybe I will. But for now, the most important essence of this whole year is that I HONORED ME. I said, maybe for the first time, "hey, I'm worth this...I'm worth enjoying these amazing experiences...and by God I'm going to." I am so infinitely thankful for that act of self-love and self-compassion. It led me home to Austin. It guided me to Allison. It introduced me to my new friend coaching. And it has forever changed my life for the better.

So where to go in 2012? This year's word was easy. GROW. Where else is there to go from experiences like those of 2011 but up? This year I'm growing in so many beautiful ways. My body will physically grow with life as this child expands inside me. My family is growing to an exciting three. My perspective is growing with each new coaching client, each new interaction. My heart is growing as I prepare for a love I'm not sure I can even fathom.

And I'm not scared anymore.

There was definitely a time in my life when I didn't even realize it, but I was afraid to grow. That was the same girl who thought she had it all together but also thought she didn't have control issues. Ha.

I'm willing to take the risk this year. I'm willing to take the hurt with the joy. What I learned most poignantly in 2011 is that growth isn't always easy. Losing family members is unexplainable at times. Facing rejection after rejection often doesn't feel "divine." Living in 388 square feet isn't quite the definition of comfy. But it isn't about always having the answer or feeling certain 100% of the time or being comfortable. It's about being open...allowing this Universe to imprint upon you it's beautiful story...and then finding the good even amidst the clutter.

This year I will grow. I will pick myself up from the hurts. I will intensely celebrate the joys. I will welcome the unexpected changes. Like a baby.

Express. Heal. Adelante. Promise. Grow.

I love this magic life.