Wednesday, 16 March 2011

one word

In December, as part of Reverb 10 writing prompts, I attempted to choose a word to hold as my word for 2011. A word to inspire, motivate, push me on, act as my guide on the side, encourage me to expand who I am. And it was hard to choose just one.

So I chose two:



And the two are related to me. The more I simplify - my thoughts, my possessions, my home, my involvements - the greater capacity and time I have to connect with others - my family, friends, earth, self, and God. The more time I have for surprises, spontaneity, and play to enter too. Connecting can take other forms too - like this blog.

I've been reading The Call by Oriah (HarperOne, 2003). In this book, Oriah encourages us to find and embody the one word we are each called to live/teach/be/share with the world. A tall order. But it intrigues me. A quote from the book:
Remember - there is one word you are here to say with your whole being. When it finds you, give your life to it.
She says we should give ourselves completely to this word - or to our struggle with this word. Oriah's word is "rest" - and she finds it VERY hard to do that. She writes:
Living your word means opening the door that fear has closed.
It was hard for me to choose one word for the year, let alone finding one word for my life. What would I choose? Create? Collaborate? Communicate? All things I love to do, so they don't have that "edge" that she refers to. Things that I find hard to do: fail, finish what I've started, resist thrift store deals, clean up around the house, say no to interesting-sounding-projects, act out of courage instead of fear, and rest. But all of those feel a bit heavy to take on as my "word."

Perhaps "voice." For years, I've wondered if I had one. I participated in a 7-month study tour to India, Indonesia, and North American native communities way back when. We studied issues of peace and conflict in the various places we visited. It was truly fascinating and life-changing. One native elder in Canada met with our group near the end of our 7 months together and said, "Sound your voice. You have been given a gift. The gift is not for you to keep to yourselves; it is for the people."

Those words have stayed with me. How often I can think of my life as boring, average, with no words to offer. But I'm beginning to hope that I can offer something. And I know that I love to give voice to others' stories too. So there. Voice. I'll sit with that for awhile and see how it feels as my "life" word.

someone who's not afraid to sound her voice
(or at least her fashion sense)

And you? What words are you embodying for this year? For your life?


  1. The word that first came to me was Light. But as you talked about the edge part of the word I thought my word might be Acceptance. Thank you for this post, Rebecca. It has me in a completely different frame of mind as I consider this more.

  2. Wow! You're quick with picking your words! It took me many days to settle on "voice."

    I think you'd love that book that I mentioned, Melissa. It's an easy read, and has great things to ponder.

  3. My first thought was Forgive. But then I got worried that other people would think that I normally walk around carrying grudges against them, or that I think of myself as a medieval priest dispensing, what were they called? free passes on sins. So then I thought Accept, but Melissa already took that. So now I have it: Let Go. You chose two words, so I should be allowed as well. It makes me feel good already, those words. Let Go. Let Go. or should it be, Let it Go? I'll think about it some more.

  4. Something to think about. Thank you for sharing your 'voice' Rebecca. This entry hit a spot. Especially the word 'simplify' with the photo of the rock stack from Little Glamor Lake (a sacred place full of memories). "The Call" is now on my book list. A book you might enjoy is, "Simplicity Parenting" by Kim Payne (unless you have read this?).

  5. Marcie - I like it. A good mantra. It could be shortened to one word if you'd like - letgo. Or even shorter: lego. As in "leggo my eggo." Just a thought. Are these your year words or your life word?

    Shauna- I can see why Little Glamor lake is a sacred place for you! I've never read that book - I'll look for it. I've read "Living Simply with Children" by Marie Sherlock. It's a good read too.

  6. I wish my word was simplify. I yearn for more simplicity. What a great topic this is. The more I think about it, the more the word keeps coming to mind.. LISTEN. I know I need to sit and listen more to my kids, my husband, my students, my colleagues, my friends, and the living spirit. Every one of these groups of people has something new to teach me about how to strengthen my connection with them. That is what is most important.

  7. Rachel - you too can have two words! But I love that word: listen, and how you describe it. Yes - connections are so important. This is what I realize when I go to funerals. That it's the connections that are mentioned and obvious.

  8. When I began writing my dissertation so many moons ago, one of my professors told me that the greatest challenge of this phase of my education was to find my voice. I was now faced with the task of teaching my teachers. I could not longer simply emulate one of them. This required something entirely different from showing them that I learned what they were teaching me. He said that in becomign both a scholar and a teacher, finding one's own voice is critical. I don't think I've done that yet. Perhaps I'll make that my focus at some point too, but at this point my throat still feels too sore to let my voice mix a couple metaphors. It must be a great feeling to be given/give yourself license to speak up. I think this blog is a great platform for that.

    As far as my word goes, this past year hasn't been easy. I'm afraid the only word I'd really want to choose is too crass to be posted. I'll try to think of one in another language.

  9. as I was posting that comment I was asked to type the word that appeared on the screen. That word was: VANTED. After applying for so many jobs and not feeling very vanted, perhaps I should make that my word, so that I start convincing myself that being vanted is my vord, my identity. Vether or not others recognize it, I'm still vanted in some vay.

  10. Jonathan, I think you found your other language word. Blogger spoke to you! I do think it's good vord to have in front of you, though: vanted. You could even add "Vanted: Alive" - not dead or alive, because you definitely want new life, right? I think it's hard to pick a positive word when things might not be going as we hoped they would... but this one sounds like it could vork! You are definitely wanted and loved.

  11. I haven't been very regular with my blogging! But I have spent some time with the 'word'. When I first thought about it, the word that came to mind was LIVE (the verb, not the adjective). For some time I've felt like God is giving me permission to live; to enjoy life; to put aside Martha and live with Mary for a while. But its been with me for a while and I thought that can't possibly still be my 'word'. Surely there is something else - something more difficult, more meaningful, more active. But as I think about it, what is more meaningful than living life to its fullest and drawing from that the energy to love and care for each other? So I accept the gift of LIVE as my word and will try to let the rest of life flow from it.

  12. Sandy - LIVE is a great word - very active, and very meaningful, and hard to do well at times. I like what you say about Mary/Martha. I can learn from that too.

  13. I've been thinking a lot about my word ever since you posted this Rebecca, and the word that keeps coming back is OPEN. Open mind, open heart, open schedule... Opening my mind to things new and different, opening my heart to loving others and allowing myself to be loved (that post about allowing yourself to shine really struck a chord with me), opening my busy life to time for the important things like butterfly-watching and silly board games with the girls. And I think the word will evolve through my life as I do - open to change :-)

  14. Love the word "open," Mara. I get a picture of a huge funnel opened to the skies, or you standing with your arms raised wide, smiling at the sun on a beautiful Provencal day. Catching light with that open funnel. Too cheesy?

    I thought of the word "open" a lot when I was about to give birth, for obvious reasons. :) But each day/experience can be like a birth - opening to a new experience. Just hopefully doesn't hurt as much.

  15. Okay, Rebecca. I've been mulling this over. Thanks for the brain fuel :)! Here are a few "one word" musings ;).

  16. Pilgrimage: a great word, Leah! I love that a pilgrimage can be, at times, solitary, and at times, communal. And with ups and downs - bumps in the road, bad weather. But always toward a certain spiritual goal. Someday I'd love to do a pilgrimage to certain sacred sites in Europe (and other places too) like the Camino de Santiago. Some day...