A few years ago, a woman whom I respect and admire, shared with me a tradition that she has developed.
At the start of each new year, she spends time reflecting upon her life and the year gone by. She thinks about the coming year, and the challenges and joys it may bring her.
When she has spent time in reflection, she chooses a word for the year ahead.
This really resonated with me, so I adopted the tradition as well. Now my husband and sometimes various children join in.
I Like to Think It Acts Like a Coat Hanger for the Year Ahead
Odd imagery I know, but I like it.
The word keeps my year hanging straight with some sense of direction. The word only becomes meaningful though, if I take it off the coat hanger and put it on from time to time and dance about in it to see how it fits.
Or other times, I am afraid to say, I wade on hands and knees through the mud pools of life, trying to remember this is who I am. This is who I will be. I would like to think the word will also keep me wrinkle free, but that is true wishful thinking if my mirror and my forehead is anything to go by.
My Word for 2016 Has Been Brave
I know it seems odd, that my first post is about a word that I chose almost a year ago.
And you’re right, it is a little strange. But as Christmas and the New Year draw ever closer, I have been doing an internal stock take of the year so far.
I wish I could tell you that I spent the year white water rafting, traipsing through the Amazon, and picketing injustice all over the world, but ‘brave’ hasn’t looked like that for me.
Bravery has looked more like being honest with myself, learning to communicate more openly about what I am thinking and feeling, and trying to live more authentically.
To be honest, I sometimes think facing lions might have been an easier manifestation of brave.
Brené Brown in her book ‘I Thought it was Just Me; Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame’, talks about courage in this way;
Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognise the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences – good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as “ordinary courage.”
2016 has been about speaking my mind, by telling my heart.
In doing this, people haven’t always liked what I have had to say. While I have always tried to be kind and graceful, in telling my heart, it has sometimes cost me acquaintances.
Not everyone finds truth and authenticity easy to deal with, even when it is done in love with respect.
Not everyone wants those kinds of relationships. But that is okay. Because at the end of the day, I would rather be surrounded by fewer people who love me warts and all, than many who would rather not know about my blemishes.
It has been an interesting year. In some ways it has been a year of undoing, and rebuilding, as I try to figure out what is in my heart, so that I can be brave (or have courage) about what lies within.
As 2016 heads into silly season, and we all get busy, with the celebrations that lie ahead, I wonder…
Could I Invite You to Join Me?
To begin thinking about what 2017 might look like for you? To begin pondering and thinking, praying or meditating about the year that lies ahead.
Is there is a word that will act as your coat hanger in 2017?
It will be so much more fun to share the journey with others.
I do hope you’ll join me in finding a coat hanger word for your coming year.