Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Words for this New Year

I have a thing for words.

And it makes sense that I do. I’m a writer by trade, and an avid reader by choice. Words, then, are part of what I do and what I am.

Words soothe me, speak to me, and make me sigh. They transport, transfix, and transcend. I, for a lack of better words (yeah, I meant to do that), have a thing for them.

Lately, I’ve expanded my love for words from the page and moved it to the walls and shelves of my home. I’ve decided that my interior design of choice revolves not around a certain color, or really awesome pillows, or a preponderance of chickens (which, in the South, is actually considered normal, even “cool”), but around words.

I’ve become a bit of an amateur collector of signs and paintings and knick-knacks with words on them.

There is the standing “Amore” on my fireplace mantel that reminds me of the sweet husband who often sits with me in front of that roaring fire on chilly, winter evenings.

There is the hanging that used to decorate my bathroom wall until the steaming showers buckled the back and destroyed its hanging abilities. I couldn’t throw it away and it now rests on a window sill where its word—“Story”—is now available for everyone (and not just bathroom visitors) to enjoy. It reminds me that we all (each and every one of us) has a story.

There is the “W” which hangs on my den wall. Okay, it’s not actually a word, but the letter is a pretty powerful one for our family; it unites all of us and reminds us that we are The Ws (even my oldest daughter by my first marriage shares a W for her last name).

There is the tin “PRAY” (my best “word” deal of all; $1.49 at my local Hobby Lobby) that hangs behind a sitting chair in my living room. Whenever I sit in that chair, or in any other spot in that room, I see the short word and it reminds me that prayer is available to me right there at that moment, in whatever circumstances I find myself.

There are the three individual white block letters, “J,” “O,” and “Y” that I painted one Christmas years ago to use as a prop for a holiday family photograph. The picture turned out just like I wanted to, but instead of packing up the letters once Christmas was over, I kept them out throughout the next year. I love seeing the word “Joy” on my bookshelf everyday; it reminds me of what I continue to learn as I grow older every day: Joy—in the big, in the small; in the grand, in the simple—is really key to living fully.

Other words pop up throughout the house—“Dream” and “Wine” and “Sydney” and “Roll Tide,” and “Live, Laugh, Love,” and “Welcome”—in prominent places, on display so that I can be reminded of what’s really important (see how I got in college football as a priority?).

With the new year upon us, I’ve heard of many people doing a little twist on the resolution-thing. Instead of resolving to take certain actions or stop a bad habit, they are instead selecting a word for their upcoming year—a word that epitomizes what they aspire to be, how they want to improve, what they yearn for in the next 365 days.

I love that idea (of course I would), but I’m having a hard time nailing down what word I would want to claim as my own for 2011.

There are many that would be worthy.

Words like Improve. There are so many areas I’d like to improve on in the new year…don’t eat so many donuts, be a more patient mother, be a better pray-er, watch less Netflix at 1 in the morning, don’t judge quite so harshly…that it would be an excellent word to choose.

Or how about Commit? A new year is all about committing to do something (or things) you have fallen behind on doing in the past. In this year, I want to commit to walking two miles a day, avoiding fast food, serving more in my church, querying an editor each day, learning to use coupons. In this year, I want to commit to being a better mother, wife, friend, writer, cook, Christian, human.

Or Learn. I’ve always believed that a key to living a long life is committing yourself to a life of learning. I want, this year (as always), to learn more about stuff…small things (how to drink the right wine with the right cheese), big stuff (what’s really going on out there in the universe), inconsequential things (who sang that song?), vastly important things (how God speaks to me). I want to read more books, learn more words, gather more knowledge, understand more truths.

Or…and I love the way this word rolls off my tongue…Revel. I love people who revel in life. You know those people, right? They can find joy in the small things; a smile is on their face much of the time; they just look like they’re supremely enjoying their walk through this life. I want to be that kind of person, so I think revel is a great word for 2011. I want to revel in the birds, and the snow (you wouldn’t believe how much we’ve gotten in the last week here in Alabama!), and friends, and cake, and family, and books, and music, and church, and trees, and art, and jokes, and places, and people.

So, I’m not sure which word I want to claim as my own this year. Maybe all of those together would work well.

Or maybe I should just choose the word Live.

I once heard a quote that went something like this (I can’t remember the exact wording, and Google didn’t help me find it): “Life is like a canvas. We should throw all the paint on it we can.”

In the grand scheme of things (and in the little scheme of things as well), this what it’s really all about. I want to truly Live. I want to experience this life with meaning and joy. I want to truly live (not just breathe in, breathe out; not just get up and go through the motions; not just sleepwalk; not just manage) every, single day.


KathrynLang said...

Great post - and even better challenge. But what, as a writer myself, I were to choose a word a day that would expand who I am and where I am going and open up new possibilities along the way. That could be the word that drives my post for the day, drives my reading for the day, or just dictates a better attitude along the way. Lots to think about!

Btw - LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the butterfly!

Lynilu said...

Often the single word is the most powerful. I posted about a billboard I saw with the single word, "FORGIVE" filling the whole expanse. It really made me think, especially in light of the recent event in Tucson.

This is a beautiful, thought-provoking post. Nicely done.

hippo chick said...

Wonderful post! I think I want to LOVE more this year. And of course, I love words.

~hippo hugs~

Phats said...

Cool post!
I think mine would be patience :) haha

Maria said...

Excellent post Cheryl. I also had a hard time finding just one word this year! I love all your words!

For me, after thinking it over and over, I I think I decided to focus on "clarity" for 2011 because I tend to be always doing a million things at once and it's time to stop, focus on what matters most, and see things clearly, for what they are. Keep "clarity" of mind and spirit.