Monday, January 10, 2011

A Word Of Greeting For 2011

Welcome back, Violets!! I hope you had a lovely holiday, full of peace, joy, and quiet! No? Neither did I. Well the joy part, yes. The peace and quiet not so much. In fact, On Christmas Day as we were headed off for the second big family gathering in 24 hours, we decided that we would designate Dec. 26 as the LaFevers’ Official Cone of Silence Day. It was awesome! We were all at home, engaged in individual pursuits, yet we would connect briefly throughout the day, but without a whole lot of talking. It was a much needed balm to all our introverted souls, and we plan to make it a permanent part of our family tradition.

With my deadline met and the holidays behind me, I have been filled with a white hot rush of all the things I can’t wait to talk about here on Shrinking Violets. I am struck again by how very bi-social I am: an extreme introvert when in my writing cave, but when I come out, almost extrovert-like in my desire to catch up on all the people and connections I’ve missed. Almost like a squirrel storing up nuts for the winter, I immerse myself in these social interactions until it’s time to go back to the writing cave. This year I want to learn to accept that and work with it more rather than fight against it.

With the New Year comes the urge to make new resolutions for the next twelve months. I haven’t made resolutions in a long time as I set goals on a continuing basis, an ever changing and evolving set of challenges I want to meet and things to accomplish.

Instead of New Year’s resolutions, one of the things I like to do is to choose one word for the coming year. That way, I have none of the painful self-loathing if the resolutions fall by the wayside, and just being mindful of that word can act as a touchstone for my growth and focus for the entire year. Some examples of the kind of words I mean:

One of the things I want to focus on in the next year is unmuzzling myself a bit—not letting fear of offending someone or their not liking what I have to say box me in quite so badly. Some words I’ve been considering for this have been:

Courage  Truth  Brave  Risk

But none of those have quite clicked for me. Courage just doesn’t feel right; Truth, well, when I DO speak, I do tell the truth, so that isn’t quite right either. I feel I am brave already in many ways, and Risk, well, that word feels too big and loud for what I want to accomplish.

In my search for the perfect word, I stumbled upon Jessica Spotwood's LJ and fell instantly in love with her word. NOURISH. It is the perfect word. As she points out on her blog:

According to Merriam-Webster, nourish means to:
1. nurture
2. to promote the growth of
3 a: to furnish or sustain with nutriment: feed  b: maintain, support

And I’ve sat with that word for a few days now, thisclose to selecting it as my word. But as I was typing up the list of words for the word cloud to spark your own ideas, when I typed Trust, I had a warm little zing that told me that was the word. Trust is going to be my guiding word for 2011

And actually, now Trust is no longer my word for the year.

While writing a draft of this post, I was talking about words with my twenty one year old son, explaining what I wanted my word to accomplish for me this year. He raised his eyebrow in this delight-if-annoying way he has and said, “Trust is an awful lot like faith.”

And I said, “Yes, and faith is a good thing…”

He said, “True, but for what you want to accomplish, it needs to be something you control. You need to own this, not trust it will happen. Your word should be confidence.”

Yeah, schooled by my own child. And I share this with you so you can see how hard it can be to find the right word, that nuance of how it frames and shapes your focus for the year. And how easy it is to shy away from the work we really need to do.

So what about you, fellow Violets? Can you think of a guiding word for 2011? If you do, please share it in the comments and we will have a drawing! The winner will receive a $20 gift certificate to Staples so they can stock up on organizational supplies for the new year (my version of crack).

If choosing a word is not your thing and you have resolutions or goals you want to share, that would be equally awesome (and yes, that enters you in the drawing as well.)


Wild About Words said...

Love your post!

Your description of entering the writing cave and then emerging was right on, er, write on. That's how it feels. You cocoon with your work, then emerge wanting to reconnect with people.

(And our holidays were the perfect mix of quietly enjoying each other at home and venturing out with friends to parties.)

I love the words "Nourish" and "Trust." My word might be "Optimism" because I think we need some of that these days.

Thanks for the lovely post. You don't need to enter me in the drawing; just wanted to drop in to tell you how much I enjoyed your quietly inspiring post.

All best for 2011 and beyond,

Angela said...

Faith. I have faith in my ability to get the words down. Sometimes when I look at how much more I need to write, I want to give up. Then I remind myself to have faith. I suppose patience might work just as well there.

Elizabeth Loupas said...

What a great idea, Robin.

I think my word for this year will be perseverance. I like its dual meaning: both "steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement," and the more theological version of "continuance in a state of grace."

I surely am going to need a lot of steady persistence and a heaping helping of grace to get through this year.

liz said...

I love this -- all of the motivation of a resolution without the guilt! I'm thinking of adopting confidence as my word, as a reminder to this shrinking violet that things can work out!

Lisa Jenn Bigelow said...

Ha, I definitely see the similarity between "faith" (which I'd never choose, for the reason your son points out) and "trust." Still, I think there's enough difference that I'll still go with "trust."

Not trust in an unknown future outside of my control, but trust in myself -- my emotions, my instincts, my choices. I think it's easy to lose that trust -- certainly, I have -- and I'd like to work on regaining it, in my writing and in the rest of my life.

Is that the same as confidence? I'm not sure. Maybe it's only a lack of confidence that keeps me from saying "confidence." Maybe I need to start trusting myself more before I can call it confidence. :-)

Beth C. said...

I think my guiding word is "resilience." I'm getting ready to query my novel, and the whole process scares me half to death. I need resilience to face my fear, to put myself in that place of vulnerability, to keep on going after I get rejections. (Odd how novel rejections feel so much different than standard short story rejections.)

Becky Levine said...

I chose a word for the first time this year...Peace. As in Inner. (Not that I don't want the other kind as well!). As in I will stay as calm as possible while I take on all the stuff I want to do. And, you know, crossing my fingers that it all works. :)

Becky Levine said...

And I love that your son had his two cents on the subject--I think he's right!

Caroline said...

I love the way your word shifted until you found the right one.

I'm going to steal your word Trust, at least for my fiction writing. It's not time for me to strive for confidence, which implies a note of boldness to me. I can easily see myself feeling low or insecure one day and then beating myself up because I am not acting/feeling more confident. Goal failed. And now I'm more insecure. :)

I'm just going to trust that I have the skills to make it through, and maybe I'll have more fun with it.

As for the cave/squirrel nut analogy, I can absolutely relate.
It's funny. In the mid 90s, I was having trouble with a boyfriend, so I read that Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus book, and the author discussed a man's need to retreat to a cave once in a while to recharge. I think there was a rubber band analogy, as well. Pull him too far toward you, smother him, and he'll snap back to that cave even harder as soon as he can. Leave him in that cave long enough, and he'll snap back to you. I don't recall exactly. It irritated me at the time, but now I find it's true of me.

Maybe introverts are from Mars, too.

R.L. LaFevers said...

Donna, I’m thrilled to discover another bi-social individual! And I do love your word OPTIMISM. YES. We do need more of that in the world today. So glad you were inspired by today’s post!

Angela, while I like the word PATIENCE, I love the word FAITH. There is an element of self-belief there that is missing with patience, and I think that self-belief is core do getting our written vision down on paper.

Elizabeth, here’s wishing you tons of perseverance this year, and lots of grace, as well.

Liz, exactly! And yeah, I’m thinking a fair number of Shrinking Violets could use the word confidence. ☺

Lisa, yes. That was the way in which I was thinking about trust, as in trusting oneself. I’ve been spending a lot of time weighing the nuances of the two words, trust and confidence, and I do think there is a more pro-active element to confidence. And LOLing at your last line. That’s probably exactly it.

Beth, RESILENCE is a perfect word for what you’re about to do—send your novel out into the big, wide world! Excellent choice!

Becky, PEACE is such a wonderful word, with so very many layers and nuances. And yeah, I was pretty intrigued by my son’s take on the whole thing.

Caroline, please do use TRUST! I’m still having a hard time walking away from it. And I’m laughing at that rubber band analogy. Would have irked me, too. I also detect a trivia question in your last line: What planet would be the home of introverts??

Unknown said...

Hmm I really like the idea of having a word as a resolution instead of a list of things to accomplish. I feel like I've been really lazy these past few months when it comes to writing, reading, and just about every other aspect of my life. So, my word should be the opposite of laziness. Action? Accomplishment? I'm not sure yet. I'll have to think about it. Thanks for the great idea!

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of choosing a word for the year. I think my word this year will have to be FOCUS. I am intensely busy with a number of projects and obligations and there are several goals (both writing and otherwise) I really, really hope to meet this year. But, with so much going on, it's easy for me to get distracted, and then discouraged, and then overwhelmed. I think if I can focus on one project at a time, while keeping the big picture in sight, maybe I'll be able to keep my momentum going. Heh. Maybe MOMENTUM should be my other word. Can I choose two? :P (<--- see? Clearly I need focus. One word at a time, one day at a time, one project at a time... Yep. Focus it is.)

Yat-Yee said...

Thanks for sharing your process in selecting your word. I do love "nourish." As I started thinking about my word, I settled on "now." For a procrastinator like me, it is a good reminder.

Becky: I love "peace" as well.

Sarah said...

What a great idea! My word for the year is "ownership." Owning my career choice (writer), owning my right to live the life I want, owning my past, my present situation, my future goals, all of it. Believing that putting my own desire/needs first, or at least equal to those of my family, doesn't automatically mean that my word of the year is "selfish."

Unknown said...

I love this idea too . . . while I was hedging along the lines of momentum (as someone above said) as I really want to keep my excitement about my new projects going, I felt like POSITIVE is really the word for me this year. Not only do I want to stay positive about my work as I start to send it out and amass the inevitable rejections, but I want to project positivity to others. I've been really trying to think about my words and actions and make them ones that make others feel good, not bring them down.

Jennifer J. said...

I think my word for 2011 is joy. It is a gift I hope to give to myself and to everyone I encounter.

Audrey said...

This might be a coward's word, but the one that kept ringing out as I read your post was acceptance.

I tend to beat myself up when I'm not productive, but my life's not always conducive to productivity.

I try to be mindful that I'm still finishing manuscripts and getting them out there. When recently forced to consider where I want to be professionally, I learned that I'm not far off track. So it would have to be a good idea to stop being so critical. And a little more accepting of the squandered days.

Anonymous said...

Diligent. That word makes writing sound like drudgery, but it's really not! Not only will I be selling the house and moving this spring, but it' also my also my youngest child's senior year. so I will have to be diligent if I want to make any forward progress in my new project.

Robin L said...

You’re so welcome, Carrie! Do try and pick a word with no judgment attached. Motivated? Determined? Zealous? ☺

Wildhrsjen3, ooh, focus is such a GREAT word! And LOL at needing to choose between two = needing focus! I’m seriously considering two words also, confidence and trust. And I still really like nourish…

Yat-Yee, yeah that process was a teensy bit embarrassing, but it did illustrate the nuance involved. ☺ And NOW is a perfect word! Not only for the procrastinating part, but such an excellent reminder to live in the Now.

Sesgaia, ownership is brilliant. There’s a quality to it that I like even better than confidence (am I fickle when it comes to my word choice, or what??)

Cathe, how can you not have an excellent year with positive as your guide!

Jennifer J, I love how your word encompasses not just you, but all those around you as well.

Acceptance is NOT a cowardly word, Audrey! Not at all. I think it takes a LOT of courage to accept—not just ourselves but what life has given us. There is something very Zen about the word. And anything that helps us cut down on beating ourselves up is a very good thing!

Kristin, if diligent is too close to drudgery, you might consider devoted or devotion. When people comment on my being disciplined, I explain I’m not so much disciplined as I am devoted. There is a note of true joy in the word devoted. Good luck on all that you have on your plate!

Jen Lapa said...

I started out with "Strange" due to "Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree" by Lauren Tarshis which my daughter and I recently read. But that was a bit too, well, strange for me.

Instead, I think my word might be "Unique." Because everyone I know, every experience that I have, every moment that there is, every thing that comes my way, is truly UNIQUE.

(Although, after the news events of this past weekend, I'm thinking that "Tolerance" might be a good choice also!)

Leigh Purtill said...

Great post, Robin! I love your choices. I think I will go with FOCUS as mine because I've found myself being scattered in what I want recently. I's only when I truly am focused on what I want - from and for myself - that the universe complies. :)

[btw, my word verification is "blessit." hmmm...maybe the universe is telling ME what word to choose...;)]

Stacy said...

I hope you don't mind me commenting even though I'm not a writer, but an artist. I am also an introvert and very much enjoy reading your blog.

My word for the year is Harmony meaning a pleasing arrangement of parts. I would like my year to be a joyful balance between my family life, a healthy active lifestyle, and my art career with some fun and friends thrown in for good measure. I chose harmony because to me it means having these things without the guilt or stress associated with spending time on one of them when I feel I should be spending time on another.

Anonymous said...

I think my word would have to be FLEXIBLE.

Irene Latham said...

I too choose One Little Word every year to be a guiding force. This year I settled on DEEPER. I want to go deeper into my relationships, writing, everything. It's such a personal thing, these words... may you create exactly what you need for yourself this year!

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

This is inspiring and impressive! I LOVE everyone's words. Every time I read the next comment with a new word, I say, "Oh, yes! That will be MY word - until the next comment and then I say, Oh, THAT WORD!" LOL.

Gosh, how to choose, how to choose . . . must think some more, but while I'm thinking, what a great idea to choose one word that will encompass how you approach your writing, your art, and your own life for 2011. I like that so much better than a list of resolutions because focusing on a single word or attribute encompasses so much already.

I'm switching up my writing area this year, too. And already spent $$ at Staples on a new comfy desk chair and a new computer screen for my sunroom so I can pick up my laptop and work somewhere else without having to move the whole office. ;-)

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

P.S. Robin, I adore the LeFevers' Official Cone of Silence Day. What an inspired idea.

Adele said...


Yukari M. said...

One of my favorite scrapbookers, Ali Edwards, has a One Little Word every year:

Although it's not one word, my mantra for 2011 is Let It Go. I've always allowed negative (usually, small) things to hold me back; I wasn't able to focus on the Now. This year, I'm not going to sweat the small stuff, I'm going to choose my battles, and I'm going to marvel at the positives in my life.

Barbara Wallace said...

Katy C told me about this post. What a wonderful idea. To focus on a word instead of resolutions - that's exactly what I need. And the cone of silence day sounds heavenly.

PS: I think I've known all along what my word would be too. Authenticity.

Anonymous said...

Trust, faith and confidence are excellent word choices for 2011. Growth would be my choice - to become a better writer and person.
Robin, cone of silence day - awesome idea.

Melanie said...

Vector. I hope I can hold my course this year and meet some of my many, many goals. It's a busy year for me!

R.L. LaFevers said...

Jen, I LOVE the word unique! Such a great word—we all need to embrace our uniqueness, wherever it takes us. (And I really loved Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree!)

Leigh, I’m LOLing at your word verification. How funny was that?? And I love what you say about when you focus, the universe complies.

Stacy, absolutely non-writers are welcomed and encouraged! Sometimes I remember to put a disclaimer in my posts about how this stuff applies to pretty much all creative fields, and then sometimes I get lazy. ☺ I love all the layers of meaning Harmony has for you! It’s a word I wouldn’t have thought of myself, but once I heard it, it was perfect.

Whitney—flexible! Again, such a multi-layered word.

Irene I love that you do this too. Deeper is such a great word—even just saying it makes me feel like I’m centering myself.

Hey Kimberly! I’m with you, I think I’ve changed my word about seventeen times while reading these comments. And good for you for investing in your workspace. SO important!

And please, any and all of you DO feel free to adopt the Family Cone of Silence Day as needed!

Thanks for playing, Adele.

Yukari, thanks for the link to Ali’s blog. I got the idea for this years ago when my mother used to make up epiphany stars for her church for Epiphany Sunday. I thought it was a really cool idea. And “Let it go” sounds so healthy and zen.

Glad you stopped by Barbara, and that the single word approach sounds good to you. I lovelovelove authenticity. SO important—in everything we do.

Ooh, growth is a good one, Angela. So expanding!

Wow, Melanie! I had to look that up: magnitude as well as direction. That does sound busy!