Have you chosen a word for this year? Perhaps you have, or maybe you haven’t a clue what I’m talking about.
Let’s say you were given a bracelet to wear for a year, adorned with a word of your choice, what would you pick?
What one word, to repeat throughout the year to help you move through the weeks and months with greater purpose and vision, to give you strength and meaning, to remind you of what is important to you, would that be?
Tammy Breitweiser, ‘force of nature’ and writer, was way ahead when she posted a piece of writing in November of last year. She explains why she chose ‘More’ in her article, ‘Choosing #Oneword’, here.
‘What will your word be for 2020?’Tammy Breitweiser
When I read her question, without thinking it through, the word that came to me was ‘Now’.
There are two reasons.
But first, a little background.
The Power of Now
Close to 20 years ago, my partner was working on a film set in Luxembourg. There was a child actor dude raving about Eckhart Tolle and The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. If it was working for this young go-getter, we reckoned we’d give it a get-go too.
We had a long trip coming up – Luxembourg to Bulgaria. We could count two days easily. So we bought the cassette tapes. A talking book. It felt very modern (ha!). I kid you not!
We set off on our road trip fully open to learning how Guru Tolle would be able to enlighten us further on just how to give a special magic to the present moment. We’d already kind of got the main message: be in the moment. Don’t worry about the future. Forget about the past. Be, you know, mindful (although I hadn’t heard of that term back then.)
We tried. We really did. It was repetitive. His voice wasn’t particularly engaging (sorry, Eckhart – I’m sure you’ll forgive me as millions of others obviously disagree). We were hoping for life-changing. We heard… boring. We turned it off and looked out of the windows. (Although, hopefully, the driver already had his eyes on the road.)
Why I wish I’d not said ‘no’ to ‘now’… back then
Fast forward a few years (literally) and my life had spun out of control. I was overwhelmed and flailing around like a headless fly or a blue-arsed chicken. Or something.
If only I had heeded those wise words of Eckhart. If only I’d applied them to my life then. If only I had listened more patiently.
If only I had adopted a mindful life instead of practising speed, speed, speed.
Then I wouldn’t have had to painfully learn, years later, how to slow down, how to be in the moment.
Reason No 1 for me to choose ‘Now’ as my word
So now, when I feel my head becoming stuffed with useless thoughts battling against each other, when it is starting to feel as though there is just too much background noise, and I can’t think clearly, I bring myself back into the moment.
I turn to a couple of simple but effective techniques which are serving me well.
I pay attention to my breath and inhale some deep breaths in… and then out, being really mindful of where the air travels, and feeling an invisible piece of string lifting me up by the tip of my crown.
And the second technique is to ask myself what it is that I might need. Right. Now.
It could be a glass of water. It could be a little rest. Or a lie down. I practise listening to my body.
Reason No 2 for me to choose ‘Now’ as my word
The second reason that I choose ‘Now’ to be my word almost contradicts the first. If I constantly remind myself to be in the present moment, at the same time, I have seen time slipping by so fast. And I know that I need to keep reminding myself. To act. Now.
I have been talking about wanting to move house, to move countries even, for some time. When I think back, I am appalled to realise that I have been wishing this wish for over five years.
My partner was hospitalised in 2015 and almost died. That point in my life is a time marker to me. Before that summer, I was in a course where we were asked to write about our ideal day. I remember that I did not dare to write down what I really wanted because it seemed so remote. So out of my reach. But what I wanted then, was to move house… And yes, to move country.
With a new year brings new beginnings.
With a new decade brings greater reflection. What did you achieve in the last decade?
I know that I have lived an entire 10 years in a place that has never truly felt like home. It has been wonderful in so many ways, not least because I have been a mother. But for the next decade, I would like to live somewhere that feels like home to me.
There are still so many things to organise. The excuses or reasons that have kept me stagnant, here, still remain. They have not magically disappeared with my newfound determination that I am ready for change.
But words hold power. They hold you accountable. The word ‘Now’, I choose as a reminder to myself. And every now and then I will ask, ‘What can I do, right now, that will take me closer to my goal, and to my dream?’
Action speaks louder than words
Words are powerful, yes. But action speaks louder.
Reading Group – Words of Introduction
I am in a Don’t Keep Your Day Job (by Cathy Heller) reading group organised by writer and creative entrepreneur, Sam Kimberle. During our introductory meeting Sam asked us all to come up with a word for the year with a little explanation about why we have chosen it. It was a brilliant way to break the ice and get to know each other a little better, as well as any creative projects and blocks we might have.
Writer, Jenna Britton, is in the group. She has a Sunday newsletter but has also recently started a podcast, Brave Enough to Be. In Episode 6, she explains why her word for 2020 is ‘Visible’.
Susie Taylor, who is a writer among many other things, shared an idea of stamping washers and making them into bracelets or keyrings. Susie was kind enough to let me use her photo.
Words I have lived by
In past years, my word (or rather words) was ‘Slow down’. I wrote it on a Post-it and stuck it onto my laptop. I needed to remind myself to stop thinking. To stop ‘doing’. To stop being addicted to being busy.
Next, my word was ‘Choice’. I imagined this word tattooed across my wrist, like a bracelet. Or a watch.
Perhaps as I was learning to slow down, the next step was to remember that I always have a choice. And okay, sometimes we have too many choices… but that’s another article!
If I add the word ‘Now’ to my collection of invisible bracelets (or shall I write it in pen?), so that each time I flick my eyes to the spot where a watch would sit, I will be reminded that the time is ‘Now’. Could this be the ultimate lesson in mindfulness?
It seems that kid from the film set was right. And Eckhart was on to something so profound that I wasn’t ready to hear it.
I am listening now, Eckhart. I wish I’d have kept those old cassettes. Although, let’s face it, they’d probably get all tangled up in the player and I’d have to wind them back up with a pencil.
I just asked my 12-year-old son what his word is for this year. He didn’t hesitate.
‘Dreams. Because anyone’s dreams can come true.’Flynn Horder-Gouldsbrough (12 years old) – in answer to ‘What’s your word for this year?’
So go on. Please share. What’s your word?