One Little Word

One Little Word 2017

Last year, my life spun out of control.  So many changes -- and so many of them heavy, heavy.  I was just bombarded with one big thing after another after another.

Like . . . well . . . it would've been enough with Tom leaving his career to open his own consulting business.  Yes.  That alone would have been plenty of change for any year.  (And I was prepared for that one.  I knew that one was coming!) But then, my mom got sick - and there was so much we didn't understand about what was going on.  And then, the shock of her dying -- so quickly, and without clear answers.  Then came helping my dad navigate huge life shifts and major decisions.  And all of this going on, of course, against the backdrop of the 2016 election and it's aftermath.

I tried hard to keep things together.  I was far out along that tightrope of life, y'know?  And, really, I held on for quite a while.  But, eventually . . . I crashed.

Things are coming together now, though.  I feel like I'm digging out of the rubble all around me.

Now . . . I'm looking to recalibrate.  

Trying to regain my equilibrium.

Seeking . . . 

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Yes.  my One Little Word for 2017 is . . . balance.

And I am so. ready. for some!


Garden Surprise

A few years ago, when my "one little word" was SURPRISE, I made a little paving brick for my garden.

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Even though I know it's out there in my herb garden, I'm always, well . . . surprised . . . when I discover it again as I put in my herbs for another season.  

It's a great way to remind myself to always be open to the surprises that happen in the garden. . . 

cilantro that seeds itself everywhere

toads that look just like dirt

weeds that actually throw seeds as you pull them

tarragon that made it through the winter

impatient robins who wait next to you for worms while you dig

what in the world THAT plant is

Good things, all.  (Except those annoying seed-spewing weeds.)

I planted my herb garden yesterday.

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And I'm really hoping NOT to be surprised by unpleasant weather-surprises.  

(Like frost.)  

(I know.)


Right Now - March 2016

March came in like a lion . . . but it's (pretty much) going out like a lamb.

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I know spring -- and especially early spring (like . . . March) is fickle.  But I'm sure ready for the Real Deal to begin!

Here's what's happing for me . . . Right Now.

Watching  Well.  Nothing on television.  Because I've decided to move into a cave until the ugliness of the presidential campaign is behind us.  (I do come out to vote.)  (And watch movies.)

Reading  In my ears: The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante (the 4th in this excellent quartet; I'm going to miss this series after I read this one);  in print: The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks (good; compelling; but . . . well.  Confusing Bible names throw me off.)

Knitting  An adorable little toddler pullover for a great-niece-in-law (Tom's brother's son's daughter).  I missed making her a baby sweater (because timing) -- so need to hurry and get this toddler sweater off the needles before she grows some more!

Listening to  Bruce Hornsby.  (We'll be seeing him in concert as part of the Gilmore Piano Festival next month.)

 

Dreading  Taxes.  This weekend.  They WILL be done.  (And that is all I'm gonna say about that.)

Drinking  Chocolate milk.  Red wine.  Whisky.  (But not together.)

Planning  I'm creating my "Plant Watch List" of things I want for my garden this year.  I do this each year -- and it's a great way for me to stay loyal to my garden plan.  (Because it's so tempting to just start buying every pretty bloom I see.  And especially in the spring, when I'm starved for blooms.)

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Looking Forward to  Riding my new birthday bike.  Something new . . . a bit of a risk . . . but certainly - adventures ahead!

Humming  Bennie and the Jets.  (Yeah.  Still.)  (I tried to embed a video, but they're all restricted.  You'll have to sing it on your own.)  (I'm sure you already are. . . )  

Itching to  Do some sewing.  A copy of Merchant & Mills new Workbook (long ago pre-ordered) arrived in my mailbox yesterday.

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Delighted by  Tea Drops.  My sister sent me a box for my birthday.  Tasty.  Cool.  And they work just the way they say they will!

Organizing  I continue chipping away at organizing my digital photos.  It's a giant task -- and may never be truly complete.  But I'm working at it.  (It's made me just put my "real" camera aside for the time being.  Because, really.  I don't want more photos to organize right now.)

Enjoying Thunderstorms!  When they aren't violent, I just love a good thunderstorm.  

Celebrating  The end of an era and the beginning of something new.  ;-)

How about YOU?  What's happening for you . . . right now?

 


What's Your Word?

 This winter, I've been taking a watercolor class.

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I've never done watercolor before . . . and watercolor is hard.  

Most of my early attempts were water-paint-blob-bombs.

So much . . . expensive watercolor paper in the trash.

I was so frustrated -- and disheartened.

Tom encouraged me to just keep trying.  

(I can't.  It's too hard.)

(What's your word?)  

(RISK, damnit.)

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I kept at it.  

Lots of practice.

Lots of paper.

(I can't show anybody, though.  I don't want to.)

(What's your word?)

(RISK, damnit.

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A couple of my pieces were selected to be in the Student Exhibit.

All I had to do . . . was have them framed.

(I can't.  It's freaking me out too much.)

(What's your word?)

(RISK, damnit.)

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I can't quite explain how . . . exposed . . . this all made me feel.

Sharing my paintings?

Framing them?

Hanging them in an exhibit?

(. . . as if I were an artist????)

(What's your word?)

(RISK, damnit.)

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THIS . . . was not something I ever expected to do.

And there was quite a lot of courage required.

(There's a ton required to even post this.)

(What's your word?)

(RISK, damnit.)

(Hell, yes.)

 

 

 

 

 


Risky Business

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."
                                                                                            --- T. S. Eliot

My word this year (in bracelet form). . . 

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Why?

Well.  Some of my reasons for choosing this word this year . . . just won't ever appear here in the blog.  (Because not my story to tell.)  (Or just too complicated.)

Let's just say. . . 

Sometimes, I feel pretty brave; pretty willing to step out there and try something new.

But.

There are plenty of times when I don't.  (Like . . . you should see me when it's time to host a party.)  (Not. Good.)

For the last seven years, I've been working on stepping AWAY from The Edge.  Avoiding going over.  Holding on.  Keeping it together.  Avoiding the scary parts.

But you know what?

I'm ready to actually . . . step beyond.  To let myself go over -- in ways I choose.

And that?  That is where RISK comes into the picture.

Ready?

Let's GO. . . 


Dive Right In

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.

--- T.S. Eliot

If you've been reading along for awhile, you know that, for me, last year was my year of . . . JOURNEY.  Getting a little lost . . . finding myself . . . discovering a whole new path.

It seems right, somehow, that this year I might choose to go even further; might be a little more daring.

My One Little Word for 2016 . . . 

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Two road diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

--- Robert Frost


Journey's End

Here it is - the end of December - and I've entered my year-in-review time.  I really like looking back over the almost-finished year -- to reflect on what I did, what I accomplished, what I learned.

Let's begin with One Little Word.

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If you've been reading my blog for a while, you already know that I choose "one little word" to live with every year and invite into my life.  I sign up for Ali Edwards' online workshop, and I use her prompts as a sort of jumping-off point for exploring my word.

This year, my word was JOURNEY.

When the year began, I was hoping for a journey that would help me make new discoveries about myself, inspire me to keep moving and reaching, shake up the status quo of my life a bit . . . and maybe . . . get a little lost.  I really was ready for something new-and-different, and I was open to what that might be.

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So . . . what happened?

I found that it's quite difficult to step outside the comfort of where you are . . . to get lost somewhere else.  UNLESS . . . someone (or something) pushes you . . .

And that, of course, is exactly what happened to me this year.  Lots of somethings, actually, pushed me out of the comfort of where I was.  And I DID manage to get lost for awhile.

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I set off last January on a JOURNEY with a vague sense of direction, but an uncertain destination.  After some frustrating detours and more than a couple of missed exits, I ended up stranded in a wilderness for awhile.  Eventually, I sorted myself out and found my path again.

But.

You know what?

It was NOT the path I expected.  (And that was the entire point!)

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As I say goodbye to my word this year, I want to remember what I learned:

  • That it's good to stretch in new ways; if you keep doing the same things in the same way, you're going to keep feeling the same feelings.
  • That it's okay to be uncertain . . . of where you're headed, of what's going to happen next, of which way to turn.
  • That barriers don't have to be permanent -- and can be breached, broken, or trampled.
  • That sometimes detours offer an even better view (that you would've missed altogether otherwise).
  • That stepping out of your comfort zone is not comfortable -- and that's okay!

I've reached the end of my 2015 JOURNEY.  Onward . . . to new discoveries (and a whole new word) in 2016.

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If you're interested in exploring a word of your own in 2016, it's time again to sign up for Ali Edwards' One Little Word workshop.  I've taken part for the last five years (and will be joining again in 2016) -- and have gained some powerful insights about myself each year.  The workshop is very adaptable.  Ali provides a monthly prompt to get you thinking about/connecting with your word.  You can use these prompts as a springboard for just personal reflecting or journaling -- or you can go all in and create a lovely scrapbook/mixed media/photography project for your word.  There are community forums and a Facebook group to connect with other participants if that's your thing.  Really . . . adaptable, and always thought-provoking.  (This year, I created a little "journey journal" where I reflected about/responded to the prompts -- and collected all kinds of other things related to my "journey."  Not a scrapbook at all -- but something that worked for me.)

Join in!  Sign up for One Little Word here.


 


Dear Self

The One Little Word prompt for September involved writing a letter to . . . yourself.  Here's mine.

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Dear Self,

I know you were looking for . . . something . . . when you chose the word JOURNEY for 2015.  I know you wanted to wander (a little) off the comfortable and well-worn path of your life.  You used the words "shake up."  You used the words "explore" and "discover" and "get a little lost."

Remember?

(You did.)

And, as usually happens with this One Little Word thing, you get what you're looking for.  (That's why you sign up every year, right?  That's why you put up with all the prescribed arts-and-crafts scrapbooking bullshit and commercial "kits," isn't it?)  Because, turns out, the process - and the monthly prompts - all work for you.

So, yeah.

OLW strikes again.

Life took you on a JOURNEY you weren't quite expecting when you signed on to this gig.  You landed in some kind of wilderness - one that you wouldn't have picked for yourself and really didn't expect.  And -- AH! -- that's the real beauty of a JOURNEY.  Sometimes you know where you're headed, and sometimes you don't. I kind of remember . . . that you were hoping for a JOURNEY where you didn't quite know where you were headed.

And.  Well.  That's what you got!

Now that you're moving again -- out of that wilderness and onto a path you didn't know existed back in January - you've learned a few things.

Like. . . 

Heading out on a JOURNEY when you don't exactly know where you're going . . . is risky.

Getting lost . . . means being uncomfortable.

And (like with any trip), it's important to pack lightly.  Which means . . . letting go.  Getting rid of what you don't really need.  Ideas.  Objects.  People who drag you down.  Commitments you shouldn't have made in the first place.

Because being lost -- really being lost -- and wandering (even flailing) in the wilderness for a while might just be the best way to find out who you are, what you might want to do, and how you want to live the rest of your life.

When you set out on a JOURNEY - any kind of journey - you should expect to come back changed.  And, y'know, you don't get to direct what that change will be.  It just . . . happens.

So.

Here's to "getting lost."  And "exploring."  And "discovery."  Here's to "shaking things up."

Keep going.

XO,

Kym

"Cherish your wilderness." -- Maxine Kumin

 


The Soundtrack . . . of My JOURNEY

Back in July, the One Little Word prompt involved creating a playlist inspired by your word.  

 

But you know that when the truth is told . . . 
that you can get what you want or you can just get old. . . 
when will you realize . . . Vienna waits for you!
---- from Vienna, Billy Joel

Well.

As you might imagine, this was an assignment close to my heart!

The original prompt involved coming up with 9 songs.  I limited myself to 50.  (Ahem.)

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Songs about travel.

Songs about being lost.

Songs about finding yourself.

Songs about discovery.

Songs I just happen to like -- that speak to me about JOURNEY.

 

I know I'm searching for something
Something so undefined
That it can only be seen
By the eyes of the blind
In the middle of the night. . . 
---- from River of Dreams, Billy Joel

I'm breaking through
I'm bending spoons

I'm keeping flowers in full bloom
I'm looking for answers from the great beyond
---- from The Great Beyond, REM

 

Jump in, let's go
Lay back, enjoy the show
These are the days when anything goes!
---- from Every Day is a Winding Road, Sheryl Crow

 

The sky was the limit . . . 
The future was wide open!
---- from Into the Great Wide Open, Tom Petty

 

I want to tear down walls
that hold me inside
I want to reach out
and touch the flame. . .
---- from Where the Streets Have No Name, U2

 

You better lose yourself in the music, the moment. . . 
You own it, you better never let it go. . . 
You only get one shot, do not miss your chace
to blow . . . this opportunity comes once in a lifetime. . . 
---- from Lose Yourself, Eminem

 

So I would say you've got a part. . . 
What's your part?
Who you are, you are who, who your are . . . 
---- from Who You Are, Pearl Jam

 

She acts like summer and walks like rain
Reminds me that there's time to change . . . 
---- from Drops of Jupiter, Train

 

We're just ordinary people, you and me. . . 
Time will turn us into statues, eventually . . . 
---- from Statues, Foo Fighters

 


JOURNEY . . . Lessons So Far

I've done One Little Word five times now.  Five words.  Five very different experiences.

At first, when I start out with my word each year, there is a flurry of inspiration.  I'm always excited to "invite my word into my life" (as OLW leader, Ali Edwards, says over and over again).  I find quotes and poems.  I set intentions.  I find visual reminders for myself.  (And I usually buy some jewelry.)

Early on, my word doesn't usually . . . gel . . . for me right away.  It kind of . . . just sits there.  I do a lot of wheel-spinning.  It always seems like maybe I picked the wrong word.  

But then, around now, things start coming together for me and my word.  By the end of May, there's been enough time and distance that I can start to see how my word is connecting in my life.  Sure, I'm bound to be disappointed by mis-steps and whole chunks of inaction around my initial intentions.  But.  By now, I'm usually beginning to understand how seemingly disparate things . . . urges . . . inclinations . . . awakenings . . . actually connect in some way.  Unexpected themes and patterns begin to emerge.  My word . . . begins to act as a pivot point in my life.

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When I set out on my JOURNEY this year, I knew I wanted to head off in a new direction.  But I wasn't quite sure what that meant, exactly.  I set some goals for myself; some intentions and action steps for the year.  I've come to think about those intentions and action steps as . . . DESTINATIONS on my JOURNEY; places I hope to end up, eventually.  As in . . . I want to go . . . THERE!   That's kind of the easy part.

Choose a destination.
Set off.

Now that I'm actually moving along, you know what I'm figuring out?

Sometimes the JOURNEY is quick, uneventful, and direct.  But sometimes . . . not so much.  Sometimes there are unplanned side trips you just can't resist.  Sometimes you decide to take the scenic route (because why not?).  Sometimes you get re-routed, or stuck in a detour. Sometimes you have some kind of breakdown and need assistance.  There are even times when you decide to turn back.  Because that wasn't actually where you wanted to go at all.  And sometimes . . . you get lost.

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Usually, I'm not so comfortable with getting lost.  I like to know where I'm heading, and how I'm going to get there.  I like maps and compasses and GPS.  I like setting goals and having specific things I'm working toward.  

But, I'm starting to think that I might need to allow myself a little time and space . . . to get lost.

It feels right, somehow.  
Even though I have no idea what that means.

(And that's the power . . . of one little word.)