"Happiness is a vine that takes root and grows within the heart, never outside it."
When I chose ROOT as my word for 2021, I had a feeling it might be the just-right word for me this year. After the upheaval of 2020, I needed a word that would give me some stability. With everything coming off the rails all around me, I wanted to feel secure and tethered. I just needed something to feel . . . solid again.
As the year comes to a close, I know that ROOT was absolutely the word I needed.
- It's a good idea to dig around a little now and then . . . to take a good look at your roots so you can see how things are going down deep. Knowing the condition of your roots - and especially knowing what makes up those roots in the first place - will help you take care of your whole "plant;" your whole SELF.
- Sometimes, when you plant yourself deep in the dirt and let things root . . . you get an entirely different bloom than you expected. Stay open to discovery.
- Figuring out what holds you back frees you to move forward. But doing that (and I did a lot of that this year) means digging deep and getting your hands dirty.
- A strong and well-developed root system assures that you can withstand the rains and thunderstorms of life -- the unexpected, the surprises, the things that completely throw us out of whack. Strong roots help us manage the good, the bad, and the ugly of life.
- When the "weather" of life is providing just enough of what you need, it's easy to take things for granted. That you'll always have enough "water," for example. That your "roots" will remain comfortable, happy, and well-nourished. That you can just . . . cruise along, happy as a clam, without providing any "water maintenance." But, as we know, "weather" - real and metaphoric - can change quickly. And we don't aways notice that we need some extra "watering" until we start feeling dry . . . and a little desperate, usually wondering what is wrong with us. So we need to pay attention to what's happening in our "gardens." To watch for signs of "dryness" in our own soil. To figure out when our roots need some watering. (So we don't wither and dry up.)
Some projects I worked on during my ROOT year:
- I dabbled in a root-inspired (sort-of) "art journal." It was a place for me to create collages, collect quotes and poems, and gather my "learnings" all year long. It was nothing fancy or elaborate, but turned out to be a meaningful way for me to connect with my word all year long.
- I took on a family photo organizing and scanning project that, well. Took a bad turn. Which (as so often happens with those "bad turns") ended up defeating me. BUT . . . I'm "transplanting" that project into next year with renewed vigor - and a better plan.
- I did an Ancestry DNA test with some fun results.
- I developed my own recipe for "personal compost" (to nourish my roots on a regular basis) and I created a "root cellar" to preserve the things I've learned and discovered this year for future reference.
- I started writing my "personal manifesto" (or "this I believe" statement if the word "manifesto" makes you conjure the Unabomber). While I had hoped to have it finished by the end of the year, I don't. But I've begun. (It's . . . ahem . . . taken root, you could say.)
Although I feel complete with my word for 2021, I know it will continue to hover in my mind. I'm sure I'll come back for more "ROOTwork" in the future (which I take as a sign of a good word; you're never really "finished" with the good ones!). Most importantly, the work I've done this year has strengthened me at my roots, and makes me feel ready to forge ahead with . . . whatever comes next.
(And that quote there on the cover of my root journal? There's a clue in there . . . about what my word for 2022 might be about.)
How about you? If you chose a word in 2021, how did it work out for you? And what lessons did you learn?
And . . . if you're thinking about a word for next year (maybe even for the first time), check out this interview series that Carolyn did about choosing a word. Or check out Ali Edwards' One Little Word program. Ali has been running this program for a very long time now, and has some great information about choosing a word and getting started thinking about it. The program itself includes monthly "thinking" and creative prompts and provides a very nice structure if that's your thing. (I sign up every year. I enjoy Ali's inspiration although I don't do (m)any of the creative prompts.) Something to consider, though, if you're interested in a deeper relationship with your word.