Who would have thought when I decided on that cold December day in 2006 to make choose joy my personal mantra for the year 2007 that it would become a ritual I'd be repeating with regularity. But here it is eight years later and it clearly has.
To those not familiar with the idea of choosing a word for the year, it's a little like making resolutions without the extra pressure. Resolutions set you up for failure because let's face it, we're not likely to keep all of them throughout the entire year. But a single word? We can keep that as our focus...or own personal lighthouse, if you will...and renew our efforts without guilt when we stray from the course we'd hoped for. It's about personal growth and being a better version of ourselves, or at least making the effort to be.
I deliberately phrased the act of choosing a word as a ritual not because there's some actual ceremony or other special process involved because nothing could be farther from the truth. Words just sort of float in and out of my brain until finally one just feels "right" and settles in. Really scientific, huh? But it works for me. Then sometimes, like this year, the one that felt right for most of December was suddenly not right and replaced by a new one a few nights ago. Whether my subconscious thought I needed work in a different area or it's simply the fickleness of a woman's mind, I don't know but I'm just going with it.
No, the ritual part of the process is reading back through what I wrote on January 1 when I chose my word. It's a chance to reflect rather than determine success or failure, to see how having this word at the forefront shaped where I am and where I want to go in my life.
Better was the choice for 2014 and it was a good fit. Of course, choose joy, listen, rejoice, complete, now, lean forward, and breathe were good words too but some fit more comfortably at the beginning of the year than they did at the end. Better held its own.
Each of those words still holds a special significance for me. We know the power of negative words in our lives but we tend to overlook the strength positive words can give us. So I repeat the list each year as a reminder that I am still a work in progress. Better served me well in so many areas of my life yet I will still strive to be better, to choose joy, to breathe and to employ all the other words in that growing string.
It's funny how my 2015 word uprooted the pretender and cemented its place as the selection for the year. I was cleaning up my desk when I came across a piece of paper with three quotes scribbled on it:
The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.
Open the door to chance; forever is sitting outside.
There is no key to happiness. The door is always open.
I can't tell you when or why I wrote those quotes as the sheet they were written on was buried under a pile of other papers but I took finding them as the universe's way of telling me my guiding word for the coming years should be:
Open. Open doors that lead me to the life I want to live and the happiness that comes with it. Open eyes to look within and an open mind to change whatever needs it if I don't like what I see. An open heart to appreciate the many blessings in my life and to love those who are so important to me. And in a truly literal sense of the word, open doors taking me to new places, open books teaching me new ideas, and open packages of pretty new things to add to scrapbook pages I am determined to make.I see this word having so many adaptations in my life and I'm excited by all of them.
So bring it on, 2015...I'm open to whatever you've got.