Four, well, five words and almost four years behind me, and a new word already picked to welcome in the fifth. Four years of following along with Ali's One Little Word project, of choosing (and re-choosing all year long) to see life through an intentional lens, and to be willing to accept what it offers, when it's glorious and even when it isn't. In July I wrote about how uncomfortable my word(s) for the year were making me, more so than any of the years and words before them, and I'd honestly hoped that by the time January came, I'd be returning to this space to share something different. The truth, which I know you already know, is that I was challenged all year long, and as we knock at the new year's door, I think it's safe to say that I will continue to be pushed by them all the way to the end. I chose Here/Hear in an effort to be more present, to stop looking so far ahead and behind that I miss what's happening right now, miss meeting who's standing next to me on the street, miss hearing their stories, miss being in my own. It sounds so, so lovely, and it was, but there is no way I know of yet to be present and not also be humbled and maybe a little dismayed about what's happening that you're not so content with as much as to be joyful and grateful for what's working like a charm. Sitting with myself this year, I saw a lot I didn't really love, and I wrote a lot about my mid year practice of deciding to sit with those undesirable realities in this post, so I won't rehash them in this space, but still they were there and just plain hard to have to see and feel some days.
What I will say is that though it didn't all magically go away and get better, I got better. I got better at pausing and being in it, about remembering I can be uncomfortable and keep going, that I can be flawed and frustrating, and yet there will still be room for be to grow, to apologize, to take the next step. I got better at giving myself the space to be a little crummy sometimes and not immediately try to give myself a quick fix. I mean, we've all read the poems and seen the posters, and given the greeting cards that remind people we're better at the broken places, but that doesn't mean we aren't still pumping super glue in the cracks. This year I put down all the fastest ways of making things feel better, and I just let them be; I let life bumble its way toward better simply by being in it, really in it, and here's the thing - it did.
By the time November snuck around (how does is always seem to rush up so fast?), I'd already felt the tug of my 2018 year, and to be fair, I'd already had some hopes that it might be easier that what I'd been living with so far. I'd considered HOPE, so many lines that I've shared throughout this year tip their hat at how generous, and hard hope can be, but it didn't feel right on its own, as if it would be there, but it wasn't the one. I thought about TRY, which is a word I keep close already, but wouldn't mind stretching a bit, or FORMIDABLE, a push to be stronger, to have a voice to be reckoned with (if mostly only against the ones also in my head and heart which call me too often toward doubt, guilt, and being overly apologetic). I thought about a lot of words that weren't the right word, and then the word GRACE showed up, again, and again, and again. For days straight it felt like grace was everywhere I went, and the more I pushed it away, thinking it was too soft and too easy, too tangled up in others' very definitive definitions of what it means or who it belongs to, the more it came back to me, the more I remembered that I get to decide what the word will mean to me this year, what it will offer up and take away, what it will teach me, and what I will get to redefine as the time passes and life is lived through its lens. The very best part of choosing a word for the year is that it never quite looks the same on day one as it does on day three hundred and sixty five. I have no idea where this word will take me, but I know I won't be where I've been, and that's worth the trip.