When I was still teaching, a lifetime ago but really just last year, during a staff meeting we used to choose One Word for the upcoming year. Not a resolution. Not a pledge to eat healthy or exercise more. One Word to keep us on the path. One Word to remind us of what is important when life gets messy.
My One Word has changed over the years, including choices like hope, revise, write, and appreciate. This year I chose light.
In this never-ending darkness of sickness and hate, I want to be light. Switchfoot, a San Diego band I’ve loved since the 1990s, says it like this—“Your wounds are where the light shines through.”
2021 was a year of extremes. Losing friends. Gaining grand twins. Crushing weight of teaching during a pandemic and then retirement. Progression of my husband’s chronic illness. Enjoying nature through camping. Rejection emails from potential literary agents. A disability settlement for my husband. More time to write.
For 2022, I want to reflect light to others around me. I want to choose light for myself and my family. There will still be darkness this year, but light destroys darkness. Instead of dwelling on my losses, I will focus on what I can do. In the light, it is easy to see your loved ones. In the light, it is easy to find your joy.
I hope you choose your One Word for 2022. May it be a cheerleader reminding you of your reflections on a dark day at the end of December.
I only have a few more days of winter break to procrastinate about my novel revisions before I return to school. With the New Year comes the reset button, the chance to make this year different than the previous. Feels a bit odd, as it actually hits halfway through the school year, where we’re not resetting anything, but chugging along down the tracks of education toward May state testing. (How many weeks until Spring Break?)
During the eight years we’ve been married, my husband and I hold back from giving each other Christmas gifts each year, especially considering we have six grown children and seven grandchildren. Instead we go away for a weekend in January, press the reset button and reflect on our personal, spiritual, financial, and couple goals. We write our goals down in a notebook and then look back to see how well we’re progressing each year. Some things we write down seem trivial a year later, while others become more focused and urgent.
Some of the goals are wishes, and many of those we’ve seen come true as the years roll by. But it’s not so much whether or not we hit our targets. Each of us has to search our hearts and share our dreams with each other. Saying them out loud gives them shape and writing them down gives them weight. Even if we don’t achieve a goal, we still feel validated by sharing it with each other, and holding each other accountable when needed.
When a couple wants each other to grow into the person they were made to be, it provides a nurturing environment for change. No judgment, only understanding. Forgiveness when needed and grace to cover our shortfalls. Our January reset button has helped us grow as individuals and in our marriage.