Choose a Word for 2023:
by Mary Jo
Since 2022 is drawing to a close (already?!), it's time to think ahead about what we'd like in 2023. I've done this before here and in another group, but I think it's an interesting and mindful exercise to choose a word that can be a keyword or inspiration or talisman for the year ahead.
Do you want to EXPERIMENT and try something new? Learn to RELAX and let go of as much stress as you can? How about learning to FOCUS better? (That's a word I've claimed in the past!) Do you want to CLARIFY relationships or other elements in your life? Worth thinking about!
And the Wenches have been thinking about this! Pat Rice is first:
I fear I very much live in the moment. Thinking or planning for a year doesn’t happen. Worse yet, I’m not inclined to meditation, inspiration, or reflecting on the past or future, possibly because I don’t believe I have much control over the events that most shape our lives. So I am hopeless at questions like these.
At best, I can plan for the events I want, and hope that eventually, the Fates will offer me opportunity. Does that constitute a keyword—opportunity? Once upon a time, I practiced writing, taught myself craft, wrote thousands of pages, and eventually, after years of sending out books, a new publisher decided to start a historical romance line and bought my book. I am not entirely certain opportunity encompasses all that.
So I’ll simply choose the word ENJOY. While I’m wishing and hoping and plotting, I mean to enjoy the moment I’m in. If an opportunity to go out to lunch with friends interferes with my deadline, I’ll forget the deadline and enjoy the lunch because the chance might not come again.
So my wishes for the new year would be that everyone have an opportunity to enjoy life! Or lunch.
I choose a word to focus on every year. Last year my word was MOVE and though at the time I chose it I was thinking it meant exercising more and also getting a move on with decluttering and getting ready for my house to be renovated. Instead I ended up buying a new house and moving!
So this year I think I'll choose STRETCH — meaning not just physically stretching myself more, but getting back to the socializing that's dropped away since CoVid. I have a tendency to be a bit of a hermit anyway, so I want to reach out more. But STRETCH is also to do with stretching myself, not just in my writing, but doing some new things. We'll see. . .
The word I'm choosing to focus on in 2023 is one I keep circling back to, reminding myself to apply it more often: very simply, Gratitude. It's beautiful, challenging, elemental, and important. It can influence just about everything else in your life. Years ago, I read Dr. Masaru Emoto's The Hidden Messages in Water, detailing his extraordinary work with water crystals in the lab and the effect and influence of simple words on the water, recorded in micro detail in thousands of photographs by Dr. Emoto and his staff.
He discovered that words delivered to water–spoken, written, or even thought–altered the crystalline structure of water drops in ways that are just astounding. Words like love, thanks, beauty, kindness, compassion, strength (delivered in Japanese in his lab) and the music of Mozart and others–these positive, caring words, thoughts, and sounds influenced the water to change its structure into crystals of stunning beauty. When Dr. Emoto exposed the water to negative words and sounds–hate, ugly, sad, cruelty, and dissonant sounds–the water crystals lost their structural integrity and became misshapen and lumpen.
What happens to us, to our minds, moods, and bodies, when we are exposed to positive words and thoughts, or when we are around negativity? The water in the trillions of cells in our bodies is listening and responding. Words are immensely powerful, and we are all highly receptive, as the water proves. Dr. Emoto once said that the words "love and gratitude," when spoken or applied to water, created what he considered the most beautiful of all the crystals he photographed over years of studying the phenomenon.
This year, I hope my body, mind, and life are all listening closely and happily responding.
If I hyphenate it, can I count carpe-diem as one word? I'm more measured than impulsive—I tend not to rush into things, but to think through the variables and take my time in making a decision. In many ways, that’s a good approach that serves me well. But it can also lead to putting things off. “I’ll do it at a later time" is an excuse I often make for deferring a trip or dithering over to skip meeting a friend for lunch because I have a lot on my plate.
I think we’ve all become more aware of how uncertain the future can be, and how things can change in a heartbeat. So for this coming year, I want to be more mindful of “seizing the day,” of allowing myself to take advantage of the serendipitous opportunities that arise and don’t them pass me by.
My word for 2023 is inspiration. The last three years have been full of challenges, most of which I hadn’t chosen. These have taken so much time and energy that I chose the word revive as my word of 2022 part 2. This seems to be working pretty well – I’m getting back some of the vitality and hope that I had lost, and inspiration feels like the next positive step along the way.
By inspiration I don’t just mean ideas for my writing, which will be very welcome, but ideas for expanding my life again to take in some of things I value the most – seeing family and friends more often, developing new interests or picking up on old ones. Now I’ve started travelling again, for example, I’d like to re-learn the French I studied as a teenager so I can speak the language properly when next I visit France. Or maybe learn something new… And the other way in which I look forward to welcoming inspiration back into my life is through the lift and pleasure I feel when I am outdoors in nature. It never fails to inspire me.
I’m a little bit of a control freak, and if there is anything that needs to be fixed, I like to do something about it. I want to act, try to come up with solutions, and I want to do it NOW so that it gets done. (Yes, I’m impatient too). That’s fine when it comes to myself, but not for family and friends. These last few years, I’ve had a lot of loved ones who needed me for various reasons, and whose problems I really, really wanted to solve and make disappear.
But I’m reminded of the quote “You can’t change other people, you can only change yourself”. No matter how hard you try, there are some people who simply can’t be helped because they’re not ready to acknowledge that they need assistance. Or even that there’s anything wrong (with them or their situation). And others who have to help themselves, because you can’t always do it for them, no matter how much you’d like to.
So the word I’m choosing for next year is ACCEPT. I have to accept that there are things that I would love to change, but I have absolutely no power or influence over. It is frustrating in the extreme, but at the end of the day, it is up to the people concerned. I am not responsible for them or their actions. If they want my help, they know where to find me, and until then, I want to follow Pat’s and Andrea’s example and enjoy each day as it comes.
Mary Jo here:
I find the process of choosing a word for the year to be therapeutic. Do I want to Simplify, Flow, Achieve? All good thoughts, but what I really need to do is FOCUS.
In further examples, one of our favorite TV shows was the comedy-mystery CASTLE, in which the male lead is a bestselling mystery writer who teams up with a very edgy and capable female NYC detective. At one point, she said that 'Castle had the attention span of a cocker spaniel.' That also rang true.
If I were more focused, I could write more books because I don't have a day job so I have plenty of time to work. But the Muse skitters around like a puppy on ice. Frankly, it amazes me that I completed even one book, much less 50+. (I haven't counted lately and don't include all those novellas.)
The one thing that does produce results is deadline terror, which focuses the mind wonderfully. Essentially it's hitting the Muse with an electric cattle prod. But it would be nice I could find a better way to focus on a regular (and less traumatic!) basis! When I searched for an image to go with this post, I came across the picture on the left, and I admit it's a pretty good start. If you have other suggestions, they're welcome. <G>
What about you? Can you find a word that resonates with your life for the year ahead?