A week before Christmas, a writer friend asked me what my word for 2023 would be.
She picks a word each year on which to focus. Her word for 2022 was “play,” and she felt she had taken a playful approach to travel, work, and life. I heard the satisfaction in her voice, which caught my attention more than the question.
What a wonderful twist on resolution – a gentle suggestion of a direction that fits all circumstances. As a writer, I was impressed. As a person, I was intrigued.
Normally, I don’t subscribe to New Year’s resolutions or any of their derivatives. Six billion people going cold turkey makes for a critical mass of crankiness. And yet, I crave a better me in 2023.
As uncomfortable as the pandemic years have been for the collective good, 2022 has been uncomfortable for my personal good. All the change and loss have left me desperate for action. Do I let go or hang on? Wait for a sign or pursue new leads?
My friend’s word concept got me thinking. What if “or” was my problem? What if the word I need is “and”, as in I should let go AND hang on, wait for a sign AND pursue new leads?
I loved the difference “and” made – like I was open to everything, which felt very empowering. I decided “and” would be my word.
And then I changed my mind.
Letting all those contrary messages coexist would mean making peace with paradox. This felt messy AND intimidating, which wasn’t a great use of the word “and”.
What did I expect from a conjunction?
The night before Christmas, I had a dream where someone very dear to me who is very much no longer living embraced me and said these words over my worried little noggin - BE BRAVE.
It felt like a sign or a least a little heavenly editing.
I decided “be brave” would be my word for 2023...although it was a phrase rather than a word. I could just use “brave”, but it didn’t feel actionable alone.
What did I expect from a noun?
The morning of New Year’s Eve, I was walking the dog with my husband. We had just completed five consecutive days of travel, the new “normal” in our out-of-state lives. He was tired. I was tired. The dog was tired.
We talked half-heartedly about resolutions, and I told him about my friend’s word approach. We lapsed into silence, each knowing the other’s 2022 in intimate detail, each knowing how much we needed to—
The word filled my head, but I pushed against it. No, not that word. It implies injury and pain and--
“Do you have a word?”
My husband’s voice startled me.
Not really, I lied. Do you?
“My first thought was ‘heal’.”
I couldn’t help but laugh, and with laughter came courage. What were the odds we both thought of the same word simultaneously?
That was a sign. Better, it was a verb.
“Heal” implies getting rest and going slowly and being kind and making life-affirming choices and letting go of narratives that no longer serve us. It requires patience. And the older I get, the more I realize patience, especially with oneself, takes bravery.
So, I will be brave and heal.
Bring on 2023.
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I love tu! I think we could all apply that word to our new year. Last year and the year before really, my word or rather phrase was Let Go. This year I think it will be Move Forward.
This was a light for my very crummy mood. Thank you