For over ten years now, designer and blogger Ali Edwards has led an invitation to adopt just one word– one little word— as a guide for setting intentions, inviting new things, and/or creating change in one’s life for the new calendar year. In place of “new year’s resolutions” (something many of us struggle to live up to, me included), the one little word feels like a more accessible, more manageable, more inspirational goal. Last year, I selected GRATEFUL as my one little word, and I can honestly say this word provided solace, illumination, and sometimes much-needed grounding at some pretty key moments. I found it to be the perfect word for a less-than-perfect 2018.
In mulling over possibilities for 2019, I have found myself considering Ali Edwards’s words about setting intention, inviting the new, and creating change in my life. These words really resonate with me as I have been contemplating my third year of unofficial participation in the one little word project. Although intentionally creating gratitude has made a big difference for me this year (GRATEFUL), I will admit to becoming evermore present to the frenetic pace life has taken on; I’m imagining this feels true for for nearly all of us, no? Between the growing challenges of navigating both increasingly complex digital and physical worlds, balancing work and home lives, and parenting three children, I find the sheer pace of life to be something in need of my attention. Something to address, perhaps through one little word.
Therefore, I have chosen the word BREATHE as my one little word for 2019. BREATHE, in addition to being one of our most fundamental human needs, holds many metaphorical and connotative meanings which I find both fascinating and inspiring:
- “Breathe” as used in music— As a musician, I have learned that sometimes it is where one doesn’t play that can make all the difference. The space between the notes helps just as much as the notes themselves to create the emotion, the feel, and the effect of a piece of music. Conversely, when one overplays, the music can lose all of those qualities. Songs, like all of us, need to breathe. As I choose this one little word for this year (BREATHE), I realize I need to allow space– i.e., breathing— to take its much needed place as part of the overall tapestry of the song I live.
- “Breathe” as in something to allow wine to do— When we open a bottle of wine and pour it, we allow the wine to oxidize. Often this process is called “allowing the wine to breathe.” This phrase translates to a metaphorical allowance of the wine to “stretch its legs” after being cooped up in a bottle for years. The connotation of breathing in this context, therefore, could be a positive analogy for releasing one’s feelings and interpretations of entrapment. I will admit to experiencing such angst both in professional and personal living recently; therefore, for such inevitable situations, breathing will be invited. I will BREATHE.
- “Breathe” as a component of mindfulness— According to the website mindful.org, mindfulness is “[the] basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we are doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what is going on around us.” Meditation and breathing are essential pieces to activating and honing such an ability. This year I hope to practice more elements of mindfulness, with breathing chief among them.
As I adopt this new one little word BREATHE for 2019, I, of course, tip my hat to all of those who came before me, to those who chose this word as their word (such as my former TWT colleague, Lisa Keeler who chose this word in 2017). And this word, of course, is available to any who believe it to be right for them. As I said to my beautiful wife the other day when she inquired about “using it too,” the word belongs to everyone and no one.
I want to wish all who are reading this post a happy and prosperous new year. I am honored you have taken your time to read this, and hope you are able to settle on your one little word in a way that feels helpful and inspiring. Happy New Year!