With the new year comes a new One Little Word…

Slipping into my sunroom, I have arrived at what is sure to be a temporary moment of silence and solitude.  I settle into the quiet, creasing my lonely notebook back.  It has been awhile, a while since I have written.


And that’s okay.

But the time has come to write again.  To shake off the mental cobwebs.  To be intentional.  Perhaps ask forgiveness from all of you reading this…for disappearing.  But know, I needed a break.

It is January now. And little words have begun to bubble up through what feels like a bit of a swamp, the swamp of my consciousness I will call it. I suspect many of us are experiencing this confusing, swampy inner being.  For me the swamp is a combination of gratitude and persistent worry, of wonder and unexplained panic, of hard-won confidence and metastatic stress. Perhaps those words aren’t quite right.  But it does feel more paradoxical than juxtapositional, if that makes any sense.

In 2020, we all suffered in some way. Or many ways.  And I am quite confident that the quiet desperation I feel to somehow begin anew, to turn a page, to turn a corner- turn something!– is shared by nearly all of you, dear readers.

We are all hopeful.

So I have now studied the bubbles that, for me, quietly ascended from the swamp as potential One Little Words for the coming year. What will be my word to guide and inspire me in 2021? The first (oddly) was BOLD. I considered that word for days, allowing it to roll around inside my head. . . wondering if it might be something to organize around. But, although I do love the aesthetic this word summons, the timing does not feel right to choose it.  Also, I do not want to select a word that could become some sort of didactic cudgel, which I see as possible. No, BOLD is not for this year.

Another bubble was RENEWAL.  Though this word felt somewhat comforting, such as the defining terms “restore” and “replenish”, it also exudes shades of fixing something that is wrong, which is, as you may know, a quality I consciously work to avoid.

And then the bubble I had been waiting for: POSSIBILITY. Yes! Although this word, for me, could be described as a dormant term from some powerful past personal training I completed, this word is perfect for 2021.  As I once learned, POSSIBILITY can be employed as an antonym for “attachment.”   When one takes a stand for possibility and remains distinctly detached from specific results, one is far more likely to experience the present with more freedom, more affinity, even more joy.

To say we exist in an uncertain world would be to utter an almost laughable understatement. But possibility exists. It is all around us. And I find that inspiring. As the title of my current read intimates, Looking to Get Lost, by Peter Guralnick, I find myself ready to get lost somewhere in a place teeming with possibility.

Yes, I am once again ready to believe in what is possible.

Let’s see where that takes me in 2021.

I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year.


Author: Lanny Ball

For more than 29 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy specialist, working and living in the great state of Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on this blog, as well as on Twitter @LannyBall. Lanny is also a former co-author of a blog dedicated to supporting writing teachers and coaches that maintain classroom writing workshops, twowritingteachers.org.

11 thoughts on “#OLW2021”

  1. All the possibilities are there, and we can find them. It is a lovely word for 2021, even though everything is not back to normal yet, so much is possible! Peace! It is good to see you back here in this space.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lanny! I have missed you so! Happy to see you writing. That phrase, “metastatic stress” is so visceral; I can feel how invasive the stress of 2020 has been with those words. Here’s to 2021, and all of the possibilities that it brings. Happy New Year to you and yours!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve missed your writing and you! But recognizing that you needed a break from writing is completely understandable. I love your OLW choice. I have not figured mine out yet. I’m sure it will come to me when I’m not expecting it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lanny, it is so good to see you back! That phrase – “swamp of my consciousness” – can I ever relate to that. Every word you considered could be a guide through the swampiness, but POSSIBILITY is a real force. Love thinking of it as an antonym for “attachment.” This: “When one takes a stand for possibility and remains distinctly detached from specific results, one is far more likely to experience the present with more freedom, more affinity, even more joy” – I feel the space and the near-magical tingling of possibility in it! My word for this year tracked me down and has a similar effect: Awe. Between possibility and awe…there are no limits. Happy New Year to you and yours.

    Liked by 1 person

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