kindness, reflection, writing

One Word 2020

Where do you find your inspiration?

What guides you in your vision for the upcoming year?

How do you keep your focus on your goals from one month to the next?

For many years, I made a list of resolutions on the first day of the new year. I wanted to keep my house clean. Spend more time with family. Write more. Read more. Exercise more. I would attack my list with herculean strength, pushing myself to exhaustion trying to do it all, only to fall into the vast pit of failure when my goals were never attained.

In 2016, I called it quits. I’d had enough. I was barely treading water as my mother-in-law battled Stage 4 colon cancer and my mom battled Stage 4 lung cancer. Resolutions for a year meant nothing when your daily vision was shrouded in darkness.

That was the year I chose one word as a focus instead of a “must-do” list of limitations. I wrote my word on a post-it note and reflected on it throughout the year. It became a ray of light that guided my way.

2016 was the year I chose joy.

Or, perhaps, joy chose me.

See, 2016 was not a year of joy by most accounts. I lost my mother-in-law in March and several other family members throughout the year. It was the year my mother had to start experimental trials to battle a disease that had no mercy and would ultimately claim her life the following year. But joy was my focus and each day I woke up determined to find something joyful in the world around me.

I started to re-evaluate the relationships in my life and made the choice to step away from toxic people whose negativity pulled me down. I sought out positive people and refocused my social media accounts to connect with those who brought me joy through words and actions. I continued my kindness journey by sharing joy with others when I could.

It worked.

I ended 2016 realizing our mindsets are a powerful force in our satisfaction and stability in an uncertain world. While we can’t always change the circumstances we encounter, we most certainly can choose how we react to them.

In 2017, I chose resilience as my one word, anticipating the trials and tribulations that would surely come my way. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy as I held my mother’s hand as she took her last breath and I navigated major life transitions with my oldest child leaving home to attend college. Each time I felt knocked down by life, my one word served as a reminder to pick myself back up and keep going.

Then the magic of 2018 began with the word inspire. I submitted my very first book proposal to Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc. and 48 hours later I was signing a contract that would transform my passion of being a writer into my life’s dream of becoming a published author. My year was spent writing, revising, and editing which resulted in stretching myself in ways I never knew possible. My passion for kindness poured from my soul as I wrote in the morning. I wrote after the kids were in bed. I wrote on vacations, during road trips, and on flights across the country. My writing consumed my personal time, but I reminded myself that the sacrifice was necessary (and worth it!) for the opportunity to inspire others.

It was during that time that I received the 2018 R.E.B. Award for Teaching Excellence, which fully funded a professional learning experience to meet Kindness Cultivators around the world and learn more about their passions and programs. I was also named the 2019 Teacher of the Year for Mechanicsville Elementary which was an honor I held dear to my heart having served students and staff there for more than a decade.

Realizing 2019 would create unique opportunities to travel and speak to others about my passion for kindness, I chose the word uplift to be my focus this past year. This word guided me through my very first book release and all the incredible experiences that followed, which I detailed in my recent blog post, “Becoming an Author in 2019.”

Now it’s time to choose a new word to carry me through 2020. As I reflect on the past few years, and all the has happened in this life journey of mine, I keep thinking about my mom and her final days on earth. Oh, how she would have loved to see all that has happened! There’s a little pang in my heart every now and again, wishing she was here to experience the wonder and joy.

It’s in her memory that I choose my One Word for 2020: Radiate.

I wrote about this word in my book, sharing a personal story of one friend’s kindness for the woman who gave me life:

I also came across this quote recently which confirmed radiate as my focus word for the new year:

In 2020, I want to radiate warmth and love towards everyone I meet.

I want to radiate acceptance for who you are, as you are.

I want to radiate joy and peace with hope for the days ahead.

I want to radiate kindness with a brightness that permeates the darkness.

I also want to continue my kindness journey by completing 20 acts of kindness and I encourage you to do the same! Imagine if those around you committed to completing 20 acts of kindness this year – how much good we can put in the world!

I created a Google Slides template which you can use for yourself, your students, coworkers, family members, just about anybody! Simply click the link below and select “Use Template” in the top right corner. Then you can add your name to the title slide and edit the text boxes on each slide – one for each act of kindness you complete. You can add photos and images, too!

It would be amazing to see all the ways we can radiate kindness in 2020! If you would like to download the template – CLICK HERE! You can also share the link with others by copying this URL: When completed, I would love for you to share your link here so we can radiate kindness to the world:!

May 2020 bring the greatest joys you’ve yet to experience! Let’s get out there and make it an amazing year!


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2 thoughts on “One Word 2020”

  1. Reading about your #OneWord journey makes me smile so BIG, and I love that your word for 2020 is in memory of your mom. My mom also passed away from Cancer (in Jan 2018 from a brain tumor), and I miss her every day. I admire your strength and positivity so much. Thank you. 🙂

    I’m not sure why, but I have a difficult time finding my one word each year. One year I chose Explore, and I loved it, but my problem is that I feel like I want Explore to be my word every year. Ha!

    I’ve been thinking about the inspiration I found in your book, and I would like to make my word for 2020 Kindness, if that’s okay. 🙂 Along with my own acts of kindness, I’m going to challenge my students to do the same in 2020. That way, if they have a difficult time finding their own word, they can adopt Kindness (until they find a word of their own…or keep it for the year!). I love the template; it’s almost like a diary or journal to record our 2020 journey. I just wanted to say thank you so much for everything, as well as sharing and listening. (Sorry this is so long!) Happy New Year!!

    1. Oh, Tara! I love that you are choosing Kindness as your #OneWord2020! So awesome! I’m so glad my journey with my mom and with kindness has provided comfort and inspiration as you navigate your path as well. I can’t wait to see all the ways you radiate kindness in 2020! Keep me updated and Happy New Year!

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