family, reflection

One Word 2022

One of my favorite memories from 2021 was standing outside as the thin blanket of snow melted across the grass. The sun’s brightness was in sharp contrast with the frigid temperatures surrounding me, and the juxtaposition of light and air held me spellbound for just a moment. As my gaze traveled from the treetops to my feet, I saw the most wonderful sight: a heart shape formed by the snow.

A perfectly formed heart in the melting snow.

I have a special connection to hearts discovered in unexpected places which I wrote about in March and captured in photographs throughout the year. They remind me of family and friends who have passed on. They remind me of God’s love for me. They remind me that I’m never alone.

They also create a moment of awe and wonder, pushing pause on a busy life that might otherwise overlook the ordinary.

When this year began, I chose “Appreciate” as my #OneWord2021. On the heels of a pandemic that turned the world upside down, I wanted to make appreciation intentional.

To look for the good.

To experience the joy.

To appreciate the world around me.

Small moments. Big moments. I wanted to embrace all the things with a new level of satisfaction and contentment, without assumptions or expectations.

I wanted to live in the moment and not take things for granted.

I embraced simple pleasures in 2021:

Feeling the weight of a cozy fleece blanket as I curled in my favorite spot on the sofa to read another chapter in a new book.

Standing in wonder at a star-filled sky on a clear autumn night, remembering camping trips we had taken with the kids when they were younger.

Enjoying the warmth of the sun wrap around my skin like a heavenly hug in the summer as I listened to the melodic pentameter of waves crashing on the shore.

I captured moments with my camera that made me smile:

#HiMom hearts that appeared from nowhere.

Witnessing kind acts of others.

Playing board games with my children.

I acknowledged the limitations that this pandemic (and life spans in general) place on our daily activities, yet decided to live my best life just the same. I embraced every opportunity that came my way.

I traveled to Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Venice, CA.

Las Vegas. Arizona. Utah.

Rochester, NY and New York City.

I stood on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and listened to the sweet serenity of silence.

I marched in the New York City Veteran’s Day parade beside my husband and reflected on those early years of marriage that carried us from Florida to Nevada to Tennessee and later brought forth three children.

I traversed my home state of Virginia from the East Coast beaches to the western Appalachian Plateau and marveled at the four seasons of change while reflecting on my own changes, too.

I celebrated milestones with my family:

My daughter’s college graduation and engagement five months later.

My oldest son’s engineering internship and his college acceptance letters.

My youngest son’s newfound spark for reading and mastery of advanced classes at school.

I placed boundaries on my time and commitments and enjoyed the slower pace of intentional choice.

I read books.

I wrote pages of story drafts.

I said “No” to make space for a greater “Yes.”

Even in this space of appreciation, there were several things I didn’t do:

I didn’t allow the opinions of others to dictate the passions of my soul.

I didn’t compromise my beliefs to make someone else feel comfortable.

I didn’t seethe in the spiral of bitterness and hatred the world so often portrays.

I didn’t live in fear.

Was 2021 a challenging year?

Absolutely.

Were there times when I wanted to crawl into the sanctity of my personal space and walk away from the suffering and strife?

Of course.

Did I feel the public whiplash of negativity towards education in a year where teaching was just as stressful as 2020 (if not more so?)

100%.

But the lessons I learned through my year-long focus on appreciation showed me that satisfaction isn’t about reaching the summit each time you climb. Nor is it about the accolades of others who only appear at the finish line.

It’s appreciating the adventure along the way.

Continue.

Sometimes our journey requires small steps. We might need to adjust the weight of the load we carry. There are moments we should pause to catch our breath, to restore and renew. We might even need to backtrack a bit should we discover ourselves off-course.

Our journey requires kindness, for ourselves and for others. How are we holding space for those around us with empathy and compassion? Are we giving others grace in their time of need while still maintaining boundaries for self-care? Are we doing our best without burning our candles at both ends?

Continue the journey.

Seek joy in each day.

Recognize that making the first step towards action is the most important step to take.

Never forget the transformational power of kindness to heal the brokenness of this world.

My #OneWord2022 is inspired by the eloquent words of Maya Angelou captured below:

My wish for you
Is that you continue

Continue

To be who and how you are
To astonish a mean world
With your acts of kindness

Continue

To allow humor to lighten the burden
Of your tender heart

Continue

In a society dark with cruelty
To let the people hear the grandeur
Of God in the peals of your laughter

Continue

To let your eloquence
Elevate the people to heights
They had only imagined

Continue

To remind the people that
Each is as good as the other
And that no one is beneath
Nor above you

Continue

To remember your own young years
And look with favor upon the lost
And the least and the lonely

Continue

To put the mantle of your protection
Around the bodies of
The young and defenseless

Continue

To take the hand of the despised
And diseased and walk proudly with them
In the high street
Some might see you and
Be encouraged to do likewise

Continue

To plant a public kiss of concern
On the cheek of the sick
And the aged and infirm
And count that as a
Natural action to be expected

Continue

To let gratitude be the pillow
Upon which you kneel to
Say your nightly prayer
And let faith be the bridge
You build to overcome evil
And welcome good

Continue

To ignore no vision
Which comes to enlarge your range
And increase your spirit

Continue

To dare to love deeply
And risk everything
For the good thing

Continue

To float
Happily in the sea of infinite substance
Which set aside riches for you
Before you had a name

Continue

And by doing so
You and your work
Will be able to continue
Eternally

I hope 2022 brings moments of appreciation to help us grow in our love for one another, celebrate moments of joy and wonder, and continue our purpose in this world.

One Word Goals

2022 – Continue

2021 – Appreciate

2020 – Radiate

2019 – Uplift

2018 – Inspire

2017 – Resilience

2016 – Joy


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4 thoughts on “One Word 2022”

    1. Thank you for your kind words and taking time to read my post! Means so much! I love your hashtag which sums it all perfectly: count it all joy!

  1. I truly enjoyed reading your post this morning and being able to just meditate on the words and meanings within your writing. Your such an inspiration and your writing continues to lidt up my spirits. Thanks for sharing your God given talent and inspiration.

    1. Thank you for such kind words about my writing! I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. As writers, we often wonder what impact we might have on those who read our words. Your message made my day!

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