One Little Word 2020

As Christmas approached this year, I looked at the calendar and took a deep breath.  We were out of school on Friday and everyone was arriving on Saturday.  I certainly didn't want it any other way as I was looking forward to having everyone with us for a week, but how I was going to get ready?  I host Christmas every year which I absolutely love.  We have a lot of family in and out over the course of a week and it is a lot of meals.  It's delightful, but getting ready without even a day was going to prove a challenge for my procrastinator ways.

With age, comes wisdom (or so they say).  Since the timeline was tight, and honestly I was pretty tired from school, I decided I needed to do things with a bit more simplicity.  I wanted to spend more time with everyone while they were here and not worry so much about all of the food.  I looked for places to make cuts/changes.  I called all of my family members and asked them to bring 1-2 dozen cookies...and it was fine if they were Oreos.  ;o)  I also asked that everyone make an appetizer for Christmas Eve.

During the two weeks before everyone's arrival I set up a cleaning calendar and made a few meals that were easily put in the freezer.  I gave my husband and son a list of ways they could help before everyone arrived.  Saturday morning I got up, put the finishing touches on my to-do list, and was ready by the time everyone arrived.

Sorry, Fam. I couldn't find one picture
where we were all looking in the
right direction.  Ha!  (Next year,
we need to fix the lighting.)
It all worked fabulously. Honestly, I think everyone was happy to help a bit (well, that's what I'm telling myself).  I had time to enjoy all of the family.  It made me think of a truth of my world; I needed to find more ways to simplify.  I'm an over-thinker, over-doer, over-solver.  I have to watch myself that I don't make what can be solved quite simply harder than it needs to be.  During Christmas we had everything we needed and the time was so enjoyable.


Here we go.  New decade.  New year.  New word.  Truthfully, I like the years where my words find me not the year where I seem to have search for the word.  Last year's word didn't fit very well.  Apparently I'm not really very good at staying centered.  Go figure.  I guess it makes sense that someone who has never believed in balance won't find any help from a word like center.  For the new year my word wasn't coming to me so I started to make a list of possibilities.  As I stared at the words before me, I realized they fell into three categories.

  1. Words that gave me peace, but didn't seem to really lead to any action.  (I guess I prefer a word that pushes me toward intention and gives me a path forward.)  
  2. Words that worked for my personal life, but not my professional life or vice versa.  (My past words have always worked for both.)
  3. I was left with a group of words that seemed to connect in making small changes:  refine, simplify, sankalpa, and step.  
As I reflected on the group of words - and the week with my family - I realized there might be some space for some simplicity in life:  personally and professionally.  It seemed all four words were important:

  • Refine:  It's a word I've loved since I started my professional blog, Reflect and Refine:  Building a Learning Community, in 2010.  (A decade of blogging kind of blows me away.) It also seemed a good word for the coming year as I'm pretty happy in my world.  I've set patterns and things I like to do, but life can always use a little refining: a little more exercise, a little more attention to the big family events coming, a few more adult books (you know how it is).
  • Simplify:  If you know me, you get this.  I have to keep myself in check not to make things harder than they need to be.  Additionally, I have the privilege of working alongside teachers every day.  I worry all of the time about them.  They are asked to do so much...SO MUCH.  I often wonder if we carved our work back to its most essential pieces would we provide some margin?  Might it improve what we do?  How could we simplify?
  • Sankalpa:  Okay, I've loved this word since I read it in Tyler Knott Gregson's, Miracle in the Mundane:  Poems, Prompts, and Inspiration to Unlock Your Creativity and Unfiltered Joy. (Yep, I love this book!)  Sankalpa is a word used in yoga to set intention or resolve.  I think my favorite explanation is here.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not a yoga person.  Who can sit still for so long?  However, I do love the principles I read about.  Maybe some day I'll get to the place where I can let yoga into my life.
  • Step:  This word keeps coming back to my world in conversations with others, in my life since my kids are all adulting in the world, and in my professional work.  Sometimes we just need to trust and step.  

As I looked at this list, I realized all of the words connected, but the goal ultimately would be to SIMPLIFY.  You can tell by how long it took me to weave around to the point of my new word that I have some work to do to SIMPLIFY.  Bahahahahaha  However, I also know that it will take these other words alongside.  I will need to be thoughtful about places to refine, utilize sankalpa to find intention, then trust and step forward to SIMPLIFY.  

We'll see out it goes...

I hope I find that this year's word will serve me well.  

My Past Words


  1. I love your word as well as the story behind it. Simplify brings a sense of peace and calm. Now, sankalpa intrigues me. I’ve never heard this word and I like the idea behind it. Looking forward to learning some lessons on how to simplify this year. I know it’s definitely something I need to learn. Happy New Year!


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