Happy New Year: My One Little Word 2022
Ready or not, here it comes. Hello 2022. I'd like to say I'm excited about a new year, but the last two have made me somewhat cautious.
When I was a kid, my great grandmother had a cottage that was just a quick walk from a lake. My brother and I used to venture to the end of the road and sit on a large concrete slab that had been placed by the water. One of my favorite things to do when we were there was pick up rocks and throw them into the water. I could throw rocks and watch the ripples for hours. In that time, I learned that the size of the rock wasn't the only thing that determined its ripple. In addition to size, the shape also could impact the ripple as could the way it was thrown.
I carried my love of watching ripples in water to most any creek, pond, lake or river I visited. I'm not sure if it was the throwing of the stone, watching the ripples that resulted, or the actual quest for the perfect stone that I enjoyed the most. Of course, throwing rocks into a lake is different than throwing them into creeks, ponds, rivers and oceans. In each setting, you have to make adjustments in your stone selection.
What does all this have to do with one my little word?
Finding the Best Stones
Last year (2021), I retired after 33 years in education. If you would have asked me just a year before when I would retire, I would have been unable to answer. I had always wondered how I would walk away from teaching. How would I step forward and leave something that was such a part of the fabric of my life? In 2021, suddenly the time seemed exactly right. Of course, as in all new beginnings, retirement has shifted the rituals and routines that I have known for so long. Retirement from a profession you love is its own metamorphosis. Who am I now? What do I value most? How do I want to use my time? What passions do I want to pursue?
I have been giving these questions much thought as we head into a new year. Recently I was struck by another question. In an end of year message, Jess Keating asked: "What yeses belong to your Past Self, that your Future Self doesn't want?"
Her question brought me pause.
Here I sit, at this new beginning. I haven't felt this much freedom since I parked my car at Ohio State's campus and headed to my first class with a world of opportunity in front of me. My kids are finding their way in their own worlds now, my time no longer feels limited, and I have the ability to reshape my life moving forward.
As I started to select a word for this year, I knew I wanted one that would help me discover what matters most.
My past words/phrases:
Last year, I selected "Choose JOY" as my word/phrase for 2021. Everything felt hard as we moved from 2020 to 2021 and I was, quite frankly, exhausted. The priorities of teaching and my life seemed so out of order. I knew I needed to focus on intentionally choosing JOY. I needed to rethink whether the decisions I was making were really the best ones for me. I needed to reprioritize. I needed to get back to finding JOY.
That's exactly what I did. I chose JOY every day. I chose JOY when we left one virus wave for another. I chose JOY when the world was shouting.
Choosing JOY made all the difference. (It's always there if you look.)
JOY was a choice. Jess's question also reminds me that the yeses I take up now are my choice and I need to be thoughtful about them.
Yes, all this brings me back to the lake where I once I threw stones. What are the new stones I want to pick up? Which will create the best ripple? So my one little word in 2022 will be ripple.
As I step into this new space and time, I find myself asking:
- What brings me JOY?
- What are the important rocks - the life stones, if you will - that create the greatest ripples?
- What are the rhythms of my new days?
- When should I float? When should I swim?
In 2022, I will be looking for the best stones to pick up and throw in this new body of water. Which ones create the greatest ripples?