Friday, January 3, 2014

2014 in a word

This is my third year to be part of the OneWord365 community. Shepherded by my lovely friend Alece, this project has been an amazing way to define my life in Nashville. Year One was all about "pluck"; Year Two was about being "rooted"; and Year Three?

Well, as my third year in Nashville begins (this weekend was my two year Nashiversary!), it is all about being MINDFUL.

As with my last two words, mindful came to me on its own. This spring I bought a little canvas because I knew I needed a constant reminder to just "be". In November I was playing with the words "intentional" and "simplify" and neither was just right. Over the Thanksgiving holiday I spent time at my family's small organic farm, and as we sat around the table I was so satisfied. Everything was done with care, and with an awareness that we lack when we're disconnected from nature. I came back to an inoperable vehicle, no permanent place to live, and a blank slate.

As the repair costs skyrocketed, I explored the idea of attempting a car-free lifestyle. Simultaneously, I was pondering adopting a new attitude when it came to food, and since I was in the midst of moving I'd been systematically purging my possessions.

2014 began to look like a year that was going to be all about intentionality. But instead of making my year about my goals, I decided to make it about the thought and feeling behind my choices. I want to spend this year being mindful of why I do what I do. In some cases, this will reveal my passions and values. In others, it will expose unhealthy patterns and motives. I'm eager to take on both!

As I said last week, I can't quite abandon measurable goals. It's not in my nature. So I've divided my year of mindfulness into four quadrants, each with its own sets of goals. The more I've thought about it, the more excited I've become as I add goals on. It's a lot to tackle at once, but since the thrust behind this year doesn't necessarily lie with outcomes but with motive, I'm willing to risk overdoing it a bit. The bottom line is to always show ourselves grace and not to give up.

I'll lay out my specific goals for the year later this week, so for now tell me: what's your theme/word for 2014?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Looking Back at One Word 2013: a year of putting down roots

I was going to share my goals for 2014 with you today, but quickly realized that I wasn't ready to write about 2014 without looking back at 2013 for a moment.

In 2013, my focus was on being rooted. To see more about my OneWord365, click on the category in the sidebar (apologies for not linking, I'm writing this on my iPhone). I chose the word "rooted" for a host of reasons, but in the end it was my attempt to feel connected to my community in a way I never have been before.

I've moved more times than I can count, and Tennessee is the fifth state I've called home in the past ten years. All of that wandering makes it hard to feel a part of something and to foster deep relationships. Nashville is where I'm called to be for the inevitable future and I wanted to make an effort not to continue my detached ways.

This time last year I thought I knew exactly what putting down roots in my community would look like. However, by May everything had changed and I can honestly say that not one thing about how I ended 2013 was like it was when the year began. While that wasn't easy, it was certainly all for the best. I could never have predicted how drastically my life would change last year, but having chosen to commit helped me in significant ways.

There was a point this fall where I wasn't sure I would stay in Nashville. That was a supremely painful season (both literally and figuratively) but it showed me that I couldn't bear the thought of uprooting myself from this city I've come to adore. In the past, I probably wouldn't have thought twice about moving on. Instead I chose to stay, and fight, and nourish my roots.

Choosing to value community and commitment has helped me to grow in huge ways this year, and I can say without exaggeration that it has marked me and completely reframed my worldview. I'm encountering 2014 with a new mindset, and I'm so glad.

I talked yesterday about letting my theme for the year guide my goals. I had no idea what would come from it all, but in the end I think my roots are strong and that I, as a result, am stronger.

I can't wait to share with you my word for 2014 on Monday! To learn more about the OneWord project, visit

What would you say was the theme of your year? Is it what you thought it would be back in January?

To help me remember to be rooted even as my focus shifts, I bought some plants. Let's see if I can keep them alive!


It is common to hear people dismiss the art of making new year's resolutions because of their failure rate. If the odds aren't with you, why bother? You swear every January you're going to change __________ this year. Really.

And come February everything is as it was before your lofty goal setting.

I'm no expert on resolutions or goal setting. I have, though, had a bit of experience in not only achieving major life goals in the past few years but also in failing spectacularly. If you're wise, you'll allow your failure to inform your behavior and while you may (and likely will) fail again, at least you won't be repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

Here is how I've crafted my resolutions this year. Maybe some of these strategies will help you:

1. I choose a theme for my year - a word or concept that I feel (or hope) will define most of my life over the coming months. While many in the OneWord365 community choose a theme to completely replace resolutions, I prefer to let it inform my resolutions. What can I say - a word isn't enough for me, I need a list!

2. Keeping my theme in mind, I evaluate my greatest success and my greatest frustration of the preceding year. My goals for the new year will include doing more of what I'm doing well, and working to address and get a handle on what frustrates me.

3. I'm honest with myself. I realistically appraise my time and resources, so I don't overdo it on goals I won't be able to achieve from the start. I prioritize what matters most to me, and limit my goals to those areas. This is probably my greatest weakness when it comes to goal setting. I constantly try to do too much at once!

4. I aim to be as specific and concrete as possible. "Being healthier" is vague and provides no way to measure progress. However, vowing to raise my heart rate by being active a certain amount of time each week is something I can evaluate, and still moves me toward my overarching desire for "health".

5. Take time on a regular basis to take a pulse check - how are things going? If you're prone to forgetting (or ignoring) your goals, write them out and display them where you'll see them.

6. Finally, be flexible. As you evaluate your progress, you may find that you need to tweak your goals. Modified success is better than complete failure, so don't be TOO rigid. Discipline is important, but don't take it to the extreme. You'll only get discouraged and give up.

That's a snapshot of how I begin the goal setting process and structure achieving my resolutions. I won't claim any of those strategies are revolutionary or original, but I find them to be useful.

Tomorrow I'll lay out how I've categorized my goals for 2014, and give you a glimpse of what's to come around these parts this year.

Do you struggle with keeping your resolutions or achieving your goals? How do you set yourself up for success?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

cheers to the next blank page

Like everybody else, I place great significance on the power of a new year to herald a fresh start. True, January 1st doesn't have any magical powers and I'm no more able to change today than I was yesterday. But as people, we need symbolism and tradition and so I am here to say: Welcome 2014. May you bring with you beauty and growth.

I'll be back later with "year end" posts, as well as updates on my word for 2014, my goals, and some catching up on what happened in the past couple of months. I'm so glad I decided to resume blogging (albeit sporadically it seems) and that I got to share 2013 with you!

I hope you have a lovely, fresh start to the year! My only goal today is to find a cupcake since it just so happens to be my birthday.

Happy New Year!

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