A beloved Chicago Tribune columnist, a Southerner like me, bless her heart, presented a one-word challenge recently: Pick a word that will “guide you through the coming year.” Because it did not originate with her, I feel perfectly comfortable borrowing the idea and sharing it with you.
Tribune columnist Mary Schmich’s one word this year is pause.
“It’s a single syllable that says: Step away. Breathe. Focus. Make room for light and air. Don’t just react. Take time to choose,” she writes. “It can apply to almost everything, to drinking, eating, speaking, driving, pressing the email ‘send’ button.”
Curmudgeons, she says, may scoff at the idea of living by one word. Especially if they eschew resolution making. But I am a died-in-the-wool curmudgeon, and I love it. It doesn’t require a list of items to avoid: alcohol, ice cream, red meat, screaming, processed foods, or things to take on: jogging, meditation, kindness, Pilates.
It only requires one thoughtful word—and I suppose mindfulness—paying attention to that word throughout the year.
You (and I) have so many words to choose from. Mary writes that some words her readers say they are adopting this year include gratitude, agreeable, mindful, adapt, laugh, look, listen, move, be.
When I read Mary’s column, I was in the midst of an end-of-year vacation. I started a new position last year, and the intensity of it took me by surprise. So my vacation waited until it could wait no longer or I would lose it. As I read her column, the word that popped into my head was calm because that’s the way I felt toward the end of my time away from work.
I like feeling calm. Calm, to me means the absence of stress. And I want that. So much.
Calm is my word. What is yours?
Terri Lackey is director for communication for Women of the ELCA.
Mary discovered the one-word idea was popularized by an artist Ali Edwards on her blog, One Little Word.
Photo by Thomas Hawk, Creative Commons, used with permission
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