Thursday, January 03, 2019

One Word 365: Elevate

By my count, this is my sixth year participating in One Word 365, which is an alternative to making New Year's resolutions.

The idea is that rather than making a list of things you intend to do differently or stop doing or start doing, you just pick one word to live by for the entire year.

I've had better and worse years doing this, but for the most part I've greatly preferred doing it to attempts to keep up with that aforementioned list like many others try to do.

So in 2018, my word was Breathe:
I have found over the years that when I need to give myself a timeout to calm myself down in the midst of responsibilities and deadlines and heightened anxiety, one of the most effective practices I've observed is sitting and taking deep breaths for as long as it takes. When I'm kept up at night by any number of worries or past failures, slowing and deepening my breathing is what helps me settle my mind and body. 


On top of intentionally taking time to be still and relax, I want to really be still and lay down the day's concerns, to be able to come at them fresh again later. This includes regularly asking questions like, "how important is this, really?" It includes intentionally relying on family and friends when things seem overwhelming. It includes letting go of what can't be fixed, retrieved, or controlled. It includes simple things like taking time off from social media or other things that I might view as relaxing but sometimes cause stress rather than relieve it.
I have to say that I've had better years with this concept than I did this year. But there were many times when I did take time to take deep breaths when I found myself overwhelmed. I took time off from social media as intended here and there, and recognized when I needed to walk away from other things for a while as well. I also learned more about myself and my relationship to anxiety this year, and Breathe became very critical to that process.

Now that we've entered a new year, I need a new word. And 2019 will be a special year in some ways: I turn 40 next month, and I'll be taking a month's sabbatical from my church this summer. For those reasons, I want this year to be one of reflection, self-evaluation, dreaming for the future, and removal of some inhibitions.

In that spirit, for 2019 I've chosen the word Elevate.

It seems to be the most comprehensive description for what I'd like 2019 to be, which is an elevation of my physical, emotional, and spiritual health. This includes greater self-awareness and discernment, greater exercise, greater indulgence in what I need and shedding of what isn't necessary. And in turn, such things will elevate quality of creative output, vocational commitment, attention to relationships, and self-conception.

So here's to a new year, and to an elevation of many worthwhile things.