#reverb11: One Word

Since 2009 (and in some ways before that), I've formally participated in some kind of reflective practice, looking back on the year behind and setting intentions for the year ahead. In 2009, I participated in Gwen Bell's Best of 2009 challenge that morphed into last year's Reverb10 and though Gwen isn't hosting the challenge this year, many members of the reverb community have taken up the mantle and are designing email lists and creating prompts, which makes me very happy because I have enjoyed getting to know other bloggers as much as I have appreciated the practice of taking stock of my year in order to create and revise goals for the next year. 

Today's prompt is a repeat of last year's because it really does help frame our thoughts, or at least mine, regarding what I wanted 2011 to be and what actually happened.

The Prompt: One Word. Encapsulate the year 2011 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2012 for you?

Y'all know I can't just use one word to talk about this year, don't you? Besides, 2011 is cut into halves for me and not just because I work on a semester system. The best way I can encapsulate this year is: revolution. 


Defined as: a sudden, complete or marked change in something;
a procedure or course, as if in a circuit, back to a starting point.

This is exactly what happened in 2011. A revolution. Everything I believed in so confidently was shaken. This doesn't mean 2011 was bad. It wasn't. I got engaged and married. Many of my close friends got married. One of my closest friends had a gorgeous daughter. There was a lot to celebrate in the second half of this year. I see the second half as part of the rebuilding process after everything went a little but nuts. 

Originally, I'd set my intentions for 2011 to be based from the word thrive.  As I said then, I wanted to step out and be more present, more visible. I wanted to flourish and grow in confidence, doing more than just getting by, in all aspects of my life. 

Once I set that intention, I became incredibly aware of areas in my life where I wasn't thriving and it became very difficult (due to some external forces) to even try to do so. I started to question everything, but especially my career path. I was very disenchanted, confused and ultimately, lost. Things I thought I knew, was so sure of, suddenly were not so stable and secure, after all. 

I spent a good deal of 2011 indignant at the wrongs done to me, shocked at the treatment I was receiving and saddened by the whole ordeal. Ultimately, I had to let go of what I'd imagined for myself and manage the reality before me, which at my core, I knew was heading in a much happier and healthier direction. I needed new soil to grow, as much as it hurt to acknowledge that. 

I began to understand what was holding me back, strangling me, what my weeds were-- to extend the metaphor. And I realized that I needed to make some changes so that I could thrive, which meant I needed to feed and nurture some dormant parts of me. (This is the second half of the year.)

This Fall, I had to admit for all the work I thought I'd done, there are still some things that need tending. For me, one major part of this is getting back to writing, to being creative, to playing with ideas, words, language, photography, finding ways to be inspired. I defined 2010 as a year of appreciation, which in my desire to push myself beyond the moment, I kind of forgot what it was like to just stop and take notice. So, I took Karen Walrond's Pathfinder Course which got me journaling again. I started taking photographs in a purposeful and dedicated way, letting the beauty back in, noticing what amazing and glorious things/people/places surround me. I also stopped making excuses for certain people in my life and tried to be more honest and authentic about who I am and what I want. 

I love the plant metaphor because there are so many things required for plants to grow and thrive. And I'm kind of terrible with plants because I either pay too much attention or not enough to them. Talk about metaphors, right?

What I want to spend 2012 doing is tending. Definitions of tend include: 

listening, serving, taking care of, looking after, my favorite: to stand by in readiness


A few weeks ago, I posted Charles Bukowski's poem "The Laughing Heart" which challenges its readers/listeners to "be on the watch." I wasn't as much on the watch as I should have been in 2011. 

In 2012, I want to be on the watch, to notice and listen and look after both myself and my heart but also others. I love that tend is derived from Middle French tendre, meaning to stretch, extend. And that this is also where the word tender comes from. This is important because it expresses my goals 2012, to stretch my mind, extend my heart, to be ready (meaning open) for whatever comes my way.