A Year’s Worth of Words

I love words. I play with words. Learn words. Look up words. Say words. Write words. In short, words fascinate me. They have power to inspire, motivate, captivate, express, elate, delight and at times make me weep with the pure beauty of them. On the other side of the coin, they can destroy, hurt, infuriate, sadden, abuse and lie. Sometimes just saying them is like music, art and poetry all wrapped up in one little word. My favorite wordsmiths are Annie Dillard and Diane Ackerman. If you have not read Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard, you should; but keep a dictionary handy. My volume has my favorite quotes from her book written on the inside covers and front and back pages, but her words and their definitions line the tops of each page. Her book was a Pulitzer winner and she deserved it. I am on my third reading of her book. Then there is always Shakespeare, who made up words. I love Shakespeare and I love that when he needed a word, he made one up. I make up my own words and they are perfect. Like wonderiffing. You would say it like this: I was wonderiffing, would you like to go exploring with me? Or wibbly….which is what I get when I am very dizzy. You see? Perfect words. Wibbly is actually onomatopoeic because it sounds exactly like what it feels like when I have vertigo.

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I read quite a few blogs at the beginning of the year and the bloggers wrote about landing upon a perfect word and making that word their word for the year. The idea is rather than making resolutions that they likely will not keep, they place their focus on one word for the entire year, which is much easier. The word then inspires them from day-to-day or month to month. I think this is commendable. Words work for me rather than jumbling (another made up word) them all up in a bunch of resolutions that usually sit at the bottom of my mind.

So I thought about doing that very thing. Selecting A word to inspire me and motivate me and change me over the course of a year. Then I thought about the reality of that. How probably the bloggers, at the end of the year, remember that they actually had a word of the year and then looked back over the course of that year and plugged in things that happened to them, or did not happen to them, and they made the word work. I could be judging there. Sometimes I do not even see a blogger, at year’s end, refer to that word. Sometimes I do. I did not want to fall into that category of backtracking over a year and deciding where my chosen word worked. I wanted to be reminded of that word every day and see how my life fit into it and around it, or how that word caressed the moments of my day and what I learned as I cuddled up against it.

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How could I simply choose ONE word….because there are SO MANY beautiful words out there and how could a single word fit over the course of 365 days, 52 weeks and 12 months of the entire year? I did not even factor in all those precious minutes from a single year. Minutes can change a life, or decorate it. My solution was to select 12 words for each month. A word to think on, act on, notice, apply, put into practice, to be consumed by and changed by. It made sense. So which of millions of words could I choose? I thinked and thought and thunked….and came up with 12 words that will direct the course of my life this year.

1 – Minister. I chose this word because the first two months of this year I are filling with caring for my 5-month-old granddaughter while her mama finishes her work at her place of employment, and then she will be a stay-at-home mama. Minister means to look after, tend or see to, but it also means to wait on, to comfort, support and care for. I wanted what I was doing to be a means of growing, of giving unselfishly, or nurturing those I love and spending the first months of my grandchild’s life in such a way that we bond forever. It also means giving my time to my grown children joyfully and completely, in finding ways to be of service to them because I love them so deeply. Minister reminds me of angelic tending to, as there are ministering angels in the heavens and I simply want to be an earthly one.

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2 – Connections. I chose this word because I want to make deeper connections with my own family and their families, but also with my friends and friends I do not yet know. I want to connect more with my community and offer more service when I am no longer being of consistent service to my children and to Mr. Farnia as he pursues his doctorate work. I also want to connect with the inner me, to find out whatever is still in me that I have not yet discovered. I want to connect with artists, authors and musicians. I want to connect more with my world and the world outside of my island. Mr. Farnia hopes to be in Europe in some near future. I hope to tag along sometime and make those global connections with him.

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3 – Magnify. To magnify mean to make bigger, to enlarge. I want to magnify my soul, my belief, my talents and abilities, my knowledge, my heart and everything I do. I want to live larger than life. I need to read more and learn more. Michelangelo, towards the end of his life and after accomplishing such marvelous works of art that it brought and still brings the world to its knees because of such beauty said this, “I am still learning.” Can you even imagine? I want to still learn. Every single day. But for one month of this year, I will learn whatever I can. And learning alone does not magnify one. It is the application of what one has learned that enlarges them. That is the tricky part.

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4 – Clarity. I need to know how to focus. To be still. There’s an art to being still. Especially being still inside. I need to tame my wild thoughts. I cannot not think of something….there are so many thoughts running rampant through the canyons of my mind. I need to fix that. Meditation is a good thing and I need to know how to meditate. To think of nothing and let my soul and heart and spirit be so still that after I’ve thought of nothing, I will think of everything with much more clarity. At least I hope it works that way. Winnie the Pooh said: “Think it over…think it under.” That’s lot of thinking. There is a word called eunoia, which means beautiful thinking and comes from the Greek word for a well mind. I need eunoia in my life. I need a well mind.

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5 – Dare. I’m a big chicken sometimes. A procrastinator. I fear. I do not worry so much any more, although I am sure some worry tinges my fear a bit. What I am afraid of is failing. I know, I know. There is no such word as failure to one who continually tries, unless one fails to get up after they fall. I also realize that some very perfect and beautiful things come from what we may perceive as failure. What I fear is that my dreams may not come true. There are things on my list of things to do in my life that will might never happen. So maybe it is time for a little list revising. That’s what I plan to do. Revise. Edit. Dare. Do something that absolutely scares me to death….in a good way. Dare to start something and dare to finish it. Dare to look at what I produce with nonjudgmental eyes. Dare to see that art (whatever it is) as an extension of me and a beginning and then go from there. Dare to try something new for dinner (within reason…no liver, no raw fish), tinker with a new idea. This daring mostly applies to my art and taking the time to develop that yearning in my soul. I’m not standing back and looking, but jumping in with both feet. My motto for this month: Alis volat propilis – she flies with her own wings.

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6 – Beautify. I once read a quote I found on a poster hanging in one of my children’s high school classrooms and it struck me as so simply perfect. It said something like this: “The Balinese people have no word for art…they simply do everything beautifully.” Holy cow. Talk about an epiphany. That’s what I wanted to do! And I tried. But now I really want to do this. William Morris (the famous wallpaper, furniture maker, designer guy) said, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” I think I have that covered as a move necessitated a purging of things that probably did not fall into these categories. I want to beautify my corner of the world. I want the food I cook, the gardens I plant, the words I write, the ideas I think and  the work of my hands to be beautiful. I want my heart to be beautiful. I want my thoughts to be beautiful and let my actions….all of them…reflect beauty. I want to seek it out and find it in obscure places…places that most people walk right by. My daddy taught me that through the lens of his camera. My grandmother taught me that in the gardens she planted. My mother taught me that by what delighted her.

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7 – Curious and Curiouser. Alice said it perfectly. That’s what I want to be: always curious and ever curiouser. I want to wonder more, discover the mysteries, find out more. Marcel Proust said that, “The real voyage of discovery consists of not seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” I want new eyes. I want to see in minute detail everything about me. I bought a maco-lens for my cell phone camera and it is amazing looking at the world through that thing. It enables me to see things with incredible detail. Sharply and clearly. I want to sit and just watch the world and see what transpires in moments. To see the small all around me. Things that I normally do not take notice of, yet what brims and buzzes and teems with life. Perhaps I will buy a magnifying glass and examine things through that lens. This month is about being observant. This applies not only to my world but also to people. To see without judgment and to love unconditionally, to see what isn’t being said. To take notice. Roald Dahl, one of my favorites, said: “Above all, watch with Glittering Eyes the Whole World around you because the Greatest Secrets are always hidden in the most Unlikely Places.” There is an artist’s term called pasticcio. It is a work of style produced by borrowing fragments, ingredients or motifs from various sources. I want my life to be the result of my personal pasticcio. I want to fill it with fragments and motifs. I want glittering eyes.

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8 – Wander. Sometimes I feel homesick for something that I cannot quite put my finger on. I just feel homesick. I have a yearning. I long for something. It could be my cottage when I am far away from it, but that’s more of a pull to me rather than homesickness. I get homesick for the tickly tinkle of children’s laughter. I am deeply homesick for Nielsen’s Frozen Custard’s cherry double almond concretes. I am homesick for some of my memories. I get homesick for Cannon Beach and Port Townsend. Before we moved to the island, I had wanderlust so bad. By the time I married and we moved to where we’ve now lived for all the time we’ve nearly been married, I lived in five states. My family moved to four different states while I was growing up and I liked that. It gave me chance to start over and make changes in my life that made me a better person. I like moving around. Coming to our island was a great move. I am not homesick for my old home, except at Christmas time. What I am homesick for are feelings and newness of things I haven’t found yet, but that are waiting for me. I miss them and I haven’t even bumped up against them yet. I am going to hike more, walk without having a place that I have to reach, I want to feel like I do when I walk on the beach. I get so lost in that present moment, lost in the beauty around me, that often times I turn back in amazement by how far I traveled on that vast length of beach. It stuns me. I want to be so consumed by a present moment that the past and future have no place in it. I want my life to feel like that. To be so lost in a moment or an hour or a day that I fill it to its apogee.

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9 – Elysian. This word is a new discovery. It is Greek and means: beautiful or creative; divinely inspired; peaceful; perfect. It all works for me. Although my life is not perfect, nor am I, I think it important that we seek FOR perfection….or to be as perfect as we can be. Perfection is not my goal. It is not my destination. It really isn’t even on the map. It is simply a way of trying to live. The practical part of this word for me is the divinely inspired part. The beautiful and creative part sort of mingle with the other words I’ve chosen for the month and I like that because then they remind me that the days and months and minutes and moments of a year all have to work together anyway for any sort of progress to take place. So the divinely inspired part….that’s what I fully intend on working on. That “be still” part I talked about earlier. Being still enough so that I can hear what is whispered to me as I read, as I study, as I learn, as I teach, as I create….as I live.

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10 – Embrace. I love this word. Embracing is more than hugging. A hug is quick, but an embrace is well-thought-out. It is intentional. You embrace another as long as necessary because your hearts connect and there’s a bit of unspoken communication going on. My daddy was a crazy good embracer. You quite literally fell into his arms. I never wanted him to let go. I’d give anything to be enveloped in his hug right now. When I was a little girl, when our family went somewhere that resulted in us getting home later than my bedtime, I always pretended to be asleep so that he would have to carry me upstairs to my bed and tuck me in. He would hold me so close to him and I would have my arms tight around his neck so that I could smell his cologne, feel his breath on my neck and the sandpapery roughness of his whiskers on my cheek. His heart beat with mine. That is an embrace. It is comfort and security. It is full-on unconditional love. I want to embrace the world and its people. I want to embrace new ideas and new ways of seeing things. I want to embrace my life. I want to bring all those things into my arms and pull them close to my heart and love the daylights out of them.

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11 – Kindness. I chose this word because I believe that kindness will change the world because kindness stems from unselfish love. We all need to be kind. J.M.M. Barrie said that we all need to be kinder than necessary. I love that. That means kicking unselfishness from our hearts. It means acts of service. Of thinking of another and their situation. It means putting a dollar in every Salvation Army bucket you pass at Christmas time. It means giving someone on the street a hamburger or $5….especially when it is your last $5. My dear friend Val taught me that lesson and she was a tremendous example of that, especially in the last years of her life. We cannot judge another. Ever. We cannot assume. I get in real trouble assuming things. That is one of my biggest faults and I want to eradicate that fault this year. I never want to assume again. I want to randomly do acts of kindness without even hardly thinking about them. They become automatic. That means I am going to really have to work hard on every word each month because eventually it will all lead to this: kindness. It means giving people the benefit of the doubt. Of smiling. Of forgiving. I have to find out what my gifts are and then give them. Everyone struggles and touching someone’s life with kindness will ease that struggle. I also need to be kinder to myself. Oh my gosh….this will be the biggest challenge, I think. Sometimes I am not very kind to myself, so there is going to be some good self-talk going on.

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12 – Scriptunent. Another new word I happened upon. It means having a consuming passion to write. I have that. Or had it. I’m taking it off that shelf where I shoved it, and where I keep shoving it from time to time, and I am going to dust it off, open it up and start using it. That means more writing. I will finally develop the habit of writing. Sending things off to publishers and then hoping and then sending more out. It means blogging more. I won’t make a promise of a blog a week, but I am working towards that. That is a huge challenge. Do I have enough words? Ideas? Things to share? Gosh…I so hope so. Write. As Isabel Allende said, “Write what should not be forgotten.”

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Thank you for reading along with me. It is going to be a great year. All photos are from my Instagram site and I would love to have you follow along with me in my year’s discovery. The photos are a bit out of focus here because I have not yet learned how to take them from teeny tiny Instagram pictures and put them here without having them blurry when I enlarge them. One of those things I definitely have to do this year!

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14 thoughts on “A Year’s Worth of Words

  1. Pingback: A Year’s Worth of Words | The Chronicles of Farnia

  2. Bestie, you are totally brilliant!!! Reading your blog took my breath away! You amaze me in all ways, always! You are my inspiration. ❤

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  3. So love this and you! You are already so many of these beautiful words you chose to use, what a wonderfully brilliant way to shine your special light in the world. Thank you for sharing your many gifts and talents. Always an inspiration you are!

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  4. Jennifer What an absolutely beautiful inspiring post. You always have such a way with words. Your 12 words are inspiring for all of us to live like this. It would be great if you would check back in each month with a post talking about the things you did or a story related to your word for that chosen month. Your beauty as a person shines brilliantly. Keep up the good work. Looking forward to reading your next post. Write on ……:))))

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    • thank you for your kind words…they pretty much filled me. i find myself smiling every single time i read one of your responses. monthly checking in is a great idea, thank you for that. having to report to my readers will keep me on my toes and on track. thank you for your encouragement and for reaching out across so many miles in friendship.

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    • you made my heart smile and made me blush. thank you for the idea to check back with my readers each month. it will keep me on track knowing i have to be responsible. i am grateful to know that our hearts can reach out in friendship to one another across all the miles from me to you. it is the most amazing thing feeling that a person i’ve never even met has so much in common with me and is my friend….and all through the magic of technology. technology has certainly shortened the distance; but, what i wouldn’t give to sit right next to you and learn you, discover you and see the way your eyes twinkle or watch your smile transform your face as we share a particular joy. i’m still planning on your visit to my island in a couple of years!

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  5. oh…I find I am so connected to you~so much of same mind and heart~
    Words…i love them…to communicate, feel, learn understand. I love to write them and ponder them. My very favorite Harry Potter quote. Ever. From Dumbledore: “…words are, in my not so humble opinion…our most inexhaustible source of magic, capable of inflicting injury and remedying it.” They can be a weapon or a source of healing, enlightenment…Thanks for this beautiful and inspiring post. Your words are just… wonderific… in every way! I so love you!~xoxo

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  6. oh, precious little niece…thank you for reminding me of the dumbledore quote. i’d quite forgotten it. we have always had a sweet connection…it has always been there. wish oh wish that we were closer to celebrate that connectedness more often than every few years. the beautiful thing is that even though we don’t see each other for so long, when we do, it’s like all our words and thoughts and feelings and idea just tumble out of us and i wish there were nets nearby to scoop them all up so i could pack them in a suitcase and bring them home with me. i would pull all those lovely treasures out on certain days and breathe life into my day just sorting through them all. i love you so. you are wonderific as well….it takes someone wonderific to know a wonderific. and you, in every way….simply wonderific.

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