For example, at the end of 2009 we were both feeling helpless and hopeless over the lack of progress against Climate Change at Copenhagen, and our government's lack of care for our environment. I was getting really depressed about the fact that, though I do my darndest to live lightly on our earth, our politicians are still fixed on monetary issues and give handouts to big business so the stock markets go up, rather than invest in really important things -- like the health of the planet that sustains us all.
After some moaning and complaining about the state of the earth, Cathy and I picked the word Hope for 2010, a bold and daring word at a time when having Hope for our planet felt next to impossible in a lot of ways. Hope became our challenge. We started pointing out to each other the positives that we noticed... the number of people we met who were starting to wake up to the climate crisis... the hockey player who payed for his carbon emissions... the media outlets who gave climate change issues a lot of coverage... groups like Sierra Club and the David Suzuki Foundation and all their followers and all the good things they were doing... organizations like Kiva, helping the poorest of the poor... local food initiatives... recycling projects... cooperative living groups... and so many more. Over time, Hope bloomed in both of us. I think it's safe to say we ended 2010 with more Hope than when we started.
Once we had Hope, we decided to keep it going by rejoicing in the good and enjoying Joy in 2011, wherever we found it. We didn't talk about Joy as much as we did about Hope, because we didn't need to, I think. (I've been trying to remember other words of the year... one was Freedom (from rumination about frustration), but my middle aged brain isn't forthcoming with any others -- Cathy, can you help?)
So what's this year's word? Well, now that we have Hope and Joy under our belts, we're shifting gears again. Cathy, a palliative care nurse, has just finished a much-needed and highly-prized 3-month sabbatical break from work and is starting back at part-time hospice home-care, and part-time parish nursing. As for me, I've been struggling with dizziness for two months, working only half of my part-time position at L'Arche, and trying to keep up with my responsibilities at home.
So what better word than (drum roll please....) Balance.
It would be wonderful to regain my sense of Balance in the physical, literal sense... and it would be fantastic to live 2012 in a balanced way... working enough to give a sense of purpose, and resting enough to feel healthy, eating wisely (Cathy's inspiring me more and more toward vegetarianism), getting exercise, connecting with nature through our gardens, spending time with loved ones, and doing those extra things that fill life with meaning and Hope and Joy and all those words from years gone by.
Balance. Yes. We like it. It's our word of the year!