Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The word of the year, 2018 edition

Moodlings followers who have been reading here for a while know that my best friend and I have a ritual of picking a theme word to focus on each year. Past words have included Freedom, Joy, Balance, Tenderness, and many more -- I think we started the practice of a Word of the Year in about 2003. I wish I had kept a list of our words over the years -- that would be 15 now! Actually, I suspect many of them are included in the handwritten letters we still write now and then and have saved over the years. Our friendship was founded on snail mail from the time we were ten, and we tend to discuss the really important things in our relationship via pen and ink.

Our word of the year for 2017 was Tenderness, and with hindsight, Cathy and I see that it was an essential word for both of us. We are both TWOs on the Enneagram, the kind of people who constantly put our own needs last, doing everything that we think other people need us to do before tending to ourselves, sometimes out of a "need to be needed." The word Tenderness came up in our conversations and letters over the past year when we were stressed or tired and not looking after ourselves. "Be tender with yourself," one or the other of us would say, and the comfort in that suggestion carried the day.

2017 was a very challenging year for me. Part of my tenderness toward myself recently was seeking out a counselor, a lovely woman who helped me to realize that my inner critic was dominating my thinking and making my life miserable. You know (or maybe you don't) -- that little voice in your head that is always saying, "You should do more!" "You should have said this instead," "you should have done it that way," or "you really don't know what you're doing!"

Constantly second-guessing myself in the many roles I play -- Mom, Wife, Sister, Daughter, Employee, and Friend -- took a huge emotional toll on me, to the point that I felt as though I was about to fall apart. And if anyone made a critical comment, my private tears were endless. But my counselor invited me to talk back to my critic, to stand up for myself and announce loudly, "I'm doing my best! And if that's not good enough for you, too effing bad!" Turns out, it's a much better tactic than allowing the inner critic to run me down and completely destroy my self-worth.

Cathy had her own struggles this year, a lot of them with the scheduling of her days and a lack of time for herself. She has a tendency to fill her daily life with more than it can actually hold, leaving her tired and out of sorts because she's left with no time to do the things that really make her happy.

So (drum roll please)...

Cathy and I have decided that it's time to look after our own needs, before all the other demands placed upon us completely wear us down... in effect, to "put on your personal oxygen mask before trying to assist others" so that we don't find ourselves incapacitated by our own inability to breathe!

In discussing it, we've both commented that having "Me" as word of the year rankles and feels too self-centred in many ways, but that fact alone tells us that we're on to something -- that perhaps it's time to celebrate Me a little more, to do something for Me every week. We don't want to end up like my favourite saint, Francis of Assisi, who reached the end of his life lamenting that he hadn't been kinder to "Brother Ass" -- as he referred to his own physical self.

How about you? Do you need some Me time? A year to celebrate yourself a little? If you've been giving yourself the short end of the stick for too long, join us. We're not going overboard; we're just making certain that in looking out for others, we also look out for the Me that goes hard for the sake of everyone else. And every so often in the next 362 days, I'll report on some of our Me year projects and activities. Stay tuned.


  1. Love it! Can't wait to see some of your suggestions for putting Me first.


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