When everyone else around me has found theirs. All the posts on Facebook. In the emails from the people I subscribe to. Everyone has claimed what 2018 will be for them. Their one word or phrase. But me… it took me a while to settle in on my phrase for the new year.
I’ve had a tradition for the past several years to claim my word for the new year on New Year’s Eve. Whatever the word. Whatever the year. And up until this year, my word came easily. Well, maybe easily isn’t the most accurate adjective. Quickly is more appropriate. I always knew my word for the upcoming year well in advance of the stroke of midnight.
Not this year.
Our family was on vacation in Florida and we were celebrating New Year’s Eve with friends at their home. There were seven of us sitting around the table. We had just finished dessert and preparing to go outside to do sparklers and some small fireworks with the neighborhood. The kids were excited and anxious, but I made them sit for just a few more minutes. I shared my tradition of going around and sharing our word or phrase for the new year.
One by one we went around the table and listened as words were shared. When it came to be my turn, all I could do was share what my word for 2017 had been. I didn’t have a word for 2018 yet. I pretended it didn’t really matter or that it didn’t bother me too much. But it did. Remember, I’m pretty good at putting on that “everything’s fine” face.
It actually really bummed me out that I didn’t have my word yet. Why? Why was it such a big deal? I guess deep down part of me felt unsure and lacked clarity of what I was hoping 2018 would bring for me. Not having a word yet meant I hadn’t given myself enough time to sit down and think about it. Truth being I hadn’t given myself ANY time to sit down and think about 2018.
It was my fault. I failed at planning. I failed at being prepared. I failed at being clear and confident. (you know as well as I do that this is not true)
So this year, while everyone else seemed to have 2018 already planned out and under control, I felt inadequate and not good enough. Silly, right?
As if not having a word or phrase meant that New Year’s Eve wouldn’t be as special or commemorative. Again, silly, right?
2018 couldn’t come until I had my word. It just couldn’t! But it did…
December 31, 2017 came and went like any other calendar day. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t just an ordinary day. But in terms of the hours, the minutes, the seconds ticking on into another day, that was no different than any other day.
The time remained constant. The clock didn’t stop because I didn’t have my word. The sun went down, the moon poked out of the clouds and the stars remained hanging from heaven.
The New Year had arrived, and I survived. I woke up the next morning bright and early. Um, I mean late and sleepy. No, not from a hangover! I slept in because I could, and it was cold outside (yes, even in Florida – did you see the picture of us all bundled up at Disney World???), and the bed was cozy comfy and warm. Yes, I woke up like any other morning, except it was not just a new day, it was a new year.
The thought of not having my word yet still haunted my mind. It taunted me every day, almost to the point of obsession, even as we continued our vacation and returned home. Words would pop in and out and for brief moments I would think “yes, that’s it!” But no, it wasn’t landing all the way. Something still felt off.
I had this idea that it would just be one single powerful word. Like BAM! That’s the one. It would be unique and sexy. It would be a word that everyone else would say “wow, that’s a great word!” But still, no.
I knew that I needed to feel it. My word needed to have meaning. For me. Not for anyone else; just for me. I didn’t want to borrow someone else’s word or phrase, as good as theirs might have been. Sure, I could grow into it, but I didn’t want to have to grow into a borrowed forecast and vision. I wanted to be planted firmly in my own.
So there I was, appropriately enough just finishing up a yin yoga class (I’ve had a lot of great moments come from the inspiration I get before, during and/or after that class). The stillness of both my mind and body allows the openness for so much. It’s a beautiful thing.
Without a big commotion. Without a loud “Oh my gosh that’s it!” Without anything other than my heart agreeing with my mind, I found my words. Or should I say, they found me.
It’s not just one word. It’s not the strong, unique, one sexy group of letters. Nope, it’s three simple words. But these three words are anything less than simple for me. There is so much depth to them. Layers upon layers of meaning that will surely allow me the entire year to work on and through. Three words:
Stretch in Alignment.
At first I wasn’t sure about them. I wasn’t sure about all of them together. But as I sat with them, and as I write about them now, I am positive without doubt that this phrase is mine to claim for 2018.
“Stretch” on it’s own can take on so many meanings and applications. Take the simplicity of yoga, for example. I know yoga is complex and multi-faceted, but for the sake of argument let’s look at yoga as simple. Stretching. Working your body to reach, to push, to lengthen. The word fits. It especially fits because my newly re-incorporated yoga practice has become a priority in my life.
What about “stretch” in terms of business? Reach for your (my) goals. Push yourself (myself) to do something new. Grow and build new confidence and skills. Stretch. It fits.
Personally it fits too. Stretch to be a better wife and mother. Stretch to deepen my relationship with God. Stretch to develop and deepen all of my heart relationships.
I could simply stay with just that one word: Stretch. It’s got the one-word punch I was after. I could… but I didn’t. Adding “in alignment” actually stretches the word “stretch” to give it the power and purpose it requires.
Think about it. If you are stretching but your body is not in alignment you will likely hurt yourself. A pulled muscle. Sharp pain. An injury. Who wants that? Not me!
In business, if you are striving (stretching) for a goal that is not in alignment with your purpose or mission, you’re basically wasting your time and any other resources you are throwing at it. I don’t want to do that.
Personally, if I’m stretching myself in relationships or goals that don’t serve me, if I’m not following the path that God has and is setting out for me, what’s the point? His plan will always follow through – no matter how long it takes my stubborn brain to accept and surrender to it. Why not stretch towards God and let my relationships and goals be nurtured and held in His sacred, loving hands? Including the relationship I have with myself.
Stretch in Alignment.
So many meanings. So much depth. So many layers. So much more I could share about it.
The more I say it the more I love it. The more I say it the more I feel it. The more I say it the more I want to stretch myself in alignment. It brings peace to me. It brings confidence and clarity. Everything I was craving to grasp onto as we rolled into 2018 is now set. I am happy.
In the grande scheme of things it didn’t matter that I didn’t have my word (or phrase) as the clock struck midnight. My carriage didn’t turn into a pumpkin and my glass slipper left in the wondering, yearning hands of my prince. Life kept going, as it always does. It’s a lesson in not being so stuck on conforming to what everyone else is doing and on their timeline. It’s a lesson in trust. As much as I was bummed I didn’t have my word at the “perfect time” I knew I would eventually have it. I knew when the time was right the word(s) would be right. I can confidently say that!
Surrender to the process. Surrender to it not looking perfect. Surrender to God.
Stretch in Alignment. Yes, THOSE are my WORDS!
p.s. I’d love to know what your word or phrase is for 2018. Come share over on Facebook in my free group Self Care Isn’t Selfish.