A few years ago, I decided to choose one word at the beginning of each calendar year to guide me and help inform my choices. When I’m stuck, I think of my word and it often encourages my personal growth. The process has worked surprisingly well for me and has helped me get through some really trying months, days, weeks, and moments. Each year, I carry the word over and continue to call on it to help guide and motivate me.
2013: Reclaim – After an unfortunate 2012, I chose reclaim for 2013 and I have been in the process of reclaiming every aspect of my life, since. Some things I have reclaimed in the most unexpected and dramatic ways. This year, I will reclaim my body. If that sounds like a fitness goal, it’s because it mostly is. It’s more than that, though; it’s about strength. In 2015, I discovered my mental, emotional, and spiritual strength. Now, it’s time to strengthen the physical and take my body back so it reflects my inner strength. Sure, the appearance of my body will change, but that is a secondary benefit. It’s time for me to feel strong in all aspects of my being – to reclaim my body as a reflection of how I feel inside.
2014: Shine – I chose to shine in 2014 and have been struggling with it since. I don’t like the spotlight and I don’t relish being the centre of attention. In 2014, I did manage to shine with Thank You Ninjas, but the momentum of that didn’t last because I was so uncomfortable. I didn’t like the attention it garnered and always shied away from the spotlight. Being featured in the Toronto Star, though exhilarating, nearly did me in. I wasn’t ready. This year, I feel I might be more open to shining and have an overwhelming urge to share my story. It just may be the year to figure out how to write it all down.
2015: Rise - This word has guided me like none before; it defined 2015. Last year, I experienced many prolonged moments of darkness – to put it poetically. I needed to rise to survive. I had to physically rise every single morning and carry on with my life, take care of my kids, and do my job. Often, I took comfort in the cover of darkness, and this word helped me focus on the light and push me to rise out of the ashes. The darkness felt safe and inviting, but I knew in my heart that I needed to rise and step into the light – blinding and exposing as it felt. And rise, I did! I kept rising until the shadows stopped calling and the light stopped blinding me. Now, the darkness complements the light. And this year when I fall into the shadows, I will rise again.
2016: Conquer – After a few recent traumatic events, fears became a prominent feature in my life. I embraced existing ones and developed new ones, wrapping myself up in them believing they would protect me. Like the shadows, they comforted me and I let them affect my actions, interactions, and perception of my experiences. These fears lied to me and controlled me, and I let them because they made me feel safer. A few weeks ago, I realized that unless I’m in actual, imminent danger, fear is an illusion. Though some of my fears make sense given my experiences, few are rational and most are damaging. This year, I am going to conquer my fears. I am going to allow myself to question how they influence me and address the control they have on almost every aspect of my life. I don’t expect my fears to retreat easily; they will persist and come back and try to convince me they exist to protect me. But this year, and those to come, I will call those fears out, and I will conquer them one day at a time.