What’s in a Word? Turns Out, a Whole Lot.

Screw New Year’s Resolutions. Especially this year, unless the resolution is to just, well, stay alive. (Stupid Covid.) I can’t remember the last time I made a resolution, anyway, since my higher self knows they only make it until mid-January at best. Then it’s another whole 11½ months of Oreos buttered popcorn, and guilt until we “resolve” again.

I tried New Year’s “Goals” too – you know, changing the word to be more, um, productive. Even broke the goals down into monthly ones. Helped a bit. But nah. Ultimately, I ended up accomplishing only part of the list (the things I wanted to do the most), but also – and this is important for all of us to realize – many things that hadn’t been on the list of goals to begin with. Hmm.

Sometimes, life shows us the way, instead of the other way around.

But I still do believe that our thoughts, and the words we choose to express them, are the seeds of everything that follows.

Sometimes, life shows us the way, instead of the other way around.

So, this year, I choose words. One word. Not for the year (evidently I’m not so great with commitment), but one for each month. Easier, right?

One little change…

Choose a word, repeat it to yourself frequently, and observe what happens: what you do, and also what happens to you (or what you “attract”, for you New-Age thinkers)

The possibilities, as they say, are endless. You can choose an action, an attitude a focus, a theme. Experiment and see what works. Much easier than a resolution. You can’t really fail at an experiment – just get some results that inform you. Emotionally safe!

Words are shortcuts, too.

My word this month was: OPEN. Just that. Nothing attached, except what came to mind in the moment.

And here’s what happened:

Right off the bat, I got offered a speaking gig for later this year – I was open to saying yes (a new topic to prepare), and also open to negotiating a fair fee with confidence. Booked it! Now the work begins (leading to my February word, but more about that later.)

I was open to watching my husband’s choice of a new series to stream. After ten years of marriage, it’s clear we have different, um, interests there. But I watched a whole episode of The Watch, and gave it a chance. Didn’t like it (I am so over depressing dystopian futures at this point), but I could see why some would. Luckily my husband didn’t love it either.

I opened books that had sat unread for months after they arrived from Amazon.  I carved out 30 minutes a day to just sit and read – in an actual chair by the fire, not my bed (three pages and I’m asleep there). I opened myself to learning, every day. Just needed a cube timer to make sure I stayed put for the half hour, without checking my Twitter feed.

I was open to the process of actually planning dinners to cook – and new recipes – and shopping to the list instead of winging it and playing “Chopped” in my kitchen to use up whatever weird stuff I’d bought on impulse. That actually worked really well. Veggie Jambalaya, anyone?

My schedule was more open than I like (I’m an audiobook  narrator and voice talent, and this month was the first time in ages I had a gap in projects), but I filled it with some long-overdue tasks: updating my website, taking MasterClasses (and actually finishing some of them). I was open to paying the money, giving them a try, establishing a new habit of carving out time to watch – turns out it’s a good thing to do during lunch, watching Helen Mirren and Steve Martin).

I also started a new podcast. Will it succeed? No idea, But I’ve committed to ten episodes and then we’ll see.

Sometimes I amended the word to this phrase: “Open to wonderful” – just to see what came my way. That speaking gig, it turns out, and also some long-awaited hope for my son, hospitalized with psychosis (that’s another story for another time). Yes, wonderful can happen – unless we are blocking it with negative thoughts.

Open to possibility. Open to change. Open to wonderful.

I was also open to Dry January (only 4 days left!), to changing my Dentyne-Ice gum-chewing habit (now only in my voice-over studio, nowhere else), and to trying new foods (nope, I still hate peanut butter).

I began work to “open” my voice by devoting time and effort to the Linklater Voice process. I learned about it from a couple of free webinars (open to those), ordered the book, and actually opened it. Working to open the voice,-  it turns out, means working to open your mind, body, breathing, and expressiveness.

And then there’s the fact that I had to open my mouth for a root canal, because I was open to seeing what was up with this dull pain in my tooth. Sigh. But you can’t have everything.

Then, let the word do the work. Words have power  – they trigger all sorts of shortcuts in our brains. Watch what happens.

Yes, I like the word OPEN. See what it does for you – or pick another, and all you have to do is say the word to yourself (no meditation required, thank God, unless that’s your thing then go for it and make it a mantra) whenever you feel like it, and sometimes when you need it.

Then, let the word do the work. Words have power  – they trigger all sorts of shortcuts in our brains. Watch what happens.

My word for February will be: WRITE. And here I am, on January 28, already reacting to it at 5 AM, way ahead of the sunrise – on my new Microsoft Surface, which my husband got for me a month ago but it took me this long to OPEN it (something new? Oh no!).

What will your word be? Feel free to share in the comments.


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