It seems that a number of the bloggers I follow are forging a new tradition. They are not making resolutions this year (a practice that never appealed to me anyway); they are choosing a Word of 2012, words like “yes“, “edit“, and “focus“. This idea, to choose one word that has the potential to inspire and create intention, has captured my imagination.
Looking back over the American Dialect Society‘s list of Words of the Year (WotY) brings a sense of recognition and nostalgia: “tweet” for 2009, “metrosexual” in 2003, “chad” (as in hanging) for 2000, “Not!” in 1992, “google” for the decade 2000 – 2009. It’s like turning the pages of your high school yearbook. This year’s winner, “occupy”, seems a no-brainer: the word is brilliant shorthand for a complex idea that has come to capture public imagination.
Oxford Dictionary named “squeezed middle” the word of 2011 (significantly less compelling than “occupy”, and not even a word but two), and dictionary.com bestowed WotY honors upon “tergiversate”. Yes, it’s a word. ter-JIV-er-sate, to change repeatedly one’s attitude or opinions with respect to a cause, subject, etc.; equivocate. Hold onto that one for a crossword puzzle, because I can’t imagine any other context in which it would be useful.
I see choosing a personal WotY as less of a resolution-making-type activity and more of an intellectual exercise in wrapping my mind around the complexity that is my life. I already am painfully aware of the areas where I need improvement – but can I create a code word that can help keep me focused? Can I find one word that identifies and teases out the underlying current that runs like groundwater through my being and springs to the surface through my many faults?
I have pondered and meditated, and I have chosen for my 2012 WotY: foundation. The basis or groundwork of anything. In a nutshell, what I need to focus on right now is laying the foundation for a healthy life. I need to work on sustaining my mental health. I need to take better care of my physical health. Most importantly, I need to focus on living my message and building a healthy home for my family.
When I am not at my best (a euphemism for hypomania or agitated depression), I forget to make dinner, keep track of our schedule, and give the kids a bath and get them to bed on time. This tends to happen when I am not eating well, exercising enough, or getting enough rest. I jump from task to task without finishing anything, and I can’t focus attention when my kids want to tell me about their days, play a game of checkers, or read the next chapter of Junie B. I am always scrambling but never really getting anything important done – because, let’s face it, those are the really important things.
This is not good for my children, and it is not the kind of mother I want to be. I want our home to be a place of peace, consistency, solace, love, hugs, laughs, and fun, a place where my family feels cherished and cared for. My personal code word – foundation – will remind me what is important, and to remember that laying a good groundwork will make everything else fall into place.