I never used to do a word of the year. It seemed kind of reductionist to me, like how can you fit a whole year’s worth of intentions into a single word? I would do other things instead, like spells* or tarot spreads* or wishes or resolutions … which to me all boil down to the same thing: announcing myself to myself for the Janus moment of the Julian New Year. It was a fun thing to do on New Year’s Day when the hangover brunches were done.
Flash forward to few years ago. I started a new therapist, and he’s all about words of the year. One for the year itself and one for the anniversary of our work together. I started to like it as a theme for the one most important thing I wanted to accomplish in my work with him. It was a metric to use, an assessment of where I wanted to be rather than an obligation. Yet January of last year it was difficult for me to choose, because I couldn’t get quite the right connotations for what I wanted to achieve. In order to make it work, I did an image that listed all the associated synonyms** that conveyed the meaning I wanted, and that kept me from agonizing anymore.
Of course, in December he asked me to choose a new word for 2018. Since I’d had such a tough time last year, I whined about it (like I do). Last thing I wanted was either a crappy word or the frustration I had had last year. But after a bit of conversation, I agreed I’d have one for January.
…And didn’t think about it again, because I was on the way to family events, and fuck that.
But it came to me on Dec 31st.
Just jumped into my head, then out in front of me, ready to roll. Kinda like Athena.
My word of the year is howl.
At first I scoffed. Seemed silly, and too on-the-nose for me. But as I thought about it, and subtracted the connotations of pain or distress? It really clicked. Wolves howl to communicate over great distances and, in particular, to keep connected with their close packmates***. They also howl to establish territory, and as I thought about it, I realized my stories are my territory and it’s time I treated them as such, rather than as a sidebar.
This silly, on-the-nose word ended up being hella appropriate.
So there it is. Happy Howl Year!
* I do spells and tarot spreads to trick my brain. Rituals are pretty powerful ways to embed things in one’s psyche, and the symbolism in many tarot cards are a fun way to allow my brain to find connections I might not, otherwise.
** For the record, I chose fierce, as in strong, protective, and unapologetic. Not as in looking incredible. ;)
*** Per this study