Choosing A Word Of The Year For 2018

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

Early Morning, Last Day

7:15 am here in Houston. I’ve been up for a few hours – gave up on sleep around 5 am. I’m listening to the gentle rain outside as the windows’ gray goes pale, and I’m enjoying the feeling of humid, chilly air on my bare feet.

I’m feeling both peaceful and scared, right now. Weird to have those feelings side by side, top to bottom, one low in the belly and one centered in the diaphragm.

Trying to be with the fear is tough. I find I keep distracting myself by focusing on the slursh of cars driving by in the rain. Engine mrr, small puddle, deep puddle, and fade. Breathe, baby, breathe (I keep telling myself). Holding the breath in the face of fear is a common thing I do.

And being with the fear when another part of me is peaceful? Extra tough.

I don’t have any answers or pithy summaries for this post.

Just a moment in time. Being. Entering my last day of 2016.

2016 – Exit, Pursued By A Bear (Take Two)

Yeaaaah what a fuck of a year, folks.

One uncle-in-law is gone.
Another is really ill with multiple conditions.
A broken hip.
A broken leg.
A breast surgery.
A back surgery.
Cheezus, I could go on but I’ll stop there. Let me just say that health-wise, 2016 was a berserk beast for our families.

The losses of some major childhood icons and adult touchstones is, of course, a big sore point.

And then there’s the election, and what that might mean for everyone’s future. Globally, locally, and in marginalized communities.

There’s also our own personal craziness. Here we are in Houston.  I packed up our life and then made it here through a hell of a drive, driving 12+ hours multiple days in a row while dealing with 2 herniated discs and our animals. In the next two-odd months I went through a lot of pain to get to my back being cut open, and then 6 weeks of not being able to do jack or shit before I could get that brace off and walk without discomfort.

But, hey. Here I am,  mostly pain-free for the first time in 2 years.
Jon has an awesome job, and so do I.
And the pets are doing well.

And we saw Texas almost go pink.

There’s a lot of work to do. A lot of people’s lives are at stake.

But if we do it right, maybe, just maybe, 2017 will be the flame that illuminates the path to better days ahead for everyone.

Here’s hoping.
All the love to you and yours this season.

2016 – Exit, Pursued By A Bear

A building against a dark cloudy sky is reflecting a bright blue sky with white clouds

A building against a dark cloudy sky is reflecting a bright blue sky with white clouds

This has really been a killer of a year.

Now, keep in mind – for us personally, we cannot count this year among our worst. Why, you might ask? After all, this year has not only stolen some of our most beloved artists, it has ushered in the era of Trump being an acceptable presidential candidate.

Well y’know, in 2014 we can say we got married – but we also lost Amelia, the dog who saved my life a number of times before I even met Jon. And then in 2015 we lost Theo. So when you lose a beloved animal two years in a row, it’s kind of tough to think that the year you DON’T lose any animal companions as worse. Though I have to admit, losing an uncle-in-law you really crazy-adored, like we did this year, is really motherfucking tough.

For us, it’s like being able to see the evil of the year but also see the reflection of the joy we have in keeping our children close to us.

I probably shouldn’t have started this post like I did. I want to shut down and spend time in another post reviewing 2016 without the context of “none of our roos died!”

Ahhh what the hell. I’ll do that. Right now, all I can think is that all of our sweet fuzzbutts are doing okay, unlike the last two years. I’ll take the next post to review 2016 on its own.


Goodbye 2015

Two tiny tree ornaments showing Bugs & Sylvester on our tree in christmas hats

A tiny Bugs & Sylvester on our tree

I really love holidays that feature thresholds: equinoxes, Halloween, and especially New Year’s Eve*.  For New Year’s, people are encouraged to take the opportunity to look both backwards and forwards, and to make conscious decisions about what you want the coming span of time to be like.

Looking backwards, I can see the ups and downs our family went through. We lost a beloved animal family member and gained a beloved animal family member. We had a horrific move-out from a ‘luxury’ apartment where nothing worked, but the transition to a smaller, more economical apartment (where we have control of the thermostat and everything works) has been terrific. We’re both still struggling with chronic pain for varying reasons, but we’ve been getting healthier because of Kizu’s boundless energy.

We are also grateful because both our families had major health issues last year, but are all doing much better this year. *big thumbs up*

In general, I can look back on this year and be happy with the progress we made, while honoring the struggle it took to get to the good points.

We miss you, Theo. We love you, our amazing family and friends. To all others, I wish for you the best of everything for this next go round the Sun.

*Since I am neither Jewish nor Chinese, the big New Year’s transition that I choose is in January. I want to mention this because I don’t see the same posts about New Year’s from my Jewish or Chinese friends during their holidays, and I’m aware of my Western-normative internet experience.

Hello 2015

nye2014It was an amazing evening of kick-ass prosecco and Flying Dog beer, repeated viewings of Uptown Funk (hurrah Bruno Mars!), fresh kielbasa grilled on our cast-iron grill, a rewatch of some White Collar episodes, and a bit of John Oliver to mix things up.

We watched a live stream from CUBA.
What a world we live in. Things happen so fast.

OAR playing John Lennon’s Imagine. A song from my early childhood, still regarded as relevant. Can someone make a song out of some Martin Luther King Jr speeches? Dr Dre? Beyonce? I’d like to hear those two together.

Oh my dear world. I love you madly. Happy baby 2015. Janus, thank you for a lovely step over the threshold.

Goodbye 2014

I am ending out this year with an obnoxious cold, whose symptoms came upon me so suddenly that my voice changed an octave in the course of 15 minutes – seriously, we were at the gourmet grocery store down on Broadway, and I was fine in aisle 2 … then BAM froggy by aisle 6.

It’s kind of appropriate. Last year I ended out the year with a rather large, dramatic cut in my face, right on my lip. It looked like a disfiguring wound. Yet within the first month of 2014, the cut faded into a thin shiny scar, barely noticeable. By the wedding I couldn’t see it at all but could feel it sometimes, and now I can only feel the tiny bit of scar tissue if I pucker my lips and run my finger over it.

I’m not one to do resolutions, or to choose a single word or phrase for the year, but it was such a big thing that it became my metaphor for the year – Brutally Rapid Transitions.

BOOM you’re having issues! BOOM that’s done or as far as it can go – next issue coming up! (For better or for worse.)

Name change, from”OMG WHAT DO I DO” crisis to done in a month.

Job role changing from a small aspect in a 10K-employee company to a crucial factor in a 25-employee company.

Way too many family members having major health crises – the list is truly insane. Some sad losses. Some relieving resolutions. A few major surgeries.

Having stupid wedding crisis after stupid wedding crisis in the three weeks leading up to the event, breaking down into inconsolable tears 3 hours before the ceremony, and then the wedding itself ROCKED.

It’s odd looking back on pictures of Amelia in April and remembering that she seemed so healthy and ready to make it to 17, then started having issues walking in May (which we can see in the engagement photos), then by the time June rolled around things were obviously not going well. While her illness wasn’t rapid by any stretch of the imagination, going from “of course our dog will be in our wedding somehow” to “we are caring for a critically ill animal while also planning a wedding” in the course of a few weeks was pretty rough.

Then Breeshey nearly died… and recovered within two weeks. During the same time we were caring for Amelia.

….yeah. It’s exhausting me just to THINK about it.

But we did it, Jon and I. We went through all of this side by side, with only a few emotional hiccups, all of which resolved in such a way that brought us closer. Neither of us would have handled the individual parts of this as well as we did together, and we still managed to pull off a kick-ass wedding.

And here I am, itchy sinuses and runny nose, soothing it with a cup of tea that Jon made for me.


So bye, 2014, and thanks for the lessons. It would have been nice if you’d been easier on family and friends, but hey, we did okay given the circumstances.

(Janus, can we, um, go for something a little gentler as we step over this threshold? Something more productive? Some encompassment for a change? That’d be nice. Thanks.)