By Dana Sturtevant, MS, RD
I’m not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. This “to do list” approach to life transformation doesn’t inspire me, and it seems to fail most people, right? This is one reason why we always offer a free event in January, where we talk about starting the New Year with acceptance instead of resolution. A few years back, I heard about the idea of picking a word-of-the-year to act as a touchstone. Resolutions feel like harsh standards, while a word acts like a compass that directs your decisions and guides your steps.
My word for 2015 was “strengthen”. When I chose it, I thought about strengthening my business, my voice (my writing), and my body. If you look up the definition of strengthen, it means:
To become stronger, more effective, more forceful.
To become more powerful, difficult to break.
Yes! It was the perfect word. It fit the energy I was hoping to cultivate.
A few weeks ago, I realized I hadn’t given much thought about my word-of-the-year. And yet, somehow choosing a word did provide me with a focus. As I reflect on 2015, I’ve certainly been working on strengthening this year.
I’ve been dealing with chronic pain in my arms and hands for the past 20 years. If my arms and hands feel better, than I usually have symptoms in my legs and feet. When I chose the word strengthen, I didn’t think weight lifting would provide the kind of strength I was really looking for—I had a feeling it would likely exacerbate things. Something had to come first, so I decided to work with Donnella Wood. I’ve been surprised by just how powerful her work is. I’m not completely in the clear, but I’m moving with more ease and feel supported in my body from the ground up.
I’ve also been working on my writing skills a fair amount this year. I never would have guessed that I would do a lot of professional writing. It is the primary reason I didn’t pursue my Ph.D.— I couldn’t imagine writing a dissertation after finishing my thesis. I don’t write as much as I’d like to (or as much as would benefit my business), but I’ve embraced writing more than I ever thought I would! So I can confidently say I’ve strengthened my writing skills. And in the next year, I plan to participate in a writing retreat. What? It feels like a very vulnerable thing to do, and absolutely necessary! (I hate that the magic happens outside of our comfort zone!)
Hilary and I will be celebrating ten years of working together in February, and we continue to strengthen our voice in the body positive community. I recently read in Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, Big Magic: “If you devote yourself to anything diligently for ten years, that will make you an expert. (That’s the time it would take to earn two master’s degrees and a doctorate.)” We, indeed, have learned so much over these 10 years!
I’ve experienced the power of choosing a word to focus on this year, even if I didn’t think about it too often. I’m not sure what my word for the coming year will be, but I’ve been pondering this idea of stretching and finding my edge, so it might have something to do with this.
I’m wondering what yours might be. Please share.
“In 2015 my word was ‘Strengthen’ http://ctt.ec/rZXhE+ @Benourished #BodyTrust”
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Dana Sturtevant is a registered dietitian, certified yoga teacher, and self-proclaimed foodie. She especially enjoys blogging about mindfulness, yoga, Intuitive Eating, Health at Every Size®, and the Slow Food Movement.