The conflicts and conversations and complications that startle me awake at 2 a.m. and keep my brain firing when my body desperately wants sleep – I don't always remember every detail of what happened, whether they are last week or years ago, even when I am replaying them in my mind.
Those chaotic situations and awful back-and-forths usually come down to a few simple words that really stick. I've done a lot of healing since my divorce ago, and so I don't feel the urge to go into an hour-long story when someone asks me how I became a single mother. But every once in a while, in the middle of the night, something triggers me and I hear the most painful words over and over. Victim. Terrible mother. Fat and unattractive. Bitch.
I cringe to type them. Cringe even more to read them. Start to tear up to think you've heard them (and worse?) in your own head.
The only reason these words still have power is because I let them. My tired, stressed, overwhelmed brain hands over the keys to the baseless doubt. And the only way to get back to myself and where I need to be is to grab ahold of that wheel and yell back one word – "ENOUGH."
You may find yourself at the end of this year, believing your own baseless doubt, listening intently to the words that aren't true, that keep you stuck, that make you question all you know about yourself to be right and good. You may find yourself questioning how in the hell you will take the wheel in the months ahead, how you will rise up and be better.
You may also find yourself healing, hoping, praying and wanting. Or proud and ready for more. Or unsure of how to get that one thing you see is missing from your amazing life.
I believe that a good, solid place to start is with one word. It is not the formula for success or the guarantee that the year will unfold just as you hope. It is not magic. It is not the only thing you will need to do to nurture yourself, your kids and your way of living. But it can all start with one word.
You've heard of setting an intention for the year with one designated word, right? A word to guide, re-center and remind you of what you want to be and do and find? It is a simple and powerful exercise, so long as you commit to the word in some way every day or week or month.
You may know immediately what your word of the year is. Or you may need to cajole it out a bit by writing a list of words that speak to your goals, meditating on them, sitting with them and letting one rise to the surface.
Or your word may choose you. I worked with a life coach years ago who said a client of hers spent hours and hours on a road trip in frustration thinking about words, none of which fit. Just when the client was ready to give up on the whole exercise, she looked to her left and saw that the truck she'd been driving beside all along had a big, bright, bold word painted across it. THAT was her word. She'd been chasing it for miles, and all along, it had been rolling along right next to her.
I thought my own word for the year would be ABUNDANCE after months of practicing accepting abundance (from my friends and clients and the universe, and into my heart and work and bank account). Then I read this and #17 nearly knocked me over. "This year I took back my power," were the words Ash Ambirge wrote that reminded me that I still have wheels to steer all on my own. And so it is that POWER will guide me through 2018.
This became a family challenge.
My newly teenaged son, who is in the middle of a challenging academic year that will determine where he goes to high school, chose DETERMINATION. My boyfriend, who just made the radical choice to close a business to focus on health and well-being, chose SPACE. My spitfire three-year old chose BUTTERFLIES. And also WOMANDOM. I love all the words and the meaning behind them so much, and now we are in this thing together. REALLY together. To remind each other when the challenges arise, to guide each other when the doubt spins us out of control and to share in all the places these intentions lead.
What will your single mom single word of the year be?
And how can you use it to push out the old words, the doubt and the story that keeps you stuck?
Can you get your kids in on this and set family intentions to make this year as magnificent as possible?
And if you want a lovely way to keep yourself committed, consider these hand-calligraphied water color word of the year paintings by a very talented fellow single mama.