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Anna’s One Little Word for 2015

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Happy Holidays from all of us at Two Writing Teachers!

Have you chosen your One Little Word (OLW) for 2015 yet? A One Little Word acts a beacon, a guiding light, directing one’s way for the year. When you get inundated with all that life brings, this is a word that can help you know what deserves your YES, and what really should get a NO. The right OLW will help to focus your time and energy away from that which is making the most noise and toward that which you truly value.

This week, each of us will be revealing the words we will live by this year. We hope you enjoy our stories, and we hope that 2015 is YOUR year.

What about you? Which word will you live this year?

We welcome you to join us. Please share your OLW in the comment section of any of our posts this week.

Time

Lately, I’ve been feeling my age. This began subtly, creeping its way into my consciousness over the past year, the awareness of time’s slow march forward. It stared with being called “ma’am” more often than “miss,” then it continued with a time or two I realized that many of the adults around were nearly twenty years my junior. I look in the mirror, and I still see myself, but I look…different. My dark circles are darker. My lines are deeper. Sun spots are more prominent, gray hairs grayer. And yes, I am proud of my aging because, heck, aging sure beats the alternative. I admire and live by the words of writers such as Lisa-Jo Baker who have described in beautiful detail all of the joy and love that each stretch mark, each wrinkle, and each gray hair evince. 

But this doesn’t stop me from also thinking that, wow, I’m getting older. And time is marching on. I think about this not so much in the sense that I’m losing my looks, really. Or my energy, even though I feel that, too. I think about it in the sense that I still have SO much to do. I am still dreaming big about what I want to accomplish in this lifetime.  I want to publish a children’s book. (I also secretly want to publish a romance novel.) I want to travel to a million different places. I want to read a trillion books. I am thinking that I might want to (possibly) think about maybe having a second baby.

In addition to this sense of urgency about how much I still need to accomplish, I am filled with daily gratitude about what I do have. I love my husband and my son with all I’ve got. I love my career, my writing, and I where I live. I want to spend as much time as I possibly can cultivating these things.

And here’s the thing. There are only 24 hours in a day. That’s 14,400 minutes, 84,600 seconds. And a lot of those are spent sleeping, ideally. The point is, time is finite.

Have you ever taken one of those personality tests? The Enneagram ones? I am a type seven, The Enthusiast. Here’s a quick definition, from enneagraminstitute.comThe Busy, Variety-Seeking type: Spontaneous, Versatile, Acquisitive, and Scattered. This is how I live my life, acquiring experiences. The way this plays out is that I say yes to almost anything that crosses my path. I say yes to dinner invitations, opportunities to give workshops, to articles I’m asked to write. To me, everything sounds interesting and to say no means losing out on something potentially wonderful. Also, I really, really like being asked.

So, I have said yes a lot. What this means is that I have spent copious amounts of time doing things that don’t necessarily get me closer to what I really want to be doing. Author and speaker Scott Ginsberg points out the trouble with so many yes responses. He writes, “You’re always saying no to something. So, every time you say, “yes” to someone else, you’re also saying “no” to yourself.” When I was younger, that didn’t seem to matter so much. “I’ll just do that thing I really want to do later,” I thought. But now, I realize with utter certainty that later is NOW.

My dad passed away last February. I feel his loss in startling and unpredictable ways. When I tend to my son in the wee hours of the night, I often think of my dad.  First, I feel the jolting shock that still comes each time I remember my dad is no longer here. I am overwhelmed by sadness to thick it feels I might drown in it. As I claw my way to the surface of my grief, images come that have taken on a timelessness in their vivid, tangible detail. I see my dad carrying me in a backpack while I try to grab his glasses. I see him pitching balls to my cousins and me on a lazy summer day. I see him driving our family across the country to visit his parents in Queens.

Of course, I wish for more time with my dad. I wish he could see my son grow up, that he would have had the chance to see what grandfather-hood is all about. We were about as chummy as a father and a daughter could get, and the list of ways we made the most of our time together is long. There was a lot of love always in our family, much of it came from my dad, and when he died, surrounded by his wife, his five children, and his infant grandchild, the only regret any of us had was that we didn’t have more time with him. Knowing this, that we spent our time together well, is a small vessel of joy that I cling to in the sea of my loss.

Thinking of my dad brings into perfect focus two very important truths. First, a lifetime is finite. Second, a lifetime is made up of a bunch of small moments, moments that we get to author. So, I’m deciding to author each moment by making choices. I’m going to study carefully the things that come into my life, and I’m going to say no to them if they don’t fit with what I really want my life to add up to.

My word, time, isn’t really about being present in the moment, though that is important. It isn’t really about appreciating what I have, though I want to remember to always do this, too. It is about making the best possible use of the time I have, and doing this by choosing wisely.

I vow this year to spend my time with purpose, to see each moment as an investment in what I really want my life to be.

As Steve Jobs once said, “It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.”

May your 2015 be filled with the best of moments and with time well spent.

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Anna Gratz Cockerille View All

Anna is a staff developer, literacy coach, and writer, based in New York City. She taught internationally in places such as Sydney, Australia; San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and Auckland, New Zealand in addition to New York before becoming a staff developer for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University (TCRWP). She has been an adjunct instructor in the Literacy Specialist Program at Teachers College, and teaches at TCRWP where she helps participants bring strong literacy instruction into their classrooms. Anna recently co-wrote Bringing History to Life with Lucy Calkins, part of the 2013 series Units of Study in Opinion, Information, and Narrative Writing (Heinemann). She has been a researcher for Lucy Calkins, contributing especially to Pathways to the Common Core (Heinemann, 2012) and Navigating Nonfiction (Heinemann, 2010).

30 thoughts on “Anna’s One Little Word for 2015 Leave a comment

  1. Hello Anna! Just now getting the “time” to read your post. I loved reading about your choice for your One Little Word, and your thinking behind the choice.
    I wanted to tell you how sorry I am for the loss of your father. I lost my mom in the summer of 2012, and it’s still an incredible struggle. I am glad you have your memories and the comfort of knowing you did spend lots of time together while you could. I also know you will always wish for more time. I wish for you comfort and strength.

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  2. I found my way here through a friend’s FB post about the OLW. My choice for 2015 is POSITIVITY – chosen after running across a news website that had such horror stories in its headlines I fled within minutes, scrambling to search for some GOOD news web pages, somewhere… anywhere! I’m compiling a list of those sites to add to my bookmarks so that when I find myself starting to feel weighed down by the horrible happenings in the news all around us, I know I’ll have a refuge and a counterbalance to the negativity. POSITIVITY is important, I think, for all of us. More “yesses” and fewer “nos”; a LOT more good, and much less bad; more smiles, fewer frowns… I might not be able to change the world, but maybe I can make a dent in my own little corner of it. 🙂

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  3. I loved reading your words. Just this week I found 2 people who know about Enneagram. Margaret Simon and I chatted about it after I posted my OLW on Saturday. I chose my word Quiet for many of the same reasons you chose Time. Your post is beautiful. I wish you a wonderful 2015 filled with time to do the things that are most important to you.

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  4. Beautiful entry.

    My OLW for 2015 is home. I teach an hour & a half from home & spend M-F with my in-laws & not my husband. I’m ready to be home, to find home, to create home. It’s time b

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  5. As you can see from all of these comments, your writing hits home. Time is a very brave word to choose. Acknowledging the limits of it and in each day is especially difficult. Being the experiential person you are wise to focus yourself in such a manner. In many ways I fit that profile of saying “yes” because I love to be asked and I’m scattered because of it. I am in awe of your OLW choice, and I’ll hold this idea close in 2015: the ability to author small moments. That I can shoot for– at least every Tuesday. Thank you Anna.

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  6. This is lovely, Anna; and you are right: time is our most precious gift and we must use it wisely. After reading the beginning of your post I was surprised to find that you were young enough to consider having a second child. I had thought, by your words, that you would have been older (I didn’t check your photo or previous posts). When I was your age I wasn’t too concerned about time. I thought there would be plenty of time to do all I wanted. Now I see that I have less time ahead than I have already enjoyed and I know that I won’t be able to achieve all I would like to. But always I will chose family and friends over any other intangible goals. As you have related the loss of your father, family and friends are the ones who will wish they had more time with you in the end. Have a great year. Enjoy your greatest gift, which is the present. 🙂

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  7. I know the feeling too well. Years ago, when the anti-drug slogan,”Just say no!” Became popular, I was sure it was aimed at me, not substance abuse. I still hear those words in my head, “Just say no!” as I am nodding yes, agreeing to spend time in a way I’m not sure is the best use of my time. I’ve learned that saying no is too…tough love for me. I need phrases that give me time to think. Here’s my new favorite, “I’d love to(’cause I’m easily enticed) let me check and get back to you.” That buys me some time to ponder, and weigh, and decide. I look back at my 20’s and think what a relaxing time it was, to feel like time was endless and I had time to do it all. Good luck on pursuing this ever-so-valuable goal. Keep us posted with tips along your journey. I, for one, can use all the pointers I can get!
    P.S. My iPad and reading blogs have caused much consternation in my struggle with using my time well. Then I read a heartfelt post like yours, that touches my very being, and think that’s agood use of time.

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  8. Thank you for putting into words how important it is to spend our time wisely. They print more money every day, but you cannot create more time. Once it’s spent, it’s spent. Happy New Year!

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  9. Anna,
    Julie Johnson and I have been having an enneagram chat on our FB messaging ever since she posted about her number on Saturday. I’m a 2. What I know about sevens is they are so much fun to be around! My husband is a one, but in health he leans toward the seven which means the workaholic has more fun.
    Time is a wonderful word to cherish. If only we could get more of it, but as you so wisely stated, we just need to make good choices. All my best for your 2015.

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  10. This is a beautiful post Anna. I can so relate to the feelings of coming to a place in your life, when time suddenly begins to feel more precious. It is so hard to lose those people we love, hard because we miss their presence in our daily life, but also because they are the keepers of who we used to be, of the stories and experiences that are foundations to who we are now. You and your colleagues at Two writing teachers have so inspired me this year. I posted my first OLW today.

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  11. Anna, Thank you for this beautiful post. I love that you are going to weigh each thing that you encounter and be mindful of how it fits into your life. Such wise advice. I’m so sorry to hear about your dad’s passing. It’s never easy to lose a father, no matter your age. I lost my father four years ago on New Year’s. Each year, right around Christmas, I feel this sense of sadness creeping in. This was the first year that I was able to turn the feeling of dread around and instead remember the small moments that I had with my dad. I turned each one into a 55 word memoir and gave the collection to my mother. A few slices of life. It has been very healing.

    I’m not sure what my OLW will be this year. Last year I survived on patience. The year before—breathe. I’m thinking that this year may be generous. As I get older I tend to be quite stingy with my time, but now that I think about it, that is probably a good quality to have as a teacher. Otherwise, we would give so much that we would have nothing left for ourselves. The word self-preservation comes to mind.

    Happy New Year.

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  12. Anna, first of all, this post is so heartfelt and beautiful and honest. Thank you for sharing it with us. Second of all, I can’t believe the similarity between our words! I had chosen “time” as my word originally, too, but I tweaked it slightly last week. My sentiments, though, are exactly like yours. I’ll be sharing my word tomorrow!

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  13. It’s a beautiful post, Anna. I’m sorry for your loss & the words about your father spoke to me in the same feeling my family has about my husband–wishing we had more time, more time with the grandchildren (he was such a wonderful grandfather, as you father would have been), more time to live our older life. I love your honest & clear reflection, & hope the year proves satisfying with this one little word.

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  14. Such a moving post. So full of truths – saying yes means also saying no to ourselves; using our time wisely are only two. I lost my dad at age 20 (42 years ago!) and my mom6 years ago). No matter our age, the loss is always with us. You expressed your love and grief so eloquently. Time seems a strong word to carry you through 2015. My word is Bloom, as I need to really open up and grow this year.

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  15. Your OLW also speaks to me. My word is core for many of the same reasons, focusing on what is most important in order to be a guide for those yes/no responses. Good luck with your OLW journey this year. I especially loved your line, “I am thinking that I might want to (possibly) think about maybe having a second baby.” I liked the different words to show how tentative it seems right now. I realized a long time ago that whatever number we decided on would be the right number for us (I had been looking for an answer of what the ideal number was).

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  16. This post is full of wisdom about life and the way we choose to spend the moments that make up our days.

    It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since your father’s passing. I know he died too-soon. I cannot imagine how challenging 2014 was for you as you navigated the waters of new motherhood without him. This piece gives us a glimpse into that. I hope you’ll write more about your dad (even if the writing stays within the pages of your notebook) since I know how much he meant to you, your family, and your community.

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  17. Love the concept of OWL. It’s mediative. My word after reading your post and something I have been thinking about over the last couple of weeks will be ‘gratitude’. It gives me perspective and patience. Thank you and Happy Everyday!

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  18. Anna, I loved your post about your OLW. What a wise choice you’ve made. I also wanted to say I am sorry about your dad’s death. It is so hard. I was right were you were just after my first daughter was born 18 years ago. I got lots of support and good advice from friends who had lost parents. You will claw your way out of that grief, I promise.
    My OLW is notice. And here is my post about it.http://rdgtchr.blogspot.com/2014/12/olw-2015.html
    Happy New Year to you and all the fabulous women at TWT. I am so grateful for the TIME you put into sharing your ideas and knowledge through this blog.

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  19. Anna, I love your comment above that every time we say “yes” to something, we’re also saying “no” to ourselves. I believe I’m much older than you so that sense of time moving on is even stronger with me now that I’m 52 and an empty-nester with my youngest off to college this year. I made a point at the beginning of this current school year to start saying no to requests because my “olw” for last year was balance. It was something very hard to do because I am a yes person too…love to jump right in, get involved in it all, and then stress because I don’t have time for myself, my husband, my family, etc. My olw this year is peace; I need to be at peace with my decisions…not constantly second guess…do what I need to do to find peace and hopefully the time and serenity to do the things that are important for me. Thanks for a thoughtful start to my Sunday! Time really is our most precious, non-renewable resource. We need to use it wisely.

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  20. Wow! Anna, your One Little Word post speaks to me. I understand all of those feelings, including the desire to say yes so as not to miss opportunities. I love the perspective that you shared: by saying yes to many things, you are saying no to yourself and your goals. I will be thinking about this post md your OLW a lot this year!

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