Happy New Year to you, our Two Writing Teachers community. Beginning today, we co-authors will share our One Little Words for 2017. Somehow I ended up at the front of the line. “Breathe,” I said to myself last month, when I realized I would be the first to post.
This is my fourth time choosing a guiding word for a new year, and each year the process of settling on a word has been different for me. Until this year though, I’ve never struggled to find my word. Over the last few weeks, I’ve considered several, but none felt quite right. Two days ago I said to myself, “Just breathe. You are going to figure out your word.” I was searching for a word that would work in good times and tricky ones, when I am by myself and with others, and when I am making tough decisions or enjoying easy moments. This year I wanted a centering, multi-purpose word. But that word was alluding me.
Yesterday morning, when I should have been focusing on my one little word, I took a break and read this post by Vicki Vinton. Vicki writes about listening to a keynote by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, in which Amy talked about having a “signature dish.” Vicki shares Amy’s criteria for a “signature dish,” and as I read those criteria, I realized they were similar to my parameters for my One Little Word. When I finished reading her words, I took a deep breath, poured myself a cup of coffee, and went in search of my computer. I had my word, and I was ready to write.
Breathe. When big moments happen, when life gets busy, or when it feels too quiet, in the classroom, at home, during meetings, when the workout feels impossible, during hard conversations or happy celebrations, when my children call home stressed about assignments or professors or roommate challenges, and when I have no idea what to write and am facing a deadline, I’m going to breathe.
Breathe. When I breathe I remember to pause, to listen, to take a moment, to observe more closely, to consider more carefully, to reflect, and to experience more fully. Remembering to breathe with intention is a quiet but important practice. I think breathe is the centering, multi-purpose word that has been patiently waiting for me for a while now.