Last year, I started the practice of coming up with a word for the year in lieu of making new year resolutions, which we all know have an incredibly high fail-rate. I got the idea to do this from my friend Lindsey Pollak who has been doing it for years. As Lindsey describes it, “picking a ‘word of the year’ continues to be an alternate path for those of us who don’t want to be weighed down with myriad (and easy to break) New Year’s resolutions.”
As you might remember, my word last year was Bold. And I started 2020 full steam ahead with my word in mind and took a trapeze class for my 46th birthday, which is tomorrow, January 5th. At the time, I assumed I would have plenty of opportunities to live 2020 boldly, until…
…the pandemic hit and we went into lockdown. It seemed like all at once, my opportunity to take bold risks in my life had evaporated. Then I realized that while living boldly in 2020 would not be what I imagined, I could still live my word. In fact, if there was ever a word to choose for such a crazy year, bold was perfect. You know the saying, ‘evolve or die’? Well, as a business owner in 2020, the saying was instead ‘be bold or die.’
My word for 2021: EASE
As I prepared for 2021, I gave thought to what my word would be. My practice is to let it bubble to the surface. When I did this, the word that presented itself was Ease. I chose this word because despite it sounding like a passive word, ease actually takes effort. To allow ease into your life requires faith and trust. Ease asks that we don’t always know how life is meant to unfold and to let go, to live in peace and harmony and at one with the flow of life.
I am the person who will over-water plants, who wouldn’t dare do a trust exercise where you fall back and let others catch you, who tends to over-figure things out to the point of making Julie, cruise director from The Love Boat, look like a scatterbrain, and who doesn’t have an easy time letting things unfold. My mom often describes me as a child as someone who would actually shake with worry. I am also someone who gets tense around goal setting because I feel like I should always be doing something and if I am not doing something then it won’t happen. However, as I have learned, being busy and being productive are two very different things and often my busyness is just what I do to quell my anxiety over what I want to achieve but don’t know how or that I need to control everything for it to get done.
So my word isn’t the equivalent of taking a huge drag of a fat doobie and letting it all go. My word of the year is ease, not easy. Instead ease for me will be mindfulness and a presence of mind that my path is being guided by something beyond than me and that all I have to do is set the trajectory, and take the journey by allowing the process to unfold and taking action when the time is right. After all, let us not forget the parable of the drowning guy.
Remembering the Pigeon
My husband and I often refer to the pigeon we rescued last summer that reminds us both of this practice of ease and allowing things to unfold while living in the solution. We found a pigeon on the street who was wounded and in danger. We decided to save it but seconds after we scooped it to safety we were left not knowing what to do next. We stood there for two hours, my husband cradling this pigeon in plastic and me trying to solve the problem with phone calls to various rescue shelters, vets, and so-on. Nobody could help us. Determined not to let this pigeon die by way of us putting this sweet bird out of its misery ourselves, we held fast to the idea that we would figure it out. This we knew, we just didn’t know how it would happen. We kept the faith. It was then that a woman walked down the street, stopped, and happened to have connections to people who rescued birds. Within the hour, the pigeon was somewhere safe and on her way to a bird rescue the next day. What I realized from this experience was that when you live in the solution, take action when the time is right, life will work in strange and mysterious ways, and when you think the world is working against you, it may actually be conspiring in your favor. Now, whenever my husband and I get stressed that we don’t know how something is going to solve itself, we remember our pigeon, have faith and believe that in time all will be figured out.
Ten Ways I will Be Living with Ease This Year
- I will focus first on what matters to me most
- I will trust the flow of life and take action when the time is right
- I will find reasons to be joyful during setbacks and will look for the blessings and opportunities that arise
- I won’t compromise on my principles and I won’t do things out of fear or scarcity
- I will work to find forgiveness in my heart for those who have wronged or hurt me
- I will embrace the richness and lusciousness of life the way it is
- I will stop wanting things that solely satisfy my ego
- I will worry less and be less controlling
- I will practice mindfulness and being present
- I will strive for peace at all times
Just Keep Swimming, Nemo
Easy denotes that there will be no challenges. Whereas ease refers to the flow of being on an aligned path. Perhaps you could say I am going back to the woman I was on the trapeze last year who simply had to swing, reach out when the time was right, needed faith that the hands would be there, and was caught in spectacular fashion.
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Great word! Happy New Year and Happy Early Birthday!
Thanks, Alicen, wishing you a happy and healthy 2021
This is fantastic Bridgette. Simple, practical, wise, and inspiring. Hidden within the COVID experience is this gem of stillness that has allowed (or sometimes forced) many people to re-evaluate, let go, and shift priorities. Happy New Year, and happy birthday to you!
Thank you Marian! Happy 2021 to you and thanks for the birthday wishes!!
“Perhaps you could say I am going back to the woman I was on the trapeze last year who simply had to swing, reach out when the time was right, needed faith that the hands would be there, and was caught in spectacular fashion.” I just love this, Bridgette, and am experiencing this right now in my own life. I’ve been my 98-year-old father’s sole caregiver, and recently his health has taken a rapid downturn. I reached out for help and my dad and I both got it in spectacular fashion. Not sure how you so often write just what I am ready to read, but thank you. And happy birthday!
I love this so much Cynthia! Thank you. Of course, I am so sorry to hear about your dad but pleased to know you got support! Wishing you a happy and healthy 2021!
Oh, what a beautiful article. My word is not ease, but health — but your ten ways of living are inspirational and works for me as well as guiding principles. Thank you for sharing. Best wishes for 2021!