The Slow Year [My Word of the Year is…]

“Is next week tonight?”


Lucia asked, eager to replicate the midnight fireworks display of Christmas Eve (I told her it would again happen on New Year’s Eve — next week).


“Nope.” I said. “Tonight is tonight.”


And that’s as much of a metaphor as anything for the year I’ve got ahead of me. A year in which a lot is going to happen. Continents will be visited (5, I predict), miles will be flown (100,000, likely), books will be written (1, I think) and construction will once again visit the home I share with this architect of mine (a new office, this time).


It’s a lot, yes, but sometimes it’s less about what is actually going to happen then it is the attitude with which it will. And that attitude, for me in 2018, is a particular one.


Let me back up.


Last year was a rough year for me.


In A Letter to the Worst Year of My Life, I describe the broad strokes of 2017: the nightmare of two preemies born 9.5 weeks early, a beloved father in law’s decline and passing, career transitions for both me and my husband. That year is behind me now. As I write this, it’s been exactly 1 year to the day that we brought the twins home from the NICU and six months since my father in law passed. And here in chez Diaz-Ortiz, we have hope in our eyes. Mateo took a few steps. Every day, Santi seems closer to saying “agua”. Lucia, long challenged by extreme picky eating (an actual thing, yes) tried mayonnaise and mate tea (!) this week. Jose and I are both excited by new career projects. Plans for my new office have visions of sugarplums dancing in my head.


It’s enough to bring tears to my eyes, as I sit in my favorite overpriced coffee shop bathing in air conditioning on another 90-degree summer day.


So here’s the thing: This coming year a lot of things will happen. A lot of energy and excitement and renewal will come to play in the starting of new things and the attempting to finish them all. But more than anything, I want to bring a certain attitude to all I do.


Seven years ago, I started a practice called choosing a Word of the Year. It’s something I read about in a book, and it’s pretty self-explanatory. Before thinking of any annual goals for the year to come (if you do that), the idea is to come up with one word to represent all that you hope to achieve and do and feel in the coming months. One word to mean it all and sum it all up and make it all shine. The first year I did the practice, it was obvious to me the word I needed. I was in a season of deep overwhelm and longed to get my health on track to make starting a family a reality.


REST was the word of the year that barreled through my brain when I first read about the practice, and REST was a word that guided me well.


Throughout the year, I reminded myself of my word. When a small choice or a big decision came knocking on my door, I recalled my word of the year when choosing the next right step. It worked, and it convinced me that this word of the year thing was something that could really work for me. I was so excited I very nearly tattooed my word somewhere prominent on my body, only realizing that there were too many years of my life left to make tattooing all my words of the year on myself a reality.


In 2018, my word is one that doesn’t necessarily mean taking a back seat.


It doesn’t necessarily mean not doing some of the things. But it does mean doing them with a certain attitude, and a certain mindset, and a certain way in the world. It’s a word that best represents one of my favorite books of all time, Slowing Down to the Speed of Life, a book I first read in Alaska 16 years ago now this summer.


The word?




Here’s to my slow year. A year where I can do the things, yes. I can go to the places, sure. I can work the work and parent the kids and jog the jogs. But in a slow way. In a deliberate way. In an intentional way.


Here’s to My Slow Year.


And, as always at this time of year, if you choose a Word of the Year for 2018, tell me what it is below.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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60 thoughts on “The Slow Year [My Word of the Year is…]

  1. my word is “Redemption” I’ve been struggling financially since 2008 and need to get it back on track. It’s a new beginning for our family. We had to put our beloved 17 yr old dog down about two weeks ago and now with spring just around the corner we all need a new start. 2018 is the year it finally happens for us!

  2. I chose “Focus” for my word of the year. I’ve always had a problem with (Hey! there goes a squirrel!) Adult ADD. I’m picking one thing and making it my only focus until I get it completed. thanks

  3. My word is PURPOSE. I suddenly don’t feel like i have one so really want to focus on my blogging. My children are grown. They don’t need me. I go to work and come home. Mostly tired/drained. I work ‘out of town’ so really don’t have friends here and don’t really support the locals. I don’t have family.

    So, I want to find purpose in what I love. I have two blogs neither of which are consistently updated. I have tossed and turned with ideas so landed on bev to share my passion for capturing memories. organizing them. sharing ways to preserve. And then to share! It is still in the infancy stages which is where i get overwhelmed. But I am trying hard to really focus to find my purpose.

    Even though it is February…happy slow new year to you =)

  4. My word of the year is consistency. Instead of resolutions I am trying to form habits in 2018 that I know will benefit me long term. In order to build those habits I have to be consistent with them and so as I look through my habit tracker I can see where I am being consistent and where I need to repeat this word.

  5. Such a great idea. Staying focused throughout the year has always been a challenge for me. So I pick “Forward” (I see Gideon picked this last year).

    2018 will be the year I keep moving forward with my software business, and my writing.

  6. Hi! I’ve settled on “Honesty”. More along the lines with being honest with myself in regards to my limitations now that i’m a mom of 2 littles. I work full-time and care for my disabled father. There is never a dull moment in my household!
    I’m hoping this year as I focus on being honest with myself. I will find it free’ing to voice my frustrations, sadness, fears, joy’s and be able to embrace this season of my life… which i know is just s season. Instead of me trying to keep up with the speed i was at prior to kiddos.

  7. My word for this next year is “Better”!
    Just finishing first draft of my last book, looking for readers of 1/4 about 50 pages will reward with free book, when completed, let me know if interested? B.

    Need to tell You about two contacts with “God’s Hand”.
    The first time appearing the morning of my fifth birthday, and not again until in my early thirties!
    During those twenty-five years, I felt free to do mostly my own will, then a need for a Spiritual “Rebirth”, from the words of Jesus to put God’s Will before my own and when I did, after much prayer, did not see anything only felt the strong presence had felt as a child come through the walls, wash over me and heard strongly “Equality”.
    Many years later felt but could not see the same “God’s Hand” in mine and when I looked down it spun me around in my tracks when trying to walk away from, after ten years of trying to tell The Church about the given message of “Equality” and only receiving rejections.
    Would then go back to try to help end discrimination, especially for the female half.

    St.Theresa wrote about 100 years ago of being called, and only being able to write about it, that had not been my own calling but did cherish becoming an Extraordinary Minister, until a Monk pointed out it was a tokenism meant to delay “Equality”.
    Now, many others of all beliefs realize it is time to stop the inequality, for political, as well as religious balance, feeling the need for equal rights, equal opportunity “Equality” to be able to bring out the best in all of us!
    The need to counter not only racism, sexism, but the unfair hoarding of profits by a few elite, who now have about 90% economic control, over seven trillion people! Half on near-starvation wages, and gradually more!

    Profits created by the workers, managers, consumers could/should be used for higher wages, basic needs like health, instead of just increasing the greed/power of those, by controlling media pedal hate, even sell weapons to both sides, cause continuing wars increasing the danger of nuclear destruction!

    Words of “Love One Another, even Your enemies”, the universal “Golden Rule”, now need the belief of “Equality”; to treat others with equal respect, concern for enemies often just created from the practice of inequality!
    The last World Council of Christian Bishops declared there be “no more discrimination of race or sex… as not the Will of God. *1 Pastoral Constitution Article 29+, Vatican II, 1965. There are other such confirmations!
    Seek the Holy Spirit within yourself to confirm, and share with leaders, to Live in the fullness of Life.

    May the Blessings of Grace Peace, Joy, Be With You,
    Betty C. Dudney

  8. “SIMPLIFY!”
    As a freelance artist, I’m overwhelmed by so many projects, trying to get new projects, and physical clutter. The easiest to start with is decluttering, but over time I hope to eliminate projects I’m not that interested in.

  9. “SIMPLIFY!”
    I’m feeling overwhelmed as a freelance artist, in terms of so many projects, physical clutter, and trying to find more work on top of what I already have. The easiest to start with is the clutter problem. Throughout the year I’ll try to decrease the amount of projects I don’t have much interest in.

  10. Thank you for your candid writings.
    Enjoyed Hope Runs🏃🏻👍
    My word for 2018
    to be aware of, search for, bask in the presence of God, others and myself

  11. Thank you for your candid writings.
    Enjoyed Hope Runs🏃🏻👍
    My word for 2018
    to be aware of, search for, bask in the presence of God, others and myself

  12. What a great explanation for having a word, Claire.

    My word for this year is… proximity.
    Since I think everything is spiritual, this word choice is definitely spiritual. God never changes, he’s always with us. Me, on the other hand, I have the freedom to move wherever I choose. That said, my goal is to make sure this year that my proximity to the Lord is closer than it’s ever been.

    Enjoy your year slowly!

  13. Thanks for the prompt to select a word for 2018. I think
    will be a good word for me. As in good enough, enough already, I am enough, That is enough! and probably more….

  14. My word is PERSEVERE! This year I am walking 500 miles across Spain that will require me to physically and mentally persevere through many challenges. I know this will only be the beginning of my journey throughout the year that will require much perseverance. Here’s to a great year where much is accomplished!!

  15. So, this is a new way of thinking. One word guiding the mindset. A first for me.
    I am a ‘new’ grandmother for the last 9 months. I decided to be a part of this young man’s life. He must know his circle of love and support. It meant a lot of traveling and creative work juggling. And worth every cent and minute. This little life made me aware of how rhythm influences flow and balance in our lives. A baby is in a continous cycle of feeding and cleaning and playing. And that is the caring cycle to help him/her grow and thrive. Taking my cue from this observation, I reflected on how I approach life. Ha-ha…rhythm yes, at times staccato, sometimes a waltz and often just random notes looking for a song. The big question was: when is my rhythm mine? I expect many learnings trying to analyze and respond to this question. What does my rhythm look/feel like? What is the best rhythm for excellence in work? Does the best rhythm differ for work and personal life? And these are just for starters. I’m moving.. .. .. ..

  16. Claire, tks for this, it has worked for me for the past 3 yrs..
    2015 – accelerate (moved job after 7 yrs, helped me move stuff up personally, spiritually
    2016 – expand , helped me focus on growth personal, professional
    2017 – forward
    2018 – ‘Stretch’
    Need a lot to do with my family , kids to college, financials, personal goals (back to running)!
    Would love to do ‘Slow’ 😬

  17. Thank you Claire. What a great practice!
    My word for 2018 is Rejuvenation. My dad was diagnosed with cancer in April and passed away in June. Around the same time I had a challenging career transition and also lost a champion to a road accident. 2018 is going to be about rejuvenating myself, mentally, physically and spiritually so I can bring my best to bear in everything I do. In addition to rejuvenating myself, I will also seek to rejuvenate and give hope to others who are deflated, starting with the children at an orphanage founded by my father (and where you started Hope Runs!).
    Claire, all the best to your family in 2018!

  18. Slow is an awesome word to choose for 2018 and one I definitely should incorporate into my own goals.
    My word for 2018 mirrors off of “slow” – patience.
    Patience while writing.
    Patience in the process.
    Patience while trying to zip through the rollercoaster of life.

    I’ve been following you for years. You were my first blog I ever ready through while stuck in a dead-end job. And the only blog I still follow (minus Seth Godin’s). Thank you for all you have done for others and all you will continue to do 🙂

  19. My word for 2018 is Intentional. I want to be more intentional in finances, health, work, and the things in my house (I’m an aspiring minimalist). I’m really excited to flesh out the specifics over the next few days and head into 2018!

  20. Actually, my word for 2018 is REST!
    This year, my Dad was in ICU three times, my mom went from ICU to LTAC to hospice. September 28, one of my sons had ACL reconstruction and repair of the right lateral meniscus. I got a call from the hospice nurse after being home with him an hour, and Mom passed less than 12 hours later.
    I chose rest (or it chose me) for two reasons. The second is the seemingly obvious reason of needing to recuperate physically, emotional, mentally and spiritually. The first is based on this verse, Psalm 62:1:
    I am at rest in God alone; my salvation cones from Him (HCSB)

  21. My 2018 word of the year is Brave. Those five seconds of brave needed to hit submit on writing projects. Being brave and persevering when I’d rather jump ship. Being brave and running my own race.

    Looking forward to following along on your year of slow, Claire.

  22. Intentional. This year I want to stop doing things by rote and be more intentional about what I do. I think this will help me reach my goals this year and make up (somewhat) for the last two years that I have been sleepwalking through a huge portion of my life.

    Thanks for the reminder, and my wish for you is that “Slow” is all you hope it will be!

  23. My word this year is Grace. It’s been a rough year on top of previous rough years. This past year I unexpectedly lost my mom, I’m starting the 3rd year of raising my teenage niece, and continuing to try to struggle on with my business. I’m very hard on myself…hence….grace! I’m doing Ali Edwards One Little Word class to help me focus on it. Otherwise, it’s easy to lose track after a month or two.

  24. Thank you Claire for the reminder! I’ve always wanted to do this and the word came without challenge so let it begin. My word is … Appreciate!

    I am wondering how you make this a part of your every day?

    Thank you for sharing!

  25. My word for 2018 is Discover. I want to discover my true self and my true passions. I want to be open to discover new opportunities and learn new skills.

  26. Hi Claire!

    I am an empty nester of 4 children who seem to think (by my own responses) that they still need me to give them whatever it is they need at the moment. My word for the year is…


    Which also means yes in so many other wonderful ways!

  27. My word for 2018 is selfless. I know that may sound bad but I am not a selfish person. I want to focus more outward then on myself. I want to think of my clients first and how things effect them and how I can help. Focus on the needs of my wife and kids. Doing what I can to help them grow.

  28. my 2018 word is FLUENT. since i moved to italy 14 months ago and am struggling with the language, part of its purpose is obvious. but i also want to be “fluently april” again, to once again express myself with ease after a very challenging year. so fluent in italian, yes. but fluent throughout my entire life as well.

      • do you mean “in other words?” my sister-in-law read and loved it, then recommended it to me right before the move. but i forgot all about it. thanks for the reminder – i need to get it and read it now! (and by the way, i thoroughly enjoyed reading about how you chose SLOW.)

  29. Our family phrase is Follow Through! We make so many plans and then we don’t follow through! Hopefully this year, we will accomplish more 🙂

  30. My word is basics, with a full phrase of “back to the basics.”

    I’ve had a tumultuous few months and feel the need and desire to restore a firm foundation. To do this and do it well, I need to go back to the basics and focus on what matters most, not what others expect.

    Also, as a 31 year old, I think it is time I start washing my face at night. We shall see.

  31. Hi, Claire!

    Thank you for sharing! I believe “slow” is a good word. It may sound passive, but I know it’s actually not. 😉

    My one word for 2018 is “Believe”.

    Blessings and joy to you and your family,

  32. Last year it was two: Listen (well)—I should extend that to this year! But from the fact that my life is hidden with Christ in God, my word is Incognito. Col. 3:3
    Love Slow. That will be interesting with three Little’s (; You are delightful and I’m glad you get that new office. My non architect person remodeled our home 13 years and we are still married. That was before word-of-the-year but it was probably Survival. Or Grateful for each small step forward.

  33. I have two words this year: exploration and execution. I’m ready to “explore” past griefs through counselling. I’m also ready to “execute” action items to build my Tarot Reading business.

  34. Hi Claire!
    Loved what you wrote! I think slow is a word we can all focus on!! Last year I started word of the year, had heard about it from 2 other friends!!
    My word for 2018 is Gratitude!!
    Best to you for 2018!

  35. My word of the year is Improve.
    I want to improve my health.
    I want to improve my relationship with my husband (we’ve had a tough year).
    I want to improve my patience with my children.
    I want to improve our living situation.