“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.
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.