My One Word (The 2016 Edition)

In 2015, my One Word was “Thrive”*.  It seemed fitting in light of all the adjustments and changes we would be facing as a family in the year ahead, having moved to another state (and nearly two years to the day that we moved the kids back to the US from the UK, at that.)

Unfortunately, while I tried to navigate all the changes in front of me, I didn’t really thrive at all. What I really did was embrace mediocrity and double-stuffed Oreos. (Fun fact: my 2014 One Word was “embrace” and I spend half of 2015 thinking that was my focus, so there’s that.)

Looking back, I feel like much of what I did for me was half-assed and that I was settling for it – was I lacking confidence, direction or focus?  (Or gulp ability?) I was treading water.

My list of goals for the year is dusty and neglected like a can of Spam on a convenience store shelf. The 10 pounds I wanted to lose has bloomed to twenty for the new year. Blog-wise, the final stroke fell when WordPress delivered my year in retrospect data; as it turns out,  two of my top three commenters on the blog were my mother and my mother-in-law. Perhaps not the most-unbiased (but I’m grateful for the comments.)

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I made some truly wonderful memories with my family and saw my kids grow and thrive at their new schools, particularly this fall with a truly fresh start.  I see how much happier my husband is with his new job. The year had a multitude of high points.

Personally, however, I fell short of nearly all my goals and felt like I was standing about three feet in front of the starting line, and that is the opposite of thriving.

It’s probably fitting that in the early morning hours of the second day of the year, I was still not one hundred percent sorted on what my One Word will be for the year.

In between all the family activities I’ve been lost in my head. It came to a head on New Year’s Day, as I asked my kids to share their biggest accomplishments and realized I couldn’t come up with a single thing for myself that didn’t involve someone else, and I wasn’t sure if that counted. Anything that immediately came to mind didn’t seem to be “good enough” – or maybe that it was only good enough and that was disappointing in itself. Talk about a kick in the comfy leggings-covered backside. (Because Oreos and not enough trips to the gym.)

At first, I pondered “Discipline” – because in many ways, that is what I’m lacking in leaps and bounds. I have my to do lists but some days I need to add “drink coffee” and “pet the dog” just to feel like I can tick something off.  If I were more disciplined, I would write more. I would submit my writing other places. I would fold the laundry as soon as it came out of the dryer and I wouldn’t contemplate Cheerios as an acceptable dinner because I would have meals planned and groceries for said plan purchased (usually where I fail….)

But in the end, the very word brought to mind either the tall, black-and-white-clad nuns of my elementary school or a stern German woman with a tightly wrapped bun and leather pants, and frankly, both frightened me.

In the end, what jumped out at me (after much thought and perusing lists of words) was “Cultivate”. It was a post by the lovely Lizzi of Considerings and a Facebook exchange after that really sent me in the right direction. Go, have a look at her gorgeous words. I’ll be right here.

You see, I had just read her own choice of words for the new year and admired her prose, so I was struck with her own lament of feeling mediocre, and what you do to overcome it (which is a question I’ve asked of myself)  but she followed it with a question of HOW you actually get more people to engage.

For me, before other people engage, I have to be fully present in my efforts. What I need isn’t going to fall from the sky like rain. I’ve got to grow it myself.

Aha. My word!

My One Word: Cultivate.


I could do with a lot of self-nurturing.

My physical health AND psyche could both use some attention, labor and care. (So could the walls in my home. The bare walls in the house are a good reflection of the lack of feeling settled I’m feeling personally.)

While I’ve met some lovely people, I still have a sense of being that odd girl out, sitting on the edge of the playground looking wistfully at the gaggle of girls jumping rope, hoping I’ll be asked to join in. And while I tell my kids they have to just jump in, self-application of this information is a joke. I need to stick my neck out and find my people.

And my writing? It could use some devotion. (Which sounds better than discipline.) It could use attention, and consistency, and if all I turn out is a steaming pile of poop, that’s ok – because some sage advice from Beth Tehilo of Writer B is Me came to mind: that poo will be the perfect “compost for my garden” from which awesome things might grow. (Hopefully, it is something pretty or strong, and not just fungus. Because yuck.)

My first order of business, when the kids return to school and my husband to work and all of us to routine is to establish a BETTER routine. Part of that is being more present in my own life instead of coasting along.  To reject mediocrity as status quo and invest in myself.

Given my utter lack of a green thumb, I can only hope I’m better at cultivation in my personal life than I am in the garden – but I’m looking forward to the process, come rain or shine.



  1. Great word!! I think I’m pretty much been stuck like you since going back to work. Doing for others and have forgotten about me. Made a few resolutions this year to fix that – now to only stick to them!! Best of luck to you. Excited and hopeful you are able to post more – I always enjoy reading what’s going on with your family. You get out and go much more exciting things than we do!!

    • I think you went to Hawaii. 🙂
      I go to soccer matches and the grocery store, mostly – and really, no one wants to read about that.
      (This will be the year I write about the shouty soccer parents, though.)

      And Amy Lynn, you have ALWAYS put others first – so I hope you stick to those resolutions and do things just for you.
      Miss you, girlfriend.

  2. Hi Jenn!
    Love this! Your truth and honesty and genuine-ness comes through so clearly! I feel at once at home and comforted to know I’m not alone in the journey of trying, trying, trying to be better, do better and yet appreciate who I am!
    I read all your posts and I need to comment more as I feel like I’m having a quick cup of coffee with you and hearing about your journey and adventures.
    I look forward to checking out the links you shared and AMEN to getting back to a routine! Happy New Year to you and yours and please know that you are reaching us and we hear you! 🙂
    PS – my word this year is “authentic” and my theme is “I’m Stronger Than I Think…”

    • THANK YOU. This warms my heart.
      (I really hope it didn’t come across as too much “Poor me” – now comment.) But I get you, I do a lot of reading and not nearly enough commenting, and bottom line, that is a big part of it all, isn’t it? Well, that, and not writing rubbish.
      Ok, and actually writing.

      2015 WAS a good year, but I think i spent too much of it like a car stuck in the mud, spinning its wheels – and not really trying anything else than that to get out, and then banging my head against the steering wheel in frustration.

      I love that you have a theme, too – what a terrific idea. Something to give direction to the word. Happy New Year to you, and I look forward to reading (and commenting) more right back at you!

  3. My heart sank when I read ‘discipline’, because I was trying to figure out how on earth I was going to take my writing forward in a way which made it more accessible (read ‘so that a few more people would want to bother with it’) and came across an article (shared by Beth, actually) wherein some famous dude said that discipline meant showing up every. single. day. to do The Thing, regardless of inclination, inspiration, or any other thing-which-would-be-a-boundary. The dude then talked of the gym, and my heart quavered and tried to turn transparent, because even though I TRY to get to the gym a few times a week, the idea of going every. single. day. is just too much.

    Life really does get in the way. And I just don’t love the gym enough. I think the only thing I DO love enough is being part of this wonderful Blogosphere – I’m here every day, for all I have to show for it.

    But ‘cultivate’ is beautiful. I think it’s a bit more forgiving than ‘discipline’, and suggests time pottering, trying things out and seeing what works. I have a strong mental image of a gardener in a greenhouse, taking clippings and testing different composts and different levels of sunlight and plant food. I think that’s a far more beautiful (and far more apt) word.

    I love it. It’s perfect.

    Here’s to us both growing some gorgeous blooms this year (and thanks, btw, you’ve just reminded me one way I DID used to hook people into reading my stuff (though I always felt a little guilty for it) – by tagging them and talking about them. Builds links and brings people to reading words they may otherwise have missed, so THANK YOU for tagging me, and bringing me over to read this. I enjoyed it.

    • THANK YOU.
      While my brain meant the same discipline of which the famous dude spoke of, I got a harsh visual from it, too, and I just couldn’t. While I need someone to push me at times, I kept picturing leather and such. *shudders* And the gym analogy is spot on. (Just ask my hubby, because we’re paying for the 30-minute boxing gym for me, and I haven’t been since October. Shhh.) I much more like the idea of the gardener, too.

      I didn’t mean to hook you in to get you to comment – really – it’s more to share credit (of the inspiration) and the wonderful words I come across. But I’m glad you came by. And I do love your gorgeous way with words.

      (Lastly:0I also should never, EVER click “publish” on something I’ve written at 1am as a brain dump. I ran to the computer this morning to see what actually came out. OH THE TYPOS. Things like this need to sit overnight and ferment. Or something.)

      So thank you for sending me in the right direction, unwittingly. In return, I’m sending Texas sunshine your way, friend, and a virtual hug. And I do hope i get to see you again. (Bring Party Rings.)

      • Ha! That’s a long time not to go for, but I’ve given up boxing too. It just got too expensive and the timing too restrictive for me to manage it alongside all the ‘else’ of life. Like moving house *sigh* Soooo I joined a different gym, at less than half the price, where I can go ANY TIME betwen 6am and 11pm. BOOM!

        Hooking in is GOOD. Truly. Sharing credit (and thanks, btw 🙂 ) is always a good thing and it reminds me I need to do more of it, like I used to. Perhaps I’ve just gotten out of the habit of involving other people, but it used to be pretty neat. I think I’ll do it more again. I liked how community it made things feel.

        I will try to bring party rings. And discipline…well the leather is good if you like that kind of thing. I think it can depend…but the nuns? No thanks!

  4. Hey my Frisco friend! Thanks for tagging me and linking that post, which is probably my favorite post of 2015. I love love love the word Cultivate. There’s something about it that rings “renewal” and building and creativity, but mostly, it rings being true to ones self. Organic. It’s positive and nurturing.

    Your honesty here is refreshing. I get it. I’ve been there, and sometimes I’m still there. It’s so difficult to nurture yourself when you feel stuck.

    Be kind and patient to yourself. This rough time you’ve been through the past few years is PART of your journey. To use my gardening analogy, this shit will be compost to your future cultivation.

    And it will be fucking beautiful.


    • I absolutely ADORE that post of yours. I think anyone who writes needs to read it.
      I even shared it with my 11yo when he was struggling unenthusiastically with an essay, and asked me to proof it for him. I hit it with my happy red pen and a whole lot of “choose a better word” because he’s a fab writer already but lazy…but he also GOT it. And, he’s 11 and so the poo analogy made him laugh.

      It really hit me when I needed it, and I still go back to it when I get frustrated.
      Because my wellies get put to good use, mucking through all this shit. It better grow something good, eventually….

  5. I love how you get real with yourself and so honest! I remember reading your one word post from last year and loving your one word. Your world has gone through so many changes. Small steps, kindness, taking care of you, and being patient! Cheers to cultivate! Happy New Year!

  6. Jenn, if you think you are in that boat alone you are mistaken. Just look to your right and I am sitting right next to you. Three kids and full time job and I have developed a complete lack of ambition to do anything…especially for myself. I feel like everything I do is half-assed. At least you have made some resolutions for 2016 to try and change that. I haven’t even done that!

    • Girlfriend, you know I’m always right there with you.
      That said, YOU are working a full time job. And you have one more kid than me. (Not counting your big kid husband.)
      I’m at home, NOT working a full time job, and I still can’t get my shit together. So there is that.
      But I get you. I’m finding that this lack of ambition or motivation or whatever is not a singular experience…

  7. I love the word cultivate. It’s such a rich word with so much promise and so much flexibility. I also love Lizzi the Considerer, Double Stuffed Oreos and cereal for dinner – totally acceptable over here.

    • I think it’s a good word. I like the idea of flexibility.
      And Oreos.

      I need to put it up on my wall where I can see it. My word. Not oreos.
      They can go in mah belly.

      Lizzi is awesome, and I love your writing…so thanks for coming by and commenting. I’m kind of giddy, all my favorite people here on the same day!!!!

  8. wyominggirlcoastiewife says

    Great word!! 🙂 Perhaps it was just that you got your word order a little backwards–first we must cultivate, then we must grow, and THEN we can Thrive 🙂 Still haven’t done my one word for the year yet OR given last year’s word update. Baby steps 😉

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