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Do you choose a word of the year? I do. I've been doing it most years for a while now (can't quite remember how long, that's how long it's been!). I love the idea of having a guiding light for my year.

It can be hard to choose, though, and I feel a little bit like it's harder this year. I'm trying not to put too much pressure on 2021, but the feeling of needing something much better is hovering around me. So, in case you're new to choosing a word of the year or if you're also having a hard time choosing, I thought I'd share how I choose mine.

Choosing a Word of the Year

  • Decide how you want to feel throughout the year while you're taking steps to reach your goal. For example, I want to feel like I am taking steady, everyday actions and steps that incorporate my goals into my daily life.
  • Pick out some keywords that match that vibe you're aiming for. For me, I picked everyday, steadfast, persistent, consistent, regular, and practice. Pop open a thesaurus site (I love Power Thesaurus and Word Hippo) and start looking up your words. Follow some rabbit holes and click on words that stand out for your, and see if something resonates. It's fine if you have a list of words. Audition them and see what works! Or maybe even use more than one word.
  • Don't feel like you have to commit right away. Spend some time with your words. Use them as prompts to do some journal writing for two minutes or five minutes (something short, whatever feels good for you). Write the words on sticky notes or index cards and leave them where you can see them in passing throughout your days and think about them as you're going along. Notice if any of them seem to draw your attention more than the others.
  • Pick a word. There is no wrong choice. And you can always change. You could even change words every month or every season. Let yourself be flexible.

Ways to Use Your Word of the Year

  • Look at your goals for the year and do a short journal writing session for each goal, writing about how your word might interact with that goal and how taking steps toward that goal would look if you're keeping your word in mind.
  • Write your word at the top of your weekly planner spread (if you use a weekly planner, of course--you can also do this for a monthly or daily planner). This will remind you to approach the world with your word in mind.
  • Make an art card (ATC, index card, whatever size you like) for your word and put it somewhere you'll see it regularly.

I hope this helps you decide on a word and gives you some ideas of how to actually use your word to help you with your goals. Drop me a note and tell me your word, and I'll tell you mine as soon as I've made a final decision.


It's that time of year. It feels like every business I see messages from is touting some "make your plans and have your best, most productive year ever starting in January" workshop or article or book. Everyone is pressuring for making resolutions and making plans and following through and...

This always feels like too much pressure to me. This year, it feels even worse. I do not want this. I do not want to feel like I have to have every minute of my day planned and scheduled. I do not want to feel like everything I do needs to be in service to meeting some goals.

I also don't want to have an aimless year where I get not much of anything done, and when I do accomplish something it seems mostly accidental.

I want something in between (okay, maybe leaning more toward the rambling and incidental to be honest).

I made something in between. It's called New Year's Ease*. It's a five-day workshop running from December 26 - 30. It's going to help with making plans and goals so you have something to aim for, but it's also going to help with dreaming and with finding the ways to work toward goals while having ease and relaxation and time for things you didn't even think about doing but really want to that come up during the year.

I believe that the worth of our lives is not measured in productivity and exhaustion. It's not measured in how much we've accomplished or how much money we've earned. You do not have to schedule every minute of your day, put your nose to the grindstone, be constantly on task to reach goals and be satisfied with your life and what you're doing.

I believe it is the aim of our lives to find the things that make us feel good and proud of ourselves but also like we have time and space to breathe and enjoy the world around us and the life we have. I want to work on building that kind of life. I hope you'll join me in December.

*Registration opens November 30. Price: $35



Are you participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this November?

It's a fun time full of writerly companionship, and if you're on the fence I hope I can convince you to jump on in.  I thought I'd share part of a post (with a link to the rest) I wrote for Willamette Writers this summer to help persuade you.

Have you tried NaNoWriMo? You should—it’s a great way to get your words flowing and get your stories out on the page.

Admittedly I’m biased in favor of NaNo. I’ve been signing up for it since 2003 and actively participating since 2006 (turns out you actually have to write something to get to 50K). I’ve taken part as a writer (and a winner seven times). I’ve been the Portland, OR municipal liaison. I’ve attended and hosted local write-ins and events and participated in the online forums. But most importantly, I have written. I have written in November even in years when writing was a struggle. NaNo did that for me.

(Read the rest of the post here.)

I really do love NaNo.  I'm hoping to participate this year even in the middle of a house renovation and move (which may be completely crazy, but I'm still thinking about it).  I hope you'll give it a try and give your writing a jolt of NaNo energy.

Drop me a line, let me know if you're jumping in, let me know how it's going.  I'll cheer you on and see you at the finish!



Do you ever catch yourself wishing that things were easy or saying things like, "Why can't this be easy?" or "I want this to be easy!"?  What do we mean by that?  Do we actually mean that we want a life that is effortless, where we never have to exert ourselves or stretch ourselves in any way?  I don't think that's actually what we mean when we're wishing and hoping and longing for easy.  I think if we didn't have things to work toward and strive for, we'd get bored.  I don't think we really mean "easy" at all.

Now this is easy!
Now this is easy!

So what do we mean when we wish for easy?  I think we might really be longing for a clear path--knowing where we're going and the steps to take to get there.  I think it's the uncertainty of what comes next, of what our next move should be that makes us wish for that chair on the beach and effortless days.

I think when I find myself complaining that something is too hard, that I wish it (whatever the current "it" might be) was easier, I'll remind myself that easy isn't what I'm looking for.  Instead of asking how things can be easy, I will ask myself "how can I clear the way to move forward?"  Semantics, yes, but I think it's important.

Does this relate to my ROW80 check-in and NaNoWriMo?  Oh yeah.  I've been whining to myself for the past two days that this next section is too hard, I want it to be easy, why won't it be easy?  Today, just a little while ago, I realized it was the wrong question.  I don't actually mind spending hours writing, staying up a little too late, skipping other things to get in some words.  So it's not easy I'm looking for.  What I'm really needing is a focus, a plan, a clue.  So the question I need to ask myself is "how can I figure out what I need to write next?"  "How can I make the next section make sense as a lead-in to what's going to happen after?"  "How can I plan things so I don't have so many stops and starts and stuck places?"

Maybe just writing along getting all the thoughts down, knowing the basics of what I'm going to put in that spot before I get started is a form of ease.  I don't know.  But I do think I need to be focusing more on how to know what I'm going to write when I sit down rather than focusing on how I want things to be easy.  Because the truth is, I don't care that much about easy.  I just want to get my words flowing again.

What would you like to have going more smoothly in your life?  What would you like to get unstuck?  How can you clear the way for yourself to do the things you want to do?Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail


I have a million things on my mind, and I want to write about all of them.  I want to do a Row80 check-in, I want to talk about JuNoWriMo.  I most especially want to talk about Lisa Sonora Beam's Creative+Practice class and Jill Badonsky's Creative Realignment Workshop, both of which I've stepped into this week.

I've been hesitant to talk too much about my flaws and failures.  What kind of coach falls prey to the same things she helps other people deal with?  Oh yeah.  A human one.  A human one who needs to remember what she tells people all the time--we all need to connect with mentors and teachers and people who support and cheer us on our paths.  We all need help.  So, here's a little bit about me getting caught up in a downward spiral and my journey back out.

Journal 2
My Creative+Practice journal, created (and not quite completed) last year but not used because I kept meaning to get to the work but wasn't doing it. I see a pattern...

This whole year, plagued by illness, injury, car troubles, and the accompanying money woes that go with all of that, I have been trying to make plans, jump into things, busy my anxiety and depression away.  Coupled with a leaning toward self-sabotage and procrastination, I've just been setting myself up for failure and a reinforcement of my "I never do what I should, never do anything right" feelings.

This week, though, a few things happened to push me into acknowledging that I've just been plunging into plans to try to shake myself out of my doldrums.

First, Lisa's class started up again, and I realized that it's an invitation.  It's an invitation to slowly build up to something lasting, something that can keep me afloat during dark and stressful times.

Then Thursday Jill did a call about self-sabotage and not showing up for yourself.  It was like someone shined a spotlight on my behavior.  It became so clear that I was making sure that I don't move ahead with my dreams.

At first I found myself starting to make all sorts of new plans to "get myself going" and things like that.  Then I stopped myself.  I asked one question: "What do I need?"  Not what do I want to be doing (writing, coaching, teaching), or what do I think I should be doing (cleaning and organizing, making better plans for my life). What do I need?

  • I need breathing space, calm, peace-of-mind
  • I need a support structure, regular practices that help me sort my thoughts and get that calm space I need
  • I need to care for myself

A huge problem of mine is impatience.  I want all of this right now.  My plan (oh, I just can't help myself--I love to make plans!) is to take things day-by-day.  I'm going to finish out this round and begin the next one with the goal of making one daily step, connecting with people here, on Twitter, on Facebook to have some accountability.

So what does this mean for ROW80 and JuNoWriMo?  Writing is in my soul, I can't stop thinking about writing and stories, so I'm not going to stop doing either of these.  I'm just going to really dial back my goals.  For the rest of this round, and for the rest of June, I am going to set the goal of writing at least two sentences every weekday.  Small steps, one of my favorite tools from my Kaizen-Muse™ training.  And they work when I remember to do them (have you ever noticed how hard it can be to follow your own advice?)

I've been rambling.  I hope you're still with me.  I hope you'll remember that even when you're not practicing your creativity, even when things are dark, this is normal, and you are not alone.  And if you want to talk about it, I would love to connect so we can help each other along.



It was 1992.  I was back in school getting a post-grad teaching certification and taking my first steps from being a storyteller and occasional poet to being a writer.  I started taking some workshops.  And I bought some books.  And one of those books is still with me.  It's right here next to me as I type because I think it's time for a re-read.

Basics 1
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

Re-reading this (and probably Wild Mind after) seems like the perfect accompaniment to this round of ROW80.  Taking my goals back to the basics, simplifying, just focusing on the process of writing practice is what these books are all about. These books are where I first learned this stuff!  It feels really good to be returning to this starting point.

I've been doing some very short journaling, mostly on the back of my collage cards, and it feels good to be connecting to my world with my words again.  I know I'm on the right track for me, and I think that's a pretty good check-in for right now.


This week, Jamie asks, "What do you wish to believe in?"  Here's a little bit of freewriting to answer that:

Fairy 4

I wish to believe in magic.  In fairies and miracles and bright, shining amazement floating in glittery bubbles of fairy dust.  I wish to believe that there are secrets to the Universe, things I can catch glimpses of if I open myself up and look in the right directions.  I wish to believe that I have magic inside me that I can bring out and share with the world if I keep trying.  I wish to believe that there are ghosts and aliens and Bigfoot and wild, unknown things out there and that maybe I can see some of it while I'm here.  I'm like Fox Mulder on the X-Files--I want to believe.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail


Happy New Year!

Do you make New Year resolutions?  Or maybe set intentions for the year or just list a few goals without calling them resolutions?  Most of us have some hopes and dreams and plans for the coming year on January 1.

Many of us have creative goals we want to accomplish.  If you have a goal to bring more creativity into your life this year, I thought I'd offer ideas for two ways you can make that happen:

Try Something Completely New

One of the best ways to rev up your creativity is to try something new.  Do you paint?  Try writing poetry.  Are you a photographer?  Try knitting.  You could even try something new and tie it in with your usual creative activities, for example by incorporating one of those poems you write into a mixed media painting.

If you go this route, let yourself get really involved in the new pursuit.  Join a group or two, read blogs, take a class.  Really dive in and immerse yourself in your new activity and give it a chance to really take hold.  Give yourself enough time--weeks or even months--to really get to know the ins and outs and ups and downs of your new creative pastime.

Delve Deeply Into Something You Already Do

Do you sketch?  Plan a year long project to do one small sketch every day.  Do you like to cook?  Sign up for a class in one particular cuisine, or plan to try recipes from a different region once a week.  Take something that you enjoy doing, go one step further (or more!) than you have so far, and become an expert.

I'm planning to go the first route this year and learn to quilt.  I've read up a bit on quilting, and I love the look of beautiful quilts. I've even bought a few supplies, but I've always hesitated to actually try it out, so this year I'm diving in.

How about you?  What creative fun are you getting into this year?  Drop me a note.  I'd love to hear what you're up to.

And again--Happy New Year!Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

I love Christmas.  Not the shopping and craziness and relentless stupid commercials on TV.  I love Christmas--the glowing, twinkly lights, the sparkly decorations, the smells of baking and bright paper and bows and the generally better dressed, more decorative world we seem to walk through during late December.  The days sort of glow somehow as we try to adorn and festoon our way out of the dark season.  I think I love it so much because somehow in my mind it is still the Victorian fantasy I came to believe in from watching Little Women and A Christmas Carol, White Christmas and Holiday Inn and reading The Bird's Christmas Carol (my favorite Christmas book when I was young).  I love how Christmas brings beauty and sparkle to my everyday world.

Still, even during these glowing, Victorian tinged days, I'm already feeling the pull of the new year--looking ahead, thinking of what I want to do, what I'm going to do differently, what exciting things might just be waiting up ahead.

I do think it's going to be a fabulous year.  I already know what my focus word will be--Believe. Do you have a focus word for the year?  I like having a focus and intention for the year rather than setting resolutions.  Focus is more flexible and seems better suited to something meant to last a full year.   This year I had three focus words--create, thrive, explore.  This led me a good way down my path, but I think my focus was a bit split, which is why I chose one word for 2011.  That and I feel for the coming year everything I want will come if I just learn to believe in myself and my abilities.

I already have a few things coming into my life that I can tell are going to help me keep growing and thriving next year.

  • This week, I got two early Christmas gifts in the mail (one just arrived).  The first, Inner Excavation by Liz Lamoreux, is already bringing shifts in my world view just from the first read through.  The second, the one that came today, is Expressive Photography from the Shutter Sisters, edited by Tracey Clark, and it feels like I'm holding in my hands everything I want to learn to bring out in my own art and life.  I'm feeling madly in love with these books, so I've been writing about them all week, and I'm not done yet.  Look for lots of posts both here and at my WordColors blog about these books over the coming weeks and months.
  • Preparations for the Wild Minds Writing Retreat I'll be hosting in June.  There will be more about this very soon, but it is already sending me in new thought directions as I plan it.  It's going to be so much fun!  I can't wait to have enough together to start sharing about it.
  • The decision I've made that 2011 will be the year I create the physical self and surroundings that I so deeply desire and deserve.  I've formed an art journaling group, BodyPages, to help in this exploration, and I'm starting to have actual ideas of how to make it happen and some hope that it actually can.

This is what's on my mind now.  I'm enjoying the season and looking forward to the turn of the calendar page with great excitement and hope. Wishing you lots of both during this beautiful season!Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

This back-to-school time of year with its hints of new beginnings and nearly infinite possibilities just gets me so excited to do things and accomplish things and start things!  It also makes me want to buy notebooks and pens, but we won't talk about that little addiction just now.

I decided to take that new beginning vibe in the air and use it to look at the intentions I set for this year--Create, Explore, Thrive--see how I'm doing with them and make some changes or additions as needed.

Our homework this week: take stock of our intentions for the year, figure out where we are, what we've already done, what we'd like to do for the rest of the year.  And maybe buy a new notebook and pen to make notes about it all!

Leave a comment and let me know if you're up for a reevaluation of things and a late-year motivation boost, and we can do this together.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail