3 Simple Steps for Finding & Maximizing My Word of the Year

Choose Your Words Wisely

Happy 2016! At the start of each new year, I love the idea of selecting one meaningful, motivating word to serve as a personal guide for the next 12 months. And I have three simple steps to do it.

STEP 1: Choose it wisely. To choose my word each year, I first imagine how I want to feel on December 31st, looking back at what I’ve experienced and achieved. What positive theme do I want to be able to see weaving through my life as I reflect on the past year? Sometimes it helps to notice the experiences and patterns I’m tired of and want to release from, and then figure out what the flip side of that would look like. Sometimes I want to build upon awesomeness that’s begun sprouting up; I want a word that reminds me to nurture and nourish that.

STEP 2: Use it wisely. And then, throughout the year, I use my word as a litmus test. In any situation, I can ask myself if it lines up with my word of the year. If it doesn’t, that’s a good indication that I’m off-track and need to recalibrate.

STEP 3: Don’t forget it. Take it from someone who’s been there, done that. It’s a bummer to reach December 31st and realize you left your word (and, likely, dreams) in the dust. Your word of the year is meant to stick with you through thick and thin. So post it somewhere you’ll see it frequently. Paste it on your vision board. Illustrate it and frame it. Write it on your bathroom mirror with a dry-erase marker. Keep it front and center to lead the way all year long.

Last year, I chose the word SERENITY and it served me well. I wanted to point my inner compass towards feeling good in all ways – physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, professionally, personally – with a constant foundation of peace and calm holding me steady through it all.

Right away last January, I had to put that word to good use. Our little guy, Tru, had been sick for nearly a month and only got worse while on our trip to Texas during New Year’s week. Once we returned home, we had three days straight of doctors appointments, pharmacy runs and blood tests. While juggling that with work and other commitments, I continually asked myself, “What are the choices I need to make to achieve serenity now?”

Sometimes, the answer was about expressing gratitude for the positives – a flexible schedule, good doctors, access to medicine, the ability to afford treatment. Sometimes, it meant taking a nap or talking to a friend on the phone while Tru rested. Sometimes, it meant choosing not to stress over unreturned emails or looming deadlines. And while we waited for test results (which wound up being inconclusive and he eventually got better), it meant not freaking out over what I didn’t know or obsessing about the possibilities, but just living in the present and celebrating any sign of progress with our little guy. By leaning on my word of the year, I surrendered to serenity and felt so much better for it.

This year, I’ve chosen a word that makes me smile from ear-to-ear…

glee - word of the year

Yep, this is my year to dance with GLEE! I knew I wanted to focus on cultivating joy this year, but that particular word didn’t feel quite right. I wanted something lighter, something brighter, something unique. I flipped through the thesaurus and when I saw “glee,” it jumped out at me. And then, I looked up the definition in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

“Exultant high-spirited joy,” it said. And I felt a shiver of truth and light buzz through me. There it is, I thought! GLEE is my word of the year. My guidepost for living, my companion in decision-making, my best bud in cultivating joy.

christine kane - word of the yearSo, what word will guide you this year? If you need a little extra guidance to choose your word, there are two FREE (also a favorite word!) resources that I highly recommend and thousands of people have used: Christine Kane offers an awesome online Word of the Year Discovery Tool  and Susannah Conway offers a five-day Find Your Word email class. Both are brilliant.

Wishing you a year that lives up to your highest expectations, dear hearts!

 

from skeptic to advocate: an inspiring year in the life of my childhood bestie

When you let go of the when and how, magic arrives in the here and now. | LivLane.com

If you’ve ever doubted the power of intention, ever scoffed at the value of making a vision board or selecting a “word of the year,” you’re not alone.

Sarah Rudell Beach questioned it all, too – until she did something really brave. She let go. And I can’t wait for you to hear what happened next!

Sarah’s the thinking woman’s guide to mindfulness over at Left Brain Buddha and a revered high school teacher, and I’m thrilled that she’s our newest contributor to Project Light Year 2015. A year ago, she was just getting started as a Project Light Year participant – and she arrived with a bagfull of doubt. She loved the idea of spending a whole year focused on personal growth with a virtual tribe of kindreds, but she was hesitant about some of the subject matter. Intention? Angels? Really?

I wasn’t surprised. Sarah was my first best friend. She was super-smart even at five, when we first met – a planner, a problem solver, a pragmatic playmate (her Barbie dolls all had successful careers and 401Ks). These traits have served her well over the years. But they didn’t leave much room for magic and mystery.

Liv & Sarah - January 2015

Liv & Sarah – January 2015

Last January, as the Project Light Year tribe dove into cultivating the power of intention and conspiring with the universe to co-create awesomeness in our lives, Sarah did something really brave. She jumped right in. Rather than bristle at how woo-woo that all sounded, she decided to take a chance and just try it. She set her intentions. She made a vision board. She opened up. And she couldn’t believe what transpired.

Last week, as part of our kick-off to another magical year, I interviewed Sarah about her leap from lingering doubt to dramatic developments in paving her path to deeper joy. It was meant just for Project Light Year participants, but we’ve decided to share it with all of you today, in hopes you feel inspired to let go a little bit, to trust yourself a little more, to experience magic and mystery like never before.

To download the 23-minute interview with Sarah, just click here.  Or to listen online, click here

We’re just getting started in Project Light Year 2015. There’s still time to set doubt aside and make 2015 the year you light up your life. Find all the details here.

girl gone wild: a surprise dream come true

Several weeks ago, as I sat outside working on my laptop while the kids rode their bikes after school, I looked up and saw this: a front yard full of glorious wildflowers. It took my breath away.

Seven years before, when we’d dug up our yard soon after moving into this house, the landscapers told me one day the tiny plants they’d placed in mulch would grow to be big and bountiful. They were right – and I’ve loved watching them come into their own. They bring me such joy whenever I pull into our driveway.

But on that day, when the flowers caught me by surprise, it was like I was seeing them for the first time through old eyes. I suddenly remembered that, as a girl, one of my recurring daydreams was to have a house with a yard full of wildflowers. The depth of that wish came flooding back to me.

How I used to tear out magazine photos of wildflower fields, just to stare at.

How I would sing Dolly Parton’s Wildflowers song at the top of my lungs {“When a flower grows wild, it can always survive; wildflowers don’t care where they grow”}.

How I shook off adults’ comments about it being hard to find a space to grow wildflowers in the city or even the suburbs.

How had I forgotten all of this!?

Maybe my inner 11-year-old has been whispering to me all along, keeping me from trimming and plucking those plants, letting the flowers we’d planted run wild. As I sat there, dazzled by what’s been in front of me all along, it was like her child eyes were peering through mine, witnessing this manifestation of her wildflower dream. I was so soul-deep happy for her. Does that make any sense?

And it was one more reminder for this grown-up heart of mine that even forgotten dreams can blossom when they are planted in the light, without a shadow of a doubt. Long ago, that me-girl dreamed it, believed it, created it.

And she offers me this wisdom now: the things I’m dreaming of, whole-heartedly believing in, and joyfully envisioning today can and will blossom tomorrow – even if I don’t know how or where.

Happy planting, dear ones.

 

 

Something Awesome…

A woman I know is about to take a Caribbean vacation with her husband – their first tropical trip in ages and one they’ve been planning for a year. When she explained to me where they were going and how they’d get there, I told her I’ve never been but have heard the area is beautiful.

“You’ll have such a great time,” I told her.

“Well…we’ll see,” she responded, with doubt in her voice.

When I asked about her hesitancy, she launched into a story about their last family trip to a tropical destination – over 15 years ago. The airline went on strike and their family got stranded at an airport for eight hours, causing them to miss a full day of beach time. When she wrote a letter of complaint, the airline sent her a voucher for a free plane ticket; she was so mad about the incident that she sent the free ticket back, swearing to never fly with them again.

Now, nearly two decades later, that experience still weighs heavy on her mind and clouds her expectations for having a stress-free trip. With that mindset going in, she’s setting herself up for failure – sure to notice every error or slip-up, and potentially missing all the goodness in her midst. I encouraged her to expect something different, to trust that some kind of wonderful is waiting for her in paradise.

We can all relate to her, right? We all let experiences from our past dictate our expectations for the future. We think that setting ourselves up for disappointment will make it less heartbreaking when something goes awry. And, if it does, then we’re disappointed that we still feel the full brunt of our disappointment. Spending that energy expecting the worst and worrying about all that could go wrong does no good.

When you expect awesomeness {imagine it, feel it, believe it}, that positive energy fuels you, giving you the strength you need to breeze through little disappointments. You might even enjoy the detours. I have seen evidence time and time again that good things don’t just come to those who wait; good things come to those who expect good things.

How The Power of Intention Got Us a Flippin’ Fantastic Nanny {What Could It Get You?}

Today was a big day in the Lane household. It was our new nanny’s first day and I’m so happy, I could cry. I thought we’d never  find her – which was exactly the problem.

For three years, we had a wonderful part-time nanny whom the boys adored. Jordan was {and is} like family – but needed to move away to pursue her own dreams. I chose to stay close-to-home for a while, slowing down and relishing extra time with my boys during the holidays. But eventually, I got a case of Restless Soul Syndrome. My boys are such bright lights in my life – but I also know I am healthiest and happiest when I’m also pursuing the other work that lights me up from the inside out. I really, truly believe that when I have the time and resources to focus on those passions, I am a better mama and my kids benefit from seeing me do what I love.

The only problem? These past several months, I have not had the time and resources to give anything my all, often leaving me to feel scatterbrained and stretched too thin. That fed into my sense of desperation and doubt as I looked – unsuccessfully – for a new nanny. Time and time again, things went wrong – from scheduling conflicts to transportation issues to breakdowns in communication. The funny but frustrating stories piled up – like the nanny who informed me her main job is selling sex toys or the one who thought working with kids might help improve her lack of “people skills.” I mean – I want the best for my kids, but I was starting to cave under the pressure, thinking my standards were too high and that I should just settle for someone who was not great but merely good enough.

Then, during a recent discussion with a friend, I realized my biggest problem was me.

When my friend asked me to attend an upcoming event, I said I’d love to – “if I could just find a fucking nanny!” We laughed, but my words hung over the table, daring me to look at them. “Hmm. Maybe I should start by NOT calling her ‘the fucking nanny,'” I said.  I felt like I’d been hit upside the head with one of Oprah’s aha moments.

See, it didn’t matter how hard I worked to find the “right” person; I was sabotaging myself by putting such negative energy into the ether, focusing on all the things I didn’t want vs. the things I did. With all that doubt and desperation, I left no room for the universe to deliver the perfect person to our family. So, I went home and visualized the nanny I really wanted to come into our lives. I imagined how incredible it would feel to find her and I made a list {above} of all the qualities we were looking for. And then I decided to just assume that such a person would be arriving any day. I even agreed to some work commitments for spring and summer, figuring I’d have the perfect childcare in place by then. That attitude shift was such a relief, moving from tension to trust.

I kid you not: our new nanny waltzed into our life THREE DAYS LATER, out of the blue. When she came over to meet the boys last week, I kept thinking about the list of positive traits I’d written – and realized she had them all. I really believe three things brought her to us:

1) I got crystal-clear about the type of nanny we desired AND imagined how amazing it would feel to find her.

2) I wrote it all down, securing a place for my intention not only on paper but in my head and heart. There is something so visceral and powerful about writing and seeing the words before you.

3) I trusted that she existed and was readily available – and began to live my life with that assumption.

I believe that when we are clear and heartfelt in our requests, the universe answers swiftly and kindly – always working in our favor. This was no exception. Within days of me shifting my mindset and clarifying my desires, the perfect nanny appeared – right on time.