one little word – 2011 version

Last year, my one little word was nourish.

As 2010 wound to a close, I thought about what my word would be for 2011. For a while, I thought the word would be rhythm – I know I will have to find a new rhythm this year, after Kristina leaves for college, but really, that’s quite a bit later in the year.  I also want to connect with dance and drums, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to build a whole year around that idea.

Briefly I flirted with core, heart, compelling, true, and release.  All interesting words, none really a contender.

Then I was taken with the word embrace.

A year of hugging and being hugged?  I’m in.  I thought it would be a good reminder to hold things, people, me, my ideas, gently – in an embrace – but not too tight.  I want to feel the courage to embrace new things, new ideas, a new rhythm.

from the Botanical Garden on the Hilo side of the Big Island

I like words that can be interpreted multiple ways, words that can be noun or verb; these seem good kinds of words to take to heart for a year.

The point of this one little word is to shape the year, to send intention into the days to come, to keep an idea in mind as I make lists and decisions, as I choose how to spend my time.  I thought about how I want the year to be, what I hope to accomplish, how I might grow.

I don’t want a word that binds me; I do want a word that helps me remember to keep myself on the list.  I enjoy doing things for others, and I can get caught up in an approval-loop doing that.  I enjoy research and exploring new ideas – though that can be a trap for me, where I don’t actually move on to the action or task I am doing the research for.

I want to make the bold step.

After all the research, the information, and the community that herald the start of a new project, I want to move ahead and create something.

I want to write a book this year.  I want to take many, many more photographs, returning to my first love – natural portraiture – and growing my photojournalistic skills.

I want to stretch.

These things will only open if I give them my attention and time, if I keep distractions to a minimum, if I stay disciplined, if I focus.

And there it is: the one little word for 2011.


A word that is both noun and verb; one that captures where my attention needs to be and the act of keeping it there; one that is used in photography, where focus can be soft or sharp; and in several other fields to describe what is at the centre, at the core, the place all things return.

I am prepared to be the focus of my own attention.  I am ready to focus on my writing and my photography.  I am ready – as Gretchen Rubin puts it in The Happiness Project – to do what ought to be done.

Hmmm… if I focus first on clearing clutter, I suspect I will have much more room and energy to concentrate on the creative projects that matter to me.

I am excited.

Each of the words on the way to this one was right for a while, taught me something.  This one… feels right.


2011, here I come.


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