word of the new(ish) year

and sometimes that angel's name is Kaylah

Every blade of grass has its angel that bends over it and whispers, ‘Grow, grow.’

~The Talmud

I chose one little word again. Or it chose me. Other years I have wondered and wrestled with the word, dallied over the many possibilities until I was exactly sure. This year, one word kept showing up – quiet, certain, steadfast.

A couple of years ago, when I took Karen Walrond’s Path Finder course, I developed a short list of words that describe the things I do that light me up – celebrate, savour, connect, storytelling. As time goes by, I understand and appreciate more what these words mean in my life, how they resonate through everything I do.

This past holiday season, as I pondered what word would guide and inspire me in 2013, I asked myself what I want to do more of. My pen flew to the page as I tried to capture all the ideas, with two themes: grow things and tell stories.

Grow. Each time I’ve come to write about this word, there’s been another layer, another way to think about it.

I love choosing a word with multiple meanings. Webster’s obliges with these definitions.


  1. To spring up, develop, and reach maturity
  2. To be capable of developing: flourish
  3. To expand: increase
  4. To come into existence: spring forth
  5. To come together by or as if by growth
  6. To become
  7. To raise: cultivate

What do I want to grow? Everything!

Including what you might find in a garden – lettuces, herbs, and sweet peas, or in a grove – olives, lemons, and figs. And also – my understanding of people, my compassion for myself, my storytelling skills.

Last year, while I was sick and recovering, it was natural that I take in from outside to console, nourish, and repair. Now I’m ready to give back, to create what may build and flourish – stories, community, connection.

This is the year to cultivate flexibility, resilience, and courage.

I want the balance to shift so that more of my time is filled with my own creating, bringing my dreams and stories to life in words and pictures. If in sharing my stories, someone else feels inspired and understood, if someone feels less alone, if they nod their head in recognition, I will feel grateful, indeed.

I want to grow my kindness muscles even more, to have that be my default response to life.

After Kaylah died, I knew I needed time to grieve. Now we are ready to expand our family again, to welcome a dog into the mix – a young, open, happy, friendly dog to follow me around and pester us to throw the ball again.

The final confirmation about grow came in a piece Anne Lamott posted to her facebook page. The writing includes several interwoven stories; she looks back on how much heartbreak and loss there had been the year before; she tells the story of buying a new car and trusting her gut, trusting the things that guide her.

Later, she relates a story of Caroline Myss meeting someone who works for the Dalai Lama. He said, “he believed that when a lot of seemingly meaningless things started going wrong all at once, it was to protect something big and lovely that was trying to get itself born.”

At the end of the stories, Anne reflects on how open to love and wonder she feels:

I think it’s the gift of grief, the gift of failure, of all that crying and rage – of having dealt with so much pain. Maybe all those tears washed me a little bit cleaner, like an inside shower. And maybe they somehow also watered the soil beneath me. Who knows. But more will be revealed.

Here, right here, was my clarity. I knew grow was my word, that the gift of this last year, with all its tears and grief, its suffering and pain, was an inside shower, was the soil of my soul being watered, made clean, fresh as summer rain.

Let’s see what is revealed. Let’s see what grows.

Previously: 2012 light | 2011 focus | 2010 nourish


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