I guess 2018 is getting off to a good start for me – my word of the year is slow and here it’s the second of January already and I’m only posting now!
I’m not sure I’ve done a full post about doing a “word of the year” before, but I’ve mentioned it in passing, particularly in my intro to this years to Write 31 Days which I based on my word for 2017, flourish.
The past few years I’ve stopped setting new year’s resolutions in favour of a word for the year. I’m not great at keeping my resolutions. A word helps me focus in lots of different areas on what’s important. So in 2016, my word was control after a very difficult 2015 (with a seriously ill husband and challenging baby) meant life felt very out of control. I spent time trying to get on top of the housework, made our routine less busy – so I cut out extras like classes and instead spent time at home not rushing about feeling out of control.
In 2017, I knew it would be a year with some time that I would not be breastfeeding (I stopped feeding Rory last winter) and not yet pregnant so I sought to try and flourish as best I could in those months – I signed up for courses, attended workshops, even took a break to the US by myself in February. I did some professional exams (and aced them, I might add!). I wanted our family life to flourish as it had felt the previous two years were just about survival and getting back in control, so we were more intentional and put steps in place to follow through on plans we had. We hosted people more, making hospitality a priority. I made moves to write more – I took on a contract piece of work and wrote guest pieces for other websites.
And you know what? Both years I may not have done all the things I thought or hoped I would but I could say at the end of 2016 I was in much better control of life, the household, being at home full time. And at the end of 2017 I feel like I did flourish even when Colin's dad being so seriously ill for much of the middle part of the year and then dying did disrupt the flourishing somewhat. I feel like the last year allowed me to focus on bettering myself, not just caring for little ones and running a household.
So to pick a word for 2018. With a new baby due in January, it didn’t feel like the year to go crazy and pick something particularly aspirational. Words like fierce, creative or abundance aren't for this year. I want to focus this year to be on us as a family, a simpler year. As well as having a newborn, Colin is starting a masters this month and Rory is transitioning to schooling this year – he starts nursery in September and will go to playgroup one day a week from Easter time.
When I thought about having a quieter year focused on our home the word “SLOW” kept popping into my head. It’s not a positive word in the world we live in. People love to be busy. If you ask someone how they are, busy is as likely to be the response as much as a good or OK response.
Slow can be defined as lacking in readiness, promptness, or willingness; lazy; stagnant. That’s not what I’m intending for 2018. I’m aiming for an unhurried, gentle, comfortable slow. A more meaningful family life. I think we’re already pretty good at keeping life unhurried but with a third child and two children out to school, it could be tempting to let the busyness go up a notch. It will also help with decision making – do we say yes to invitations or holidays or activities?
And for my faith, I love that passage in Matthew 11 telling us to slow down and learn from Jesus how to get rest when we're tired and as Eugene Peterson so perfectly puts it "learn the unforced rhythms of grace". This year I'm aiming to live freer and lighter. Which may mean saying no to events - ah, FEAR OF MISSING OUT - in order to slow life down. Spending time as a family with no plans. And learning from Jesus how to live life as God intended - not busy or heavy or wearying.
Do you do a word of the year? What have you picked for 2018?