Column: Reflections on a New Year Word

By Icy Frantz

I don’t know if One Word that will change your life by Jon Gordan (a book I found included in a list of must reads last year) will actually change your life, but I do know that I spent a good amount of time contemplating my word. The premise of the book is to choose just one word which will be the driving force for the year ahead rather than construct goals and resolutions which will undoubtedly be broken. Flow, family, connect, grace, love, anchor, balance, hope, water, and seek were a few of the words my friends and I landed on as a group.

For me, I thought of a word immediately, and it felt like a very intentional and inspired gift from above


Among other things, I thought about that word a few days before the new year when I arrived at my goat path. The path is not actually mine in the true sense of the term but I do feel some ownership, a shared indebtedness for a spot that has found its way into my annual rhythm. It’s not a long hike or a challenging hike. It is a beautiful hike, one that merits savoring and that allows my thoughts to drift.

This year I was acutely aware that although the path remained relatively the same, maybe not so for the ants and small lizards, I was in a different place. I showed up with a longing to sort through feelings and I was grateful for the space – both the physical and emotional.

While the others marched on ahead with great resolve, I hung back realizing that I needed time to meander without purpose. All of us would arrive at the destination whether we traveled quickly across the dusty trail or more slowly. I chose to dawdle, pushing aside any competitive instinct that would have me finishing first. I would definitely be last. No matter, I would blink and I would be home at my desk, the trail and sites captured only in my memory and on my iPhone and then, if I am lucky, I will be back here again next year. Time is funny that way.

With each step I considered the past year. Was I spending my time doing the things I wanted to be doing? Was I taking care of myself? Had I lost myself in the minutia of everyday, neglecting to appreciate my good fortune and my privilege? Did I remember to have fun, to celebrate, to break a few rules, to stay up late or later, to truly enjoy friends and family – to worry less, delight more, to say yes, and no, when appropriate, to value, really value my one life? Had I felt free or encumbered by fears, real or imagined, as if my fretting could actually change a thing. Will the plane go down? Will I get sick? Are my kids ok?

I thought about my previous new year’s resolutions- had I reached them? Learned to meditate? Pray more? Watch documentaries instead of rom coms? Read nonfiction rather than fiction?

As Joseph Campbell suggested, had I followed my bliss? What is my bliss? At 57, was I more or less evolved? What should we have for dinner? Was I the person I wanted to be in 2022?

“You can breathe to survive or dance and feel alive,” came to mind. It was a quote that resonated with me at some point in December which resurrected itself enroute. I had passed it along to the kids in a prime example of an annoying and frequent habit of mine – picking out quotes and clips and imparting them in a ‘this could change your life’ kind of way.

And looking out on the water below, I wondered – am I dancing? I want to dance – I love to dance. Do I need to dance more?

There it was again. More. And as hard as I tried to shake it, give it back and find another word, it wouldn’t leave.

Left on its own accord more could be considered selfish or materialistic – I felt more comfortable with enough or grateful but neither stuck.

So, back home, far away from my goat path, I grab some more coffee and leaned into more.

I am learning to live with my word – like a new roommate, we are both considerate and aware of our boundaries. I am noticing the ways it may in fact enhance my new year.

Just yesterday, I said yes to a new squash game – more squash and no to an additional work commitment – more peace. I am writing more, and I went for a long walk around my neighborhood – more reflecting. And much to the chagrin of my children, I found more quotes and clips to send to them.

I have more hope for the year ahead, and, if we are lucky, there will be more music in our lives which could only mean, more dancing.


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