Late in 2016, I was introduced to the idea of ‘one word’, a sort-of way to set a new year’s resolution without it being ‘resolutiony.’ Instead of the same of old things like getting in better shape, being more organised, saving more money, the concept of selecting a word to guide your year appealed to me on many levels.
After much deliberation, I chose the word ‘joy’ as my one word 2017, and I tried my best to find joy in everything I did. Was I consistent or even very good at it? Not really, but it was always in the back of my mind, reminding me that joy could be possible in both the mundane and in the difficult.
Amazingly, my ability to live this word was put to the test in November I was at the Richmond Marathon weekend with many of my Meg’s Miles friends, and we had just run the two mile memorial run for Meg in Ashland. Our group headed to the coffee shop for the post run time together, and while in line, the woman who introduced me to the one word concept and another woman were discussing how our one word efforts were going. It turns out the one woman had chosen ‘joy’ for two years in a row, and then faced the loss of close family members in each of those years. It clearly was a true test of her resolve to live out her word in the face of such grief and loss. Not just once, but twice.
I remember thinking that I’ve had a pretty easy year of it – a couple minor injuries and disappointments to work through but nothing that really had the power to rob joy from my life in the same way. The questions about how I would be able to get through that type of situation and still keep ‘joy’ in my life swirled, and I didn’t think I would be capable of doing it. Certainly not like this other person had done. I was just not that strong of a person. I remember walking away from that conversation, being thankful that I was not facing anything of the sort, and with a new resolve to incorporate even more joy into the last seven weeks of 2017, before I selected a new word for the new year.
As is the way with things, it was that afternoon when I got a call from my brother saying my mother was in the hospital for an MRI and CT scan. They found two brain tumours. They would be doing surgery. It might be cancer.
My resolve to be joyful crumbled in a second when I realized my mom might be very sick. In fact, after the resection (surgery), we learned that my mom has glioblastoma multiforme, a very aggressive form of brain cancer for which there is no cure. My ability to find joy went out the window. Or so I thought.
I won’t lie and say it has been easy to receive this news or navigate through all the realities and emotions of helping a loved one who is going through a cancer diagnosis and treatment. It’s even harder when you live far away. I’ve basically spent a week at home over the last six weeks, trying to travel back to see my mom, spend time with her and help where I can. It’s not been easy, but I’ve discovered an awful lot about myself, others and life in general. And I’ve found a way to incorporate joy into this sucky situation. I mean, I’ve seen my mom more in the last two months than I have in probably five years. And while it’s not in ideal conditions, we’ve had a great few visits, sharing in laughs, getting our nails done, making memories together that will last us both a lifetime. Finding the joy in this has not been easy, but it is possible. And in truth, it’s more rewarding to find it when it may seem there is no joy to be found. My time with my mom is so precious and I just want to have her happy and enjoying things, sharing in good moments and good days with those who love her the most.
Which brings me to my one word for 2018. I didn’t know if I would do this again. Life is very hard right now. Hard and hectic. Yet here I am because I see how valuable it can be to try and live out a concept for an entire year. After much thought and consideration, I’ve settled on SERVICE for my one word 2018. I am going to serve others in 2018 in new ways, from serving my mom first and foremost to being of service to others in ways that I may never have thought. My goal is to give back to others in a world that might seem dark, gray and lacking hope. And I know from experience that in giving to others – of your time, energy, money, yourself – you also serve yourself in new and wonderful ways.
Wishing you all a happy new year!
For some ideas and support, visit One Word 365.
Did you select a one word for 2017? What word was it and how did you live it out? What is your one word for 2018?