One Word 2023: Heal

This is my 10th (!) year of choosing a word to live by for the entire year in lieu of making traditional New Year’s resolutions. It’s based on the One Word 365 project, which apparently is on hiatus. But choosing a word doesn’t need to be dependent on a single website, so I press on because it has been more meaningful and impactful for me than not.

My word for 2022 was Flow:

So my hope for Flow this year is multiple, and fairly ambitious: seek more natural movement in response to needs and tasks, achieving a state of balance between skill and the challenge at hand, and taming my anxiety with greater intention.

As happens every year, no chosen word enjoys a straight line or easy path through the year, often because I can’t foresee how things are going to play out over the next 12 months. This was no less the case with Flow, which I had to adapt in light of several health issues. I caught COVID early in the year, and then injured my shoulder in karate not too long after, and then quite possibly had COVID a second time late in the year although no test ever confirmed it.

This series of developments inspired my first ever mid-year check-in about my chosen word:

The very first lesson has been to acknowledge that part of pursuing flow is to go where the current is taking me rather than trying to fight against it. Right now, that current is carrying me away from certain things I was hoping for at the beginning of the year, but there will be opportunities wherever I end up as well. So I have been learning things about patience, humility, and faith.

The second lesson has been to pursue new practices to manage my anxiety and give it an outlet as needed. Lately, these have included pouring myself into my journaling, which has not always been via words: sometimes the practice of portraying my emotions in non-verbal forms on the page has been preferable. I’ve also relied more on my penchant for making lists of tasks, which has helped quiet my mind trying to keep them all straight without becoming overwhelmed.

So Flow still brought learning and growth, just not in the ways I expected.

And now it’s a new year, which means I need a new word. As usual, the seeds began to take root for what that would be late in the year. Thanks to the aforementioned health issues, I fell away from doing certain things as often as I was before. And there have been other things–most notably some non-blog writing–that would be further along if I’d made it a greater point to make myself work on them like I did in September.

However, the more I thought about my experiences in 2022, the more I decided that I don’t need another word that focuses on self-motivation and staying on task and feeling guilty when I don’t meet goals. I’ve done words like that in the past, and while they made a positive difference for me, I think I most need to address something more at the root in the coming year.

And so my word for 2023 is Heal.

I need to be honest: I’m carrying some things into 2023 that are calling for resolution. Some of that continues to be pandemic-related: I did, after all, have COVID at least once last year. I’m still learning how best to live with my shoulder issues. I have some other spiritual and emotional things that could use some healing energy.

Some of that can best be dealt with via the sort of self-motivating things I was planning to focus on, and still will in its way. But I think I need to reframe activities like exercise, martial arts, and writing in terms of the healing they can bring. I want to make that my focus rather than for the usual “new year, new me” reasons. The latter will still come, just in a different way.

So in 2023, I’ll seek to heal in body, mind, and spirit. And I’ll probably write and podcast about it along the way.

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