Sunday, January 17, 2016

Word for the Year: Our First Meet-Up

When I posted about finding my Word for the Year at the beginning of January, a few friends from church commented on Facebook that they, too, choose words to direct their years.  A group of us thought it might be fun to remind each other to reflect on our words over the course of the year, kind of holding ourselves accountable to the vision we were creating for 2016.

After I put out some feelers to a larger group of women, we ended up with 20 people interested in finding, exploring, and sticking with a meaningful word for the year!

Our plan is to meet four times over the course of 2016, while also communicating monthly via email.  We will complete prompts and projects to keep us thinking about our words, and we will reflect on how "living" our words is affecting our lives in positive ways.

On Saturday morning, we had our first "official" Word for the Year meet-up, with eight women gathering at Media Presbyterian Church for several hours of fellowship, conversation, and activities surrounding our chosen words.

At our meet-up, I shared some of the ideas and information I had gathered from Ali Edwards' One Little Word site, which is a great place to begin if you are interested in finding out more about how choosing a Word for the Year can be a productive exercise.

Ali explains that the word we choose basically sums up what we want for ourselves over the course of the year; it represents what we want to invite into our lives.  She specifies that we choose words that have meaning for us, and resist any temptation to choose words we think someone else might pressure us to select.  Ali also emphasizes that there is no "perfect word," but rather "choices and paths and possibilities."
At our meet-up on Saturday morning, we all shared the word we had selected, or the one that seemed to be pulling at us most insistently.  We spent some time individually considering our words:  what it means to us, some synonyms for it, how our lives already embody the concept, as well as how we would like our lives to embody it more fully.  We also brainstormed ways to stay connected with our words over the course of the year; we will explore some of these ideas as part of our group activities, while others we may pursue individually if they sound interesting to us.  (We had ideas that ranged from collages and journals, to screen savers and iPhone reminders, to texts from friends and lipstick on the mirror!)

For the rest of our meet-up, we engaged in activities that will help us stay connected with our words this year.  First, we made old-school collages, using scissors, glue sticks, and a huge pile of magazines that participants brought along with them that morning.

Our collages included words and images that appealed to us and related to our selected words, though we had no obligation to justify or explain why we included them.  If we wanted something on our collage, we added it!

My love for cutting up paper is well-documented on my Drawing Near blog, so I was happy to share this relaxing and therapeutic pastie with my Word for the Year friends.

As we worked, we each got our photo taken holding a sign with our word written large.  Participants are encouraged to keep both their collages and their photos someplace meaningful for them:  posted on an inspiration board, on the fridge, on a cabinet door or a mirror, in a drawer they can open for a quick peek, or in a notebook.
I am creating a small-sized binder for all of my Word for the Year materials.  I discovered that if I cut my computer-paper-sized collage in half, it fit perfectly inside.
We also talked about keeping a journal or monthly record over the course of the year.  Some form of written record will allow us to document our activities, experiences, thoughts, and feelings related to our words.  Even if we write just one entry a month, we will have a solid record of twelve entries by the end of the year.  Some may use words, others may rely on images, while others may include both.  We can write about our experiences as bullet-ed lists or items on a chart, or we can write in a narrative manner, if that comes more naturally.  We will be able to share from our monthly records when we have meet-ups later in 2016.
Finally, we each got an email partner.  We are committing ourselves to send at least one message each month--saying hello, asking how our Word for the Year experiment is progressing, sharing an inspiring quotation or a funny joke.  It's just one more way to keep ourselves connected with our word and with this project over the course of the year.
We got off to a great start at our Saturday morning meet-up, and some of us even stayed an extra hour-and-a-half, determined to finish our collages before we went home!  I will continue to share our journey here on the blog, and I invite you to come along and see where our Word for the Year adventure takes us!

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