My Word of The Year

It has become common practice within my online recovery community group to choose and state a “Word of the Year”(WOTY). I groaned inwardly when I first heard this term, and mentally discarded it into the pile containing vision boards and vajazzling and other fussy things I have no intention of doing. Eventually I *had* to choose a WOTY for an episode of The Bubble Hour for which we had all agreed to discuss the topic; I didn’t want to admit I hadn’t been an active WOTY participant. That year, I chose the word “utilize” to remind myself to actually put into practice all of the great tools I was learning about in recovery.

Word of the Year Bracelet
My WOTY bracelet from the lovely Ellie of One Crafty Mother

Ellie was kind enough to make me a custom bracelet with my WOTY, which was a helpful reminder of my pledge. Now that I have moved on to other WOTYs, this bracelet makes me smile because it has a WonderWoman flare to it and I picture myself stopping bullets with my wrist while shouting “UTILIZE!” like a 70s superhero.

I neglected to formally choose a word last year, though in retrospect I clung to words like “endure” and “survive” through a year that offered extreme highs and lows in rapid succession (two deaths in the family, a joyful wedding, incredible travel, and a serious injury).

I took this January off of blogging and podcasting to give myself space to reflect. I wanted to move forward into this year with purpose and intention, and over the course of a quiet month the vision developed. My word of the year is CREATE.

The first thing I have done to implement (or utilize) my WOTY2018 is to drastically change my morning routine. I used to check Facebook and Twitter while the coffee brewed and then spend the first hour of my day consuming the viciously addictive news of the moment. (What did I miss while I slept!?) I realized that the breakneck speed of the current news cycle was fuelling my anxiety and stealing huge chunks of precious time. This had to change. Unhooking from the iv drip of news (and opinion, and the ensuing stream of vitriolic comments in response) meant putting down my devices and picking up a pen and paper. I have begun the practice of “Morning Pages” as suggested in “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron.

“Morning Pages” involves writing three pages in long-hand, every day upon waking. No more, no less. Standard lined pages, meant to be read by no one. Clear out the cobwebs and let the stream of consciousness flow before the ego steps in to protect from the world. It is a lovely way to start the day and a complete departure from my old habits.

I have been making and wearing my own jewelry, sending little handmade gifts to others, and whipping up cookies for guests on a moments notice. Doing crossword puzzles. Curling my hair. I am ready to get back to blogging and podcasting with a creative mindset in addition to my heartfelt gift of service.

It is amazing how much time I opened in my day by creating boundaries around the consumption of news, and a little scary to realize how I was allowing it to control me. It triggered my addictive tendencies in a way that was both familiar and shocking.

Once again the lessons of recovery apply to other areas of life.

 

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17 comments

  1. This is an older post I know but I’m feeling compelled to comment today as I am just one day shy of six months sober 🙌! Since Day One, Unpickled and The Bubble Hour have been a lifeline for me, like a shining beacon of light guiding me along. Back in December I began reading each and every post and comment in reverse order, starting with the oldest and here I am today. Anyway, my WOTY has been BUOYANCY. When I’m “in the zone” and doing all the things I need to do, putting in the work, using my tools, I feel like a buoy in the ocean: firmly anchored deep down below, while effortlessly floating along at the surface, taking life’s crests and troughs as they come, weathering the storms and the calms. When I have the feeling of buoyancy I know I’m doing things right.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been completely called out. I just spent the last hour and half this morning reading up on news events through the Intelligence Community twitter feeds, where I lurk but don’t comment. I have deadlines looming, I’m behind on a million things, but I still find time to get up-to-the-minute political updates. I need to do a complete detox, or at least limit myself to the Rachael Maddow show.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It has been over one year that I have been debating on telling a friend about her drinking habits. This morning I woke and decided to research the “best ways” to approach a loved one or friend and I came across your blog. To be honest I briefly read through a few of your blogs and felt a sense of hope for my friend. I was wondering if you or any of your followers had some strategies on how to open the conversation. I am concerned for her well being and safety as well as her daughters. I can no longer sit back and watch as the little girl becomes a teen and is fully aware of the problem. Her daughter is her caretaker!! I have come to the conclusion that our friendship may not make it and I am ok with that. I would rather sacrifice a friendship than to hold this in and be witness to the demise of a great women and watch the childhood stripped from a little girl!!
    Please if anyone has any words of advice or encouragement it would be much appreciated. I would also like to apologize if this forum was not appropriately used.

    thank you
    Big Blue

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    • Thank you for asking – you are a caring friend. You are right, it could spark the end of your friendship because in addiction the person isn’t thinking straight and will push away anything that could come between them and the substance. When addicted, the problem feels like the solution and nothing is clear. So it is delicate. If there are others in her life that are likewise concerned you could stage an intervention together. This requires lots of planning and there are even experts who can help. If not, I suggest you put thinking into your timing. If she is a daily drinker, then morning may be the best time because many daily drinkers wake up wanting to quit but shift back during the day due to the triggers that life brings. Binge drinkers are harder to find the best time but at the end of a hangover might be the time (readers, your experiences here…?). My suggestion would be rather than to accuse or put her on the defensive, you start with “Im worried about you. You seem to be carrying a heavy load” and see if she opens up (she’ll likely say I’m fine). You could say, “I see you struggling and I want you to know that I’m beside you and I’m not going anywhere. How can I help?” Open the door to ask if drinking is a burden, tell her it doesn’t look like fun. Be compassionate and know you might be planting a seed that could take years to grow. If you do an intervention, you’ll need to be more direct. Finally, if the child is old enough, make sure she has your number and knows you are a safe person she can call anytime – frame this in a general way, not against the mother. I’m not an expert, this is only based on my personal experience. There’s a Bubble Hour episode about interventions. I’ll post a link in a second comment. You’re a good friend and a good person. It is very caring of you to be searching the internet to help your friend. Please know that she can only change when she is ready, and that can take time.

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  4. I like the idea of a WOTY. This year I chose Shed. This is not original to me, I copied it from another blogger’s word a couple of years ago. But it seemed perfect for me this year. There are many things I’m letting go of, not with scarcity in mind, but just shedding what no longer serves me or my family. Alcohol, guilt, shame, anxiety, clutter (we’re downsizing next year), to name a few. I have a few resources in my toolbox, and this blog is definitely one of them. Also, the Bubble Hour. Loved the lasted episode!

    All the best in 2018 to you Jean, and all your readers.

    Cecile

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  5. Your words always speak to me… and in this case, even your WOTY… I think I lost my love for creating as I went back to struggling with alcohol. Or maybe didn’t lose it, but just lost the time and patience that I held for so many years with it. I also am now exploring my issues with codependence more as it seems that causes 85% of my life issues. I had a very long period of sobriety – 10 years. Plus I have had shorter terms – 1.5 years. 7 months, pregnancies, 6 months, etc… I am all about creating a life I love now and I also believe what you expressed – that we should always want to work on recovery and improving our lives.
    Again, thank you so much for your work that means so much to so many people.

    Like

  6. I’m the same way…I spend far too much time absorbed with the 24 hour news cycle, but honestly most of it is political bickering and celebrity news, not anything I actually need to check multiple times per day as part of my daily routine. You have inspired me to set better boundaries regarding this…thank-you!

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  7. I love her intentions you set in the morning. I too spend to much time checking up on all I missed while sleeping. I’m gonna try to degress in the morning and not at night. Thanks Jean.

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  8. I love it when I randomly read a blog and it speaks to me and the things I’m working on. A few weeks ago I created a collage of my colouring books and popped right in the middle of it “create the space for miracles”. It’s my phrase of the year. My POTY if you like. Secondly I’ve deleted Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter off my phone for the month of February. Although I’m missing FB I doubt I’ll install the apps again.
    I’m glad you’re refreshed and back to blogging and podcasting. I missed you.

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  9. Thanks Jean! I have recently started questioning and examining my time in front of my phone screen mostly wasting time on FB. I like this idea of writing every morning. I might give that a try. Or get out of bed and exercise instead. I do know, however, that once the weather improves and the ground dries up, I will spend less time on my phone and on FB and more time doing things outside.
    I think my WOTY, if I have to choose one, is SIMPLIFY.
    Thanks for all you do.

    Liked by 1 person

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