Looking back over the archives, I realized it has been three years since I last wrote about choosing one intentional word to guide my year. The great team at OneWord365 encouraged me to do it in the first place; in 2013 I chose the word fuel.
Looking back, the best word for 2014 and 2015 would have been “survive”. Just before Christmas 2013 I threw up my dinner and never really got well again. My Crohn’s raged for a full year, I felt better with a little prednisone that fall, and on New Year’s Eve 2015 I threw up, quite poetically, moments before midnight. Less than a month later I was going under the knife, as my wonderful team of surgeons and docs took me apart and put me together again.
And I survived. And those were those years.
Since surgery I have been in remission. The recovery from multiple surgeries was long and arduous, but every day I felt a little better and I got back into the habit of saying yes to everything, of taking on every challenge and living out my personal motto: better exhausted in the evening than bored all day.
This level of manic involvement is not new to me. I was obsessed with productivity for most of my adulthood. It was often at the level of compulsion: who would I be if not accomplishing something? Do I exist if I am not producing?
Now I know that I do indeed exist if I am not producing. I exist when I am suffering, when I am sick, when I am weak and tired. Not only do I exist: I am loved and worthy. Knowing this has freed me.
My involvements now, though just as intense and time-consuming as before I was ill, are no longer compulsed. I dive in to new commitments because I know it is the fullest expression of who I am. I juggle multiple projects because my heart and brain are full of ideas and I have the bandwidth right now to bring them to life.
I am not who I am because I create. I create because I am who I am.
Perhaps it is cheating to pick a word for this year that my heart already longs to fulfill. All I want right now, in my health, knowing how precarious that health is, is to create. This is different from producing: I’ve been able to produce for a long time. A robot can produce. But creativity involves breaking off a piece of yourself, putting it into something new, and trusting that more of you will grow back in its place.
I thought about using “creativity” as my word, but it wasn’t strong enough. When I say “create” it’s not the verb I have in mind, but the imperative tense. That’s how I feel right now: commanded by my health, the universe, and my own soul to create for as long as I can.
What one word will guide your year?