One Little Word – 2016

This is a journey each year since Ruth Ayer’s started the one little word idea (at least it was from Ruth that I heard about it). Last year my word was listen -listen to myself and others. It might be a good word again but feel the need to push forward in my thinking.

This year I found a phrase I like but wanted to cull it down to one word. I took key parts of the phrase and looked them up in a thesaurus. Then I looked up those words again. I keyed in the phrase in google to see what hits I would get and I continued to make lists of words. There are a lot of great words in our world.

This word for me needs to speak to action but action with thought behind it like last years. This word needs to reflect my letting go, cleaning out and developing a new.

All this comes from having retired three years ago. The quiet loss of a way of being. The letting go of a life time of work but really for me a way of living. It was my way of being in the world. A Teacher – ask my children they would so agree.

The first two years I still felt connected and worked hard to be in the conversation around education. This year I am still helping at a school, I am reading children’s books as always but my center of gravity has shifted. I am thinking and cleaning out. I am weeding out what is no longer part of my new way of working. That means years of educational magazines are being recycled, teaching curriculum books are again being thinned out and given to those who might use them. I am weeding and clearing space for the new. url

I still wonder around unsure of who I am now that I am not a “teacher.” I write, I garden, I read but I realize that getting to that new place where I can say I am _________ is going to take a few years. It took a few teaching years to get to that point of saying IMG_2162loudly and clearly – I am a teacher! images-1

So 2016 will continue to be a year of exploration, learning and developing a new core. I am not claiming anything yet – I am a “teenager” still sorting through ideas –

  • what can I be now?
  • who am I now, really?

Last year I claimed writer and then didn’t do the writing I wanted but gardened like crazy. The year before I claimed gardener and sort of did that but did more writing.

From change comes new beginnings – so now after all this writing and sorting of words – you ask, what is the word that will take me through this year?

I began with the phrase –

  • Be thoughtful, and keep weeding  (it came out of my garden reading with Margaret Roach – A way to Garden)

This went to the phrase my yoga teacher uses with me all the time

  • Letting go
  • Allow

To this one little word of looking forward:


To develop one needs to:

  •  weed out the old
  •  be thoughtful
  •  let go
  •  explore new things – yes!

With that we are on to the new year – developing a plan for

  • my garden
  • my writing
  • my sorting – like cleaning the closet in my office

and thinking about who I really am now!

Happy New Year!



About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
This entry was posted in Reflection and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to One Little Word – 2016

  1. franmcveigh says:

    I love “developing” and your thoughtfulness in your word selection will keep you on your path! As I near that “age”, I continue to wonder about life after work. I don’t see myself spending a lot of time weeding in a garden, but I don’t know what is on my developing list!
    Thanks for sharing your thinking!

  2. Lisa Orchard says:

    You’ve picked an awesome word! I’m still struggling to find one for me, hence that’s why my post wasn’t about my word. Maybe I’ll have one by next week. We’ll see. I’m stopping over from a Slice of Life! 🙂

  3. arjeha says:

    What a great word and how appropriate. Having retired three years ago as well I spent the time reinventing myself and developing into who I am today. I will continue to develop as the years go by because things are constantly changing.Congratulations on finding your word.

  4. hollymueller says:

    What an interesting process – to redefine who you are when your career has come to an end. It sounds like you’re on the right path! I’m wondering if being a teacher will always be a part of you – whether you’re teaching yourself or maybe kids/grandkids.

  5. Lynn says:

    What a beautiful and thoughtful slice Joanne! I am in my second year of retirement so I do understand what you mean . . . moving to a new state has helped find the “new” but I think we will always be “teachers” . . .

  6. debbussewitz says:

    Developing–what a great word! I have chosen one word for many years. Love how this community promotes it through OLW. It makes a difference.

  7. Linda Baie says:

    It’s a great word, Joanne, & certainly speaks to me. I rather like the word ‘weeding’ too. Perhaps since it’s my first year of retirement I should take on that word. Thank you for the thoughtful exploration of your life that you shared. Wish we lived closer! And happy travels while “developing”.

    • Joanne Toft says:

      Thank You Linda! I also liked the word weeding but thought it needed a bit more – I liked the phrase Be Thoughtful and Keep Weeding so much! I also wish we lived a bit closer – it would be nice to chat in person some time.

  8. Developing is a wonderful word – full of promise and movement. I’m approaching retirement, though not for a few more years, and have already started thinking about what I will do next when I’m no longer a full-time teacher. Developing is a positive thing to be doing – new ideas, new possibilities!

  9. klrembert says:

    Your writing is so natural, comforting and fluid like rain that fell gentle down on me and refreshed me. Love the word developing and might have to steal it for next year!

  10. Dana Murphy says:

    It’s a great word – and so full of the unknown. I think this word will serve you well!

  11. rosecappelli says:

    A great word! It shows that even though you are retired, you are still learning and growing. I am in my third year of retirement, too. Every year brings something new!

  12. Sonja Schulz says:

    ooooh! I LOVE your OLW! I am excited to see how it plays out for you this year!

  13. Leigh Anne says:

    I love reading the stories and the processes behind everyone’s words. Every story has such meaning behind it. I agree with Linda; I like weeding too!

  14. Tara Smith says:

    Thanks for sharing the path to your word – great choice!

  15. Love reading about the process you took to arrive at your word. So exciting to be developing and who knows where this year’s explorations will take you!

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