OLW – One Little Word for the year

2017 OLW –The wonderful group of people who gather at Two Writing Teachers each week have a practice of choosing one word to focus on each year. A word that works as a guide for growth or to reflect on during the year. Last January I choose  Developing. This word and I are still developing. I feel a bit like an old time piece of film in the dark room waiting for the image to develop. It takes time! In fact it may take a life time.

There are days I feel like I am just beginning to understand the world we live in and then my thinking all falls apart the next day. There are days that I think yes! I can do that, I have that skill, I have developed that ability and then…

It is amazing how little things can throw us off coarse sending us back to what feels like the beginning or puts us in a sour mood and anxious struggles.

garden catalogs.JPGThis word was in my thinking last January as I was beginning to plant seeds for the 2017 summer garden. I was thinking about how I still see myself as a beginning gardener. I know I am many steps a head of the new gardener but I can see the layers and depth of learning I still want to know about – so it gives me the feeling of still being a beginner.

This word also came as I was working on learning how to draw – my interest in botanical drawings that connect to the garden work I do. I am not a complete newbie but I am not an artist by any means. I know a few basics but can see the distance in front of me to become an ok artist – this is a fascination for me. How does one produce a drawing that looks exactly like the plant growing in my garden? drawing.JPG

The developing of skills and learning is where I started the year but found out it was more a year of looking at who I am and how do I show up in the world around me. It was not just learning about stuff. It has become more about how am I developing as a person? How am I handling the stressors of life – personal or public, health and well being?

The bigger issues of developing, the issues that are a bit harder to handle, have to do with personal growth. At mid 60’s you would think I would have those things under control. Outwardly I look like I do – the house, the garden, the grown kids and loving husband with friends are all there. I am most of the time cheery and friendly when I talk with folks.

Inwardly I struggle with my own fears or stresses. I am guessing most of us do. This struggle leads to not the best health. Stress or anxiety is great at breaking down ones immune system and creating health problems as we get older. Many of the things I stress about I know are minor compared to our world problems (don’t even get me started on politics) but they still create stress internally for me. They still effect how I feel on a day to day.

So I am developing – working on how to relax and let go of those thoughts that keep me anxious at night. I am learning what I have control of and what I need to let go off. The letting go is hard but it is a matter of changing how one thinks. The thought patterns that I run in my head can either add to this anxious feeling or they can help me let go. I can create how I feel, to some degree, by what I am thinking. It is a matter of developing the skill of letting go.

It takes action to change and willingness to stay with it. I have set a routine to help me be positive, calm and joyful. This developing routine includes eating well, doing yoga once or twice a day, walking and setting positive intentions for a healthy life.

The intentions stated daily and repeated often are what seems to make a difference over time. I watch how I say things – do I approach my thinking in a negative way or can I say things in a positive way? A simple example was last night as we ran through the rain turning to snow. It could have been an awful experience with lots of anger, mad at the rain on felt shoes, made at each other for not bring the umbrella or parking further away, and just unset about getting wet and cold.  Or it could be just a quick run in a not to cold evening before the beautiful snow started to fall. The second thought is where we both went. It made the evening a bit of an adventure with laughter and enjoying the warm car once we got there, watching the holiday lights as we drove home and later sitting reading as the snow and wind changed the environment outside from late fall to winter. No stress just enjoyment. The choice was ours to make.

December is here and we will bring this year to a close and begin the new year with a new little word. I may just be using this one again since it has taken me most of the year to find what I really meant by the word developing.

Yes – I will continue to learn about gardening, drawing and much more but really I am developing my own personal skills to be happy, healthy and grateful for a life well lived.

The choice is mine!


About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
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3 Responses to OLW – One Little Word for the year

  1. Ramona says:

    Love how you are developing as a gardener, an artist, and a person. I find that It’s not easy to be in my 60s and realize that I still don’t have everything figured out, and that I’m still struggling with some of same challenges year after year. I appreciate the honest tone of your slice. Here’s a sentence from your slice that is going in my notebook: “It takes action to change and willingness to stay with it.”

  2. Pingback: One Little Word – Evolve | Words from JL

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