For the past six weeks, my life has revolved around my living room couch. I succumbed to a terrible cold the last days of 2015, my first in over five years. I huddled under a blanket and watched DIY shows on HGTV, wrung out from worry over loved one’s health scares, Christmas travel, and a return home to a dying cat. After blogging about Theo’s life and passing, I received an email of condolence from my writing friend Laurie Skiba who posed this question:
“Each year I choose a word to guide me. Do you do this, too, or choose a particular way to frame the year ahead? In past years I've chosen trust, leap, Magnificat, fear/less, and for 2015, distill (given the need for much downsizing, still an ongoing project). In every case the word has figured significantly, and I have learned that it's a good idea to choose wisely. (The year I chose leap was pretty wild.) This year I'm choosing breakthrough so I may be in for a rough ride, but I think it's a necessary one.”
I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. When my children were of school age, I always used the beginning of the academic year as a new beginning—forming the schedule and activities that would shape the life of my family and me for nine months. So when Laurie presented her question, I blew my nose and set my congested brain to thinking. If I were to choose a word to guide me for the coming year, how would I discern that word? Would I take it to prayer, meditation, or thumb through a dictionary?
Well, my process didn’t matter, because Success popped into my head almost instantly. I have to say that I was initially resistant, that I wanted a less materialistic and more spiritual word. Something like Openness or Journey, and then I realized that my husband and I have been living those words for the past four years of constant change. I hadn’t labeled our life, but I’ve been very conscious of our intention, of trusting the unknown, of risking our finances, time, energy, and spirit since moving to Puget Sound four years ago.
Framed that way, Success is the perfect word for 2016. It’s time to stop losing money (a condition we share with many entrepreneurs and small business owners in their first years of business). It’s time for my husband to succeed as a licensed general contractor, a real estate investor, and business owner. Time to work for clients rather than always on speculation that someone might buy what we build. It’s also time for his vision of hiring veterans to become a reality, allowing him to continue his excellent mentoring of his young adult employees.
It’s time for me to succeed in the new role of real estatebroker that I’ve taken on; to recoup the money I’ve spent on education, licensing, and professional memberships, to find a client who isn’t me, or our company. And, it’s time for me to succeed in making writing time a serious priority, remembering that writing poetry, essays, and short stories are also endeavors that I am passionate about and feel called to.
So on New Year’s Day I upped my zinc intake, waited for my cold to abate, and for success to arrive. Now we’re a week into February, and I've been laid up by injury, unable to participate in my usual activities, finding that Success is a slippery fish, darting in sea filled with many other species: loss, illness, even failure. I have more to say on the subject, and I will soon, but right now, I’m ready to tune into the Superbowl, where success or failure has nothing to do with my own life.