Most of us are keenly aware of when we feel powerless. It is usually when life upsets us, when we feel we have lost control, when we start to be overwhelmed or even defeated. But most of us, especially myself, ignore what is in our power—where I can act on my behalf for what I want.  Ironic, isn’t it?  I have a keen awareness of what everyone else should do or isn’t doing, but I seem to be unable to see me. Me, me, me.

To increase my self-awareness, I like to start a new year with a Word of the Year exercise.  I take a stack of magazines, give myself fifteen minutes to tear pics and words out that hit me, fifteen minutes to create a collage, and fifteen minutes to truly think and journal on what my choices are telling me. I usually invite family and friends to join me because–synergy.

My collage

This year, while preparing for folks to come in my door, I mulled over what words I thought might show up. One was “patience.”  Another was “peace.”  Both are great words created by the reasoning side of my brain. You know, the brain side that is always busy with image management and creating new “shoulds.”

What I wasn’t prepared for was the result from my collage:  FIREBRAND.  Do you see it?  Right there with “grit” and “fresh challenges?”  The moment I considered my collage, I knew I was ready to celebrate this year with energy and determination, to stop putting boundaries around my life.  I don’t want to be patient.  I want to step it up.

How will I be doing that?  In my writing, of course.  But also in several ways by expanding my personal life. One of my volunteer gigs is working on the League of Women Voters of Texas’s Advocacy Committee. I’m charged with following women’s healthcare and reproductive rights bills through the Texas legislature.  How’s that for a challenge? I feel overwhelmed by it. However, the word firebrand gives me a sense of new energy. I want to pry myself out of my chair and do something.  

Is failure an option?  You bet.  But then, I’ve rarely shied away from taking action in my life . . . unless complacency and excuses have taken hold:  I’m too old, I’m too young, I don’t know anything to make a difference, what does it matter, what will a walk or art class or new exercise class do, I need to stay put and wait . . .   

Wait for what?  The world keeps spinning and I want to spin with it.  That is what firebrands do. They act as a catalyst. I want to be a catalyst in my life. Every day in every way. How could I ever have thought I wanted to merely be “patient?”

So how about you?  What word would you choose to be your focus in this new year?

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