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Live Simply

Answers About Choosing One Word for the Year

One Word It’s that time of year when you are either freaking out over the holiday or you are preparing for the new year. I’m doing a little bit of both, but mostly I’m thinking about what I want my One Word to be for next year. In the free Do Good Work group we have had people message me with questions about having One Word and I thought I’d answer them here (you know their question might be your question).

Why Have One Word?

Q: What’s the point to choosing a word for the year? I like that people do it, but I just don’t see how I can use that in my own life.

A: If you have ever made a New Year’s Resolution you have an idea what doesn’t work. That idea, picking something you want to change, usually only lasts until the end of January and then you are back to eating donuts every morning and skipping the gym. That’s how choosing One Word is different. It isn’t about changing any one thing and is instead about having on idea to focus on for the whole year. It’s about living by intention instead of just ping ponging through your day. For instance, if your word is Focus, you might realize that you need to pay better attention in meetings, let go of procrastination or pay attention to the things that really matter.

Choosing One Word doesn’t change your life by some magic of the word. It’s about you putting it into your life and work in a meaningful everyday kind of way.

How Do I Make My One Word More Real This Year?

Q: I’ve chosen words in the past, but they just didn’t seem important. What am I doing wrong and how can I put them in the forefront.

A: You are what you pay attention to and that is the same with your One Word. If you choose it in January and then just stop thinking about it you aren’t really using it to make a difference. Throughout the next year in the Do Good Work Facebook Group we will have monthly prompts and check in on where we are with our word to make it more relevant to our day to day. Some things you can do are post it prominently in your workspace or somewhere you spend a lot of time, some folks purchase jewelry with it stamped on it and wear that throughout the year and you can add it as a hashtag to your Instagram photos to keep you focused on your intention.

I Can’t Decide on My Word

Q: I have a few words that I am thinking about, but I can’t decide.

A: The questions I ask myself when I’m deciding on my One Word are: What are you trying to achieve? How do I want to feel? At the end of the year what would my word and world look like to me?

When someone can’t come up with their word I often suspect that they are afraid of what they really really want. So, write down all the things you really really want and your word will come out of that.

Whatever word you choose I hope your year is stellar!

Simplicity – A Light Filled Holiday


Simplicity… oh if only the holidays could scream simple! This year, more by circumstance than all the choices, they are. My husband has had the flu for over a week. He starts to get better and then feels miserable again. I also, as the director of our Main Street program, plan 4 solid weeks of holiday fun for our downtown. That, btw, is way better than the flu. Both together means we haven’t really started our own holiday at all. Simplicity it is!

This is a series to kick out 2016 with all the joy I can stand.

What Simplicity Christmas Looks Like For Me

Gifts: I’m thinking that people need less. Like way less. I’m considering doing two gifts per person and a stocking and that’s it. (Doing means I haven’t started, which is how it goes.) This is the last year it is going to be just all adults and I want to savor in that a little. Kids mean stuff (although I know my daughter is going to try to do less stuff). This year we can just enjoy each other, play games, do a puzzle and unwrap just a few things.

Decorations: Usually we would have our tree by now, but with my husband sick he just wasn’t into going out and getting one. I’m going to go tomorrow and see if I can find one. I’m planning on white lights and possibly no decorations. For me the look of a tree with lights is all I ever really want any more.

My beautiful friend felt so bad on hearing about the the delay of our decorations gifted be a beautiful hand crafted wreath. It’s just gorgeous and looks perfect in the hallway/dining room/entryway (tiny house/cottage problems).

Food: We already do a simple hors d’oeuvres only Christmas Eve dinner. We snack, play games, do a craft all evening. It makes that meal simple. The snacks are beautiful and take a tiny bit of time, but it is relished over hours instead of the typical meal which lasts about 10 minutes.

We do a large breakfast, but now that I am grain/sugar free this could be challenging. We used to make orange rolls and a big breakfast casserole, but that won’t be in the works this year. I’ll just have to get creative and make something good, but good for us, too.

Dinner that night will be pot roast in the crock pot probably. Although I love to cook I have more fun just hanging out that night and have found something easy makes the evening just, well, simpler.

Simple to me means without fuss, spare, but not sparse, light and airy. I love the simplicity of decorations, less rushing to buy gifts and enjoying easy food. For some this might seem like the antitheses of the holiday, which by design, seems fueled with overconsumption at every level and if that’s your thing – go for it! For me I’ll enjoy a light filled holiday with friends and family.

Basically I live the “hygge” lifestyle already and should live in Denmark, Sweden or Norway. What’s Hygge? According to How to Hygge: The Secret to Nordic Living, “Every country and family has their own version. It’s kind of a zen-like state. Think mindfulness 2.0. It’s about relishing the simple things in life, stepping back and noticing the things that matter, but instead of looking inwards as you’re encouraged to in context of traditional mindfulness or meditation, it’s centred on looking outwards, restoring yourself socially and simple, everyday indulgences. It’s not concerned with perfection, it’s all about appreciation and living life well, but not necessarily by the book.”

“Hygge values the idea of cherishing yourself: candlelight, bakeries, and dinner with friends; a celebration of experiences over possessions, as well as being kind to yourself and treasuring a sense of community.” It’s about being cozy, calm and safe – and is THE trend for this winter AND in my house.

Peace – Let It Begin with Me

Peace Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. As hymns go this is one of my favorites. (Morning has broken is another, if you care.) This time of year the idea of peace is thrown around on Christmas cards, sung by school kids and voiced by politicians of all stripes. You might even be bandying it around. Which is great, but do your actions match your words? Let’s talk about the places in our real world that we could bring peace. Grab your coffee and let’s go.

This is all part of a series to kick the hell out of 2016. #SuckIt2016

Another Blasted Meeting

It’s the end of the year, but the meetings haven’t ended. You have work meetings, holiday brunches that feel mandatory and not about the season, programs you have to attend, end of the year awards and all the things that make work, volunteering and communities hum. I’m not anti meeting, but sometimes I have trouble bringing my best self to them.

The Situation: I’m crabby because I’m cold, I haven’t done one lick of holiday shopping and I am rushing from one thing to another. I enter the meeting perturbed, arms crossed and a scowl or I’m unfocused and fiddling with my phone. (I know you are nodding along because this is you, too. I see you at these meetings!) This crabby ass mood of mine infects the whole proceeding and everyone in the room. Ahhhh! I just made the meeting worse.

The Solution: Take a few moments before I enter the room to gather myself together. Sometimes, on the way to a meeting a shut off the radio in my car and I literally practice saying hello in a happy way. I know. It sounds ridiculous, but it works. If I’m not able to make that time I can rush to the ladies room and take a few breaths and remember that being kind matters more than my mood.

The Blasted Comments

I stupidly have found myself either the victim of comments online recently or have read comments and been appalled at the lack of kindness in the online space. Folks just say any hateful thing they want, get buoyed up by a few other angry trolls, and forget that we are all people working hard. Valid criticism is one thing but there is a forum to deal with that and it’s called email and the f-ing phone. The passive aggressive behavior validated by online comments is staggering to me. Clearly we are allowing violent words to be allowed because we don’t yet know how to handle ourselves online.

The Situation: You see someone post something VERY stupid on Facebook. They are the dumbest, their information is wrong, you are right about what is really going on and they obviously need your intervention. (Right. I’m the ONLY one who has thought that on any given day.)

The Solution: No. Just no. You do not need to comment on every single thing posted online. Here are three guidelines to go by if you want to post a comment online. 1) Can I say it with kindness? 2) Will it make the world a more peaceful place if I share my opinion? 3) Will my comment create suffering or pain for the person who posted the original post?

Let me be clear. No one is going to change their mind based on your Facebook post. No one. And no one is going to change their mind based on your comment. That is the facts of life. You are either building a bridge or burning one. You get to decide. If you really want peace can you hold your ever loving tongue?

Sharing Fear

I am seeing a lot of my friends share the scariest stuff online and talking about it in person. You would think that we were going to hell in a hand basket tomorrow. Fear is extremely catching – think of it like a virus. A virus that most people can’t combat and just fall further and further into.

The Situation: You see an article that has your worst fears about the environment, human suffering or any other thing that you personally freak out about on the daily. It confirms your fear and you MUST SHARE IT.

The Solution: DON’T SHARE IT. Seriously. Don’t. Just let it sit for a few hours or even, if you can handle it, for a day. Honestly, don’t share it. Sharing scary shit doesn’t help anyone.

Here is the litmus test – is it something that is REALLY happening (share it) or is it MAYBE happening (don’t share it). Easy, peasy.

You don’t need to spread the virus of fear. It doesn’t help you, your friends or family or anyone else. They will probably see it themselves and you can let it go.


Peace isn’t a thing that is just going to happen. Peace is something we all have to work towards. We have to cultivate it in ourselves, spread it in the world and amplify it when we see it. This is why we are here. Fear is the easy stuff. Anger, too. Peace, though, has this amazing power to bring people together, create safety and allow for hope to arise. I know this isn’t something you want just at the holidays and we can all work to be better at this year round.

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