My Previous Words of the Year
2014 – Gratitude
2015 – Hustle
2016 – Soar
2017 – Contentment
2018 – Outshine
Usually like clockwork, by late November my “Word of the Year” pops in my head and declares itself my testament or self-made promise (for better lack of words.) It will become the word I aspire to be, live by, and the goal I mentally set my standard way of daily living for the follow year. Sometimes the word wakes me up in the middle of the night out of nowhere, while other times it will speak to me as I’m driving down PCH during one of the many beautiful California sunsets we are so well-known for.
Since I was a child there were things I could deeply feel that many adults would flash me the side-eye: 1.) Manifest destiny. From my 1978 Malibu Barbie with the tan lines, I had never visited California, but I could clearly imagine Pacific Coast Highway in a VW convertible driving up the coast of Malibu with the sand, surf, and sun setting behind me. I had this intense feeling as though “my” people were there. MY life was there. I really was not the true “Jersey Girl” filled with NJ pride, loyalty, and Godfather stories like the others in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a hard exterior to crack, but it’s nice in my little bubble filled with hope, love, lifting, and celebrating.
Not too long ago, I made that drive up Malibu coast as an adult. And the sunset resembled more of an Instagram filter than the kind on the other usual days ending in “Y.” That was in the moment I saw the memory of my childhood come to life. Full circle, The moment I realized, “I was finally home.” New Jersey might be where I was born and raised, but sadly, it will never be where my heart is.
2.) Hope. If the question is, “What is a life without hope?” then the answer is, “Just waiting to die.” If there was one word to self-describe myself as a kid it would be hopeful. I was hopeful for everything. A different life, a new life, good grades, new parents, cute boys, good jobs, dear friends, to one day travel, to hopefully settle down and have a family, but most of all I hope with all my might I would be happy. I never lost hope or the will to plot out how I could make my dreams become a reality. Friends thought the endless lists and journals I kept were silly, even assigning me the nickname “Listy,” but what they didn’t know was these were the plans for my the rest of my life. Whom I wanted to become and how I was going to figure that all out.
3.) I wanted to write my story. “You want to do what?” That’s what I heard. Everything was so darn private, how could their ever be healing when you dare discuss something in the open? But even though I was the one to lose my parents, the adults around me were shroud in pain and shame, so it really wasn’t my story to tell until now anyway. It made me understand at a very early age, “Who cares?” I wasn’t even caught in a scandal, it just felt like one.
Why does anyone give a crap about anyone’s family but their own? Keep your eyes on your own papers people! But the judging in small communities go both ways. People seek to find out reasons weave things into gossip disguised like conversations. The worst part was growing up to think this was normal. That I *should* care what the neighbors think, sitting in the church pew on Sundays was an hour that always gave me a pit in my stomach. I went to parochial school, I knew the key families in town, I knew the kids from school, and I knew a lot more at 7 years old than a primetime soap opera. It would start out by me noticing everyone’s Sunday best clothing. A brooch or a scarf, meticulous hair, or pretty dress week after week, But then you started to notice the small nuances or family dynamics. The same families who made it a point to sit front and center in the pews. Those who would bring up the gifts, and those who would collect the money. These were just mere distractions from Mrs. White giving Mr. White “the look,” or Mr. X and Mrs. Y sneaking glances and smiles when Mrs. X and Mr. Y were shaking hands as a sign of peace.
So getting back to those evil words: shame and embarrassment. Let’s save them for criminals. If our own President in 2017 lacks both, then children sure as heck shouldn’t carry around that kind of anxiety. Shame and harboring embarrassment are powerful, and can years to rectify. And it’s even worse when you are carrying the load of embarrassment of others. Not your own.
When you lose a parent suddenly, or come from a broken home like I did, the world and family around you instantly categorize you as a text-book case study. Depressive, lost, unfixable, lack of guidance, and never once ask or consider what your life dreams are. And when they discuss them, they shoot right back text-book answers that don’t motivate, but just try to pacify the situation to make you feel better that “this is the way it is,” instead of helping direct you into the person you want to become. Not the one they have already pre-destined for you to become because of your “unfortunate” situation.
But even at a young age, I knew all these adults were missing something in their own lives. They were doing what they were “supposed to do,” not what they wanted. Getting good grades, making lots of money, getting married, buying a beautiful home, having children, and living for the day they could retire and finally enjoy life never breaking the cycle that has been going on for generations. The big picture was clear to me, I never wanted to work to die. I wanted to work to live, right now, in the present. Enjoy life. Have my cake and eat it to. And that’s when I separated myself from those I loved for so long and found a different path to go on. I was on a mission to live my life in reverse. I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my family and have the sun shine warmly on our faces for as many days as possible. I didn’t want to live for summer when I could celebrate the season all year-long from Labor Day to Memorial Day. That sounded more like life to me.
This year when I thought of my word, I was coming up short. Words weren’t speaking to me as they used to, actions were. There are too many pockets in my life (and the world for that matter,) that need positive attention. I’m now seeking a word I can own, deliver, celebrate, and properly define the next 12 months of my life. Let’s be honest, 2017 wasn’t a very easy year. In fact, due solely to the political climate, it was uninspiring to soar in an environment that snuffed out fun or any glimmer of hope. But it did clearly shine a big bright spotlight on who was worth my time personally simply by whether or not they defended “locker room” talk.
I thought about words that could figuratively measure personal growth, and ones that would lend themselves as tools for daily success like organize, but then I originally decided on consistency. I want to consistently better my routine, consistently concentrate of my personal health + wellness, consistently nurture our financial growth, shatter the glass ceiling of this blog into a million pieces to impress no one, But most of all, develop solid personal relationships with those who live for love and hope, not money, political power, and social positioning. Yet still, something was missing. I wanted even more.
When you are a blogger, it’s a double edge sword. You are paid to share with the world things you love because you are a trusted source, and try amazing products, services, and other fun stuff in order to help others decide if they are the right fit for your family, but there is also a constant inner battle that goes along with it.
I’m well aware there are many things my family and I get to experience that many people don’t, and while we want to be excited about what’s happening in our lives, may people construe it as bragging or internalize it into a form of jealously. Neither of which are meant. I simply write words and status updates, how people read, interpret, and internalize them are their own quirks and personalities.
So this year, I’m going to take a point from Diddy and continue to live my best life possible. Surround myself with those who share my dreams of hope, and I’m not only going to be grateful, hustle, and soar, but I’m going to encourage and OUTSHINE unlike any other year of my life.