Seven Practices for One Little Word

Do you have “one little word” for 2021? If you haven’t heard about it, one little word (1LW) is the practice of choosing one word to focus on for an entire year. Instead of–or maybe along with–New Year’s resolutions, individuals use the word as a path to growth and transformation in a particular area.

I first started the 1LW practice in 2015.  I’m not sure where I first read about it, but I liked the idea of intentional focus in one area of my life or on one spiritual discipline.

The practice of 1LW has increased in popularity significantly since my first word. There are many blog posts, worksheets, writing and creative groups devoted to helping you find and stick to the practice.

Keturah, a beautiful soul who was part of the youth ministry my hubby and I worked with some moons ago, reached out at the beginning of the year and asked for some tips on 1LW. My far less than prompt response was long enough for a blog post [and my time today is too short to respond to her and write a blog post], so I decided to kill the proverbial “two birds with one stone” and share it here in case some of you are interested.

It’s easy to get lost in a sea of words as you look for the right one word fit, so here are some micro-practices I use as I work toward finding the word I need and putting that word to work. Hopefully, they’ll help make your journey to and with your word meaningful.

  1. Partner with God. Near the end of every year I go through the rigmarole of claiming and rejecting one word after another. In fact, I have rarely chosen a word by the first of the year. It is only when I partner with God and seek His wisdom and insight into my life and character that I feel settled with a word. There are all sorts of things I would love to claim for myself, but sometimes those things just aren’t aligned with God’s desires for me. The beauty of partnering with God for your 1LW is that you get all the extra opportunities to dwell in His presence and listen for His voice.  When you let Him have some “say” in your one word decision, He places in your path little reminders all along the way.
  2. Define. When you accept your word, write down all its connotative and denotative meanings. Look for various nuances of the word in different languages, particularly the biblical languages. This exhaustive lexicon will help keep you engaged with the word as you seek ways to expand. It also reduces the prospect of boredom as you exploit all the possibilities of the word.
  3. Scripture and Other Inspiration. Make a list of scriptures related to your word. You don’t have to write the scriptures out just yet, but tape the list inside a journal for reference. You’ll find enough reason to scripture-journal the biblical texts that speak to you later in your journey. Select one scripture that will serve as your focus scripture. This is the one you’ll recite over and over and meditate on during your toughest moments. This also works with other sacred texts and forms of inspiration.
  4. Listen. As I mentioned in point 1, God will place signs of His presence and reminders along the way. Listen for God’s voice and embrace the markers related to your word as you go through your days. Journal your experiences and your encounters with God via your 1LW..
  5. Collect. Collect quotes, poems, and images related to your 1LW. Post them–on your wall, in your office, in notebooks, on mirrors. They serve as confirmation and affirmation for those moments when you feel a little lost and disconnected from your journey. You’ll be amazed how many things related to your 1LW meet your eyes once when you begin to pay attention..
  6. Pray, meditate, and act. The one word journey, if done right, is not for the faint of heart. The path is meandering and unstable. If you want a transformed life, then you must remain on the path and stay connected to the Source. Walk with prayer, take time for meditation, and as with all change, take the steps necessary to make changes when the time is right. You’ll know when the time is right because you’re connected to the Source...
  7. Journal. Maintaining a regular journal is key. Use it to collect your thoughts, prayers, quotes, musings, frustrations, victories, and setbacks. The journal ties it all together.

The one little word practice is not about achieving success or mastering yourself in a particular way in 12 months. It’s about challenging yourself and deepening soul practices, so release the notion that you must reach a particular state of being related to your 1LW in just one short year.

I only began to recognize the changes in me related to my first 1LW [six whole years ago!] within the last few months. And guess what. Last year’s word might be this year’s word too! 1LW is not a marathon or a task you must complete in 12 months. It’s fluid.

The goal is to realize a vision for yourself in one word. 1LW is a whole lot more practical and achievable than a list of resolutions and, if done sincerely, will become a consistent practice in your life–far beyond this one year.


About the Image: This is another beauty captured at Scott’s Orchard in October, the Chianti Sunflower . It is not as stunning as the Moulin Rouge, but I think it’s pretty close.

Purple Reign: Loving the Purple Journal

I have often wondered what happens to the photographs I send into the world. Diane (aka Midteacher), one of my photog pals in the A Thousand Words group on swap-bot, takes the guess work out of it for the photos I send to her.  She often lets me know that she has included or plans to include my photos in her various art or mixed media journals.  When I sent her this year’s “love post,” she shared that it was going to be added to her Purple Journal. Yes, her purple journal!

Alistair posing with the purple journal page featuring my 2017 “love post.” Photo by Diane (Midteacher)

Take a look at detail!

Close-up of the “love post” in Diane’s Purple Journal–Photo by Diane (Midteacher)

View the full post here: Playing in the Purple Journal.

I’m delighted that Diane found a beautiful use for the photo, but I’m sharing her post because she shares how she transformed the simple photo into a beautiful journal page. [She’s even running a contest for naming her purple journal.  Help her name her journal and you could be the winner of a purple 8×10 mixed media piece].

I’ve always been intrigued and inspired by Diane’s work. My seeing how she crafted this page gives me the creative courage to give mixed media work a try.

You can see more of Diane’s work on her blog, A Focused Journey: Finding a Focus on the Other Side of Fifty, or you can check out some of my earlier posts which feature her photos:

I’ll be sharing more of Diane’s work within the next week or two.  Until then, enjoy the reign of purple!

 

Journaling: Unleash the Magic

Faith Journal: This is one of four journals I use regularly. It holds scripture, snippets from devotional readings, prayers, intercessory prayer lists, inspirational quotes, meditations, sermon notes. The notebook is a Staples Arc. The flexibility of the disc-bound system is perfect for journaling.

The ARC: This is one of five journals I use regularly. The notebook is a Staples Arc. The flexibility of the disc-bound system is perfect for multi-focused journaling.

I’m elated! Today I spent time with some really super women who meet periodically for journaling and vision board workshops. One of my friends, who spearheads the journaling program, asked that I come and talk about journaling with the group. Although I journal a lot and in multiple ways, I felt I had nothing to say that she probably hadn’t already said. My hubby, who knows how I excited I get talking about writing in notebooks and pretty papers, pens, and stickers, said–“Do what you always do. Show them what you do. Be you.” [Forgive the overuse of forms of the word “journal” in this post].

So that’s what I decided to do. I gathered as many crafting tools as could fit in my rolling scrapbook case–a zillion pens in various colors and weight, washi tape, stickers, Project Life cards and elements, Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board, paper trimmer, Martha Stewart punches, old magazines, three of my journals, camera, and iPad (of course). It would have been fine with me if we’d just sat down and played with stickers and washi tape! But I’m sure the women wanted to do more than play with pretty things. And I appreciate their tolerating me.

Journaling isn’t easy for everyone. Besides the “intimidation” of writing on a regular basis or confronting one’s feelings fully, one has to take time to journal. And that is often the most difficult part. But it doesn’t have to be so involved or time-consuming, and it should be something to look forward to.  In a life that is often too busy for words, journaling is typically the only “me time” I can manage!

I shared with the group some no-stress ways to journal. I use every method I suggested, so I know they’re quick, easy, painless, and even fun. Some of you may be looking for easy ways to journal, so I thought I’d share. 🙂

  • Morning Pages: Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, suggests “Morning Pages”–three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. “There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages– they are not high art. They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only.”   You can read more about morning pages by visiting Cameron’s site: Julia Cameron Live.
  • List Journaling. I wrote about list journaling in a post last fall.  I really enjoy Cori Spieker’s (The Reset Girl’s) monthly list prompts for adults and little ones.  You can access the lists and find out more at her website:  Listers Gotta List from the Reset Girl.
  • Scripture Journaling.  Scripture journaling requires nothing more than actually handwriting and meditating on biblical texts daily.  I thoroughly enjoy the quiet time of contemplation. I’m sure there are a number of scripture writing plans available, but here are two themed plans I recently started using (If you prefer to purchase a journal for scripture writing, check out the Write the Word journal offered by The Lara Casey Shop):
  • Photo Journaling. Photo journaling requires little writing, but it requires making a concerted effort to “see” the world in which one moves. Phone cameras make photo journaling a whole lot easier. The two sites below offer inspiration and motivation for documenting life through photographs.
  • Digital Journaling.  Though some people journal exclusively using their phones, tablets, and/or computers, apps make journaling appealing even to the non-journaler.  Each of the apps listed below allow a combination of text, pictures, handwritten notes, drawings, information from websites, and digital content from other sources.  Each also accommodates folders and/or tags so we can categorize our thoughts and musings by subject or theme.
    • Day One
    • Evernote
    • Notes
Scripture Journaling. I scripture journal inside my planner because I want to have access to the day's scripture throughout the day. I use washi tape and stickers in my faith journaling.

Scripture Journaling. I scripture journal inside my planner because I want to have access to the day’s scripture throughout the day. I use washi tape and stickers in my faith journaling.

In a conversation about the importance of writing, one of my good friends, Dee, a professor in the area of health and human performance at the University of Florida (Go Gators!) pointed out that “our brains were designed to generate ideas not store things.” That makes it all the more important for us to flesh out our ideas in writing and record not only what we want to remember but also use writing to sort out and untangle all the “stuff” that gets crammed into our brains every.single.day. Writing unleashes our creativity, yes, but it also frees our minds from the heaviness of our day to day interactions and stretches our critical thinking “muscles.” I like the way Dee put it–“When we write, magic happens.”

Write on!

List Journaling: What Makes 4th Graders Happy?

I really, really don’t have time to write a blog post, but I must interrupt my unplanned blogging hiatus to share with you how I thoroughly enjoyed the brief time I had with a group of fourth graders earlier today (my little one’s class). We talked about and played with some of the things that bring me joy–writing, list journaling, stickers, and washi tape!

The kids must have been as excited as I was: One of the parents sent me a text message thanking me for taking time out to do something special with and for the kids.  I joked that the kids are really my captive audience–since very few of my adult friends want to play with stickers and make lists just for the fun of it.

I spoke with the kids about list journaling, showed them a “100 Things That Give Me Joy” list I wrote a little over a year ago, and challenged them as a class to write 100 things that make them happy.  I figured, if everyone worked toward writing 10 each, maybe, we’d get to 100 collectively.IMG_5593

They had a blast selecting stickers and washi tape and decorating their new journals. In fact, some of them spent a lot more time on decorating than they did on writing!

If you’ve ever wondered what makes kids happy, here’s a list–in their own words:

  1. God/Jesus
  2. Family
  3. Friends
  4. Animals
  5. Robots
  6. Writing
  7. Playing
  8. Singing
  9. Dancing
  10. L.A.R.P.ing (If you guessed that my child wrote this one, you are absolutely right! Just in case you don’t know, LARP is an acronym for “Live Action Role Play”)
  11. Owls
  12. Reading
  13. School
  14. Bunnies
  15. Lions
  16. Tigers (and bears, oh my!–I added that part for dramatic effect.  Did it work?)
  17. The Philippine eagle (very specific!)
  18. Owls
  19. Panthers
  20. Falcons
  21. Basketball
  22. Soccer
  23. A great view
  24. Drawing smiling faces
  25. Singing happy songs
  26. Rollerskating
  27. Watching television
  28. Physical Education (PE)
  29. Resting
  30. Swimming
  31. Dressing up
  32. Doing hair
  33. Sleep (Yes!)
  34. Going to restaurants
  35. Movies
  36. Reading the Bible
  37. Eating
  38. Love (Hugs for this one)
  39. Brother
  40. Mom (Of course!)
  41. Flowers
  42. Ice cream (Surprisingly, I saw this only on one list)
  43. My pet
  44. This journal (Aww…)
  45. My toys
  46. When people play with me
  47. When my parents buy things for me
  48. Acting
  49. Taking care of animals
  50. Drawing
  51. Watching the flags outside the school
  52. Swimming during the hot summer
  53. Working out at the gym near home (This child is inspiring! How many nine-year-olds work out?)
  54. Watching stars in the sky
  55. Superman movies
  56. Football
  57. Iceskating
  58. Sleepovers
  59. Zoos
  60. Candy
  61. Flowers
  62. Stars
  63. Cake
  64. America
  65. Sewing
  66. Quilting
  67. The color pink
  68. Emojis
  69. Space

IMG_5595We fell a bit short of the 100-mark, but most of the kids wrote at least 10 things. It just so happens that many of the same things make them happy.  As a whole, they seem to value and find joy in things that really matter–God, family, and friends were on almost every list. I like that they take pleasure in participating instead of passively watching.

Their lists did not reflect the materialism that is so much a part of our cultures.They proved the point that no matter how much they whine, beg, and “barter,” electronics, clothes, and the latest “things” don’t really make kids happy.

We ended our short time together with their making a commitment to continue working on the lists and writing in their journals.  That was the goal–to get them writing for pleasure on a regular basis.

Thank you, Mrs. Johnson, for sharing your class time with me!

Just in case you have no idea what I mean by “list journaling,” it is simply journaling via list, usually based on a prompt. Although it is an easier way to approach journaling, it is amazing how much we can learn about ourselves through listing.

If you’re interested, there are many wonderful list journal “communities.”  My favorites are:IMG_5597

  • The Reset Girl’s #ListersGottaList–provides monthly list journaling prompts for adults and children
  • Kam and Amy’s 30 Days of List–provides journal prompts for three months out the year.  A small fee is required.

You can go all the way out and embellish your journal with stickers, stamps, washi tape, art, etc. or you can keep it simple and just make lists. It’s all up to you!

That’s it for now.  Be sure to “tune in” again soon. I plan to share with you artwork by the same group of fourth graders! Children’s art–one of the things that give me joy!

Gifts for the Soul

Guess what I found in my mailbox today?  A wonderful package from Brit, a student who just graduated with a B.A. in English.  I met Brit in the fall when she took a Creative Drama course under my instruction.  We bonded immediately.  She’s a sweet spirit.  Bright, warm, giving.  She’s on her way to becoming an amazing early childhood educator.

Brit sent a journal featuring George Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte—1884. Considered a masterpiece of Pointillism and the French Post-Impressionist‘s best known work, the painting shows members of different social classes enjoying leisure time in the park.  The 10-foot-wide painting took the artist 2 years to complete.   The journal cover (front and back) is embossed. The photo really does little justice.

Journal Cover Front

Journal Cover Front

She also sent another little something for my soul—My Personal Daily Prayer Book by Christine A. Dallman and Margaret Anne Huffman.  The beautiful gilt-edged book features a prayer, passage of scripture and a meditation for each day of the year.  There is journaling space at the end of each month.  Publications International published the book.

My Personal Daily Prayer Book

My Personal Daily Prayer Book

Brit inscribed each and also enclosed a very touching card.  I am doing a lot of meditating, reflecting and writing this summer, so these are perfect for the kind of summer I’m having. Thanks, Brit. You know your (former) prof very well.  Hearts and hugs to you!

My Personal Prayer Book by

My Personal Prayer Book Cover