Word of the Year 2019: A Journey Down the Yellow Brick Road

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Friends of Harbour Affair (or “Breakfast at Target,” as it was until 2016) know that I ditched the New Years Resolutions for a “Word of the Year” a few years ago. It was uber trendy at the time, and I desperate for some means of accountability that wasn’t as exhaustingly ridiculous as resolutions I’d no doubt fail (again).

I’ve been fortunate since that time so many moons ago that I’ve never had to actively seek my “word” or come up with one that sounds “good enough.” RATHER, it blazes in with a furry and does so repeatedly, so loud and clanging that I can’t ignore it until I accept it. This year was no exception… although, for a time, I was scared it wasn’t going to present itself for me this go round (the irony of this explained below).

These simple words are time and time again so accurate for what I need in that space of my life and serve as important “guide” of sorts when the big stuff comes up (or the small stuff that just won’t go away, as it’s often been the case). It’s kind of like having the number or letter of the day on Sesame Street: You’re always on the lookout for it, and it shows up right when you get distracted to bring you back in the zone (also wish there were more Snuffleupaguses in real life, but I digress).

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  • In 2015, it was “Simplify“: Clean up the ‘messy’ parts of my life that keep me stuck and unable to enjoy life; focus on the MAIN things that I knew I was good at; let go of doing #allthethings; implement systems to streamline and get back time in my day; … and be okay with not having perfectly designed bells & whistles for everything I did.
  • In 2016, it was “Joy“: Get back to the “why” of what I was doing and find that effortless sense of enjoyment in the things that used to make me legitimately happy (instead of bastardizing it and making it into “work” to reach a “goal”): Photography, fitness, running, writing, traveling, connecting with others, etc. Let go of the need to “accomplish” and “crush it” – instead, just get out there and DO IT. And if it was too hard to enjoy, be okay with letting it go entirely.
  • In 2017, it was “Responsibility“: Make good on the promises and commitments I already had on my plate versus seeking or taking on new ones. Give them my full attention and be grateful I had gotten the opportunities I had asked for… and work to refine and hone my skill set. Also be okay here to let go of things that weren’t working anymore to better prepare for growth.
  • In 2018, it was “Space“: To create pockets of space in my calendar and workday to think, dream, and plan… shoot, to go to the beach for a walk with the pup or an impromptu coffee date with the friend, guilt-free. To clear the physical, mental, and emotional clutter and minimize the feeling of needing lots of things: lots of friends, lots of To Do’s, lots of appointments and meetings on my calendar, lots of different workouts, lots of emails, lots of work-travels, lots of things in my closet, etc… and keep working on streamlining, refining, and saying “NO” to things that weren’t a good fit.

And of all the words, 2018’s “Space” was the absolute hardest… and yet the strongest and most necessary in all my years of implementing the “WOY.” In a year where my business, personal life, and community position took such an unexpected and dramatic shift far faster than I planned (ahhh, Life, you win again!), I clung to this word with every fiber of my overly caffeinated being. Saying “No” and letting go wasn’t enough anymore; I had find help. More importantly, I had to accept it when it presented itself.

I had to establish boundaries and learn not to take on other people’s problems & emotional outpourings. I had to take responsibility for my own actions when I said “yes” to things I knew I shouldn’t have to suit my own ego. I had to stop blaming everyone else when I couldn’t single-handedly figure things out and got angsty and resentful and exhausted. I had to get into action, make a plan, and find people to hold me accountable. I had to go inward – a lot – to do serious soul-searching and turn off the constant chatter… I had to get really protective of my work and personal calendar and of who I surrounded myself with. I had to wade through more deep and necessary and scary and UGLY conversations with my husband, John, this past year than our 16 years together combined.

I had to quit accepting the idea that feeling overwhelmed and depressed and alone is what made me a “business owner” and is a rite of passage before I could allow myself to be happy.

And 2019’s word came raging in with confetti and cheer: Abundance.

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Every single one of my words over the years has had some element of seeking this “abundance,” but it wasn’t until now that it’s all made sense. Coming from the idea of being in an “Abundant Mindset,” it’s a concept I heard long ago – and very cosmically shows up in times I feel most scared and overwhelmed.

2015 is the year I made the choice to go full-time in soloprenuership after several years of working towards it. And in giving up the steady paycheck, the benefits, the boundaries & policies set forth from someone else, I found myself in a scarcity mindset without realizing it. I took on more clients and projects than I could handle (MANY of them who were NOT the right fit for me) for fear I’d lose out on money or opportunities that could be my “big break” and wind up broke and ruin our family’s financial integrity. I amassed a huge network for fear of not having friends and not being “known” in the community. I joined every group, board, and committee for fear I’d be seen as “lazy” or not involved enough. I overscheduled workouts and overly planned meals for fear I’d look sloppy and unhealthy and not “feel” or “look” my best for all my commitments. I didn’t speak up for my own worth for fear I’d piss off the wrong person and never get a gig again. I said yes to the small-fry opportunities thinking they’d “add up” to the big one I denied myself because I was scared I’d totally fail.

I stopped doing a lot of non-work related things that made me happy and fulfilled because they weren’t “important” or “money-makers” for my business or community status.

I bought crap I didn’t need to satisfy the ego’s “you gotta keep up” rationalization.

I said “yes” to a lot of work-travel opportunities to feed that ego with how “cool” and “important” I must be.

I didn’t allow myself to be happy and excited in the moments that were 100% meant for me for fear of waiting for the “other shoe to drop” and ruin it.

And we all know what happened.

After years of living in this scarcity mindset, I burned the hell out. Big time.

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And as the dust settled and the clarity returned, the excited, joyful, hopeful part of myself finally climbed above the ego. I felt like Dorothy in front of the Wizard:

I had everything I needed. And I had it all along.

I just needed to get into some crappy situations with the flying monkeys to realize it.

(And, okay, maybe I DID need a killer pair of shoes.)

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Glinda is one of the most highly underrated “guides” in pop culture, I think… MOVE OVER, Yoda & Rafiki.

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So, cheers to Abundance, “You.” To knowing Your ideal clients and work projects are out there, and they’re looking for You, too.

That You have “enough.” In fact, You have “more than enough.”

That money, hugs, coffee, Oreos, experiences, and the right people will flow to You if you let them.

That focus and clarity are not ‘achieved’ in pushing, doing, and taking on MORE… they’re found in moments you give 100% of Your time & attention to the things You know You’re ‘made’ for and find joy.

That Your gut, your friends, your family, the Universe, the Big Guy, etc., are really trying to help YOU out and want to see You succeed. That You’re truly built for something special and fantastic.

That ease, comfort, and stability are myths when You accept Your path… YET rest, quiet, and the occasional pause, sans-guilt or justification, are absolutely necessary to keep You going.

 That, well… it may not be pretty, but You’re going to get through it – and You don’t have to alone. So enjoy the rainbows and the friends, new and old, along the way.

I hope you all find you’ve got everything you need for 2019, too. And if not, I’ve got plenty to share.

Hugs & High Fives,
C

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2018 Christmas with no-makeup but full hearts (and stomachs). w/ @palmettojc & @capnbogey

  1. Tracy

    December 30th, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    Love it! Love how it all came together for you. May 2019 be your most abundant year yet. Still waiting on inspiration for my word…

  2. Kat

    January 2nd, 2019 at 10:52 pm

    This is a combo comment for this entry and the previous one, because yes to feeling all the feels that you do: the bad such as anxiety and depression and the health crap, and also the good: the optimism, the persistence and the drive (which can go both ways) and owning a small business (which can also go both ways), but especially to missing writing. I think it’s very challenging for people like us who have this pragmatic and structured side, but are probably at our core more of a creative free-spirit. The people who do not feel that call to create can rest comfortably in the regime a 9-5 job without the emptiness that comes when you feel that you are denying some important part of yourself in the name of stability. Likewise the people who are unapologetically artistic do not experience the anxiety or guilt we feel about not being responsible or artistic ENOUGH. I feel like we get the anxieties of both worlds, but also the benefits of both. Even when I’m not writing I’m still “writing” and I wouldn’t want to give that urge away, the same way that I wouldn’t want to not experience the satisfaction of making a To-Do List and crossing off a bunch of tasks as I get them done.

    Thankfully we both have a great a support system because I think that having people around you who understand your struggle for balance (even if they don’t get the mechanics behind it) makes all the difference in the world. It’s nice to know that as we wander the yellow brick road that they’re there to remind us that we can always get home.

    Here’s to abundance in 2019!

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