Hi everyone, how’s it going after yet another momentous week in this crazy world? I feel like a month has gone by since my last post, and yet it’s zoomed by as well.
It’s been a case of getting back into the realms of an online learning routine for the kids, being back at home now, and re-opening The Thomas Family Café, which last time round was the bane of my life BUT thankfully already my guiding words are flying into my head to help me out and keep me calm!
This is always a good sign that you have picked the right guiding words, when you start to think about them subconsciously to help navigate day to day life and this is what I want to talk to you about today.
But first I want to explain how I came to choose mine, and why this year I’ve picked not just one, but two.
The first direction I was heading in during my process, (which you can read about on last week’s blog here if you are still trying to choose), was based on how I was working towards the end of last year, the word ‘Action’ kept floating to the surface.
I’d begun to get into a pattern of working really hard, striving to make every spare minute count, in a World that was increasingly unpredictable. My head was in that place of; ‘You need to crack on as much as possible now, because the ‘time’ could be taken away from you again, at any given moment’.
When I worked through the process, and from reflecting a lot on last year (see here for that Blog post), I realised I’d done a hell of a lot, and of course there’s a sense of satisfaction in that, that I could get on with it and get lots done when I had to, BUT the revelation was that a lot of the ‘doing’ was in response to what I’d gone through.
For those who have come on board recently, the first half of 2020 for me was spent in Chemo treatment, where if you think a global pandemic takes away control in your life, then being in a chemo routine, is whole other level! The hardest part of treatment was relinquishing control to the doctors and knowing that despite the head being willing, physically I felt so crap, there was very little I could do, other than rest and watch TV, which for someone who loves to be busy, was torture at first, until I surrendered to it.
What it did mean during the days I felt well, I went into this manic thing of; ‘Right, I’ve got get loads done before I go back downhill again’, the treatment was every 2 weeks, so this was a constant yo-yo, almost like I was living in 2 different bodies. Eventually I realised what I was doing, but also the adrenaline rush and distraction of interesting projects, kept me going.
Having this purpose and drive when I was well was key for me mentally BUT I also knew that eventually it would catch up with me physically, and from September onwards I was pretty knackered!
So, instead I went through the process and asked myself the key questions, including ‘How did I want to feel in 2021?’, and my new word started to filter through, which was ‘Balanced’ but to make that more active and present, it then became ‘Balance’.
Much of 2020 was still spent rushing around, despite lockdown, whether it be to hospital apts, school pick-ups or to my daughters swimming sessions and timings fitted in around that such as different mealtimes for half the family, and re-organising our accountability group WOW Wednesdays to really help support members in lockdown.
My close friends are often shocked at how much I fit in during a day, but I was starting to feel exhausted by it all, something needed to give. I also realised that I don’t often deep ‘breathe’ and I think I even hold it without realising. I wanted to add in a word that not only reminded me to do that (I know, madness!), but to also be in the ‘present’ not always ‘future’ thinking on the next task, which I do ALL the time!
Plus, as you know, I’m a big believer on looking for the signs out there, and in a past post I talked about listening to Brene Brown’s podcast ‘Unlocking us’ with Gabby Riviera which slapped me around the face with a wake-up call when they started talking about her book ‘Juliet take’s a breath’. I always take note of these messages put out into the universe!
Defining your words
The most important part for me once you’re close to choosing your word/s is looking at how you personally define the meanings, because then you can unlock further how they will work for you across different areas of your life. The best words for me are ones that work in multiple ways and are multi-faceted
I first begin at looking at the dictionary definitions:
Balance: ‘An even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady’
Bam! The ending of that definition sealed it for me! Yes, please to remaining upright and steady, that was EXACTLY what I needed!
Balance for me also means pausing to weigh things up, and it’s a feeling of calm and contentment, less heart-racing more liquid warmth running through my body. Balance feels very physical for me and as I’m so often ‘in my head’, thinking of ideas, plans, projects, you name it, this word feels perfect for reconnecting with my body and making it strong again, after a year of having everything thrown at it.
Breathe: Take air into the lungs and then expel it, especially as a regular physiological response
And also, Breather: To stop and pause, to take a small rest
The first is interesting to me as it also indicates letting go, you take in what you need (i.e., oxygen) and expel what you don’t need (carbon dioxide), it gives a sense of letting go to live in a more balanced way.
Breathe, also indicates to stop, and take a breath / breather, which is all about pausing, recognising how you are breathing in the present moment and asking yourself, what do you need right now? Check in with your body, do you need a 10-minute rest?
So that is how I define my words ‘Balance and Breathe’, but now how will I use them in everyday life?
I really enjoy this part because this is when the coloured pens come out and I start thinking deeper about my words’ job! And that is to work hard and perhaps differently across as many areas of my life to have the most effect.
To help with this, you could use a simple ‘Wheel of life’ (see pic) and ask yourself how your words will relate to each area. So, for example, how can I use ‘balance’ and ‘breathe’ in the ‘money’ section?
I then get to work mind-mapping it out, so if I get stuck at all throughout the year, I can come back and refer to it.
Simply thinking this all through and writing it down has a big effect because it feels like more of a commitment.
In essence, your word choices are gifts to yourself, creating an inner coach to help you navigate the year. You need to spend time getting to know them well.
And once you focus on them, get to the heart of what they mean for you and create a relationship with them, you will find they start to show up for you naturally, subconsciously, when you need them the most – just like your best friends getting in touch to check in with you.
I’ll give you an example, after I’d done my mind-mapping exercise, the next day I had a few things on, and time was over-running. I had a choice to either, drop off something at my Mum’s, and potentially miss the start of a workshop I‘d signed up to (Josephine Brooks, online planning workshop), or let my mum know I’d be up later on, stay home, have a decent lunch, do the workshop and then do the errand.
Now I know that sounds really simple, but ‘old’ me would not have wanted to let my mum down when she was expecting me, and would have whizzed over to do it, and rushed a sandwich whilst trying to catch up on the training.
BUT unexpectedly a question flew into my head:
‘Will going now tip the ‘Balance’ of my energy today?.’
Quickly followed by; ‘Am I giving myself enough ‘breathing’ space?’
I was so shocked I wrote these down, and committed them to memory for future use! But the point is it made me really stop and think, rather than just doing what I would have normally done. I listened to the question’s advice, and changed the time, thoroughly enjoyed the workshop, and nobody died!
And that’s the beauty of this inner work and using things like guiding words because it really can be THAT simple, but the simple most consistent things, have the most effect and impact into changing habits for the better, and for good.
So here are a few other ways in which my words will show up for me (not all or I’d be here all day) in 4 areas of my life:
Fun & Recreation
Just doing this short exercise I can see that ‘breathe’ can also mean ‘pause’ for me, and so is already showing up in different ways which is helpful and increases its value on a day-to-day basis.
The final stage…making your words visible!
Now that I’ve mind-mapped this all out, the final stage is to make my words visible, for those moments when life gets in the way, although I do think when you’ve been doing this a while as I have, for the last 5 years, you become more aware, especially when you have done this deeper work.
However, it’s still good to do this, and builds in some creative time, which you know is what I’m all about, so get out the paints, pencils, whatever art material of choice and create a visual representation of you word. This could be simply writing in some beautiful typography, or you could create a picture that embodies your word that you can relate to.
Alternatively, if you’d prefer, create a vision board, with key images torn out of magazines, placing your word in the middle, and adding in some supporting words too if you find that helpful.
Recently, I’ve got more into using Canva, so I’ve created this, below, using a photo from the holiday we went on in Cornwall, because the sea, always makes me feel instantly calm and more balanced, I’ve always been a water baby, part of my Aquarian star-sign, I think!
But then I experimented with colours that in my mind relate to elements in nature (another passion of mine) and added more support words around the edges that relate again to how I want to feel and work and with a little reminder to practice what I preach by adding play in there!
Each square and what they represent, left to right:
Mountain Path – (Earth): This is about staying on the right path, feeling committed to my direction, sure of my decisions and aligned to my values, knowing it’s a long game and a step-by-step journey
Sky (Air) – Breathing life into my passions and connections by speaking about them, it’s about learning and exploring, the wind carrying my ideas forward, and thinking bigger – blue-sky thinking and giving them a voice and boosting belief
Sea (Water) – This is where I get most of my energy, by being curious and creative, it’s where I feel most at home, trusting my intuition and going with the flow of my creative rhythm, just like the consistency and ease of the tide
Sun (Fire) – This is a reminder to not always be so focussed, to relax and find my sparks of joy, be playful and present and shine in my own quirky way and not ‘dull’ myself to fit in
I hope my example gives you some inspiration of how you can take your words further if you wish to and if you need any more ideas of how people have done this, have a look on Pinterest, or join Susannah Conway’s Facebook group, called ‘Find Your Word 2021’ as many people have put their versions on there.
And finally, Talk about it! It’s a great fun exercise to do with the family and get the kids involved. Plus, it helps you ‘own’ your word/s fully by talking to other people about it and even better to get friends involved and sharing their words too – you can then check in with each other and see how it’s going throughout the year. As you know when we share, it helps us to become accountable, and we often do better in achieving our intentions.
The only other thing to do is to make time to check in with your choice/s now and again to make sure they still feel right. As we know life and circumstances change all the time, so make sure your word/s still fit well for where you are heading or how you want to feel.
Your word/s are for you and you only so don’t be afraid to change them, at any point.
I hope this has helped to show you how your guiding words can have a real impact on your life, this is not a surface level thing to just tick because everyone else is doing it, it’s a powerful practice that can really help you move forwards if you take the time to integrate your words properly, and if they do show up in mysterious ways, I would love to know about it, so please do share in the comments!
Until next time…enjoy your daily walk (they are helping to keep me sane!), and then stay warm and cosy and safe.
Juliet, The Curious Creative x