My Word of the Year for 2015

Taking a couple of months off to tend to a task I’ve been neglecting has resulted in the development a year-long project I’m excited to have on my to-do list.

While I attended each of my doctors’ appointments, followed through on my daily personal apothecary of prescribed remedies, managed to show up for a number of additional commitments, and did a pretty decent job of keeping my chin up through it all, I was overlooking a critical aspect of my overall treatment plan.

I failed to let myself fully accept the cold hard truth–this Lyme diagnosis just plain sucks.

My body has been beaten down. My energy has been zapped from me. My brain has been hijacked. Every time I start to feel better in one regard, a symptom of another rears its ugly head. And since the majority of this affliction is invisible, there are some people in my life who will never be willing to empathize with how difficult it sometimes is for me to shut up and put a smile on my face for their benefit.

I’m astutely aware of the power of positive intention. That’s why I’ve strived so diligently to avoid wallowing in self-pity or even acknowledging my own reality for more than a fleeting moment.

“How are you feeling?” they’d ask.

“Getting better every day!” I’d reply.

I was certain that no one, not even me, wanted to hear my real answer–that I’m SO tired of being sick and tired. That no matter what I do, this affliction doesn’t seem to go away for more than a week or two at a time. That I’m angry that no one was willing to do the work to figure this out for me sooner. Or that I’m utterly terrified that my brain will never fully recover and I will forever be stuck in this state of fogginess and forgetfulness.

Having immersed myself in a few inspirational and soul-supportive communities that encourage total transparency recently (during my 2-month hiatus), I’ve realized something: It’s okay to be honest with ourselves and others about where we’re at. We sometimes need a little honesty as a step-ladder to that higher destination we aspire to reach. We don’t get anywhere by simply pretending to climb.

A popular ritual among many participants in these communities I like to spend my time in–and one that especially spoke to me–is to adopt a “word of the year.” The idea is to identify one word that summarizes what you hope to create or bring into your life throughout the year. The word then becomes a verbal affirmation and the gauge by which future decisions are measured.

Open to Giving and ReceivingI’m told that these words often choose us more than we choose them. Allowing myself to finally acknowledge the extent of my pain and suffering led me to mine by showing me what was absent from my life–fun, enjoyment, freedom, and movement.

It almost immediately became clear that the word calling to me was pleasure. And my resistance to it signaled just how much I needed it.

Pleasure seemed so frivolous and self-indulgent–a luxury for those who didn’t have as many obligations to fulfill or struggles to overcome. It was not a welcome theme in my story of hard work and perseverance.

I even had trouble identifying what I found pleasurable so that I could focus on experiencing more of it until I became aware that pleasure was not synonymous with extravagance and luxury. By defining it as something I judged so harshly, I’d been blocking myself to receiving it.  Pleasure could be light, simple, and blissfully ordinary.

I’m still exploring what pleasure means to me, but a few pleasurable experiences I’ve uncovered so far include:

  • The chin of an animal resting against my leg as I relax with a book or a favorite show on Netflix on my comfy couch.
  • Gently stroking the soft fur and gazing into the soulful eyes of one such animal.
  • Feeling tucked safely under the arm of a man who for some crazy reason still seems to adore me after more than three years together.
  • The aroma and tickle of foam against my upper lip as I sip cappuccino in a plain white ceramic mug from my favorite café.
  • The soothing warmth of a bath with deliciously scented salts in my deep, oversized tub.
  • Relaxing and breathing deeply in a room adorned with calming tranquil shades.
  • The feel of silky fabrics and rich jewel tones against my skin.
  • The sight of bright, puffy floral blossoms in an assortment of colors.
  • Peeling layer after layer from an organic mozzarella cheese stick.
  • The peaceful trance inspired by meditative music.
  • The fragrance of pure ylang ylang and jasmine essential oils.
  • Spreading paint on a canvas.
  • A warm, slow-paced conversation with a loving friend.
  • Writing with a gel pen in beautifully decorated spiral-bound journal.

I’m looking forward to adding to this list throughout 2015 as I treat myself to more and more simple enjoyments, now that I recognize that they are not only necessary but very much deserved. Regardless of what you’re going through right now, I hope you’ll do the same.

If you’re interested in finding your own word of the year, you can check out this free resource from Susannah Conway.  (Since my word had already surfaced before this was recommended to me, I didn’t actually use this tool–but countless others have claimed to find it helpful.

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