My Word of the Year for 2016

I was first introduced to the idea of setting a “word of the year” about a year ago and it’s already become one of  my favorite annual rituals.

For 2015, my exploratory word was pleasure. I aimed to lean toward personal enjoyment over obligation, after observing a deep-rooted tendency to say “yes” when I meant “no” so much that I was often stuck saying “no” when I really wanted to say “yes.” I didn’t always succeed in keeping life easy breezy–especially in throes of a serious health crisis–but I achieved a more pleasurable year than usual and than what would have been likely without setting such an intention.

Part of my self-awareness adventure over the past year was to dig into what pleasure meant for me so I could solidify that compass. What was I really craving in seeking more pleasure? What qualities and feelings highlighted the absence of pleasure?

I came to a recognition that pleasure was simply about wanting to be present in each moment. Present to laugh heartily with people I love. Present to soak in a warm embrace or a gentle touch. Present to savor a succulent flavor or inhale a titillating aroma. Present to feast my eyes on a breathtaking sight. Present to breathe deeply and to exude joy.

A common thread in each of these moments was a feeling of feathery lightness I experienced–like I could float away but was choosing not to. And the moments that didn’t trigger pleasure were quite the opposite. They felt dense, dark, and heavy.

My Word of the Year for 2016 | Jill of ArkThat’s why the word light seemed like a perfect place around which to focus my attention in 2016.

Already, I’ve begun experimenting with different interpretations of light. From brightening my near-black natural hair with caramel highlights (courtesy of my friend Victoria of Organicure Hair Studio in Skaneateles, NY) to dressing in more flowy blouses over my typical heavy sweaters. I’m also grazing on light meals when I’m hungry instead of pressuring myself to plan concrete meals. I’m even giving myself permission to lighten my schedule and keep my planner padded with plenty of white space.

And I’m loving all of it. I’m finding more pleasure in this than anything else I tried previously.

Throughout the year, I’ll be seeking to add more light to my dimly lit and drably decorated home, to bring more light colors and fabrics into my wardrobe, to spend more time in the sunlight, to welcome more light into my spiritual practice, and to be a source of light for those around me.

I’m looking forward to making 2016 my year to shine–literally. How about you?

(If you’d like to add a word of the year to your self-care practice but aren’t sure where to begin, you can check out this free resource from Susannah Conway or this list of 100 ideas from Vivienne McMaster. Happy navigating!)

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