Posts Tagged ‘One Little Word’

Spiritual Journey (first) Thursday is gathered here today. We are writing about our chosen One Little Word that will guide our year. Choosing a one little word is supposed to be easier than making resolutions.  I suppose the theory is you will break your resolution in a month or so, but a word can be revisited time and time again and bring about new meaning and purpose to your life.

Placing the weight of inspiration on one little word seems daunting, but the fun and marvelous thing about language is that words can have many meanings and purposes.  And every word’s meaning is up to interpretation.

I believe in trusting that a word will find you, and once it does, you must resist the urge to flick it away.  Like the buzz of a mosquito, it will find its way back to you anyway.

When I was at NCTE this fall, my friend Fran passed around a stack of magnets with words on them.  She didn’t hand us one; she asked us to choose.  The word that chose me was Explore. The magnet said Explore new possibilities.  I decided not to question why the word found me.  I just placed it on my fridge.

Then I received an invitation on Facebook to join a group of writers to “Explore your Natural Creativity” for the #30for30Challenge. Anastasia Suen posts a check-in every day, Did you create for 30 minutes today? 

A student gave me a new journal for Christmas.  The cover says “Do one thing every day that inspires you,” and each day there’s a different creative prompt.

Once I head back to school next week, my exploration into my own writing and creativity will be more difficult to make time for.  I also have to squeeze in ukulele practice (see this post) and exercise.  Oh, and reading, and crochet, and cooking, and walking the dog…

Years ago when I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, I was enamored of the idea of an artist date.  She said you should make a date with yourself once a week to explore a museum or gallery.  She believed in feeding the artist soul.  That is where I want to take my word Explore...out into the world to see where it will take me.



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Music has always been a part of my life.  From very young listening to my mother play the piano to teenage years hearing my brother through the walls between our rooms.  The musical talent was passed on through the lefties in our family, my mother and my brother.

I took piano lessons until I entered college.  In high school and beyond even to today, I’ve sung alto in multiple choirs. So you could say music is part of me, but I’ve never felt very musical when it came to playing an instrument.

At NCTE this year, I sat in a circle of ukulele players.  Jan Burkins placed her instrument in my hands and taught me three easy chords.  She said, “You could do this!”

I asked Santa (my husband) for a ukulele for Christmas.  He loved the idea.  He researched and visited local music stores to find the just right one. I started practicing early Christmas morning. I’ve practiced every day since.


I cut my fingernails on my left hand.  Those fingers are sore and numb from pressing hard on the strings.  They say this gets better with time. I am determined not to give up because of a little pain.  My husband, the runner, says you have to move past the pain.

I haven’t been able to sing and play at the same time which is my end goal.  I do have an awesome teacher, though.  Her name is Cynthia Lin.  She’s patient and kind and takes it slow.

I’ve decided to take on the word EXPLORE for my One Little Word for 2018.  No better way to begin my exploration than to learn to play an instrument.  I will be exploring chords, strumming, and patience.

This photo is a bridge over the Mississippi River near New Orleans.

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Grace takes a breath.

Grace assumes positive intent. Grace gives us permission to fail or forget or forge ahead. Grace helps us to try again, to keep going, to work the tasks, one manageable piece at a time.

Lee Ann Spillane

For my one little word in 2017, I chose Cherish.  There was purpose in this as I knew the special moments with my children would be fewer.  I wanted to be sure to cherish every family event.  And I did.  We had a beautiful wedding in March, and I cherished visiting time with family this summer.


Things change.  Fast forward to August, 2017 when the thing I need most is grace.  The kind of grace that Lee Ann Spillane is asking for.  The grace that lets me be imperfect and unorganized, stressed out and overwhelmed.

This grace comes in the questions from my yoga instructor on Saturday:

How will you enter into this day?
Will you try to fit through the needle?
What is the shape of a cloud?

Metaphorical me wants to have grace like a cloud, not the stormy ones that have threatened the Gulf coast this week, but those white fluffy ones.  The ones that cover the sun allowing crepuscular rays to escape.  I find hope in those clouds. I can be any shape I want to be.

I received grace in the storm.

Hurricane Harvey has devastated Houston. For that, I am deeply saddened and continually praying.  Around here in South Louisiana, we’ve had rain, rain, rain.  School was cancelled due to street flooding, but so far no home damage.

My grace came in the shape of a storm.  Time to resettle myself.  Time to regroup, reorganize, and get a grip.  Time to cherish my good fortune and blessings.

Help Houston:

Kate Messner has set up an auction KitLit Cares.  Please consider a bid to benefit yourself and your students and ultimately help our friends in Houston.

This storm just won’t quit.  My friend, author Caroline Sibbald Leech, posted this link for places to donate and ways to help.


Be sure to set aside time on Labor Day evening to join the #TeachWrite Twitter chat as we discuss finding time to write.

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poetry-friday-1 (1)

Poetry Friday round-up is with Keri at Keri Recommends

On Tuesday, I posted a Canva image that I had created with an acrostic poem about my One Little Word, Cherish.  Michelle Haseltine commented, “Such a simple poem and yet, so beautiful and touching. I am not usually a fan of acrostic poems, but you have me rethinking my position, friend.”

So I decided to make a case for the acrostic poem.


a series of lines or verses in which the first, last, or other particular letters when taken in order spell out a word, phrase, etc.

I understand the argument. This form is simplistic and can confine the writer and stifle creativity.  However, if we let it, a form can challenge the writer to search for unique language and a stronger meaning.

This week, we worked on our One Little Word projects.  I showed my Canva acrostic as a sample.  We talked about words and synonyms, making use of the online thesaurus.  Type in your word and click on synonyms to find more words.  Some of my students took this task seriously and found new and unusual words, like vivacity and whimsical, as their chosen OLW.

Dictionaries were on hand for finding words that started with a given letter.  When Jacob came to the letter R in his word, Inspire, he read rainbow, and created the following line.


Some students stuck to the one word for each letter, but some created phrases.  Emily decided to make each line have  a simile.  This pushed her to think not only about her word choice, but also about what each word meant to her One Little Word.

Acrostics are simple, but it can be a good pattern for word play and a deeper search for meaning.



Kaiden oneword.jpg

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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.



Out of your whole life give but a moment!
All of your life that has gone before,
All to come after it,—so you ignore,
So you make perfect the present
My friend, Julieanne, sent me the above poem.  She said it made her think of me.  My One Little Word for 2016 was Present.  She knew I didn’t want to leave this word behind.  Being present served me well this year, especially when I was laid up by an injury.  Present was perfect for a trip to Africa in July and for enjoying every moment of my daughter’s wedding in October.  I have loved my daily walks because of presence.  And the word turned up again and again in my daily messages from the Enneagram Institute.  I needed the word.  I needed the feeling.  I needed the attitude.
I’ve struggled for days over what my new word should be.  I read other friends’ posts and found their words fit them just right.  Ruth is being steadfast.  Tara wants to believe in herself and in hope.  Kimberley is releasing to try to be more open and less controlling.  Melanie chose brave.  I think she’s already brave, but it helps to choose a word that you want to embrace.
Where was my word hiding?
I wrote a poem in my journal about Peace.  Peace is a beautiful word; peace is something I can recognize, but I can’t control it.
Peace–happy ending of a Hallmark movie.
Peace– origami cranes on an evergreen tree.
Peace– wood crackling on an open fire.
Peace– breathing new air.
Peace– making perfect the present.
I made a list of possible words:
  1. Treasure
  2. Create
  3. Intent
  4. Brave
  5. Inspire
  6. Grace
  7. Renew
  8. Goodwill

All good words, but each word made some requirement of me that I was not ready to take on.  Can’t I just be present again?

Then I began looking more closely at treasure.  The definition included a synonym that felt right, fit right, is right!



Cherish is the fruit of the tree of Presence.

Cherish embraces me in love.

Cherish fills me with hope.

Cherish 2017, here we go!

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Link ups at Irene Latham's site, Live your Poem

Link ups at Irene Latham’s site, Live your Poem

Being a part of an online blogging community keeps me writing and thinking and reflecting.  Irene Latham asked our Spiritual Journey Thursday group to write a reflection about our One Little Words for 2016.  So here I am… Present.

My OLW for 2016 was Presence.  This word mantra has helped me in many ways this year.  When I’ve been worried, I turned to presence.  When I’ve been celebrating, I turned to presence.  Being with whatever is happening in the moment is a valuable skill, and I am so glad I chose presence this year.  The year I spent two weeks in Africa.  The year my middle daughter got married.  These experiences still live in my heart because I was fully present to them.

But everyday, I have to call myself back to presence.  I take walks alone, valuing time to see things in my world, to focus on the gift of nature.  Sometimes while walking I’ll take out my phone to send a message to someone who has come to mind, or to type a poem or an idea for one, or to take a picture to capture a moment.

Practicing presence fits my personality, too.  I am one of those people who is always on the look out for ways to help others.  While some may think this is a positive trait, it can also lead to burn-out and low self-esteem.  By being present, I take care of myself.  And by taking care of myself, I am better equipped to help others.

I haven’t started thinking about my word for 2017.  I’m not ready to let this one go.  I don’t have to, of course.  I can build on Presence along with Reach of 2015 and Open of 2014.  I enjoy words and playing with words, so this tradition of finding one little word to guide my year is fun and inspiring.  I think deeply about what I really want and the possibilities that are open to me.

Thanks, Irene, for calling me to be reflective about my one little word.


Haiku-a-day #15

Be present today
open to whatever door
Turn the knob, enter

–Margaret Simon

From Richard Rohr's Center for Action and Contemplation

From Richard Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation

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Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

For Spiritual Thursday, we are writing about each other’s One Little Word for 2016. Today we are exploring Violet Nesdoly’s word, Mindfulness.


My mind is full
like the bayou after a long rain
that today blows wild
waves, cold and moving.

My mind wants to rest
like the dog at my side
snoring softly,
warm and content.

My mind seeks to understand
like that student who questions
and questions, driving me
to stop and think.

My mind is aware
of light coming through the window,
a spotlight on my hands,
open and close.

My mind turns to you
like the wind chimes chanting
Om mani padme hum
carries me across the rough water
to a place of peace.

Mindfulness, much like my own One Little Word present, means to “be still and know that I am God.” I sing this mantra over and over, making my mind clear to notice the spirit within me, to notice that I am not alone, to notice my love is enough. Stillness leads me to understanding. Presence to mindfulness.

Morning birdbath by Margaret Simon

Morning birdbath by Margaret Simon

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