Word For The Year

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Hello, my beautiful friends! It’s almost New Year’s—have you been thinking about your Word For The Year? I have. It’s become a such an integral part of the end of a year for me. I find myself wanting to make sure I did it justice, that I lived into it and learned from it as much as I could. That I didn’t miss any beautiful thing it spoke to me. I always feel such a responsibility to live well, to be fully aware, to acknowledge and process and make peace with every feeling. Sometimes I get tired. This year, 2018, I was very tired.

“Gratitude” was the word I chose last January, but it just didn’t sit well. It was almost as if I were trying to trick the Universe—if I pretended to be grateful for all my circumstances (even though I wasn’t) and if I was grateful in advance for what I wanted, maybe I would get it. By March, an acceptance settled over me. I read in a lovely self-help book a passage about “just laying down with the cracks in your heart.” Our pain wants to be felt. I knew I wanted to honor all my feelings, and all the parts of myself, so I decided that “Let It Be” was a truer choice for my words this year.

And they never let me down.

Those words were a balm on my spirit so many times I lost count—as time and again I tried a new path that came to nothing, or looked for an answer that just couldn’t be found. It’s hard to just let things be difficult, to let life hurt—but it felt more right than pretending to myself that everything was fine. And like all things, it shifts. Feelings change. Perspectives change. I won’t ever completely let go of “Let It Be.” Like all my Words, they’re my friends now. But I’m ready for a new one.

This year? I’m thinking “Seeds.” It’s actually from a passage in another book I love—where the author has suggested to someone living with a loss that she start to restore some connection to life by planting seeds—and that as she does the physical motions, she set intentions to nurture new parts of herself to grow, too. Maybe she doesn’t know exactly what those parts will be, but planting the seeds is an act of faith. It reminds her that life is uncertain, but that not all uncertainty is painful. Surprising joys (small and large) wait for those of us who are here, living. I also love the image from Yumi Sakugawa about planting strange seeds. The freedom to plant little ideas and take little actions without huge expectations for immediate results. The peaceful allowing of time and sun and rain and earth to do what they do. Waiting patiently without particular plans, but with quiet hope, sounds about right this year.

In the end I always just try to let The Big Good Thing know that my truest intention is for all beings to be happy and healthy. I am cool with any version of that. So this year I will try to plant seeds of delight, well-being, peace. If you are choosing a word or word(s) for the year, I have some resources here that I hope will be of benefit to you. Please, please share your word or a little bit about your process (on the Messy & Co. Facebook page) if you feel so inclined—I love feeling like we’re doing this in community.


Getting Started

I encourage you to gift yourself with dedicated time to find your word. It makes a huge difference to your heart and your creativity to be given that protected time.

If you need enveloping quiet and self-reflection this year, set aside a few hours where you can make a lovely cuppa, put on music that will help you cry, set a few art supplies around yourself, and try to let it all out. Think, journal (use this free printable), rest and create at your own pace.

If you need community and support this year, plan a Word For The Year get-together. Don’t worry about cleaning your house for company—just have each friend bring treats or art supplies and be perfectly imperfect together. You can use this printable I created to get you started, and go from there. Maybe everyone takes a little while to write, then you do a project and talk about your words. Or maybe it’s a relaxed crafting free-for-all. Or maybe it’s a lunch date where you all share what words you’ve been considering and simply order a necklace later. You know your people—do whatever feels good to you.

The key is to make the time to do it sacred, and really allow yourself to be present. Sometimes it’s a huge relief to just be with the feelings and thoughts that surface, and sometimes it’s painful or scary. Whatever it is for you, remember that you honor yourself when you listen to your heart. You heal when you make time for the listening. You uplift your friends when you are a safe space for them to share their hearts. It’s not about a product we create—it’s about the process of treating ourselves with wonder and love. It’s about deciding to live with intention and hope.


Project & Talisman Ideas

Abstract Word Art

Search Pinterest for an abstract style you like and just play with paint until you have something you’re happy with. Use colors or shapes and images that feel symbolic to you. Add your word with a fine-tipped brush or paint marker after your painting dries.

Watercolor Scribble Art

Watercolor is the paint version of stress-relief coloring books. Just let your mind wander as you fill in each section. Add your word or words with a water-proof pen (once your watercolor is dry) to the sections that call to you.


If you have metal stamping tools you can create a custom wearable, or order one. It’s pretty special what happens when your wear your word—you can connect with it so easily in tiny moments.

Vision Board

Collage is such an amazing medium for expressing yourself. Just rip and play with images that reflect your dreams, intentions, and how you want to feel. Add your word(s) for a visual you can check in with every day.

Phone Home Screen & Lock Screen

Use a fun app (I like this one) to edit a photo or create a background that keeps your word inspiration in front of you constantly.

Instax Word Plaque

Go out on an adventure to gather photos of the letters in your word—or maybe to discover your word if you’ve been stuck. Movement can open up and clarify your thinking.


Gather up a variety of yarns and a good DIY weaving tutorial, and as you create infuse your weaving with your intentions for the year. I can’t think of a more beautiful metaphor than weaving all of the different people, places, lessons, and passions we have into one beautiful, utterly unique piece.

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Art Project: Let it Fall

It’s fall where I live.  Early days still, but you can feel the autumn-ness in everything.  The leaves are glowing yellow, with tiny bits of burgundy and fiery red.  It smells earthy, and acorns are crunching under feet and tires.  The geese are going by in their vees, honkity-honking.  I love noticing all the changes.

I even notice changes in myself.

Though our culture has it a bit backwards (with so much beginning in the fall!), autumn is a time where we have a natural pull inward, and a feeling that we want to slow down and do a little bit more noticing.  The summer has us moving, playing, interacting, growing.  When fall comes, there’s a shift.  Less adding to our lives, or our stuff, and more reflecting on who we are, what we’ve already done, and maybe even saying some goodbyes.

It’s even a really natural time to let yourself feel sad if you need to.  The energy of fall will be soft and misty around you if you want to have a good cry about something.  It will be strong and cool and apple-scented to lift you up after you’ve been grieving or missing somebody you’ve lost.

And just like the trees feel ready to let their leaves turn and fall, I feel things in myself that I’m ready to let go of—because I know that letting go makes space.  For rest.  For new adventures I want to have, new parts of myself I want to get to know better.  I love to take this time to remember who I was at the beginning of the year, and really be amazed at how I’ve changed and all I’ve been through.  I try to release ideas and plans and deadlines that aren’t helping me love myself and be happy.  I let go of time I’m spending with people or situations that don’t feel healthy.  If I’ve been trying to change myself for someone else, I use my reflecting time to figure out why, and I put my heart back into being ME.

Now sometimes all these thoughts and feelings come and go, and there’s not much you need to do but think and feel them.  But often there’s a magic (especially at times like season changes!) in making those feelings into things you can see and touch.  Expressing what’s inside, letting it exist outside you, is a really powerful way to feel whole and balanced.

Making something is a kind of sacred creative ritual that helps you feel connected to all the souls out there who have felt—are feeling!—the autumn-ness too.

One of my ways of doing this is painting, which seems to go perfectly with the little leaf canvasses that are all around us.  If you want to try this Let it Fall Weekend Project, here’s what you’ll need:

1. Your thoughts  (I wrote a few pages in my journal and made a little list of things I was ready to let go of in my life.  Do whatever feels best to you as far as how long you give yourself to think about it, and whether or not you write your thoughts down.)

2. Leaves

3. Paint (I used a few colors that felt connected to some of the things I wanted to let go, and some that were just my favorites.)

4. Brushes & Water (And a place you can get a little messy—maybe a big piece of paper for underneath your leaves.)

I decided to just kind of softly hold my list in my mind while I painted, but you could choose to have each leaf represent one specific thing.  Or you could write your ‘letting go’ thoughts on your leaves, then paint over them.  Anything that feels good to you is perfect here.

Once my leaves were dried, I set them out on my bedside table to remind me that all of who I was, all of what has happened in my life—even things I want to (or have to) let go of, become beautiful like autumn leaves.  Just like those leaves they are lovely as they fall, and they turn into nutrients and blessings for my future.