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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Busy Season, Quiet Heart



There are so many beautiful traditions and holidays (holy days!) that we celebrate in winter, and I love the music, sparkle, and extra enthusiasm of them all.  It’s a wonderful thing to party with your peeps, decorate your world, and unwrap surprises.

There’s a flip side though, isn’t there?  One party becomes 3 or 4, one shopping trip or extra activity becomes another--and another.  There’s an enchanted hush that falls over the natural world in winter, but we have to be still to feel it.  We have to stop.  We have to breathe, and notice.  It can be tricky to balance the excitement with the peace when it seems like everyone around us wants to go, go, go.  If you’re young, it might be more than tricky--if adults have final say over your schedule, it might be almost impossible.

But you can always find a moment.

Magic doesn’t have to be expensive or epic.  Winter magic is in tiny, silent, snowflake moments--and all we have to do is notice it.

It’s actually very, very natural to crave coziness and a slower pace this time of year. Appreciating our gifts and blessings, the loveliness of pine trees and snow, the hopeful feeling of lighting up a dark night can be plenty of holiday “doing.” If you love the gentler side of celebrating, you are not alone.  Not at all.

Even our modern, festive “go, go, going” has roots in simple observing and connecting to nature. Seasonal foods, plants and trees, glowing light, loving gatherings, gifts and offerings are the peaceful basics that so many of our traditions are built on.

And of course, our shared belief in miracles and magic.

So remember to think in moments this season.  A moment to rest. To wander. To be quiet. To look for the brightest star. To smell a sharp, sweet spruce tree.  To watch a wavering candle flame.  Listen to your heart and make up a quiet tradition of your own.  You can always find the stillness.  And then the winter magic will find you.