Sunday, January 4, 2015

One Word 2015: Wholehearted

Workbooks and art by Susannah Conway

It is the fourth day of the New Year, and I finally made the time to sit down and reflect on 2014 and plan for 2015.  I had been hoping to do this for some time, but life has a way of interrupting my plans.  The holidays were full, and although I had a long break from work, being at home with the kids does not provide many opportunities for quiet reflection.  Then our son started the year with his first ever case of strep throat, which meant a couple days of caring solely for him.

But these are excuses, as part of me didn't want to think much about the year that had passed, although as an INFJ, I usually enjoy this sort of exercise.  It was a good year overall, but it was also demanding and draining.  I started a doctoral program that seems to be a good fit, and it's encouraging to be challenged by classes again and discover that I still love school.  I have benefited from the support of my cohort and know that we have much to learn from one another in our different experiences, gifts, and perspectives.

We had lots of good family time including a vacation to Disney World and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  But there were many parenting challenges, mainly in learning that I can't change my children, but need to focus instead on why their behavior triggers me so much.  Learning more about Family Systems Theory has been a good start.

I continue to love my work as a university chaplain, but it had its difficulties as well.  It was a hard semester with increased stress and tension.  Even though I did my best to meet the needs, I felt as if I were going through the motions and not really working from my gifts and passion.  It was exhausting, and I cared for myself by withdrawing more than engaging.  When I set "enough" as my word for 2014, my intention was to remind myself that I have enough (resources, strengths) and I am enough (with God's help) to handle what comes my way, but more often, it seemed a word of surrender when I had had enough.

When I think about what I want most for 2015, a vacation is the first thing that comes to mind.  Unfortunately, our next vacation isn't until December, and there is much work to be done before then.

I realize that what I really need is to be more engaged.  I want to live from a place that is more than just surviving.  I want to thrive, living out of my calling and passions.  I want to truly be grateful for the gifts in my life and appreciate them by living fully from my whole heart.  I want to be mindful of the moments so that I can teach my kids to appreciate them as well.  To keep me centered, I have chosen "wholehearted" as my One Word 365 for 2015.

I have been greatly inspired by the work of BrenĂ© Brown, who researches shame and vulnerability.  I first came across the concept of wholehearted living in her books.  She lists 10 guideposts for wholehearted living in her book Daring Greatly: How the Courage To Be Vulnerable Changes the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead:

1. Cultivating Authenticity: Letting Go of What People Think
2. Cultivating Self‐Compassion: Letting Go of Perfectionism
3. Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness
4. Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark
5. Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting Go of the Need for Certainty
6. Cultivating Creativity: Letting Go of Comparison
7. Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self‐Worth
8. Cultivating Calm and Stillness: Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle
9. Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self‐Doubt and “Supposed To”
10.Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance: Letting Go of Being Cool and “Always in Control”

(the list was found here)

I know it will be a most difficult challenge for me as my instinct is to withdraw in the best of times, and to ruminate and hold on to the negative in the worst of times.  It will push me to see my life in new ways and to live into the hope that I so often proclaim and yet fail to grasp in my own daily struggles.  It will mean letting go of the petty annoyances so that I can see the greater beauty in the moments that I often overlook.  It is a reminder to live from a faith that is greater than the reality I can see and grasp.

To inspire me, I created a fold-out vision board that can stand up on my desk and travel home with me as well.  The words and pictures point to the fact that while I can't always control what happens, I can be in control of how I respond.

May I respond with my whole heart in 2015.


  1. Thanks, Katherine! I appreciate your comment as I admire your writing.