Why choose a word (or phrase) of the year? Because unlike a resolution, you can’t fail an idea. A concrete goal might be “lose 20 lbs.” You could succeed or fail at that. But a word of the year provides a direction for your compass. Maybe that word would be “health,” if you’re looking to become healthier, but maybe it would be “let go,” if the idea is to get rid of elements in your life that aren’t serving you any longer. See how it’s different? I like to think of the WotY as a gentler, kinder guide than the more militant new year’s resolution.
Here’s a quick review of all the words of the year I’ve chosen and why:
2017. habitual = habit + ritual. I wanted to take the activities I enjoyed and make them more sacred. I wanted to celebrate those things I did regularly rather than criticize myself for when my discipline lapsed. Reading, writing, cleaning, exercising.
2018. get up and go. I was active and I wanted to stay active. This was an exercise year.
2019. grind. I loved the double meaning of grind being a workout word as well as a coffee word. This was also an exercise year.
2020. realize. I wanted to “realize” — to make real — my dreams. The forever dream is to publish a book, which I didn’t do that year, but I did start a writing group, which gave me the accountability I needed of deadlines and expectant readers.
2021. step. As y’all likely remember, everything felt difficult that year. But I told myself that I could focus on one step at a time. Just write a little each day. Just tidy a few things. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be worth it.
2022. stride. Keeping with the forward movement and picking up the pace. I felt a little more empowered to keep going strong. This was a writing year.
2023. reach. I love that reach means “to try” and also “to achieve.” I chose a tarot card this year as well, the seven of pentacles, because it’s about trusting that the hard work you’re doing is good work and that it will pay off in the end. As I see it, this is the Trust the Process card. Don’t lose hope, don’t lose faith. Keep on keepin’ on.
Thanks for reading. I hope you choose a WotY that works for you. Remember, you don’t have to pick it by Jan 1 and you don’t have to keep it if it isn’t working–change it up any time! Love, Jobe.
Karen Hayes was an incredible poet who worked with children, adults, veterans, and dementia patients to share her love of poetry and its transformative power. She celebrated and was celebrated in every aspect of her life. She was loved unanimously. She carried an inextinguishable spark. If you would like to learn more about the life and times of Karen Hayes, check out here, here, here, here, and here.
Karen ran a monthly reading series with open mike and featured readers at a local Little Rock coffee shop called Guillermo’s. For years she kept it alive and going strong, always discovering new talent and spreading the good word. I kept meaning to go but other stuff would get in the way, I’d forget, I’d put it off. I’m no poet, I’d tell Karen. But Karen knew that even prose writers could have that poet soul. I finally hiked up my big girl panties and got to it. I went to one. It was so awesome, the energy was palpable and everyone there was there for the love of the craft. I decided my first night I’d be a regular from then on. And then my first was her last. When Karen died suddenly, no one knew what to do, what to say, or how to process. Instead of the next reading we held a poets wake. And then there was this question: what would happen? Who would lead? Who would keep Karen’s dream alive? I stepped up.
There was no one else, I only lived five minutes away, and it all felt like a sign. Working at the library, being a grad from UCA, being a local writer and a participant in Nanowrimo, I was in a unique position to invite friends and acquaintances from so many different circles to come together. I expanded the umbrella to include poetry and prose and I ran the series, posthumously named for Karen, for one year. Then Covid happened. We were once again in a situation where no one knew what to do or what would happen next. I couldn’t keep an in-person program running, and I didn’t yet know all all the ins and outs of Zoom. I set it aside, hoping Covid would run its course and we could get back together when Covid was over. Well. That clearly isn’t going to happen, and I think we’ve waited long enough. I know some people are understandably burnt out on Zoom, but I’ve come around to the way of thinking that something is better than nothing.
I return to you, now under the auspices of the CALS Writing Circle, the virtual Karen Hayes Poetry and Prose Monthly Reading Series. To kick it off right, the first event will be a two-night extravaganza, and attendance will determine which night we schedule going forward. Mark your calendars, friends, for the last Tuesday and Thursday in April. 4/26/22 and 4/28/22. 6:30pm-8:00pm both nights, online only, Zoom link to follow closer to time. Bust out and dust off anything you’ve been wanting to read. We’re back.