Frustrating. If I were to be completely honest I would have to say that 2019 was completely and utterly frustrating. It was frustrating on so many levels and when I reflect on why I have felt so tense, emotional and irritable for the better part of last year there’s for sure a list. It could be that they haven’t found a cure for MS yet or that my Mom is continuing to slip away from us at the hands of Alzheimer’s or maybe it’s that I didn’t get that big job that I thought I wanted, there are endless possibilities. Or maybe, just maybe it’s the culmination of all little things that wear you down like a cluttered house, missed bills, missed birthdays, an overloaded inbox, not being a clone for your kids and never ever enough me time. It’s all exhausting and hard but that’s not the “one word” this post is about.
You see, I woke up this morning feeling sad after a very dull New Years’ Eve. It was so lame that my 10-year-old was in tears at one point until Dad rescued the terrible night with a late-night milkshake run. We’ve never been all that invested in NYE, but after a night of Mary Poppins and the one game we begged my son Liam to play because Cooper was painfully bored I’m thinking we will do a better job planning next year. So with that, I woke up in a terrible headspace. It could have been my jacked up neck that I’m battling or my list of things that I did not accomplish during my time off. I just wanted to wake up in 2020 ready to hit the ground running and I’m already failing. I pulled myself out of bed after a text from my friend Lena, who might be the only person in my life that’s more optimistic than me. She was the perfect reminder that I’m in good company and it’s time to move forward. I slid myself to the side of the bed slowly to protect my wrenched neck from the stiff ache that developed overnight and when my feet hit the floor I put my face in my hands and I sobbed. I don’t know why exactly, it just hit me that here I am in 2020 with all the intention to move forward and I realize it really is just another damn day.
The tears didn’t last long and I got up and went to the bathroom. When I came back to make the bed, which is always my responsibility as the slacker that wakes up last, something caught my eye. There’s a stack of birthday cards with a mixture of Christmas and birthday gifts on my dresser that I hadn’t paid much attention to since I put them there before Christmas. I noticed a small book because of its bright red cover. I started rifling through the stack smiling at the notes that friends and family had given me and I pulled the book out. In bold white letters it said, “One Word” and the subtext was, “that will change your life”. You know that moment you see something and it just clicks? It’s the exact quote or person you needed to see or the song you needed to hear, I think this was one of those moments. It was like the universe said, “come on friend, shit is hard but it’s not impossible, time to suck it up and move forward.” And there it was, the move forward strategy for the day starring right at me. Not sure it’s a coincidence that the book was given to me by a dear friend who is now also my new boss, the boss that got the job that I didn’t. So two things hit me. First, this seems very fitting for my state of mind, I’m all in for changing my life, even when I’m stubbornly not sure that I’m ready. Secondly, I’m a pleaser and it seems wise to read the book that the person I now report to has given me, there might be a conversation in my future.
So here I am, in 2020, with my hot cup of morning tea on my couch ready to crush this book and crush it I did. It’s a quick read, it took me 30 minutes. Because I do a lot of work with people on this type of thing I quickly felt that it had a similar feel as other activities I’ve done. It’s essentially how to get focused, reframe, be intentional, show up and build the map you need to get there, the book was speaking my language for sure. What I liked most about it was the simplicity, and as soon as I could start thinking about my own “one word” I started thinking about my entire family getting in on this process. What if we could all come up with our own “one word” and share it with each other every year. As I was thinking about how this could play out, what we could do with the words, yes I’m 12 steps ahead of myself per usual. I realized at the end of the book it was all about doing this with groups. So, like any great idea, you most likely are not the first person to think of it, and sure enough, it had been done. But I loved it and I wanted to find an easy way to pull the family in so we could support one another and hold each other accountable to being our best. Now I just needed to get them involved and I could already imagine the eyes rolling and them all playfully making fun of me for my “family workshop”, but I was prepared to take the hit. I decided that everyone reading the book was an unrealistic expectation so I put together a one-page worksheet that we could all use to discuss and come up with our word. I took some liberties to make it digestible for my 10-year-old and we were off to the races!
I gave them a warning in the afternoon that I’d be making tacos for dinner, their favorite, and that I wanted to do something special with them before we all went our separate ways for the night. I could already sense the lack of excitement but I wasn’t letting it go. I needed this and if they understood the struggle that I’ve been feeling I know they would want to support me. Doing something like this together sure felt like a more productive way to ask for help than to sit them down and share all the hardships of managing life and a family of five. So, with a little hesitancy but complete vulnerability we held the first “One Word Webb Family Workshop” and shockingly it turned out amazingly well. They all did what was asked by spending time alone with no distractions and then we came back together to share our “one word”. It was really cool to hear their brief but telling explanations about why they picked their word. In our family, we have a tendency to use sarcasm when we’re uncomfortable, but in the end, it was beautiful and left me feeling more connected to myself and my family. I asked everyone to send me a photo that represented their one word so I can print it out for us to look at in the kitchen all year. This was the final result and as this first day of 2020 comes to an end I can honestly say that I’m in a better place and ready to “surrender” to 2020. I’m fortunate to have such an amazing family that supports me in every way. Starting the day in tears and ending it with a smile, I’m feeling very loved and grateful for what’s to come.