My 2017 Word of the Year is RISE
We worked together for several months last year, co-creators of a super-secret project for Hillary Clinton. Two women from opposite sides of the country–upstate New York and Southern California–who shared the same vision and purpose.
Though we’d never met in person, we fell into an easy rhythm. Creativity flowed, as it does when ego’s not an issue. When my new friend fell sick, I filled my planner pages with to-do lists and affirmations, colorful sketches and motivational stickers. She poked fun at those stickers, but it was laughter that helped get us through the more difficult days of her cancer treatments. Oh, and the harbor seals. Hashtag: #StrongerTogether
On Election Day, we finally went public with the news we’d been sitting on, for what seemed like forever:
I could hardly contain my excitement. Pollsters predicted an early, easy victory. But as everyone now knows, Election Night was holding back some surprises of its own.
Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but the Electoral College twisted the other way. Our hopes and dreams, aspirations and efforts…reduced to ashes, inexplicably and unimaginably so.
We explored Manhattan over the next several days, reveling in our friendship despite the pain, and reaching for the proverbial candle in the dark.
But once I got home, well. I couldn’t bring myself to talk about the election results for weeks, much less the video that would never have an audience.
Slowly, eventually…light overcame the dark. Hope stirred; optimism reawakened.
The time eventually came when I could once again look to the future with clear, dry eyes.
The moment came when I decided to take some deep, cleansing breaths. I am an optimist, after all. I’m not immune to injury and sorrow, but I do have an indomitable spirit.
And so it was that, one sunny afternoon in late December, I ventured down to Laguna Beach. Freckles was lounging on the rocks, as usual, smiling that ubiquitous seal-smile of his and waving his flipper. Adorable. Irresistible. Irrepressible.
In that peaceful island cove, I reflected on the pendulum swing between Election Night and the restorative nature of the sea. And I remembered something I’d once read about being simultaneously courageous and vulnerable:
During the process of rising, we sometimes find ourselves homesick for a place that no longer exists. We want to go back to that moment before we walked into the arena, but there’s nowhere to go back to. What makes this more difficult is that now we have a new level of awareness about what it means to be brave. We can’t fake it anymore. We now know when we’re showing up and when we’re hiding out, when we are living our values and when we are not. Our new awareness can also be invigorating—it can reignite our sense of purpose and remind us of our commitment to wholeheartedness. Straddling the tension that lies between wanting to go back to the moment before we risked and fell and being pulled forward to even greater courage is an inescapable part of rising strong. –Brené Brown
Voilà! Like a pearl, hidden inside a rough shell, I discovered my 2017 Word of the Year:
Isn’t that just perfect? I’m no fortune teller, but I predict I’ll be amazed at the many ways this word will manifest itself this year, in my life and in the world around me.
PS I created these posters in Canva, using my own pictures. You are welcome to use them, so long as you leave my watermark intact. (Just now learning, so they’re not perfect, but this is how you raise the bar.)