Monday, January 2, 2017

Monday Matters: 2017's Focus Word

It's the beginning of a fresh new year, which for most of us means the hope for change and new beginnings, the promise of what we like to imagine is a fresh start, and the inspiration/motivation to simply "do better." About this time last year, I talked about "focus words" and how choosing a focus word (especially as opposed to making something like a New Year's Resolution) can have a major impact on your life and who you are as a person. In 2015, my word was "goals," and I spent a large part of that year really thinking about where I wanted my life to go, what I wanted my future to look like. I made a lot of decisions, some without even realizing it, and I began to implement my goals in a way that I hadn't before. This definitely impacted my life in major ways, some of which were good ... some of which were, well, not. Thinking about my goals helped me realize some uncomfortable things about the people in my life, the way I allowed myself to be treated, and the way I allowed myself to treat ... myself.

Because of those realizations and how sad they made me, my focus word in 2016 was "affirmation." In 2016, I didn't focus as much consciously on goals themselves, and even ended up discarding my five year plan as something I had been too afraid to make as ambitious as it should have been. Also, I didn't like the idea of boxing five years of my life into a few pieces of paper - life is so much more than a checklist of failures and successes, and I want my life (and my career) to be about more than the numbers. Yes, I want to sell books, and yes, I want to make money; I have kids to feed and clothe, and as much as I wish it could be, living isn't free. But it's more than how many people like my Facebook page or follow me on social media. It's more than the amount of clicks my sidebar ads get, and it's more than the idea that one day I'll be able to make a real living doing this thing that I love. Instead of "goals," I focused on affirmation in 2016 - I made an effort to be more conscious of how I speak to myself, the thoughts that I allowed myself to focus on. I made an effort to be kinder to me, to give myself compassion and patience and freedom to grow. I tweeted and instagrammed #thatsaffirmative a couple of dozen times - sometimes with photos, sometimes without, always with a message of self-love. I told myself that I'm beautiful, that I'm smart, that I'm worthy. That I count. That I'm visible. That I deserve to be honored and respected.

There was backlash, yes, and focusing on affirming myself as a person cost me things ... it cost me people I cared about, money I depended on, a life that I had spent a long time building. It cost me emotionally, because losing people who weren't okay with me feeling better about myself showed me how very wrong some people were for my life. Losing people who rebelled when I asked to be honored and respected ... it showed me things about what I had accepted in how I'm treated by others. Things I didn't want to see, things I didn't want to accept. Things I didn't want to admit were in some part my own fault, because people treat you the way you allow them to treat you. Still, it hurt when I said to the people around me, "Hey. I may not have known this before, but I know now that I am worthy and deserving of respectful treatment by others, and if you want to be around me, it will be with care and respect for my boundaries and my worth," and I watched those people walk away. It hurt to know that I filled my life with people who thought I wasn't worth the effort. Most deeply, it hurt to see the effects of those changes bleed into other areas of my life, including the lives of my children.

But I stuck with it. And it changed me. It changed me into someone who struggles honestly instead of in silent shame, someone who walks through life unafraid to admit my own fears, someone who can be proud even of my weaknesses. It changed me into a mother who shows her daughters how to stand strong, and how to accept nothing less than the respect they deserve. It taught me gratitude for my own strength.

I'll definitely still be affirming myself as a woman and a mother in 2017, just like I'll still be focused setting and accomplishing career goals that will hopefully bring me closer to the life I want to have. But what's the focus word for this year?

WARRIOR

Why?

Because my life, like the lives of so many others, has been a series of battles. No, I haven't been overseas - due to a surgery I had as an infant, I was never able to enlist like I wanted to, and by the time I learned that I could enlist after all, it was too late and life had taken that possibility from me. Much as I've always wanted to, I still haven't even learned to shoot. But I've fought my battles right here on the home front, in the forms of sexual abuse, childhood violence, abandonment, domestic abuse, financial abuse, emotional abuse, abject poverty, exposure to toxic narcissism. I have a laundry list of traumatic experiences that would knock most people on their asses. I have complex PTSD, Panic Disorder, Depression, a crapload of insecurities, and more uncertainty than I'd ever care to admit.

But I'm still standing. I'm still trying.

Despite everything, I am a warrior, a battle-scarred goddess of fortitude and resilience, and in 2017, I'm going to hold my own hand when I'm suffering. I'm going to stitch my own emotional wounds. I'm going to heal, I'm going to retrain, I'm going to rebuild.

And I'm going to let you watch, if you're interested. Because I never would have made it this far if I hadn't had people to push me, to grow me, to inspire me. I never would have become this person if there hadn't been people to show me the way and tell me that they could see in me what I couldn't yet see in myself. So if I can pay that forward in some small way? 2017. Let's do this.


44 comments:

  1. Your word is fantastic! I love it.

    Here's to a fabulous 2017.

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  2. striving through , my focus word will be -now- , the best place for me to be mentally, emotionally, physically.

    www.internallifestyle.com

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    1. That's a good choice for most people, I think; it's too easy to live so focused on either the future or the past that we forget about the now.

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  3. 100% agreed people will treat you the way you allow them to. I'm so guilty of that and really like your word and love that you are taking a stand to take care of yourself. It is actually something I really need to work on. I allow way to many people who are close to me walk all over me and it's not right, but the backlash and pain of their loss scares me

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    1. It scared me too, honestly - and scares me daily, because I have kids who count on me to provide a life for them, a sense of family, of community. But my daughters ... It's immeasurably important to me that I teach them never to accept being treated the way I have. And the best teaching is by example.

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  4. Your focus word is spot on! I have a word to describe my 2016 (learn) but dont have my 2017 one yet.

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    1. Good luck choosing!! I always take a little time to think about the previous year and that year's word, how it changed me or changed my life. Sometimes it's subtle, other times, very glaring changes are clear. Those changes help me focus on where I'm headed - and where I WANT to be heading. Usually that helps.

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  5. Beautiful sentiments you are a warrior and you bear your scars beautifully x you don't need other people to affirm your identity x

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    1. Thank you. It took me a surprisingly (and a little embarrassingly) long time to learn that last part.

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  6. Great choice for your focus word. Congratulations on all you accomplished and good luck in the coming year. 2017 = Year of the warrior!

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  7. Warrior, a very powerful word. All the best in 2017!

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  8. Great selection of word! All the best for new year!

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    1. Thank you. This one is largely inspired by Demi Lovato's song, Warrior. So empowering!

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  9. Very well thought out! I love it! What a story!

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    1. Thanks! Stick around - I'm determined that the rest of this year's story will be just as strong.

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  10. Awesome focus word and I love the backstory behind it. Best of luck to you for 2017.

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  11. Thank you for sharing and good luck in 2017.

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  12. Beautiful, heart-felt post. I admire you for being able to share your story to us. I can relate to what you've been through and I know that you are a strong person.

    I like your focus word. WARRIOR stands out. It's about determination, thriving, and wisdom. I wish you a great year ahead. I'm rooting for you.

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    1. Thank you. Sometimes it helps me to get things out in this way, and this blog connects me to my readers in between book releases as well. The word I chose was largely inspired by a song - Warrior, by Demi Lovato. Such an inspiring song!

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  13. I like this idea! At least you wouldn't make resolutions that you wouldn't implement, right? Thanks for this :D

    pengandpaper.com

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    1. That's the idea. Focusing on implementing (or becoming) just one word each year is more of a while life approach. I carry that word with me everywhere, and I try to be sure that I live up to it. It's simple, but it works for me.

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  14. I love the word warrior! I totally need to make this my word of the year too. So powerful!

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    1. Feel free!! Every woman needs to embrace that side of herself, the side that is strong and unstoppable.

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  15. we all go though bad times, illnesses and such. you keep on pushing and that's great. just keep being you.

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  16. Surviving is my word as I feel its all I seem to be doing at the moment - not living just surviving

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    1. That was a large part of 2016 for me, just trying to get through to the end of each day. Last year was really rough on my family as a whole, and there were days I wasn't sure I'd make it. Days I wasn't sure I wanted to.

      Keep making it through each day, Emma. You'll find your strength again.

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  17. Here is to a New Year! Thank you for sharing your amazing story with us. We are warriors at heart. I would like to congratulate you on your success and wish you the very best for the new year ahead of us!

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  18. These words are floating around like crazy. I can't say that I have one word for this coming year.

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    1. I think choosing a focus word keeps me grounded throughout the year. It's not a specific goal per se, but it does have a subtle effect on the course of my life as each year passes, as gives me something to work for.

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  19. I love the word warrior! Definitely a word I need in my vocabulary for 2017!

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  20. Heres to hoping you dont face too many battles this year.

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    1. Yeah I definitely feel like I met my quota last year and I'm due for some downtime. We'll see though.

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  21. My focus word will actually be focus! I dabble in many things, it's time to focus and sharpen the skills!

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    1. Great choice!! I hope it works as Well for you as mine generally do for me.

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  22. lovely post . warrior is such a powerful word and so u are :)

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