One Word 2016 – Valour

A personal revelation late in 2014 led me to the conclusion that my word for 2015 would be “Wild.” I anticipated spending the year exploring what this revelation might mean, trying on a new way of being, a new way of looking at the world, and my place in it. Instead, I think another “W” word proved to be more apt: “Wrecked.”

I made a complete bollocks of something that meant a lot to me, turning into the kind of woman I despise most in all the wide world, however briefly. That said transformation was even possible sent me into paroxysms of shame and self-loathing. I wished most of 2015 had never happened.

In a sense, my one word for last year was accurate. It was unpredictable, uncontrollable, irrational, uncivilized, raw. I was especially fond of “uncivilized”, given my metamorphosis into “she who must not be allowed in polite company.”

I had my bright spots, personal victories that convinced me I might finally be growing into my calling, moments of laughter, and even joy that lightened my heart.  There were reunions with old friends and finding them new again, and reunions with relatively new friends and finding them as comfortable as my oldest and closest. But over all of the joy and laughter, the spectre of damaged relationship lingered, and the year was marked by several months of soul-searching – okay more like self-incrimination and self-castigation.

The soul-searching gave way to a kind of resignation, a generalized despondency that weighed me down and the autumn has left me feeling that I’d really like to enter WITSEC, crawl back into my cave and seal it up. Just disappear.

That’s actually a very real danger for me. I was very young when I started believing the lie that I am dangerous. Every hurtful, bone-headed, insensitive, unkind, stupid, mean, arrogant, awkward thing I have said or done has “proven” exactly how dangerous I am. The only counter to the danger has been a kind of exhausting hyper-vigilance, and isolation. Knowing how much my carelessness hurt my friend? Yeah. Every instinct I have has told me, and is telling me to rebuild the walls high and thick, a permanent quarantine designed to minimize collateral damage.

I think we all know what it would cost to attempt that, not to mention how effective.

And so here I am, still grieving the consequences of my actions, still fighting the urge to hide, still trying not to pick up the mortar, trowel, and bricks. I’m still trying to remember that I am not dangerous.

I recently got my first tattoo, a Hebrew phrase that resonated with me on a soul-deep level the first time I heard it. It is a phrase that reminds me that I am stronger than I think I am. It is an acknowledgement that I survived my past, although not without scars. It is a reassurance that I am neither bound to my past, nor am I defined by it.

Eshet chayil

It reads “Eshet chayil” – woman of valour.

And so my word for 2016 is “Valour”. For me, the word means more than simply “brave”; it also holds the nuances of integrity, and of honour. It is a challenge to face the things I would normally flee from, and find the honourable way of negotiating their courses, of taking the harder path of integration, wholeness, and truth.

“Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.” – Raymond Lindquist

And that’s what I want to do this year: to let go of the familiar, but false.  More than that, though, I want to learn to grow into the promise of my ink.

Happy New Year, friends – to valour!



2 thoughts on “One Word 2016 – Valour

  1. It’s okay to be wild and uncivilized sometimes, especially for folks who were brought up to be proper and always on their best behavior. What’s the quote? “Well-behaved women seldom make history”? And then, not be irreverent, but your mention of valour makes me think of “mighty men of valour” which makes me think of “mighty men in tights” which takes me to “might women of valour in tights” and…oh never mind. LOL.

    In all seriousness, though, sometimes I wonder if we become more dangerous the longer we look in the mirror. Maybe it’s a good year for looking out of the window, for adventure, at others in need. And for what it’s worth, from where I stand, you’ve had to be brave all your life.


    • A long time ago, someone told me that just because something didn’t look or feel brave, it didn’t follow that it wasn’t, in fact, very brave. I’m not sure what “valour” is going to look like for me, but I’m willing to be surprised.

      You’re right, though. With apologies to Nietzsche, when we stare too long into the abyss, the abyss also stares into us and who knows what monsters lurk in the darkness? Maybe only the monsters we bring with us.


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