One Word 2019: Curious

I don’t know about any of you, but 2018 was exhausting.

I was angry, furious even, with the political climate in America, seeing people I care about being negatively impacted by State-sponsored (or at the very least State-encouraged) hatred, bigotry, and fear.  The #MeToo movement gave me some glimmer of hope that was soon threatened by seeing white men of power, and privilege get a pass, AGAIN, while the women who spoke up were reviled, ridiculed, abandoned, betrayed.  I cling to the hope with all my stubborn strength.

I have grieved for nearly 30 transgender women of colour who were murdered for simply living their truth.  By extension, I have mourned for all my trans brothers, and sisters everywhere who live in the fear that they might suffer a similar fate, who fear assault, abandonment, rejection.

I have felt the nerves that come with learning to speak my truth, and the sorrow when, more often than not, I’ve let those opportunities pass me by.  I have FINALLY started mourning the loss of my father, as complicated as that has been.  I’m learning to have compassion for myself.  We won’t talk about epic shame storms, and the lingering squalls.  I never promised I’d be perfect in 2018 when it came to feeling things, and I still have some problem areas.  At least I did my best not to shy away from feeling all the things.

I felt a deep connection with other fans of my favourite little shit show, an underdog in every sense, as we celebrated its appearance in The New York Times, and at the People’s Choice Awards.  The famdom be little, but we be mighty, and we have absolutely no chill whatsoever.  They helped me remember my love of genre media, comic books, video games.  Their enthusiasm helped reignite my own.  Remembering how I lost that enthusiasm, was painful, and letting myself feel that pain was also good.

Getting off an airplane after 15 hours and setting my own eyes on the Sydney Opera House, and letting myself feel the giddy excitement, as I realized I soon would be standing on its stage, singing a piece that had never before been performed.  I was almost overwhelmed by wonder.  Humbled.  Honoured.  Grateful.

Yeah, I did a lot of feeling last year.  Some of it was enjoyable, some of it was excruciating.

So now what?  In the midst of navigating all these feelings, someone suggested curiosity would be my best friend.  What better choice for my One Word 2019?  It’s a pretty big word.

How about you, friends?  Are you game to be curious with me?  Let’s go!

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One Word 2018: Feel

One word.  A reminder.  A focus.  Sometimes it is a wish, a goal, something to aspire to.  In the past, the words I chose, or the ones that chose me seemed to take on a role that was different from what I thought they might play in my life.

My word for 2017 was “energy,” and I paid a lot of attention to how I used my energy, what seemed to feed it, and what seemed to drain it.  I noticed where I seemed to be getting smaller returns relative to the amount of energy I was investing.  My relationships started to change.  Some flourished, becoming stronger and deeper.  Some started to wither.  I became more protective of how I spent my energy.

I took long breaks from social media, no longer willing or able to marshal the energy necessary to insulate myself from people who did not share, and seemed unwilling to respect my outlook on life.  I began to withdraw from relationships where I felt constantly assaulted by criticism, and negativity.  I became increasingly protective of my energy, wanting to spend it wisely, but also to spend it where I felt it might do the most good.

Towards the end of the year, it occurred to me that one of the areas that might benefit from an investment of my energy was myself.  I started the hard work of trying to heal from the pain of losing my father, something I don’t think I’ve ever done properly or adequately.  I started paying attention to patterns of behavior that don’t benefit me or that have held me back.  During all of this work, there has been a recurring question: “What do you feel?”

I had learned to see every event in my life from someone else’s perspective.  I’d learned to understand that someone’s fear for my well-being might manifest itself in anger.  I’d learned to interpret silence as an indicator of how badly I had hurt someone I cared about.  I’d learned to make allowances for other people’s life experiences, pain, or naïveté.  I had even interpreted my own traumatic events in ways that somehow extended mercy or grace to another, while leaving none for myself.  I couched this perspective shift in terms of compassion, sympathy, even growth, but, in the process, I  denied that I have paid a very real emotional price for such understanding.

My word for 2018 is “feel.”  I’m giving myself permission to feel sad over even an understandable change in a friendship.  I’m giving myself permission to feel angry when someone lies to me.  Again.  I’m giving myself permission to feel joy over my nephew’s engagement.  I’m giving myself permission to feel deep gratitude for the people who have not given up on me.  It’s my nature to try to be understanding, but I’m going to try not to be so understanding that I deny how I have been affected by another’s actions.

Happy New Year, friends.  This year will, no doubt, come with some growing pains, and I want to feel them all.