Ring in the New Year with One Word

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Dec_Claire_800When I first heard about the concept of choosing only one word to guide me through the year I envisaged limitation.

How could anyone possibly walk through a year with only one word to lean on?

What about New Year’s resolutions?

Don’t we need to set goals?

I always believed I did.

At the time of being introduced to Alece Ronzino’s OneWord365 I was proud of my New Year’s resolution list and not exactly on board with reducing it to one word. I’m a planner so lists work well for me; in fact without them I’m quite the scatterbrain.

But here’s the thing: I don’t think I’ve ever “achieved” a single resolution on my list.

Today I flicked through a journal from 2011 and found this example of my New Year goals:

-       Lose 10 pounds (it goes up by five pounds each year)

-       Finish writing my book

-       Be a better mom

-       Volunteer

-       Workout 6 days a week

-       Take up yoga

-       Visit with friends more

-       Spend an hour with God every day

My first thought was this: I didn’t keep up any of those things. I probably tried to do all of them but there’s only so much you can demand of yourself before your body and brain scream enough.

I could have achieved (or, in the case of motherhood and friendship, at least improved upon) any one of them. But I didn’t.

That’s the problem when you set so many goals at once; it all becomes overwhelming.

My second thought was this: why do I set the bar so high?

Then I looked again. I studied the list for a while. And I realized all of these goals are rooted in feeling like I’m not enough—not writing enough, not slim enough, not spiritual enough, not fit enough, not a good enough friend or mom and not a giving enough member of the community.

My underlying message seemed to be, “you have to do better, because who you are right now isn’t making the cut.”

Yup—I’m done with New Year’s Resolutions.

Like many, I was entering every year with my freshly cleaned slate board, believing that with a new date comes a new mindset. But a new year doesn’t change those thought patterns—at least not long-term. And it doesn’t make you suddenly capable of taking on a massive to-do list that can only further feed the “not-enough” frenzy.

So when 2012 came around and I heard about oneword365 I was ready to ditch the to-do list and enter 2013 with a different perspective.

Picking one word after years of setting many goals wasn’t easy, but it was a relief. I relieved myself of the pressure to be more and entered this year without thinking about diets, deadlines and duties.

In short: I gave myself a break.

The word I chose was NOURISH. It came to me after several days of prayer and after reflecting on the season of my life at that time. It had been a year of hectic living: rushing from one school or sports activity to the next while trying to build my own business in-between. I was doing a lot—except nourishing my physical and emotional needs.

I wrote my word on a sticky note and taped it to my computer as a daily reminder. In my head I assumed that whatever challenges I might face in 2013, being mindful of my needs and the needs of those close to me would be easy with my nourish as my guide.

But the practice of leaning into that word hasn’t been quite so easy.

When January hit I grappled with a long bout of depression. And it became even more clear to me why this was my word: I needed to figure out how to take care of my needs in those dark places, how to turn towards instead of away from the light by nourishing my soul.

I’ve had to really take my word seriously because if I allow it to happen, I can become so wrapped up in my head and over-thinking that there’s no space for nourishment. I wade too far into the darkness and lose sight of the light. I forget all the tools available to me that could haul me out: Prayer, journaling, books, affirmations, the Bible, music, friendship.

Seeing my one word in front of me every day at my desk has helped me to ask questions such as “What do I need from this day?” Or, “What will nourish my soul today?”

And though my one word didn’t help me to achieve a particular goal this year, it did help me to check in with myself on a regular basis, which often changed the way I approached my day.

Finding your one word

The best thing about One Word is that there are no rules.

Your word doesn’t have to be meaningful to anyone else but you.

It could be something as simple as “no,” or “yes.”

It could be an action, a thought or an emotion.

Think of some of the challenges you have faced this year, or that may be facing you in the year to come. Is there a word that could be your compass? Your guiding light?

My One Word for 2014 is PRESENCE. To be present in the light and the dark, to try not to resist what is, but to accept it and grow from it.

Alece has just launched a new website for the One Word community. Within this community you’ll be able to see who else has chosen your word for the year, as well as who is in your geographical area, enabling in-person encouragement.

We’d be honoured to hear your one word. So go ahead and think about it, pray, or ask for help from other sheloveleys. Then, if you’re willing to divulge, we’d love for you to share your word in the comments section below. 

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Claire De Boer
Hi, I’m Claire and though you may only see my words here once a month I’m part of the wonderful sisterhood of women who edit, upload and brainstorm behind the scenes of SheLoves. I was born and raised in England but pretty much see myself as a fully fledged Canadian. I spend just about all of my spare time blogging, editing and creating stories. I’ve also ventured into the world of teaching and mentor students in a creative writing program at Simon Fraser University here in Vancouver. My passion is to help others find the value and beauty in their stories and to find healing or self awareness via journaling, memoir, or just "soul writing", as I like to call it. To learn more about my journey and the work I'm doing visit The Gift of Writing
Claire De Boer
Claire De Boer

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  • Erin Wilson

    None of the words I’d been toying with felt right, until I read your post. My One Word for 2014 is Build. I’ve been on the move or in temporary situations for so long now, I’ve become a little bird perched on the farthest limb, ready to take off at a moment’s notice. But this little bird needs a place to roost.

    Build: a business that will sustain me (and others, if possible). Build: relationships with some depth. Build: a body of work that I’m proud of, and that makes me happily tired at the end of the day. Build: community where love is central.

    None of this feels location dependant to me. Rather, it’s about digging deeper wherever I am, with whatever I’ve got at my disposal.

    Thanks for the prompt, Claire. :)

    • cjdeboer

      I love that word Erin and it sounds perfect for the season you’re in right now. And I love the way you interpret it too – the same word can mean something completely different for so many people.

    • http://www.idelette.com idelette

      Erin, this is profound– the way you even built on your word for 2014. Beautiful!

      • Erin Wilson

        Life just would not be the same without your encouragement, Idelette. You’re potent! :) xoxo

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  • Tracey Adamson
    • cjdeboer

      Great word Tracey – thanks for sharing. xo

  • HBurns

    Lovely Claire… you are truly inspiring and your word ‘presence’ is just beautiful – especially as you express it. I’m excited for what 2014 will hold for you. I am still grappling with my ONE word. I am almost ready to commit to one.

    Love you xoxo

    • cjdeboer

      Thank you dear Helen. I’m excited for 2014 too and to see how all of our words play out for us. Love you too! xo

  • Loz

    My word came to me straight away while reading this blog (I love it btw, thank you!) and it’s FULLNESS. The fullness of joy, being content with where I am and what I’m doing. Fullness in loving where I am up to and the journey that He is taking me on. Fullness in as you say, being good enough & realising its ok to not have everything together all the time, He is my fullness, my strength. :) 2014 here I come..

    • cjdeboer

      Mmmmmm Fullness – that’s a great one too. I love reading what each word means to you all :-)

  • Anne-Marie

    Hi Claire, BINGO! You managed to mention my exact little word ‘ as simple as Yes or No’. :) My word is YES. Not me saying yes to anything more. But yes to the riches of God’s approval for me, even when I can only see the ways I can’t meet the list. He says I’m royalty. This will be a stretch.

    • cjdeboer

      Awesome! “Yes” may be a small word but what it means for you personally is enriching and bountiful. Love it!

  • http://www.pamhogeweide.com/ pamhogeweide

    I have been doing the word thing for several years. It has been so life giving to have a mantra rather than a vow that inevitably gets broken no matter how fierce my resolve on Jan 1.

    Past words for me include beloved, write, dream and grace.

    During my year of activism with the occupy movement my word was roar …

    And this year my word is Soar, which when I read I read somewhere of Idelette ( SheLoves founder) having also had these same two words in the past made me feel the bond with her and the SheLoves community all the more. I just posted about my word Soar on Instagram yesterday with a Textgram.

    Great post Claire. You describe the liberty of one word New Year intentions so well.

    Happy 2014 to all!

    • cjdeboer

      Ohhhh such good words Pam. Yes – I think Idelette has had a few of those! I hope 2014 is a year in which you will truly soar :-) xo

  • renee

    I love this! Last year my word was intention. When I picked it–I wanted to feel like I was intentional/present in each moment. It took me almost the entire year to fully understand what it feels to be “intentional”. (keep in mind I didn’t exactly master it but I now know when I am and am NOT being intentional.)

    This year my word is compassion and my mantra is “I am love.” I fully intend to embrace 2014 with compassion through living a mantra of being love!

    Be Blessed.

    • cjdeboer

      That’s so lovely Renee. Your word for this year has been much like mine for next year. Compassion is beautiful. xo

  • hipmamamedia.com

    I LOVE it! One word is realistic and can overlap so many areas instead of static resolutions. Thanks for sharing a different (better) perspective!

    • cjdeboer

      Thank you for sharing your word — it’s so great to see all these different perspectives! xo

  • Thea van Diepen

    Haha, this is so trippy, but my word for 2013 was presence. It’s been a pretty awesome word for the year, and I’m sure you’ll have a great time with it. If there was some sort of word-passing ceremony, I would do it and pass it on to you, so… *waves hands importantly* may your year of presence be as awesome as mine has been. :D

    • cjdeboer

      Lol! Let this be our official word passing ceremony right here – I’m honoured to receive it from you Thea!

      • Thea van Diepen

        Oh, good. I was afraid I’d have to make a speech. You’re welcome, and may your year be excellent!

  • http://www.idelette.com idelette

    Fantastic! You wrote this out so beautifully. From nourish to presence–I am excited to walk it out with you, my friend.

    • cjdeboer

      And I you, Lovely! Excited to hear what your One Word will be this time around ;-) xo

  • Nyam

    My one word this year is Fearless. I encountered a lot in 2013 that stirred up fear in me that keeps me from pursuing the call on my life, so by God’s grace I’m leaning into that word for 2014.

    • cjdeboer

      I think fearless is a great word for all of us – one I could so easily lean into as well. Fear hold us back from so much. I’d love to see how this plays out for you Nyam :-)

  • threemustardseeds

    This is so so so good! Ive never done a one word before and I am totally in. I think my one word for this coming year is Redeem. I keep coming back to verses in Isaiah that talk about God as our redeemer, and I think that’s the theme of my life as I’m living it. So looking forward to 2014 — have a wonderful new year, Claire and all the shelovelys :)
    xoxo Maria

    • cjdeboer

      Thanks for sharing, Maria – that’s a great word! Happy New year to you too!!

  • http://www.carisadel.com/ Caris Adel

    This was the first year I’ve done the One Word and it was amazing. I had Bold and it ended up being really challenging, as I continually reminded myself, this is important and this is the kind of person I want to become. I’m pretty glad to be done with that word, though, ha! My new word is going to be Darkness which excites me and scares me at the same time.

    • cjdeboer

      Wow – Darkness – I’d love to hear more about your thoughts on that one Caris :-)

  • Susan Dunlap

    Release is my word for 2014. This is the first year I have known of this annual word/life project, though I did share several one word shelovely days with Idelette. I will let go of the things and thoughts that bind me negatively, and instead release good thoughts, like angel wings that swoosh and flutter away, leaving goodness behind. Release the junk and the remainder is good!

    • cjdeboer

      So beautiful Susan. I love the idea of letting go ~ challenging but what an amazing path this will take you on.

  • Diane

    My word for 2014 is “JUMP”. After college, I worked in advertising and PR, then went into law enforcement for 30 years. Now I’ve retired, put away the gun, and want to return to my first love: writing and communicating. Can’t do it gradually; I plan to jump. http://dianerivers.me

    • cjdeboer

      Oh yeah! Best way to do it – I pray that 2014 will be a fantastic year of jumping for you Diane!

  • Bev Murrill

    What a cool idea… !! I always ask the Lord for a Scripture for the year … but a word… that’s cool… I’m going for it. I’ll ask God on the plane..

    • cjdeboer

      On the plane?! I’d love to see what you come up with! Let us know :-)

    • http://www.yourcreativebiz.com/ Vera Raposo

      Neat Bev, I have been claiming scripture over certain phases of life. Like the birth of my new Grand Baby, I still need to pick a scripture for her. :-) But I haven’t claimed one over my year like my one word, I think that’s a great idea!

    • Daniela

      Bev, there is only one word I think of on a plane. “Pray” I pray for the engines, the pilots, the weather, the computers…… LOL, not the best flyer!

  • http://www.tammygrrrl.com/ Tammy Perlmutter

    Ringing out Believe and ringing in Create! Thanks for writing this, Claire! It inspired and motivated me to write my One Word post today. http://tammygrrrl.com/one-word-2014-create/

    • cjdeboer

      So good Tammy! Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.yourcreativebiz.com/ Vera Raposo

    Thanks for this reminder Claire, I was just putting together my post for my one word and reflecting on last year’s word, “freedom.” I believe my word for this year coming up will be “embrace.” I think. :-)

    • cjdeboer

      Nice Vera – what has lead you to that word?

      • http://www.yourcreativebiz.com/ Vera Raposo

        Well originally I was thinking of going with “conquer” because I need to conquer things in my personal life like, build my credit, increase my income, plan for a home, etc. But for some reason the word “embrace” tugs on me a bit more, I know mostly it’s a tougher word for me, not always easy to embrace others, embrace life etc. So .. conquer = easy word and embrace = challenge … I want to do the heart work more than the other stuff, I need to.

        • cjdeboer

          I think that ‘embrace’ will challenge you more too. Always go with the heart stuff I say! xo

      • http://www.yourcreativebiz.com/ Vera Raposo

        Ok, I went with “faith” because I feel like I need to honour God for all that he has brought my family through. http://faithadventurist.com/my-one-word

  • http://oshetablogs.wordpress.com/ Osheta Moore

    Beautiful post, Claire! I love your journey and I’m excited to see the way you live out “Presence” out in 2014.

    My word is “taste”. It began with Psalm 34:8 ringing in my years for the past six months. So I wrote a blog post on it a couple of weeks ago and it feels more real and perfect for 2014. From my post https://oshetablogs.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/the-shalom-of-2013-and-a-taste-of-2014/:

    “Psalm 34:8 has floated in and out and around my heart for six months,
    weaving a truth that there’s more to God than I can even imagine and
    inviting me to sit at His table. So my word for 2014 will be, “taste”.

    Taste is a gracious invitation to the table to come and be known.

    Taste is a challenge to risk, to try something new and come away knowing that you’re stronger and more courageous than you thought.

    Taste is a reminder that the world is big, beautiful, and wildly delicious.

    Taste acknowledges the variety of sweet, salty, and bland.

    Taste warns me that most of the time I have to train the taste buds of my heart to crave what’s best for me.

    Taste points me back to the God who made me wonderfully, fearfully, and in His image.

    Taste leaves me sitting at the communion table sitting across from my
    Savior, chewing the bread he broke for me and sipping the wine he
    poured and aware of my shortcomings but unashamed. My cleaned feet and
    inclusion in His family, strips away that insecurity.”

    Taste.

    • cjdeboer

      Oh wow – so beautiful Osheta. What a word and your interpretation of it is delicious! SOOOOO GOOOOD!!!!

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  • Bethany Olsen

    Love you, this post, and this idea! I tried to pick a word last year but couldn’t narrow it down. Shoot. Maybe this year I should just draw something out of a hat.

    • cjdeboer

      No no no – don’t pull something out of a hat! Contemplate, pray and sit with it for a while – it will come to you! xo

  • Rebekah O’Keeffe

    I am going to begin to pray today for my word to be revealed. Such an inspired idea. Thank you.

    • cjdeboer

      I pray that the right word will come to you soon Rebekah!

      • Rebekah O’Keeffe

        Thank you.
        The word the Lord gifted to me is Courage. I need courage even to admit to it being what I need!
        I blogged about it and I am sure it will return as a focus again and again throughout the year.

  • Vicki Forrest Kensinger

    My word, ‘integrity’, came instantly for me this year. I’m longing to live congruently, from the inside out, where I respond to life from my deeper self…which is good, which is loving, which is wise, which is creative….rather than react to external situations, demands, fear, (and fear of judgment). I hope to bring myself along with me into my days :)

    • cjdeboer

      So good Vicki – oh that we could all live that way. xo

  • makeda

    Alece introduced me to the idea several years ago and I’ve been choosing one word ever since. The interesting thing for me has been watching the words build on each other every year. 2011 it was courage, 2012 rest, and in 2013 it was change. My word for 2014 is Risk. LOTS of changes coming for me in the New Year and it’s gonna take every bit of my courage to take the risks associated with those changes. Looking forward to seeing how my word unfolds. Thanks for sharing

    • cjdeboer

      Thanks you for sharing all your words Makeda – I’d love to hear how RISK plays out for you in 2014 – blessings to you! xo

    • cjdeboer

      Oooooh what a challenging word! I’d love to see what kinds of risks you take over the year – very exciting, Makeda!

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  • Saskia Wishart

    Oh one word. I chose purpose. But this year was so hard, the word purpose just started to feel like a taunt.

    For 2014…
    Rest.

    • cjdeboer

      I like that word for you Saskia – after such a challenging year I think you deserve to rest a while. xoxoxox

  • Monica

    My word for 2013 was “new” and yes, God met me many times with new thoughts, new beliefs, new discoveries and shedding the old to reveal the new and true. My word for 2014 is “change,” through surrender (although the word yield seems to fit better) and doing things differently. Trying new activities, meeting and connecting with new people, letting go of who and what no longer works/supports me, and sometimes doing what I don’t want to do because there is no other way to get to what I long for.

    I see “change” launching off of “new.” Romans 12:2 was the grounding Scripture that encouraged me throughout 2013. 2 Corinthians 5:17 seems to fit this year.

    May each and every SheLovely have a blessed year and be amazed as to how God folds their word into the coming year.

    Be blessed!

    • cjdeboer

      How exciting Monica! I hope 2014 is full of changes that enable you to grow and become more of who you are :-)

  • Daniela

    My word is “better”. It is a loaded word, and does not reflect that I have not been enough, but I can be better, get better, live better. I feel like it is a promise from God. This year, things will be better. I wanted a more pretty, poetic word, but this one is sitting right in my soul.

    “When you know better, you do better.” – Maya Angelou

    • cjdeboer

      Great quote – love it. And I love what this word means for you, Dani. Looking forward to walking it out with you. Love you!!! xo

  • HBurns

    For my OneWord for 2014 I have chosen HARMONY… Leading up to this decision has been a captivating thought that we as the body of Christ are simply a symphony for God…we create a gorgeous sound throughout the earth singing forth His glorious song that can pierce through the darkest places and bring hope, peace and joy. Jesus is our conductor and we are individual voices singing out a song of His love in unity and friendship.

    My voice does not need to be heard at all times – I just need to be heard when the Conductor asks me to sing or play my part. I want to make loads of room for many others to be heard and call out the song that is within them.

    ‘Fill up and complete my joy by living in harmony and being of the same mind and one in purpose, having the same love, being in full accord and of one harmonious mind and intention.’ Phil 2:2 (AMP)

    Excited to hear what HARMONIES rise from this gorgeous SheLovesMagazine space.

    • cjdeboer

      Oh how beautiful Helen. I love the concept of Jesus being our conductor and we the orchestra. What a world this would be if we all sang in harmony together. I’m excited to see how your word challenges you in 2014 :-) xo

  • Holly

    Last year was my first year and I chose WITH. I had no idea how profound that would be and I am trying hard to articulate all that it has meant to me in a wrap up post on my blog. It is also not lost on me that this was my first full year with SheLoves and my OneWord was a HUGE part of that experience.
    This year my word is WEAVE and I am still meditating on all that I envision and hope with this choice. I know this, though. I am grateful to have you, Claire, as one of my life threads. I am excited and hopeful about all of the ways that our lives will be woven together in 2014.

    • cjdeboer

      Lovely, Holly :-) It was wonderful doing sheloves WITH you this last year! Weave is such a great word – can’t wait to walk that one out with you. xoxoxox

  • Tetiana

    Wow! That’s so amazing! I love the idea of one word, my word is – DO!
    So often I don’t do things because I overthink everything, then fear comes, doubt and hesitation… and as result I am completely inactive and sad. But I believe that it will change, and I will DO more! ^_^

    • cjdeboer

      Great word Tetiana – I hope you DO more in 2014!

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  • http://annierim.wordpress.com/ Annie

    My One Word: Grace. For myself, my daughter, my marriage, my community.
    http://annierim.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/one-word-grace/

    Thanks for your reflections. I’ve been wanting to do this for years and have never taken the plunge.

    • cjdeboer

      Love it, Annie!

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  • Anna Wastell

    I chose GRACE. It’s the meaning of my name and has been both a source of jealousy and a phrase I’ve tossed around. I’m reclaiming grace in all its beauty and fullness in 2014. http://teamwastell.com/2013/12/31/reclaiming-grace/

    • cjdeboer

      Beautiful, Anna :-)

  • Amy

    Breathe. Instead of a list–to streamline my already full plate of responsibilities and commitments in 2014–I have chosen the word “breathe.” To breathe in Jesus, breathe in the Spirit, breathe in God as Parent (Father and Mother)… to breathe in the Life that promises to make walking on water possible.

    • cjdeboer

      Oh I might almost like Breathe more than Presence! I could so easily have 10 words, but I think that could be stressful! Thanks for sharing your word, Amy :-)

      • Amy

        I get it about narrowing down the words… and dodging future stress (lol). I worked to pare it down to “practicing the Presence” before settling on “breathe” (smile) . . . “Presence” is just as lovely. No doubt we’re on the same page. May the Presence engulf you in 2014!!!

  • Bev Murrill

    My one word is INNOVATE

    • cjdeboer

      Fantastic, Bev! I see you made good use of your plane time :-) xo

  • http://heartsoulexchange.blogspot.com/ Heart n Soul

    I was pleasantly surprised to find an article here for ‘One word’ in 2014 … I love this simple yet profound opportunity to lace up all of our day to day living in a succinct statement of divine purpose and significant intention. So good reading how others have grappled and outworked this thought. I just finished my ‘One Word’ for Compassion International and love your word – Presence … to be positioned in a particular place, fully aware, seen and noticed. Love it!

    • cjdeboer

      Thank you! I’d love to hear your one word!

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  • AlissaBC

    This is my first year doing one word and my word is FREE. http://www.alissabc.com/2014/01/free-one-word-2014.html
    I’m excited to read about the other shelovely’s words too. Thanks for sharing yours Claire! I love that you want to be present in both light and darkness.

    • cjdeboer

      Thank you Alissa – it’s so exciting to hear all these words. I love FREE :-)

  • Megan Westra

    I chose a word for the first time in 2013, Rooted.

    It was so empowering to have a single thought to come back to throughout the year, so much more achievable than resolutions I’d made in the past.

    This year my word is Joy.

    Pulling from 1 Peter 1:7-8.

    I just blogged about it here: http://crazylovemke.com/2014/01/01/an-intention-for-2014-joy/

    • cjdeboer

      Thanks for sharing Megan – great word!

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  • http://CompletelyCaroline.com/ Caroline Grace

    Beautiful post! I’ve been bound for far too long by destructive habits and fears, and now is the time to stop living scared and small. My word for 2014 is FREEDOM, and I’m so ready to walk into it–in every area of my life! http://completelycaroline.com/new-year-new-word/

    • cjdeboer

      Oh that’s so brilliant Caroline! I pray that 2014 will be your most freeing year yet :-)

  • jenyylee

    My word for 2013 was FEARLESS. Oh how I was transformed through that! I blogged about it: http://yyjennylee.com/2013/12/31/looking-back-on-2013/

    This year, my word is ABIDE. To dig in deeper to the Word so that it becomes my life source, my breath, and that out of it comes deeper authenticitiy of who I am purposed to be and deeper obedience to His calling.

  • http://christinakannenberg.blogspot.de/ Christina Kannenberg

    My one word is “discipline.” Not glamorous or even fun, but oh so needed! http://christinakannenberg.blogspot.com/2014/01/welcome-2014.html

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  • Grandma

    “Enough” From the phrase, “I wish you enough”.

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  • christiehoos

    I love doing this every year. I used to get so overwhelmed by all my many, many resolutions each year, adding to the pile of failure and self-loathing by as early as mid-January. Along those lines, my word this year is: BREATHE.
    http://soheresus.com/2014/01/06/new-years-resolutions-one-word-2014/

  • Molly

    I love the concept of the one word thing. There is such freedom in it. That’s my word for this year: free. I need daily reminder to live in freedom. Free from fear, free from insecurity, free from the lies that Satan wants me to live in, free from the labels others have given me.

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  • Autumn Macarthur

    Coming late, nearly a month into the year, but I only discovered She Loves today!

    The One Word I was given was Renewal – http://autumnmacarthur.com/2014/01/02/one-word-to-change-the-year/

    I hope everyone who posted here is finding her word a blessing and a gift and a guiding star.

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