My Word for 2009

About a week back, I linked to One Little Word, a concept for the New Year when we are called upon to select a single word as more or less our theme/mantra for the coming year. As far as I can gather, it was first discussed a few years back by Ali Edwards at capture.create. She wrote:

Last year I began a tradition of choosing one word for myself each January — a word that I can focus on, mediate on, and reflect upon as I go about my daily life. Last year my word was something I wanted to bring into my life in a more tangible way. My word was play.

Ali went on to explain:

It can be something tangible or intangible. It could be a thought or a feeling or an emotion. It can be singular or plural. The key is to find something that has personal meaning for you. This is not your mother’s word or your spouse’s word or your child’s word – this is YOUR word.

For some reason, this simple concept struck me. The truth is, while I always appreciated the idea of New Year’s Resolutions — it seemed like an awful lot of work, all that thinking and resolving. It reminded me of Woody Allen’s line about fitness: “I tried lifting weights once, but they were so heavy.”

Undaunted, I resolved to come up with a really good word.

One stinking word! Even I could muster that. After all, I’m a professional writer (stand back, folks, don’t try this at home).

Then the overthinking and the doubt and worry began. What if people found out about my word? Was I supposed to share it? Say it out loud? Type it? Blog — gasp, shudder — about it?!

I glanced around the web and found people who had their own words, like SHINE and SERENITY and ACCEPTANCE and HEART and TRUST. They seemed pleased with their words, pleased with themselves, and mostly pleased with what their words said about them. Cool, I understood, this could be a new, easy way to feel good about myself without the actual hassle of doing something worthwhile. For example, your word could be GIVE, but it’s not like the Feds are going to check up on things. They’re too busy with Homeland Security. So you could profess to GIVE, but secretly be on the TAKE.

Nobody would be the wiser.

I considered REMEMBER, but worried it wasn’t original enough. Plus, I figured it was already taken by a lot of Jews and all those 9/11 people. Those folks are very big on REMEMBER, and for good reason. Nothing wrong with that. But I wanted my word to be different. A singular statement of my amazingness.

What about . . . FORGET? That was probably wide open. A word for the taking.

Sure, if it was two words, people might have grabbed FORGIVE and FORGET. But the rules are quite specific. You can only have one word. I figured while everybody was out busily grabbing FORGIVE, I could quietly pick up my FORGET and not have to wait on any long lines.

Picking a noble word is key. After all, it makes you look like a Good Person, and isn’t that the whole point? Trying to give the (possibly phony) appearance of a Good Person?

Person #1: What’s your word for 2009?

Person #2: My word? Oh, I couldn’t say.

Person #1: Come on, it’ll be fun.

Person #2: Forgive.

Person #1: Oh, wow, you must be a really good person.

You see that? It’s all about selling yourself. Look how easy it can be: “My word? LOVE, of course! It’s my word every year! Aren’t I fabulous and . . . urm . . . loving? Perhaps even deserving of a Cybil?”


Of course, sad as this sounds, the first word that came to me was . . . ME.

I naturally wished it could be three words: ME, ME and ME. Could I invent a new word? MEMEME!

Then I distilled it.


Perfect. Except . . . it wouldn’t look so great to family and friends. Strangers, too. So MINE! would have to be my secret word, on the down low, the word I don’t tell anybody, but think and dwell on like Gollum’s ring.

If anyone asks, my word for 2009 is . . . DO.

Just that.

My theme, my mantra. In the meantime, I remain open to the possibilities.

What’s your word? Come on. Bring it.


  1. OK- DO is a good one: action, tenacity, power…
    Thinking quickly, I think my word for 2009 has to be “ORGANIZE,” – if I don’t take care of these ever-present, unfinished tasks now, I’ll be wholeheartedly sick of myself. There, how’s that?

  2. Karen says:

    ok, you made me laugh with this post, but i truly love this idea and the word I picked reflects on how badly I handled it in 2008 — so for 2009, my word is RELATIONSHIPS.
    In some cases, it will be mending fences, in others, it will be making myself more available to put in the time for the relationships. I think it will be a good guiding word for me this year.

  3. Jimmy says:

    Thanks for your comments, Karen and Andrea. ORGANIZE sounds good, an annual word, but so not fun. As far as I know, MINE is still out there, untaken.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.