Monday, January 2, 2012

Word of the Year: Reach

My very dear friend Leanne, of From Chaos Comes Happiness, picks a new word to inspire her each year. I jumped onto that bandwagon myself for 2011, choosing the word "nurture." I intended to invest in everything from friendships to gardens to myself with love and tender care.

But in the very first week of January, my plans completely imploded.

With whiplash-inducing speed, 2011 went from a year filled with hope to a year of stress and anxiety. I nurtured wishes which had been made upon everything from bright stars to birthday candles, but many of my wishes didn't come true. I nurtured my relationships, astounded that some were even renewed after decades; but some relationships ended, despite valiant efforts to maintain and sustain them. I tried when others wouldn't have. I tried because I believed ... until I could no longer do so.

I found myself spending considerable time nurturing others through chaos this past year, as "real life" reared its ugly head in many different manifestations among my loved ones; I also had my own personal adventures in circles of Hell that Dante never envisioned. Through it all, I was told repeatedly to be selfish, to start taking care of myself ... but how? Sacrifice my favorite people's needs for the sake of my own? Because those whom I most cherish suffered greatly in a variety of ways, causing me stress and anguish as well, and they needed me. I strive to be a person who is committed to my loved ones for better or for worse.

But I didn't nurture myself sufficiently; at the end of the summer and into early fall, I heard a constant refrain of people telling me I looked "fragile." Where I failed myself, though, others took up the slack.

I felt loved and cherished beyond what I can describe when people nurtured me through crisis after crisis and wound after wound this past year. It would have been so easy for them to leave, to abandon me when things were worse rather than better.

And yet, so many, many people showed such a strong commitment to me - they were absolutely and utterly "true blue." They accepted me in my human frailty instead of shying away when things weren't easy. And when they told me they loved me, they also showed me that their words had meaning by virtue of their actions. My gratitude to all of those people is so profound that I simply have no words adequate to the enormity of it. Their nurturing has helped to restore me.

Refreshed and ready, this year I'm starting over in many ways. I debated whether to try again with "nurture," since I didn't have the opportunity to invest in the word as I'd originally intended to. But I feel I'm in a different place - and not just physically, after multiple moves.

So I picked a new word and I set new goals. That doesn't mean I discard my efforts to nurture; it just means I expand upon them.

My word for 2012 is

Reach out to friends, to keep them close.
Reach out to new people, to broaden and enrich my family.
Reach out to those in need.
Reach beyond my comfort zone.
Reach for new opportunities, both personal and professional.
Reach beyond my limitations, not letting them inhibit me.
Reach my potential.

In this brand new year, I intend to reach for the proverbial stars.

For today's recipe - Beer-Braised Peppers and Papaya - go to the Food and Grocery page of ....

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Mary Sullivan Frasier said...

Mary... This is one of the most amazing and insightful things I've ever read. I'm just blown away. You are a beautiful person and you've inspired me through your passion for food, your love of life and your generous heart.

I feel truly blessed and honored to know you. The stars should be reaching down for you, my friend.

Karen Mortensen said...

Very good. I like your word for the year. All the best my friend.

Unknown said...

Sometimes, it doesn't matter what we want, life gives us whatever IT wants to give us.. we just have to make the best/most of it. And despite all the downs in the last year, you still rose to the top and that is what counts!! Thanks for sharing all of that with us.. I know it can be hard. Happy near year to you, my friend! My you reach all your goals this year :)

Leanne said...

OH!!! REACH . . . perfect. You inspire me so much, and this post moved me to tears. I'm so sorry that 2011 was so hard for you - although I know you aren't looking for "sorrys". I now understand what you meant when you said you hadn't determined how to best communicate your new word (or something like that). You did such an amazing job, my dear friend. I sending you such hugs and love right now - here's to an amazing new year! May you reach whatever your heart desires! HUGS.

Fresh Local and Best said...

This is quite a sweet post and an eloquent word to describe your goal.

Karen Harris said...

This is an age old dilemma for many women, especially mothers. Do we give with no thought of our own well-being or at what point do we put ourselves first, if ever? I'm still working on the answer too, but the journey is very valuable in itself.

I hope 2012 is very good to you Mary. You deserve all the goodness this life can offer. Happy New Year!

Angela said...

I love this post, Mary, as well as your word aspiration for the coming year--may we both have a peaceful 2012. Hugs to you, my friend.

Cranberry Morning said...

You are an inspiration to so many, Mary! I hope that you will find peace, happiness, and healing in the new year as you REACH (and as others continue to reach out to you.) Good word choice!♥♥

Robin said...

Sometimes it is difficult to leave an appropriate comment when a post is just SO GOOD. This is one of those times. I hope that you have been keeping up with the HERE'S TO YOU posts. I have them going Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (so far) and there is some really good stuff in there. I know that you will REACH in there and find yourself if you will but look. You, my dear, are blessed with this thing we call character in abundance. I am blessed to know you.

lindalou said...

Your post was very touching and very true. It's hardest to nurture ourselves than our loved ones (I write this as I've been up all night caring for my ill 19 year old son).

I like your new word. Reach is a good goal for 2012. I don't ever make resolution or words for the year, but I find what others choose, an opportunity to reflect.

Candace said...

What a heartfelt and beautifully written post, Mary! I'm so sorry for all of the struggles you walked through in 2011; but, I'm so happy that you have risen above it all and are walking confidently into the new year. Reach. What a fabulous word! May you be abundantly blessed in 2012 as all of the love and blessings you bestow upon on others daily come back to you 1000 fold. Love you!

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