“One Word” for the New Year

Almost a year ago I was inspired by my sister’s blog post to think of just one word to sum up my goals or resolutions for the new year. I’m sure one that came to mind was “patience” because even as I get older and supposedly mellower, I still struggle with being impatient for things to happen more quickly, or to be different from how they are. But thinking I might quickly fail at “patience”, I chose instead: compassion. It was something I felt I had in me to some degree but linked as it is to patience in some ways, it was something there was certainly room to build my capacity for.

Jump ahead about six months. I’d recently come home from taking part in Word Play, a literary festival in Tatamagouche, and in the mail came a card, thanking me for coming and “for your wonderful readings. (People were especially moved by the combination of story and violin.)” Tucked inside the card was a “fabric favourite word by a Tatamagouche student”. compassion

It was as if that student, or the person who chose that particular swath of fabric knew me! I searched my blog posts to see if I’d mentioned “compassion” earlier in the year, tipping someone off that this would be a good word to send me, but all I came up with was a post about yoga and the review page for What Happened to Ivy.

The student’s fabric word has sat beside me at my desk, on top of my printer, ever since, reminding me of my intention for the year. I keep meaning to frame it or make a little cushion out of it or something, but one thing I’m learning is that while it’s important to practice compassion toward others, it’s also important to practice compassion toward oneself.

A book I read this year suggested that if we said to our friends some of the things we say to ourselves, we probably wouldn’t have friends for long. Things like: Haven’t you done anything with that thing yet? Or, from a writer’s repetoire:

  • You’ll never finish that book. Even if you do, no one will want to publish it.
  • It’s not surprising you never win awards. Your writing is mediocre at best.
  • Maybe you should quit writing and get a real job or take up macrame.

What will my word be for 2015? I might just stick with the same one. 2014 went by pretty fast and I could use more practice at “compassion” — for others and for myself.

What about you? What one word would you use to sum up your goals, resolutions, intentions for the new year?  

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Kathy Stinson is the author of the classic Red Is Best and the award-winning The Man with the Violin. Her wide range of titles includes picture books, non-fiction, young adult fiction, historical fiction, horror, biography, series books, and short stories. She has met with her readers in every province and territory of Canada, in the United States, Britain, Liberia, and Korea. She lives in a small town in Ontario.

Kathy Stinson


  1. Janet Barclay on January 2, 2015 at 6:17 am

    I'm so glad that my post inspired you. I loved reading about the way the word "compassion" showed up for you! I hope this year brings you much success professionally and happiness personally.

    My "one word" for this year is FOCUS, and I talk a bit about what that means to me in my post 2014 Highlights and 2015 Plans.

  2. Kathy Stinson on January 2, 2015 at 6:50 am

    FOCUS is great word to guide your coming year, Janet. I may have to use that one next year. 🙂 I enjoyed reading your post and hope 2015 proves as satisfying as last year for you. You might be interested in seeing other "one word" guiding words people told me about on Facebook.
    Seems you started something last year that's helping lots of people think about how they'd like to live in the coming year. Thanks again!

  3. Janet Barclay on January 2, 2015 at 7:28 am

    I can't take credit for the idea – it would be like someone giving you credit for thinking about having a dog as a pet – but I'm glad it inspired you and some of your friends! Thank you for the Facebook link. I've added my two cents worth. 🙂

  4. Kathy Stinson on January 2, 2015 at 8:20 am

    Thanks for your 2 cents worth, Janet – here and on Fb. Always nice to have you stop by.

  5. Bev Baird on January 2, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    A lovely post! I have been choosing a word for several years now. My new word for 2015 is BLOOM.

  6. Kathy Stinson on January 3, 2015 at 9:51 am

    Bloom suggests interesting possibilities, Bev. Where/how did you first hear about this "one word" idea?

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